revcom.us, May 18, 2020 through May 24, 2020 (#648)

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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CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

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

 

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

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Hope For Humanity
On A Scientific Basis

Breaking with Individualism,
Parasitism and
American Chauvinism

Bob Avakian
Author of
The New Communism

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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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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

Read more

American Crime

See all the articles in this series, including:

 

 

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Episode 8 of
The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less!

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The Lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, the Oppression of Black People, and the Revolutionary Struggle to End ALL Oppression

Premieres on youtube.com/therevcoms
Thursday, May 14
5pm PDT / 8pm EDT

The Revolution, Nothing Less Show

The recent lynching of Ahmaud Arbery has seared the souls of Black people and many others throughout society, calling to mind slave-catchers and lynch-mobs of old. The question is sharply posed: When will this end!?

Bob Avakian has written: 

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.

Episode 8 of The Revolution, Nothing Less Show will be framed by this quote and by the work Bob Avakian has done on this question, driven by deep feeling and penetrating science. We'll share an excerpt from BA's speech Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution on how white supremacy and capitalism are stitched together and can only be ended through an actual revolution. This will be followed by a conversation between Andy Zee and Carl Dix.

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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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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/648/bob-avakian-on-covid-19-and-the-oppression-of-women-en.html

BOB AVAKIAN ON
COVID-19 AND THE OPPRESSION OF WOMEN

| revcom.us

 

In The Deadly Illusion of “Normalcy” and the Revolutionary Way Forward, I pointed to this basic fact:

In the context of this current [coronavirus] 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....

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

One of the main ways this is happening is with the oppression of women. This oppression is a fundamental part of this system of capitalism-imperialism (and all systems divided into exploiters and exploited), and it takes horrific forms in the “normal” functioning of this system.

As I have previously written, speaking to this horrific oppression:

Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world. And in addition to all the other outrages which I have referred to, in terms of children throughout the slums and shantytowns of the Third World, in addition to all the horrors that will be heaped on them—the actual living in garbage and human waste in the hundreds of millions as their fate, laid out before them, yes, even before they are born—there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination. And this is true not only in the Third World. In “modern” countries like the U.S. as well, the statistics barely capture it: the millions who will be raped; the millions more who will be routinely demeaned, deceived, degraded, and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers; the way in which so many women will be shamed, hounded and harassed if they seek to exercise reproductive rights through abortion, or even birth control; the many who will be forced into prostitution and pornography; and all those who—if they do not have that particular fate, and even if they achieve some success in this “new world” where supposedly there are no barriers for women—will be surrounded on every side, and insulted at every moment, by a society and a culture which degrades women, on the streets, in the schools and workplaces, in the home, on a daily basis and in countless ways.2

There are many ways in which all this has become even more extreme in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. To cite just two important examples:

Incidents of women being battered by husbands or boyfriends have significantly increased—not just in the U.S. but in many other countries as well.

And within the U.S. in particular, in a number of states whose governments are dominated by Christian fundamentalist fascists, there have been further attacks on the right to abortion. This is being done specifically in the form of closing down clinics that provide abortions, under the hypocritical pretext that such closures are aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus—at the same time as governing forces in many of these states are promoting reckless defiance of necessary measures to limit the spread of this virus. The fact is that it is definitely possible for clinics that provide abortions to implement measures to protect the health of women who are seeking abortions and to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus; and, given this, as well as the basic fact that the denial of the right to abortion is itself a great social harm, contributing in a major way to the oppression of women, there is no legitimate reason for closing these clinics and creating further obstacles to women exercising their right to abortion—and doing so adds further to the harm that is done to women on a daily basis, and to society overall.

All this is an expression of the fact that the position and role of women in society has become a very acute and concentrated focus of the whole question of the fundamental direction of society, and of humanity. This is something which fascist forces, including the fascist Trump/Pence regime in this country, have seized on as a crucial part of their unrelenting drive to reinforce and carry to extremes the already oppressive relations of this system—and it is something all those who are determined to live in a world free from all forms of enslavement and oppression need to recognize and take up as a crucial battlefront.

In this regard, something I wrote more than 30 years ago has become all the more profoundly true and important:

Over the past several decades in the U.S. there have been profound changes in the situation of women and the relations within the family. In only one of ten families is there the “model” situation where the husband is the “sole breadwinner” and the wife a totally dependent “homemaker.” With these economic changes have come significant changes in attitudes and expectations—and very significant strains not only on the fabric of the family but of social relations more broadly....The whole question of the position and role of women in society is more and more acutely posing itself in today’s extreme circumstances—this is a powderkeg in the U.S. today. It is not conceivable that all this will find any resolution other than in the most radical terms and through extremely violent means. The question yet to be determined is: will it be a radical reactionary or a radical revolutionary resolution, will it mean the reinforcing of the chains of enslavement or the shattering of the most decisive links in those chains and the opening up of the possibility of realizing the complete elimination of all forms of such enslavement.3

 


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

2. BAsics 1:10 (BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian). This is drawn from Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution—Part III: “The New Synthesis and the Woman Question: The Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution—Further Leaps and Radical Ruptures,” which is also available at revcom.us.  [back]

3. This statement by Bob Avakian was first published in 1985 and has been cited in a number of works since then, including Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution. Emphasis has been added here.  [back]

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/648/lenny-wolff-interview-on-anniversary-of-kent-state-en.html

"People were NOT having it ...
a political revolt amongst the students"

Lenny Wolff on the Kent State Anniversary

| revcom.us

 

Editors’ Note: We are making available to our readers edited excerpts of an interview by Sunsara Taylor with Lenny Wolff on the We Only Want the World radio show, which aired May 12 on WBAI and WPFW. The show also featured Hank Brown, a member of the Revolution Club in Chicago. The audio of the whole show is available here.

***

Sunsara Taylor (ST): I’m speaking to you, and you are receiving this information, on the 50-year anniversary of a truly momentous time in U.S. history. And a whole series of events, starting May 4th, just over a week ago, there were four students at Kent State in Ohio who were gunned down, massacred by the National Guard. These were students involved in protest against the Vietnam War, a wave of protests that happened across the country on campuses in response to Nixon bombing Cambodia. So, this was an escalation of the war, this was an escalation of protest and there was massive repression. And four students were shot dead... And after that, coming on Thursday this week will be the 50-year anniversary of a protest at Jackson State University in Mississippi where Mississippi Highway Patrolmen were sent in and opened fire and massacred two more students there and wounded 10 others.

This was a moment of massive repression, but also massive uprising. And I think that it’s very important that there are moments when there are crimes committed against the people by oppressive powers that have the effect of crushing people’s spirits and cowing them and intimidating them into silence. But, in fact, this had the opposite effect. These were times that were very filled with hope and daring among many who were demanding and putting a lot on the line for a different world, for a different way things could be.

First, to set the stage I’m going to play a little bit of audio. I have two clips I’m going to share with you this hour. One is from, the actual audio is rare audio, it was donated to or shared with the YouTube program that I’m a part of, the Revolution Nothing Less Show on youtube.com/therevcoms YouTube channel... shared with us by the filmmaker David Zeiger (Episode 7, available here).

So with that, I want to introduce Lenny Wolff who is a revolutionary and a follower of Bob Avakian. He’s a fighter for real revolution based on the new communism that’s been developed by Bob Avakian. And back in 1970 Lenny was a radical student on campus involved in taking up the defense of Bobby Seale, a leader in the Black Panther Party who was being railroaded—I think we’ll talk a little bit about that, he’ll share a little bit about that. And he was very impacted by and played a role in the protests that followed the murders at Kent State. So Lenny Wolff, I want to welcome you to We Only Want the World...

Yeah, so you were there! I want you to take us back to 1970, what was affecting you in the world and what was going on in your life. Let’s just start right on the ground.

Lenny Wolff (LW): OK, well I think, just to kind of—let’s say, to set the stage, there were two huge things that were going on that young people, in particular, but all generations had to wrap their mind around in the United States in the 1960s but things had also reverberated around the world. And one was the war in Vietnam, and this had... several million Indochinese were slaughtered by the U.S. in that war in what was an effort to crush a struggle for national liberation and independence. And as that war went on, many, many people began to not just see it as unjust, not just to oppose it, but to viscerally oppose it. And this began to include veterans, soldiers in that war. And so this was something that was constantly in the background. And going into Kent State there had been a period where the president at the time, Nixon, had been doing what he called de-escalation, and this was having an effect—which turned out to be a temporary effect—on the student movement that had arisen against the war. And it was somewhat... I don’t want to say dying down, but it had entered sort of a period of intense calm after what had been a big upsurge in late 1969. Almost half a million or three-quarters of a million people protesting at the White House.

At the same time you had the Black liberation struggle that had also become in the minds of millions and millions of people, beginning with Black people and people who had a sense of justice, and then spreading much, much further to all sections of the population who could see there was real right on the side of Black people. And in particular, there was a brutal campaign of repression that had been launched against the Black Panther Party, and this had included a trial coming off the Democratic Convention in which the Chairman of the Black Panther Party had been bound and gagged in the courtroom and then finally removed from the trial—simply for demanding the right to defend himself. And this was on national TV every night and it had a tremendous... at a time when people watched national TV, network news... it had a tremendous impact on people’s thinking.

A few weeks later on December 4th—another 50th anniversary of a few months ago—a leader of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton in Chicago, had been murdered in his bed by a squad of police. And this was all building up to a situation where at the very weekend when Nixon was, as you pointed out, invading... he didn’t just bomb Cambodia, they had been bombing Cambodia... he invaded Cambodia with ground troops at a time when he had been promising to de-escalate. That same weekend was right before the opening of the trial in which Bobby Seale was facing the electric chair—again the Chairman of the Black Panther Party at that time.

So these two huge struggles that were definitely moving the soul of America were both bound up in that weekend leading into Kent State.

ST: Well, I think that’s helpful, setting the stage. Could you maybe tell a little bit... you were involved in a struggle at this point. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about yourself at that time and how this was impacting you on, how did it feel, how did it make you think, how did this unfold for you as well.

LW: I had been somebody who had gotten into the struggle at different times, I had gotten discouraged at different times. But I was profoundly alienated from the system, and when Fred Hampton was shot down in his bed, I felt I really can’t just stand aside as a profoundly alienated person anymore—I had to do something, I had to jump into this, I couldn’t let this go down. And I wasn’t alone in that. There were a number of people I know, and people who I don’t know I’m sure, who had similar reactions to that killing, that massacre in the Panther house. And I went back to school to become, you know, as I hoped at the time... I felt if I became a teacher I could do something to at least try to make the conditions better. And at the same time I got myself re-involved, I began to get re-involved in radical politics. And you could say I wasn’t fully both feet in at that point, but I was still more and more gravitating towards that thing, and I had become a very active student on my campus in opposing the war—and as you pointed out earlier, supporting the Black Panther Party. So I was one of the activists at that point.

ST: And then you decided to go... my understanding is you decided to go to the trial of Bobby Seale out in New Haven.

LW: Oh yeah, there was a whole slogan that came out from the Black Panther Party: “Come see about Bobby”—and we took that up and we came and saw about him. And it was very interesting because to go back to what you said at the beginning, you could tell there was a different temper emerging among the people. I went to a meeting, I was part of a meeting that helped plan it, and there were broader students at the meeting than you normally see—like the Theater Department. The Theater Department at my school did not go to meetings, but a couple of Theater Department people came and I heard them talking afterwards and they were weighing the possibility of real danger in New Haven, which is where the demonstration was because that’s where the trial was. It was at Yale University. The National Guard had been stationed at Yale to “prevent outbreaks” and there had been all kinds of rumor-mongering going on of what was going to happen, and this was going to happen, and these students were uh... you know, one student said to the other: “Well, if we go to New Haven, you know we might be shot by the National Guard.” And the other student said: “Well, I guess we better go then.” And they both went, you know. Because people were... it wasn’t that people were looking for a fight or anything like that necessarily, but people were not going to be deterred—there was a section of people who were not going to be deterred by the normal threats that the ruling class uses to bring down on people. And that, as you said earlier, led into the... this was the weekend right before Kent State. It was the weekend... I think it was on the... we were driving all night to get to Yale and we heard on the radio that Nixon had launched a secret invasion of Cambodia and this had come to light. He’d sent U.S. troops across the border, which was a violation also of a congressional resolution, I might add—which also inflamed people because it was an illegitimate, even by the rules of their system, it was an illegitimate invasion. And all this fed into a situation that was increasingly politically combustible, if I can use that word.

ST: My understanding is there were several thousand people who came out to the protest for Bobby in New Haven, is that correct?

LW: At least, yeah. There were quite a few students who came from around the country to be at that protest.

ST: So then just a few days later... so Bobby Seale is on trial facing the electric chair, the leader of the Black Panther Party, you hear on the radio Nixon has invaded Cambodia, and you come back and there’s... there was a... my understanding is there was a big step-up in protest on the campuses, that’s what Kent State...

LW: Well, yeah, Cambodia was invaded!

ST: I want to step forward from there. So Kent State... there was protests against Cambodia, Panthers and the mood of that was in the air. When you heard that the National Guard had come in and shot students... I mean I still find it shocking. I look at the photos... it’s stunning. And a moment ago you were saying people were kind of: “Oh, maybe we’ll get shot if we go out there...” but that wasn’t defining how they were calculating what they would do. And yet, when the students got shot that must have been a shock, it must have been a jolt. Maybe you could talk some about that.

LW: Yeah, I remember... well, one thing is I should say that when we were at the Panther demonstration you had students from all over the country who had heard about this invasion and said we’ve got to launch a massive student strike against this invasion. So that was the intent. And then I remember very precisely where I was when I heard that four students had been killed at Kent State. And I was with a Black friend of mine who was also politically active, and he turned to me and he said: “Man, they’re shooting white students now. This is up off the hook.” And, you know, we had been planning for a meeting that night, and I said: well, we’d better get a room that will hold, I don’t know, maybe a couple of hundred people. Normally, your normal meetings, even at the height of things were 20 or 25 people and then if something really big happened you expected 50 or 80 people maybe, but I thought this is really big. So we got this room and a half hour before people began streaming in. It was really heavy, you know, so we... the room just got totally filled to the brim so we had to get another; we had to go to the college cafeteria. There was several thousand people, students from all these campuses, people from the surrounding communities had come—you know, old people as we thought they were then, they were probably in their 30s, 40s, 50s, were coming. There was just this massive refusal to take this, a refusal to be deterred in the face of this violent repression that had been launched. These students had nothing, they were shot. And after the Guard shot them there were even students at Kent who said: go ahead, shoot me! People were... and then cooler heads prevailed and said: let’s not rush the Guard, let’s not do that now, that’s not what needs to happen. But what did happen and what did need to happen was some of what you described—that people... I think there were over four million students eventually who went on strike, didn’t just go on strike, but went into the streets in all these college towns. The National Guard was sent, I remember, to University of Maryland—all these big universities, they had to send in the National Guard. It was a tremendous massive student... strike doesn’t capture what was really a political revolt of a sort amongst the students at that time. People were NOT having it.

ST: In your sense, why do you think it was that people responded with more outpouring and more outrage as opposed to... I could very easily see students being shot down putting a chill and scaring people back. So why do you think it went the one way and not the other?

LW: I think that... that’s a big question. I think there had been a certain tempering of people over time. This was not... well, it’s true my Black friend said to me that now they’re killing white students. They had killed a white student, not a student but a white community person, a youth in Berkeley the year before at People’s Park. Two years earlier they had killed three Black students peacefully trying to integrate a bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina. People were making sacrifices, and there was a sense that... there was a sense of a moral challenge to the rest of the country from those who had been making sacrifices and a sense that there was a brighter future that could be had and needed to be had that made that worthwhile. You’ll see in the film you just described, when they shoot these students at Jackson State, which was several days after Kent, May...

ST: 14th, I believe.

LW: If you see the film... that Dave Zeiger lent you, if people could see that they could see that there were students who just would not be deterred, who after that really horrific shooting that you have the soundtrack of were out there demanding that the bullet holes not be cleaned up and preventing the maintenance people from cleaning up the bullet holes because, as they say in the footage that goes with the Dave Zeiger clip: people need to see this, people need to see what happened, somebody was killed here. So there was a sense of right on our side; there was a sense of a better future is possible, even if people had all kinds of different understanding of what that would mean and what was involved in that. And there was a moral clearness. You know, we had a slogan at that point we would chant at demonstrations: “One side right, one side wrong. Victory to the Vietcong!” Because you had to make a determination of who was right and who was wrong and you had to, in particular, in an imperialist country, a country, that is, that rules people all over the world, dominates whole nations all over the world—you had to decide which side were you standing on. Were you going to stand with those who were demanding your acquiescence in the oppression of millions and billions of people or were you going to stand against that? And that was... you know, it didn’t come out of nowhere. If you turned the clock back to 1960 and you had said to people in 1960: here’s my prediction that out of what’s happening here in 1960, in 1970 you’re going to have everything you just described about what did happen at Kent State, all that’s going to happen, people are going to be profoundly alienated from the system, all these different things that... even just on the Kent State thing people would have thought that you were crazy because they couldn’t see the source of it beneath the surface. Today you can look back... I think it’s a much longer show than we have time for today, but you could look back and you could see the cracks that were underneath the surface, you could see things, the fissures through which this kind of protest, this kind of rebellion, this kind of hunger for a different world was going to burst through and find expression.

ST: Well, I think that’s really important because, you know, speaking as somebody who wasn’t born till quite a while after this, I learned about the ’60s and, I think even more for younger people, people younger than myself don’t even know what I knew about it, but I learned of it as all the high tide, all the rebellion, and the idea that it came out of the ’50s, that it came out of something that seemed completely locked down, but as you’re describing, there were cracks and fissures... I think there’s a lot we need to... lessons we need to draw from that.

[You said] that if you go back to 1960 there were cracks, there were fissures out of which the full uprisings of the ’60s and 1970s emerged. And I know that is a whole show—it would take a whole show to explore—but I think there’s importance to not seeing things, even if they’re quiet on the surface, as locked down permanently. So, Lenny, I guess the last thing I’d like to ask you is what lessons do you think we should draw from those times?

LW: Let me start with the lesson I drew, which was I think I said earlier in the interview... I had gone back to school, I was thinking I would be a teacher, I was getting more drawn into the radical movement. The experience of Kent State and the huge upheaval in society that resulted, and the deeper reflection I was forced into, actually was very instrumental in putting both my feet on the side of we need a revolution. What was decisive in that, though, was I began to try to figure out how that would be made. I looked into... I began trying to read about the Chinese revolution a little more seriously and I came across a pamphlet that was put out by the Revolutionary Union, the Bay Area Revolutionary Union at the time, called Red Papers, which was being led by Bob Avakian. And that had a very big influence on me in letting me see there was a possibility, that you could see a way you could do this, you could see a method that you could analyze society, and you could see a way through to actually make a revolution. There was... if we had had a vanguard at that time that was rooting itself in a scientific method there’s no telling... you can’t tell... it would be fun to write a counter-factual novel (you know, science fiction, those kinds of counter-factuals) where people actually did try to make a revolution. But you couldn’t have done it... what came clear to me at the time and is even more clear in retrospect, you couldn’t have done it without a vanguard that had a strategy, that had a method of understanding reality, that had a leadership that could do this. We’ve got that now. We’ve got Bob Avakian who’s gone forward from that period and has further developed communism as a science beyond what it had been and as a strategic approach to revolution and to winning in the largest sense, to getting all the way through to not just having a revolution turned back, as has been the bitter experience thus far in society too often. And in fact now there are no revolutionary societies.

But that was what I draw from it... It’s to draw the lessons of that period. If I have one I want to really implore your readers to read a piece that Bob Avakian did: “Bob Avakian Responds to Mark Rudd on the Lessons of the 1960s and the Need for an Actual Revolution.” If you want an understanding of what happened in that period, what lessons to draw, where it went and where it could go, I really, really want to urge you to go to revcom.us. This is right on the landing page: “Bob Avakian Responds to Mark Rudd on the Lessons of the 1960s and the Need for an Actual Revolution.” And that’s what I would say.

Listen to audio:

Kent State!

Read more

See also:

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

Read more


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

Read more

Q&A: Bob Avakian On The Revolutionary Days Of the 60s, The Heavy Times To Come, The Absolute Need For Science... And the Role For YOU

From Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. Watch the complete speech here.

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/avakian/hope-for-humanity-on-a-scientific-basis/excerpt-no-hope-vs-no-permanent-necessity-en.html

No Hope—vs. No Permanent Necessity

An Excerpt From:

Hope For Humanity
On A Scientific Basis

Breaking with Individualism,
Parasitism and American Chauvinism

Bob Avakian
Author of The New Communism

Prepublication copy
November 2019

Copyright © 2019 by Bob Avakian. All rights reserved.

Hope For Humanity
On A Scientific Basis

Breaking with Individualism,
Parasitism and American Chauvinism

Bob Avakian
Author of The New Communism

| revcom.us

 

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

 

No Hope—vs. No Permanent Necessity

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

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

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

I remember myself, when I was about 20 (and now I have to look back and think about this as someone who’s gone on for decades after that!—but back when I was 20), I remember going with my father to Washington, D.C. and we went to the House of Representatives. And, at one point, we got into an elevator and all these decrepit old men got in the elevator who were congressmen, and I thought, “My god, these are the people running the country? This can’t stand! This is not what we need!” And this was a sentiment broadly shared in that period. (Of course, Jerry Rubin, one of the leaders of the youth movement of that time, once he became 31, adjusted the slogan to say “Don’t trust anybody over 35.”  Nonetheless, whether 30 or 35, this was a real sentiment.)

Also, I have to say I was shocked when I went into the House of Representatives, because from the civics textbooks and how you’re brought up, I had this image of this very somber chamber, the “hallowed halls” of the House of Representatives. Well, I went in there and I was just amazed by what I saw. Here was some guy giving a speech. There were probably only a dozen people in the House of Representatives at the time, most of whom were doing things like eating and spitting on the floor, and so on. And then all of a sudden a bell rang and everybody came running in and put their hand up for a vote and then went back out again. This was not exactly the august chambers of the great democratic system that you’re taught in civics classes to believe is what’s happening.

So this was a sentiment that wasn’t simply a matter of age. It was more like: These people cannot be allowed to run the world and ruin the world in the way they are. This sentiment was held by millions and millions of poor and oppressed people, but also broadly among the middle class youth. And, as I pointed out in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution,1 by the end of the 1960s this had spread broadly and deeply throughout society, even into the armed forces of the very system, the capitalist-imperialist system, in this country itself. I remember, for example, that there was a poll taken by the military which, among other things, asked the question: whom did the soldiers, rank-and-file soldiers, of the U.S. army look to for political leadership—and, particularly among the Black soldiers, the president of the United States was way down on the list. The plurality, the highest “vote-getter,” if you will, was Eldridge Cleaver, a leader of the Black Panther Party. So when you have things like this, you have a real problem for the system. Even with Eldridge’s weaknesses and limitations, which were very real, this reflected something very, very positive.

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

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

Religion is always presented as a source of “hope” or of consolation. But is it really a source of hope—or is it, in essence and in its defining aspect, a paralyzing illusion? Religion holds out the concept of consolation for suffering, and looking to another world and other-worldly forces to get some sort of consolation for all the suffering that people are subjected to, and in order to make it through the day. But the question is: Is what people need consolation for the suffering that they’re put through under this system, or do they need to rise up and abolish the system which embodies and enforces this suffering, and in so doing eliminate the need for consolation for suffering that they’re no longer being put through, the unnecessary suffering they’re being put through? It was pointed out by Ardea Skybreak in the interview Science and Revolution,2 that it’s unrealistic to think that you could ever completely do away with human suffering, but there’s a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering that people are subjected to in the world today because of the dynamics and the basic relations of this system that dominates the world, the system of capitalist imperialism. And it is definitely possible, and urgently necessary, to put an end to that suffering.

Now, to present a fully accurate, all-sided picture of this, we know that there are many religious people whose religious views and sentiments do inspire and drive them to take stands against and to even sacrifice in the struggle against oppression. And this, of course, should be respected and united with. But, at the same time, that does not eliminate the need for sharp struggle in the ideological realm against the outlook that religion purveys and the role that religion plays as a mental shackle on masses of people, in fact working against their acquiring and systematically and consistently applying a scientific approach to understanding reality, and in particular what it is that’s causing the suffering that the masses of humanity are being subjected to and what is the solution to that. So there’s a need for continuing exposure and struggle around the role of religion ideologically, its role in terms of being a mental shackle on people, even while it’s also necessary to unite with and, yes, respect people who out of religious sentiment or viewpoints take a positive stand and often sacrifice in the struggle against various forms of oppression.

Things are very different, however, with regard to religious fundamentalism—and in particular in this country Christian fundamentalism. The Christian fundamentalists (including the current vice president Mike Pence and others in powerful positions in government, the media, and other major institutions) are a driving force for theocratic fascism (tyrannical rule by Dark Ages religious authority). They adhere to and aggressively propagate unthinking allegiance to and application of religious dogma which, when taken literally (as these Christian fascists insist upon), promotes and will lead to all kinds of atrocities and horrors (as can be seen in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible—something I analyzed in Away With All Gods!).3

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

Afraid to hope that maybe the world doesn’t have to be this way, that maybe there is a way out of this. Afraid to hope, because their hopes have been dashed so many times.4

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

Here stands out again the great importance of the scientific method and approach of communism, as this has been further developed through the new communism, and the reality and possibility of radical, emancipating change, in this world. In relation to all this, and in particular the question of hope, there is great importance to the following statement by Marx which is cited in Part I of the RCP Manifesto, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage:

Once the inner connection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions breaks down before their collapse in practice.5

This is extremely important because it gives emphasis to the importance of theory and of science—theory that’s grounded in and is an application of a consistently scientific method and approach—to reveal what are the actual relations and dynamics, what are the inner connections and “inner workings,” of the system that people are subjected to. First of all to reveal that there is a system that they are subjected to, and what are the inner workings and dynamics of that system and how it fits into the whole historical development of human society. (Or, in basic terms, that people are living within the confines of a system; that this system is not just something imposed by some powerful people, but is the result of certain historical development; that this system operates, and must operate, according to certain “rules” that flow from its basic relations, and that this embodies and gives rise to contradictions that cause all kinds of suffering for the masses of humanity, contradictions that are fundamental and essential to this system and cannot be eliminated without eliminating this system itself). And this scientific theory reveals that there is a way out of all this—and what that way out is.

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

The following (the conclusion of the article “‘A Leap of Faith’ and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods”) emphasizes these extremely important points of orientation:

Knowing about actual reality—and continually learning more about it—is vitally important for humanity and its future; it is vitally important not only for people in the sciences and the academic world but for the brutally oppressed and exploited people of the earth, who must and can be the backbone and driving force of a revolution to throw off and put an end to all forms of exploitation and oppression, throughout the globe—to be the emancipators not only of themselves but ultimately of all humanity. Confronting reality as it actually is—and as it is changing and developing—and understanding the underlying and driving forces in this, is crucial in order to play a decisive and leading role in bringing about this revolution and ushering in a whole new era in human history, which will shatter and remove forever not only the material chains—the economic, social and political shackles of exploitation and oppression—that enslave people in today’s world but also the mental chains, the ways of thinking and the culture, that correspond to and reinforce those material chains. In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who founded the communist movement over 150 years ago, declared that the communist revolution, and its emancipating principles, methods, and aims, involves a “radical rupture” not only with the traditional property relations that enslave people, in one form or another, but also a radical rupture with all traditional ideas that reflect and reinforce those traditional property relations.

The struggle in the realm of epistemology—the theory of knowledge and how it is acquired by people, the theory of what is true and how people come to know the truth—is a crucial arena in the overall battle for the emancipation of the oppressed and exploited majority of humanity, and ultimately of humanity as a whole. Grasping the defining characteristics and the importance of the scientific method—and, most of all, the most consistent, systematic and comprehensive scientific approach to reality, the communist world outlook and method, which can embrace without replacing or suffocating the many fields of human knowledge and endeavor and can give expression to the richest process of learning about reality and transforming it in the interests of humanity—is of vital importance for this emancipatory struggle. Understanding the profound difference between the attempt to impose “faith-based” notions on reality and, in opposition to that, pursuing a scientific understanding of reality, including of religion and its origins and effects—understanding the radical difference between “leaps of faith” and the ongoing acquisition of knowledge through continual leaps from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge—this is a crucial part of carrying forward the struggle to achieve the two radical ruptures that mark the communist revolution as the leap to a whole new, liberating era in human history.6

This question, of seeing the possibility for revolution and a radically different and better world, on a scientific basis, is obviously extremely important, and is something to which I will return later.

 

NOTES

1. Bob Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. Film of a speech given in 2018. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

2. SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak (Insight Press, 2015). Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

3. Bob Avakian, Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World (Insight Press, 2005). [back]

4. Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation (Insight Press, 2016). Also available as an eBook. Also available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

5. Marx to Kugelmann, 1868, cited in Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, September 2008 (RCP Publications, 2009). Available at revcom.us. [back]

6. Bob Avakian, “‘A Leap of Faith’ and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods,” Revolution #10, July 31, 2005. Available at revcom.us, thebobavakianinstitute.org and BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. [back]

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/647/bob-avakian-an-important-observation-en.html

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

| revcom.us

 

The points that are made in the article by Sunsara Taylor on Tara Reade’s accusation against Joe Biden* are important, but one other point should be made, especially as this article speaks (as it should) to the fact that an accusation that is made long after the alleged incident results in a situation where any process seeking to determine the truth of the accusation is tainted and vitiated by the passage of so much time. This needs to be accompanied by a statement that it is entirely possible both to recognize that (as is spoken to in this article) women who are actually subjected to sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape often do not come forward at the time, because of intimidation, a (false, socially-imposed) sense of shame, and other reasons, and at the same time to recognize that, when (for whatever reasons) a long time has passed before the accusation is made, the basis for determining the truth of the accusation has been vitiated.  And it needs to be emphasized: The answer to this is to focus on creating the conditions in society where women feel encouraged and supported in coming forward at the time and, while not automatically “believed,” are taken seriously, and a serious, evidence-based scientific investigation and process is conducted with regard to their accusation.


* In Light of Tara Reade’s Accusation Against Joe Biden, Points of Basic Principle. This article is available at revcom.us. [back]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
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Editors' note: The following was translated by revcom.us, from Aurora Roja, the blog of the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico.

In the Midst of the Pandemic, U.S./Mexico Onslaught Against Migrants

| revcom.us

 

For this system, immigrants are “things” to exploit, demonize and discard.

For the communist revolution, they are valuable human beings who will change the world.

“Being here is worse than being kidnapped,” says Aurora, speaking from the Acayúcan migrant holding center, in the state of Veracruz. “Between Chiapas and Veracruz, they kidnapped me, my husband and my two sons (ages 2 and 5).... Our family was able to raise money [to pay the ransom], and they took us back to Chiapas.... Then, migration [officials] seized us.... I couldn’t bear this anymore; being here is worse than being kidnapped.... Being here is the most horrible thing that has happened to me in my life. You can’t do anything, the heat is unbearable. People are crying and screaming, they’re in despair, and you can’t do anything. The children are not eating, but who is going to eat this undercooked, rotten food? Not to mention the stench from the restrooms.... My children have rashes from the sweat and dirt. I can’t go to the toilet because they are overflowing, and the stench overpowers everything.... They can deport us if they like, but let us out of here now. If they are going to kill us, we would at least be seeing the sky, feeling the air, feeling free. But I don’t want to die of sadness and loneliness here—worse than an animal, worse than anything, worse than nothing.”1

Like Aurora, tens of thousands more migrants have been imprisoned in these hellish immigration jails in recent years. Waiting for a one-year permit, on the condition of staying in southern Mexico. Although most have to be deported to the countries from which they had to flee—from government and gang terror, poverty, domestic violence, or the ravages of climate change.

Detained migrants have launched repeated protests and rebellions against subhuman conditions, mistreatment by government agents, hypocrisy and deceit by the federal government. One of the most recent protests was in Tenosique, Tabasco, on March 28. The migrants rose up because of the unbearable conditions and fear of COVID-19 infection. There was a fire. Instead of helping them, the police locked them in and locked the doors while the smoke built up. Finally some young migrants broke the doors down and they were able to escape, but it was too late for Héctor Rolando Barrientos Dardón, a 44-year-old Guatemalan migrant. Héctor died and at least 13 people suffered injuries. He and 41 others were asylum applicants who were to be released two days later. The Mexican government does not accept any responsibility; on the contrary, it arrested four Honduran migrants as alleged culprits.

Despite its discourse, the Mexican government mistreats and deports migrants en masse.

With pepper spray, batons, and devices that give electrical shocks, the National Guard [GN; a national police force set up under the current Mexican government] attacked the migrant caravan that attempted to enter Mexico through Tabasco and Chiapas in January 2020. “There was no repression,”[President] López Obrador lied, repeating his false promises of “4,000 jobs” to the members of the caravan, as well as health and asylum in Mexico. But at border posts, they were informed of the truth: The only job offer would be in the countries from which the migrants have been fleeing. With deceit and repression, they were surrounded, arrested and locked up. Those who escaped were hunted down. In a couple of days, 4,000 migrants were imprisoned in the “holding centers” in Chiapas and Tabasco. For the migrants who entered through Tabasco, the agents promised that they would take them to apply for asylum and that they would live in shelters in freedom. Thus they were able to get the majority to surrender. A Mexican student who was accompanying the caravan (and who was detained for five days in Villahermosa) reported that they were taken to the detention center and when they were asked to remove their shoelaces, “as is usual in prisons, they already knew that they had been deceived.”2

Six days later, in his “mañanera” [early morning press conference] on January 24, Mexican president Manuel Andrés López Obrador [AMLO] spoke about the caravan in this way: “They were offered work, shelter, everything... They rejected it all.”3 All of this is false. There were no job offers in Mexico, and no shelter for the vast majority. Agents from the National Institute of Migration (INM) prevented the migrants from speaking with the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid (Comar), the only agency that processes asylum applications. They did not allow Comar to enter the five immigration prisons where the caravan detainees were, until finally they allowed them to enter just one, the Tapachula (Siglo XXI) prison. By the time AMLO spoke, they had already deported at least 679 migrants. Only 12 participants in the caravan had managed to apply for asylum and they were the ones who had eluded being detained by the INM agents and arrived by themselves at the Comar office in Tapachula. A deported migrant reported that he was detained for one day, imprisoned in Siglo XXI, and got on the bus to Honduras the next day, without receiving any information about his alleged right to apply for asylum.4

Are you with U.S. imperialism that dominates and sucks the blood of the people, or are you with the migrants who struggle to live and not succumb?

Behind the feint of supposed “humanism” and “respect for human rights,” the AMLO government continues to hunt down, criminalize and deport immigrants en masse, mostly Central Americans from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the so-called “Northern Triangle,” even now in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, in collaboration and under the orders of the United States government. Although a lot of honest people deceived by the promises of a “4th Transformation” [the current AMLO regime’s policies] in Mexico do not want to see it, it is true what Salvador Lacruz, director of a human rights center in Tapachula, Chiapas, called out in 2019: The AMLO government “is imposing in practice the most violent and most repressive scenario towards refugees we have seen, and this is not an understatement, because the Enrique Peña Nieto government [previous Mexican president] was extremely violent.”5

There is no justification for keeping quiet about the most serious crimes ever of the Mexican government against migrants, because you like the discourse or some policies of the government’s new head, AMLO. In the first five months of his government, more than 80,500 people were deported, 54% more than in the same months of the previous year under Enrique Peña Nieto. The National Guard (which is the same as the Mexican army in new uniforms) is devoted to capturing, brutalizing, and deporting migrants. This is the height of hypocrisy when people who at the time very rightly called out the war against migrants by the army and the Federal Police with the Plan Frontera Sur [Southern Border Plan] under Enrique Peña Nieto or the Mérida Initiative under Felipe Calderón [Mexico president, 2006-2012]. Today, just like yesterday, the capitalist state does not focus on fighting organized crime, as they say, but on repressing and deporting migrants, as well as repressing the Mexican people, largely in collusion with the cartels and criminal gangs.

Central American migrants, like Mexican migrants, risk their lives to reach the United States because U.S. imperialism has fucked up the peoples of these oppressed countries even more than it fucks up the people in the United States. This is how this capitalist system based on exploitation and the pursuit of the greatest profit operates, and it cannot function any other way. The big capitalists make huge profits from exploiting migrants in the United States, for example, in agriculture or in large meatpacking plants, where the migrants have now been forced to work without adequate protection against COVID-19, resulting in the increase of unnecessary deaths. And they make even greater profits by super-exploiting people in the countries of origin of these migrants, where the inequalities generated by the very operation of the world system compel people to work for a pittance, if and when they can find work. When they can’t, more and more people are driven or forced to enter the international “business” of drugs and organized crime in general, with the active participation of rulers and big “legal” capitalists.

As Carlos, a Honduran migrant, recounts, “I am traveling to help my grandmother live a better life. I am from Tegus [Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras]. There aren’t many opportunities there if you aren’t with the gangs, and I don’t want to enter into that world. I want to do things right.... Once you join the gangs, you can’t leave. The gangs killed my father when I was 7 years old, an uncle when I was 6 and a cousin when I was 5. People hardly know their family because of this.”6 Or what a psychologist in El Salvador says, “We have repeated cases of adolescent rape by gang members. The girls are constantly being watched by them.... Some manage to escape with their family, although we know of cases where the gangs have found them and have threatened them. Sometimes, the gangs leave dismembered corpses to intimidate those who shelter families who have been displaced.”7

Migrants flee from this hell of poverty, hunger and ruthless violence that has been generated by the very functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system. Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are dominated and looted by the U.S. imperialists. They rob the wealth created by the workers, distort the economy, ruin the peasants, and destroy the environment. The United States supports and imposes corrupt presidents, sponsors coups d’etat against presidents who get in its way, arms and funds the armed forces and police, and sponsors counterrevolutionary wars to maintain its domination. And then when people flee from all that hell, they are vilified and repressed by representatives of the same system that created that hell in the first place.

Capitalism-imperialism has generated a global refugee crisis

This is not only the situation in the Americas: Capitalism-imperialism has generated a world crisis of 70.8 million refugees, expelled from their homes, barely surviving in refuge camps, or facing clubs and bullets, walls, concentration camps, and deportation when trying to reach imperialist countries like the United States, various European countries, etc. The devastation of their home countries has various causes—reactionary wars, destruction of the environment and global warming, lack of employment, and the growth of the bane of organized crime—but they are rooted in the “normal” functioning of this system.

Something basic is that capitalists employ and exploit migrants (as well as workers in general) as long as they can profit from them, and they unleash their repressive forces to contain, control and repress everyone else, who they consider “excess population,” because it is not profitable to put them to work. It is not simply that they are motherfuckers: This is how this system functions. If the capitalists do not make a profit, they soon go bankrupt and others take their place. It is an absurd and criminal system: There are many people (even in the imperialist countries, not to mention the oppressed countries) who lack decent housing and there are many people who lack work who could build housing. But this is not done, because there is no profit in building good houses for poor people who cannot afford them. The same applies with malnutrition, clothing, electronic devices, and everything else that is necessary for the physical and cultural well-being of people.

The future socialist society will welcome all migrants who want to contribute to building a new and much better world

It’s absurd that so much completely unnecessary suffering continues. To end this, a revolution is needed, this system governed by the profits of a few needs to be overthrown, the main means of production—the factories, machines, means of transportation, etc. of the big companies—need to be transformed into the property of all the people, to be able to collectively work them, with a planned economy governed not by profits but by the needs of the people and the advance of the revolution on the road to finally emancipate all of humanity.

Socialist society will welcome migrants in the common effort to build a new and much better world. There will be nothing to prevent people who can work from joining efforts to build and produce what is needed. There will be much to do and everyone’s participation and creativity will be unleashed to build a new society, giving priority to overcoming the barbarous inequalities and injustices inherited from capitalism and imperialist domination. The principles and methods set forth by Bob Avakian’s new communism will be applied. For example: This will have “the orientation... to welcome immigrants from all over the world who have a sincere desire to contribute to the goals and objectives of this Republic”8 and citizenship will be granted to all those who so desire it (with the exception of counter-revolutionary leaders or people convicted of war crimes or crimes against humanity).

Racist attacks by the fascist Trump/Pence regime in collaboration with the Mexican government

Without such a revolution, the situation will continue to get worse. The United States government has always persecuted migrants as if they were animals, but this is greatly increased by the fascist Trump/Pence regime. They launch xenophobic and racist attacks against immigrants as the spearhead of their onslaught against humanity in general, which could reach genocidal dimensions. Thousands of underage migrants were separated from their parents in detention in the U.S. in 2017-2018. In 2019, more than 80,000 migrants were imprisoned, packed into cages and “hieleras” (rooms with freezing temperatures), sleeping on concrete floors and suffering physical abuse and racist insults. Before the coronavirus pandemic, at least 37 migrants died9 detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) under the Trump presidency, and armed attacks by white supremacists, encouraged by this regime, are intensifying, such as the massacre of 22 people, mainly Mexicans or Americans of Mexican origin, in El Paso, Texas on August 3, 2019.

In December 2019, they imposed the return to Mexico of the Central American immigrants applying for asylum in the U.S., to wait for the settlement of their cases, with the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols,” also known as the “Remain in Mexico Policy.” Even before this, on June 7, 2019, the Mexican government formally accepted that the United States get rid of these migrants as if they were garbage. In that year, they dumped 60,000 people on the Mexican side of the border, where thousands have to live in camps outdoors and many are kidnapped, enslaved, or even killed by criminal gangs with the tolerance or collaboration of the police and the National Guard (GN). At the same time, the Mexican government launched the massive deployment of the GN to prevent migrants from crossing into the United States and also to serve as a “border patrol” for the United States on the southern border with Guatemala.

To make matters worse, the Mexican repressive forces have threatened the shelters and Doctors Without Borders (the only ones that care for the health of migrants on the northern border), and have detained, beaten, robbed, and deported migrants at the entrances of these shelters.10

The Trump/Pence fascist regime takes advantage of the pandemic to intensify the exploitation and expulsion of migrants with the full collaboration of the AMLO government

The COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and then in Mexico is an enormous threat to migrants. In the U.S., ICE continues the raids and deportations in the midst of the pandemic, and almost all due process rights for migrants have been suspended: Suspension of hearings, “express” deportations at the border, suspension of all applications for permanent residence, and even lack of water, soap, face masks, and “social distancing” in the concentration camps. Immigrants who work in agriculture, food processing plants, the health sector, and other services considered essential are now called “essential workers,” but they do not give documents to the undocumented, they force them to work with high risk of contagion, without protective measures, or even when they are sick.

Protests and hunger strikes of detained migrants, as well as activists and revolutionaries from outside, demand their release due to the danger of contagion and death among those incarcerated. So far ICE has only released a few hundred of the 32,000 detained migrants and the number of deaths increases daily. As of April 10, 61 migrants had died from COVID-19 in ICE custody.

The U.S. is also deporting migrants already infected with COVID-19. At a shelter in Nuevo Laredo, 15 migrants were infected by a sick migrant deported from Houston, Texas. The Guatemalan government closed its borders after the arrival of a U.S. plane in which at least half of the migrants on board were infected. Christie Thornton, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, rightly tweeted, “The United States government knowingly and actively spreads the virus to Central America through deportations.

From March 21 to April 10, the U.S. deported 10,000 migrants to Mexico. The Mexican Migra, in turn, threw out thousands of Central Americans on the southern Mexican border and from there to their countries of origin. Before negotiating deportations despite the closed borders of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the INM abandoned them to their fate in the southern Mexican states of Tabasco or Chiapas, without lodging, work, money, or protection against the coronavirus. Non-governmental shelters try to help, but several of them have had to close in the face of the avalanche of deported people, due to lack of space and resources to care for them.

The INM “releases” detainees in order to deport them

Since March, protests and rebellions of migrants in detention centers in Mexico demanded their release so as to not die of COVID-19. Organizations defending migrants filed for a protective injunction and on April 18, a judge ordered the release of all “vulnerable” migrants detained by the INM, as well as guarantees for the regularization of their documents and health in Mexico. A week later, the Ministry of the Interior released a statement announcing that they had almost completely emptied the detention centers, “freeing” 3,653 people, without saying where they ended up. But at the end of the statement it’s mentioned, as if it were just other unrelated information, that “the return by land to Guatemala and air to Honduras and El Salvador of 3,653 citizens from those countries was successfully carried out.” The exact number of people “freed”!

With world-class hypocrisy, the Ministry of the Interior praises itself for “fully guaranteeing human rights” for these migrants. Thus it tries to hide the criminal fact that it did not take any action to protect or care for them, but instead deported them without any health check, back to the desperate situation from which they fled, in order to get rid of the “problem.” No one should be fooled by its honeyed words: “migrant holding centers” are actually unhealthy and dismal prisons, “assisted return” is forced deportation, “rescue” means arbitrary and often violent detention. They are guardians of the capitalist social order, the system that sacrifices the lives of millions to maintain itself and accumulate more capital.

Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico
auroraroja.mx@gmail.com
aurora-roja.blogspot.com

May 11, 2020

 


1. Aurora, a Nicaraguan migrant, recounted this as she was treated by Doctors Without Borders at the holding center. “No Way Out: The humanitarian crisis for migrants and asylum seekers trapped between the United States, Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America,”Doctors Without Borders Report, pp. 32-33, February 2020. [back]

2. Quoted in “México ofrece refugio, pero impide que migrantes hablen con la institución que regula el asilo” [Mexico offers refuge, but prevents migrants from speaking with the institution that regulates asylum], Alberto Pradilla, Animal Político, January 25, 2020. [back]

3. Ibid. [back]

4. Ibid. [back]

5. Quoted from Process, in our flyer “We Will NOT Obey the Orders of the Fascist Trump Regime!”, June 29, 2019. [back]

6. Doctors Without Borders Report, op. cit., p. 11. [back]

7. Ibid., p. 12. [back]

8. Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, page 62, Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2010. Downloadable at revcom.us. This draft Constitution is for a future socialist society in the territory that is now the United States, but many of its principles have universal application and offer us a very realistic and inspiring vision of the very different world that is possible. [back]

9. “Durante mandato de Trump han muerto 37 indocumentados en centros de detención” [During Trump administration, 37 undocumented migrants have died in detention centres], EFE News, Tucson, Arizona, April 3, 2020. [back]

10. For example, the National Guard threatened to enter to check migrants in two shelters in Saltillo, Coahuila and Agua Prieta, Sonora, in June and July 2019 (in blatant violation of the Mexican Migration Law). They beat the people who were outside against the gate of the Casa del Migrante in Saltillo where they kept up the harassment for four days. Alberto Xicoténcatl, director of the Casa del Migrante, stated that they also harassed the shelters in Tijuana, Baja California and Tenosique, Tabasco, remarking that “migrants are being criminalized.” [back]


Protest on May 1, 2020, International Workers Day. The poster says: "Strike for the rights of the migrants."


Protest demanding the release of migrants at the Siglo XXI Migrant Holding Center in Chiapas. The banner says: "Free the emigrants!!"


Migrants from the January 2020 caravan. (Photo: CNN)


Read Communique #3 from the Revcoms

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/648/the-danger-and-immorality-of-fascism-denialism-en.html

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org

The danger and immorality of fascism denialism

| revcom.us

 

Coco Das and Sarah Roark of RefuseFascism.org Editorial Board, were interviewed by Samantha Goldman on May 8. What follows is the transcript of an excerpt of the interview.

Samantha Goldman: I would like both your thoughts on: You see [Trump] shredding the norms. You see him attacking people that disagree with him. And then anyone who’s loyal to him gets defended. You see these clear signs of a fascist regime, whether it’s the attacks on rule of law; the continuation of “lock her up” – Who “her” is changes but the sentiment stays the same; attacks on his opponents; the unprecedented attacks on whole sections of people. The Christian fascists in the judiciary. The anti-science. All of that. And, then, people still will say “Well we got November.” I don’t know if people don’t get or are willfully denying that once this gets consolidated, this being fascism, it closes off the ability for anyone inside or outside the halls of power to challenge or stop them. I would like to hear your thoughts on you how we help people confront this and act accordingly? How do we take on this fascist denial?

Sarah Roark: Coco, your engine is running, you go first.

Coco Das: First I want to say that there’s an article also on our home page that was originally from revcom.us, called Fascism-Denialism Is as Dangerous — and Unscientific — as Climate Denialism: Part One. It’s a very important read. Yeah, there does come a point where it becomes too late to actually stop millions of people from being harmed once the regime consolidates power. We are sort of in a race for time. So, it is really important that we confront people on understanding that you have to step out of normal channels to stop this fascism.

Exactly on the lines that Sam was talking about, yesterday I was listening to – I don’t mean to pick on him because I really like this podcast – Deconstructed with Mehdi Hasan. He was interviewing somebody (Nicole Hemmer). They had a really rich discussion. They used the word fascistic, and talked about how Trump might not step down if he loses the election. I was listening really closely where he asked two questions and there was a crucial question he did not ask. I’m starting to think this a big part of where this fascism denialism lies and how we need to break through to the other side. The two questions he asked were what should the media be doing, because the media has been complicit, right? And his other question was what should the Democrats do ... even after saying there wasn’t that much that the Democrats could do. The question that he did not ask was what should we do? 

And it just really struck me that a lot of this denialism is to get out of that question, what do we do? What should we do? And instead looking for the savior in these norms that are being shredded. Those same people who are urging us to take the normal channels are being demonized. I mean, I got a tweet saying that the Democrats are demon-crats, right? The extreme end of this base, which is very activated, actually believes that the opposition is possessed by demons.

SR: Right.

CD: So, this is just going to go away through an election? I think that is one way that I think we have to take on the fascism denialism, just constantly saying what are you going to do about this? 

Sarah, you raised this point that what we allow is not what we just, what we condone, it’s what we become. You’re becoming somebody by waiting for November. Is that the person you want to become?

And I think we do have to help people follow their own logic. I’ve been listening to this Deconstructed podcast for a while and he’s come a long way to even say that this is fascistic. But now, OK, follow your logic to the next step. 

I also want to throw this out there ... you have fascism denial from the fascists themselves. They’ll say “you’re the fascist.” They’ll call you names and stuff. I sort of think when that happens, like on Twitter, or if you’re out in the street you’re answering them it’s for the audience right? (You’re not going to convince the fascists that they’re fascists.) You answer for people who get confused when fascists say the Democrats are being fascist because they’re shutting down the economy. You have to answer that, not for them because you’re not going to convince them, but for the people that are listening.

But then there’s all the denialism among the people who really are on the side of humanity and are stuck in a line of thinking that is actually taking them down a road to complicity. So I was wondering if you have any thoughts on how you handle that or what you think. Have you had any epiphanies lately (laughs)?

SR: (Laughs). Not completely new epiphanies. I see the process continuing, it’s been continuing, which is why I wrote that Drinks at Sobibor: Will We Remain Us? piece, which was really about the fact that you can become something that you didn’t mean. The other book recommendation I would like to make is They Thought They Were Free 1933-45, by Milton Mayer. This is just post-war. He was a Jewish scholar who went to Germany and befriended these various guys who had been in the Nazi party, some of them because they were Nazis, some because they didn’t want to get shot. They didn’t know he was Jewish, he didn’t volunteer the information, so he got really quite intimate conversations and confessions from these men. And one of them who was an engineer and very thoughtful gave an important explanation. Because everybody at that time after the war was asking how this happened ... Germans are not apes, they’re not savages so how did this all become possible in a civilized country? In fact, it was one of the countries which was considered one of friendliest countries for Jews, and sexual minorities and other people. And he said well you know it doesn’t just happen in one step. You don’t go from step A to step B. It comes in stages and if you didn’t resist in Stage B then why should you resist in stage C. And if you didn’t do anything in stage C, then what’s one more stage? And then suddenly one day you’re hearing your small child say “death to Jew swine,” and you realize that you’ve allowed this monstrosity to happen right under your nose. I’m paraphrasing. But that was basically what he said.

What he said was that you can become somebody you didn’t intend to be by your inaction and by remaining in an environment that’s becoming more and more poisonous and not questioning it, and not resisting it. And that was why he counted himself as guilty even though his joining the Nazi party was just to keep his job. So, I found that very powerful and that’s, I think, what a lot of the denialism is about.

I’ve been at presentations where people have straight up said to me – if you pin them down, they will say this – well the problem is if I agreed with you that it was fascism then I would have to do something about it. Then I would need to do something radical about it. And I’m like, okay! So you just reasoned backwards from your desired conclusion, you don’t want to do that so it must not be fascism. That’s not okay! 

And there I will agree with Bob Avakian. By the way, I do want to put in the caveat for folks watching that I am not personally a communist of any kind, including an RCP communist. There are points on which I don’t agree with Bob Avakian, especially as a sort of mainstreamish Democrat. Sometimes his criticisms of the [Democratic] Party are fair, sometimes they are not. But I would encourage people, even in my sector of politics – which was considered wild and out there in the 90s and is no longer considered out there, it’s very mainstream now – open your mind and listen to people whose ideologies are different from yours. If their base principles are where they need to be, that humanity is human; that all humans are humanity; that humanity has to come first; the planet has to survive; science is a thing, you know, these basic principles, if they’re there for them, and Bob Avakian is there for those principles, listen to what he has to say. You don’t have to agree with all of it but the reason that he is quoted in some of these materials is that he has a point. And one of those points he makes is that you can’t reason backwards from what you wanted to do anyway to what the facts are. You don’t get to do that. The facts have to be what the facts are and you have to proceed from them. You don’t get to make them up. You get your own opinions but you don’t get your own facts, as the proverb says.

CD: I think this is really important and I think we will probably have to end on this. We don’t have to agree on everything, but if you agree that the future of humanity and the planet is worth saving, and that this regime is a blocking issue for anything good that any of us want, then join us, and let’s make a united front under this demand: Trump/Pence Must Go! 

SR: Yes.

CD: And we can argue it out in the streets as we’re working non-violently, or we can virtually right now, but join us. And really let’s dig into what it is that is holding people back, and how do we help, with our arms wide open, welcome them into this really just cause that is historic. With that I just want to say I love talking to you Sarah. We need to do this more often. And I’m going to pass it back to Samantha.

SR: Always, Coco.

SG: I don’t want to add any more words, that was a really important way to end this.  I just want to add let’s continue this discussion, let’s share this “Live.” Continue to share it, continue to discuss with your friends and family and neighbors what was brought up in this Live, and what is in the Refuse Fascism Statement and Call to Act. Go to RefuseFascism.org. Read it, share it, sign it and donate to make it a force in the world. Refuse fascism.Org, you can donate there. And Venmo: Refuse-Fascism. We need to stay safe, not silent. Trump / Pence...

SR and CD: OUT NOW!

"We have to really confront people on understanding that you have to step out of normal channels to stop this fascism."

Excerpt of the May 8 interview of Coco Das and Sarah Roark by Samantha Goldman. Watch the full discussion: "This American Fascism with Coco Das and Sarah Roark".

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.

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
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You’ve read this article, now think about the crucial role revcom.us plays.  White supremacy and fascism are running rampant, and women’s basic rights are being ripped away.  America threatens wars on Venezuela and Iran, as it terrorizes immigrant families and wantonly plunders our environment—imperiling humanity’s very future.  At revcom.us you learn where these horrors come from, how they can be ended through an actual revolution, and how people are working now toward revolution.  You can find, engage and spread the work of Bob Avakian, the leader of this revolution, the architect of the new communism, and author of a concrete blueprint for a new society moving toward full emancipation. So become part of fighting for humanity’s future: sustain or donate now.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/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/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/648/latin-america-gruesome-toll-of-imperialist-domination-and-coronavirus-denialism-en.html

Latin America:
Gruesome Toll of Imperialist Domination and Coronavirus-Denialism

| revcom.us

 

The COVID-19 virus came late to Latin America, with the first case confirmed on March 5. But in the last two months it has spread like a roaring fire among the region’s 700 million people. It has fed on the desperate poverty, debt, and dysfunctional health care systems that are the result of 500 years of pillaging by European colonialism and ongoing domination by imperialism, especially U.S. imperialism. And it has been given a clear path by the “coronavirus-denialism” of several major bourgeois political leaders, “leaders” who first made a joke out of the disease, then resisted any measures to contain or mitigate it, and then systematically lied about the death toll, even as hospitals were overwhelmed and corpses piled up in morgues.

All of these forces working together have turned hospitals, morgues, neighborhoods, and even whole cities into literal hellscapes that make Stephen King’s creations seem like children’s stories.

Deep Poverty, Debt, Limited Health Care

Defenders of imperialism like to brag about the “modernization” of Latin America over the last few decades, and point to the growth of a modest middle class, modern factories, and prosperous districts in major cities. Brazil in particular is touted as being “on the road” to being a “developed” nation.

But beneath the gloss is the reality that the wealth generated in these countries is done on the basis of brutal and grinding exploitation of workers in mines, mills, and factories, peasants on small farms and big plantations, people trying to escape the desperate poverty that ensnares hundreds of millions. And most of that wealth is siphoned off to the imperialist countries and investment banks that own or are heavily invested in much of the productive capacity, leaving a thin veneer of “prosperity” behind.

In Brazil, “... almost half the population do not have access to sanitation, and one quarter live in poverty. ... in the poorest favelas there can be 8-10 people sharing a 2-room house, with no prospect of social distancing.” Preventable or treatable diseases—dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria—still stalk and weaken millions. In Latin America as a whole, 45 percent of people work in the “informal economy” with no benefits or security, and public spending on health care is less than one fourth per capita what it is in many European countries.1

And on top of this, Latin American governments have to evaluate how to handle a public health crisis with an eye toward the imperialist governments and investors who exert enormous financial leverage. So there is tremendous pressure to keep the economy rolling, keep those factories churning out products that fit into the global supply chain, keep those taxes coming in so they can pay off loans.

Those governments that did not bow to this pressure have done much better with the pandemic but are being made to pay a terrible price. According to NPR, in late March, the Argentinian government recognized that “their underfunded health system would be quickly overwhelmed” and that “we could have 250,000 deaths if we do nothing.” So on March 20, they imposed an eight-week nationwide shutdown and travel ban. As a result, Argentina, with 45 million people, has had only 363 confirmed COVID-19 deaths so far.

But now the imperialist vultures are bearing down on them—the shutdown made it impossible for Argentina to meet its upcoming debt payment of $500 million, meaning they could go into default. According to the New York Times, “International creditors have scoffed” at Argentina’s plan to restructure the debt to take into account the impact of the pandemic, so default is a near-certainty. They want their money and they want it now!

That experience sheds some light on the “epidemic” of coronavirus-denialism among many other Latin American leaders who feared the economic disruption that comes with seriously confronting the pandemic more than the mass death the virus would bring. The fascist president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, mimicked his friend Donald Trump in claiming that COVID was just “a little flu” and that “Brazilians don’t catch anything ... they already have the antibodies to keep it from spreading.” Bolsonaro clashed sharply with state governors over shelter-in-place orders.

And likewise, according to the Brookings Institution, Mexico’s “populist” president “Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) made a point to publicly wander the streets, tweeting selfies and kissing a baby on March 21. He urged people to chill and read García Márquez’ famous novel Love in the Time of Cholera.” AMLO had to be ordered by federal courts to take measures to protect people from the epidemic. The former leftist guerrilla and now-president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, led a “Love in the Time of COVID-19” parade on March 14.

The Hell Unleashed

Guayaquil, Ecuador:

The port city of Guayaquil with about three million residents was hit hard, its hospitals completely overwhelmed. A doctor told the New York Times, “There were people dying at the doors of our clinics and we had no way of helping them. Mothers, husbands, asking in tears for a bed, because, ‘You are a doctor, and you have to help us.’” At another hospital a doctor reported, “There were corpses in wheelchairs, in stretchers and on the floor in the emergency area.... The smell was such that the staff refused to enter. Several of his colleagues fell sick and waited in wheelchairs for patients to die, hoping it would give them a chance to use a ventilator.”

CNN reported on a woman who waited for 24 hours at the hospital for her mother to get a bed—finally a nurse took her aside and told her, “If you have the money to treat your mother at home, do it. If you keep her here, she will die.” Another man told CNN that when his father became ill he drove four hours and was denied admission at 10 hospitals, before finally being accepted at the 11th. And when his father was given a room he was sharing it—with two corpses!

But it was not only hospitals overwhelmed, but morgues and funeral homes as well. When the man’s father died, the hospital lost track of his body amid the hundreds of deaths, so he was sent to the morgue to search for him: “there were bodies stacked one on top of each other. Going into that room, it’s like hell.” Unable to find him, he came back four days in a row and searched through 250 bodies, many of them decomposing in un-refrigerated spaces.

Funeral homes, too, were overwhelmed. First people did burials in cardboard coffins, then even that became impossible and they were just left in the street to be picked up. According to the New York Times, “In the city’s poorer neighborhoods, some residents said they had to wait for up to six days in the 90-degree heat for emergency services to collect the bodies of deceased relatives and neighbors.”

At this writing, the official COVID-19 death toll for the whole of Ecuador is 2,688. But as the mayor of Guayaquil said, “We will never know what the real number is, because there are no tests.”

Manaus, Brazil:

Manaus, a city of more than two million people, is considered the “gateway” to the vast Amazon region. In April, shocking photos of mass burials emerged. The Guardian reported:

On Sunday 140 bodies were laid to rest in Manaus, the jungle-flanked capital of Amazonas state. On Saturday, 98. Normally the figure would be closer to 30—but these are no longer normal times.

“It’s madness—just madness,” said Gilson de Freitas, a 30-year-old maintenance man whose mother, Rosemeire Rodrigues Silva, was one of 136 people buried there last Tuesday.... [Freitas] recalled watching in despair as her remains were lowered into a muddy trench alongside perhaps 20 other coffins.

“They were just dumped there like dogs,” he said. “What are our lives worth now? Nothing.”

The city’s mayor, Arthur Virgílio, pleaded for urgent international help. “We aren’t in a state of emergency—we’re well beyond that. We are in a state of utter disaster... like a country that is at war—and has lost,” he said.

Again hospitals were overwhelmed. CNN reported that people who came in for non-COVID illness or injury were placed in rooms with COVID-positive patients, contracted the disease and died. A doctor reported that “maternity wards became one of the main areas for infections because there isn’t an isolation plan,” and that doctors are exposed to the virus because of low staffing levels and lack of personal protection equipment (PPE).

On May 5, Bolsonaro said that, “The worst had passed” in Brazil. That day the national death toll broke its previous record. Then the next day, it broke it again. At this writing, by the official count Brazil has the fifth most cases in the world, with nearly 16,000 deaths. The real figures are certainly vastly higher.

Mexico City, Mexico:

President Obrador (AMLO) appears to have done an effective job... of concealing the devastation caused by coronavirus from much of the population and more or less keeping the factories humming to please the U.S. The government has suppressed the truth about the number of deaths—according to the New York Times, figures the national government releases publicly for deaths in Mexico City are one third the number of deaths the city is reporting to the federal government (which are certainly undercounts as well). AMLO’s health minister claimed that “we have flattened the curve,” and AMLO himself recently said, “What the world knows about Mexico is that we are taming the pandemic, and we are basically doing this because Mexican people are making a conscious effort.”

This has been deadly. In early May a Mexico City doctor told the New York Times, “It’s like we doctors are living in two different worlds. One is inside of the hospital with patients dying all the time. And the other is when we walk out onto the streets and see people walking around, clueless of what is going on and how bad the situation really is.” The same article included a photo of a densely packed train station in Mexico City with few people even wearing masks. Sky News quotes a man who had just buried his mother: “People don’t understand because there are many people who still keep going out without a face mask on, they keep playing in the parks. But the government has the responsibility to give real numbers, real figures, so that people are informed of what is going on, that there are many cases.”

And they report that “there is virtually no social distancing, with open air markets and some businesses operating normally.”

But again, what is the realitySky News reports:

There is currently a three-day backlog for cremation at every public crematorium in the city and crematorium workers in recent days have indicated that more burials will have to take place because burning capacity is overwhelmed. Black smoke billows out over cemeteries as the ovens are cremating on an industrial level in the city but the bodies don’t stop coming. ... In full hazmat suits, crematorium staff are working around the clock bringing bodies to huge ovens for disposal.

Sky News visited or spoke to 30 crematoria, and determined that they are cremating an average of 600 people a day, about 90 percent COVID-19 victims, and this does not count people who are buried. They further calculated that the official government death toll for the capital city is less than one fifth of the actual deaths.

Sky News concludes their report on Mexico with these words:

Short of a vaccine or a miracle, the effect on this society and this city could be utterly catastrophic.

True enough! But the even more important point is that short of revolution that gets rid of the imperialist system and brings about a socialist society that prioritizes the needs of humanity, the effect on humanity will be “utterly catastrophic.”

 


1. See The Lancet, South America prepares for the impact of COVID-19, April 29, 2020, and Brookings Institution, Order from Chaos: As coronavirus hits Latin America, expect serious and enduring effects, March 26, 2020.  [back]


In the words on one doctor, “There were people dying at the doors of our clinics and we had no way of helping them. Mothers, husbands, asking in tears for a bed, because, ‘You are a doctor, and you have to help us.’” People huddle near a young man on the sidewalk outside a clinic in Guayaquil, Ecuador, April 16. (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


COVID-19 in Latin America has fed on the desperate poverty, debt, and dysfunctional healthcare systems that are the result of 500 years of pillaging by European colonialism and ongoing domination by imperialism, the very ill overwhelming hospitals, and bodies piling up in morgues. Here bodies are moved until they can be buried, Guayaquil, Ecuador. (Photo: Screencapture Al Jazeera)


In Brazil, cemeteries carry out burials in common graves due to the large number of deaths from COVID-19 disease. Relatives mourn at the site of a mass burial in Manaus in Brazil, April 21. (Photo: AP/Edmar Barros)

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

See also:

From Aurora Roja, the blog of the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico:

In the Midst of the Pandemic, U.S./Mexico Onslaught Against Migrants

Read more

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/648/the-truth-of-unchecked-coronavirus-spread-in-prisons-en.html

Damning New Statistics Reveal the Truth of Unchecked Coronavirus Spread in Prisons

| revcom.us

 

From a reader:

“The coronavirus came into the prisons like a lit match in a dense forest, igniting only one tree at first, but then rapidly spreading throughout the forest.”—a Michigan prisoner.1

The U.S. has 2.3 million people behind bars, more than any country in the world, about 60 percent of whom are Black and Brown people. Public health officials have been warning about the spread of the coronavirus in jails and prisons where physical distancing is impossible. A recent prediction model from academic researchers, released by the American Civil Liberties Union, projected that failure to reduce the number of prisoners immediately could add 100,000 to the currently projected death count from the COVID-19 for the U.S.2

According to the Marshall Project, which is collecting data on COVID-19 infections in state and federal prisons, as of May 13 at least 25,239 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, a 25 percent increase from the week before. And since the first known death of a prisoner from COVID-19 in March, more than 370 other prisoners have died of coronavirus-related causes. By May 13, the total number of deaths had risen by 25 percent from the previous week.3 As of May 1, 8 of the 10 largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the U.S. were in prisons and jails.4

As stark as these statistics are, they could be an underestimation of what is going on in the prisons and jails. The Marshall Project notes: “Much of the remarkable recent growth in coronavirus cases has been due to a small handful of states—Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina among them—that began aggressively testing nearly everyone at prisons where people had become sick. This spate of testing would suggest that coronavirus had been circulating in prisons in much greater numbers than known, and that in the many states where tests have not been prevalent, far more people may have been carrying it than were initially reported.”5

In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, reported, “In Ohio, my home state, more than 80 percent of the people caged at Marion [Correctional Facility] have been infected with the coronavirus because of the state’s lackluster response. Thirteen have died.”6

There has been a tiny amount of coronavirus testing in many other states. For example: New Jersey has tested less than one percent of its incarcerated population. Florida has tested only 615 out of a prison population of 95,000. Less than one half of one percent of all federal prisoners have been tested.7

Where prisoners have been tested, there have been reports of horrific infection rates. For example, in Ohio, where 6,375 state prisoners and staff were tested, the infection rate was over 60 percent! At the only facility in North Carolina where mass testing was done, 460 of the 770 prisoners tested positive, again nearly 60 percent.8 According to an April 29 Associated Press report, 70 percent of federal prisoners who have been tested have been found to be positive for the coronavirus.9

Any humane society would have taken steps from the beginning to protect these prisoners. Instead, the response has been stonewalling and lies. Public defenders and the ACLU have filed motions in court to release those convicted of low-level offenses, the sick and elderly, and those nearing the ends of their sentences. But the vast majority of prisoners are continuing to be held. Some federal prosecutors made the ridiculous argument that prisoners are safer in prison than outside. A Louisiana judge said that releasing drug users with “bad hygiene” would threaten society. Washington, DC, city officials told the public that jails were taking appropriate precautions, but investigation by public defenders showed obscene conditions.10 After pressure from some members of Congress, Attorney General Barr issued a memo on April 3 outlining terms for home release from federal prisons—but for only a tiny percentage of federal prisoners: 1,027 out of 174,000. And a number of the prisoners who were told they would be released had their release orders canceled.11

This is a “let them die” scenario that is taking place—a monstrous crime against humanity in the making. As a prisoner wrote in a letter to revcom.us, “This is devastating!.... It’s outrageous because I know that if I contract the virus it’s a possibility that my 7 year bid will turn into a death sentence....”12

From Communique #5 from the Revcoms, Mass Incarceration and the Coronavirus...a Death Sentence Waiting to Happen”:

This must end! We need an actual revolution to emancipate all humanity and the Revolution Club is organizing for that. And right now there is an urgent need to come together to figure out what we do about preventing this mass death sentence from going down. If you care about humanity, we need to talk about how.


1. The coronavirus behind bars: A letter from a Michigan jail. Detroit Metro Times. April 10. 2020. [back]

2. Flattening the Curve: Why Reducing Jail Populations Is Key to Beating COVID-19, ACLU. [back]

3. A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons, the Marshall Project. [back]

4. Stopping covid-19 behind bars was an achievable moral imperative. We failed. Radley Balko, Washington Post, May 1, 2020. [back]

5. The Marshall Project. [back]

6. “Let Our People Go,” The New York Times, May 13, 2020. [back]

7. Washington Post, May 1, 2020. [back]

8. Washington Post, May 1, 2020. [back]

9. Over 70% of tested inmates in federal prisons have COVID-19, Associated Press, April 29, 2020. [back]

10. Washington Post, May 1, 2020. [back]

11. Washington Post, May 1, 2020. [back]

12. Prisoners Write, Exposing Conditions Under COVID-19 Pandemic in America’s Hellholes, revcom.us. [back]

Andrea Circle Bear: Victim of Mass Incarceration + Coronavirus


An outrageous example of a prisoner on low-level charges dying of coronavirus was Andrea Circle Bear, a 30-year-old woman of the Cheyenne River Sioux. On April 1, she gave birth via caesarian section while on a ventilator—while the child survived, Andrea Circle Bear died on April 28. She was serving a 26-month sentence on drug charges. A federal judge initially approved her admission into a treatment program, but that decision was rescinded after federal prosecutors argued that her drug use presented a threat to the fetus. Instead, she was sent from a local jail in South Dakota to a prison facility in Texas, more than 1,000 miles away from her home. Despite her low-level offense, pregnancy, and at least one pre-existing medical condition, Andrea Circle Bear was denied release, contracted the virus, and died.

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

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/648/revolution-club-corner-en.html

Revolution Club Corner

| revcom.us

 

Note to readers: Starting this week on revcom.us, we are beginning a regular feature on the website, a Revolution Club Corner, where we share letters, correspondence, and reflections from members of the Revolution Clubs on different questions, experiences, events, or discussions. These are being shared with the aim to open up the scientific percolation, to invite and involve people who come to revcom.us in a process of working together to grapple with, and contribute to solving, the problems of the revolution. These are not intended to be “full or final” on any subject but instead to further stimulate thought, and some things may be shared that reflect different “takes” or assessments on the same things, but are nevertheless important contributions to the overall process of getting to a scientific understanding.

This week, below, we open with excerpted correspondence from Chicago Revolution Club members on their experience at the May Day protests against fascist “Reopen America” rallies (see revcom.us coverage of those protests here and interview with Revolution Tour member Noche Diaz here).

***

Correspondence 1:

On May Day, a day in which America has distorted in numerous ways, brought out science minded people vs. those who wasn’t scientific at all.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten my Club T-shirt but I had my Red flag which I thought was perfect for this day.

This day members of the Rev Club as well as members Refuse Fascism, doctors, nurses from Illinois, gathered together to stand up against the unscientific Right Wing Trump supporters who believe that the coronavirus is a hoax, while some believe that social distances isn’t necessary and they should be able to return to work or carry about as if there is nothing in this virus that could be harmful. While scientists are scrambling to find an antidote that would be helpful against this virus, and trying to inform the public of the best way we can prevent becoming infected by this virus, Trump is inciting his unscientific minions to gather and return to work! Because of the Trump/Pence administration this virus was greatly ignored and as a result many people lost their lives, and we all were endangered of contracting this deadly virus.

For many who work in the healthcare field, who put their lives, and the lives of families on the line each and every day, this is heartbreaking and unbelievable.

I watched one driver shake her head as she leaned (honked) on her car horn with a sign taped on her car identifying her as someone in the healthcare industry. I waved my huge Red flag in support of all those who stood against those supporters who didn’t get it.

We practiced safe distances and whenever someone tried to get too close we tried to remind them of the 6 ft distancing rule. They, the Right Wingers, tried on a few occasions to come close to us and was confronted by myself or someone in the Rev Club. One of the best chants for this day was of course “Science over Ignorance,” because this was a Protest about exposure to an airborne killer which could cause death, or serious pain if exposed to it which many of them were! Trump/Pence refuse to wear protective covering i.e. masks, gloves, so their minions do the same. Trump tells them take a medicine he believes is promising and they do, Trump tells them to drink Clorox! and other Cleansers AND THEY DO! All with very bad results. Today so far there is new report of 105 more deaths from  COVID-19. The sign I held with my flag said “May Day 2020 The World Today Is a Horror But a Better World IS Possible!”

Addendum:

I also noticed a group from Reopen America was from Canaryville, which was next door to Bridgeport, the neighborhood of the racist mayor Richard Daley whose history is like that of Jon Burge to many in the poor community. Growing up in Chicago during the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, you learned to never be caught in certain neighborhoods ANYTIME OF THE TIME OF DAY, and again Canaryville was one of those neighborhood steeped in White Supremacy beliefs. When I saw the signs on the cars, then the Biker group, it brought back memories and listening to some of them I can see that they still have the same beliefs as those before them.

***

Correspondence 2:

We weren’t near as deep as the fascists but someone needed to stand up for science, to oppose American Christian Fascism and shine forth as a beacon of a future worth living for through communist Revolution.

Some of us on the ground and more able to caravan came out determined to speak the truth that, “Reopen Now, is Mass Death” and “Normal being the problem.” We were hyped going in, bouncing with energy from fraught debates all week on what forces we were dealing with in what situation. The timely May Day call put this together in a sharp manner. A few Rev Club  kids and RF went to politically meet the other forces on foot. Chicago PD, State troopers, state police and more swarmed the street leading up to the state office building in downtown. They made moves to block off this part of the city as they soon realized this was going to be bigger than just a few or even a hundred angry Christian fascists. Since 9 am a crowd had been building, American Flags billowing, Marine Corps slogans and symbolism, signs talking about the Virus of socialism and communism intermingled with hundreds of children, older folks, a few Latinx and Black people but a very much suburban, arrogant, and determined crowd of maskless, enraged proponents of genocide stood emboldened and dangerously squished upon each other straining to meet us head on. Quickly we were surrounded and the other side too to quell a confrontation despite the fact some police laughed as we chanted “Humanity First, not America First.” Our signs included a big Refuse Fascism banner declaring in the name of humanity to refuse fascism. A couple “reopen = mass death,” the May Day call title and an image of Trump and Pence shrouded in the COVID virus sparked a “USA, USA” chant that soon died down.

For the time there we were met with macho Fucks who wanted to fight, a caravan so large and loud I really can’t tell you how many cars were there, and a cycling of people who seemed to want to join us and ghosted or stood scared shitless, quaking before taking off where I suppose the groups of nurses, teachers, union supporters, and others who thought it was imperative to come but balked at the size of the ever-swelling opposition. Maybe a dozen people joined us including some vibrant but maskless young Black men, and a host of tiny crowds of fascists trying to start something. I hope people could hear us well, but we learned afterward some chants we did on the spot could not be heard in the live streams we made.

Overall I think we did what we needed to do, but I can’t help but feel as we marched away and the other side cheered that it was like walking away from a lost scrimmage.

We needed to be there but I’m sure there where things that could have been done better including our signage, but for what we were, we represented strong. The car caravan intermixed with the idiots was very uplifting and helped us and others keep chanting strong.

 


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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/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/648/from-someone-who-donated-their-stimulus-check-en.html

From Someone Who Donated Their "Stimulus" Check:
"Join me in a $1,200 'fuck you' to Trump and his fascist crew"

| revcom.us

 

When first announced, I thought "good, what can I do now that I've been putting off for months." Then I immediately speculated on how much positive play the ruling class figured it would get from this "stimulus" check.

It didn't take long to develop my idea to offset their intentions by sacrificing a little to contribute to their overthrow.

I realize there are plenty of people much worse off than me and so don't have the economic slack. Let my $1,200 be on their behalf too.

Revolution Nothing Less!

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/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]

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

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/639/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)

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
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Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/648/trump-pence-regime-steps-up-support-for-science-hating-fascist-forces-en.html

The Trump/Pence Regime Steps Up Support for Science-Hating Christian Fascist Forces—in Midst of Coronavirus Pandemic

| revcom.us

 

Editors’ Note: In the overall context of the advance of fascism and its tightening grip in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some specifically Christian fascist aspects to this move. Along with using the pandemic to ban abortions, which we covered several weeks ago in “Thirteen Ways the Trump/Pence Fascists Have Moved to Tighten Their Grip in Just the Last Month,” following are some other dimensions.

The alliance between Trump and America’s Christian fascist movement—represented by Vice President Mike Pence—has been at the very core of Trump/Pence fascism. Now, in the midst of—and in response to—the coronavirus crisis, the regime continues to step up its support for Christian fascist forces and to advance its agenda of reshaping government and society with fundamentalist Christianity at its core.

As we wrote last week, these “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.”1

Just in the last month or so:

Trump Department of Justice Moves to Intervene to Back Fascist “Open Up” Movements in States

On April 29, the New York Times reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) under William Barr had been in close contact with “A network of conservative leaders, donors and organizations” that “has launched a legal onslaught against state and local restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.” The paper then reports that “This week the Justice Department delivered the clearest show of support yet when Attorney General William P. Barr issued a memorandum directing two of his department’s top lawyers to lead an effort with other federal agencies to monitor state and local policies “and, if necessary, take action to correct” those that “could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.”2

This means the U.S.’s most powerful law enforcement agency will bring its power to bear in support of Christian and other fascist forces and churches, as well as businesses and other right-wing groups protesting against state mandated health and distancing regulations.3

This will further embolden the lunatic, anti-science Christian fascists who took the first direct actions against these state health regulations and have helped fuel these protests. These include people like Jerry Falwell Jr., who opened Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, when most universities were closing and COVID-19 cases were beginning to surge in the area, and Pentecostal pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of Tampa, Florida, who has refused to close his church, claimed the virus is a hoax, that only supernatural forces can defeat it, and demanded “congregants embrace and shake hands, exhorting them that they were ‘revivalists, not pansies.’”4

Diverting Pandemic Relief to Right-Wing Private and Religious Schools and Churches

The New York Times (May 15), reports that Education Secretary—and hard-core Christian fascist operative—Betsy DeVos is “directing millions of federal dollars intended primarily for public schools and colleges to private and religious schools.”5

The paper notes that Congress and the law mandated monies—$30 billion for educational institutions which have been hit hard by the pandemic—be used for primarily those schools in need. Yet she used $180 million to create vouchers (“microgrants”) that can be used for private schools, and directed school districts to “share millions of dollars designated for low-income students with wealthy private schools,” which critics argue don’t necessarily need the money and that her actions have “nothing to do with Covid-19” relief, but are part of DeVos’—and the Christian fascists’—long-term agenda of undermining public education and strengthening Christian-based religious education and bolstering the social base of the Trump/Pence regime.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that even as churches continue to claim tax-exempt status, “houses of worship have received hundreds of millions, and perhaps billions, of dollars in federal funding under the Paycheck Protection Program of the CARES Act (the main coronavirus stimulus legislation). This program treats churches like any other business or nonprofit employer that needs funds to continue to pay its employees’ salaries. Some 9,000 Catholic churches have had their applications for federal funding approved, according to CBS News reporting, and a survey by LifeWay Research found that 40 percent of Protestant churches had applied (and 59 percent of those applications were accepted). As a result, for the first time in our nation’s history, the federal government is affirmatively subsidizing the salaries of clergy across the country.6 (Emphasis added.)

This is further breaking down the separation of church and state, more openly giving government backing to religion, and explicitly reshaping the U.S. as a “Christian nation.”

Packing the Judiciary with Christian Fascist Supporters

As revcom.us reported last week, Senate leader Mitch McConnell, a major Trump backer, reconvened the Senate to push through Trump’s judicial appointments. The first hearing is for 38-year-old Justin Walker, a McConnell protégé who has been nominated for the very powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. It’s now been reported that Walker recently ruled in favor of keeping churches open during the pandemic.

“Judge Walker cited St. Paul again last month in a decision in favor of the On Fire Christian Church, in Louisville, which had sued Mayor Greg Fischer over his urging faith leaders to avoid large gatherings such as the church’s drive-in Easter services amid the coronavirus pandemic. ‘On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter,’ Judge Walker wrote,” the New York Times reports.7

 


1. “Trump/Pence Move Aggressively to Consolidate Fascist Power,” revcom.us, May 11, 2020.  [back]

2. “Trump Administration Signals Support for Allies’ Fight Against Virus Orders,” New York Times, April 29, 2020.  [back]

3. Last week revcom.us reported that 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... 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.”  [back]

4. “The rightwing Christian preachers in deep denial over Covid-19’s danger,” Guardian, April 4, 2020.  [back]

5. “DeVos Funnels Coronavirus Relief Funds to Favored Private and Religious Schools,” New York Times, May 15, 2020; see also, “Onward, Christian Fascists: Trump and DeVos Escalate Assault on Education,” revcom.us, January 27, 2020.  [back]

6. “Churches have been hypocritical during the pandemic,” Washington Post, May 13, 2020.  [back]

7. “McConnell Protégé Takes Center Stage in Fight to Remake Judiciary,” New York Times, May 5, 2020.  [back]

"The Christian Fascists Now In Power"

Watch the complete film here.

See also:

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

Read more
Printer spread version PDF
Single pages version PDF

Q&A: What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?

From the Q&A following Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.
Watch the complete film here

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/648/prisoners-write-on-coronavirus-pandemic-en.html

Prisoners Write on Coronavirus Pandemic

"the crisis brought about by Covid-19 is bringing to light the sharp contradictions of this Capitalism/Imperialist system"

| revcom.us

 

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

From a prisoner in Texas:

To PRLF:

I appreciate the response and packet yall sent me. I also would like to apologize for the late response. My excuse being that, it’s been difficult for me to stay focused lately. The mental torture that comes with being locked up be getting to me at times. I’ve been spending more time “zoned-out,” reflecting on my life and on the past when I know I should be studying and writing.

But I’m trying to snap out of it and got back in the mode. So please forgive me for the tardiness.

With that being said, in response to the question [in a letter from the Prisoner Revolutionary Literature Fund]: “Should ‘congregating’ be encouraged under those circumstances?” No. like you said, people shouldn’t be out there partying right now while all this is going on. You see, what came to mind when they started restricting congregating, was the activism and protesting, because of what was already going on, you know, protesting the system and the Trump/Pence regime. This year being an election year and after the whole impeachment fiasco, I expected mass movements out there manifesting with greater intensity. Now what I see is that this virus has fallen on the fascist regime now as a blessing or a curse.

I say blessing because they can take the opportunity to further solidify their power and position. It’s their convenient excuse to openly implement their fascist measures in “response” to the crisis. Now that we most urgently need to take to the streets in mass movement to oppose this system and regime, the fascists have their excuse to repress further dissent and civil disobedience.

That’s why I said what I said about “congregating.” I was thinking more on the movement than anything else, wondering how it will affect it. See I understand what you saying though, that some restrictive laws are needed and that it’s not always wrong. But that’s just it, sometimes they’re wrong and sometimes that is needed. In this case I guess it’s vital so that the virus won’t just spread like wildfire.

But like I’ve been mentioning, my thoughts on how these new restrictive laws will affect the mass movement to oppose this system and the Trump/Pence regime. And that goes with what I said about this being a blessing or a curse to the system and the fascist regime. The curse being that the crisis brought about by COVID-19 is bringing to light the sharp contradictions of this Capitalism/Imperialist system. It’s exposing every crack and contradiction. People from all walks of society, from poor to middle class to the labor aristocracy are being affected by this. Where how the question of the legitimacy of this system is coming to the minds of people who otherwise wouldn’t think of questioning the legitimacy of this system. Now can possibly be a chance to bring more people to the side of Revolution. The pendulum can swing both ways though. Yes we will have more supporters for Revolution but the ranks of the fascist camp will swell as well. We must get ready for all that, cause we might be at a decisive point in human history, I don’t know. It’s looking that way. I’m not trying to jump to conclusions. I understand I need to be patient and see how things develop. But patterns and evidence seem to point that way.

Well I don’t want to get off topic. But I know you asked two other questions, the 1st “how should our ‘team of scientists’ come at coronavirus”? I’m not sure how to answer that question. And the second question on why is the system and the Christian fundamentalist assaulting women’s reproductive rights? It’s all a matter of control, isn’t it? It’s how male patriarchy is enforced, and it’s how they try to keep women subservient and it’s like there’s no real legitimate reason other than control and the enforcement of a outmoded, outdated form of thinking. One that is intertwined and upholds this system of oppression in which we are forced to live under. It’s a form of thinking that helps harbor other forms of thinking like greed and domination which is a favorable form of thinking for a system such as capitalism/imperialism.

I hope I’m making sense, but that’s what I get out of it, as in that’s the conclusions I come to when analyzing the subject.

Well, I guess I’ll end this letter here. I hope it gets to yall soon. Oh yea, one more thing, I’m getting into this article yall just sent me dated April 6 called “Initial notes on what we confront - contours, contradictions, and crises.” There’s a lot of essential, important information and a lot of the questions asked are the same ones im asking. But the whole analysis is really on point.

Well anyway, I’m a hurry up now and send this letter out. Stay safe, Stay on Point!

PS. Also, I’m sure yall wanted to know as to the conditions we live under inside this prison. Well they’re horrible, Texas prisons are among the most primitive and backwards out of all the prisons in the United States. They are human warehouses, no A/C, no nothing, we live among the elements. They don’t provide us with no cleaning supplies. We are not provided with any bleach or disinfectant. We have to steal the bleach and any other cleaning material that they keep for themselves. The most they give us is 5 tiny green soaps. The kitchen is highly unsanitary. It falls under being condemned.

Since the COVID-19 hit, it took an extra 2 months for them to start enforcing us to wear a mask. They got a fellow inmate come around and spray a little bleach water here and there. But thats it. They try to implement social-distancing, but you know that’s impossible here in prison. So their efforts are really laughable and annoying.

I don’t know if any has caught that shit over here, being that this is a Death Row unit. To keep quiet about things like that is in their best interest.

It’s only a matter of time before the virus hits this prison. Also, I remember hearing my neighbor complain to an officer he was feeling sick, only to be told that he must send a sick call request to medical, (which take about a week to get a response). Just an example of how little the officers care about us.

***

From a prisoner in Pennsylvania:

Let me tell you about what is going on within PA DOC at this time. The entire PA DOC has been under a quarantine for almost a month now. Programming and chapel services are suspended indefinitely. We are stuck in our cells for all but a 40 minute rec period consisting of shower, phone, kiosk, and side yard. A limit of 8 cohorts are permitted out at any given time. We are receiving room service style meals though, and all but 1 is hot. Visits are being done via Skype, who have a temporary contract with the DOC. Visits this way come at a fee. That fee is roughly $10.00 per 45 minute visit. The DOC is giving each prisoner 5 free phone calls and 5 free emails per week, and has increased our calorie intake by 500 calories. Here and there, we are getting treats such as free ice cream and snack cakes. The DOC has a new feature on its website which discloses to the public how many cases of COVID-19 are found at each prison. So far SCI XXX has 30+ cases. I heard the nurse talking just today about how the official count is inaccurate. The actual count is much worse. Here at SCI XXX they are testing a method of stopping the spread. 4 cellblocks are on complete lockdown status, and if that is effective in stopping the spread, it will become standard protocol in the entire facility. Growing unrest is occurring and I can be certain that a riot will soon erupt or at best a mass hunger-strike in protest of all of this. Medical care is at its all time worst, with care providers retaliating for continued sick calls they have to deal with. Basic health care requests are treated with contempt and come with a stern lecture about “bothering” the medical staff with non-emergent needs. It’s sickening the way these people treat us. But, most are content with the “appeasement” by providing free food, phone calls, cable and other distractions. Only a few of us are revolutionary minded and are ready for revolt.

***

From a prisoner in Illinois:

I’m writing in response to this coronavirus and how this institution is dealing with it. We’ve basically been on some form of lockdown for over a month, fortunately no one here has tested positive.

It was funny when this whole thing started. To hear the staff follow Fox News talking points, saying this whole thing was just a hoax and that they weren’t worried about any of this and then when people in other institutions started getting sick they changed their tune.

They’ve taken some measures to prevent us from catching this virus, but of course all of them don’t add up. They started taking the officers temperatures every day before letting them in the building, and finally gave them masks to wear. They also came and took our temperatures every day for two weeks.

The downside is we’ve been locked down and let out only for a phone call and a shower, no cleaning supplys have been issued, and people suspected of being sick are being put in seg.

The thing that makes the least amount of sense is the added contact with the staff. When the prison is not on lockdown, we handle the cooking and passing out of food, the commissary, and the ice. Now all of these things are being done mostly by staff, and they know they are our only risk of catching this virus. So our fate is in the hands of people who don’t believe in science, and think they are invincible, so we’ll see how this all turns out.

 

See also:

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

  • Bob Avakian on Revolution and the Coronavirus Pandemic
  • 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?
  • How are people resisting here and around the world? What should we be doing now?

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.

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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

 

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


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


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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

       

 

 

Revcom.us/RNL Show May Fund Drive – FINAL WEEK:
We’re aiming for $20,000 or more to spread BA’s new framework for human emancipation and revolution!
Go HERE to donate, for more info, donors’ statements

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Announcing:

Fundraising Livestream for The National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour and
The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less—Show!

Sunday, May 31, 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET
$15,000 goal
facebook.com/therevcoms

| revcom.us

 

Fundraising Livestream now taking place Sunday, 4pm PT/7pm ET:
In light of the developments over the last 24 hours, we are postponing the livestream until Sunday afternoon. This situation underscores the importance of building up broad financial support for the National Tour to Organize for an ACTUAL Revolution and The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less—Show.

Spread the word, tune in and join with others in supporting the National Tour to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution.

“The World Today Is a Horror – But a Better World IS Possible!” This is the basic message of the National Revolution Tour, out to shatter the myth that there is no alternative to this horrific system of capitalism/imperialism, with its brutal inequalities made increasingly worse by a global pandemic and with mortal dangers of the Trump/Pence fascist regime at the helm. Confronting this crisis and all that underlies it, the Tour is bringing alive the possibility of a radically different world and society achievable only through an actual revolution to emancipate all of humanity based on the new communism developed by Bob Avakian. In challenging new conditions, we are going to work to organize forces for this revolution.

Tune in to hear from Tour volunteers about the work we're doing on the ground in LA and hear from people who are working on The RNL Show. This show is like none other in existence seeking to provoke, challenge and inspire people with the need and basis for real revolution and the critical scientific spirit of the new communism.

None of this is possible without your financial support. There are people who have put their lives toward accomplishing this objective and they can only do this if there are thousands who lend their support and their energy to finance and spread this.

What would you give for growing numbers of people to stop passively hoping for a return to “normalcy” that is illusory and a nightmare to begin with? What would you give for increasing numbers of people to raise their sights to a whole different way the world could be, and put something on the line to fight for it?

Through this livestream, and the work to build towards it, we need to raise $15,000 AND we're aiming to raise this from a much larger pool of donors – building a community of revolution. Imagine if 150 people gave $10, 100 gave $20, 10 people gave half their stimulus check of $600 and 5 gave the full $1,200. This would be more than the needed goal and is the kind of broad mass movement for revolution needed now.

You are needed – to contribute, and to reach out to others. Use your stimulus check to stimulate the revolution! Call friends and family, ask them to match what you are able to give. Now more than ever, there's nothing more important your funds could go towards than this hope for humanity.

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American Crime

Case #11 (Part 1): The Violent Suppression of Black People's Right to Vote

| 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.

 

Editors' Note: We are rush-publishing a draft of the crimes and history of suppressing the votes of Black people in this country, in two parts, because of its timeliness. We are in the process of finalizing this American Crime article.

The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, one of three “Reconstruction Amendments” passed as the Civil War ended, says that, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” This marked a radical transformation from previous law and entrenched custom in all the U.S. Even in the North on the eve of the Civil War, only five states, all in New England, allowed Black men to vote.

During the short period of Reconstruction, Black people in the South, along with some whites, fought heroically for their constitutional right to vote. About 1,500 Black men were elected to various state and local offices across the country. For the first time, Black people sat in the U.S. Congress.

This was bitterly opposed from the beginning. Vengeful white supremacy was the open ideology of the Democratic Party, which dominated the South. Armed vigilantes, many of them former Confederate soldiers, were coalescing into the KKK, and acted as the armed wing of the Democrats. They carried out murderous terror across the South. (Before and during the Civil War, the Republican Party was the party of those ruling class forces that to one degree or another opposed slavery, and that, for about a decade after the war, supported more rights for Black people. But for over a century since then, the Republicans, like the Democrats, had been a party of white supremacy.)

More recently, relentless efforts to suppress Black people’s votes and to rally whites around white supremacy have been a hallmark of Republican campaigns since Richard Nixon launched his “Southern Strategy” in 1968. Lee Atwater, advisor to presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, described it this way in a 1981 interview: “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say nigger—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like uh, forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff.... Now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites... ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.’”1

Today the Trump/Pence fascist regime is continuing this ugly all-American tradition in new ways—openly supporting white supremacists, organizing its fascist foot soldiers to intimidate Black and Latino people at the polls, and launching multipronged efforts costing tens of millions of dollars to keep Black and Latino people from voting at all.

The Crimes

New Orleans, July 1866

In the spring of 1866, the Louisiana State Legislature, entirely composed of white supremacists, passed a set of “Black codes”—laws designed to restrict and deny Black people's freedom. Among other repressive measures, this “code” denied the right to vote to Black men. Black and some white delegates to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention—then meeting in New Orleans to draw up a new charter for the state after the end of slavery—were furious.

As the mostly unarmed delegates marched to Mechanic’s Hall, the site of the convention, they were attacked by a heavily armed mob consisting of ex-Confederate officers and soldiers, white supremacists, and most of the New Orleans police, led by the city’s mayor. The Black and white delegates beat back the mob and drove them out of the hall, where they had taken refuge. But reinforcements with more ammunition arrived for the racists, and they again attacked Mechanic’s Hall, this time successfully. They also rampaged through the streets around the hall, killing people who had nothing to do with the Convention. Estimates of the number of dead range from 150 to 238.2, 3

Eutaw, Alabama, October 1870

Throughout the summer of 1870, as November elections for governor neared, Klan terror ripped through the area around Eutaw in Alabama’s Black Belt. At least five Republicans, four Black and one white, were lynched in July. That same month, Gilford Coleman, a prominent Black Republican, was pulled from his home by Klan night riders and his body mutilated. In October, an unarmed outdoor meeting of about 2,000 Republicans, mainly Black people, was attacked by Klansmen who fired into the crowd, killing at least four and injuring many more. A contingent of federal troops did nothing to intervene. Most Black people in the area stayed away from the polls in November, and the open white supremacist won. Alabama officials took no action against the murderers, and although a federal grand jury returned indictments against 20 people, they were never convicted.4

Colfax, Louisiana, 1873

On April 13, Easter Sunday, over 300 heavily armed white men, mostly former officers and soldiers in the Confederate Army, shot, stabbed, burned, and maimed Black people seeking shelter in a courthouse. At least 150 people were murdered in what historian Eric Foner described as the “bloodiest single instance of racial carnage in the Reconstruction era.”5 The terror came in the midst of a bitterly contested election, and was part of a campaign to prevent Black people from voting, and to institutionalize white supremacy at all levels of state and parish (county) governments.

None of the murderers, who were widely known in the area, were tried in state court. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions of the three murderers who had been tried for violating the civil rights of people they killed on the grounds that federal law cannot protect Black people from violations of their civil rights (or mass murder!) by mobs, only violations of those rights by government agencies. This opened the door to rampant, unpunished lynching that raged across the South for the next 80 years. 132 years later, in 2005, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution expressing its “remorse” for having never acted to outlaw lynching!6, 7

Hamburg and Ellenton, South Carolina, 1876

As another election for governor approached, a group of white farmers went to court to complain that their passage along a road had been blocked by a Black militia. About 100 armed whites came to the court on the appointed hearing date, opened fire, and killed four Black people. During the same period a reign of Klan murder and violence spread across central South Carolina, terrorizing Black people at political gatherings and church meetings. While several white assailants were killed in these raids, estimates of the murdered Black people range from 30 to over 100 or more. They included Simon Coker, a prominent Black state legislator. A leader of the racist attacks in both Hamburg and Ellenton was Ben Tillman, a life-long white supremacist who went on to be a founder of Clemson University, governor of South Carolina, and U.S. senator. While in the Senate, Tillman defended lynching and boasted of his involvement in the murder of Black people and consolidation of white supremacy in South Carolina.8

Wilmington, North Carolina, 1898

Wilmington at this time was the largest city in North Carolina. A majority of its population was Black. Black people were prominent in the political and business leadership of the city, at a time when white supremacist Democrats dominated in the state. The presence of a largely Black leadership of the city was intolerable to these racists, who had proclaimed, “North Carolina is a WHITE MAN’s State and WHITE MEN will rule it...” In early November a “white man’s rally” in Wilmington drew over 1,000 armed people. At around the same time, local businesses refused to sell arms or ammunition to Black people in Wilmington.

On November 10, on the pretext that an editorial in a Black-owned newspaper had insulted white women, a wealthy former Confederate officer led a mob of 400 whites that stormed through downtown Wilmington. They burned down Black-owned businesses, broke out windows, and killed at least 14 people. An estimated 2,000 Black people were forced to flee the city. Black authorities in the local government were replaced by whites, and the leader of the mob became mayor.9, 10

Ocoee, Florida, 1920

Throughout the summer and early fall of 1920, some Black people associated with the Republican Party were part of an effort to register voters for the upcoming presidential election. This was the first U.S. election in which women could vote, and the core of activists made a particular effort to register Black women. They wanted to contribute to breaking the stranglehold that the Klan and the openly white supremacist Democratic Party had on Central Florida.

But they met fierce opposition from the entrenched white power structure. The Florida History Project wrote that the day before the election, “... with robes and crosses, the Klan paraded through the streets of the two Black communities in Ocoee late into the night. With megaphones they warned that ‘not a single Negro will be permitted to vote’ and if any of them dared to do so there would be dire consequences.” Shortly after Moses Norman, a Black man, attempted to vote, hundreds of white WWI veterans from throughout the county swarmed into Ocoee. They eventually burned down almost all the buildings in north Ocoee, where most Black people lived. Many Black residents resisted, but they were outnumbered and outgunned. As many as 60-70 were killed by the racist mob, and hundreds were driven from the town. The mob descended on the home of July Perry, Norman’s friend, because they heard that Norman had fled there. Perry, and possibly other people, defended themselves from inside the house, killing two of the mob and wounding the Ocoee police chief. 

The lynch mob fled, but returned with a caravan of 50 cars filled with Klansmen, who overwhelmed July Perry. They brutalized Perry and brought him to the city jail. Later that night, with the cooperation of the sheriff, the mob pulled him from his cell, chained him to a car, and dragged him through the town before hanging and shooting him. They left his body there, with a sign saying, “This is what we do to niggers who try to vote.”

As late as 1959, a sign reading “Dogs and Negroes Not Welcome” was posted at the city limits of Ocoee.11, 12

The Civil Rights Era

The “Black codes” enacted in the late 1800s and upheld repeatedly by the Supreme Court had devastating impact for the next 70 years. For example, in 1958, at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, Gadsden, a majority Black county in Florida’s panhandle, had a population of 12,261 Black people. Seven of them were registered to vote. Similar situations existed across the South. By the early 1960s, youth and others launched courageous struggles to confront and overcome this situation.

McComb, Mississippi, 1961

Activists with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organized voter registration in McComb and surrounding areas of southwestern Mississippi. Authorities in Mississippi, like elsewhere in the South, “maintained a savage system of oppression, repression, retaliation and legal restrictions to keep Blacks politically disenfranchised.... Brutal violence, often deadly, and swift economic reprisal were used to deter Black men or women who dared attempt to gain the political franchise.” 

Brenda Travis, a 15-year-old high school student in McComb, canvassed the streets with the SNCC voter-registration workers. She also led a sit-in at a local diner that didn’t serve Black people—she soon was sentenced to a year in the state juvenile prison and expelled from high school. The Klan, the Citizens’ Council, and racist whites in general reacted violently to the Black people trying to register, and “night riders” armed with rifles and shotguns prowled through the Black communities. As tension and violence increased throughout the summer, two SNCC workers were assaulted by a mob in downtown McComb and thrown in jail. In an outlying area, Herbert Lee, a local man working with SNCC, was murdered by a state representative in broad daylight. An all-white jury ruled that his murderer acted in “self-defense.”13, 14

Canton, Mississippi, 1964

Canton’s Freedom House, in northern Mississippi, became a center for students and others organizing to overcome deeply institutionalized Jim Crow. In 1963 and 1964, a group called the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) led a voter registration drive as part of Mississippi Freedom Summer. They faced constant threats, harassment, and dismissal. Over an eight-month period in 1963, when COFO prepared more than 1,000 people to register to vote at the Canton courthouse, only 30 were accepted. The youth were repeatedly assaulted by both Klan and the police, sometimes acting together. Many were arrested and sent to the county jail and to Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm prison. In May 1964, the Klan bombed the Freedom House. In her memoir, Coming of Age in Mississippi, author Ann Moody described how she and others had taken to sleeping in the cornfields behind the house because of constant threats and attacks—fortunately, no one was in the house the night it was bombed.

In 1964, people involved in Freedom Summer and others came together to form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. In the face of opposition from the official, segregationist Democrats, and the murderous violence that reached a terrifying pitch in Mississippi that summer, they selected a group of 68 delegates, 64 of them Black, to represent Mississippi at the National Democratic Convention in Atlantic City. When they got there, the Freedom Party delegates rejected a “compromise” proposed by President Lyndon Johnson that would have allowed two to serve as “at-large delegates.” The openly white supremacist, segregationist delegation represented Mississippi at the convention.15, 16

Neshoba County, Mississippi, 1964

James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were also part of the Freedom Summer voter registration campaign. On June 21, the three traveled from Meridien, Mississippi to the town of Longdale, where the Mt. Zion church had been burned down—by the Klan, as it turned out. The three men had recently spoken at the church and urged parishioners to form a Freedom School at it. They knew they were heading into a perilous situation. Schwerner told people in Meridien, “If we’re not back by 4 p.m., then start trying to locate us.”

They were arrested for an alleged traffic violation in Philadelphia, Mississippi, after they left Mt. Zion. The police held them in jail for several hours, then, at night, followed the three out of town and alerted a lynch mob to join them. The car with Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman was forced to stop just before leaving Neshoba County. The three men were seized by the mob, then shot, beaten, and buried under an earthen dam. That night a Philadelphia cop who organized the lynch mob told them, “Well, boys, you’ve done a good job. You’ve struck a blow for the white man. Mississippi can be proud of you.” 

The murders of the three civil rights workers became news across the country. A massive search was launched, and during it, the bodies of eight other dead Black men, including two students who “disappeared” in May 1964, were found in the swamps and woods of Neshoba County—their deaths, likely by lynching, had never attracted national attention. A search went on for almost two months before their bodies were found.

The state of Mississippi refused to try the lynchers—who included Klansmen, Philadelphia police, and Neshoba County sheriffs—for murder. In an October 1967 federal trial, seven were convicted of violating the civil rights of the three murdered men. None served more than six years in prison.17, 18

Selma, Alabama, 1965

In February, 27-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson participated in a demonstration for voting rights of 500 people in Marion, a town near Selma. Police viciously attacked the march, and when Jackson tried to protect his mother, he was shot in the abdomen. Jimmie Lee Jackson died eight days later in a Selma hospital. The first of the famous Selma-to-Montgomery marches was organized in the wake of Jimmie Jackson’s murder. Hundreds of people marched in protest of his murder, and as part of the Selma voting project. The second march—“Bloody Sunday”—was memorialized in the movie Selma. It was viciously attacked by police and Alabama state troopers as they crossed a bridge over the Alabama River. The cop who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson was not indicted by a local grand jury until 42 years after Jackson’s death.

The Alabama Klan also sent a murderous message to the growing number of white people who had come to Selma to participate in the marches. Viola Liuzzo, 37 years old, traveled from Detroit before the first march, and helped coordinate logistics for people coming into Alabama. She was shot and murdered as she returned to Selma after driving some people to an airport in Montgomery. An FBI agent was in the carload of Klansmen who murdered Viola Liuzzo. 

James Reeb was a 38-year-old Unitarian minister who traveled from Boston. He and two other ministers were savagely beaten by a pack of racists as they left an integrated restaurant in Selma. Reeb suffered severe head injuries. He had to be driven two hours to Birmingham—the hospital in Selma that treated Black people did not have the capacity to treat his level of injury; the white hospital refused him. James Reeb died shortly after arriving at the Birmingham hospital—no one was ever found guilty in his murder.19, 20

The Criminals

The murderous, hate-filled mobs.

The local cops and officials who led these mobs, looked the other way while they lynched, and never charged anyone for killing Black people.

The state officials who devised and enforced bizarre regulations and laws to prevent Black people from voting, and punished and humiliated them if they tried.

The many congressmen and senators who encouraged and egged on the racist violence, and the others who looked away and never lifted a finger to stop it.

The political leadership of both the Democratic and (since the betrayal of Reconstruction in 1876) Republican parties, including each and every president, who never denounced, much less acted to stop, lynching and routine violations of supposedly basic rights.

The courts and judges, up to the U.S. Supreme Court, who upheld the lynch mobs by ruling, essentially, that it wasn’t their problem, and who refused to enforce the plain language of their own Constitution as Black people were systematically, massively, and violently prevented from voting.

An entire system responsible for the oppression, repression, and denial of fundamental rights of Black people.

The Motives: In Their Own Words

The incidents described above—only a small portion of the attacks to suppress voting rights of Black people over the past 150 years—illustrate the relentless, violent white supremacy that is deeply embedded in every dimension of U.S. society. The packs of hooded racists, the local police and political officials, the senators and Supreme Court officials—all serve a system that thrives on and perpetuates white supremacy.

Ben Tillman, founder of Clemson University, governor of South Carolina, and U.S. senator, in a speech to the U.S. Senate in 1900: “We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will. We have never believed him to be the equal of the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him.”21

Theodore Bilbo, in his successful run for senator from Mississippi in 1946: “I call on every red-blooded white man to use any means to keep the niggers away from the polls. If you don’t understand what that means you are just plain dumb.”22

Since the 1960s, it has been Republicans working to suppress the votes of Black people—the language they use has been coded (see the words from Republican strategist Lee Atwater at the beginning of this article), but is every bit as vicious and threatening as that of the arch segregationists from America’s earlier times.

Justin Clark, a top official in Trump’s re-election campaign, talking earlier this year about suppressing votes of Black people: “Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are.... Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.23 (Emphasis added)

Donald Trump in late March 2020, referring to efforts aimed at removing barriers to voting that disproportionately impact Black and Latino people: “The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”24

Repeat Offenders

As protest and upheaval raged across the U.S. in the mid-1960s, and the gross injustices of the brutal oppression of Black people in “the land of the free” were broadcast around the globe, Congress passed and President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was meant to remove the “Black code” barriers to Black people’s right to vote. Many more Black people did begin to vote, and the number of Black elected officials grew significantly.

See Part 2 of American Crime #11 for assaults on Black people's right to vote since then.

 


1. Lee Atwater’s Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy, Rick Perlstein, The Nation, 11/13/12.  [back]

2. New Orleans Massacre (1866), https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/new-orleans-massacre-1866/  [back]

3. An Absolute Massacre: The New Orleans Race Riot of July 30, 1866, LSU Press, 2001, by James G. Hollandsworth, Jr.  [back]

4. The Eutaw Riot of 1870, Black Then https://blackthen.com/the-eutaw-riot-of-1870/.  [back]

5. The 1873 Colfax Massacre Crippled the Reconstruction Era, Danny Lewis, Smithsonian Magazine, 4/13/16.  [back]

6. Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, Harper Collins, 2011.  [back]

7. The Colfax Massacre of 1873, revcom.us.  [back]

8. The Zinn Education Project, https://www.zinnedproject.org/news/tdih/hamburg-massacre/.  [back]

9. NCpedia, The Wilmington Race Riot.  [back]

10. The Ghosts of 1898: Wilmington's Race Riot and the Rise of White Supremacy, Observer Company, 2005, Timothy Tyson.  [back]

11. Ocoee on Fire, Florida History.  [back]

12. The Ocoee Massacre, The Zinn History Project.  [back]

13. Civil Rights Movement History, 1961.  [back]

14. Mississippi Encyclopedia, McComb.  [back]

15. Canton Civil Rights Movement, Mississippi Encyclopedia.  [back]

16. Coming of Age in Mississippi, Doubleday, 1968; Ann Moody.  [back]

17. We are Not Afraid, Macmillan, 1988; Seth Cagin, Phil Dray.  [back]

18. Lynching of Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman, Mississippi Freedom Summer Notes.  [back]

19. At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-69, Simon & Schuster, 2006, Taylor Branch.  [back]

20. SNCC in Alabama, Encyclopedia of Alabama.  [back]

21. American Passages, A History of the U.S., Volume 2: Since 1865, Wadsworth, 2004, by Edward L. Ayers, Lewis L. Gould, David M. Oshinsky, Jean R. Soderlund.  [back]

22. One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy, Bloomsbury, 2018, by Carol Anderson.  [back]

23. Trump Advisor Caught Discussing Aggressive Voter SuppressionRolling Stone.  [back]

24. Trump Says Republican Could Never Be Elected Again if Voting Was EasierThe Guardian.  [back]

The Oppression of Black People and Other People of Color

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

Watch the complete speech here.


New Orleans, July, 1866: A mostly unarmed group of Black and white delegates to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention who were protesting the passing by the state legislature of white supremacist laws, including denial of the Black vote, were attacked by white racists. The mob not only attacked delegates but others who had nothing to do with the convention, killing 150 to 238 people. Sketch by Theodore R. Davis, Courtesy NY Public Library


Colfax Massacre: 1873: A drawing from Harper's Weekly depicting Black people collecting the bodies of the murdered after the massacre.

 

American Crime

Case #71: The Colfax Massacre of 1873... and the Supreme Court Stamp of Approval for Racist Terror

Read more


Hamburg and Ellenton, South Carolina, 1876: Klan murder and violence spread across central South Carolina, terrorizing Black people at political gatherings and church meetings. (Drawing from Harper's Weekly)


Wilmington, North Carolina, 1898: A white mob led by a former Confederate officer burned down Black-owned businesses and killed at least 14 people.


Voter intimidation, 1876. (Drawing from Harper's Weekly, October 21, 1876)


Miami, Florida, 1940: Effigy of a black man hanged with a sign reminiscent of the lynching of July Perry in Ocoee, Florida, 1920.


Neshoba County, Mississippi, 1964: FBI poster of three missing civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Henry Schwerner.


Selma, Alabama, March, 7, 1965: A demonstration for voter rights was viciously attacked by cops on what is known as "Bloody Sunday." (Photo: AP)

 

 

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