revcom.us, May 11, 2020 through May 17, 2020 (#647)

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/646/bob-avakian-on-emancipation-from-mental-slavery-all-oppression-en.html

Bob Avakian On
EMANCIPATION
FROM MENTAL SLAVERY AND ALL OPPRESSION

| revcom.us

 

In 1863, mid-way in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln finally issued the Emancipation Proclamation and, as a result of the Civil War, Black people were formally freed from literal, physical slavery. But today the question is: When, and how, will Black people finally be free from all forms of slavery and oppression? And this poses straight-up this big question:

When will Black people finally emancipate themselves from the mental slavery of religion?!

We have seen the possibility of a world without oppression powerfully expressed in the not-too-distant past, during the radical upsurge that took place within this country and throughout the world during the 1960s and early 1970s.1 Within this country, the struggle of Black people was at the forefront of all this, and as that struggle became more radical in opposition to the system itself, and groups like the Black Panther Party, driven by the impatience and daring of Black youth, grew and gained influence, the advanced role of the struggle for Black liberation exerted an even more powerful positive role. And, as a very significant part of the widely and strongly held conviction that it was not only necessary but possible to put an end to the nightmare that had been endured for so long:

among Black people—who we’re always told are just sort of inherently religious—there was a massive turning away from religion, especially among the youth. Why? Because people were filled with hope, they didn’t believe that there was no hope for a better world. They were full of hope for a better world right in this world. And so, among Black people, there was, on the part of the youth in particular, a major turning away from religion and from all the old conventions that went along with religion that were conservatizing influences holding down the people.2

Hard Truths, Emancipating Truths

But the great promise of the 1960s radical upsurge, and the hopes that it raised, were not realized—fundamentally because things did not go all the way to an actual revolution. And, over the decades since then, through conscious policy by the ruling powers to foster the growth of more bourgeois and petit bourgeois strata among Black people, while at the same time maintaining and containing the masses of Black people in conditions of deprivation, oppression and vicious repression, this bitter reality has resulted:

Among the basic masses of people, including Black people (not the more middle class strata being developed through conscious ruling class policy, but the masses of oppressed people), there was a tremendous amount of demoralization and sense of defeat, and the introduction (including through deliberate ruling class policy and action) of massive amounts of drugs further intensified the desperate conditions of the basic masses and further reinforced the sense of demoralization. A lot of people were dying or being reduced to broken wretches on the basis of turning to drugs out of despair—the lack of hope, or the death, in immediate terms, of the hope that inspired so many people, on a real basis, through the course of the 1960s upsurge, which had now ebbed and been transformed. And this situation was made even more desperate and demoralizing with the growth of gangs in the ghettos and barrios of this country (as well as internationally), with youth drawn to the gangs in conditions of increasing deprivation and desperation and what was for most the illusion of getting rich, with the orientation of “get rich or die trying,” fueled by the growth of the drug trade and the influence of the putrid culture promoted throughout society that fostered and extolled the exploitation and degradation of others as the means for making it big, whether on Wall Street and on the world stage, or on the streets in the neighborhoods of the inner city.3

In the face of all this, amidst a feeling of fatalistic hopelessness, there has been, on the part of large numbers of Black people, a retreat into religion. It is often claimed that religion is what has allowed Black people to endure and persevere through all the trials and tribulations—the very real horrors—they have been subjected to throughout their experience in America, and that this remains the case now. But this is a logic of defeat—it rests on the underlying assumption (spoken or unspoken) that the system will basically remain as it has been, and that Black people will continue to be despised and discriminated against, persecuted, brutalized and terrorized, and the best they can hope for is to somehow survive, and strive to thrive, through all this—or, if you suffer in this life but you “get right with the Lord,” or submit to Allah, you will be rewarded in some “next life.”

Once more, the question is sharply posed: How can Black people be finally and fully emancipated from centuries of oppression, and how does this relate to ending all oppression, of all people, everywhere?

The answer is that the possibility of this is real, but it can happen only on the basis of a scientific approach to changing the world and the scientifically-grounded understanding that this oppression is rooted in and caused by the system of capitalism-imperialism—the same system that is viciously exploiting and murderously oppressing people not just in this country but all over the world and is plundering the natural environmentand that this system must and can be overthrown through an actual revolution and replaced by a radically different and far better system: socialism, whose final goal is a communist world, without any oppression or exploitation of anyone, anywhere.

As I have put it, expressing a simple and basic truth: “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!”4

And, in relation to this, I have also spoken to this profound truth:

There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.5

But here is another way that, in fundamental terms, there are two choices: either cling to the mental slavery of religion and remain oppressed, or cast off the mental chains of religion while rising up to fight with a real chance to get finally and fully free, in putting an end to all oppression and exploitation.

Religion may seem to give people comfort in the face of the oppression and anguish they are forced to endure, or to make people feel that with religion they can keep from “doing wrong”—or, even though they may “do wrong,” they still have some worth. And it is true that, for some people, their religious views are a motivation to fight against various forms of oppression, and many people who approach things from a religious standpoint have insights and knowledge that it is important to know about and learn from. But it is also true that, as a way of thinking and a guide to acting, religion relies on the invention of supernatural beings that do not exist but which are said to ultimately shape and control reality, including the fate of human beings. Religion calls on people to submit to those imaginary supernatural beings (or, to very human authorities speaking in the name of those imaginary supernatural beings) and to follow scriptures that in reality do not lead to ending oppression but actually promote and reinforce all kinds of degradation and horror. (This is something I have illustrated very concretely in the book Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, particularly with regard to the three main monotheistic [one-god] religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.6) In this way religion stands in direct opposition to taking up a consistently scientific approach to understanding reality and waging a scientifically-grounded fight to end all oppression.

This is why the powers-that-be, whose very existence, wealth and power rest on oppression and exploitation, continually promote religion. It is why the very same slavemasters who prohibited Black people from learning to read (and severely punished those who did) actively encouraged their slaves to take up religion and get down on their knees in prayer. And it is why today, the ruling powers in this country are only too willing to provide a platform for, and parade around, any Black people who are inclined to engage in passionate “god-talk.” This may be painful to hear, but the question is: is it true, or not? Think about it.

It is neither possible nor principled—and no one should ever try—to force people to give up beliefs they hold at any given time. In the most fundamental terms, emancipation—from every form of slavery and oppression—must be the voluntary and conscious act of people. But there is a great need and importance to waging ideological struggle, in a principled way but as sharply as necessary, to win people to take up a scientific approach to understanding, and changing, the world and break with ways of thinking that actually contribute to keeping them, and others, oppressed.

Again, it is true that many religious people take part now in important struggles against oppression; and it is also true that many religious people will be among the millions taking part in the revolution to do away with this whole oppressive system. But this revolution, and the continuing struggle to end all oppression and bring about real and complete emancipation, must be led by those, among the most oppressed, and others as well, who have taken up a scientific approach to changing the world and have cast off the mental slavery of religion, along with every other way of thinking that promotes, or at least rationalizes and objectively justifies, oppression.

A bitter truth is this:

Oppressed people who are unable or unwilling to confront reality as it actually is, are condemned to remain enslaved and oppressed.7

But, an even greater, emancipating truth is this:

The notion of a god, or gods, was created by humanity, in its infancy, out of ignorance. This has been perpetuated by ruling classes, for thousands of years since then, to serve their interests in exploiting and dominating the majority of people and keeping them enslaved to ignorance and irrationality.

Bringing about a new, and far better, world and future for humanity means overthrowing such exploiting classes and breaking free of and leaving behind forever such enslaving ignorance and irrationality.8

 


1. In HOPE FOR HUMANITY ON A SCIENTIFIC BASISBreaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism (available at revcom.us), Bob Avakian speaks to this major change taking place during the 1960s:

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

2. HOPE FOR HUMANITY ON A SCIENTIFIC BASIS.

In Bob Avakian Responds to Mark Rudd on the Lessons of the 1960s and the Need for an Actual Revolution (available at revcom.us), this point is emphasized:

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.  [back]

3. HOPE FOR HUMANITY ON A SCIENTIFIC BASIS.  [back]

4. In the speech Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, from which this quote is drawn, Bob Avakian speaks to those crucial questions. The text and video of this speech are available at revcom.us. And in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, (available at revcom.us) there is a sweeping vision and a concrete blueprint for a socialist society aiming for the final goal of communism throughout the world.  [back]

5. This statement, along with other works by Bob Avakian speaking to the oppression of Black people and the road to their full emancipation, is available at revcom.us.  [back]

6. Bob Avakian, Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008.  [back]

7. BAsics 4:1 (BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian).  [back]

8. BAsics 4:17, emphasis added.  [back]

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/645/bob-avakian-boomers-x-y-z-en.html

"BOOMERS"—"X,Y,Z":
THE PROBLEM IS NOT "GENERATIONS,"
IT'S THE SYSTEM

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

It is very common these days to hear things posed in terms of generations, and for generations to be pitted against each other. There are the “boomers” and later “lettered” generations (“X, Y, Z”). There is, on the part of some among these later generations, the dismissive taunt “OK Boomer,” accompanied by an indictment blaming the “boomers” for creating the messed-up world that the younger people are inheriting, including the accelerating climate crisis. And there is the tendency among some “boomers” to be dismayed, or even disgusted, by the phenomenon that younger people seem to be cynically self-absorbed, knowing (or caring) little about important history and world events, and failing to act in meaningful ways to oppose the terrible actions of those in power. So it is important to examine how “generations” relate to the very real problems and dangers people are confronting today.

Generations are real societal groupings, and particular generations do have common experiences that differ from other generations. But, first of all, generations are not “homogenous”—they are made up of different classes, nationalities (or “races”), genders, and so on. And, even more fundamentally, everything that is experienced by people, of all different generations, is shaped by the system that people live within—most of all, by the economic system (the mode of production) and its basic relations and dynamics, as well as the corresponding social relations (for example, racial and gender relations) and the political system and the dominant culture and ideas that reflect and enforce these economic and social relations.

With regard to the “boomers,” first of all, there is the important reality that is often not recognized (or not even known about by many) these days, and is covered over and distorted by the dominant powers and institutions:

During the 1960s, a whole generation (or a large and defining part of that generation) broke with American chauvinism...and, at the cost of real sacrifice, dared to stand up against the atrocities committed, here and throughout the world, by the rulers of this country, and fight for a better world.1

And:

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.2

Along with the understanding of the need for—and a real belief in the possibility of—bringing a radically different and better world into being, and the refusal to listen to tired-out arguments about why things have to be the way they are, there was at that time a marked break with the notion of the “self” as the most important thing in the world, a rejection of putting personal concerns and ambitions above what was going on in the larger society and world. To provide a sharp illustration of this, if anyone in those days spoke in terms like “my career”—a phrase so commonplace now—they were generally met with expressions of disgust (and forget about any notion of “my brand!”).

Of course, while this was definitely true of a “large and defining part of that generation,” it was not true of individuals like Donald Trump (or George W. Bush), who were never part of—and in fact were, and have remained, violently opposed to—everything that was positive about and had overwhelming initiative among that generation as it “came of age” politically and ideologically through the 1960s. And people like Joe Biden were also never part of the powerfully positive radical upsurge of that time.

Since that time, however, as I have also noted:

Unfortunately, all too many (though not all!) of that generation have become disoriented and have allowed themselves to become, as the French say, “récupéré”—that is, they have come back under the wing of the ruling class, in particular its “liberal” representatives in the Democratic Party, and have far too much accepted things on the terms of a system they once, very rightly, recognized as viciously criminal.3

As for why so many have become “récupéré”—and, in the years since the 1960s, the things they were rising up against, as well as additional outrages and in fact existential threats to humanity itself, have continued or even become more extreme—this is not because people have just “gotten older,” tired out, and more conservative, in some abstract sense. It is fundamentally because there was no revolution and the same system that people were rising up against has remained in power. In a number of works, I have spoken to why there was no revolution at that time, and I have examined major changes, largely of a negative kind, that have taken place over the decades since—including the heightening parasitism of this country (the fact that its wealth rests ultimately on a vast international network of sweatshop super-exploitation, especially in the Third World of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, even as that wealth is very unevenly distributed within this country itself).4 Accompanying this parasitism is the fact that individualism (the nearly single-minded pursuit of personal goals and ambitions, objectively and often aggressively in competition with everyone else) has been promoted to an extreme degree in this country especially.5 All of this has affected (and, it might be said, infected) people of all generations.

In short, the reason the world is in the terrible state it is—including the reason why the climate crisis continues to get worse in an accelerating way—is because the world is still dominated by this system of capitalism-imperialism and this continues to exert a powerful influence in conditioning how people think and specifically how they see what they should be doing in relation to the way things are. The problem is not “generations.” The “boomer generation” is not the cause of the world’s problems because of the fact that far too many of that generation have become “récupéré” (even while many continue to abhor some of this system’s more egregious crimes). Nor is the fact that many of those now presiding over this system are of the “boomer generation” the reason the system is so terrible—it is the nature of the system itself, regardless of who occupies its leading positions. So, too, succeeding generations (generations “X, “Y,” or “Z,” or whatever) are not the cause of all this through the failure of so many to break with American chauvinism or their obsessive focus on the self (even as many also grumble about the state of the world and blame the “boomers” for the ways things are). The solution will not be found by blaming one generation or another for its—real, or imagined—shortcomings and failures. The answer is to cast off blinders, of all kinds, and come to the necessary recognition of what is the fundamental problem—this system—and the fact that no attempt at reforms or electing “better leaders,” within the confines of this system, can deal with the profound ways in which the masses of humanity are subjected to terrible suffering on a daily basis, humanity as a whole is facing very real and growing crises and the very future of humanity is seriously imperiled.

Only an actual revolution, aimed at nothing less than overthrowing this system and bringing a radically different and far better system into being, represents the possibility of dealing with all this in a way that is in accordance with the fundamental interests of the masses of humanity and ultimately humanity as a whole. And, to have a real chance of making this a reality, it is necessary to have a consistently scientific approach to understanding and changing the world—which looks beyond secondary phenomena such as generations to the fundamental cause of the problems and to the basis for the solution: an actual revolution and the new society and world for which such a revolution opens the way.6

 


1. 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]

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

In addition to what is said in “Why We Need...How We Can...” (and in THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!), the following sheds further light on significant changes taking place during the 1960s, major components and characteristics of the radical upsurge of that time, and important contrasts with more recent times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

[From HOPE FOR HUMANITY ON A SCIENTIFIC BASIS, Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism. The text of this work by Bob Avakian is also available at revcom.us.]  [back]

3. THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!  [back]

4. In a number of works—including Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make RevolutionBreakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic SummaryHOPE FOR HUMANITY ON A SCIENTIFIC BASIS, Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism; and Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd On The Lessons Of The 1960s And The Need For An Actual Revolution (all of which are available at revcom.us)—Bob Avakian speaks further to “why there was no revolution” at the height of the 1960s upsurges and “major changes, largely of a negative kind, that have taken place over the decades since.” Among these observations are the following (from Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd):

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.*

[* Bob Avakian has also characterized a revolutionary situation this way:

What is a Revolutionary Situation? A deep crisis and sharpening conflicts in society and in the government and ruling circles, where they cannot find a way to resolve these conflicts—in society and among their own ranks—which do not make things worse for them and call forth more resistance and further undermine people's belief in their "right to rule" and in the "legitimacy" of their use of force to maintain their rule; programs of "reforming" the system are shown to be bankrupt, totally unable to deal with what more and more people recognize as profound dysfunction and intolerable injustice of the whole setup; those, in society as well as among the ruling class, who are trying to enforce the existing system are on the political defensive, even if lashing out; millions of people are actively seeking radical change, determined to fight for it, willing to put everything on the line to win it, and searching for a force to lead them in doing so; and a solid core of thousands is united around a leadership, an organized vanguard force with the vision and method, strategy and plan—and deepening ties among masses of people—to actually lead the fight to defeat and dismantle the violent repressive force of the existing system and its power structure, and to bring into being a new revolutionary system that can provide the means for people to radically transform society toward the goal of abolishing oppression and exploitation.]

This section of Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd continues:     

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...

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. [Here Bob Avakian is quoting Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.]

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. 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.

A particularly significant aspect of this setback following the 1960s upsurge is the following (from Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis):

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

At the same time as he has analyzed the major changes, including the very real setbacks and reversals, that occurred since the 1960s upsurge, Bob Avakian has emphasized this:

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. [Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd]  [back]

5. Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis contains these important observations about individualism and its role and affect, particularly in this country, today:

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

Virulent Individualism and Oblivious Individualism

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

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

So there are these different kinds, or two broad types, of individualism (with many gradations, obviously). But what is the unifying element in them? Self. The self. As I pointed out in the Dialogue with Cornel 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.

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.

[* RUMINATIONS AND WRANGLINGS On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning. The text of this talk by Bob Avakian is available at revcom.us.]

[** This Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West took place in November 2014 at Riverside Church in New York City, on the theme of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. The film of Bob Avakian’s talk at that Dialogue is available in BA’s Collected Works at revcom.us.]

[back]

6. In Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, Bob Avakian speaks substantially to those questions; and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, provides a sweeping vision and a concrete blueprint for a radically different, socialist society, aiming for the final goal of a communist world. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, as well as the text and video of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, are available at revcom.us.  [back]

Download PDF of this article

Now Available:

Hope For Humanity
On A Scientific Basis

Breaking with Individualism,
Parasitism and
American Chauvinism

Bob Avakian
Author of
The New Communism

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Read excerpts here, including
Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of “Painless Progress”
With a Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

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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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/644/bob-avakian-this-republic-ridiculous-outmoded-criminal-en.html

THIS REPUBLIC—RIDICULOUS, OUTMODED, CRIMINAL

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

The story is frequently told, by enthusiasts of “this great American democracy,” that at the time of the founding of the country Benjamin Franklin was asked: “What kind of government do we have?” And he replied: “A Republic—if you can keep it.” And it has been “kept” for more than 200 years since then. But the question is now posed more sharply than ever: Is it worth keeping—should any decent person want to keep it?

In the present day, the ridiculous and outmoded nature of this republic stands out, and this is all the more glaring in the context of the developing coronavirus crisis. As just one dimension of this, there is the fact that this particular American bourgeois (capitalist) republic is divided into 50 states, and there are repeatedly conflicts between the different states and between the states and the federal government in their approaches to this coronavirus crisis, which interfere with and undermine a rational unified approach to dealing with this crisis—and this would be the case even if there were not the irrational, anti-scientific Trump and Pence and their fascist regime presiding over the federal government, although of course this regime has only made things far worse.

The fact that this particular bourgeois republic is ridiculous, and in its present form is outmoded even on its own terms, is also expressed in the way that national elections are held—with the head of state (the president) chosen not through direct popular vote but through an electoral college made up of electors chosen through voting in, once again, 50 separate states. (This set-up is also closely related to the fact that the “United States” at its founding contained a number of southern states which rested on a slave-based economy, and one of the main reasons for having the electoral college was to protect the interests of those states and their slave-owning ruling classes—something which went along with the provision in the Constitution that counted slaves as in effect three-fifths human beings, and most fundamentally as property.)

How ridiculous and outmoded this governmental system is (again, even on its own bourgeois terms) can also be seen in the fact that, as part of this set-up, each state elects two people to the Senate, even while some states have far greater populations than others. (It is the case today that states with 30 percent of the population elect 70 percent of the Senators, while the great majority of the population, the remaining 70 percent, is “represented” by only 30 percent of the Senators.)

Many have argued for various remedies to this situation, including abolishing the electoral college and having the president (and vice president) elected directly by popular vote. But, first of all, those who gain advantage in this situation—those who may lose the popular vote but might still win the electoral college count (and these days, this is likely to be Republicans)—are not going to simply give up their advantage.

And, with regard to the “lopsided” way in which the Senate is constituted, relative to the population in the states (the 30/70 vs.70/30 ratios referred to), there is no easy way to change this—and in fact, if anything it will become even more lopsided—fundamentally because the present “configuration” (or “distribution”) of the population in this country is grounded in major changes that have taken place in the economy over many, many decades: the increasing role of agribusiness and a great decline in the relative role of small farms and the number of people engaged in farming; and overall the heightened parasitism of this country, so that increasingly the actual production of things consumed is carried out through a vast international network of sweatshop super-exploitation, especially in the Third World of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, while the sectors abbreviated as “FIRE” (finance, insurance, and real estate), as well as high tech, play an increasingly significant role, along with services, in the economic activity carried out within this country itself. So, for those—particularly those concentrated in urban areas—who have a legitimate complaint regarding the disproportion between the population and how the Senators are selected, there is no realistic remedy since, given where the “FIRE” and high tech sectors have, for significant reasons, come to be concentrated, it would not be possible (or practical) to change the way the population is distributed (and concentrated) within this country without doing what is also not possible (and is not desired by people in the urban areas): changing the economy back to how it was constituted and how it functioned many, many generations ago, without the same degree of extreme parasitism there is today that allows for the high standard of living of significant sections of the population, including among the middle class (even as many others in the middle class were insecure and struggling economically even before the coronavirus crisis hit, to say nothing of the tens of millions of people subjected to dire poverty, and brutal oppression, in this country). And, once again, people in the smaller states with a representation in the Senate that is disproportionate to (larger than) the size of their populations are very unlikely to agree to having the Senate be chosen in some way that makes it correspond more to population (for example, having it be more like the House of Representatives, with a Senator representing not a state—with two for every state—but instead representing a population of a certain size), thereby eliminating the advantage the less populated states now have and giving the predominance to the urban areas with the larger populations.

And then, related to all this, there is that fascist Trump/Pence regime and (as I have analyzed in The Deadly Illusion of “Normalcy” and the Revolutionary Way Forward) the many ways in which its outlook and priorities actually sabotage a rational, scientifically based approach to dealing with the coronavirus crisis (and problems in general). And, beyond that: “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.”1

Outmoded—and Criminal

It is not just that the particularly American bourgeois republic is outmoded, as well as ridiculous, “on its own terms,” but more fundamentally that the whole capitalist system is outmoded and criminal, and the American variant of this system is particularly criminal—and has been from its very founding. The fact is—a fact which cannot be ignored, evaded, or “explained away” without falling into accommodation and complicity with monstrous crimes—that this is a country founded on the enslavement of millions of African people and genocide against the original inhabitants of North America.

These monstrous crimes of slavery and genocide, and an attempt to rationalize and justify them, were enshrined in the founding documents of this country. As noted, the Constitution institutionalized and codified slavery, and as I have put it:

There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.2

In the Declaration of Independence, among the things for which the King of England is condemned, is the accusation that he promoted slave rebellions (“excited domestic Insurrections amongst us”) and “endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.”3

And the monstrous crimes committed by the rulers of this country—and built into the very structures, relations, dynamics, and functioning of this system—have not only continued over the centuries since the country was first founded but have greatly expanded, subjecting literally billions of people, and countries all over the world, to merciless exploitation, murderous oppression, and the massive destruction of war, including the use of nuclear weapons at the end of World War 2. In sum, while many “liberals” join with the likes of Ronald Reagan in declaring this country “a shining city on the hill,” a beacon of liberty for the world, the truth is that:

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.4

Putting an end to this ridiculous, outmoded, and criminal system, through a revolution aiming to bring into being a far better society, and world, is the challenge that must be confronted, and taken up, by all people of conscience who are willing to face—or who have no choice but to face—the reality of what this system is, and what it means to allow this system to continue existing and to dominate the world and determine the condition and the fate of humanity.5

 


1. The Deadly Illusion of “Normalcy” and the Revolutionary Way Forward is available at revcom.us.  [back]

2. BAsics 1:1 (BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian).

Additional comments by the author:

Various apologists of “this great American democracy” point out that, after all, the United States had a Civil War which put an end to slavery—as if this somehow eliminates, or at least “softens” the terrible experience of slavery. (Some have even descended so far into moral degeneracy as to claim that Black people in America should be “grateful” for slavery being ended in this way—after more than two centuries of this slavery!) It is true that the Civil War ended up leading to the emancipation of the slaves. And it is for this reason that I have pointed out that, after this country was founded, and its independence consolidated, the Civil War is the only just war this country has ever fought (on the part of the Union side) while, instead of glorifying this war (as they frequently do with wars they wage) they often bemoan it as a tragedy—“pitting brother against brother.” This ignores the fact that, once they were enabled and allowed to do so, nearly 200,000 Black people fought in the Union Army during the Civil War, dying at a higher rate than their white counterparts—and those Black freedom fighters hardly regarded the whites in the Confederate Army, who were fighting to maintain slavery, as their “brothers”!

It is also another searing indictment of this whole system in this country that, only a decade after the Civil War, with the federal government putting an end to Reconstruction in the South, Black people were once again subjected to the most horrific atrocities, through the system of “Jim Crow” segregation, lynching and overall terror carried out by the Ku Klux Klan, with the backing and often the direct involvement of the authorities and the “legal system” in the South in particular. And, even with some concessions wrenched out of this system through the Civil Rights movement after World War 2, the fact is that Black people in this country have continued to be subjected to systematic oppression and continuing terror, now carried out mainly by the police, in all parts of the country.

The American Crime series at revcom.us chronicles and highlights many—though far from all—of the major and monstrous crimes committed by this system and its ruling class(es), throughout its history and throughout the world.  [back]

3. Bob Avakian has written the following regarding the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson:

It is sometimes claimed that Jefferson was actually opposed to slavery and wanted to see an end to it. And you can find statements by Jefferson where he says that slavery is in fact a blight and that it will have negative consequences for some time to come. There have also been misinterpretations of what Jefferson wrote about slavery. To take one important example, there are passages he wrote in drafts of the Declaration of Independence—some of which did not, but some of which did, make it into the final version of that Declaration—where the King of England and the British government were strongly condemned for supposedly imposing the slave trade on the United States. Now, there were, in fact, ways in which Jefferson and the slaveowning class in Virginia generally were opposed to aspects of the international slave trade, even while they themselves were involved in selling slaves to other states and to slaveowners in other territories. In this, the essential motivation of these Virginia slaveowners was that they didn’t want the price of a slave being driven down, since they themselves had become major sellers of slaves within America itself. This is, fundamentally, the reason that they were opposed to the continuation—once they did oppose it—of the international slave trade. They viewed this above all in terms of property, and supply and demand in relation to selling this particular kind of property—human beings. So, here again, Jefferson acted in the interests of the slave-owning class, and his “agrarian society” turned out to be a slaveowning plantation system—not a society of small independent yeomen.

This is of course related to, and in an overall sense part of, the larger contradiction between Jefferson’s lofty sounding statements in the Declaration of Independence about the equality of all men (note: all men) and their “inalienable rights” and, on the other hand, the glaring fact that Jefferson not only owned slaves himself but consistently acted on behalf of the class of slaveowners and the institution of slavery, even while voicing certain moral qualms about slavery and musings about its long-term consequences for the new American republic. (Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, available in BA’s Collected Works, at revcom.us, emphasis in the original.)  [back]

4. Bob Avakian On Impeachment, Crimes Against Humanity, Liberals and Lies, Provocative and Profound Truths, available at revcom.us.  [back]

5.  In Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, Bob Avakian speaks substantially to those questions; and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, provides a sweeping vision and a concrete blueprint for a radically different, socialist society, aiming for the final goal of a communist world, with the abolition of all exploitation and oppression. These works are also available at revcom.us.  [back]


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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/644/bob-avakian-revolting-barbarity-shameless-hypocrisy-simple-questions-en.html

REVOLTING BARBARITY, SHAMELESS HYPOCRISY

For Those Who Cling to the Myth
of "This Great American Democracy":
Some Simple Questions

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

Can anyone honestly deny the plain truth of the following words boldly spoken by abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass in a July 4th speech in 1852?

For revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

This statement echoes down through time, expressing a profound truth today.

If you doubt, or recoil at, this statement, then think about this: After slavery was formally ended through the Civil War, not only were Black people virtually enslaved once again during the long years of “Jim Crow” segregation, but the constant terror they were subjected to was repeatedly punctuated by thousands of lynchingsand lynchings were the cause for public celebrations, where huge crowds of white people, adults and children, gathered to watch and cheer the lynching and claim parts of the mutilated body of the lynched Black person—and postcards were made from photographs of these lynchings and were sold throughout the country.

This was not a one-time orgy of perverse violence—it happened over and over again, generation after generation. Nor is it some kind of “aberration” from the “especially good” nature of this country. And it is not just “ancient history”—atrocities of this kind are not something that is being left behind as this country carries forward its journey toward “a more perfect union.” Despite the rising of Black people through the Civil Rights and Black Liberation struggles after World War 2, which reached a high point in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has continued in various forms and on various levels since then (and despite the fact that, breaking with the despicable history of this country, large numbers of white youth in particular have actively supported these struggles), the fact is that, in the time since 1960 the police have killed more Black people than all those lynched during the days of “Jim Crow” segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror, and Black people as a whole live with the ever-present threat of being brutalized or murdered by police.

And all this, in turn, is a concentrated expression of everything this country has been about, from the beginning and down to today. This is the reality of how the rulers of this country, while proclaiming themselves “the leaders of the free world,” have amassed their wealth and power—through grotesque brutality, plunder and destruction in every part of the world—something which is extensively laid out in the American Crime series at revcom.us, and which leaves no doubt as to the huge scope of these crimes and the fact that they are “built into” the very nature and structure of the system in this country. To repeat the words of Frederick Douglass:

For revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

One final question: Is it not time, at long last, to face up to all this and act with determination to put an end to all this, with the recognition that for this to become a reality a radically different system and a radically different kind of country is needed?*

 


* The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, provides a sweeping vision and a concrete blueprint for “a radically different system and a radically different kind of country.” This Constitution is available at revcom.us.  [back]

See also:

THIS REPUBLIC —
RIDICULOUS, OUTMODED, CRIMINAL

by Bob Avakian

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/bob-avakian-on-police-brutality-and-murder-consent-decrees-wont-stop-this-we-need-a-revolution-en.html

Bob Avakian on
POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER:
CONSENT DECREES WON'T STOP THIS—
WE NEED A REVOLUTION!

| revcom.us

 

Editors’ Note: The following is the transcript of a question posed to Bob Avakian (BA), and BA’s answer, in Chicago in 2018, after BA’s presentation of the speech Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.

Question: As Fred [Hampton] used to say, “And the beat goes on.”1 They just recently passed last week a new Consent Decree in Chicago. What are your thoughts on that?

BA: What’s the content of it?

Q: Police brutality.

BA: This is what the Chicago Police Department is supposed to “not” do? Is that kind of what this is all about, the Consent Decree?

Q: It is.

BA: They’re supposed to limit their brutality. Is that the idea, then?

Q: Exactly. (skeptical laughter)

BA: I mean, on the one hand—I would look at it this way—on the one hand when they are forced to sign consent decrees, it’s a reflection of the struggle of the people... It’s not that they did it out of the goodness of their heart or they woke up one day and said, “Oh, we’ve been brutalizing and murdering a lot of people, let’s sign an agreement that we’re not going to do that, as much, any more.” It’s more that they recognize that the degree and the ways in which they’ve been doing this has kind of exposed something very basic about their whole system and has aroused the anger of a lot of people, including not only the people that they want to brutally keep down—that’s one thing—but also other people like in the middle class, and so on, who want to cling to the illusion that this is a society of justice and fairness and all these kinds of things but who find it harder and harder to do so in the face of these killings, one after the other. We saw, for example, in the Laquan McDonald thing2—let me say one thing: When I was doing up the list of people killed, for this presentation, I kept feeling badly because, “Well, this one should be included, and that one should be included...” But there are SO many people that you can’t include all of them. So I just want to make clear, it’s not that I’m unaware of all—it’s just that there are literally thousands of people and that’s the real striking thing—the list goes on and on. There’s just so many, and it’s seemingly every day there’s another one.

Or if it’s not the police, it’s these Zimmerman types, in Florida.3 You probably all saw, I think it was also in Florida, this “stand your ground law”—I’ll get back to the point, but I just wanted to say, this “stand your ground” law—I don’t know if you all saw this but there was this thing where there was an altercation in a parking lot and this white guy in Florida has a gun and he’s harassing this woman in a car because the car is parked in a handicapped zone or something and [he] takes it upon himself to act like a pig until the boyfriend or whatever of this woman comes out and pushes the guy to the ground, and that would be the end of it except the guy pulls out a gun and kills him, while lying on the ground. This kind of thing is of a piece of what the police do.

And now of course when you have Trump and unreconstructed white supremacists like Jeff Sessions as the chief law enforcement officer in the country who is trying to do away with—see, I told you I’d get back—he’s trying to do away with all these consent decrees.4 So, the point is there’s a certain atmosphere they’re setting. In Chicago they have a Democratic administration with Emanuel who’s all tied in with Obama and everything.5 They’re trying to act as if they’re paying some attention to this, but on the one hand, like I said, it’s a certain recognition that a lot of people are angry about this. On the other hand, these consent decrees, while they may, in a certain limited way, temporarily cause them to be a little more careful, it won’t change anything fundamental, because of everything I was talking about in terms of the role of the police.

Look, here’s the situation. You’ve got a whole section of people, in particular youth—Latino youth and Black youth in the country and in the inner cities... Like I was saying, back in the days when masses of people, like Black people, were living in the rural South, working on cotton plantations, tobacco plantations or whatever, even after slavery ended, that was vital to the economy. And then, as you all know, after WW1 but especially more so after WW2, millions of Black people left the South—on the one hand with the positive thing of hoping they can find a better life, and the negative thing of getting away from the really concentrated oppression in the South, and certain naked brutality. And for a while (and I’ve made this point before but it’s important to understand this better in terms of why things are the way they are right now specifically) a lot of people got jobs, even well-paying jobs after a while even though they were stuck for a long time... (and Carl can talk about that) working in the steel plants and all the Black people who got hired and never got out of the shit jobs in the factories.6 But still there was an opening for a lot of people to get hired in the auto plants in Detroit or some of the meatpacking here, I think, and the steel plants in the South Side of Chicago—thousands of people working there. Gary, Indiana, I think had one of the largest steel plants in the entire world, back in the ’60s. And almost all of those things are gone. First, a lot of the capitalists moved their stuff to the rural South where they could hire people more cheaply, and then they moved it to Mexico where they set up the maquiladoras on the border where they paid people even less and exploited them more. And then they moved from there to places in Asia.

So what’s happened is, the youth coming up have no prospects of that kind of employment that people coming after WW2 had some opportunity to get into. So what does this system do with youth that have no future and no prospects? It contains them. It robs them of any decent future. It contains them and then promotes various ways—contains them violently. That’s why we’re talking about police murders and consent decrees. Violently contains them. And I remember when I was living in Chicago back in the 1970s; actually I lived in Maywood; there was a whole phenomenon. [The person who asked the question laughs.] Did I say something wrong? [The questioner explains that his family is from Maywood.] Oh, I see, OK, well that’s where I lived for a number of years, back in the ’70s. And there was a whole phenomenon where the “gang intelligence unit” that they had [in Chicago] would infiltrate the gangs and set up gangs to fight each other, and then when they would bust somebody they would take them from one gang or set, and drop them off in the territory of another one to get shit going.

I remember back in the days of the Black Panther Party, headed by Fred Hampton, and he was trying to work with some of the gangs. And the FBI sent a letter to Jeff Fort, who was the head of the P Stone Nation, saying that the Black Panther Party had a plot to assassinate him, and so on and so forth, to try to set up this stuff. So this is the kind of stuff that they do. In other words, here was a revolutionary force that didn’t have the science that was needed—it sort of had one foot in reform and one foot in revolution (the Black Panther Party)—but it was a very advanced force for that time, and we all learned a lot from them, I just want to be clear about that. They were trying to win some of these youth who were caught up in the gangs to become part of the revolution—and this is the conscious way the government, the FBI and so on, worked to prevent that. So they have a lot of ways. And they set up these youth. After a while the thing gets going on its own. You get into these conflicts and then the whole thing, first of all the thing of revenge—it’s a never-ending cycle of “you killed my nephew or my kid, now you have to die,” and then it comes back the other way.

So that’s one thing, but also, if you’ve taken away everything from people and they have no hope and no future, people are going to find a way to try to do something that expresses—in the wrong way—expresses their feelings that they’re worth something, no matter how messed up what they’re doing might be. And this is something that’s left to people who form street organizations. And a lot of it is imitating the whole system in the first place, the ways of thinking, the ideology of the system, but you get into it and it takes on a life of its own, and pretty soon you’re deeply into it. And when you’re young, you both get drawn to it but you can also get forced into it. I know many people try to send their kids away so they wouldn’t get forced into the gangs, but it also has an attractive force. It’s a way of having meaning, even though it’s really messed up, but it’s still a way of having meaning.

And, let’s face it, compared to revolution, if you just want to look at things in the very short term, it’s easier. We’re talking about a really big thing of taking on this whole system and doing a lot of work to the point where you could actually have a chance to win. Well, if you’ve got a certain mindset and a certain thing you’re into, going down the street and shooting somebody who’s on the wrong block is easier; in the short run, it’s easier. It doesn’t require you to make big changes; it’s what’s been left to you. That’s why this stuff has to be really struggled with hard and really met deep down where people really feel, and struggled hard over, about what should your life really be about.

A lot of people are into the “Stop the Violence” stuff. (I know I’m getting far afield here but this is important.) A lot of people are into “Stop the Violence” stuff. They have good intentions but at least to some degree in some instances they end up working with the police and everything because they don’t understand—and this has to be really brought home—that you’re not gonna get these youth out of this unless you have a whole different way you’re coming at it that really speaks to the whole thing they’re caught up in, whether they really know that or not yet. You can’t just come to this saying “stop the violence.” And do what? Let’s be real—“stop the violence” and do what? Work for chump change all my life on a job that then goes away anyway?

Listen. There’s not a single sphere of life in this society (you all know this, but I gotta say it anyway) in which Black people do not get the dirty end of the stick—not a single thing. I was reading an article in the New York Times about the changing economy. A lot of these industrial jobs I was talking about are gone. And this applies also to people from El Salvador, and other people... Puerto Rico also. There’s a whole history which we can get into. But there’s a particular history of Black people in this country, and I was reading this article in the New York Times about the changing economy and it was talking about the loss of industrial jobs and the shift from industrial work to service work—people interacting directly with the public in sales. I was reading some statistics from somebody who did some research on it, and 80 percent of industrial production jobs in the world are now done in the Third World, if you include China. So that tells you a lot about where everything has gone. Most of the clothes are made in Bangladesh. Seafood is done in Thailand. Haiti, Pakistan, over in Asia... This country is sitting at the end of the food chain. All these people! The coltan for your cell phone is mined by people under terrible conditions in a place like the Congo. All this work is gone [from the U.S.] because of the nature of the system. They can exploit people much more ruthlessly in these conditions where they’ve messed up these countries. And don’t even tell me, “Well it’s better than not having a job at all; if we didn’t go in and do that, they wouldn’t have any...” Bullshit! There’s lots of raw materials and lots of people, and you could have a whole different economy that didn’t exploit people if you had a revolution. So I don’t want to hear your crap about how “if we didn’t exploit them, they’d be even worse off.”

But anyway, this article I was reading in the New York Times, it made the point that this shift from industrial to service work in this country has hit Black men particularly hard because while a lot of people (and they’re talking about white people, let’s face it) who go into these stores are willing to interact with Black women but not so willing to interact with Black men. It’s good if a Black woman has a job. Let’s be clear, this is not about a thing against Black women at all. But what is the point here? They’ve created this whole image, through the culture and everything. That’s why you have the Starbucks thing in Philadelphia [where they harassed two Black men, and called the police on them, when they were doing nothing wrong].7 And Lake Merritt in Oakland. See, I grew up in the Bay Area; I know about Lake Merritt in Oakland. A lot of people go there and hang out—Black people, white people, whatever. Somebody calls the police on some Black family because they’re barbequing with charcoal briquets which the city of Oakland has a thing against for environmental reasons. They called the pigs on them. Why? Because people have gotten this image that’s been consciously created.

Look, a lot of the youth are into messed up stuff, OK, but there’s also been a conscious effort to portray all these youth as a bunch of savages. It’s all in the way this system operates. You’re not going to change it with consent decrees or calls on people to “stop the violence.” You’ve got to change it with a revolution. And you’ve got to go deep with these youth, deep and hard with these youth about what is really worth living and dying for. Let’s get right down on the ground with this. What is worth living and dying for? If you’re going to fight and die, at least let’s get to the point—we have to get into the science of it and why we can’t just jump the whole thing off now—but let’s get to the point [where] at least if you’re going to fight and die, let it be for something that will leave the next generation coming along a much better world, rather than what they’ve got you caught up in now.

We can understand why they’re caught up in it, but we got to go deep and hard to fight about “make your life count for something that really would be meaningful to people, that you do care about, whether you act like you care about them or not.” You see them out there. I see gang bangers out there with their little kids rolling [them] around in strollers. Don’t tell me you don’t care about anybody else! We got to go deep and hard to get to where people really feel, and struggle with them about what is worth living and dying for.

I have to say one other thing. I know I’m going all over the place but just let me say this: I get really mad when people say, “All this talk about revolution—you’re going to get people killed.” People are getting killed all over the place, all over the world, including right around the corner, right now, for nothing, for no good reason, and we are trying really hard to do this in a scientific way so people don’t die unnecessarily.

Let’s be honest. You can’t make a revolution, you can’t go up against this thing and defeat them and nobody’s going to suffer, and nobody’s going to die. OK, let’s be honest. There’s no good point, in fact it works against everything we need to be going for, if you go up and lie to people and tell them [there is] some easy way to do this. But at least let’s not have it be for nothing. Let’s not have it be only to keep the same thing going for generation after generation. Your kids are going to come up and face the same thing, or worse, than what you’re going through, whether it’s the police or someone just like you who’s going to do them in. So we’re really working very hard to be very scientific so that, yes, people are going to need, when it comes down to it, to fight and die, but at least let’s not have it be for stuff that doesn’t count for anything and really works against what we need to do. At least let’s make it count for a future that’s better for all the people in the world, the great majority of people in the world who are suffering terribly under this system, including for all the violence that’s brought down, and for absolutely no good reason and completely unnecessarily.

So, consent decrees are not going to solve the problem!

 


1. Fred Hampton was the leader of the Black Panther Party in Chicago, who was murdered by police, with the active involvement of the FBI, as he lay asleep in an apartment in Chicago in December 1969. Another Black Panther, Mark Clark, was also murdered by the police during this middle-of-the night raid. [back]

2. Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old Black youth, was murdered by Chicago police in October 2014. This was followed, for more than year, by a systematic attempt of the Chicago police, and higher-up authorities, to cover up this wanton killing—including the suppression of video footage of the killing. Finally, as a result of massive protest, Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago cop who fired the shots that killed Laquan McDonald, was tried and convicted of second-degree murder; but he was sentenced to only three years and nine months in jail. And the cops involved in the cover-up of this murder were either not indicted and tried or, in the case of three others, were found not guilty by a judge in a separate trial from Van Dyke’s. [back]

3. In Sanford, Florida, in February 2012, George Zimmerman, an armed white wannabe cop, confronted Trayvon Martin, a Black youth who was walking back from a neighborhood store to the nearby home of his father. Zimmerman instigated a confrontation with Martin, which resulted in Zimmerman shooting Martin to death. After a massive outpouring of outrage, Zimmerman—who was not even initially arrested and instead was treated in a sympathetic manner by the police right after this incident—was finally put on trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. But, as happens so regularly when it is the police who kill a Black person, the wannabe cop and friend of the police Zimmerman was acquitted! Nonetheless, the murder of Trayvon Martin, followed by the acquittal of Zimmerman, gave rise to a powerful wave of protest against police brutality and murder, which became even broader and more determined after the murders by police of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri (near St. Louis), and Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York City. [back]

4. At the time of this speech and question and answer with Bob Avakian, Jeff Sessions—a white supremacist former senator from Alabama—was the attorney general of the U.S. government. [back]

5. Rahm Emanuel (a Democratic Party politician who was a close adviser of Barack Obama) was then the mayor of Chicago. [back]

6. Here Bob Avakian is referring to Carl Dix, who a number of decades ago worked in a steel plant, where the Black workers were stuck in the dirtiest, lowest-paying and most dangerous jobs—and Carl himself was seriously injured while working in those conditions. Carl, a former soldier who spent time in prison for refusing to take part in the U.S. imperialist war in Vietnam, has been a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party since its founding in 1975. [back]

7. This refers to a situation in a Starbucks in Philadelphia, in 2018, where two Black men were waiting for a friend and one of the Starbucks workers accused them of loitering and called the police. This particular situation was resolved without serious physical harm being done to these Black men— although they were already handcuffed by police by the time their friend showed up! And it is not at all hard to imagine this turning into another one of these cases where the police escalated things and ended up brutalizing, or even killing, Black people who were doing absolutely nothing wrong. Along with the very real danger of being brutalized or even murdered by the police, incidents of this kind, which happen over and over again in this country, take a terrible toll on the psyche of those who are subjected to them—and, on the whole people, in particular Black people, who collectively suffer as a result of this kind of constant treatment. [back]

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/293/ba-more-on-choices-en.html

More on Choices...And Radical Changes

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

Introductory note: These are comments by BA 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. Comments from people in the discussion are in double brackets.

BA: I know by what was reported to me, and I hope I’m not out of line here. [laughs] But I know, for example, over the informal discussion, there was some question from people about what I was just saying, like whether it’s true that it’s the system’s fault that people get into crime or whether it’s people making bad choices. I know that this has come up so I spoke to that some but if people have something they want to throw in about that, either disagree with what I’m saying or ask more about that, it would be good. I know, for example you [...] brought this up, right? That people make these bad choices, am I right about that?

[[“Yeah, like, murderers, that’s they choice, it’s not the system to kill somebody. But they go out and kill somebody just to get a hit, or get anything. The system don’t tell them to do that, that’s by choice. Then they get caught up and they go to jail, stuff like that. And I’m like, I don’t get it how people say it’s the system.”]]

BA: Okay, I think that’s a good question, I think it’s a question that a lot of people have, even if they don’t like the system.

Look, I think you’re right that obviously people do make a choice, in the more narrow sense people do decide to do something or not to do it. It’s not like, in most cases at least, somebody literally puts a gun to their head, says you have to go out and rob somebody, you have to go out and rape somebody, you have to go out and kill somebody. That’s true.

But the point is the reason why we say that it’s the system in a more basic sense is because, both in terms of the conditions people find themselves in that aren’t of their own choosing, and in terms of the ideas that are out there in society that influence people, those things are not things that people thought up all on their own, those are things that come from something bigger than people—namely from the system.

In other words, the idea that you should get yours, and get over on other people, is an idea that has a lot of influence on people. But it is not just something people thought of on their own, that is the culture that we get from the popular... the TV programs, the music, all the things that are promoted encourage people to think in that kind of way.

Now if you are a stockbroker, and you work on Wall Street in New York, you do that by high level swindling and manipulating the stock market to get more money for yourself, or just undercutting other people in billion-dollar deals. And very rarely do you get caught for doing that and sent to prison for doing that. It’s not even always illegal what those people do, they just engage in a lot of high financial speculation and manipulation to make a lot of money off the misery of people who are being exploited to create that wealth in the first place. But that’s the mentality: make as much money as you can, get over on other people any way you can.

But if you are in a position to be a stockbroker then you can do it in a big-time way and you’re called a role model. [appreciative laughter] You’re held up as what people should try to be like.

But if you are on the street and you don’t have any way, you don’t have a background in knowing all about the stock market and everything else, but you have the same kind of thinking that’s been instilled in and influences your mind, then you’re going to go out and rob somebody because that’s the thing that you can do, or you can sell them drugs.

[[Because they can get away with it?]]

BA: Not because they can get away with it, but because that’s what is available to you, if you have the way of thinking that the idea is to get as much as you can get by getting over on other people. You can’t become a big-time stock trader if you don’t have the background to do that. They’re not going to let you just walk up in there and start manipulating stocks, right? [laughter] But you can rob somebody on the street.

[[Yeah, I’m understanding what you are saying now.]]

BA: Okay, so you can rob somebody, right? Now am I saying it is right to rob somebody? Absolutely not. But what I’m saying is if you’re influenced by the way that the culture and all the popular stuff on TV and the music and everything tells you you ought to be trying to get rich and get over on other people. If you get influenced by that and you say that’s the way the game is played, so I’m going to do my thing in it, right, then you are going to do what you can do. If you can’t be a stockbroker... if you can’t be some other person, a banker, who loans money to somebody to buy a house knowing that they can’t pay back the loan, and then forecloses on the house and sells it again, does the same thing again and again... If you can’t make your money that way, but you got the idea in your mind from the whole culture out there that the thing to do is to get over on other people, and get money any way you can, then you’ll do what you can do, which is to stick up somebody, or to sell some drugs, or to pimp out a woman and beat her down when she tries to get out of it, and so on.

Now did you make a choice to do that? Yes, you did. But why?

First of all, where did the ideas come from that told you that that was the kind of thing you should do? You didn’t just wake up one day and have those ideas. Those ideas are coming at you from every direction in the society.

Second of all, why did you have the choice of sticking up somebody instead of being a banker loaning people money? Because you came up in a certain situation that wasn’t of your own choosing. You were born into a certain situation that you were faced with from the moment you slipped out of your mother’s womb. That’s what’s the conditions that you were in. And if you are of a certain color or a certain situation, you are going to have a very hard time getting out of that. Yeah, you could become a rapper, or you could become a basketball player, but they never tell us—but think about it—how many people who are really good at rapping, or how many people who are really good, let’s say, high school basketball players, make it into the big time? One out of a thousand? One out of ten thousand, probably more likely, one out of one hundred thousand, maybe? Not very many people can get out of those situations by going into hip-hop or going into basketball or football or whatever.

So, there you are, and you didn’t choose these circumstances you’re in but you have got this influence of  “okay I gotta get over,” so you do what you can. You can hear people say that, “I gotta do what I gotta do, I gotta do what I can do.” Because they have been poisoned with the ideology—in other words, the way of thinking—of the system and so they do what is available to them to do.

Now, is that bad? Of course it is. It’s bad for the people. It’s bad for the person who does it. And it’s bad for the kind of world we want. And it’s bad for the revolution we need to get to the kind of world we want. So do we have to struggle with people about that? Of course.

But if we don’t give them a sense of a larger thing that this could be all about. If we don’t give them the sense that the world could be a whole different way, and that their circumstances could be a whole different way, that they could be actually using their creativity and their daring and other things to help make a revolution to get to a whole different kind of society where people like them and many, many others could be actually using their abilities to make a better society, then it’s very likely they are going to fall back into what they know how to do.

So this is the way we talk about it’s the system’s fault. It is not that the system literally put a gun in their hand, but it put the idea in their head of what life should be all about, and it put them in conditions where taking a gun in their hand makes a certain amount of sense, if you’re going from the idea of what the system tells you you ought to be going from.

So it’s not that this is a way of “excusing” what people do. It’s not that it’s all right to do it. It’s not like we’re saying “Oh well, you didn’t have any choice.” You know, it wasn’t your fault, in the sense that you couldn’t have done anything else. Yeah, they could do something else, but not as long as you are under the rule and playing by the rules of this system. You are not very likely to find a better choice for millions and millions of people. 

That’s what I meant by saying that this conservative writer said that if you’re in that situation, it makes sense to go into crime, it makes more sense than trying to get a job at McDonald’s.

Now, we need a different society where it doesn’t make sense for people to go into crime and rip other people off. Either the people on the very top—we need to get rid of all that. But also the people on the bottom who get caught up in all of this. We need to change all that so we don’t have people on the top and people on the bottom like this anymore.

So that’s why I say it’s the system, not in the sense that the people don’t have any responsibility, but in the sense that they’re being influenced and their way of thinking is being shaped by a system that then leaves them almost no other options once it’s convinced them through its culture and everything that this is the way that you have to try to live.

You do find people saying, “You know, I’ve got a wife and kids,” or “I got a family I gotta support,” or “I have my mama,” or “I have my kids and what am I going to do out here?” So we need to have a whole different world where that isn’t the situation that people are in.

Does that make any sense?

[[yes]]

BA: But???

 [[no but...]]

 BA: I am just saying, is there something I am missing with this? Is there something I’m skipping over that is part of the picture that we need to think about?

I don’t want to go on and on with this, but I do think maybe if we come across as saying in a kind of a simple-minded way “it’s the system” as if people are just machines that don’t have any mind of their own, then that would be wrong. If the way I’m presenting it is falling into that then that’s a mistake on my part, it is not that kind of crude over-simple thing. But it’s more the way I was trying to describe it, in terms of how people are influenced, and then how that influence causes them to act within the choices that they’re given, the very limited choices by the way the system works and the position it’s put them in.  

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

On Choices... And Radical Changes

First, people don't make choices in a vacuum. They do it in the context of the social relations they're enmeshed in and the options they have within those relations—which are not of their own choosing. They confront those relations, they don't choose them.

Two, if people feel for whatever reasons that they want to choose to harm themselves and others, we're going to struggle with them—but we're not going to blame them. We're going to show them the source of all this in the system, and call on them to struggle against that system, and transform themselves in the process. Just because a youth "chooses" to sell drugs, or a woman "chooses" to commodify herself sexually, doesn't mean that they chose to have those choices. And there is no other way besides fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution that all this will change for the better. Blaming the masses for bad choices just reinforces the conditions that they are oppressed by.

In sum, people do make choices—but they make them enmeshed and confined within social relations that are not of their choosing. We have to bring into being different social relations and conditions so that masses of people can act differently and relate differently to each other. Fundamentally, that takes a revolution which is aiming for communism.

— Bob Avakian

 

 

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/646/wave-of-racist-terror-en.html

A Wave of Racist Terror... From a Rotten, Racist System

| revcom.us

 

The past few days have witnessed an explosion of videos documenting racist murderous actions and threats from cops and fascists.

As Bob Avakian wrote in March, "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...."

This has been borne out over the past two months and the past week in particular. At a time when African-Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a genocidally disproportional rate... at a time when armed white fascists invade state legislatures waving Confederate flags, swastikas, nooses, and automatic rifles... the past few days have witnessed the following outrageous scenes of racist violence.

In Georgia, a February lynching of an unarmed Black man went down and was about to be covered up until THIS video came to light (go here for full story):

In northern California, an unarmed 14-year-old Black boy was brutally beaten by police for possession of a cigar (go here for full story):

And in New York, this past Saturday, THIS is how police supposedly enforced "social distancing" against a Black man for not having a mask (go here for full story).

These are only the tip of the iceberg. The mounting resistance to these outrages is righteous and should be supported, and transformed, toward a movement to make revolution and overthrow this system.

This MUST STOP. This system must be overthrown.

Revolution—Nothing Less!

"REVOLTING BARBARITY, SHAMELESS HYPOCRISY

For Those Who Cling to the Myth of "This Great American Democracy":
Some Simple Questions"

by Bob Avakian

Read more

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/the-lynching-of-ahmaud-arbery-en.html

The Lynching of Ahmaud Arbery:
The Cover-Up. The Protests. The Profound Questions Raised.

| revcom.us

 

The Lynching

Ahmaud Arbery was a 25-year-old Black man, who’d played high school football and loved to jog. On February 23, he went out for a run near his home outside Brunswick, a small town in southeast Georgia.

Running was one of the joys of his life, but on this Sunday afternoon it turned deadly. Two white men, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, saw Ahmaud run by, picked up their guns—a shotgun and a .357 Magnum—got in their pickup truck and gave chase. They may have been joined by a third white man, Willian “Roddie” Bryan, who filmed Ahmaud’s murder and had apparently tried to block him for the McMichaels.

The video shows Ahmaud running down a leafy residential street, in shorts and a T-shirt, clearly unarmed. McMichael’s pickup truck is blocking the road in front of him—the two men with guns in hand. Ahmaud runs around the truck, then turns to try and grab Travis McMichael’s shotgun to protect himself. But Ahmaud is shot three times, staggers a few feet, collapses, and dies. Murdered for jogging while Black.

The Cover-up

The police come. They recognize a former colleague—Gregory McMichael was a cop in their department from 1982-89, and then an investigator in the local prosecutor’s office until 2019. And he had Ahmaud’s blood on his hands. The McMichaels told the cops they thought Ahmaud looked like a “burglary suspect,” who had then acted aggressively and tried to take their guns, so they fired in self-defense. According to Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys for Ahmaud’s family, the police “took the word of the suspected killers who said they believed Arbery was a criminal, and they feared for their lives. That was the extent of the investigation.” (NPR)

The cops let the McMichaels go. Then they told Ahmaud’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, two lies: that her son was committing a burglary, and that he was shot by the homeowner.

The police and DA Jackie Johnson knew the video existed from day one, according to Crump. Yet Johnson refused to prosecute, claiming McMichael had the legal authority to make a "citizens arrest" for a crime—despite the fact that, according to some legal experts, the "crime" would have had to have been committed in the McMichael's presence. Turns out Gregory McMichael had worked for Johnson for 20 years.

Four days later, Johnson recused herself from the case, and another DA, George Barnhill, took over. Less than a day after seeing the video and police evidence, Barnhill said no charges would be filed. Nothing happened until Ahmaud’s mother discovered, on Facebook, that Barnhill’s son had worked on a case against Ahmaud under DA Johnson. On April 7, Barnhill recused himself and yet another DA, Tom Durden, took over.

The Video Is Released, the Dam Bursts

Still nothing happened until Tuesday, May 5, when the video was leaked and began circulating online. The dam burst. There was a growing tsunami of rage, protest, and demands the killers be arrested that spread rapidly, building toward protests Friday.

Durden quickly called in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Thirty-six hours later, on the evening of Thursday, May 7—the night before nationwide protests were planned—the GBI arrested Gregory and Travis McMichael and charged them with felony murder and aggravated assault. Now, suddenly, law enforcement discovered that “there was more than sufficient probable cause to justify charging two men with murder,” the New York Times reported on May 8.

On Twitter, #IRunWithMaud was used tens of thousands of times, with people sharing pictures of themselves in running gear. By Friday, high-profile professional athletes sent the FBI and prosecutors a letter demanding a federal investigation into Ahmaud Arbery’s death. A Change.org petition calling for justice had gathered over 700,000 signatures. There were protests in Brunswick and Atlanta, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Charlottesville, Virginia; and elsewhere. #IRunwithAhmaud gatherings took place across the country including New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles, involving doctors, teachers, professional athletes, and many more.

A Lesson Learned and the Real Question Raised

Without a fight by the masses of people, there will be NO JUSTICE! Think about it. People have had to persist and raise an outcry just to get an arrest after this blatant, unprovoked murder. And no doubt there will have to be much more struggle to make sure these racist killers are convicted and sent to jail for life!

And then there’s the bigger question of justice for all Black people. The cruel lynching of Ahmaud Arbery hearkens to the days of slavery and slave catchers, the era of Jim Crow lynchings and the postcards made from those thousands of hangings... and it’s evoked cries today that Black people are still being hunted wherever they go by killer pigs and racist vigilantes.

With the oppression of Black people woven into the history of this country and the fabric of this society and system, this raises—yet again—profound questions: When WILL such barbaric outrages be ended? And HOW will they be ended once and for all?

Through Revolution—Nothing Less! This System Cannot Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown!

Watch: The talk by Bob Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.


Ahmaud Arbery
Credit: runwithmaud.com

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech


People react during a rally to protest the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Brunswick Ga. (Photo: AP/John Bazemore)

Revolution Club Los Angeles - #IRunwithAhmaud, Friday May 8.

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/646/indianapolis-hundreds-protest-deadly-pig-rampage-en.html

Indianapolis: Hundreds Take to the Streets to Protest Deadly Pig Rampage

| revcom.us

 

From the evening of May 6 until early morning of May 7, Indianapolis police killed three people. 

Sean Reed—21-year-old Black man known to his family and friends as Dreasjon—was chased through the city by two unmarked cars carrying Randal Taylor, the Indianapolis police chief, and his top deputy. The two pigs claim Dreasjon was speeding and not obeying traffic signals. After a few minutes Taylor called in marked police cars to take over the chase. 

Dreasjon streamed the chase on Facebook, and many people in Indianapolis knew it was underway. When he stopped his car, the shirtless Dreasjon can be heard saying to someone, “Please, come get me!” But an unknown number of cops quickly caught up with him. Police claim Dreasjon had a gun and fired at them—there is no evidence for this, just the claims of these cops. 

About a dozen shots rang out while Dreasjon’s recorder was still running. As Dreasjon Reed lay fatally injured and bleeding to death, one of the pigs who approached him sneered, “I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie.”

Eight hours later and two miles away, McHale Rose, a 19-year-old Black man, was shot and killed when four Indianapolis cops say they responded to a burglary call. Again, the cops claimed that they were fired on first. Chief pig Taylor claimed Rose may have tried to “ambush” the cops who gunned him down. All these claims were echoed and broadcast by the local media, with no substantiation or evidence. 

And in the hours between these murders, an Indianapolis cop ran over and killed Ashlynn Lisby, a 23-year-old white woman. Local TV reports said she was pregnant at the time of her death and described her as “struggling with homelessness.”

No cops have been charged in any of these deaths.

A Day of Righteous Anger and Protest

The next day, “unrest and anger filled the streets of Indianapolis,” as TV station RTV6 reported. People rallied and marched at the police station and through downtown Indianapolis. That night, hundreds of people took over the intersection where Dreasjon was murdered.

Taylor, who is Black, arrived and told people they would have to wait for “an investigation”—then he made the unsubstantiated claim that “there was indeed a weapon.” A friend of Dreasjon’s replied to a reporter, “The deadly force they used, that was just unacceptable! Whether he had a gun or not!” 

Jamie Reed, Dreasjon’s father, told Taylor that his son’s murder “just shows me that we’re not really being protected and served. We’re being hunted... Y’all been murdering Black people for years! What are you going to do about it?” Jazmine Reed, Dreasjon’s anguished sister, shouted at Taylor, “They shot my little brother after he was already down! He was unarmed. Ain’t no justice for that!”

This Must STOP—This System Must Be Overthrown

Racist terror perpetrated by the police and by emboldened white supremacists has been spreading like a virus across this country. It is the product of a system with deeply oppressive relations embedded in its every fiber. Protests like those in Indianapolis are righteous and must be supported. Even more, they must be transformed, and built as part of contributing to a movement aimed at making revolution and overthrowing this foul system as soon as possible.


Indianapolis, May 7, a protest vigil for 21-year-old Dreasjon Reed who recorded his murder by police on FaceBook livestream. (Photo: AP)

REVOLTING BARBARITY, SHAMELESS HYPOCRISY
For Those Who Cling to the Myth of "This Great American Democracy":
Some Simple Questions

by Bob Avakian

Read more

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/438/american-crime-case-99-move-massacre-en.html

American Crime

Case #99: May 13, 1985: The MOVE Massacre

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

THE CRIME: 5:35 am, May 13, 1985. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor aims his bullhorn at the house at 6221 Osage Avenue and declares: “Attention MOVE! This is America.”

Seven adults and six children, members of the MOVE organization, were in their home. Outside, hundreds of heavily armed police and city officials surrounded them.

Fifteen minutes later the police assault began. Explosives blew holes in the side of the house and tear gas was pumped in; fire hoses streamed water onto the roof. Police opened fire with over 8,000 rounds from handguns, Uzis, and anti-tank weapons. There was no solid evidence that the people inside ever fired a shot.

When the occupants still did not come out, a police helicopter hovered over the roof and dropped a powerful bomb. The roof burst into flames so hot that homes across the street ignited. Flames raced downward through the MOVE house toward the people huddled in the basement. The fire trucks on hand did nothing to stop the fire, which then quickly spread to the surrounding homes.

The MOVE house became an unbearable hell of intense heat, fire, tear gas. and smoke. Some residents burst outside, but were met by police gunfire and either killed or forced back into the flames, to be burned alive.

By the end, five children ages 9 to 14 were murdered by the police, as were six adults, their bodies mostly in pieces. Sixty-one homes were burned; 250 people rendered homeless. The one adult who survived—Ramona Africa—was arrested and served seven years in jail. The one child survivor was torn from those who love him and put in foster care.

THE CRIMINALS AND CO-CONSPIRATORS: Mayor Wilson Goode, the first Black mayor of Philadelphia, authorized and oversaw the massacre, along with other city leaders, which included former generals, and FBI agents.

The Philadelphia Police Department carried it out.

The FBI took part in the months of planning that went into this atrocity, and provided the city with the military-grade C-4 explosives for the bomb and other heavy weaponry.

The news media collaborated, before and after the crime, in painting MOVE as “dangerous terrorists” who left the authorities “no choice” except a full-scale military assault.

Dozens of political leaders, including U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III, defended and praised Mayor Goode for his handling of the assault. Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates called Goode a “hero.” Not a single major political leader—Democrat or Republican, Black or white—denounced it.

THE ALIBI: Philadelphia authorities claimed that MOVE was a violent terrorist organization, holding a peaceful neighborhood hostage. The city claimed that it “just wanted to protect the neighborhood,” and that MOVE was digging a network of tunnels, building a weapons stockpile and plotting a major incident, perhaps a hostage taking. They further claimed that MOVE “wanted a violent confrontation” and the city was just responding to that threat. According to then-district attorney Ed Rendell, “These are people who essentially committed suicide, and murdered their own children.”

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE: MOVE was a Black radical organization formed in the early 1970s that refused to respect present-day America and its prevailing values. It exposed the rulers of this society for the liars, racists and murderers they are, denounced their brutal police, and talked about “revolution.”

MOVE thought of revolution as changing people’s thinking and behavior, not overthrowing the whole system, and MOVE’s political actions were peaceful. But when MOVE members were threatened and confronted by the authorities, they did not back down. The rulers of this system considered this to be intolerable, especially coming just a few years after the U.S. had been rocked by mass rebellions of Black people.

Over a year before the May 13 attack, city authorities began meeting and planning how to put a stop to MOVE once and for all—these plans included building models of the MOVE house and practicing exploding it!

Mayor Goode said: “If I had to make the decision all over again, knowing what I know now, I would make the same decision because I think we cannot permit any terrorist group, any revolutionary group in this city, to hold a whole neighborhood or a whole city hostage. And we have to send that message out loud and clear, over and over again...” (Emphasis added.) Never mind the fact that the most common definition of terrorism is the murder of innocent civilians for a political purpose—and that MOVE never did anything remotely resembling that, while Goode committed exactly that crime in his bombing.

Addendum: Repeat Offenders

The MOVE massacre is not the first time this system has bombed and burned out rebellious Black people.

In June 1921, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a white mob attempting to lynch a Black prisoner was stopped, partly by Black residents armed with shotguns. In response, white supremacists went on a rampage. A mob of over 1,000—and including police—stormed the Greenwood area, at that time known as the “Negro Wall Street” because of its vibrant Black-owned economy. Looting, burning, and shooting people, the mob met fierce resistance from armed Blacks. The police commandeered a half-dozen small planes, supposedly to provide surveillance for their attack, though many reported that the planes also dropped explosive and incendiary devices on the Black community.

By the time it was over, up to 100 Black people had been murdered, and perhaps two dozen of their white attackers killed. The population of Greenwood had been rounded up by police and forced into detention centers. The whole neighborhood, including 1,256 homes, had been burned to the ground; only a few buildings survived.

 

Taken in by an unending media and police campaign against MOVE and shocked by the scale of violence unleashed against MOVE, too many people stood by paralyzed and did not rise up in response. A "Draw the Line" statement, initiated by Carl Dix and others, was signed by more than 100 prominent Black figures and others denouncing the collusion of Black elected officials in the repression of the Black community.
Draw the Line Statement about MOVE Massacre
Download JPG | PDF

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

Revcom.us Podcast series "American Crime"

Case #99: May 13, 1985: The MOVE Massacre


Above: Osage Avenue burns after Philadelphia police dropped bomb on MOVE house. May 13, 1985. 11 people died and 61 homes burned down.

 


Above: As the neighborhood burned, hundreds gathered in the street, indicting the police and chanting "Murderers! Murderers!"

Ramona Africa
While the perpetrators of this horrendous crime – the mayor and the police – walked free, the only adult survivor, Ramona Africa (shown here speaking in 2014), was arrested and spent seven years in prison for refusing to renounce MOVE, while the surviving child, Birdie Africa, was seized by the system and taken away from his family. Photo: YouTube

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/646/donni-wright-violently-assaulted-by-nypd-en.html

Donni Wright, Violently Assaulted by NYPD for Witnessing Their Violent “Social Distancing” Assault

| revcom.us

 

Saturday, May 2, Donni Wright, a Black man was walking in New York City’s East Village when he saw four cops violently throwing a friend of his and another person down to the ground, supposedly for violating social-distancing rules. Wright stopped some 15 feet away to witness what was going on, as other witnesses around him shouted at the pigs to stop their abuse. Pig Francisco Garcia—who wasn’t wearing a mask—saw Wright standing there and aggressively strode up on him with a taser out, yelling “Move the fuck back right now," "Don’t flex.” All Wright said was, “He didn’t even do nothing,” then Garcia assaulted him. “We’re talking about someone sitting on your shoulder and punching your ribs and sitting on your shoulders and your head for a good three to four minutes, heavy weight bouncing,” Wright’s mother told the New York Daily News. Wright was hospitalized with severe injuries to his back, ribs and chest, and initially charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. The charges were “deferred” after the video of the NYPD’s brutal takedown went viral.

See also:

A Wave of Racist Terror... From a Rotten, Racist System

Read more

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/646/from-vise-grip-to-death-grip-en.html

From Vise Grip to Death Grip
Imperialist Domination, COVID-19, and the Poor of the World Be Damned

by Raymond Lotta

| revcom.us

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide, the global economy contracted. As suffering and deaths caused by the virus have mounted across the planet, the world imperialist system, U.S. imperialism in particular, has responded as it always has: acting to maintain the profitable functioning and interests of empire... to even more horrific effect, especially in the oppressed countries.

Four examples from different parts of the “global south” where the great majority of oppressed humanity lives and works:

Exhibit 1. U.S. ambassador issues ultimatum to Mexican government: factories run by U.S. manufacturing corporations must stay the fuck open or we take our jobs elsewhere.

Close to the U.S. border in Mexico, U.S.-owned and subcontracted factories employ hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers. They produce computer, airplane, and car parts, televisions, and other electrical appliances—overwhelmingly for the U.S. market. Wages of workers average one-ninth of manufacturing wages in the U.S.; and labor and environmental protections are minimal.

With outbreaks of the coronavirus erupting in these and other factories, with workers falling ill and dying on the job, and with testing for the virus scarce—the Mexican health ministry ordered plant closings. It was a bare-bones safety measure. But to the U.S. imperialists, this is an intolerable, criminal act. As recounted in the New York Times, it was not because these factories are producing goods or carrying out services essential to the welfare of the Mexican people. Again, most of the output is exported. But that output has been deemed by the U.S. government as “essential” to... the United States! Come again—TVs, Sharpie pens, aircraft engines for a U.S. airline industry that is severely curtailing operations?

A dirty little secret: the profitability of imperialist supply chains* depends on the continuing humming of global assembly lines... the strategic capacities of the U.S. military/death machine and security apparatus requires an assured inflow of components... and the competitive strength of U.S. capital depends on reliable, low-cost/efficient production—the more so with China’s economy re-starting big time, and giving imperialist China a certain competitive leg up in a clobbered world imperialist economy.

And so this threat from the U.S. ambassador in response to the Mexican government’s stated concerns about COVID-19 spreading among workers in these plants: “You don’t have ‘workers’ if you close all the companies and they move elsewhere.” In other words, you (Mexico) reopen, or we (the U.S. with its transnational corporations) could just pull up stakes and leave your economy to crater even more. Which, by the way, is part of the operational logic and extortion of imperialist supply chains. The Mexican factories have remained open.

The New York Times described this ultimatum as an example of America’s “unequal relationship” with Mexico. We can be more precise: brute neocolonialism. And keep this fact in mind: the great majority of the infected in Mexico with COVID-19 are factory workers.1

Exhibit 2. Fast fashion, sweatshops, and COVID-19 in Bangladesh.

Some 4.1 million workers, 85 percent of them women, live and labor in the cramped conditions of the garment industry of Bangladesh. They produce T-shirts, dresses, pants for the likes of Walmart, Target, H&M, and other Western retailers. Industrial accidents, fires, building collapses (more than 1,000 people died in one such collapse in 2013), and sexual abuse are commonplace in these cost-minimizing, life-draining factories. It all goes into your seasonal “fast fashion.”2

Bangladesh’s economy has been twisted and distorted to serve the interests of imperialism: 80 percent of its export earnings derive from the garment industry; it is the driver of economic “growth” in Bangladesh; and the country is highly vulnerable to economic shocks coming from the imperialist countries (like the recession of 2008-09). A sword hangs over the garment industry: if these garment factories do not meet and continue to cheapen prescribed production costs, then Western retailers can subcontract to other suppliers in other poor countries. That’s the pit each-against-each modus operandi of imperialist supply chains. Driving costs down, raising profitability... and it all rests on savage super-exploitation. That’s the norm, before the onset of COVID-19.

With the pandemic hitting hard and retail stores closing in the U.S., Western companies abruptly canceled billion-dollar orders. Much of the garment industry and other manufacturing shut down in Bangladesh. Millions of workers, mostly women from rural areas, were sent home. Nearly all the big-name retailers refused to contribute to the cost of partial wages for furloughed workers, as mandated by Bangladeshi law. Seventy percent of these workers were sent home without pay.3 Many, without knowing, were carrying the coronavirus to their villages.

But the shutdowns were temporary. Rival ownership groupings and garment factories in Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam (operations that are also part of Western supply chains) had reopened. And if factories in Bangladesh did not find their own ways to restart, orders might be permanently lost. And so the specter of hundreds of thousands of garment workers shuttling back and forth between Dhaka (the capital of Bangladesh where the garment industry is centered) and their rural villages—many traveling by foot. And so the horror, to quote the Economist, of workers “left languishing in slums by the garment factories—now the centers of Bangladesh’s coronavirus outbreak.”

Did I mention that in one of the poorest districts in Dhaka where garment factories are clustered, 150 out of 160 COVID-19 tests conducted in one day proved positive? Did I mention that Bangladesh has a population of 170 million but only some 1,000 intensive-care beds?4

Exhibit 3. Shantytowns caused by imperialism... as transmission belts of COVID-19.

As the curve of new COVID-19 cases begins to flatten in the rich countries, poor nations now represent all of the countries where COVID-19 cases are growing most rapidly.

One of the major reasons is what Bob Avakian has called the “shantytown-ization of the Third World.” This refers to breakneck urbanization in the oppressed countries: and the explosive growth of densely populated and impoverished cities and slums where disease is easily spread.

What accounts for this unprecedented growth of cities and “mega”-cities in the Third World? Imperialist agribusiness and raw-materials investments and land-grabbing in rural areas have devastated subsistence peasant agriculture. Imperialist export-processing zones that produce goods for the wealthy countries entice migrants into the cities. Global warming, caused overwhelmingly by the rich countries’ use of fossil fuels, has turned land previously farmed and grazed into desert. These and other factors have driven and drawn tens of millions upon millions out of rural areas to the cities. But the economies of the oppressed countries are so distorted by imperialism... that they cannot absorb people into regular employment.

As you shelter in place, reflect on this passage from an academic study: “There are 1.2 billion people globally living in informal slums, which by definition are crowded and lack sufficient access to water and sanitation—meaning any force of isolation or quarantine is impossible. In some slums the density is as high as 800,000 people per square mile—for comparison, New York City’s is 27,000.5 The question is posed: How is social distancing practiced under these awful conditions?

But it’s not only how people are forced to live in the oppressed countries. It’s also how they are compelled to work. The great majority of people in the “global south” work, when they do find work, in what is called the “informal economy.” These are irregular jobs offering little security, payment largely in cash, jobs shielded from workplace regulations, and with no benefits. Most who work in the informal economy have no savings, and need their daily or weekly earnings to feed their families. The question is posed: Do you comply with lockdowns and starve—or defy it to feed your family?

And the governments of the poorest countries have limited budgets to support populations no longer working or in lockdown. As one journalist observed, “[it’s] the worst of both worlds—mass poverty from shutdowns and mass illness and deaths from the continued spread of the virus.”6 That is the current reality for much of the world’s population.

Exhibit 4. It gets worse... the imperialist stranglehold on public health in poor countries.

In 2019, 64 countries, nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, spent more servicing their external debt than on health.7 Debt service is the amount of money—the interest and the principal—spent over a given period to pay down loans from imperialist banks, governments, and other lending institutions like the International Monetary Fund.**

More going out to repay debt than going into domestic public health is a grisly statistic. It has meant that, because of cuts in the health budgets, training, and research in poor countries over the years (as part of satisfying conditions to obtain more loans from imperialist financial institutions), many doctors trained in Africa emigrate to the West. It means, in this time of pandemic, that financial resources that could be going to alleviate some aspects of this crisis are earmarked to repay loans that reinforce the whole structure of imperialist domination of oppressed countries: export-oriented production, raw materials extraction, and infrastructure development serving the needs of imperialist accumulation of profit and more profit. And with the economies of the poor nations now experiencing steep declines, and when billions of additional dollars are needed to cope with this health crisis, this debt-repayment will become an even greater weight on these countries.

Consider these facts:

*Africa has the highest burden of disease in the world, but only three percent of the world’s health workers.8

*At the height of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, there was an average of two doctors per 100,000 in Sierra Leone, and 45 per 100,000 in Nigeria (Africa’s most populous country)—compared to some 250 doctors per 100,000 in the U.S. at the time.9

*In mid-April of this year, Nigeria, with its population of 200 million, had only 100 ventilators!10

CONCLUSION

All of what has been described reflects the lopsidedness of the world: the concentration of advanced productive forces and technology in the capitalist-imperialist countries. All the “pre-existing conditions” of imperialist domination in the “global south”—the supply-chain sweatshops, the loans that tighten control over and distort the economies of poor countries, the densely populated shantytowns of poverty and disease—have been an unrelieved horror. All this is built into and basic to the fundamental nature and workings of the capitalist imperialist system. With the COVID-19 pandemic, all the suffering has intensified and will intensify further.

As Bob Avakian has put it: “...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!

 

Explanatory notes

*A supply chain is an integrated network of production units, transport, and distribution forming the process of producing a final commodity, like Nikes, iPhones, or cars. Imperialist capital deploys global supply chains to outsource and subcontract interrelated segments of production (mining of materials, manufacture of parts and components, assembly) to low-wage suppliers in the oppressed nations of the “global south”—and puts continual pressure on these suppliers to cheapen costs, which means more savage exploitation of workers. [back]

**To repay debt, poor countries must generate earnings/revenues, typically by producing and selling goods on the world market, which provides foreign exchange, like the dollar, that is required for repayment. But often, when debt cannot be repaid because of high interest/short-term loans, poor countries must borrow and borrow anew to repay loans, leading to a situation called a “debt trap.” [back]

 

1. Natalie Kitroeff, “As Workers Fall Ill, U.S. Presses Mexico to Keep American-Owned Plants Open,” New York Times, April 30, 2020 [back]

2. See, Dana Thomas, Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes (New York: Penguin, 2019). [back]

3. Elizabeth Paton, “‘Our Situation is Apocalyptic’: Bangladesh Garment Workers Face Ruin,” New York Times, March 31, 2020. [back]

4. “Suffering from a stitch—Bangladesh cannot afford to close its garment factories,” The Economist, April 30, 2020. [back]

5. Asif Saleh and Richard A. Cash, “Masks and Handwashing vs. Physical Distancing: Do We Really Have Evidence-based Answers for Policymakers in Resource-limited Settings?,” Center for Global Development, April 3, 2020. [back]

6. Kelsey Piper, “The devastating consequences of coronavirus lockdowns in poor countries,” Vox, April 18, 2020. [back]

7. Jubilee Debt Campaign, “Sixty-four countries spend more on debt payments than health,” April 12, 2020 [back]

8. Robert Nash, et al., “Reflections on family medicine and primary healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa,” BMG Global Health, May 12, 2018. [back]

9. Statista Research Department, “Physician density in West African countries suffering from the 2014 Ebola outbreak,” August 16, 2014. [back]

10. Max Bearak and Danielle Paquette, “Africa’s most vulnerable countries have few ventilators—or none at all,” Washington Post, April 18, 2020 [back]

Would Mexico & Central America still be the US' backyard after the revolution?

From a Q&A following the speech by Bob Avakian:
Why We Need An Actual Revolution and How We Can Really Make Revolution
Watch BA's whole speech
Watch clips from the speech


The maquiladora owned by the TECMA group in Ciudad Juarez was the center of a major COVID-19 outbreak. Thirteen employees at the factory have died of the disease, according to Mexican health officials. (Photo: Wikipedia)

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

"You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics."

Order the book HERE
Download the book in ePub format HERE


Bangladeshi garment workers block a road demanding their unpaid wages during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 16. More than a million of the 4.1 million workers in Bangladesh's garment industry have been furloughed or fired due to cancelled orders. (Photo: AP)


Piles of garbage in Dharavi, India.

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/in-light-of-tara-reade-accusation-en.html

In Light of Tara Reade’s Accusation Against Joe Biden, Points of Basic Principle

by Sunsara Taylor

| revcom.us

 

Several weeks ago, Tara Reade publicly accused Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, of sexually assaulting her 27 years ago when she worked for him as a Senate aide. Joe Biden denies that any such assault took place.

Since then, her accusation and his denial have been treated like political footballs in an escalating and ballooning political scandal, with some backing #IBelieveTaraReade, insisting she be believed, and others insisting that Biden be believed, i.e. #IBelieveBiden. Some progressives posit that Reade must be believed, but Biden should still be supported as a presidential candidate.1 A few have raised critically important questions of due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

In this light, it is important to step back to some basic points of principle:

1. Accusations are not proof of guilt. The standard of “believing all women” is a wrong standard.

Accusations are part of the evidence, but determining the truth and proving it requires a serious and scientific sifting of concrete evidence, and subjecting the body of evidence to rigorous examination, especially in serious crimes like rape and sexual assault. This is in opposition to the stand of just believing all victims no matter what, which has become a rallying cry and litmus test—concentrated in the specific slogan “#BelieveWomen,” on accusations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape.2

Rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual degradation are pervasive throughout society and have touched the lives of most women. They have been covered up by dominant institutions and the culture. This has to be fought, and struggled against. When women who endure these crimes come forward to speak, they are often silenced, shamed, and punished. However, it does not follow from this that every single—or any particular—accusation is true.

As Bob Avakian wrote in a statement which welcomed and upheld the outpourings of the #MeToo movement when it first broke out and included important points of orientation:

This long-suppressed and thoroughly just outpouring of outrage is not the same as any particular accusation. Such particular accusations do have to be approached on the basis of scientifically evaluating the evidence, and this is especially important where the accusations not only allege misconduct but actual criminal action, such as rape or other sexual assault. [Emphasis added]

2. The “court of public opinion” has little to do with truth or justice.

Trials and summary judgments in the “court” of public opinion, in media and social media, are wrong and harmful, precisely for the reasons listed above. The “court” of public opinion does not afford the forum to give people necessary access to the body of evidence nor the scientific sifting through and examination of evidence.

The truth of the accusation, the proof of guilt, need to be determined through a systematic and rigorous scientific process where the evidence is challenged and cross-examined. Instead, in the “court” of public opinion, judgments are assessed and rendered by populist will and majority opinion, completely lacking in correct scientific methods of assessing evidence, and greatly influenced and skewed by politics and prejudices.3 This has nothing to do with truth or justice!

Resorting to such means and mob “justice”—including destroying someone’s reputation, driving them from public life, or generally “canceling” them on the basis of accusations alone, without due process to determine the truth of the accusation and defend oneself—violates basic principles of a just society and ultimately leaves everyone at risk and vulnerable to the “take-down” cancel culture.

3. The passing of time vitiates the evidence and the process of determining truth and justice.

At this point, nearly three decades (27 years) after the assault Reade alleges took place, it is practically impossible to determine what is true, especially because key evidence has been tainted or impossible to refute, such as where individuals were at specific dates/times/places, the context and circumstance of specific incidents, and especially the memory of potential witnesses which generally fades or warps with time. This is evident in this instance as well, where key witnesses have altered their story.4

The crimes of rape and sexual assault are among the most serious, causing tremendous harm not only to the direct victim but to all women everywhere. At the same time, given the serious punishment these crimes often carry, the standards for determining proof beyond a reasonable doubt—for such convictions and punishment—should be extremely rigorous.

A World Without Rape IS Possible—Through Revolution!

Putting an end to rape and all forms of oppression of women is possible, through unleashing the pent-up fury of women and those who stand with them as a social force for revolution. It requires uniting broadly in mass struggle today against all the institutions that protect and reinforce the many different forms of oppression of women as part of that revolution. As Bob Avakian has brought alive and shown, a revolution to overthrow the system of capitalism-imperialism—that has the oppression of women historically woven into it, so that society and the masses of people can go to work on eliminating this oppression as part of a worldwide process, without the chains and workings of the underlying system that reinforces this oppression.

STOP the Patriarchal Degradation, Dehumanization, and Subjugation of All Women Everywhere, and All Oppression Based on Gender or Sexual Orientation!

BREAK THE CHAINS! UNLEASH THE FURY OF WOMEN AS A MIGHTY FORCE FOR REVOLUTION!

1. For example, “I Believe Tara Reade. I’m Voting for Joe Biden Anyway,” op-ed by Linda Hirshman, New York Times, May 6, 2020. [back]

2. It is beyond the scope of the current article, but this standard is also extremely harmful. Do you really want to live in a world where anyone, anywhere can have their reputation destroyed—and even their liberty extinguished—by an accusation, and without the necessary and rigorous process of determining the truth of the accusation? Think about the many lynchings of Black men in this country justified by such accusations, most of which were unproven. (See Lynching in America, from Equal Justice Initiative.) [back]

3. A classic example of this is the Nation magazine article headlined “I Believe Tara Reade. And You Should, Too,” by Kate Manne, which states: “We already knew that Biden is the type. Had we as voters and had the Democratic Party taken this seriously, we wouldn’t be in this mess now.” [back]

4. See, for example, “The agonizing story of Tara Reade,” by Laura McGann, Vox.com, May 7, 2020. [back]

From Bob Avakian:
An Important Observation
Regarding the Article by Sunsara Taylor
On Tara Reade's Accusation Against Joe Biden

Read more

A Question of Basic Stand and Orientation

by Bob Avakian

SUPPORT AND SPREAD THE FURY AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE

Read more

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

"You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics."

Order the book HERE
Download the book in ePub format HERE

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

Read more

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/viewing-notes-on-planet-of-the-humans-en.html

Viewing Notes on Planet of the Humans...

To Change The Way We Live,
We Must Change The System We Live Under

by Raymond Lotta

| revcom.us

 

I recently watched Planet of the Humans, the new film produced by Michael Moore and directed by Jeff Gibbs. I’ve also followed the controversy surrounding the film. Is Planet of the Humans a useful tool that provides insights and indicates pathways of resistance for those concerned about the fate of the planet? The answer is that while it raises important questions and has some useful exposure of the limits and problems of “green energy” (like solar and wind power) under the current conditions of capitalism, the film is very much locked within the limits of the capitalist-imperialist system, the nature of which it does not grasp.

A Film That Ultimately Blames the People Not the System

For those not familiar with the film, it aims to unpack some of the popular illusions about “green” “renewable” energy: energy sources that do not deplete when used (like power from the sun) and that do not emit carbon dioxide that causes global warming.

The debate that the film wants to open up in part is over the claims made by “green energy” proponents for its limited ecological footprint. The film correctly points to how solar and wind power depend, in their current manufacture, on energy from fossil fuels and on raw materials requiring fossil fuels in the chain of production. There’s truth to this, and it is a real problem that cannot be seriously addressed within this system that is so highly reliant on profitable fossil fuels.

But when it comes to an actual analysis of the ecological emergency we are facing, and what underlies it, Planet of the Humans pins the blame of global warming and accelerating environmental devastation principally on people: on overconsumption—we, that’s us in the West, who can’t manage our appetites; and on overpopulation—that’s clearly the “they” of the “global south” who can’t manage procreation. As the film opens and surveys the vast ecological damage done to the planet, a somber voice-over offers this framing theme: “How much time do humans have? How would they know when it is our time to go?”

The film is awash in a kind of apocalyptic despair, of a species ravaging the planet through advanced technology. It puts before the camera several speakers identifying the problem as “industrial civilization” and overpopulation. The overall thrust and effect of Planet of the Humans is to let the economic-political system of capitalism-imperialism off the hook.

Now Moore and Gibbs have crammed their film with exposure of corporate interests driving certain green-energy projects—and it gives examples that should raise eyebrows of concern, especially among committed activists in this movement. The film also speaks to corporate influence over the environmental movement, especially through financial involvement and donations.1 This has seduced some viewers into seeing the film as a critique of capitalism. But the veil has not been lifted.

The essence or fundamental problem of capitalism is not, as Moore and Gibbs argue, “greedy” and “scheming” corporations. As can be seen here, capitalism is an economic system with certain fundamental features and inner drives. A system of private ownership of the means of production (factories, transport, means of communication, etc.)... a system organized around the production of profit based on the exploitation of wage labor worldwide... a system in which huge units and blocs of capital (corporations, banks, investment groups, etc.) are driven by competition to expand on the basis of cheapening production to gain market share and competitive advantage—or face ruin. It is a global system of exploitation and domination divided into rival capitalist-imperialist states (the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, France, etc.) safeguarding the national capital interests and contending with each other in pursuit of control over markets, raw materials, and regions in different parts of the world and domination over the oppressed countries of the world.

Planet of the Humans makes the point that that since renewables are not as productive at this stage as fossil fuels (true), and given the role of fossil fuel in the manufacture of solar and wind projects, renewables are no real improvement over fossil fuels. That conclusion is wrong, But the reality is that there is no easy transition away from fossil fuels, given how structured the economy is around them. And in a radically different economy and society, we would face the complex challenge of making a transition to renewables while having to meet the food, health, and housing needs of billions on the planet. Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs assume, however, that green energy can only be developed in the problematic ways of today and serve corporate power and profit. The reason is that they are locked within the ideological horizons of the capitalist-imperialist system.

A Response of “Magical Thinking” About the System

The response by many within the mainstream environmental movement to the film’s world-weary cynicism and factual misrepresentations of renewable energy potential2 is to offer up a form of “magical thinking.” And this too lets the capitalist-imperialist system off the hook. The idea is propagated that the environmental movement has been making enormous strides, that we are on the cusp of a breakthrough to solve the problem of fossil-fuel addiction. It is the consoling fiction that green technology innovations and commercial viability, combined with a “Green New Deal” from on high, can readily transition us to a solar and wind-power future. All that’s missing, as the story line goes, are the funds, the political pressure from below, and political will to change.

This is as fanciful as it is dangerous. The capitalist-imperialist system has put humanity and the planet on a disastrous trajectory. For all the investments in renewable energy over the last 25 years, 80 percent of global energy derives from oil, coal, and natural gas. I have written about why this is the case—what this says about the functioning and foundations of the capitalist-imperialist system as it has historically evolved and the role of oil as a strategic commodity bound up with empire (see “50 Years Since Earth Day 1: Reflections on the Catastrophe That Is Capitalism-Imperialism” at revcom.us).

This is the reality, and the so-called Green New Deal is not a way out. I have written extensively on this, and encourage people to look at “5 Reasons ‘The Green New Deal’ Is Misleading, Dangerous and Part of the Problem—Delusion and Deception in Service of American Empire” at revcom.us.

And the current political situation could not be more dangerous. We are ruled over by the fascist Trump/Pence regime. It denies the reality of global warming... bullies scientists... and is ramping up fossil fuel production to ever-more calamitous levels (continuing in Obama’s footsteps/ecological footprint and expanding oil and fracking of natural gas).

An Inconvenient and Liberating Truth

There is an inconvenient but liberating truth that anyone who deeply cares about the future of humanity and the survival of the planet must confront and act on. To change the way we live, to change how an economy operates—this capitalist-imperialist economy that exploits and plunders worldwide—we must change the system we live under. For us to have any serious chance to protect the planet, we must make a revolution to overthrow this system.

There is a strategy to make that revolution; there is a plan and blueprint to build a radically new and far better society that can sustainably interact with nature—to fit humanity to become the caretakers of the planet. This is what the leadership of and the new communism developed by Bob Avakian (BA) make possible. And it takes concrete expression in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America authored by BA and in the associated Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development.

This is a revolution to overcome all exploitation and oppression and social divisions. To achieve a true world of community. It is our only chance to stop the destruction of the planet.

 


1. The film contains unprincipled attacks on Bill McKibben, the environmental writer and activist. It attributes positions to him that he no longer holds—rather than taking on his strongest arguments and current positions; and it falsely alleges that he is financially beholden to corporate interests. McKibben has a lot of illusions about the ability of the system to change from within, and has promoted programs and policies that do not lead to solving the environmental emergency. But this charge of being “bought” is not true and not productive of the kind of debate that needs to take place.  [back]

2. Some critics of the film, including environmentalist and filmmaker Josh Fox, climate scientist Michael Mann, and others in a signed letter, have demanded that the film be removed from public viewing. The film has inaccuracies and the already mentioned attack on McKibben. Those behind the film should be called to task accordingly. But the film needs to be viewed and debated.  [back]

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

See also:

"50 Years Since Earth Day 1: Reflections on the Catastrophe That Is Capitalism-Imperialism"

Read more


"5 Reasons 'The Green New Deal' Is Misleading, Dangerous and Part of the Problem—Delusion and Deception in Service of American Empire"

Read more

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

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

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

Read and Download (PDF)

How Would a Revolutionary Socialist Society Address the Environmental Emergency?
Excerpts from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America


See also:

Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/trump-pence-move-aggressively-to-consolidate-fascist-power-en.html

Trump/Pence Move Aggressively to Consolidate Fascist Power

| revcom.us

 

The regime headed by Donald Trump and Mike Pence has seized on the crisis brought on by the coronavirus to go on the offensive—upending the rule of law, and emboldening different components of the fascist social forces cohered around the regime. The actions listed below are not isolated outrages. They are components of an overall offensive by a fascist movement intent on complete domination. It must be stopped, and driven from power before it fully consolidates its rule.

The following are some key ways this was expressed in the past week alone.

Charges Dropped Against Flynn

William Barr, attorney general of the Trump/Pence regime, announced that the Department of Justice is dropping all charges against Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor. Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with Russian diplomats in late 2016, as the Trump/Pence regime prepared to assume power. He also admitted in open court that he had lied.

Barr’s unprecedented move came after months of what the Associated Press called “mounting pressure from the Republican president and his political allies on the right.” It is part of a protracted effort to reverse the basis on which Robert Mueller’s investigation on Russian influence in the 2016 elections was held. Fascists headed by Trump claim that the entire Mueller investigation was illegitimate—that there was no basis for the FBI to question Flynn in the first place, and therefore the fact that he lied to FBI agents about his Russian connections is not a crime.

Barr’s move is a leap in turning the Department of Justice and the attorney general, who are supposed to be impartial arbiters of the law, into tools of the executive branch (the president), in order to free a functionary of the fascist regime who admits he committed perjury. It aims to create unchallenged and unquestioned authority for and loyalty to the fascist executive throughout all levels of government. Susan Hennessey, a lawyer at the Brookings Institution, wrote, “This moment represents the full collapse of an apolitical Justice Department.”

Barr’s dropping of charges against Flynn was almost immediately coupled with threats of revenge against Trump’s opponents in government. Trump’s campaign said that Flynn had been targeted by a “corrupt witch hunt ... on Joe Biden’s watch” and issued a call to “investigate the investigators.” Sean Hannity, a mouthpiece for the fascist regime on Fox News, said, “Now, it’s time to investigate Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Department of Justice.” And Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that “bad actors should be punished accordingly, you know, the way they would have punished us!”

Barr defended his action with brazenly fascist epistemology. When CBS journalist Norah O’Donnell asked him how his action would be viewed by history, Barr sneered, “History is written by the winners, so it largely depends on who is writing the history.”

Christian Fascism, not Science, Determines Policy

On May 7, as the official COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. reached 75,000, word leaked out that the Trump regime had rejected Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on re-opening the country. The Associated Press reported that agency scientists were told that a plan they had prepared summarizing their guidance “would never see the light of day.”

There were reasons related to opening up the U.S. economy that went into the regime’s decision. But a key factor in Trump’s rejection of the guidelines is that Christian fascist forces in and out of the regime do not want the government issuing even voluntary guidelines about people’s ability to gather in churches—even when doing so plays a role in spreading the disease to many others. The New York Times reported that a “senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services with deep ties to religious conservatives objected to any controls on church services.” Roger Severino, an official in the regime who previously directed the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, said, “Governments have a duty to instruct the public on how to stay safe during this crisis and can absolutely do so without dictating to people how they should worship God.”

Packing the Courts with Fascists

Stacking federal courts with fascists has been a top priority for the Trump/Pence regime, and a significant reason it has had unwavering support from Christian fascist leaders. Senate leader Mitch McConnell, a close Trump ally, reconvened the Senate this week so that he could push through more of Trump’s appointments. McConnell said he was calling the Senate back, despite the threat of the coronavirus, because “we need to have hearings, and we need to confirm judges.”

The first hearing is for 38-year-old Justin Walker, a McConnell protégé. He has been nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is widely regarded as second in significance only to the Supreme Court. Walker, who was a clerk for Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh, has never tried a case, and was deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association (ABA). The position he is taking is not open until September, but the National Law Journal reported that Trump has said that if his nominees are not approved, he would utilize “a presidential power that has never been used to adjourn the legislative body and fill positions himself.” Walker mockingly “thanked” the ABA and various liberals who have opposed his nomination in a recent speech, saying, “Thank you for serving as an enduring reminder that although my legal principles are prevalent, they have not yet prevailed. And although we are winning, we have not won.”

Inspector General Fired for Telling the Truth

Trump fired Christi Grimm, who had been inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, after he learned she had issued a report critical of his regime’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Grimm had interviewed 323 hospital administrators for her report, which indicated that hospitals struggled with shortages of critical supplies such as personal protective equipment, and that some supplies they received from federal stockpiles were “of insufficient quantity and quality.”

Trump responded, “Give me the name of the inspector general.” A few days later Grimm, who had worked for HHS for 21 years, was fired.

Going Maskless—“Live and Let Die”

On May 6, Trump toured a mask manufacturing factory in Phoenix. Trump brazenly did not wear a mask, even as he stood over a bin of masks ready for shipment—modeling and promoting ignorant, selfish behavior for his throngs of flag-waving supporters.

Trump usually favors patriotic songs for his public events, but for this trip Guns n’ Roses’ version of “Live and Let Die” blared over factory loudspeakers. Whether intentional or not, in the midst of people dying in large numbers at this very moment, the playing of this song could be interpreted as a certain soundtrack for the Trump/Pence fascist movement: one section of people—namely Trump’s followers, the mobs who howl at his rallies, the cops who love him, the Christian fascists who have unwavering loyalty to him and his fascist program—should live. And as for others—the prisoners, immigrants, Black people, Native peoples, Latinos, the homeless, all those who are dying in grossly disproportionate numbers from this virus—let them die, to save the “great American way of life.”

CONSPIRACY THEORIES, FASCIST "CERTITUDE," LIBERAL PARALYSIS, OR A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO CHANGING THE WORLD
(Short Version—The Simple and Basic Truth)

by Bob Avakian
Read more

See also:
Longer Version — The Truth Elaborated
Read more

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

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

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

Read, share and endorse the full Refuse Fascism Statement of Conscience / Call to Act here.

Find out more about Refuse Fascism here.

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/646/our-central-unskippable-first-order-demand-trump-pence-out-now-en.html

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

As Death Toll Rises, Our Central, Unskippable, First Order Demand: Trump Pence Out Now

by Coco Das and Sarah Roark

| revcom.us

 

On March 30, a group of Refuse Fascism supporters went to Times Square, wearing masks and standing at a distance from each other, and held signs raising 5 demands in response to the Trump/Pence regime's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

On March 30, a group of Refuse Fascism supporters went to Times Square, wearing masks and standing at a distance from each other, and held signs raising 5 demands in response to the Trump/Pence regime’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The demands were:

At the time of this Times Square action, we were just beginning to see how the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime was both informing its catastrophic response to the pandemic while giving them opportunities to seize on this crisis to further advance their science-hating, immigrant-bashing, planet-destroying program – and that only scratches the surface of how dangerous this fascism is. Since then, we know even more about how much blood this regime has on its hands. Nationwide, Refuse Fascism has gone out with more bold actions to demand in the name of humanity that the Trump/Pence regime must go NOW.

Like all fascist regimes, this regime has not rolled out its entire program at once, but with every outrage that becomes normalized, more of the fascist program becomes the accepted law of the land. These 5 demands were necessary to respond to the immediate situation in which millions of lives are on the line because of the actions of this regime.

But Refuse Fascism did not suddenly change its mission to become a COVID-19 resistance group. Our mission remains the same – to drive out this fascist regime with sustained, non-violent protest that creates a political crisis. At moments when one aspect of the fascism is escalating and the boot of the regime and its enforcers is coming down particularly hard on a demonized group, then we have the responsibility to speak to those particular dangers.

At the same time, these outrages often cause jolts throughout society, shaking millions to become emotionally activated and lose, even temporarily, their adjustment to the horrors of this regime. It is our responsibility to seize on those moments and help people see that there is a way to act and there is a movement that is helping people confront the reality of what we face and what we must do about it.

So, there are good reasons why each one of the 5 demands was pulled out and highlighted at the start of this pandemic.

And yet, one thing remains true. We cannot outrun this regime or rescue enough people from it. The only way to stop this is to drive out the regime that will not back down even in the face of a global pandemic. In the name of humanity, the Trump/Pence regime must go now. This is our central, unskippable, first-order demand.

Refuse Fascism will continue to expose and oppose every outrage when it happens, while we recognize the stark reality that it is the Trump/Pence fascist regime itself which poses the existential threat to humanity and must be, and can only be, removed from power by the action of millions of people through sustained, mass, non-violent protest united under the demand that the Trump/Pence regime must go.

We are actively working on reaching the millions of people who must join us in raising this demand and creating a political crisis that drives this regime out of power, but at minimum, we have to create the greater public consciousness that at this moment, the Trump/Pence regime is a connecting factor of all of our travails. And we have to get people to understand that it is actually a FASCIST regime that is the connecting factor. The sub-issues don’t need to necessarily lead to that greater understanding for every single person in the movement but there has to be a certain quorum of the folks in it who get why there has to be solidarity across the 5 demands and across all the groups suffering under this regime and those who just care about humanity. This underscores the importance of continuing to spread the Statement of Conscience/Call to Act.

Lastly, people need to understand that this demand is not an “ask.” We’re not circulating a petition hoping someone in power will sit down with Trump and Pence and get them to see the error of their ways. We are not waiting for people at the top to resolve this on their terms (the terms that keep hurdling us into a fascist nightmare) and we are not waiting for November. We are calling on people to act now with courage and conviction and refuse to stop until our demand for humanity is met. We cannot lose sight of how important the demand Trump/Pence Out Now is. Let it grow into a clamor so loud, no one can ignore it.

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.

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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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/647/native-peoples-in-the-coronavirus-pandemic-en.html

Native Peoples in the Coronavirus Pandemic: America's Genocidal Treatment

| revcom.us

 

From a reader:

The 2020 pandemic has begun to shine a spotlight on the gross inequalities within the fabric of U.S. society. It is exposing some of the disproportionate suffering by its Black and Brown populations, even as it is still a partial picture as many states do not provide comprehensive data on who is being affected. Yet the terrible toll on the Native peoples gets little mention in official briefings and reporting.

It has come out that the Navajo Native American reservation (formally known as the Navajo Nation) has the highest coronavirus infection rate outside New York and New Jersey.1 If it were a state, the Navajo Nation would rank third in the U.S. for confirmed cases per 100,000.2 The reservation is the size of West Virginia and stretches over more than 27,000 square miles across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. While Navajo people are less than 6% of Arizona’s population, by May 10, they had over 20% of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 22% of related deaths; and while Native Americans make up about 10% of New Mexico’s population, they are over 57% of coronavirus cases.3

Today, the great majority of Native people live in urban areas, with the highest populations in New York City and Los Angeles. But what have we heard of how the pandemic is afflicting them inside these cities? Many states do not separate out Native American cases and deaths but simply list them as “other.”4 The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had constantly cited only 40% of the coronavirus cases with “race specific” tracking, with 60% not thus tracked. This prompted independent forces such as The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University to step into the breach to do the necessary data collection to expose the real picture.

Even before this 2020 pandemic, there were pre-existing conditions of extreme poverty, high unemployment, and food shortages on the Navajo reservation. A long trail of broken treaties and broken promises has created a lack of basic infrastructure for health, education, communications, housing, agricultural assistance, and overall economic development. For example, 30% of Navajo Nation homes have no running water on its vast rural and desert terrain where some homes take hours of driving to reach. Many Navajos live in trailers or other substandard and over-crowded housing, with no heat except wood burning stoves, with no reliable electricity, internet, or even TV. It had 13 supermarkets for over 350,000 people where some people drive 150 miles to grocery shop.

Life for one family on the Navajo reservation typifies this shantytown-like existence: “Lisa Robbins runs the generator attached to her family’s mobile home for just a few hours most mornings. With no electricity, it provides heat in this rural high-desert stretch of the Navajo Nation where overnight temperatures often linger in the low 30s this time of year.”5

Centuries of enforced neglect and deprivation have left the Native peoples with higher rates of cancer, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes than among any other grouping of people in the U.S. Uranium mining on Native lands has resulted in high rates of lung disease among its people. In previous epidemics, such as the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak, Native Americans’ death rate was four times the combined rate of all the other oppressed (or “racial”) groups in the U.S.6

The Indian Health Service (IHS) has been historically underfunded and understaffed. Hospitals are few and far apart for the Navajo reservation. Going into this pandemic, the Navajo Nation reportedly had only 170 hospital beds, 13 intensive-care unit (ICU) beds, 52 isolation rooms, and 28 ventilators. The entire IHS, which serves 2.5 million Native people, including those in Alaska, reported having 71 ventilators and 33 ICU beds at its 24 hospitals.7 As of May 7, the IHS reported over 3,000 confirmed cases among the Navajos.

Such conditions make it difficult if not impossible to carry out constant hand washing, social distancing within the home, or having resources to stock up extra food and supplies. Lack of hospital beds means infected people are sent home, making community spread much worse. Recently, after several Navajo family outbreaks, about 150 COVID-19 patients are temporarily housed in three converted community gyms on the reservation, and not being sent home.

The news of this 2020 pandemic was understandably, even if erroneously, met with initial skepticism and doubt among Native people. This flows from the genocidal history where diseases from European colonizers, such as smallpox, were deliberately introduced by the U.S. government into Native populations who had no immunity for it at the time. But one thing Native people share with the rest of the U.S. population is a scarcity of testing but an abundance of rumors and anti-science disinformation, such as that Navajos couldn’t get the coronavirus.

All the toxic pre-conditions and unequal treatment of Native people during the pandemic are not an aberration but a continuation of a history of genocidal treatment on land that was brutally stolen from them. Christopher Columbus recorded in his log about his encounter with the Native people in the Caribbean, who had welcomed him with food and gifts, and his plan for conquest:

...They do not bear arms, and do not know them....They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... . They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want8

And the white supremacists who founded this country shamelessly decided what would shape the lives and deaths of generations and generations of Native people. As Bob Avakian pointed out:

In the Declaration of Independence, among the things for which the King of England is condemned, is the accusation that he promoted slave rebellions (“excited domestic Insurrections amongst us”) and “endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.”9

It was America that unleashed a trail of bloody colonization and ethnic cleansing with land thefts, broken treaties and broken promises, massacres, and other means of genocide that nearly wiped out the Native people on "its" territory—which was part of an even larger genocide throughout the Americas which killed tens of millions. Who are the real "merciless savages"?10

The long history of the oppression of Native peoples cannot be reformed out of this system, but can and must come to an end through a new communist revolution based upon the liberating future laid out in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America authored by Bob Avakian (see sidebar). It is way past time for all this to end through a real revolution whose goal and concrete strategy is the emancipation of all humanity. This pandemic not only reveals the obscene nature of America. It also indicates an urgent need to invite all to become organized participants in an ACTUAL revolution that frees humanity from such senseless suffering.

 


1. “Navajo Nation Sees High Rate Of COVID-19 And Contact Tracing Is A Challenge NPR, April 24, 2020.   [back]

2. “Native Americans being left out of US coronavirus data and labelled as ‘other.’” Guardian. April 24, 2020.  [back]

3. The COVID Racial Data Tracker, The COVID Tracking Project.  [back]

4. The COVID Racial Data Tracker.  [back]

5. No running water. No electricity. On Navajo Nation, coronavirus creates worry and confusion as cases surge, Kurtis Lee, Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2020.  [back]

6. No running water. No electricity. On Navajo Nation, coronavirus creates worry and confusion as cases surge.  [back]

7. The Navajo Nation’s coronavirus infection and death rates are 10 times higher than the neighboring state of ArizonaBusiness Insider, April 20, 2020.  [back]

8. A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn (1980). Chapter 1, page 1.  [back]

9. “THIS REPUBLIC—RIDICULOUS, OUTMODED, CRIMINAL,” Bob Avakian, revcom.us.  [back]

10. “European colonization of the Americas killed 10 percent of world population and caused global cooling,” PRI.org, March 31, 2019. Public Radio International (PRI) program The World’s best estimate was a death toll of 56 million by the beginning of the 1600s—90 percent of the pre-Columbian indigenous population and around 10 percent of the global population at the time. Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel estimated the original Native population to be 20 million and the death rate in the first century or two to be 95% (p. 211).  [back]


Vehicles line up for COVID-19 testing outside of the Monument Valley Health Center in Oljato, Utah, April 17. The Navajo Nation has one of the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rates in the country. (Photo: AP/Kristin Murphy)


30% of Navajo Nation homes have no running water. This situation was made worse after an order restricting traffic prevented people from hauling water from Gallup, NM. Here water is being distributed from the water well owned by the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission, Albuquerque, NM. (Photo: Albuquerque Journal/Roberto E. Rosales)

American Crime

See all the articles in this series, including:

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


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

C. Native Americans.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/646/glimpse-of-meatpacking-horror-show-made-worse-by-covid-19-en.html

A Glimpse of the Meatpacking Horror Show Made Worse by COVID-19

| revcom.us

 

Editors’ Note: Trump’s recent executive order mandating meat and poultry processing plants as “critical infrastructure” that needs to “continue operations”—even as the COVID-19 pandemic rips through the workforce—is shining a light on this industry and its super-exploitative nature. The Trump/Pence regime is viciously racist and anti-immigrant and, therefore, hostile to the masses who work in these industries, which now is more than 80% nonwhite, with large numbers of immigrants.

In reading this, it reminds us of Bob Avakian's point that despite “all the great and grand talk from proponents and apologists of the capitalist system about the rights of individuals... yet this system functions, and can only function, by—quite literally and with no exaggeration or hyperbole—grinding into the dirt the lives of millions and even billions of individuals, including hundreds of millions of children, people whose individuality, whose individual aspirations, are counted as nothing in the actual operation of this system.” (From RUMINATIONS AND WRANGLINGS, On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning, by Bob Avakian)

Below are some research notes on this horror show, made worse by the pandemic.

***

Fascism—and particularly the fascism of the Republican Party—is fanatically “pro-business” and anti-regulation. Before the pandemic, the regime was already pushing through deregulation to enable even more brutal exploitation on the part of the meatpacking industry—including granting “waivers” on legal limits to line speed at 14 poultry plants. The regime is viciously racist and anti-immigrant, and so, hostile to the masses who work in these industries, which now is more than 80 percent nonwhite, with large numbers of immigrants.

Coronavirus Tears Through the Meatpacking Industry

According to the Midwest Center for Investigative Journalism (MCIJ), as of April 30, there have been at least 6,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to 98 meatpacking plants in 28 states, and the numbers have been growing rapidly. Most workers have not been tested, so the real numbers are certainly much higher.

So far, at least 30 meatpacking workers have died of COVID-19 at 17 plants in 12 states.

These mushrooming outbreaks have led to about 22 plant shutdowns lasting from a few days to two weeks. These shutdowns are partly driven by pressure from the workers, community activists, and local officials who see them as a way to reduce the spread of the virus and save lives. And partly they are driven by worker absenteeism that makes it difficult for companies to keep them running anyway.

In response, Trump is trying to curtail or stop these shutdowns as much as possible. On April 28 he issued an executive order declaring that such closures are “undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency,” and ordered the Secretary of Agriculture to “take all appropriate action under that section to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations.”

Since then the governor of Iowa publicly stated that if workers don’t return when their plants reopen, they will be denied unemployment benefits! So these fascists are on the one hand pushing for epidemic-struck plants to remain open and then threatening workers who don’t go in with starvation.

A Brief History of the Meatpacking Industry: 100 Years of Barbaric Exploitation

In 1906, Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle shocked the country by laying bare the horrific treatment of mainly European immigrant workers in Chicago and other big city packing houses. That led to some modest reforms. Then in the 1930s unions organized much of the industry, conditions improved some and pay increased significantly. Through World War 2 and in the following decades the workforce changed to include more women and Black people.

Up through the 1960s and ’70s, meatpacking was a relatively well paid job, with wages around 15 percent higher than the manufacturing sector as a whole. But major transformations happened in the ’80s; according to PBS:

Developments such as improved distribution channels allowed meat packing companies to move out of urban, union-dominated centers and relocate to rural areas closer to livestock feedlots. [Industry powerhouses] sought to undercut the competition by operating on slim profit margins, increasing worker speed and productivity, and cutting labor costs. Such tactics encouraged industry consolidation, increased hazards for workers, and renewed resistance to employee organizing efforts.

So, the industry was transformed from urban to rural, unions were either weakened or gotten rid of, and a more vulnerable workforce was recruited. Pay dropped, conditions worsened.

Conditions in the Industry: “When We’re Dead and Buried Our Bones Will Keep Hurting”

There are over 400 thousand production workers in the meat- and poultry-packing industry, and those workers slaughter, process, and pack over 100 billion pounds of meat annually, which generates around $185 billion in sales, mostly for a few industry giants like Perdue, Smithfield, and Tyson. Tyson alone reaped $3 billion dollars in profits in 2018.

These workers are increasingly women, immigrants, and people of color. According to The Center for Economic and Policy Research, the people doing the most dangerous “frontline” jobs (like cutting, processing and packing the meat) are 44.4% Latino, 25.2% Black, 10% Asian and Pacific Islands, and 19.1% white; 42% are women; 51.5% are immigrants.

The average wage for slaughterers and meatpackers in 2018 was $13.38 per hour. This is 44 percent below the average for manufacturing as a whole.

Working conditions are horrendous. A 2017 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report cited by USA Today says that the accident rate is four times higher than for manufacturing as a whole.

Human Rights Watch (HRW)—in an article titled “When We’re Dead and Buried, Our Bones Will Keep Hurting”—reports that:

OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] data show that a worker in the meat and poultry industry lost a body part or was sent to the hospital for in-patient treatment about every other day between 2015 and 2018. Between 2013 and 2017, 8 workers died, on average, each year because of an incident in their plant.

HRW interviewed almost 50 workers in four states and reported that:

Most ... shared experiences of serious injury or illness caused by their work. Many showed the scars, scratches, missing fingers, or distended, swollen joints that reflected these stories. Some broke into tears describing the stress, physical pain, and emotional strain they regularly suffer. Almost all explained that their lives, both in the plant and at home, had grown to revolve around managing chronic pain or sickness. (Emphasis added)

In addition, Civil Eats reports that many packinghouse workers “already have respiratory problems, from the exposure to chlorine and peracetic acid, chemicals used for cleaning and disinfecting chicken, and such pre-existing conditions place them at higher risk” for COVID-19.

Treatment of workers can be incredibly degrading. Priority is given to keeping the line going at maximum speed; HRW reports that workers “described constant pressure from their supervisors to keep the line moving, sometimes with insults and humiliation. To ensure production speed, some workers said that supervisors even refuse to let them use the restroom during their shift or require them to wait for replacements who may never come, and described their colleagues wearing diapers as a result.”

And in terms of “social distancing,” the faster the line moves, the more closely workers must pack together—“elbow-to-elbow” is the term frequently used—to get the job done. The New York Times cites a former OSHA official saying (of the Trump administration and the meat industry), “They prioritize line speed production and traffic over worker health and public health.”

All of this explains why these packing plants were ripe for COVID-19 outbreaks. The director of Food Chain Workers Alliance told Civil Eats: “Exploitation of the food labor force is not something that has just [recently] come up. ... the exploitation they’re seeing at this moment is possible because it’s a pre-existing condition.”

Conditions Leading to the Outbreaks: “They’re bribing us to work sick...”

As the epidemic began to unfold in March and April, meatpacking companies took some half-hearted measures to reduce the spread, promoting handwashing and/or provided social distancing in parts of the plant. But they generally did not make protective gear widely available, and most importantly, almost never voluntarily reduced line speed, without which social distancing is impossible. (Sometimes they had to reduce line speed because of increased absenteeism, but even with fewer workers, most plants tried to maintain the same pace.)

Another major reason the epidemic spread is the general lack of sick pay so that workers—who often live paycheck to paycheck—could afford to stay home if they felt ill. According to Civil Eats, some plants did offer “short-term disability pay ... But that only amounts to a fraction of full-time pay.”

Even more outrageous, many plants offered a $500 “responsibility bonus” for people who worked a month without an absence. In other words, they incentivized people to come in even if they felt ill or unsafe and punished people who stayed home. Commenting on this, a Smithfield worker told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, “I feel like they’re bribing us with money to come to work sick. That’s how you know they don’t care, because they’re forcing people to come to work. People are forcing themselves to come to work even when they’re sick.”

Two “Case Studies” in How Capitalism “Handles” a Deadly Epidemic in the Workplace

Here is how all this played out in two major outbreaks:

Conclusion

The COVID-19 epidemic in the meatpacking industry is a crime on top of a crime on top of a crime that needs to be further exposed and opposed. First, the pre-COVID (and pre-Trump) brutality and exploitation of these workers for profit. Then the practices that led to the rapid and unnecessary spread of the disease through these plants and wider communities, endangering tens of thousands. And now the insistence that these plants remain open regardless of the consequences for the people who work there or those who live in surrounding communities.

This is a crime, but it is also one that has met beginning condemnation and resistance, and may—and needs to—call forth much more. If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us, it’s that the future is unwritten and not fully predictable, but that human beings can have something to say about how things play out going forward.


Workers at a Texas beef plant cut meat from bones. Though likely taken before COVID-19, these kinds of conditions remained typical long after coronavirus began to spread in the U.S. and were a major factor in the epidemic of outbreaks in the industry."
(Photo: Department of Agriculture)


Tyson workers process chickens. In the wake of dozens of deaths and thousands of illnesses, the meatpacking companies still insist on high-speed production with people working shoulder to shoulder – but now they claim minimal improvements like masks and dividers provide sufficient "protection" for the workers.
(Photo: AP)

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

"You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics."

Order the book HERE
Download the book in ePub format HERE


Tyson Foods Plant


Nancy Reynoza of ¿Que Pasa? Sioux Falls, a Latino community group that organized an April 9 car caravan protest in support of Smithfield Food workers after it came out that 80 workers tested positive for COVID-19. The number would soon rise to 850. Dozens of cars took part. (Photo: AP)

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech


Beatriz Rangel lays a flower on casket of her father Saul Sanchez, who worked at the JBS meat plant, Greeley, Colorado for over 30 years. She told reporters that as fear of the disease spread in the plant he felt obligated to work. "My dad was encouraging, he was loving, he was a hard-working man. Now he's gone and I know they [JBS] do not care. It's too late for my dad, but it's not too late for the other employees." (Photo: AP)

See also:

The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page

  • What IS the coronavirus COVID-19 and what do scientists know about this?
  • How is the capitalist-imperialist system making the effect of the coronavirus worse than it has to be?
  • How do the "savage inequalities" of the system play out in the way this virus affects different sections of people? Who does it come down the worse on, and why?
  • How would the revolution handle the coronavirus or similar epidemics if it held state power?

Read more

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/from-1927-mississippi-flood-disaster-to-covid-19-pandemic-today-en.html

From 1927 Mississippi Flood Disaster to COVID-19 Pandemic Today:
Savage Inequalities Echo Through the Decades

| revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Images of a social crisis caused by a natural disaster—the “pre-existing” inequalities which have been laid bare—has happened before, like during Katrina which a lot of people are familiar with. But there was another natural disaster which both exposed and exacerbated those inequalities in the not so distant past in America—the great flood of 1927.

The Mississippi flood of 1927 was the greatest natural disaster this country has ever known. People can look it up—the record-breaking flooding all along the whole Mississippi Valley from Minnesota to Mississippi and Louisiana at the Gulf of Mexico, the amount of water, the amount of devastation, the human misery and death. I learned a lot of this from reading Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America by John M. Barry. It covers a lot more than just what the people experienced but that is what I want to focus on.

And, if you know anything about this country, its history, or its present, you have no trouble knowing which people “got the dirty end of the stick” as BA says—Black people. This book concentrates on the Mississippi Delta. There were some outrages which occurred during that flood which were particular to the flood, and there were others which were a continuation, or even a throwback, of the particular history of this country and its foundation on slavery. And all too many of the kinds of things which Black people endured during that flood are being echoed today during the COVID-19 pandemic. The forms might be somewhat different, but the relations which allow, and yes, demand, that Black people “stay in their place,” whatever the particulars of that “place” are at any given time, reflect the underlying contradictions of the oppression of Black people in this country.

In 1927 there was a societal sentiment which different sections of people saw very differently, which will be very familiar to people now. During the 1927 flood it was this: “The whites liked to think a flood fight represented the best of the community, all of it pulling together. Instead, it simply reflected the nature of power in the community, shorn of pretense.” (pages 192-193) The reality faced today belies the “We are all in this together” slogan which is constantly repeated by public figures, and wistfully by beleaguered health care and other front-line workers. We might all be facing the same reality of the flood or the pandemic, but the way people experience it, the ways the social relations and the force of law force people to act is very, very different.

There is a grisly image from Rising Tide that I can’t shake and which is particularly gruesome but also concentrates the “nature of power in the community” referred to above. This passage is quoting from the New York Times in 1927: “an engineer who ran out of sandbags ‘ordered...several hundred negroes...to lie down on top of the levee and as close together as possible. The black men obeyed, and although spray frequently dashed over them, they prevented the overflow that might have developed into an ugly crevasse. For an hour and a half this lasted, until the additional sandbags arrived.’” (pages 130-131) Just think about that for a minute—to comment further on this has the potential to render it less profoundly distressing.

It was not just this kind of horrific example which characterized the differences in Black and white people’s experiences. The daily routines for Black and white people during the flood were vastly different. White people were housed in the upper stories of hotels, “people constantly played the piano, sang, and danced. [The hotel] had no trouble getting meat and supplies...” Meanwhile Black neighborhoods were flooded, ruined, devastated. “Tents had finally arrived for shelter and the weather had turned warm, but the tents were not floored and cots had not arrived, so refugees still slept on the wet ground. There were no eating utensils or mess hall. Blacks had to eat with their fingers, standing or squatting on their haunches like animals.” (pages 311-312)

Black men were worked like prisoners on chain gangs. The waters were rushing down the Mississippi River and the levees needed to be shored up. Black men were forced, often at gunpoint, to build the levees for endless hours, often without pay, with inadequate food, beaten by the white overseers. The National Guard companies called in by the state during the flood work “beat black refugees, beat them for back talk, and beat them for trying to leave the camp. Men from these two companies were accused of theft—entering tents at will, interrupting card games, taking all the money—rape, and at least one murder.” (p. 316)

While the Black men were forced to work, Black families were also subjected to dangerous and dehumanizing conditions. “The food blacks received was vastly inferior to that given whites, and not much more than what was needed to stay alive. Canned peaches were sent in; none went to blacks for fear it would ‘spoil’ them.” (p. 313) “Food was given out according to strict criteria: 1. No rations will be issued to Greenville negro women and children unless there is no man in the family, which fact must be certified by a white person. 2. No negro man in Greenville nor their families will be rationed unless the men join the labor gang or are employed. 3. Negro men...drawing a higher wage (than $1 a day) are not entitled to be rationed.” (pages 316-317) Often Black people had to pay for food and clothing that white people were given for free. Again, echoes today with Republican politicians claiming that giving people enough money to survive on will erode their will to work, and continuing to fight to reduce the number of people eligible for food stamps during this pandemic!

“But the most serious grievance penetrated to the soul. The blacks were no longer free. The National Guard patrolled the perimeter of the levee camp with rifles and fixed bayonets. To enter or leave, one needed a pass. They were imprisoned.” (p. 313) This calls to mind when you see videos today of young Black men and women in Brooklyn being beaten by armed pigs for not “socially distancing.” Or seeing a Black jogger being murdered by vigilantes in Georgia because he was in the “wrong neighborhood.” They “crossed the perimeter,” they are no longer free.

Rising Tide goes on to say that this imprisonment “was true in every camp in the state. Mississippi was determined to keep its workers if it required force to do so.” (p. 313) And how is this qualitatively different from ordering the meatpackers to work in sites which are rife with coronavirus infection. The mentality that Black people and other people of color are not actually human beings but just “objects” to be used by those who need their labor lingers in the statement by the judge in Wisconsin who observed that the COVID-19 virus was just spreading among the meatpacking workers, “not regular people.” Note that overwhelmingly these meatpackers are Black and Latino, immigrants and majority women.

After an outright murder of a Black worker by a white pig, and subsequent rumors of unrest, the most prominent white politician and local planter spoke at a Black church. He proceeded to blame Black people for the murder! He claimed that white people have done everything for them, working day and night. “During this all this time you Negroes did nothing, nothing for yourselves or for us... Because of your sinful, shameful laziness, because you refused to work in your own behalf unless you were paid, one of your race has been killed... The murderer is you! Your hands are dripping with blood. Look into each other’s face and see the shame and the fear God set on them. Down on your knees, murderers, and beg your God not to punish you as you deserve.” (p. 334) I found this passage particularly striking in light of the bludgeoning of the Black people with religion, with their God, and the entitlement and self-righteousness from the white politician, not to mention the content of the passage, blaming Black people for the murder of a Black man. All of these messages again, are evident today—Black people aren’t grateful for what white society has done for them, Black people should look to their own sin, Black people should blame themselves for Black people being killed. That direct line between the Confederacy and the fascists of today passed through periods in the history of this country like 1927 in Mississippi.

There are many more examples, and parallels, between Mississippi USA almost 100 years ago and the entire USA today. It is telling that Rising Tide goes on to say many of these examples were in national newspapers in 1927, that some of them even shook white people up, but nothing fundamentally changed. For example, in the wake of the flood a land reform proposal which would have redistributed the land back to small farmers languished. Note that less than 30 years before the flood, two-thirds of the land was owned by Black farmers. Even if that had been allowed to pass, it would have hardly solved the basic contradiction at the root but even that would not be allowed.

Generation after generation of Black people is subjected to the horrors of this putrid and vile society. So how much longer does this have to go on?!?! BA has written extensively, scientifically, and eloquently about the nature of this contradiction, the centrality of it to making revolution and to forging a new society. We have to make sure this pandemic isn’t just something that the fascists seize on to mobilize their forces, to consolidate their power, but that it is a time that all people who yearn for a different world, who crave something positive to come out of this crisis, who hate what is being revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic, dig into BA’s analysis, get with the movement for revolution, prepare for an actual revolution.


The caption to the photo reads: "A group of men await work assignments on the Greenville levee. Tags attached to their collars kept track of inoculations, work assignments, and what plantation they came from. The levee became a work camp, where food and supplies for 50,000 people and thousands of heads of livestock were unloaded for distribution throughout the Delta. Black men were not allowed to leave, they were forced to work without pay." (Photo: MDAH).


African-American flood refugees wait in line at Birdsong Camp, Cleveland, Mississippi, April 29, 1927. (Photo: Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH)).

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See also on The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page:

"How do the "savage inequalities" of the system play out in the way this virus affects different sections of people? Who does it come down the worse on, and why?"

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/641/resource-page-on-covid-19-pandemic-en.html

The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page

| revcom.us

 

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

 

COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, has spread throughout the world, including the U.S. This pandemic is interacting with the state of the world and the gross inequalities and oppressive social relations of capitalism-imperialism. It is having a huge effect on human society as a whole and in individual countries, and may potentially have even more major impacts beyond even what is happening now. As Bob Avakian has said in “The Deadly Illusion of ‘Normalcy’ and the Revolutionary Way Forward”:

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. [Bolded emphasis added]

This is a time when having accurate scientific information and understanding is a life-and-death question for people here and around the world. Yet there is a lot of confusion about the coronavirus. There is misleading information coming from people in power, especially Trump. So getting to the truth on this is urgent.

 

Bob Avakian on Revolution and the Coronavirus Pandemic

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.

— Bob Avakian

CONSPIRACY THEORIES, FASCIST "CERTITUDE," LIBERAL PARALYSIS, OR
A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO CHANGING THE WORLD

by Bob Avakian

Short Version—The Simple and Basic Truth
Longer Version—The Truth Elaborated

The RNL Show — Revolution, Nothing Less!

Episode 4: Bob Avakian on Science and How Real Socialism Would Handle Pandemics. An excerpt of a speech from Bob Avakian that takes us deeper into the scientific method. Then a reading of Communique #4 from The Revcoms.

 

[Back to top]

 

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Frequently Asked Questions


A model of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

[Back to top]

How is the capitalist-imperialist system making the effect of the coronavirus worse than it has to be?

Letters From Readers:

COVID-19 Catastrophe Inside U.S. Prisons and Jails

Read more


Relatives and friends protest "execution by COVID 19." (Photo: AP)

State of Emergency in COVID-19 Crisis Grows More Dire!

Read more


November 19, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. (Photo: AP)

A Viral Pandemic; A Tidal Wave of Ignorance and Hate; a Fascist Regime Soaked in Suffering and Death

Read more


Armed militia occupying the Michigan State Capitol demanding an end to "stay at home" orders intended to slow the spread of Covid-19.

See also:

The Coronavirus... and the Savage Inequalities of America —
past articles from revcom.us

Read more

[Back to top]

How would the revolution handle the coronavirus or similar epidemics if it held state power?

[Back to top]

What should we be doing now?

[Back to top]

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/prisoner-writes-on-the-coronavirus-en.html

Prisoner Writes on the Coronavirus—and Noche Diaz of the National Revolution Tour Responds

| revcom.us

 

From a prisoner:

“[A] proper response to combat crisis, such as this virus, is virtually and selfishly non-existent in a capitalist society,...”

Does anyone else feel some type of way as you watch the American Bourgeois propaganda machine spit out messages of “Stay home,” “close everything down,” “(necessary) curfews,” “Stay away from each other,” everything will be ok,” “just stay home,” “Trust your government, they will take care of the problem and do what they will do to keep you safe!”

I mean I understand. The coronavirus is a legitimate lethal threat to a lot of people. A lot of people have died and will continue to die around the world because of it. It’s a real life pandemic. But let’s not pretend as if it’s something new. It is a price that comes with being in a civilization. It is one of those unfortunate consequences of civilization. Better now that we are better technologically advanced and have means to better combat this. These and many types of viruses back then, would kill a lot much more people. Back then, the response to this type of situation was, really nothing, cause they had no choice, there was not much people could do, due to lack of means and technological advancements.

My thing is, that in today’s day and age, those important means and advancements exist in the world. Yet, because those means are produced and owned privately, for the sole accumulation of capital, a proper response to combat crisis, such as this virus, is virtually and selfishly non-existent in a capitalist society, because the relation between a capitalist government and its people is solely that of control and of the capital and commodity relationship.

A capitalist/imperialist run government does not care for life. It cares little that people are dying. Don’t be fooled by their calm assuring words, whose actions contradict the “feeling” they are trying to portray.

A capitalist run government’s sole focus is on how much capital will it cost to cure these people, how much capital will they “waste” producing and providing (as in selling you) essential goods. The capitalist and their government’s main worries lie in how much profit they can salvage by lay-ing off millions of workers. I repeat, in order to retain their profit. A capitalist run government and society does not care if you were forcibly laid-off and you still got bills to pay, they don’t care if you have children to feed. They attempt to bribe you, saying they will give out one thousand or two thousand dollars (which is definitely nowhere near enough) then, it’s dependent on how much yearly income you make. Really? So now they’re just in our faces measuring what class deserves how much money (I repeat) FOR THE ESSENTIALS AND NESSECITIES OF LIFE! So if you’re poor, low-income, working class, even middle class, you just out of there, “fuck you” is what they telling us. Does this not show you how a capitalist/imperialist run government does not care about its people, let alone humanity. Is this the type of society you want to continue living in?

But the bourgeoisie propaganda machine is telling you; “stay in doors,” “everything is going to be ok, that’s how we will fight this,” “stay indoors.” Eventually they will force you to stay in doors so they can “combat this” “it’s going to be ok”. NO! it’s not going to be ok. Not for the sick. Not for the immigrant who for fear of deportation won’t get tested. Not for the millions of unemployed workers, not for the people who already had little to no income already living in poverty. Not for those 3rd world countries, who because of Imperialism ravaging and extorting them lack major essential resources and material resulting in already horrid condition, and is now being devastated worse by this virus crisis.

I understand, people are scared and rightfully so. But are we, are you going to ignore and do nothing about the fact that this capitalist/imperialist system we and the world lives under is making worse the consequences brought about by this virus? Will you ignore, did you even know that things don’t have to be like this? That if the means of production were to be socially owned and produced for the betterment of humanity a proper response to this epidemic crisis, any crisis as a matter of fact, could be better met.

Reason why I say a “proper response to this epidemic crisis, any crisis.” That’s because, under communism, societal relations wouldn’t be based on capital and commodity. The necessities of life, and especially, most importantly when it comes to health and health services would be produced and socially owned, with its sole purpose and highest priority being to care for and provide unconditional, any & all medical attention to those in need, regardless of class or income. We wouldn’t have to worry about being extorted by hospitals and health insurance companies, under a planned economy with the means of production socially owned, constantly producing the essentials of life and further advancing technologically in what we produce and how we produce, to overcome those necessities and essentials of life for humanity. What would be the need to charge you for such essential and necessities of life if the sole goal of a communist society is to get together and socially produce those means for the betterment and advancement of humankind? Under capitalism, things are already produced socially but for private capital gain. Some paradox don’t you think? Getting together to produce that which will be denied to you and yours unless you pay the price (a price you already paid with surplus in working for them.)

But please, allow me to apologize, I feel like I’m ranting now. I just wanted to share what my thoughts are every time I see the television and hear about this coronavirus crisis. It’s what comes to my mind every time I see the news coverage, presidential briefings, cheesy corny commercials and TV shows telling us what we should do and the only thing to do against the coronavirus and the crisis it’s bringing. All I hear is the propaganda machine saying “stay home” “do nothing” “ignore how your capitalist run government is handling things” “stop and don’t have meetings with each other, stay away from each other, fear each other, the next person ‘might’ have the virus” “Don’t question how your government is handling things, binge watch a show.”

That’s all I see and hear coming out the Bourgeoisie Propaganda Machine, and the whole time I’m thinking, Revolution! A Communist Revolution and how urgently we need it. Now more than ever!

So Please! to the Revolutionaries and those who call themselves Revolutionaries, who are out there in the free world or in prisons, in the streets and across the world. If these words somehow reached you. I urge you, from one Revolutionary to another, from one comrade to another. Do not cease in your Revolutionary work. Do not fear to take action and to further take to the streets, no matter what’s going on or what they tell you. Do not cease in your actions and in demanding by any means necessary, the removal of these capitalist gangsters and its fascist governments. Because the more you do nothing, the more this crisis and the next one deepens, the fascists will further implement and find their excuse to legitimize and solidify their rule.

And if the masses don’t have enough Revolutionary minded people with a scientifically grounded vanguard party to help lead and show them the way and how it’s done. The people, out of fear and confusion because of this pandemic and any further crisis, will unknowingly accept a fascist rule.

I’m aware, and I understand, that a Revolutionary situation is not yet present, for lack of Revolutionary minded people in the millions. But be sure, that with your contribution, however it may be, your continued work and further amping up Revolutionary actions and efforts, the grounds for Revolution will be further fertilized.

Just pay attention and stay focus, and don’t allow Nothing! stop you from continuing to work towards the Communist Revolution that humanity urgently needs.

Fear nothing comrades, for ours is a Righteous Cause!

In Struggle, XX

* * *

From Noche Diaz:

Thank you for the letter. I am Noche Diaz, and have volunteered to respond from the National Revolution Tour.

I feel this letter is an important contribution to the process of struggling to understand the current situation with this coronavirus outbreak and to identify how to work right now for much needed advances in the revolution humanity needs. In reading this, I felt it is an important example of how Bob Avakian (BA) talks about those this system has cast off and counted for nothing, can count for a great deal and have a great role to play in making revolution and emancipating humanity.

There are important things to draw from the letter about the need, ever sharper in this moment, to bring alive for masses of people the reality that there is a different way things could be through revolution, leadership for that which people don’t even know they have, and the role this could play in giving people a sense of urgency to work now for revolution. And I think we share and appreciate your right-on sentiment when you say, “I urge you, from one Revolutionary to another, from one comrade to another. Do not cease in your Revolutionary work.”

In thinking about your letter, I also went back to something written by BA in his recent article “The Deadly Illusion of Normalcy and the Revolutionary Way Forward,” which I hope we can get to you in entirety but want to point out this part:

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.

I think what’s being scientifically analyzed here is, and will continue to be, very important in this period to be able to understand what is happening, why, and how to lead people to act on this situation to advance the revolution. When you point out the basic nature and priorities of capitalism and those who rule over us in your letter, we have to make sure to not imagine these rulers as all powerful and without strategic problems/considerations of their own. The government is definitely “of the system,” but the government also has to factor in the legitimacy and survivability of the system as a whole, and their own system sets the limits of what even they can do.

And you can see this now. The science points to the life-saving effects of implementing social-distancing measures, frequent hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, as well as widespread testing and contact tracing to identify and stop the spread of this virus. Yet, while some parts of the capitalist government have advocated and tried to implement some of these measures (which WOULD be correct, and life-saving, to do), their system is in the way of doing even that. Because it ran counter to the needs of profit, plans were not made (or were ignored and undermined) for such an epidemic to have emergency reserves of personal protective equipment, for example (which, as you point out, epidemics do happen and this system knew that too.) The race for a vaccine is also now a race to get the property rights to sell the vaccine. Millions in the prisons and detention centers are seen by the system as expendable and left in situations unable to carry out almost any of these life-saving measures, which could spell a mass death sentence. All this even before talking about the anti-science fascist Trump/Pence regime sabotaging the response efforts, distorting the facts and science about the virus, and more openly mobilizing their fascist followers to advocate a kind of blood sacrifice to “Re-open” American capitalism-imperialism.

It will take struggle among ourselves, and with masses, to figure out how to maximize advances for revolution in this moment. This includes how to relate to the developing pandemic, and how this is all interacting with the pre-existing conditions of this oppressive capitalist-imperialist system. It will also mean keeping our eyes on the prize by taking on big frameworks that stand as obstacles to dealing with reality and the need for revolution, waging ideological struggle over problem/solution, which is concentrated in the work and leadership of BA. Even right now BA has been leading struggle to break through on the big need for opening up society-wide debate over reform and revolution, and struggle deep and hard with the ways of thinking that stand in the way of what humanity needs. This is a big part of the essential work of the revolution in this period, struggling to bring forward conscious followers of BA, re-forging a growing movement for an actual revolution, with a growing and strengthening vanguard grounded in this science and leadership. As one part of that we have been getting out to the people in the neighborhoods, health centers and other places where people are out with communiqués from the revolution, including recently the May 1st Communiqué from the revolution, May Day 2020: The World Today Is a Horror--But a Better World IS Possible!

I hope this reply gets to you, and finds you in high spirits. I think this kind of exchange can bear fruit for the whole process, and can serve as a great contribution from you and others who are able to contribute in that way.

On this page:

The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less!

Episode 3: Science and the New Communism, Prisons and COVID-19

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

"You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics."

Order the book HERE
Download the book in ePub format HERE

See also:

The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page

  • What IS the Corona virus COVID-19 and what do scientists know about this?
  • How is the capitalist-imperialist system making the effect of the Coronavirus worse than it has to be?
  • How do the "savage inequalities" of the system play out in the way this virus affects different sections of people? Who does it come down the worse on, and why?
  • How would the revolution handle the coronavirus or similar epidemics if it held state power?

Read more

THE PRISONERS REVOLUTIONARY LITERATURE FUND

Graphic imagePRLF is an educational literature fund that sends Revolution newspaper (www.revcom.us), works from Bob Avakian, (Chairman of the RCP) and other revolutionary and scientific literature to hundreds of prisoners across the U.S. PRLF has fought attempts by prison officials to censor these publications. For example, the ACLU of Southern California successfully represented PRLF in a censorship battle focused on Pelican Bay State Prison with statewide ramifications in California.

To donate to the work of the PRLF, go HERE.

Ways to Donate to the National Revolution Tour:

  • The National Revolution Tour now has Venmo: “@RevolutionTour”
  • Write in to getorganizedforrevolutiontour (at) gmail.com, let us know if you are taking up collections, or to send statements.
  • Or call (323) 245-6947
  • Or send a check or money order, payable to RCP Publications and earmark it for National Revolution Tour. Mail to:
    • RCP Publications
      Box 3486, Merchandise Mart
      Chicago, IL 60654-0486

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/645/may-day-2020-the-world-today-is-a-horror-but-a-better-world-is-possible-en.html

From The National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour:

May Day 2020

The World Today Is a Horror – But a Better World IS Possible!

| revcom.us

 

A world on fire from environmental devastation. A world of 70 million refugees fleeing war and climate catastrophe.  And where none of the powers-that-be have any real answer to this.

A world being taken over by fascist regimes, whipping up genocidal xenophobia and religious fundamentalism, slamming women and LGBTQ people back into dark ages forms of oppression, attacking science and promoting ignorance...all backed up with brute force.

A world now ravaged by disease, made a million times worse by the “pre-existing” inequalities of this system. Where Black people, Latinos, and Native Americans are dying at much higher rates, and Amerikkka's overflowing prisons and immigration jails are in danger of becoming death camps – when the basis exists to end this madness and get on the road to overcoming all forms of inequality and oppression.

A world where the wealth, technology, and global interconnection of humanity could enable us to meet people’s needs and work together to solve problems. Where today people are kept in ignorance – when they could be trained with a scientific method to understand and change the world, with all the wonders of discovery and ability to meet the challenges that opens up.

But instead the world is held in chains by a capitalist-imperialist system

A system based not on cooperation, but on private ownership and profit, driven by ruthless competition between capitalists and nation states.

A system that today gives millions the "choice" of risking death by disease or facing the certainty of imminent hunger.

A system that is nothing but an obstacle to humanity.

A system that is today being reinforced by fascists like Donald Trump and his MAGA-moron foot soldiers running around demanding America be reopened while the coronavirus is still in full effect.

On May 1 we declare our determination to overthrow this system through revolution, when the conditions for that revolution have come into being, and to build a world community of humanity without borders, without oppression, exploitation, and all the destructive divisions between people. A communist world.

That world is possible, and we have the key to unlock that possibility—the new communism developed by Bob Avakian, BA, the most important political thinker and leader in the world today.

Bob Avakian has:

advanced the science of revolution,

developed a strategy for revolution that could actually win, and

authored the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, the vision and blueprint for the future society on the road to human emancipation.

If you want to know more about this revolution and the world it aims for, and learn more as you participate in working to bring that into being, there are four things you need to do:

  1. Join us today and help get this communiqué out.
  2. Go to revcom.us and begin to get into Bob Avakian (BA).
  3. Tune into The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less! at youtube.com/therevcoms.
  4. Link up with us, the Revcoms, who are fighting for revolution and the New Communism. Follow us @TheRevcoms.

"...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

Download PDFs

Contact The National
Revolution Tour:

Contact the Revolution Club

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

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

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/643/revolution-tour-livestream-en.html

Ways to Donate to the National Revolution Tour

Watch the National Revolution Tour Livestream—
Discussion, Report Back and Fundraiser—
that aired on April 21
Facebook.com/therevcoms

| revcom.us

 

Hear from members of the National Tour to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution and be part of contributing and raising funds to make this Tour possible.

A deadly pandemic is ravaging the world, laying bare a system of brutal inequalities. We face the dangers from this virus, and the even more immediate danger of this fascist regime. And we face the more fundamental problem of the capitalist-imperialist system—a system which in “normal times” keeps billions locked into the most desperate conditions. The National Revolution Tour, basing itself on the new communism developed by Bob Avakian, is organizing forces for an actual revolution to overthrow this system that enforces this madness. And we are finding the ways to do this—and to actually advance in doing this—during the midst of this pandemic.

Tune in to this livestream to learn about and support the work of the Tour:

None of the work is possible without your financial support. In fact, right now your support is urgently required—indeed, for the sake of a future worth living, there is nowhere more important that it could go!

If you’ve donated in the past, now is a time not just to renew your contribution, but to reach out very broadly—in a moment of crisis, when people are questioning why the world is this way and what has to be done about it.

Spread the word and tune in!

Ways to Donate:

  • The National Revolution Tour now has Venmo: “@RevolutionTour”
  • Write in to getorganizedforrevolutiontour (at) gmail.com, let us know if you are taking up collections, or to send statements
  • Or call (323) 245-6947
  • Or send a check or money order, payable to RCP Publications and earmark it for National Revolution Tour. Mail to:
    • RCP Publications
      Box 3486, Merchandise Mart
      Chicago, IL 60654-0486

The RNL Show—
Revolution, Nothing Less!

Episode 5 Premieres on Youtube Thursday, April 23
5 pm PDT / 8 pm EDT

Episode 4 of The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less! is now available on YouTube: Bob Avakian on Science and How Real Socialism Would Handle Pandemics.
An excerpt of a speech from Bob Avakian that takes us deeper into the scientific method. Then a reading of Communiqué #4 from The Revcoms.

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/646/message-on-donating-to-the-revcoms-en.html

Message on Donating to the Revcoms:
"The world needs the Revcoms here in this country now more than ever"

| revcom.us

 

From a woman who donated to the Tour during the livestream:

By now those of us who fit the profile for receiving the first round of stimulus checks (not an immigrant nor married to one, not too poor, have a child of the appropriate dependency, access to the technology and the trust to file online and set up direct deposit, not a senior, not disabled etc.) have also received our signed letter from Trump praising us for being good Americans and accepting these funds from his generosity. Many of us want to or already have burned this letter on arrival. Many of us would give this money up in an instant if it could bring back the over 50,000 Covid-19 deaths in the last two months. This is not possible, but we can distribute this money in ways that ensure their deaths are not in vain. Donating to Revcoms puts those funds to addressing the root cause of these deaths, which fundamentally is the capitalist system. Every one of these deaths has a story behind them, every story will reflect the inequality of our healthcare, the horrors of institutional racism, the living conditions of the poor, the desperation of the immigrants, the anti-science thinking at all levels of the government, and the unsustainable relationship America has with the entire planet and our own resources. Consider that as much as Trump hates the New York Times, he would find new depths of hatred to address the Revcoms. Revcom brings another level of exposure, analysis, and connection that the New York Times will never reach. People need this revolutionary exposure, analysis connection, and the heart and inspiration being brought forward through the videos, articles, posters, phone calls, and in person where safety precautions are met. The world needs the Revcoms here in this country now more than ever.

Thank you.

Ways to Donate to the National Revolution Tour:

  • The National Revolution Tour now has Venmo: “@RevolutionTour”
  • Write in to getorganizedforrevolutiontour (at) gmail.com, let us know if you are taking up collections, or to send statements.
  • Or call (323) 245-6947
  • Or send a check or money order, payable to RCP Publications and earmark it for National Revolution Tour. Mail to:
    • RCP Publications
      Box 3486, Merchandise Mart
      Chicago, IL 60654-0486

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/revolutiontour/index.html#communique

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/642/bob-avakian-liberals-what-is-their-problem-en.html

LIBERALS: WHAT IS THEIR PROBLEM?

Reform vs. Revolution
A Reply to a "Liberal" Critique of My Response to Mark Rudd

by Bob Avakian, Author of The New Communism

| revcom.us

 

Recently a middle class professional, who was sent an article of mine (my response to an opinion piece in the New York Times by the former “1960s radical” Mark Rudd),1 replied that despite the fact that he was very busy

I took the time today... to read Bob Avakian’s entire response to Mark Rudd’s NYT piece and I was very disappointed. Despite Rudd’s focus on the issue of violence as a tool for revolutionary change, Avakian hemmed and hawed, trying to have it both ways. He condemned the “madness” of the Weather Underground and called the intended bombing “wrong” but then vaguely criticized the strategy of “non-violence” as being too “limiting.” What????

Apparently, the New Communism would endorse violence once an “actual” massive revolution was underway. If that assumption is true, then why doesn’t Avakian say so instead of being so coy about it in his response to Rudd. Apparently the Weather Underground was only tactically “wrong” in prematurely planning a violent attack.

Very confusing and garbled.

This deserves a response—not by way of singling out this particular person, but precisely because his comments are typical of a whole section of middle class “liberals,” whose basic problem is that, despite inclinations to oppose certain forms of injustice and oppression, they are so wedded to this system that they strongly resist engaging, or even outright refuse to engage, the decisive question of what is really necessary to end oppression and exploitation—the decisive question of reform vs. revolution—and in particular they have a strong aversion to engaging a substantial presentation of why reforming this system of capitalism-imperialism in a way that would be in the fundamental interests of humanity is impossible, and this system must be overthrown, through an actual revolution, and replaced with a radically different and far better system.

The essential and pivotal question that is addressed in the article to which this person is responding is not violence or no violence, it is reform or revolution. And, flowing from that decisive question—or, more precisely, from the scientific determination that revolution is necessary—is the question of what then is necessary to carry out such a revolution, as well as what is the content of that revolution. Instead of speaking to these questions, this response indulges in what is unfortunately an all-too-common glib liberal dismissiveness, offering only a superficial, false and misleading critique: that my article (my response to Rudd) is “hemming and hawing” on (not speaking clearly to) the question of violence. Whether it is a matter, on this person’s part, that he cannot or that he will not see what is obvious, the following sections of my response to Rudd make abundantly clear what my position is on this question:

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?2

And:

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.3

There is only one possible—or logical and reasonable—conclusion that can be drawn from the way this article poses things here (as well as elsewhere), and that conclusion is definitely not that the article is “hemming and hawing” about what kind of struggle of millions of people is necessary to do away with this system and bring into being a much better system. If this person were genuinely confused about this, he could have turned to the speech of mine, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, which is quoted (and footnoted) in this response to Rudd, where the question of how the revolution to do away with this system must and can be carried out is spoken to in some depth and detail, and at the same time with a great deal of precision, leaving no room for honest misunderstanding about what is (and is not) being said.4 (Given that, as this person indicated, he was very busy at the time he wrote this critique, if somehow he were genuinely unclear about what was being said about the matter of overthrowing this system, the principled thing to do would have been to simply state that unclarity and indicate that, given how important a question this objectively is, he was planning to pursue a further understanding of what that position actually is by reading “Why We Need...How We Can...” when he had the time to seriously engage that. In the meantime, I am sure that, if he gave it some thought, this person has the capacity, and the experience, to understand why, if one is serious about an actual revolution, certain things need to be said not “coyly” but carefully and responsibly, with an eye to not making it easier for this to be misconstrued and for the powerful repressive apparatus of this system to act on the basis of a misrepresentation of what is being said.)

Anyway, “apparently” this person does get the point of what is being said about violence and nonviolence—even if the way he puts this is not the precise way this should be formulated. This is revealed in his statement that “Apparently, the New Communism would endorse violence once an ‘actual’ massive revolution was underway.” But his next “apparently” once again misses the mark: It is not that “the Weather Underground was only tactically ‘wrong’ in prematurely planning a violent attack.” It is that they attempted to substitute acts of “excitative terror” for an actual revolution involving millions of people, and that such acts were wrong and harmful, were different not just in “timing” but in nature from an actual revolutionary struggle for power that would be waged according to the principle that the revolutionary fighting forces must, “Always conduct operations and act in ways that are in line with the emancipating outlook and goals of the revolution”—which includes drawing a distinction between the armed forces fighting to preserve and enforce the existing system of exploitation and oppression, and on the other hand ordinary civilians.5

Once More: Reform vs. Revolution

But, again, all this alleged uncertainty amounts to a “dodge,” a diversion, to avoid what is in fact the decisive question in reality and in what is being centrally addressed in the article responding to Mark Rudd: Can this system be reformed, through a struggle relying solely and as an absolute principle on nonviolence—or, in fact, is a revolutionary struggle of millions, to overthrow this system, necessary in order to open the way to eliminating the exploitation, oppression, inequality and injustice that is built into this system?

My response to Rudd speaks to profound contradictions that characterize this system, as formulated in the “5 STOPS” (which involve the oppression of Black people and other people of color, the oppression of women and other oppression based on gender, the targeting of immigrants, unjust wars and crimes against humanity, and the intensifying destruction of the environment) and the tremendous, truly horrific suffering this system imposes on the masses of humanity and the very real existential threat it poses to the future of humanity. It states very clearly that, “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!”6 It then poses this challenge:

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)?7

It would be very good if, instead of evading things with the spurious claim that my response to Rudd is “hemming and hawing,” the person who wrote this “critique”—and, beyond that, all like-minded “liberals”—would answer this challenge and speak directly and honestly to this question. That could help to further and contribute to what is a much needed mass, society-wide debate about the decisive question of reform vs. revolution, and everything of profound importance bound up with that.


1. Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd On The Lessons Of The 1960s And The Need For An Actual Revolution. This article is available at revcom.us. [back]

2. Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd,emphasis in the original. [back]

3. Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd, italics in the original, boldface added. [back]

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

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

6. Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd, emphasis in the original. (Here the response to Mark Rudd is quoting Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.) [back]

7. Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd. [back]

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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!

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/645/50-years-since-earth-day-1-en.html

50 Years Since Earth Day 1: Reflections on the Catastrophe That Is Capitalism-Imperialism

by Raymond Lotta

| revcom.us

 

This article addresses critical aspects of the climate emergency and broader environmental crisis. These are reflections on how the system of capitalism-imperialism is the underlying cause of this crisis—and why this system is the fundamental obstacle to humanity consciously confronting and collectively acting on the environmental emergency, with the urgency and on the scale required.

I. Indicators of Accelerating Crisis, Devastation, and Great Power Criminality

*2019 was the second hottest year on record. Since the 1960s, each decade has been warmer than the previous decade, by significant amounts. By 2016, when the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was signed by more than190 countries pledging to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, the planet had already passed a precipitous threshold of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: 400 parts per million.

NOTE: Half of all global carbon emissions since the industrial revolution (dating to 1751) were produced between 1988 and 2014—that is, since climate scientist James Hansen presented his seminal findings on global warming, and since the convening of UN summits on climate change. And in the almost four years since the signing of the Paris Agreement, not one major carbon-emitter is close to meeting stated goals. Meanwhile, the country responsible for the greatest amount of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere—the United States—is headed by a fascist regime that denies the reality of global warming altogether, while ramping up fossil-fuel production.

In the following section, I draw from Bill McKibben’s article “A Very Hot Year”1 and step back to show how the underlying dynamics of capitalism are expressed.

*McKibben observes that the models used by scientists 20 and 30 years ago to predict warming have proven to be remarkably accurate—some 1 degree Celsius, as averaged across the globe, so far. BUT the impact/effect/severity of global warming was far underestimated. The planet has notably suffered the loss of more than half of sea ice in the Arctic, and the onset of the collapse of coral reefs. McKibben cites a November 2019 European study identifying nine major tipping points focused on Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the boreal forests and permafrost of the north, and Amazon rainforests and corals of the tropical latitudes. The conclusion is that the risk of “abrupt and irreversible changes” was much higher than projected by the earlier research.

NOTE: No emergency alarm has gone off, no radical rethinking, no bold action at the highest levels of governance.

*The U.S. is the world’s biggest oil and natural gas producer (for the record, the “climate-conscious” Obama administration presided over the largest increase in oil production in U.S. history and under Obama the U.S. became the largest natural gas producer in the world). The U.S. is also expected to produce 80 percent of the new supply of oil and gas over the next five years.

NOTE: This projection cited by McKibben predates the COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp contraction of the world economy. But, tellingly, in the early stages of the pandemic, Russia and Saudi Arabia were dueling it out in a price war to secure and expand global oil market shares. How? By pumping more oil, which then threatened the global market position of the U.S. fossil-fuel industry. The Trump/Pence regime moved to bolster U.S. oil prices. But as the pandemic worsened and oil consumption fell sharply, oil prices crashed.

*To meet the Paris Climate Summit goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world would have to cut emissions by 7.6 percent annually for the next decade. That would require an enormous slashing of fossil-fuel consumption. As McKibben observes, no individual country (and certainly not the global economy as a whole) has reduced carbon emissions at that rate in a single year.

NOTE: The reality is that an effective and coordinated commitment to sustain such a level of carbon reduction, continuously over an entire decade, collides with the short-term horizons of capital and the profitable fossil-fuel foundations of the world-imperialist economy... and smacks up against the boundaries of private/national-state decision-making in a world of competing capitals and national-imperialist states. Again, think about it: no major signatory to the Paris climate agreement is on track to meeting its goals. We live in a world in which non-renewables, including oil, coal, and natural gas, provide 80 percent of global energy.

II. A Contradiction Built into the Competitive-Private Relations of Capitalism as It Has Historically Evolved: Reliance on and Expansion of Fossil Fuels...
The Barriers to and Limitations of Green Technology in the Framework of This System

In his March 12, 2020 article, McKibben cites Financial Times calculations that in order to meet the 1.5 degree Celsius Paris target, and this is far from what is needed, the fossil-fuel industry would have to leave 84 percent of its reserves in the ground, effectively writing off their value. (Reserves refers to the estimated amount of crude oil controlled by private and state companies that can be brought to the surface under current technical and price conditions.)

Let’s examine why keeping 84 percent of fossil-fuel reserves in the ground is such an imponderable in the framework of capitalism-imperialism.

*The oil/natural gas energy companies/investors draw on finance to make huge fixed capital outlays (technical equipment, infrastructure, etc.): in order to explore for and develop their oil reserves... and ultimately to extract oil and natural gas at a profitable margin. There are “sunk investment costs” in these reserves. This refers to the social knowledge (engineering, etc.) that is privately deployed; seismic and oil-field development technology that is applied, transport infrastructure put in place—costs that cannot be recovered if the firm making those investments leaves the industry. At the end of the day, these investments are weapons in the capitalist battle for markets, expansion, and survival.

*There is this particularity in the oil and natural gas extraction sector: it takes years for individual fossil-fuel projects to become profitable... years for massive capital-intensive investment to be recouped by private owners.

That can only happen through continuous cycles of production. If those circuits of production-realization-new production do not continue—recoupment plus profit will not materialize. There is compulsion facing these individual units of capital to “make good” on these investments, which means developing and drilling oil from these reserves, producing and producing more—with all the adverse consequences for the well-being of the planet.

This capitalist calculus of profit-making and return on investment works against, effectively nullifies, a rational recommendation by climate scientists, and a most “sensible” demand by many climate activists: to “keep the oil in the ground.”

This profit-making calculus, and it flows from the expand-or-die compulsion of capital, is also part of the reason that the idea and prediction bought into by many progressive people—that once the price of clean-renewable technology came down, we’d surely be on a different (a positive) trajectory—has proven to be utterly untrue.

*A salient observation on green energy by David Wallace-Wells in his 2019 book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (a recommended read):

“[T]he much-heralded green-energy ‘revolution’ ... has not even bent the curve of carbon emissions downward. We are, in other words, billions of dollars and thousands of dramatic breakthroughs later, precisely where we started when hippies were affixing solar panels to their geodesic domes. That is because the market has not responded to these developments by seamlessly retiring dirty energy sources and replacing them with clean ones. It has responded by simply adding the new capacity to the same system. Over the last 25 years, the cost per unit of renewable energy has fallen so far that you can hardly measure the price today, using the same scales (since just 2009, for instance, solar energy costs have fallen more than 80 percent). Over the same 25 years the proportion of global energy use derived from renewables has not grown an inch. Solar isn’t eating away at fossil-fuel use, in other words, even slowly; it’s just buttressing it. To the market this is growth; to human civilization, it is almost suicide.” (Emphasis added, p. 178)

*There is what is called “path-dependency”: So much capital is tied up in fossil fuel, as fossil fuels have been cheap and widely available; and as fossil-fuel-based production has been foundational to the profitable functioning of the global capitalist-imperialist system, including its global supply chains with their “dirty” (fossil-fuel-based) infrastructure. Moving outside the energy industry, the auto industry continues to manufacture vehicles with gasoline-fueled, internal combustion engines—with research expenditure and infrastructure established for gasoline-fueled transport and machines. This “path” of fossil-fuel-based production is self-reinforcing, and has been further reinforced with the massive expansion of hydraulic fracking of petroleum and natural gas (and this sector’s huge fixed capital outlays). What is being described is a major barrier to “unlocking” fossil-fuel energy systems.

*The problem of green energy in the framework of capitalism-imperialism

Renewable energy, like wind and solar power, has been scaled up commercially. But these renewables answer to the goal of generating profit and are also objects of market share competition. So you have the situation in which both the Obama and Trump administrations imposed tariffs (a tax) on Chinese-manufactured solar panels. And in the current pandemic-slowdown of the world economy, firms in the solar and wind industries are scrambling to survive and competing for bank and government-backed loans.

Green energy/technology as it has developed is stamped by the structure and workings of the system. The current manufacture of solar panels involves the mining and fusing of quartz and coal, and depends on global supply chains with significant inputs of fossil fuel. The batteries powering GM and Tesla electric vehicles would not function without cobalt that is mined under horrific conditions of super-exploitation, including child labor, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Europe is establishing wind farms in North Africa, in what amounts to a kind of “green-energy colonialism.” Solar panels help power the prison and torture camp at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo in Cuba. All of which is to say that harnessing a less fossil-fuel-based infrastructure to the existing imperialist economy of the U.S., with its unsustainable levels of consumption and its plunder of the planet, is NOT a good thing for humanity and for the earth.

*A brief aside on innovation and “risk taking.” The ideologues of capitalism hail its “risk-taking” qualities: “savvy entrepreneurs” who take “bold gambles” and “venture capitalists” who go where others dare not go. But the one “risk” that is not taken, that will never be taken... is that which does not follow the logic of profit and empire, the very logic that is destroying the planet.

*Oil is a strategic commodity. Oil is bigger than ExxonMobil, bigger than the money-slinging, right-wing oil-political donor and operative Charles Koch, and bigger than the major banks that have frenetically financed fossil-fuel’s wave of capital expansion of the past decade. Oil is a strategic commodity. Control over oil supplies and oil markets brings with it leverage over the world economy. Oil is central to the military and war-making capabilities of U.S. imperialism. It is a strategic weapon of rivalry and intimidation. For example, the U.S. imperialists, beginning with the Obama administration, stepped up oil and natural gas production to increase maneuvering room against imperialist Russia, and to intimidate countries like Iran and Venezuela—that depend on oil sales as their economic lifelines—into submission.

For all of the reasons gone into—the profitability of oil-based production, the fixed capital tied up in it and “path dependency,” the role of oil as a strategic commodity—along with other factors, capitalist markets and the capitalist state have NOT effected a rapid shift to “green technology.”

BUT ON THE BASIS OF MAKING A REVOLUTION THAT OVERTHROWS THIS SYSTEM... that establishes a new socialist state power and economy no longer based on private ownership and exploitation—and that puts an end to the American empire, with its network of sweatshops and military bases—we will be able to decisively move away from fossil fuels. We can do that as a critical part (emphasizing that this is still only a part) of a radical, all-around reorganization of society and restructuring of the economy toward socialist sustainability.

A genuine socialist economy would allocate and re-allocate resources on a societal level. It would have the capacity to redirect and subsidize investment and effect dis-investment—and to consciously regulate growth. It can do that because the framework of public-state ownership enables you to socialize and centralize the surplus of society and to consciously steer and coordinate economic development through comprehensive, integrated planning, guided by the three goals/criteria set forth in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America authored by Bob Avakian and the associated Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development.

III. “Public Goods” in a Private Capitalist World

Humanity is part of nature. We evolved with and are dependent on the physical environment and its interaction with other living things. Well-functioning ecosystems provide us with oxygen, food and fuel, materials essential to survival and well-being, protection from storms, disease, and solar radiation, regulation of water and climate. Not to mention aesthetic wonder and inspiration for art.

*The economic models and pricing system of capitalism cannot capture the true measure of these elements of nature. They systematically “undervalue” nature because, historically, these benefits of ecosystems are provided “free” as “public goods”—and have been systematically overexploited as imperialism relentlessly and massively commodifies more and more of nature. Export-production in poor countries rich with natural resources is based on the exploitation/processing of “public goods,” such as mangrove forests turned into commercial shrimp farms. But export prices do not factor in “environmental costs”: their short- and long-term impacts locally and globally. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that rich countries disproportionately use what are called “environmental sinks”—like the atmosphere and tropical rainforests—to absorb their high levels of carbon emissions.

In short, profit-maximizing capital has massive negative effects “external” to its private boundaries of ownership, operations, costs, and earnings. These are unpaid environmental externalities.

IV. The Rich/Poor Country Divide and Climate Change

*The U.S. and Western Europe have been directly responsible for 52 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution. The U.S. alone has accounted for 25 percent and is, in the words of climate scientist James Hansen, “by far, more responsible than any other nation” for global warming. The poorest half of the world’s population—3.5 billion people—is responsible for just 10 percent of cumulative carbon emissions.2

*By 2050 global warming might create as many as 1 billion climate refugees, most from the poor nations of the world—according to projections from the UN International Organization for Migration.

*In the years 1961-2000, countries in the low, middle, and high income groups were responsible for 13%, 45%, and 42% of greenhouse-gas emissions, respectively. The resulting “climate damages” were estimated to be distributed 29%, 45%, and 25%, respectively.3

*During the past 50 years, some 69 percent of deaths from extreme weather-related events—such as droughts, wildfires, floods, landslides, heat waves, and large storms—have taken place in poorer countries. Since 2000, this death rate in poor countries has been seven times higher than in wealthier countries.4

*And one little known but significant contributor to this situation is that major U.S. transnational corporations like Walmart, GM, and Apple outsource pollution to China, Bangladesh, countries in Central America, and elsewhere. America’s total carbon emissions worldwide are actually 14 percent higher than the domestic numbers reveal, when you factor in the greenhouse gases emitted by the manufacture of cars, clothing, and other products overseas but that are consumed in the U.S.5

*A 2019 study by Stanford University scientists estimates that the gap between the economic output of the world’s richest and poorest countries is 25 percent larger today than it would have been without global warming; and from 1961 to 2010, global warming decreased the wealth per person in the world’s poorest countries by 17-30 percent.6

*In the world today, nearly 70 million refugees have been forced from their homes: 23 million of them, about a third of the total, and almost all from Third World countries, were displaced by extreme weather events that are becoming more common and destructive because of global warming. The number of Central American migrants forced to flee their countries, due in significant part to climate change, increased five-fold between 2010 and 2015. These were unusually dry years, leaving many without enough food.7

V. Imperialist Global Trade, Agro-Industry, and the Destruction of Species

In May 2019, the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services issued a preliminary report. Its crucial finding was that one million species face extinction in the next few decades unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss. The report identifies five factors driving extinction and biodiversity loss: changes in land and sea use; unsustainable overuse; climate change; pollution; and invasion by non-native species. And what are some of the key drivers of these drivers? This is summarized in the revcom.us article “Capitalism-Imperialism Is Strangling Life on the Planet.”8

*Global trade. The UN report points out that global trade has increased ten-fold in the last 50 years. This is a product of profit-driven imperialist globalization and the forging of a globally integrated, cheap-labor manufacturing/sweatshop economy and the extraction of raw materials. Goods produced in the oppressed countries of the global south are transported worldwide in huge container ships consuming massive amounts of fuel oil that contributes to pollution and global warming. These supply chain/transport systems require increased infrastructure, such as roads and pipelines, which split up ecosystems (having effects like impeding the ability of animals to travel with changes in seasons). Global trade also increases the spread of invasive species (not native to a region). These invasive species have increased by 70 percent since 1980 alone, disrupting and often causing great damage to ecosystems. One invasive pathogen spread in part by global trade is responsible for the extinction of at least 200 species of frogs around the world.

*Commercial-driven destruction of wetlands that often support high concentrations of animals. Many such wetlands have been drained to make room for industrial farming that utilizes toxic fertilizers and pesticides that poison land and water. Wetlands have been compromised by reckless residential and urban-industrial development that produces pollution and carbon dioxide accelerating climate change.

*Fossil-fuel-driven climate change. The report emphasizes that climate change is “increasingly exacerbating the impact of other drivers...that many species are unable to cope locally with the rapid pace of climate change, either through evolutionary or behavioral processes, and that their survival will also depend on the extent to which they are capable of dispersing, of following the appropriate climatic conditions and preserving their capacity for evolution.”

VI. A planet interconnected and integrated by capitalist-imperialist globalization is a planet of intensifying and accelerating eco-catastrophe... a planet on fire.

*Why? Because capitalism-imperialism, in its ruthless and anarchic pursuit of profit and competitive advantage, not only has ravaged the environment but is driven to continue to do so, releasing more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the ceaseless drive of competing blocs of capital for profit and more profit. This is a system in which fossil fuels are “cost effective.”

*And global warming is having cascading feedback effects: climate-driven crop failures and water shortages; diseases and plagues compounded by global warming—mosquitoes that can migrate to expanding tropical regions; mutating viruses; rising sea levels that endanger densely packed swaths of humanity in coastal cities; unbreathable air; acidification and warming of oceans that depletes fisheries and contributes to more frequent and intense weather events and disasters; the potential loss of one million species; climate refugees and resource-scarcity conflicts.

*Global interconnection without global cooperation. To quote again from The Uninhabitable Earth: “If you had to invent a threat grand enough, and global enough, to plausibly conjure into being a system of true international cooperation, climate change would be it—the threat everywhere, and overwhelming, and total.” (This was before COVID-19, but this is the world we are living in!) And what we see is the utter opposite of “true international cooperation.” This inability to coordinate and cooperate is a function of capitalism-imperialism, of globalized capital anchored to national markets and safeguarded by national-imperialist states, a world system divided into oppressor and oppressed countries, and rent by antagonistic class and social division. A system in which private ownership and appropriation are in conflict with socialized and interconnected global production.

*It doesn’t have to be this way. Only a revolution to overthrow this system and establish a new socialist state power and economy, to create a socialist society as a transition to global communism—a revolution guided by the new communism developed by Bob Avakian—gives humanity any real chance to save the planet. Only by making this revolution can we fit ourselves to be caretakers of the planet for current and future generations, and create a true world community of humanity.

 


1. New York Review of Books, March 12, 2020. [back]

2. James Hansen, Climate Change in a Nutshell: The Gathering Storm, 18 December 2018, p. 15; “World’s richest 10% produce half of carbon emissions while poorest 3.5 billion account for just a tenth,” Oxfam, December 2, 2015. [back]

3. Data from U.T. Srinivasan, et al., “The debt of nations and the distribution of ecological impacts from human activities,” Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States, February 5, 2008. [back]

4. “Time to redress the globally unjust cost of climate change,” International Institute for Environment and Development, September 2019. [back]

5. Brad Plumer, “You’ve Heard of Outsourced Jobs, but Outsourced Pollution? It’s Real, and Tough to Tally Up,” New York Times, September 4, 2018. [back]

6. “Global warming has increased global economic inequality,” Noah S. Diffenbaugh and Marshall Burke, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the Unites States, May 14, 2019. [back]

7. The climate crisis, migration, and refugees, Brookings Institution, July 25, 2019; Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, World Bank, August 2018; “Central American Farmers Head to the U.S., Fleeing Climate Change,” New York Times, April 13, 2019; “Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns,” New York Times, August 8, 2019. [back]

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


The Amazon rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world, is burning—causing deadly harm to what is known as the "lungs of the planet." The fires are set deliberately by farmers and agribusiness companies with the backing of the Brazilian government. If this continues, the results would be horrific: extinction of tens of thousands of species and further acceleration of global climate change. Above: Jacundá National Forest, near the city of Porto Velho, August 25, 2019 (Photo: AP)

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

"You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics."

Order the book HERE
Download the book in ePub format HERE


Coral reefs have declined 50% in the last 150 years. All but 1 percent may be lost in the next decades if climate change continues. The Northwest Hawaiian Island coral reefs alone support 7,000 species of fishes, invertebrates, plants, sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals.

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


Ice Melting on Denmark Island, Greenland, August 6, 2018. (Photo: Matt Osman/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

How Would the Revolution Deal With the Climate Crisis?
A Q&A with Raymond Lotta


The Montiva Refinery, Port Arthur, Texas, largest oil refinery in North America. The Texas Gulf Coast has four of the 10 biggest oil and gas refineries in the United States. (Photo: AP)


U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcons on a patrol mission over Afghanistan, November 29, 2019. (Photo: USAF/SMJenkins)


Sea otter, among the species endangered due to destruction of habitats and oil spills which contribute to their fur being unable to keep them warm. (Photo: Marshal Hedin, San Diego/Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:



 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/cheers-to-athletes-responding-to-the-murder-of-ahmaud-aubrey-en.html

"We're [Black people] literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME"

Cheers to athletes responding to the murder of Ahmaud Aubrey

| revcom.us

 

From a reader:

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia by racist vigilantes has sparked outrage across the country. This is being called Trayvon2.0—after the 2012 murder of 17-year-old Black teenager Trayvon Martin by vigilante George Zimmerman. It seems like every day we’re reading about Black people being gunned down, beaten, and hounded by cops and these vigilantes. People who have watched the video of or heard about Ahmaud being attacked have had enough of this and are standing up to say, “No More!”

This includes many athletes, Black and white, who are speaking out against this outrageous lynching of Ahmaud Arbery. This is an important development, and it follows in the footsteps of famous athletes who have stood against the oppression of Black people—Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos—and more recently, Colin Kaepernick, who led a movement of athletes to refuse to stand for the national anthem in protest of police murders and brutality, and who called the killings today of Blacks and Latinos “lawful lynchings.”

The first athlete to speak out was NBA All-Star LeBron James, who tweeted: “We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can’t even go for a damn jog man! Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!?...”

Tennis phenom Coco Gauff, who is 16 years old, tweeted, “The violence needs to stop. The profiling and racial injustice needs to stop. #AhmaudArbery”

NFL player Torrey Smith tweeted, “How do I explain what happened to #AhmaudArbery to my 6 year old son?”

“Happy birthday to Ahmaud Arbery,” the New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said in a video he recorded during his run on Friday. “Even though they arrested those two men, we’ve got to make sure they don’t forget his face and that he gets his justice in court.”

Dawn Staley of the WNBA tweeted, “More senselessness. Video is heartbreaking. How many more mothers will have to bury their sons and daughters?! Answers needed. #AhmaudArbery.”

Other athletes who sent out tweets of anguish and anger were: Geno Smith (NFL), Benjamin Watson (NFL), Swin Cash (WNBA), David West (NBA) who quoted from Dr. James Cone’s book The Cross and the Lynching Tree, Julius Peppers (NFL), Enes Kanter (NBA), Jared Dudley (NBA), Isaiah Thomas (NBA), Wilson Chandler (NBA), Chris Long (NFL), Cameron Jordan (NFL), plus others.

The Players Coalition, a group of NFL athletes dedicated to making an impact on social justice and racial equality, sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department, stating, “Today, we are in mourning and we write to request a prompt investigation by the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division into the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery.” The letter was signed by 60 athletes and coaches including Tom Brady (formerly of the NFL New England Patriots and now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Steve Kerr (NBA Golden State Warriors head coach), and Stan Van Gundy (former head coach of the NBA Detroit Pistons).

Cheers to these athletes, coaches, and all the others who, at this moment of crisis, are standing up against the murder of Black people by police and racist killers.

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:



 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/643/revolution-books-online-bookstore-launches-en.html

| revcom.us

 

Revolution Books Online Bookstore Launches


To all our friends:
As we confront the coronavirus pandemic along with the rest of the world — a global health crisis that prevents us from meeting in person — this online store will help us re-open RB when it's safe, and keep us all connected in our quest to understand and change the world.

Visit the New Revolution Books Store Online HERE.
Find our curated selection of over 6000 books.

Buy a book here today and tell your friends to buy their books here. Share what you love about Revolution Books on social media and ask your friends to support Revolution Books today, with the hashtag #SupportRevolutionBooks. And tag us at @revbooksnyc.

Below is a taste of what's available at our store :

First, find the works of the most important political thinker and leader in the world today — Bob Avakian, the architect of a whole new framework for human emancipation, the new communism:

Authored by Bob Avakian.
(in English & Spanish)

Surely NOW you would want to see if there really is a far better alternative to this system. After overthrowing the system... this Constitution lays out how on Day 1 and going forward, people could build a society and world free of all exploitation and oppression.

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.
She makes the case for what BA and the new synthesis concentrates, and what it means for an advanced intellectual to do their work in the framework of the new synthesis: the tremendous vistas of discovery that can be opened up, in the service of humanity getting free.

The New Communism

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 (in English & Spanish).
For anyone who cares about the state of the world and the condition of humanity and agonizes over whether fundamental change is really possible, this landmark work provides a sweeping and comprehensive orientation, foundation, and guide to making the most radical of revolutions.


A few recommendations from our curated selection of over 6000 books — novels and poetry, history and science, revolutionary theory, biography and memoir, art and music, children and young adult selections.

Felon Poems by Reginald Dwayne Betts
Betts became a poet in prison, after reading an anthology in solitary confinement.
"Betts' poems about fatherhood [are] some of the most powerful I've read... The black bars of redacted text, which usually suggest narrative withheld, here reveal its true contours...”
— The New Yorker

The Night Watchman is a novel based on the life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich's grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C.

Sinan Antoon's new novel The Book of Collateral Damage follows an Iraqi scholar studying in the U.S. who returns to Iraq in 2003 and witnesses the devastation of the U.S. invasion. He meets an eccentric bookseller who is trying to catalog everything destroyed by the war: buildings, books, flora and fauna, human beings and memory itself. For Sinan's talk at RB go here.


How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.
America's colonies, territories and occupations, Immerwahr recounts forgotten and suppressed episodes: water-boarding in the Philippines; how U.S. doctors conducted grisly experiments on the people of Puerto Rico; how the U.S. established 800 overseas bases... and more.

Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation, and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico
"The hurricanes, the debt, the depopulation. Ed Morales has written an urgent, fascinating, and impassioned portrait of Puerto Rico, the world's oldest colony."―Daniel Immerwahr

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.
At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, then exploded, killing 100 million people worldwide. He makes the case that the strongest weapon against pandemic is science, and fighting for the truth.


Acclaimed poet jessica Care moore's new collection, We Want Our Bodies Back. "...A lyric encyclopedia, a psalm book, a conflagration of fire and fierce black joy..." — Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate
Jessica will perform at RB's first online author event, Wed, April 15.

The clothing industry employs 1 in 6 people on the planet, and has long exploited labor and the environment. In the last 30 years, its abuses have multiplied exponentially.
Author Dana Thomas (style writer at the New York Times) will do an online author reading with RB on April 19.

After surviving gang-rape at 17 in Mumbai, India, Sohaila Abdulali wrote a fiery piece for a women’s magazine. Brilliant, frank, empowering, and urgently necessary... a powerful tool for examining rape culture..." — Jill Soloway, creator of Transparent.
Abdulali will do an online author reading with RB. April date TBA.


Maybe you've read the controversy, now read the novel and see if it isn't a stunning window into what it means when life becomes so dangerous at home that a 'better option' is to leap onto a moving freight train headed to a country where sharpshooters hunt you down at the border. "Riveting, timely, a dazzling accomplishment."
— Julia Alvarez

A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017
A landmark history of one hundred years of war waged against the Palestinians from Rashid Khalidi, the foremost U.S. historian of the Middle East, told through pivotal events and family history.

This book, created by artist Roy DeCarava and writer Langston Hughes, was first published in 1955. It honors in words and photographs what the authors saw, knew and felt deeply about life in Harlem. Unique in the canon of visual literature, this new edition has recently been published.


The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming
by David Wallace-Wells
"It's worse, much worse, than you think." A travelogue of our planet in peril that calls out widespread complacency, even among the self-described "woke." The responsibility to act and avoid catastrophe falls on a single generation.

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life by Jonathan Gould
The definitive account of the life and music of the beloved singer. Captures the turbulent times and his groundbreaking music.  Watch the video of Jonathan Gould's evening at Revolution Books.

In August 2018 a 15-year-old Swedish girl decided not to go to school one day in order to protest the climate crisis. Her actions sparked a global movement, inspiring millions of students to go on strike for our planet. In this small book, Greta Thunberg tells her story.
"No fear to defend the planet." 
— an Amazon reader


Stay in contact with Revolution Books via Facebook, Instagram, and
Twitter @revbooksnyc

       

Humanity Needs Revolution
Revolution Needs Revolution Books
Revolution Books Needs You.

Phone: 212-691-3345
Email: revbooksnyc@yahoo.com


Donate to Revolution Books

Make a tax-deductible contribution to the Revolution Books Educational Fund


Revolution Books / Libros Revolución | 437 Malcolm X Blvd / Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10037

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/643/berkeley-revolution-books-launches-online-store-en.html

 

Berkeley Revolution Books Launches Online Store

| revcom.us

 

From an email from Revolution Books Berkeley:

Our bookstore is finally launching an online ecommerce site for the first time amidst a period of upheaval and uncertainty for humanity that is truly unprecedented. Now people, from all over will be able to buy books directly from RevolutionBooks.org, plus tune into live and archived author readings, hot topic discussions and more. Think about how special that is and what impact it could have if thousands of people find out about the store and the movement for revolution. A successful online Revolution Books will help insure RB's doors will open again, when it's safe.

Please spread the word. Here is what we are asking people to do to help launch our online bookstore to thousands of people right away:

Revolution Books Needs You!

Close your eyes for a moment and remember the first time you walked into Revolution Books. What it meant to find books that matter, that reveal the truth, books that reach across cultures - the literature, poetry, history, science, art and revolutionary theory all aimed at understanding and changing the world. What it meant to find the programs and author readings we experienced together that percolated with engagement and with emancipatory possibility.

Discover the revolutionary potential of humanity... A different and far better world is possible. Experience and take up the science of revolution in the new communism, in the extensive body of work of Bob Avakian that shatters demoralized, defeatist preconceptions that the misery and spirit-crushing world of today is all that could be. This is the animating heart of Revolution Books, the breakthrough in scientifically knowing and changing the world which draws from the wide range of human experience and knowledge.

This is what humanity urgently needs... this is what we aim to bring to people through our new virtual bookstore. 

 


Revolution Books
2444 Durant Avenue • Berkeley • CA 94704 • 510-848-1196
revolutionbooksberkeley@gmail.comwww.revolutionbooks.org

THE NEW COMMUNISM AND EMANCIPATING HUMANITY

The New Communism        

INTERNATIONAL FICTION

       

AMERICAN CRIME/U.S. HISTORY

       

BOOKS BY AUTHORS WHO HAVE APPEARED AT REV BOOKS

       

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:



 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/641/bob-avakian-conspiracy-theories-or-a-scientific-approach-short-version-en.html

CONSPIRACY THEORIES, FASCIST "CERTITUDE," LIBERAL PARALYSIS, OR
A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO CHANGING THE WORLD

(Short Version—The Simple and Basic Truth)

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

The coronavirus crisis has brought home very sharply the importance of science—the scientific method and approach to understanding and changing the world. But there is a big problem in how people have been trained and conditioned to think (or not think). While many “liberals” and “progressives” have, for far too long, allowed themselves to become paralyzed by ridiculous notions like “How can you know what is really true, no one can say that their truth is greater than someone else’s truth,” and so on, fascist forces, marked by a truly dark ages mentality, are firmly convinced of the “truth” of all manner of lunatic conspiracy theories promoting fascist “values” and objectives.

Put another way, in terms of major trends in society as a whole: Those who have the most certitude are those most out of touch with reality.

Further complicating the situation and an additional dimension to this problem is the fact that, although they do not share but strongly oppose the “values” and objectives of the fascists, many of the basic masses, who are bitterly oppressed under this system, also are suspicious of and even are inclined to reject science and scientifically-grounded analysis. But this also leaves you vulnerable to all kinds of unfounded “conspiracy theories” and other wrong and harmful ideas, including the notion that nothing people do will make a difference because “it’s all in god’s hands.”

The answer to all this is not giving up on understanding reality, or simply believing what sounds like it makes sense, or what is said by someone you know, or what gives you comfort (at least for a while). The truth of something does not depend on who says it, or how it makes you feel. Because something comes from a source you like does not make it true; and because something comes from a source you do not like does not make it untrue. And truth is not a “popularity contest.” Because a lot of people believe something does not make it true; and because only a few people believe something does not make it untrue.

Truth is objective—which means: Whether something is true or not depends on whether it corresponds to actual reality. (On some levels, the truth of things is obvious—for example, the truth that if it is raining hard and you are exposed to the rain for any length of time, you will get wet. But there are deeper levels to things, and the truth about them is more complex and requires more developed knowledge—for example, what causes rain, why it is raining where you are and not somewhere else, and so on. But in all cases, on all levels, the fact remains: Whether something is true or not depends on whether it corresponds to actual reality.) To sort out what is false from what is true and to stand on solid ground in terms of understanding things, you need the scientific method and approach to reality—and, yes, scientifically-grounded certitude, where such certitude can and must be established.

Ardea Skybreak, a professionally trained scientist and an advocate of the new communism as a further advance in the science of revolution, has made the point that science is not just somebody’s opinion but involves and requires investigating reality and systematizing what is learned through this process. She emphasizes that “Science is an evidence-based process” and

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.1

If you don’t judge things by whether there is compelling evidence for them—and if you don’t evaluate what people claim by weighing it against what the evidence shows about the actual reality—you can end up believing almost anything! Or, as Skybreak puts it:

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.2

Skybreak emphasizes the point that science is not mysterious, but is something that anyone can learn and apply. She also speaks to the fact that there has been bad science (including bad science used for racist purposes) but that you can and should use good science—the actual methods of science—to understand reality and expose and refute bad science. As she puts it, in simple and basic terms: “Whether you want to cure a disease or make a better society, you need that scientific evidence‑based process.”3

Opposing the scientific method and approach—and denying the possibility of arriving at important truths by applying this method and approach—can only lead to bad, sometimes extremely bad, results, leaving people weighed down by all kinds of ignorance and prejudice, depriving people of the ability to understand and change the world in a fundamentally positive direction. When, for example, Jonas Salk announced that he had finally developed a vaccine to deal with the terrible disease polio, should the response actually have been to be suspicious of this claim and reject it without even looking into it? Should people actually respond in that way if, or when, a vaccine is developed for COVID-19?! Examples of this kind could be cited almost endlessly.

It is worth repeating the very important point emphasized by Ardea Skybreak:

Whether you want to cure a disease or make a better society, you need that scientific evidence‑based process.

And specifically in terms of making a better society—in opposing the fascism of the Trump-Pence regime, and even more fundamentally in making a radical leap beyond this system of capitalism-imperialism (which has given rise to this fascism) and bringing into being a far better world—you need the scientific method and approach of the new communism.

 


1. 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, emphasis in the original. Ardea Skybreak is a professionally trained scientist in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology and an advocate of the new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian. Skybreak is also the author of the very important book The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, Insight Press, 2006. The entire interview with Ardea Skybreak (SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION) is available at revcom.us.

In this interview Skybreak goes in some depth into how Bob Avakian, in summing up the historical experience of the communist movement and drawing from a broad range of human experience, has brought forward a new communism that embodies a further leap in the application of a scientific method and approach to the question of how a better society and world, free of exploitation and oppression, can actually be brought into being. This new communism 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 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.

In a number of works, and in particular the book THE NEW COMMUNISM, The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, and Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary (which is available at revcom.us), Bob Avakian speaks to what is new in the new communism and its relation to previous communist theory.  [back]

2. SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION.  [back]

3. SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION.  [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

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:



 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/641/bob-avakian-conspiracy-theories-or-a-scientific-approach-long-version-en.html

CONSPIRACY THEORIES, FASCIST "CERTITUDE," LIBERAL PARALYSIS, OR
A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO CHANGING THE WORLD

(Longer Version—The Truth Elaborated)

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

The coronavirus crisis has brought home very sharply the importance of science—the scientific method and approach to understanding and changing the world. But there is a big problem in how people have been trained and conditioned to think (or not think). Even as people in the medical field are proceeding on the basis of a scientific approach and, in the context of this coronavirus crisis, “liberals” are insisting that it is vitally important now to “listen to the scientists,” for far too long many “liberals” and “progressives” have allowed themselves to become paralyzed by relativist agnosticism, lacking—and often even rejecting the very idea of—certitude (with ridiculous notions like “How can you know what is really true, no one can say that their truth is greater than someone else’s truth,” and so on). Meanwhile, fascist forces, marked by a truly dark ages mentality, and firmly convinced of the “truth” of all manner of lunatic conspiracy theories promoting fascist “values” and objectives, are eagerly embracing callous philistinism, willfully rejecting critical thinking, smugly ignoring, defying and denigrating science and the scientific method.

Put another way, in terms of major trends in society as a whole: Those who have the most certitude are those most out of touch with reality.

Further complicating the situation and an additional dimension to this problem is the fact that, although they do not share but strongly oppose the “values” and objectives of the fascists, many of the basic masses, who are bitterly oppressed under this system, also are suspicious of and even are inclined to reject science and scientifically-grounded analysis. But this also leaves you vulnerable to all kinds of unfounded “conspiracy theories” and other wrong and harmful ideas, including the notion that nothing people do will make a difference because “it’s all in god’s hands.”

The answer to all this is not giving up on understanding reality, or simply believing what sounds like it makes sense, or what is said by someone you know, or what gives you comfort (at least for a while). The truth of something does not depend on who says it, or how it makes you feel. Because something comes from a source you like does not make it true; and because something comes from a source you do not like does not make it untrue. And truth is not a “popularity contest.” Because a lot of people believe something does not make it true; and because only a few people believe something does not make it untrue.

Truth is objective—which means: Whether something is true or not depends on whether it corresponds to actual reality. (On some levels, the truth of things is obvious—for example, the truth that if it is raining hard and you are exposed to the rain for any length of time, you will get wet. But there are deeper levels to things, and the truth about them is more complex and requires more developed knowledge—for example, what causes rain, why it is raining where you are and not somewhere else, and so on. But in all cases, on all levels, the fact remains: Whether something is true or not depends on whether it corresponds to actual reality.) To sort out what is false from what is true and to stand on solid ground in terms of understanding things, you need the scientific method and approach to reality—and, yes, scientifically-grounded certitude, where such certitude can and must be established.

Science is not another “dogma”—another untested and unproved “set of beliefs”—it is the opposite of that. Conclusions based on the application of the scientific method are obviously important, but science is not just some “collection of conclusions,” and still less is it a set of “precepts” which are not drawn from reality and are out of keeping with reality, or which once reflected reality but have become frozen and “ossified” and no longer correspond to a changing reality. Science is above all and most essentially a method. In this regard the following, from an interview with Ardea Skybreak, a professionally trained scientist and an advocate of the new communism as a further advance in the science of revolution, is very relevant:

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.1

If you don’t judge things by whether there is compelling evidence for them—and if you don’t evaluate what people claim by weighing it against what the evidence shows about the actual reality—you can end up believing almost anything! Or, as Skybreak puts it:

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.2

And:

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.3

Skybreak emphasizes the point that science is not mysterious, but is something that anyone can learn and apply. She also speaks to the contradiction that sometimes people are turned off to science, partly because they have been given the wrong sense of what science is, and

Another reason people are sometimes turned off by science is because there has been bad science....sometimes in the course of history science has been used to promote the idea that some races are inferior to other races....Well, that’s junk science. In fact you can use rigorous scientific methods to prove that that was all bad science. It’s not just “morally” bad—it is that, but it’s also scientifically bad—it’s completely false and you can use good science to prove that.4

As I have put it, in line with the essential point made by Skybreak:

It is the “good science”—the scientific method and approach of proceeding from the evidence about reality to understand how reality actually is, why it is the way it is, and how it is changing and could be changed further—that we need to consistently apply if we want to transform the world to uproot oppression and exploitation.5

Consistently Applying a Scientific Method, Following the Truth Wherever It Leads

Far too often, and with no small amount of irony, educated middle class “liberals,” “progressives” and the “woke” act as if they are asserting some profound truth when they reject the very notion of “truth” and decry and denounce as dogmatic (or even tyrannical) those who say that they have arrived at certain definite truths. But, once again, opposing the scientific method and approach—and denying the possibility of arriving at important truths by applying this method and approach—can only lead to bad, sometimes extremely bad, results, leaving people weighed down by all kinds of ignorance and prejudice, depriving people of the ability to understand and change the world in a fundamentally positive direction. And is this approach—of denying the possibility or desirability of knowing the truth and denouncing those who say they have brought forward definite important truths—is this really valid and viable, something people can or should stick with? When, for example, Jonas Salk announced that he had finally developed a vaccine to deal with the terrible disease polio, should the response actually have been to be suspicious of this claim and reject it without even looking into it, and to criticize (or even ostracize) Salk for having the nerve to claim that he arrived at an important truth (an understanding of the disease polio and how to combat it)? Should people actually respond in that way if, or when, a vaccine is developed for COVID-19?! Examples of this kind could be cited almost endlessly.

As I have emphasized, speaking to what is a fundamental epistemological principle of the new communism:

The truth is an actual correct reflection of reality, including in its motion and development. And, of course, it is true that nobody can ever have all of the truth. That’s part of understanding reality correctly, part of the scientific method. But...it is true that you can come to definite and definitive determinations about the reality of many particular things, even while you always have to be open to learning more, and to the possibility that some of what you thought to be true may not turn out to be true, or new developments occur which mean that the world has changed in such a way that your understanding has to be modified. That’s all part of the scientific method as well. When we talk about the truth, we’re not talking about THE TRUTH as an absolute and final truth, but we are also not talking about a narrative. We’re talking about a scientific approach to understanding reality and then, on that basis, transforming it. And the scientific approach to that process of analyzing and synthesizing reality can come to important definitive conclusions, even as this is an ongoing process which is never complete because you can never grasp all of reality—including because it’s constantly changing and because there will always be aspects of reality that human beings will not even have penetrated at any given time, let alone come to understand.6

There is a definite connection between the relativism and agnosticism of far too many educated middle class “liberals” and their reluctance, if not stubborn refusal, to recognize the fascist danger posed by the Trump-Pence regime for what it is and what is required in the face of this—which is a determined struggle against this fascism, a struggle that does not rely or depend upon the “mainstream” section of the ruling class (as represented by institutions like the Democratic Party) and the system they serve, which has given rise to this fascism (out of whose basic contradictions this fascism has arisen as an attempt at a resolution of these contradictions within the confines of this system and in the most extreme terms).

Even more fundamentally, there is a definite connection between the relativism and agnosticism of such “liberals” and their resistance or stubborn refusal to apply a consistently scientific evidence-based approach, and on this basis to follow the truth wherever it leads, particularly when it comes to historical, social and political questions—because where it leads is to demolishing cherished illusions and prejudices of “liberals” regarding the actual role of this “great American democracy,” throughout its history and throughout the world; the actual nature of the system we live under, capitalism-imperialism; and the actual experience of revolutionary struggle against this system, and more particularly the experience of the communist movement and the socialist societies it has brought into being.

It is in deeply engaging these questions, and drawing from many different dimensions of human experience, that I have brought forward 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.

In regard to all this, it is worth repeating the very important point emphasized by Ardea Skybreak:

Whether you want to cure a disease or make a better society, you need that scientific evidence‑based process.

And specifically in terms of making a better society—in opposing the fascism of the Trump-Pence regime, and even more fundamentally in making a radical leap beyond this capitalist-imperialist system (which has given rise to this fascism) and bringing into being a far better world—you need the scientific method and approach of the new communism.

 


1. 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, emphasis in the original. Ardea Skybreak is a professionally trained scientist in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology and an advocate of the new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian. Skybreak is also the author of the very important book The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, Insight Press, 2006. The entire interview with Ardea Skybreak (SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION) is available at revcom.us.

In this interview Skybreak goes in some depth into how, in summing up the historical experience of the communist movement and drawing from a broad range of human experience, Bob Avakian has brought forward a new communism that embodies a further leap in the application of a scientific method and approach to the question of how a better society and world, free of exploitation and oppression, can actually be brought into being. As this article points out, the new communism “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.”

In a number of works, and in particular the book THE NEW COMMUNISM, The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation (Insight Press, 2016) and Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary (which is available at revcom.us) Bob Avakian speaks to what is new in the new communism and its relation to previous communist theory.  [back]

2. SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION  [back]

3. SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION  [back]

4. SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION  [back]

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

6. Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summaryavailable at revcom.us.  [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

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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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

Read more

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

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

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.

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

 

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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

 

Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:



 


 

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

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

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

| revcom.us

 

Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Fascists and Communists:
Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart

By Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

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

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

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

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

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

Download PDF of "Fascists and Communists: Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart" for printing and distribution

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

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

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

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

WHAT IS FASCISM

Statements from Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, bourgeois dictatorship in any form is very bad for the masses of people, very oppressive and repressive of the masses of people, and needs to be overthrown. But an overt fascist dictatorship that tramples on any pretense of upholding rights for people is not something that should be put in the category of “maybe it’ll be a positive change, or maybe it’ll be a negative change.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there is this chilling statement by Lang:

People have no idea it’s going on....

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

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

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

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

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

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


* What Is Fascism?

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

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

Download these quotes as a pamphlet to print and distribute:

 

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

See also:

Fascists and Communists: Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart

by Bob Avakian

Read more

NOW AVAILABLE: PDF for printing

See also:

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

by Dr. Hubert Locke

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

Read more

 

 

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

 

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

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

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

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

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

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

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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 c