Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
Revolution newspaper is proud to present:
On the Nature, Purpose and Role of This Constitution
From the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
This Constitution (Draft Proposal) is written with the future in mind. It is intended to set forth a basic model, and fundamental principles and guidelines, for the nature and functioning of a vastly different society and government than now exists: the New Socialist Republic in North America, a socialist state which would embody, institutionalize and promote radically different relations and values among people; a socialist state whose final and fundamental aim would be to achieve, together with the revolutionary struggle throughout the world, the emancipation of humanity as a whole and the opening of a whole new epoch in human history–communism–with the final abolition of all exploitative and oppressive relations among human beings and the destructive antagonistic conflicts to which these relations give rise.
In order to bring this new socialist state into being, it would be necessary to thoroughly defeat, dismantle and abolish the capitalist-imperialist state of the USA; and this in turn would only become possible with the development of a profound and acute crisis in society and the emergence of a revolutionary people, in the millions and millions, who have the leadership of a revolutionary communist vanguard and are conscious of the need for revolutionary change and determined to fight for it. To work for this objective–to hasten while awaiting the emergence of these necessary conditions, with the goal of revolution and ultimately communism clearly in mind–is the strategic orientation of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. And, as one important part of giving life to and carrying out this strategic orientation, we are publishing this "Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)": as a contribution to a process in which growing numbers of people are seriously considering and grappling with whether, how, and in what form there could be a real alternative to the present capitalist-imperialist system and the unspeakable suffering and depredations it imposes on the great majority of people in the world, on humanity as a whole, as well as on the environment and the webs of interconnected species which inhabit this earth; to provide a more concrete sense of the basic nature, structure and functioning of the socialist society, and its government, envisioned here, and the principles and objectives underlying and guiding this; and to enable people to see, sharply outlined, what is in reality the radical difference between the society and government envisioned here and the capitalist-imperialist system which currently rules in this country and exercises domination over the world as a whole, with such terrible consequences.
The term "New Socialist Republic in North America" has been chosen not because that would necessarily be the name of such a socialist society, brought into being through revolution in this part of the world (the formal name would of course be decided at the time of the actual establishment of such a socialist state); rather, this term is utilized in order to emphasize that this is intended as a proposal for the Constitution of a socialist state as it would have been newly brought into being, in the first stages of its existence, with the victory of the revolution that would have put an end to the imperialist USA and replaced it with a new, revolutionary society on the road of socialism. And, while we have sought to indicate here, as much as possible, the basic principles, institutions, structures, and processes which would characterize this new socialist society, and particularly the functioning of its government, much of the specific features of this would naturally be influenced by the situation that existed at the time of the establishment of this new socialist state–including factors such as the size of the territory that had been liberated from the imperialists (and other reactionaries) and consolidated as the territory of the new socialist state, and what overall situation prevailed, particularly in terms of the struggle between revolutionary and reactionary forces, in this part of the world, and in the world overall, at the time of the founding of this new socialist state. Some of this is spoken to in the Constitution (Draft Proposal) that follows, but there are clearly aspects of such a future situation which can be anticipated only in broad terms, and others which may arise which cannot at all be anticipated now. Nevertheless, it has been our purpose, and we have striven to the best of our ability, to put forward as clearly as possible the basic principles that would be embodied in a Constitution for a new socialist state in North America, and much of the specific ways in which these principles would be applied, in order to enable and encourage people to engage, in a serious and substantive way, with the vision that is put forth here of this new socialist state and the potential for a radically different society and world that it represents. For, again, that is our purpose in publishing this Draft Proposal: to stimulate, as broadly as possible, such serious and substantive engagement with this Draft Proposal, and vigorous discussion and debate about what it puts forward as the kind of society and world to be not only imagined but actively struggled for.
A final point. As a Draft Proposal for a Constitution for a new socialist state, this document focuses on and is primarily concerned with addressing the purposes, nature, objectives, and functioning of the government in this new society and does not attempt to discuss to any great depth the philosophical-ideological and political-strategic thinking regarding the necessity and basis for, and the means for bringing into being, such a state. For more background in relation to this, we strongly recommend the talks and writings of the Chair of our Party, Bob Avakian, as well as other Party publications, including: Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon; Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation; Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA; and Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage: A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, October 2010
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
The article in this week's issue of Revolution (#215) provides important and basic guidance for taking the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) way out into the world.
1. Find lots of ways of involving and relying on people in all the plans to get the Constitution out to many different people and raise funds for printing and promotion. The November 10 release parties should be a certain leap in bringing together those we have reached with the Constitution and a platform from which to go out more broadly. We need to come out of the release parties with many people enlisted in taking out, reading and making plans to discuss the Constitution. Make allowances for the fact that more than a few people will want to read and discuss the Constitution first, before taking it out; provide the ways for them to do this.
2. Combine very broad work to distribute and popularize the Constitution with going deeply with people, encouraging people to read and dig into the content of the Constitution and where possible getting together with them to get into it.
3. Systematic plans should be conceived of and implemented with the object of maximizing the impact of this Constitution. For instance, at key campuses, we should not only have available and be distributing the Constitution (and promotional materials) among students and organizing discussions of the Constitution, we should also be concentrating on key departments...getting the promotional materials out to all the profs in that department as well as in specific classes. Posters and palmcards announcing this historic publication should appear everywhere!
4. Think about and proceed in all you do from the potential this Constitution has to contribute to repolarization for revolution and to changing the whole way people think about the possibility of a real alternative to the present system—and the necessity to work to bring that alternative into being.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
November 10, 2010: A Radical Step Into the Future
Official Release for the
from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
On November 10, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) will be officially released. Beginning on that day, everything that people think is possible, and impossible, will come under radical challenge.
Right in the middle of a cruel, rotting empire, a vision of something entirely new—something very radical and far better than the present way that people are forced to live—will be set forth from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
There is great potential in this Constitution to impact and inspire a very wide range of people, including those who burn with the desire for a better world, but who will have differences or questions about aspects of this Constitution, or even the basic thrust of it. This should, and will, spark all-round debate and ferment over how we live today, and how we could live tomorrow.
This Constitution will present a very real alternative to the present system, a response to the argument—heard even from those with deep upset about the status quo—that there is nothing that can be done to really change things. And this can contribute in significant ways to the necessary repolarization for revolution in society overall by breaking people's inability to see beyond the way things are today... to a better world, an alternative that is not just desirable, but viable.
In the world today, the importance of this mustn't be underestimated.
On November 10, join in release parties and celebrations at Revolution Books across the country. Celebrate the release of this historic document out into the world, pick up your copy, contribute to big promotional plans, and feed in your ideas and questions. Start inviting people now to be part of this.
In the week before this, pre-release copies will be available for sale. Starting on the weekend of October 30, we will be spreading out onto campuses and in neighborhoods, creating a big visual presence and selling lots of copies. The centerfold in this issue should go up in store windows and on bulletin boards. Book tables should sell lots of copies. There should be a presence on the campus quads. Palm cards* with the cover should be put on every seat in important lectures or classes, in mailboxes of professors at key campuses and in key departments, and under every door in the housing projects where the revolutionaries are known. Get it to all the students who have been in touch with the movement for revolution in some way—including those who, for whatever reason, may not be interested in doing a lot right now, but think communism needs to be in the mix. A wave of visits to professors, lawyers, artists and other professionals with this—selling the Constitution, raising funds, and beginning what needs to be a widespread discussion about this Constitution and what it embodies.
We will be focusing on both getting this Constitution out very broadly as well as to key, influential people. We should begin now thinking about who needs to get this—visiting, calling or writing to them about pre-ordering, getting them this copy of Revolution newspaper and getting them the Constitution itself as soon as it's available.
In terms of broad impact, along with efforts at breaking this into the national and local press and on the net in different ways, creating a visual presence will be important and should involve a lot of creativity... light projections of the cover, self-made rolling billboards on the sides of trucks, bicycle displays... this could be an opportunity to involve artists and designers in coming up with simple but powerful displays. People need to see and hear about this Constitution from different angles, including in surprising ways.
In this whole mix, it'll be important to continue to let people know we are building a movement for revolution, and introduce them to the leadership for this, Bob Avakian. Backpack copies of the Message and Call from the RCP, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" and continue to spread the Revolution talk from Bob Avakian—in particular, it would be good to encourage people to watch the clip "Imagine... A New Society."
Big funds are needed for major promotion of this Constitution upon release—for promotional materials, advertising, big mailings, many, many copies into the hands of prisoners. Putting this need to people should be a part of everything we're doing around this Constitution among all sections of people.
Later this month, we'll be having fundraising dinners nationally. Making these happen is a way for all kinds of people, including very new people, to be involved—selling tickets, making food, reaching out to others to contribute food, bringing their friends, helping to set up, etc.
And all this will lay the basis for more major efforts beginning in the new year. Get ready to be part of bringing something really precedent-shattering onto the scene. Join in getting deeply into this Constitution... and join in getting word of this way out into the world.
Send us your comments.
Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
from Chapter Seven: "...Are Beyond Your Command"
Eldridge Cleaver was much more radical than people that I'd known before. When I first met him, he was talking about how, when Malcolm X had been assassinated, Malcolm had been trying to get together this organization that he called the "Organization of Afro-American Unity," inspired by the Organization of African Unity,1 and Eldridge was talking about trying to revive that organization. Then he ran into Huey and Bobby and decided that the Black Panther Party was really much more the way to go. But generally he was very radical, and through him I met people who were associated with SNCC2 and things like that. All this obviously had a big effect on me.
One time through Eldridge I got this issue of the SNCC newspaper and they had this cartoon portraying Nasser, who was the head of the government of Egypt at that time, going up against Israel, and the cartoon drew a parallel with how Black people had to deal with Jews who were exploiting them in the ghetto in America.3 This really bothered me. I was already learning about imperialism, partly from Eldridge, so I said to him: "Look, this is not right. The common enemy here is imperialism. What's wrong with Israel is not the Jewish character of it; it's the fact that it's an instrument of imperialism. And the common cause of Black people in the U.S. and people in Egypt is that they're going up against imperialism." Eldridge said, "Well, why don't you write them a letter?" So I did. I made these arguments and I made the point in writing the letter that I was a strong supporter of SNCC and of Black liberation, but this bothered me because it wasn't the right way to look at the problem and to analyze friends and enemies, and so on. So they wrote back and said, "We take you at your word that you're a supporter of Black liberation and let us make clear that we are not anti-Semitic and we don't see Jews as the enemy."
I had already met Bobby Seale and Huey Newton separately from Eldridge, and then after I had known Eldridge for a while and he started becoming part of the early beginnings of the Black Panther Party, I got to know Huey and Bobby more deeply and in a more directly political way in that context. Before that I had met them through some old high school friends of mine. One night at a rec center in Berkeley, my friend Billy introduced me to this guy who was nicknamed Weasel, who was going to the community college in Oakland — he had formerly gone to McClymonds and played on the team that beat Berkeley High in overtime in the 1963 TOC — and he told me about this African-American cultural program that was being held by a group on the community college campus called the Soul Students Advisory Council. And that's where I met Huey for the first time.4 I had actually seen Bobby Seale before that on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley reading this poem called "Uncle Sammy Call Me Full of Lucifer" — which, as I recall, may have had some macho bullshit in it but was mainly a stinging political indictment of the U.S. and what it was doing in Africa and around the world as well as to Black people in the U.S.
So I'd seen Bobby before, but then I met Huey at that cultural program and we actually got into a conversation when he came up to me and said, "Who are you, Socrates?" There weren't very many white people at this program, and I guess he thought I looked sort of philosophical! I laughed and said no, and then we got into a philosophical and political discussion. He asked me, "Are you in the CP?" I said I wasn't. And then he said, "Well, that's good 'cuz they're not radical at all. They're just counter-revolutionary. Are you in PL (Progressive Labor Party)?" "No," I said. He went on: "They're not radical at all. They pretend to be radical, but they're not radical either. They're not really for overthrowing the government or anything like that." So we had this whole discussion.
Bobby Seale was actually the emcee of this Soul Students cultural program, and there were a lot of different performances that night. But what I remember most was Bobby Seale — both because he was very effective at this and also he was hilarious. I found out from him later that he'd actually been a comedian for a while after he got out of the Air Force. He would do really great impressions of everybody from Kennedy to Bill Cosby and was just really hilarious as well as being very penetrating with some of his satire and the ways he was going after the government.
Huey, Bobby and Eldridge saw themselves as the heirs to Malcolm X, taking up what Malcolm X was doing when he was assassinated and carrying it forward. In my eyes, they were taking it and becoming even more radical with it. They had this revolutionary stance, they were indicting the whole system — that's what they got from Malcolm X — but they were calling for revolution, too. At the same time, they were open to talking and debating and struggling over things. That struck me as well.
I remember one time I was down at the same community college and there was this other Black nationalist group meeting in a classroom and the door was open, and this guy was giving an agitational speech about the blue-eyed devils, and so on. I couldn't help it, I was interested and I was drawn to listening. He was denouncing the honkies and the blue-eyed devils, and he looked up at one point and he saw me and he said, "And that goes for you, too, honky!" So, I just said, "Okay," and walked off. But what struck me about Bobby Seale and Huey Newton and Eldridge was that their indictment of the system was more powerful and more profound than this, but along with that they were open to anybody else who was opposed to the system and they would try to push you to become more radical. That was a lot of the influence that Eldridge and Bobby and Huey had on me, pushing me to become more radical, to move more toward a revolutionary position, because they were taking up things that I felt very passionately about and they were doing it in a way that I saw as being very uncompromising — and at the same time they were willing to argue and debate and struggle with you. So all this had a tremendous impact on me in the context of everything that was happening in the U.S. and in the world at that time, and everything I'd learned up to that point.
To be continued
1. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was formed in 1963 by newly independent governments of Africa. [back]
2. SNCC, or the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee, grew out of the civil rights sit-ins and voter registration drives in the South during the early 1960s. SNCC became increasingly radicalized and nationalist as the decade developed: in 1966 Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) assumed leadership and declared its goal to be "Black Power," rather than integration; in 1967, Rap Brown (Jamillah Al-Amin) became leader and the whole organization assumed a more revolutionary and anti-imperialist stance. [back]
3. In 1967, Israel launched a surprise attack on Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and seized the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, further dispossessing the Palestinian people, who had already been turned into refugees by the 1948 war which created the Israeli settler state. This was the so-called "six-day war." The U.S. left as a whole not only did not take a clear stand against this, but many actually supported the Israeli attack. SNCC stood out at the time for taking a stand against the Israeli aggression, and lost quite a bit of financial and political support as a result. [back]
4. Bob Avakian has written a number of pamphlets and articles on the Black Panther Party, including "Huey Newton and the Panthers...The Early Years...and What's Up Today" — a four-part interview conducted in May 1989 immediately after Newton's death, which touched on his relationship with Newton and Newton's strengths and weaknesses as a revolutionary leader and the tragedy of his life. Excerpts from the interview are available at revcom.us. See also the book by Bob Avakian A Horrible End – or An End to the Horror? [back]
Insight Press • Paperback $18.95
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
Revolution is running a series of excerpts from Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. Previous excerpts appeared in issues #208 to #212 and #214, and we continue the series here.
From the description of the book: "Bob Avakian has written a memoir containing three unique but interwoven stories. The first tells of a white middle-class kid growing up in '50s America who goes to an integrated high school and has his world turned around; the second of a young man who overcomes a near-fatal disease and jumps with both feet into the heady swirl of Berkeley in the '60s; and the third of a radical activist who matures into a tempered revolutionary communist leader. If you think about the past or if you urgently care about the future ... if you want to hear a unique voice of utter realism and deep humanity ... and if you dare to have your assumptions challenged and your stereotypes overturned ... then you won't want to miss this book."
We're running these excerpts to encourage everybody to take the memoir out broadly, as part of what they do all the time, and to introduce many more people to Bob Avakian. The memoir gives a real sense of why the Message and Call of the campaign "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" says of Avakian: "He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world."
Some ways to get the memoir out:
Hear Bob Avakian read sections from his memoir.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
IN THE AGE OF OBAMA, CRIMINALIZING POLITICAL OPPOSITION TO U.S. AGGRESSION
In late September, FBI agents carried out coordinated early morning raids on the office of the Anti-War Committee in Minneapolis and on seven homes in Minneapolis and Chicago. At some homes, the FBI had guns drawn. The raids were aimed at people active in the antiwar movement; the Colombian and Palestinian solidarity movements; and Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO). The home of the executive director of a Chicago social service agency, Arab American Action Network, was raided. The warrants authorizing the raid claimed that the Joint Terrorism Task Force (which includes the FBI) was seeking evidence in an ongoing investigation into "material support of terrorism."
As part of this investigation, 14 activists were subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago. Each signed a letter from their lawyers stating they would NOT testify. The Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge then told the lawyers for the activists that he would withdraw the subpoenas, but he would say nothing more. The government has not backed off. There are a number of options for what the authorities could do next: more raids; indictments and arrests; issue a new round of subpoenas to testify before the grand jury, but this time offer limited immunity to some which comes coupled with the threat of imprisonment if they still refuse to testify. (See "The Grand Jury—The Grand Inquisition.")
Meantime, even more antiwar activists continue to report being harassed by the FBI at their homes and workplaces.
Not a single person was arrested, yet people's homes were ransacked for hours. Their computers, cell phones, passports, address books, email accounts, personal correspondence and papers, photographs, financial records and even some of their children's belongings were seized by the FBI. And now anyone dragged before the grand jury faces the real possibility of being jailed without being convicted of specific criminal charges for the duration of the grand jury (potentially months and even years), simply for exercising their right to not participate in the fishing expedition.
Across the country, people immediately rallied to defend those under attack.
In the decade since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the government has dramatically expanded its repressive apparatus. Surveillance reaches stealthily into every aspect of people's lives. Over the past decade, the FBI has questioned thousands of men of Arab descent, surveilled mosques and shut down charities. Protests against the war in Iraq and other U.S. policies have been vamped on by armored robocops who arrest hundreds of peaceable demonstrators at a time, including outside of the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Eight organizers of the 2008 protests at the Republican convention were at one point charged with multiple felonies for organizing protests "in furtherance of terrorism." At an anti-globalization demonstration during a September 2009 summit of world leaders in Pittsburgh, a well-known activist was charged with terrorism-related charges for "tweeting" about police activities. Meanwhile authorities cultivate a snitch mentality through ad campaigns like, "if you see something, say something"—while arresting, imprisoning and hounding those who report or even just videotape crimes carried out by the police or other arms of the government.
But this latest round of raids and grand jury subpoenas represents a major new leap in repression. The attacks on activists in Minneapolis and Chicago (if allowed to stand) mean that people who dissent from the government can be raided, searched and threatened with imprisonment without any due process, for no other reason than having associated with someone that the U.S. government has put on an "international blacklist"—and even in cases where that association is purely political or educational.
Civil rights lawyers have been warning since the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001 that those who criticize the government or maintain ties with international political movements could find themselves under investigation for domestic terrorism because the definition of terrorism is so vague and broad that it stretches from traditional non-violent civil disobedience at home to humanitarian projects abroad. (See "A Supremely Bad Supreme Court Decision.")
Bruce Nestor of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in Minneapolis, one of the lawyers for the subpoenaed activists, said "This is the first time that the authorities have aimed broadly at what might be called 'the mainstream antiwar activists' ... I don't mean to minimize the repression against Arab-American and Muslim groups within the U.S., but this is a direct strike against the antiwar movement." Margaret Ratner Kunstler, on the radio show Law and Disorder, drew out the sweeping implications: "[I]t really represents the tremendous sea change we have in this country in terms of the ability of people to actively oppose this government's policy."
This attack is an outrageous violation of fundamental rights supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Go down the list. Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure (i.e. without probable cause that a crime has been committed)? Out the window. There was no such probable cause shown before ransacking people's houses and carting out box after box of their property. One legal observer said that the warrant was such a blank check for the FBI that it might well have read, "take everything." Freedom to associate with others for political purposes? Out the window. The basic premise of the whole investigation is that there was some unspecified association with organizations that the government has put on a list. Activists' contacts and e-lists were seized to look for potential "co-conspirators." And strikingly, the warrants list as evidence to be seized any materials regarding "the recruitment, indoctrination, and facilitation of other individuals in the United States to join FRSO [Freedom Road Socialist Organization] ...." Freedom of speech? Out the window. The 14 activists have pointed out that the government is attacking them for articles and speeches exposing U.S. policies in different parts of the world. Freedom from being forced to give testimony against oneself? Out the window. The grand jury subpoena process can be used to jail people for long stretches for refusing to testify based on their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves after a judge has granted very limited immunity from prosecution in order to compel them to testify anyway. (See "The Grand Jury—The Grand Inquisition.")
And this is just the short version of what rights are being violated and what it means.
There is an irony that this is all being done by the administration of the "constitutional scholar" President, Barack Obama. But the irony is not that the President "forgot" what he once taught at the University of Chicago. It is that many allowed themselves to believe that the wrappings he came in made him fundamentally different than Bush. These raids show the reality of how this system works—no matter who runs it at any given time. When the political representatives of this imperialist system deem it necessary to use the tools of dictatorship—their political police, courts and prisons, in this case—they will not hesitate to violate the democratic precepts marked down in their Constitution.
Through this case, it is as if the U.S. government is sending a message to the people inside (and outside) the borders of this country: "Look, we are not only going to wage ongoing wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, imposing regimes in the region and backing Israel's massacres and occupations... we not only will carry out assassinations and torture against those who get in our way... we not only will spy on and harass and deport immigrants from these regions who oppose our policies... but we will also raise the stakes very high for anyone within the U.S. itself who dares to dissent and expose our crimes. We have an empire," this message is saying, "and we will be ruthless in our defense of it. And you better go along or you might be next to get a knock on your door!" (For more on how and why the so-called "Global War on Terror" is in actuality a war for empire, see "Bringing Forward Another Way—More on the 'Two Historically Outmodeds,'" by Bob Avakian, Revolution #213, October 10, 2010.)
This message must be rejected.
The cold truth is this: The ruling class, and Obama, do not let rights supposedly guaranteed by law get in the way of what they perceive to be the interests of imperialism. But this does NOT mean that people should not fight for those rights. Far from it. What it does show is that we must struggle all the harder and without illusions against this repression, exposing both the cruel nature of the policies these raids are enforcing (and the interests behind those policies), and the ways in which these raids are totally illegitimate—a violation not only of fundamental rights and of the fundamental beliefs of many, many people as to what is just, but of the actual laws as written.
In that light, there have been very positive beginning steps in response to these raids. The very day of the raids, and continuing for over a week, people across the country, in some 60 cities came together for emergency protest rallies at FBI offices and federal buildings. In Minneapolis 400-500 people rallied. In Chicago people took to the streets outside the FBI's offices. And there have been other forms of protest besides—ranging from statements circulating on the net to initiatives by clergy and religious people. The San Francisco Labor Council passed a resolution condemning the attack, and a bill has been introduced in the Minnesota state legislature by five lawmakers sounding an alarm about the FBI raids and grand jury investigation.
More is needed and possible. Everyone who has ever been opposed to U.S. policies in different parts of the world should be alarmed by these attacks on antiwar and international solidarity activists and should support people's right to politically organize and defend those people who come under attack for doing so. Anyone who supports U.S. groups and individuals who do humanitarian work abroad—relief projects, human rights workers, journalists, conflict resolution programs—needs to also take a stand against this repression, just as many did in the recent Supreme Court case. (See "A Supremely Bad Supreme Court Decision.")
And revolutionaries and radicals must not only sound the alarm and join in this, but increasingly show how the interests that drive such repression are imperialist interests, and how the state that must, and does, serve those interests is illegitimate. Only in this way is there a chance to not only defeat this attack, but to begin to build a movement that will stand against an atmosphere and legal system that grows more repressive by the day.
Those who challenge and speak out against what the U.S. does here and around the world should know their rights. This is another way the government's attack can boomerang—if many more people aren't bamboozled by the agents of repression and instead exercise their rights. (See "Don't be Bamboozled by Agents of Repression—'Don't Talk,'" Revolution #194, March 7, 2010.)
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project:
Attorneys and the activists who were subpoenaed by a federal grand jury after the FBI raids in late September have pointed out that they "fear that the government may be seeking to use the recent Supreme Court decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project to attack conduct that clearly falls under the realm of freedom of speech and that we never imagined could be construed as 'material support for terrorism.'" ("Grand Juries," by Committee to Stop FBI Repression.)
In order to understand this point, it is first necessary to understand that the U.S. Secretary of State has the authority to designate any group as a "foreign terrorist organization," or FTO. This authority has been used in a highly selective way. According to David Cole, a civil rights attorney who argued before the Supreme Court for the Humanitarian Law Project, groups and individuals can be blacklisted as a FTO if the Secretary of State "finds that the group's activities undermine our 'national defense, foreign relations, or economic interests.' There is essentially no viable process to challenge this designation." (Cole, Less Safe, Less Free, p. 55) The government can designate a group as "terrorist" based on its say-so, just like it did with the people it seized and held in Guantánamo.
Nancy Chang writes in her book Silencing Political Dissent that if the FTO statute had been on the books in the 1970s and '80s, then Mandela's African National Congress could have been put on the FTO list during the anti-apartheid struggle.
There are currently many Palestinian groups on the list and no Israeli groups.
Once the Secretary of State designates a group an FTO, it becomes a crime punishable by 15 years in prison to "knowingly provide material support or resources" to the group. Since the USA Patriot Act, the concept of "material support" has been expanded greatly. According to David Cole, "It is a crime to provide 'material support' to listed groups, not only in the form of money or weapons, but also in the form of speech; the law specifically prohibits anyone from providing them with 'expert advice,' 'training,' and 'services.' According to the Obama administration the law prohibits even speech that seeks to discourage violence by encouraging lawful alternatives." (Cole, "The Roberts Court vs. Free Speech," The New York Review of Books, August 19, 2010.)
The USA Patriot Act explicitly made it a crime to donate educational and humanitarian aid to FTO-designated organizations. Exceptions were supposedly made for medicines and, of course, for religious materials. Raising money for the lawful activities of any group on the FTO list—clinics, schools, orphanages, flood or tsunami relief—or even teaching about how to raise money for these purposes, which had always been legal, now became illegal.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court went even further when it decided Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. The case came about after a retired judge, a medical doctor, a human rights organization, and several non-profit groups wanted to teach and advocate the use of international law and other non-violent means to reduce conflict and advance human rights to certain FTOs. For example, Humanitarian Law Project wanted to provide this kind of assistance to an organization that the government had labeled terrorist—specifically, the Kurdistan Worker's Party. But if they did, they would risk prosecution under that statute due to this expanded definition of "material support." Multiple lower courts had previously issued injunctions declaring that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to the Humanitarian Law Project.
The Obama Justice Department appealed this case up to the Supreme Court, whose decision sided with the U.S. government and against the Humanitarian Law Project. The Supreme Court majority said that it didn't matter that the purpose of the Law Project was to promote non-violent resolution to the conflict and ruled the Law Project and the others' efforts would be illegal if undertaken, claiming that such efforts would be "coordinated" with the groups designated as FTOs.
As an indication of how much the government has stretched the definition of "material support" to terrorism, even former President Jimmy Carter criticized the Holder decision, arguing that "The 'material support law'—which is aimed at putting an end to terrorism—actually threatens our work and the work of many other peacemaking organizations that must interact directly with groups that have engaged in violence." The way the Supreme Court interpreted the law left Carter wondering if he could be prosecuted for his work monitoring elections in Lebanon, since one of the parties in the elections was a group designated as a FTO.
The ACLU filed a brief for the Carter Center, siding with the Humanitarian Law Project. Important institutions joined this brief: Christian Peacemaker Teams, Grassroots International, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University, Operation USA, and others.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
WHAT IS A GRAND JURY AND WHAT THREATS DOES IT POSE TO ACTIVISTS?
"A grand jury is a panel of citizens brought together to investigate crimes and issue indictments.... Today all cases are brought to a grand jury by a prosecutor. The prosecutor picks the witnesses and asks the questions. Witnesses are not allowed to have a lawyer present. There is no judge present. The prosecutor drafts the charges and reads them to the grand jury. There is no requirement that the grand jury members be instructed on the law at issue. And, unlike in other juries, grand jury members are not screened for bias."*
"Since the prosecutor solely orchestrates the proceedings, it is no surprise that grand juries almost always serve as a rubber stamp for the prosecution. A former chief judge of New York once famously noted that 'any prosecutor that wanted to could indict a ham sandwich.'"*
"In political cases, grand juries have been used to execute witch hunts against activists. Prosecutors will bring in activist witnesses and attempt to get them to snitch on other activists with threats of jail time if they refuse to cooperate with the grand jury...."*
"...Grand jury witnesses have no right to be represented by an attorney and no right to a jury trial if they are threatened with jail. Grand jury witnesses do retain the right against self-incrimination but can nonetheless be forced to snitch on themselves and others in exchange for limited immunity from prosecution and punishment."*
Currently, if a person brought before the grand jury is given limited immunity by a judge and that person refuses to testify, they can be jailed. Margaret Ratner Kunstler, on the radio show Law and Disorder, explained it this way: "The immunity was so tiny it only covered what you said—your very words could not be held against you or the fruits of those words. But it was so easy to get around that just by a prosecutor saying, 'well this didn't come from this, it came from something else.' If you then refuse to testify, once you were given this kind of minor immunity, you could be subject to imprisonment." (transcription by Revolution)
The person who has refused to testify can be brought back before the judge and held in what is known as "civil contempt" of the court. Without a trial, the judge can imprison the person for whatever is the length of the grand jury. Grand juries are normally 18 months, but there are special federal grand juries that are empanelled for 36 months, and this can be extended because it is "special."
Historically, the Justice Department and the FBI have used the subpoena power of the federal grand jury, coupled with compulsory immunity, to jail activists who refuse to cooperate with government investigations. In the 1960s and well into the '80s, there were many instances of courageous people who refused to testify before grand juries.
In recent times, Josh Wolf refused to turn over video footage to a San Francisco federal grand jury investigating a June 2005 anti-globalization demonstration. He was imprisoned for 7 1/2 months, longer than any other journalist accused of withholding information, for this refusal. Environmental rights and animal liberation activists have been subject to grand jury investigations in a number of states and jailed for non-cooperation. In 2005 five former Black Panther Party members were jailed for non-cooperation and later were arrested and charged based on evidence gained by police torture in 1973.
According to attorney Michael Deutsch in The Improper Use of the Federal Grand Jury: An Instrument for the Internment of Political Activists (1984), "...many subpoenaed witnesses agreed that the only way to respond to the grand jury was to refuse to answer its questions and to persist in such refusal in the face of immunity and contempt. Once a witness began to answer questions, the door was open, leaving no effective way to pick and choose which questions to answer."
Deutsch continues in discussing that history: "The position of 'non-collaboration' with the political grand jury was thereby established. The theory behind non-collaboration was that witnesses could deprive the grand jury witch hunts of the information they sought, thereby subverting their mission only by a unified position of refusal. Numerous witnesses followed the principle of non-collaboration. Some escaped civil contempt citations and jail, but many others spent months in jail without charge, until the life of the grand jury ended."
Deutsch goes on to point out, "A fair reading of the origins and purposes of the fifth amendment, coupled with the rights of political freedom contained in the first amendment, should create a right to 'political silence,' barring any compelled testimony before a grand jury touching a witness' political activity and associations. Political activists should not be forced to choose between providing the government with political intelligence about their movement or going to prison."
* quotes taken from Center for Constitutional Rights pamphlet If an Agent Knocks.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
The call came late on the afternoon of October 20: The Appellate Court of Illinois had accepted the motion for bond pending appeal of the outrageous conviction and sentence of Gregory, a videographer who was railroaded to jail for 300 days for "crimes" that never occurred. (See "Judge Slams Videographer With 300 Days in Jail: Free Gregory!") Gregory was released from Cook County jail late the next evening, after which he was welcomed at an impromptu dinner with friends and supporters.
In accepting the motion, the Court acknowledged the fact that Gregory is not a flight risk, that he is not a "danger to the community," and furthermore that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact "likely to result in reversal or a new trial." This stands in sharp contrast to the vindictive outbursts of the trial judge, who portrayed Gregory as someone who "chose the path of violence" at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) on November 1, 2009, when he simply tried to document a statement by Sunsara Taylor before the EHSC program was set to begin. There was no evidence presented at trial that could support the judge's malicious allegation, and Gregory was convicted of only the lowest form of battery: "physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature." In fact, Gregory himself was the victim of the only violence that day, the violence of police assault, beating and mace that required he seek emergency medical treatment.
Jed Stone, the attorney representing Gregory on his appeal, said, "I am encouraged by the court's decision to release Greg on bond. It is a clear indication that his appeal has merit. This appeal speaks to the importance of people to gather in protest. It is an appeal to protect our rights to videotape and speak out. And it is an appeal to protect us from police aggression and over reaching. I look forward to presenting these claims to the appellate court."
This is the first step in overturning this outrageous conviction, and the Ad Hoc Committee for Reason, which has built support for Gregory since shortly after his arrest, released a statement thanking all those whose support helped make it happen. They went on to say, "We have much more to do and we hope we can count on your support all the way to the day we can clear Gregory's name and score a victory for all of us!"
Gregory's pre-trial bond had been revoked on the day of his conviction, contrary to standard practice of allowing defendants to remain on bond until sentencing. That is a courtesy extended to Jon Burge, for instance, the notorious Chicago cop who led a ring of torturers at a South Side police station who was only recently convicted of lying to a federal agent. Burge is out on bond until his sentencing in November. Gregory, on the other hand, has already served almost two months of the vindictive sentence of 300 days that was handed down on September 8.
The Ad Hoc Committee circulated a statement by "Humanists for the Ethical Treatment of Gregory" that called on 100 truly ethical humanists who were appalled by the role of the EHSC in railroading an innocent man to contribute $50 each to his appeal fund. Dozens of people from around the country contributed amounts ranging from $5 to $100 and that, combined with substantial contributions from other supporters, was enough to fund the initial stages of the appeal.
The committee also announced an event on Friday, November 12, to celebrate this first step and raise much-needed funds to continue the effort. Jazz musicians Ted Sirota (tedsirota.com) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (lonberg-holm.info) will perform at what the committee has dubbed "Jazz for Justice, A Night of Great Music for a Great Cause." Details about this and future developments in this important struggle can be found at www.dropthecharges.net.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
In April of this year, the organization WikiLeaks released a video, leaked from within the U.S. military, showing an unprovoked Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 that killed 12 Iraqis. The civilian victims included a news photographer and a man who had driven onto the scene, with his two small children, to try to help the wounded. Ethan McCord was a specialist in the Army unit involved in this brutal massacre. Now an antiwar vet, McCord has been speaking out against the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Revolution interviewed Ethan before he spoke at a recent New York City showing and webcast of the WikiLeaks video, known as Collateral Murder. A few days after our interview, WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 U.S. military documents from the Iraq war, revealing massive cover-ups of torture, thousands of previously unreported civilian deaths, and more.
Revolution: In the attack shown in the WikiLeaks video, you were part of the unit that was at the scene, on the ground. Give us a picture of what happened that day.
Ethan McCord: Prior to the Apaches engaging the civilians on the ground. I was with my unit, my company, and I was about five blocks away. And we were engaged in our own skirmish, a firefight if you will, and that's when I heard the Apaches open fire. It's a very distinct sound—it almost cuts the sky open. And we were told we needed to move to that position immediately. So me being one of the only dismounts that day—soldiers on foot, the rest were in vehicles—there were about six more of us, we ran to that location. When I came up on the scene, the first thing I remember seeing is a group of three men on the corner who had been completely disemboweled. One of the guys, the top of his head was completely off. I remember looking at this and it not seeming real. Maybe it was my own way of shutting it out, but it didn't seem real, looking at the bodies, they didn't seem human.
I remember I heard a scream, like a child crying. It was a cry not of pain, but like my own child waking up from a horrible nightmare, of fear. I noticed that it was coming from the minivan, and I ran to the minivan. Another private was with me, and he looked inside the van and turned around and vomited and ran away. I looked in the van, and what I saw was a little girl about four years old, sitting in the passenger seat. She had a wound to her stomach and she had glass in her hair and eyes. Next to her was a boy, about seven or eight, he was laying half on the floorboard, with his head resting on the bench seat of the van. Next to him on the driver's seat was who I presumed to be the father. He was leaned over, kind of in a protective manner over the children. Immediately, I knew that he was dead. He had taken a couple of those rounds to the chest.
The little boy looked dead—he had a severe wound to the right side of his head and wasn't moving. So I grabbed the little girl and I ran to the house behind the van where it had crashed. I took the little girl in there. I yelled for a medic, and the medic came. I took off my gloves and was pulling glass out of her eyes till she could blink. I was dressing the wounds and cleaning her up so that she could be taken care of. That's when the medic ran the little girl to the Bradley [an infantry fighting vehicle].
Then I went back outside to the van, and the boy made like a labored breathing move. So I started screaming out, "The boy's alive, the boy's alive!" I reached him and grabbed him and cradled him in my arms, started running towards the Bradley. He looked up at me for maybe two seconds at the very most. I told him, "It's okay, I have you, I have you," and I squeezed him tighter. And his eyes rolled back into his head, and my heart sank. I remember feeling like this boy just died in my arms. I squeezed him and was like, "Don't die, don't die, don't die." And I put him in the Bradley.
When I placed him in the Bradley, my platoon leader was there, and he yelled at me, saying I needed to "quit worrying about these motherfucking kids and pull security." At the time, what I wanted to accomplish was done. I got the children into a vehicle that could take them to go receive help. So I went up to the rooftop and pulled security.
Revolution: In the transcript of the conversations of the troops in the Apache that carried out the attack, one of the soldiers is heard saying, after it became clear their fire had hit children, "It's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle."
Ethan McCord: You know with soldiers, we're trained to kind of self-justify our actions, and I think that was a self-justification, a way of making him feel better at the time. Because you'll notice in the video, when he finds out that there are children who are wounded, he goes, "Oh, damn." And immediately he flips on that and goes, well, shouldn't have brought children into the battlefield. And the guy next to him is like, that's right. And that's a way of making yourself feel better for what you just did. We've always been trained to self-justify what we're doing. It's a coping mechanism to say it's their fault, not mine. I'm only doing my job type of thing.
Revolution: There are those who say this was a bad thing that happened, but that it was a "tragic accident." What's your view on that kind of thinking?
Ethan McCord: Well, the only thing special about this WikiLeaks video is the fact that every day citizens get to see what happens in real war. Unfortunately, incidents like that happen more often than what you hope it would. I saw innocent women and children and even innocent men being slaughtered in Iraq, almost on a daily basis. I never one time when I was there saw a so-called "militia insurgent." I saw people protecting their homes. The thing I felt for them was that, if my land was attacked, and someone had just killed my son, you're damn right I'm gonna fight these people—because you don't just go into an occupied country and expect for people to just sit back and take the slaughter of their family. It is systematic, because we're trained to dehumanize the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. That training is what you get in the WikiLeaks video.
We were actually given orders by our battalion commander for 360-degree rotational fire any time we were hit by an IED. And we were told to kill every person on the street, which included women and children and men—they didn't have to have a weapon. I watched it carried out many times. Myself and a bunch of others made sure to fire our weapons into rooftops of buildings, not at people. Because there was no way I was going to fire my weapon at an innocent person. I would fire my weapon at someone who was trying to shoot me, but not at an innocent person.
Revolution: This was obviously a very traumatizing incident you were involved in that day in Baghdad. What happened in the days after that?
Ethan McCord: I was unable to self-justify what I was doing in Iraq. I knew then that I was totally against the war in Iraq. And I still had to stay in Iraq. I still had to "do my job." But my job turned into only making sure that my soldiers didn't follow the illegal orders, didn't do anything illegal, and trying to make sure they would get home safely as well as myself. I met many Iraqis and became friends with them. I enjoyed their company, and I realized when I was there that I had more in common with the everyday Iraqi than I did with the people who sent me to war. It was quite a wake-up call for me that, these people who you've been trained to hate and to think of them as less than animals, and you get there and you realize, wow, these people are just like me. These children are doing nothing different than my children do at home.
Revolution: What were the circumstances of you joining the military? How did you look at things at that time?
Ethan McCord: I was raised very conservative. So I always believe, you know, the government's right, wars are wars that are justified and we need them. Right after September 11 is the reason I joined the military. I was 25, so I was quite a bit older than everybody else. September 11 happened, and I realized I couldn't enjoy the freedoms I enjoyed here in America without sacrificing something. And I was angry, I was pissed off that we were attacked by these so-called "terrorists who hated our freedoms." I fell all into the fear thing that the media does, you know, that these people are somehow gonna magically kill your family and stuff. Honestly, I joined to fight Muslims. And I get over there, and I realized that my whole thinking process was wrong.
I got to Iraq in early 2007, that was my first deployment. I'd served in the Navy from early 2002 up until 2006, and didn't feel that I was doing my part by being in the Navy, so I did a lateral conversion to the Army and signed up for infantry, because I wanted to kick in the doors, wanted to do all that. I thought we would go into Iraq and I was going to be providing freedom and democracy for people who want it. And I get in there and realize that nobody wants us there. For the life of me I couldn't understand why in the very beginning. But then things like Collateral Murder started happening, and I began to realize, they don't hate us for our freedoms in America. They hate us because we're killing them. We're killing their families. We're callously murdering Muslims. That's why Muslims hate us.
Revolution: How did you get from the place where you were at, right after the Collateral Murder incident, to now, where you are taking a stand against the wars, speaking out, and calling on others to oppose what the government is doing?
Ethan McCord: In the military, speaking out is taboo, you can be charged with crimes for speaking out about stuff. I had tried to commit suicide. I was put into a mental hospital, and I was carrying around all this weight and all this guilt. And I didn't know what to do with it. It ruined my marriage, ruined my relationship with my children for a while, and it was ruining me as a person in general. I was becoming this angry, hateful person.
I started writing things down, and the writing seemed to help. Then I started speaking out. I tried speaking out even before the video came out, but nobody wanted to hear me. I was just another "crazy veteran" who was just telling these stories. I don't know if this makes sense, but I carry around a lot of weight. And every time I speak about it, it's kind of like taking some of that weight off and giving it to somebody else whom I'm speaking with and saying, okay, I don't care what you do with this information that I gave you and this weight, but I no longer carry it. So you can either carry it or give it to someone else, but it's taken off of me. So that's just my way of releasing a lot of the anger and guilt, is by speaking out.
Revolution: One of the things you've done is write an open letter, along with another vet who was in your unit, to the survivors of that attack captured in the WikiLeaks video.
Ethan McCord: Right, well, Josh Stieber and myself, we'd been talking, and we felt that a way for us to convey our sorrow for what happened, for the families, was to write a letter, a kind of a healing letter. It wasn't so much about us, but it was. It was kind of like a release for us as well to say, well, this is what we feel. We're deeply sorry for what happened to your family. Although we didn't pull the trigger, somehow we are responsible because we're part of the system. So we wrote up the letter.
Originally it was only for the family members of those involved in the WikiLeaks incident, but then we decided we were going to make it for everybody in Iraq. It's gotten a lot of good responses. That letter was actually taken to the widow of the husband and the mother of the children in Iraq. And the mother stated that she could forgive me. She gave me forgiveness because if it wasn't for me her children would be dead, nobody else would have pulled her children from the van. Which was a huge weight off my shoulders, so I was thankful for that. Forgiveness is a powerful thing.
And she also stated for me to continue speaking out. So it's not so much a quest for me, it's a quest for that family to speak out so that we can end these atrocities.
Revolution: You've also released your own videos of psychological abuse by U.S. troops against Iraqi detainees.
Ethan McCord: I did recently release three videos and also a picture of what I feel is humiliation and abuse of detainees. One of the videos shows a U.S. soldier telling a crying Iraqi detainee who's blindfolded that he's going to prison, kind of just making fun of him and mocking him. The other one has an Iraqi detainee sitting on a cot, and a U.S. soldier's telling him to put his hands up and down, over and over again, repeatedly for, it was told to me, 45 minutes. I wasn't actually there—I started collecting these videos from soldiers when I realized that the war was wrong and I wanted to gather evidence about it. The third video is of two soldiers singing a song to an Iraqi detainee, and one of the soldiers screaming in his ear.
You know, it's not the physical kind of abuse, but that emotional abuse, that mental abuse is what people live with. Scars, pain goes away after a certain amount of time. But emotional scars, they last forever. These detainees are going to see Americans as just these cold-hearted, callous people who were making fun of them. Islam is all about a religion of respect, and here we are, disrespectful, 19-year-old soldiers going over there and basically shitting on everything they're about. So it's gonna piss a lot of people off.
A lot of people who see the video are like, I don't see any abuse. Well, if you don't see abuse, then there's something wrong with you. Honestly, there's something wrong with you if you don't see the abuse there. Then you need to take a look in the mirror and say, am I doing this on a daily basis? Would you do this to your child? Would you do this to your mother? Would you want this done to your child? No, you wouldn't. That's abuse. Just like our letter says, we've done unto you what we wouldn't want done to us.
Revolution: Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence specialist, is being persecuted by the U.S. military for allegedly leaking the Collateral Murder video, and the U.S. government is trying to go after WikiLeaks. Has the government and military tried to silence your speaking out?
Ethan McCord: I haven't received any repercussions. Soldiers that I served with, I've received death threats from them. I've received threats against my children's lives as well. But I chalk that up as a lot of false bravado. They put a kind of thing out on Josh Stieber saying "we want to find Josh Stieber and hurt him" and stuff. You can say what you want to, but none of them can say we're a liar. We've spoken the truth. And everything I've put out and everything that I've said, I've given the evidence towards as well. You can't dispute what we're saying because we've shown the evidence of it.
Revolution: You've spoken out at a lot of different places, to a lot of different people. What is your basic message to people, and what kind of responses have you gotten?
Ethan McCord: I actually just got done speaking at a school here [in New York City]—we had about 50 students in there, 16-, 17-year-old kids. What I talked to them about was, you need to really examine if the military is right for you. I tell them, if you can live with things that are on this video, on a daily basis, for the rest of your life, then by all means join the military. You think you can live with it. But as soon as it really, truly happens to you, you're going to realize that you can't live with it. I tell them that there's so many different options of going to college versus joining the military. The military recruiters are going to lie to you, they're going to make it look glorified. And war is not glorified. It's dirty, it's ugly, and it's horrible. I try to explain to them, the best I can, from my point of view, as to how horrible it is.
This is actually the first time I've ever spoken with youth. They were very receptive. Some of them were in tears. Towards the end they were like, I would never join the military. For me, this is kind of like a counter-recruitment type of thing.
Revolution: Just a few weeks ago, Obama announced a supposed end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq. What's the real situation there?
Ethan McCord: They didn't stop the war, all they did was change the name. They changed it to Operation New Dawn, which sounds like a laundry detergent. You know, they're cleaning it up. Three thousand troops were just deployed from Fort Hood, Texas, and they were a combat brigade. They were deployed to Iraq. Soldiers are still being killed in Iraq, so combat operations are obviously not over. Sure, they're just trying to focus on what Obama would say is the "good war" in Afghanistan. To say the "war is over," you need to tell that to the 50,000 troops who are still in Iraq—there are still combat troops.
Revolution: One of the things you're focused on now is demanding that troops who are traumatized not be deployed.
Ethan McCord: I work with IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) on Operation Recovery. Operation Recovery is trying to get the government to stop the deployment of traumatized troops, whether it be MST (military sexual trauma), TBI (traumatic brain injury), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), these troops are still being deployed to combat zones. It's said that at minimum 20 percent of service members have some sort of trauma, and upwards of 50 percent are experiencing these traumas. And you're seeing these traumas come into play in certain situations, like in Afghanistan "kill teams." This isn't a new thing, this has been happening for a long time, it's just getting to the media. You're taking soldiers who are on psychotropic drugs for the PTSD or TBI and you're putting a weapon in their hand and you're sending them right back to the trauma they received and telling them to go kill Afghanis. What did you think was going to happen when you place these soldiers in that same situation? In order for us to stop the deployment of traumatized troops, we need as much support as possible. And we need everybody out there saying, hey, stop the deployment of traumatized troops. And this is kind of a back door to the government. Because we're saying, stop the deployment of traumatized troops. Well, upwards of 50 percent are traumatized. If we stop the deployment of traumatized troops, what is that gonna do? It's gonna force the government to fight a war without soldiers. And that can't happen.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
Revolution received the following letter from a reader:
I thought your special issue on Israel was very good. I got a lot out of how you situated the stages of the development of Zionism and Israel in relation to what was going on with the imperialist powers at any given time. But it strikes me that the Holocaust is a very complex phenomenon, demanding more explanation than you gave it in the article. Could you respond?
This is an important question that deserves and requires some additional exploration. The discussion of the causes of the Holocaust, and the relationship between that terrible crime and Zionism, was an important element of our special issue on Israel. As the reader points out, this was part of overall situating the factors that made Zionism a viable force in the world, within a whole complex set of developments in Europe, with the Holocaust being a very important part of that.
The special issue of Revolution, and in particular the article, "Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL," and the shorter article, "Question: Does the Holocaust Justify the Dispossession of the Palestinian People?" expose that the Holocaust was a crime of imperialism. The Holocaust was a terrible crime. And as the special issue on Israel pointed out, and we will expand on here, this was not some inexplicable crime that can only be "understood" as an expression of humanity's capacity to do evil, or some eternal and inherent anti-Semitism. Instead, the Holocaust was the product, in complex ways, of the workings of the system of capitalism-imperialism. And, the issue makes the case that it is utterly unjust, immoral, and without basis to defend the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and the establishment of the Zionist state of Israel, on the basis of the Holocaust.
As we wrote: "Let us state in no uncertain terms that the Holocaust was clearly one of the great crimes of modern history. But on a very basic moral level: how does a crime against one people (the Jews) committed by the government of another (the Germans)—no matter how horrific that crime—justify the dispossession, exile, constant humiliation and oppression, and denial of self-determination to a third (the Palestinians)? It does not and it cannot."
But all this does require examination in more detail, and in many dimensions.
In responding to this question from a reader, we will not attempt an overall analysis of all the causes of the Holocaust. But we will explore some key political, economic, social, and yes—religious—factors underlying this great crime. And in the process, further deconstruct and expose claims that Israel's existence is justified by the Holocaust.
In discussing the underlying causes of the Holocaust, the special issue of Revolution on Israel focused on the factor of the massive and bloody clash between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and the alignment of Jewish people in relation to that1. "The Nazi regime conflated Judaism and communism; that is, the Nazis rolled them into one big enemy, the so-called Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy. The Nazis regarded the communist project of emancipation—including the abolition of anti-Semitism—as utterly intolerable and evil; the participation of Jews in this project only added to their hatred. As the Nazi forces invaded the Soviet Union, the counter-revolutionary forces from among the Soviet citizenry which supported them were the same ones who eagerly assisted in the extermination of the Jews and the murder of communists."2
This was, indeed, one—and a very significant—factor behind the Nazis' "final solution," that is, their attempt to literally kill off nearly all the Jewish people in Europe, along with the Roma people (referred to as Gypsies), gays, and others. But there were other factors—both long-term and immediate—behind the Holocaust, particularly rooted in centuries of promotion of fear and hatred of Jews by the ruling establishment in Europe, and the powerful role of Christianity in the ruling order. And Hitler's fanatical nationalism that carried with it an absurd, yet foundational notion of "racial purity." Even the connections between Hitler's war on the Soviet Union and his anti-Semitism were multi-layered and complex.
The Nazi plan for the mass murder of the Jews of Europe was laid out and implementation orchestrated in gruesome detail at the Wannsee Conference, held in the Berlin suburb of the same name in January, 1942. The agenda of this conference was, explicitly, what the Nazis called the "Final solution to the Jewish question."
The Conference confronted, from the perspective of the Nazi leadership, how to carry out the "cleansing" of German-occupied territories of Jews. This ethnic cleansing of the Jews had been part of the Nazi program for some time, but a set of developments and circumstances—including setbacks Germany was encountering in World War 2, created a situation where, at Wannsee, even more extreme measures towards the Jews were adopted.
Leading into, and early in the war, the Nazis had explored possibilities for massive deportation of Jews from Europe—including forced emigration from Europe to African countries dominated by European imperialism, including Madagascar3.
But the Nazis were unable to implement mass deportation of Jews from Germany and German-occupied areas for a number of reasons. One was the refusal of the "Allies" to accept Jewish deportees4. Another was the continuing domination of naval passageways that the Germans had hoped to use to deport Jews from Europe by British naval power.
Further, the Nazis had hoped to send large numbers of able-bodied Jews to die in forced labor on their Eastern Front. But on the eve of the Wannsee Conference, the Germans began to suffer serious military setbacks in the war with the Soviet Union, and made an assessment that they did not have the resources or freedom to implement the scale of forced labor involved in that plan.
There were other immediate factors behind the adoption, at Wannsee, of the "final solution" in the form of death camps. Among them, serious food and housing shortages in German-occupied territories in Eastern Europe. Local Nazi officials, along with allied local fascists, demanded these shortages be mitigated by seizing the homes and property of Jews.
All of these factors combined to set the stage for the horrific crime of the killing of some six million Jews in Europe. The Nazis, led by Hitler, unleashed and carried out vicious attacks on the Jews as soon as they took power in 1933 (including building the Dachau concentration camp). Prior to 1942 many Jews were slaughtered, and Nazi officials made statements about the need to exterminate the Jews. Wannsee marked an extreme escalation of even this situation. The Nazis adopted and put into motion detailed, and definitive plans for the most thorough and efficient murder of all Jews in areas under their control—setting in motion the deportation of remaining Jews under Nazi control to death camps.5
Beyond, and underlying the immediate agenda that produced the "final solution," an interweaving set of political, economic, and ideological factors formed the historical backdrop for the Nazis' vicious anti-Semitism.
One profoundly influential factor was the generalized virulent, violent anti-Semitism that was pervasive in Europe for over a thousand years. From the time that the Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as state religion, Christianity was tightly integrated with the political, economic, and ideological domination of oppressing classes in Europe. The Catholic Church was an extremely powerful element of the ruling state structures in feudal Europe.
The Jews, as non-Christians, were outsiders—ostracized, and periodically persecuted. This was justified in part by the explosive claim that Jews had committed "deicide"—the killing of a god!—by refusing in great numbers to follow Jesus and, according to Christian myth, legend, and theology, agreeing to his crucifixion at the hands of the Roman authorities.
The Spanish Inquisition in the decades around 1500 saw the use of waterboarding torture, and the burning of Jews at the stake. Jews who refused to "convert" to Christianity were killed or driven from the country.
The rise of the bourgeoisie and capitalism in Europe was accompanied by the Enlightenment—an ideological and political trend. In the economic base of society, as well as in the superstructure (the laws, customs, and thinking of people) these developments gave rise to seismic changes. These changes had great, and contradictory, impact on the status of Jews.
Speaking of the ideologists of the French Revolution, but applicable more broadly to the bourgeois-democratic revolution and the Enlightenment era, Frederick Engels wrote:
"The great men who in France were clearing men's minds for the coming revolution acted in an extremely revolutionary way themselves. They recognized no external authority of any kind. Religion, conceptions of nature, society, political systems—everything was subjected to the most unsparing criticism: everything had to justify its existence before the judgment-seat of reason or give up existence. The reasoning intellect became the sole measure of everything. It was the time when, as Hegel says, the world was stood on its head, first in the sense that the human head and the principles arrived at by its thinking claimed to be the basis of all human action and association; but then later also in the wider sense that the reality which was in contradiction with these principles was, in fact, turned upside down. Every previous form of society and state, every old traditional notion was flung into the lumber-room as irrational; the world had hitherto allowed itself to be led solely by prejudice; everything in the past deserved only pity and contempt. The light of day, the realm of reason, now appeared for the first time; henceforth superstition, injustice, privilege and oppression were to be superseded by eternal truth, eternal justice, equality based on nature, and the inalienable rights of man.
"We know today that this realm of reason was nothing more than the idealized realm of the bourgeoisie; that eternal justice found its realization in bourgeois justice; that equality reduced itself to bourgeois equality before the law; that bourgeois property was proclaimed as one of the most essential rights of man; and that the government of reason, Rousseau's social contract, came into being, and could only come into being, as a bourgeois-democratic republic. The great thinkers of the eighteenth century were no more able than their predecessors to go beyond the limits imposed on them by their own epoch." (Socialism: Utopian and Scientific)
As part of subjecting religion, conceptions of nature, society, and political systems "to the most unsparing criticism," irrational hatred and fear of Jews, the exclusion of Jews from economic, political, cultural, and intellectual life, and different forms of prejudice, persecution, and oppression came under attack. The bourgeois-democratic revolution that overthrew the French monarchy and nobility granted Jews full political rights. And the 1776 revolution in the U.S. against England institutionalized the separation of church and state.
Opposition to anti-Semitism arose along with other enlightened movements like those to abolish slavery and grant equality to women. All this was fiercely contested, both by pre-capitalist forces and institutions, and among different sections and trends in the bourgeoisie.
Within this explosion of social turmoil and intellectual ferment, there was a lessening of elements of centuries of oppression and marginalization of the Jewish people. And, Jews were active in all the economic, social, philosophical, and political movements of the time. The Jewish philosopher Spinoza identified places where the Bible and the Torah (essentially the first five books of the Bible adhered to by Judaism) are self-contradictory, and he did other rational studies that revealed that the Bible could not be the inerrant word of an all-knowing, all-powerful god who actively intervened in the lives of humans. For this, Spinoza was excommunicated by the Jewish religious authorities, and Protestant and Catholic authorities censored, burned, and banned his writings.
The capitalist system brought into being new forms of grinding exploitation and brutal oppression. Vast numbers of people who had suffered under feudal rule in the countryside were now violently and forcefully "freed" of their connection to the land, and driven and pulled into the slums and sweatshops of European cities. Through this, a new class of exploited people—the proletariat—emerged, an international class which owns nothing, yet has created and makes the modern, highly socialized means of production work. In some ways, the exclusion of Jewish people from wide areas of economic and political life in pre-capitalist societies in Eastern Europe facilitated their entry into new realms of economic and social life created by the rise of capitalism. In much of Eastern Europe (where the overwhelming majority of the world's Jews had lived for a thousand years), economic and social status was historically related to ownership of, or permission granted by the nobility to work the land. For hundreds of years, in these agrarian societies, legal and social prohibitions, persecution, and pogroms (mob violence against Jews) prevented or greatly restricted Jewish people from engaging in farming. They ended up concentrated in the cities where they acquired craft and other skills.
Locked out of many professions (like the military and civil services), many Jews ended up in professions like medicine, finance, and law. These professions rose in societal influence and prestige with the advance of capitalism and the decline of feudalism. Jewish traditions of literacy based in theological study and debate (among men at least) were advantageous in entering new arenas of intellectual and scientific inquiry.
And Jewish people were disproportionately represented in the radical and revolutionary movements of the time, including the communist movement for the abolition of all exploitation and oppression.
All this was intensely and wildly contradictory. As Engels summed up, the formal equality enshrined by the bourgeois-democratic revolutions and their ideologues actually covered up profound inequalities built into a system where the fundamental relations in society are grounded in the exploitation and oppression of the many by a relative handful. And where the drive of the capitalists to expand their profits/their capital dominates all of society and all the relations among people in society.
But even the fulfillment of the promise of formal equality was highly contested and uneven. The rise of capitalism emphasized the ideology of equality. In previous oppressive societies, people had their place in life defined by the social class, or religion, or the gender they were born into, and this was enforced in the realm of law, and in people's thinking. These ideas (and laws) were obstacles to the capitalist reorganization of society. And in the context of the promotion of formal equality, old customs, laws, and prejudices were subjected to criticism and in different ways knocked aside.
All this gave rise to all kinds of movements for equality. But as the bourgeoisie came to power, it often found it in its interests to limit or oppose demands for even formal equality—for women, for example.
And Christianity remained, for powerful sections of the ruling classes, an essential factor in legitimizing and maintaining (and enforcing) their rule. Leaders of the Protestant rebellion against the Catholic Church—expressing the outlook of the rising bourgeoisie in opposition to the absolute rule of kings, nobles, and the church hierarchy—challenged the authority of the Pope. At the same time, Martin Luther, the leader of this Protestant rebellion, wrote that Jews were a "base, whoring people." Luther advocated that Jewish synagogues and schools should be set on fire, Jewish prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. Luther wrote, of the Jews, "[W]e are at fault in not slaying them." (Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543)
In short, the profound changes in the economic foundation of society associated with the rise of capitalism gave rise to closely related changes in law, culture, and thinking. Jews found greater acceptance in commerce and cultural life. But at the same time, powerful countervailing trends erupted. In many realms the bourgeois revolutions were not able to, and did not, even complete the ruptures with feudal traditions and prejudices—traditions, institutions, and prejudices that they found useful and essential to maintaining social order and their class rule6. Further complicating the terrain was the fact that in much of Eastern and Southern Europe, feudal economic and social relations remained powerfully embedded in society. With the rise of capitalism in Europe, Jews both entered into broader society in unprecedented ways, and were the victims of periodic pogroms instigated directly or indirectly by the ruling classes.
The clash between openings for Jews and various forms of backlash and attacks on the status of Jewish people formed a tense contradiction. Both sides of this complex equation developed in intensity with the rise of imperialism in the late 1800s, and the spreading of capitalism into still semi-feudal Eastern Europe.
The earth-shaking changes ushered in by the emergence of capitalism in Europe loosened and challenged, but did not come close to uprooting traditional theocratic-based fear and hatred of Jews. And even as great changes took place in the political and social landscape of Europe in the 1800s, and early 1900s, powerful forces in European society—including elements of the Christian establishment, along with feudal and other reactionary forces—lashed back at these changes, and, as part of that, targeted the Jews.
Sections of people were periodically enlisted in spasms of anti-Semitic violence. Peasants locked out of any scientific understanding of the forces that were upending their lives had their desperation channeled away from the ruling classes and towards the Jews. Even in the most cosmopolitan countries—like Germany—anti-Semitic demagoguery had an appeal among sections of small business owners and shopkeepers who tended to be blinded by their social and economic positions to the actual mainsprings of capitalist society.
At times, the status of Jews, served as political flashpoints in contention within the ruling classes. The Dreyfus Affair that divided France in the late 1890s and early 1900s involved the framing of a Jewish officer in the French military on bogus treason charges. It was a move by reactionary sections of the French army and church to reassert influence that had been curtailed by the French revolution. Radical bourgeois-democratic forces in France, including the influential intellectual Emile Zola, rallied behind Dreyfus and he was exonerated. For sections of the French bourgeoisie, the Dreyfus Affair was a challenge, and an opportunity to strike at remnants of feudal influences and impediments to the rise of—as they saw it—"true equality."
The inexorable demand of capitalism to "expand or die," including the contention of different imperialist powers over colonial domination, exploded into World War 1, from 1914 to 1918. As the special issue of Revolution on Israel identified: "On one side were Britain, France, the U.S. and Russia. On the other stood Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman (Turkish) empires. Neither side was fighting for any greater cause than a bigger share of the plunder. Sixteen million people died as the armies of contending imperialists slaughtered each other, and civilians, to determine which imperialists would expand and which would be crushed. In the course of that war, empires crashed to the ground—most importantly the vast Russian empire, where a socialist revolution emerged victorious. In other parts of the world, the old order collapsed but the victorious imperialists raced in with new forms of domination."
The horror and suffering of World War 1, along with the world's first successful socialist revolution in 1917, profoundly challenged—both in reality and in people's thinking—the permanence of the existing order. And this was as true in Germany as anywhere. In the short two decades between the end of the first World War, and the beginning of the second World War, Germany saw both an attempt at socialist revolution (that was crushed by the German ruling class with invaluable aid from reformist "socialists" in the government), and then the rise of Hitler with his fascist (extreme, overtly and violently repressive) program for German imperialism.
Post World War 1 Germany had offered tradition-breaking openings to Jews in economic, political, and cultural life. By the 1920s, Jews were as accepted and assimilated in Germany as they were anywhere in capitalist Europe. At the same time, and partly in reaction to these changes in the status of Jews, Germany was a hotbed of anti-Semitic resentment. This resentment was felt, and fostered by powerful sections of the ruling class who saw changes in post-war Germany as treasonous, and inimical (intolerable obstacles) to Germany rising to the top of the imperialist world order.
These reactionary forces could continue to pluck the strings of irrational fear and hatred of Jews that were deeply embedded in the culture. German Jews ended up—as they had in the Dreyfus Affair in France—as flashpoints in conflicts within German society. But this time with terrible results.
As the special issue on Israel briefly alludes to, the German ruling class turned to Hitler, and his fascist program in all its dimensions, at a time of great crisis for German imperialism. The point of situating the roots of the Holocaust in the traditions of European culture and politics is not to argue that Hitler's ferocious anti-Semitism and the Holocaust were simply extensions of traditional fears and hatred of Jews.
In re-cohering German society, Hitler did draw on a deep well of prejudice against Jews, and a long tradition of scapegoating Jews. But there were other factors that came together—in the situation faced by German imperialism, and in Hitler's ideology—that led to the Holocaust.
Germany had been on the losing side of World War 1, and was cut out of the international division of Africa, Asia and Latin America by European, U.S., and Japanese imperialism. In the immediate aftermath of World War 1, Germany was devastated militarily and economically.
Many Germans drew the conclusion was that the horrific imperialist war—responsible for the deaths of some ten million people—and the system that gave rise to it, had to go. There was great attraction to the model of the Bolshevik revolution in what became the Soviet Union. Others, including dominant sections of the ruling class, drew opposite conclusions: that the loss in the war was the result of weakness that had to be, and could only be overcome with more extreme nationalism and a return to a mythic and reactionary Germanic identity.
All these contradictions sharpened tremendously with the global Great Depression, which began in 1929. Germany's economy had developed very dynamically after World War 1, and politically, the post-war Weimar Republic was a period of relative tolerance (again, based on the bloody suppression of an attempt at socialist revolution). During the Weimar period, reactionary fascist forces who seethed at what they perceived as the "betrayal" of German national interests by "weak" forces in the ruling class provided the ground from which Hitler emerged. Even as Hitler and his program emerged, he and his movement were kept somewhat in abeyance by the German ruling class.
But with the severe depression that wracked the capitalist world in the 1930s, the balance of forces within the German ruling class moved towards Hitler and his fascist program. They shared Hitler's determination to end Germany's exclusion from colonial super-exploitation that was choking the ability of German capital to expand in the face of rivals like Britain and France. And they saw in him a populist demagogue capable of channeling desperation and outrage of sections of the masses into appeals to vitriolic nationalism.
An immediate result of Hitler's coming to power was the ruthless, violent crushing of Germany's large communist movement. After the defeat of the revolution in Germany in the aftermath of World War 1, communists had again developed great influence among the poorer sections of the German working class in particular. And Hitler went after them with a vengeance. In the famous words of German theologian Martin Niemoller, "First they came for the communists..."7
One significant dimension of Hitler's ideology and agenda was his adoption of, and taking to extremes, the pseudo-science (fake science) of Eugenics along with bizarre "master race" theories. Absurd as these theories were, they found a home among Germans who gravitated towards a mythology that whipped up and supposedly "rationalized" national chauvinism and the superiority of their nation when the status, and very coherence of that nation seemed to be in question. And these theories were adopted as the ideology of the Nazi state—to devastating effect.
Eugenics claimed that humanity could be improved by forced sterilization of people with real or perceived physical or mental conditions (which included, along with genuine medical and mental handicaps, categories like homosexuality and poverty). These theories had significant influence in the rest of the world, including the U.S. in the period leading up to the rise of Hitler. In the U.S., laws and policies were implemented in less extreme ways in the form of forced sterilization, for example, of prisoners in some parts of the U.S. And Eugenics theory merged with traditional racism in significant parts of the U.S.—especially the South—as a force behind the adoption of laws and policies enforcing sterilization of Black people and others.
To Hitler, much of what he saw as weakness in German society was a result of the "dilution" of not only German culture, but the Aryan gene pool by "degenerates" (like the handicapped, gays, and people suffering from alcoholism), as well as the "dilution" of the gene pool by non-Aryans—particularly the Jews. Eugenics theories, along with other unscientific schools of anthropology and other realms, formed part of the framework from which Hitler developed his "master race" theory.8
And again, regardless of the extent to which other leading members of the Nazi power structure and German ruling class actually believed these insane theories (and some did), they took on a "life of their own." A significant section of German people was mobilized behind this poisonous mythology that in turn invoked—and drew on—centuries of Christian anti-Semitism.
Hitler was not a "perfect fit" for German imperialism. German scientists working on nuclear weapons were handicapped by the exclusion of Jewish physicists and other scientists, as well as by ideological dictates that they not acknowledge the work of Jewish scientists like Einstein9. And Hitler's determination to exterminate the Jews factored into real divisions in the German ruling class over his whole program10. But Hitler's master race ideology, hyper-aggressive military policies, and brutally repressive domestic agenda—with its component of genocidal anti-Semitism, was overall adopted by the German ruling class as—if not a "perfect fit"—the perceived best solution to the situation they found themselves in.
The Jews in Germany posed—by their very existence—a challenge to Hitler's program of a tightly united German nation cohered by a mythology of an "Aryan master race." These theories provided a—profoundly false—"justification" for German expansionism, domination of other countries, and the driving out or crushing of supposedly "inferior races." Hitler's "master race" lunacy provided a core ideology for a movement that would crush internal dissent and embark on hyper-aggressive imperialist adventures.
Integrally mixed into all this was the relationship of Jews in World War 2 Europe to the communist revolution and the socialist Soviet Union.That relationship had different, complex, and contradictory components—including but not only in the political dimension. To Hitler, the threats to German imperialist interests from the Jews and the communist revolution were integrally intertwined.
Overall, Hitler's conflation of Jews and communism reflected some, secondary elements of reality—there was an attraction among Jewish people to progressive and radical causes including communism. But this was coupled with mountains of exaggeration, distortion and outright invention, all underpinned by insanity, as reflected in the "master race" theories.
But a) Hitler's program was seen as expeditious to dominant sections of the German ruling class (whether they themselves all believed all of Hitler's master-race and anti-Semitic theories or not); and b) the adoption of these theories and programs had terrible implications and led to horrific crimes—including the Holocaust.11
A whole complex mix of political, ideological, and military factors converged to lead up to the great crime of the Holocaust. We have explored some of them here in expanding on the discussion in the special issue, and other factors are still beyond the scope of this article.
But the overall framing dynamic that set the stage for the Holocaust was the operation of global capitalism-imperialism. The Holocaust was not a pre-determined result of the workings of global imperialism, or even necessarily the only possible outcome of the situation confronting German imperialism. But it was a product of a whole series of policies adopted by the German imperialist ruling class in furtherance of their interests—both contention with their imperialist rivals, and their drive to crush the Soviet Union. Hitler's virulent anti-Semitism served the mission of cohering and enforcing unity on the German "home front" for a horrific war, and in particular the war against the Soviet Union that resulted in over 20 million deaths.
And as noted in our special issue on Israel, the U.S. and the "democratic West" remained mostly silent and restrained in response to the Holocaust while it was taking place, refusing entry to Jews fleeing Hitler, and shared the Nazis' determination to wipe the socialist Soviet Union off the map.
In this light, the Holocaust—a great crime of imperialism—in no way justifies Zionism, which, as our special issue makes clear, is another crime of imperialism.
The Palestinian people were not in any way responsible for the Holocaust. Their exile from their homeland through terrorist ethnic cleansing is utterly immoral and unjust, and cannot be defended by invoking the crimes of the Holocaust. Nor does the Holocaust in any way justify Israel's ongoing role as a global hitman for the same imperialist system that gave rise to the Holocaust.12
The solution to all oppression—in any form—cannot be achieved by a persecuted people turning on another oppressed people, as Zionism insists. Instead, as we pointed out in the special issue on Israel, "So long as imperialism exists, the majority of nations and peoples will be oppressed by a relative minority of dominant nations. It is important and valuable and just—in fact, it is absolutely necessary—that people stand up to that oppression, refuse to tolerate it, resist it, and work to abolish it. But if that turns into a fight for national rights at the expense of another people's rights, then it is not so fine—then it is on the road to very quickly becoming reactionary. The only way to be finally sure that there will be no more genocides, of any kind and against any people, is to abolish imperialism itself—to, yes, emancipate all humanity, and nothing less."
1. In two different articles in the special issue, the number of those killed in the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was given in one article as 24 million, and in another article as 28 million. Both these figures, and numbers in between, and others in the same ballpark are given by historians and different sources as the death toll in that conflict. Conditions of a long, vicious war, with massive civilian casualties, and widespread deaths due to hunger, cold, and disease, among the population, along with a lack of today's level of sophisticated record keeping make it difficult to determine the exact numbers killed in that theater of World War 2, but all agree that the great majority of deaths in World War 2 in Europe were in the Soviet Union (see resources at wikipedia under "World_War_II_casualties.") [back]
3. The French surrender to the Nazis in World War 2, and Nazi expectations that Britain would capitulate as well, led the Nazis to anticipate "inheriting" and having access to France's extensive colonial empire. This formed a backdrop to the Nazi "Madagascar Plan," to deport the Jews of Europe to Madagascar—a French colony in Africa. [back]
5. Minor adjustments in these policies were made for some countries in Western Europe under Nazi domination, where there were small numbers of Jews, and where it was the assessment of Nazi diplomats and others that rounding up and killing all the Jews would have very negative consequences – this policy was applied in Norway, for example, but affected very small numbers of Jews. [back]
6. Even today, feudal and theocratic remnants like formal recognition of kings, queens, official state religions, and powerful "Christian Democratic" parties are integral to political life in modern Europe. [back]
8. Today, evolution-deniers claim that Hitler's "theories" of racial superiority were derived from or rooted in Darwin's theory of evolution. The opposite is true–the theory, and reality, of evolution debunks theories of racial superiority. As Ardea Skybreak writes in her book The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters, "The main thing that evolution teaches us about race is that there is no such thing as truly distinct biological races of human beings!" (Insight Press, 2006, p. 166). What are called "races" are socially and culturally defined categories, with meaning in that sense, but not natural divisions of the human species. Throughout recent history, and down to the present day, oppressive forces have seized on what are actually fairly minor secondary characteristics of appearance like skin color, or the shape of the eyes, to create social categories of races—and on that basis to justify, and carry out, terrible oppression of whole peoples. For more on the actual nature of races, see "Evolution, Racist? No Way! The Creationist Big Lie," Revolution Feb. 15, 2009, available at revcom.us. [back]
9. Many German Jewish scientists were forced to flee Nazi Germany, and were welcomed by the U.S. – even as other German Jews fleeing Hitler were refused entry to the U.S. They were a factor in the U.S. developing the atomic bomb ahead of the Nazis. [back]
10. For example, Hitler's Secretary of State, Ernst von Weizsäcker, who claimed after the war that he had opposed Hitler, and who maintained some contacts at least with more actively pro-Western factions of the German military during the war, was not invited to the Wannsee Conference because Hitler's closest associates suspected he was not fully on board with the "final solution." [back]
11. For an in-depth and insightful exploration of the factors behind Hitler's anti-Semitism, and factors that led to the Holocaust, see Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? by Arno J. Mayer. [back]
12. See for example, "The U.S. ... Israel ... and Crimes Around the World," special issue of Revolution Oct. 4, 2010. [back]
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
It's an all too familiar scene in every city in the U.S.: houses and businesses are abandoned and boarded up; entire neighborhoods lie derelict; factories that once employed hundreds or thousands are ghostly hulks, their time long since passed. Youth—overwhelmingly Black and Latino—with no jobs and no hopes of getting one hang out, passing the time and trying to figure a way to scrape some cash together while everything around them crumbles. But there's no work, and no prospects for work.
Pull back a little bit. Entire cities and regions of the U.S. are desolate; once booming industries are shut down completely or teetering on the verge of extinction. The figures are brutal, but they only hint at the reality of crushed lives, abandoned dreams, and lost hope they represent. The unemployment rate for Black people is nearly double that for whites. It is higher still among Black youth. In the spring and summer, youth unemployment rose by 571,000, most of that among inner city Black and Latino youth. Hundreds of thousands of jobless youth live in largely Black cities like East St. Louis, Detroit, and Newark.
Pull back a bit more. You'll see that tens of millions of people live every day in a desperate struggle to survive. At least two million Mexican peasants were forced out of the countryside to seek work elsewhere between 1995 and 2008. In China, millions of young people live in wretched slums thrown up in China's large cities, struggling for the barest survival in China's headlong dash to establish itself as a capitalist power on the world stage. In the continent of Africa, devastated and tormented for centuries by colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism, official unemployment in Namibia is 51.2 percent; in Zimbabwe, a staggering 95 percent.
Massive unemployment rips like a plague across this planet. In the U.S., inner city youth grow up and come of age knowing that this society has nothing to offer them, no way for them to contribute, no way for them to even hope to live a life worthy of a human being. The paths this society—this capitalist-imperialist system—offers to countless youth are savagely hard and soulless: prison, crime, the military, a shit job in a fast food place—maybe, and for as long as you can take it. And quite possibly, whatever the choice, an early death.
The official unemployment rate for Black youth is 49 percent. As is well known, the U.S. government calculates unemployment in a way that conceals the actual number of people out of work; the true number is higher. A recent study by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies concluded that the actual unemployment rate for Black and Latino youth is over 80 percent. The study stated that "low income Black and Hispanic teens face the equivalent of a Great Depression."
Actually the situation is far worse for these youth. This same study pointed out that Washington, D.C., has the highest youth unemployment rate in the country—86 percent. New York City, Detroit and Chicago all have youth unemployment rates over 80 percent. In Gary, Indiana, whose population is 84 percent Black, jobs have decreased by 54 percent since February 2009. And this huge loss of jobs came after the large steel mills that shaped Gary had largely shut down.
This is not a world created by Black and Latino youth of the inner cities. It is a world twisted and distorted by capitalism-imperialism in its endless, global pursuit of profit. A capitalist world where every spark of friendship and love is extinguished, and everything—and everybody—is turned into a commodity to be bought and sold. A world where people can find work only so long as their labor enriches capital; and capital restlessly prowls the globe in its never ending drive to maximize profit.
To take an important example of all this, look at the history of Black people in this country. Black people toiled for centuries in the cotton fields of the South, first as slaves, then as sharecroppers. Their backbreaking labor was an essential component of what enabled the U.S. to rise in the ranks of capitalist and imperialist world powers. As agriculture mechanized, and other changes coursed through society, millions of Black people left the South, in one of the world's great migrations, and went to the cities of the North and West. Many worked in factories and mills—almost always in the lowest paying, most dangerous jobs, with no possibility of moving into another position. Many more, especially women, worked in the minimum wage service industry.
But these factories and mills ceased to be profitable. Thousands were shut down altogether. Commercial districts were abandoned, their restaurants and shops closed. Millions of people lost their jobs. And as capital continued its pursuit of profit, and its own expansion, factories moved from Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland to Mexico, then Vietnam, then China, bringing exploitation everywhere and leaving devastation in its wake.
The "pull" of a possibility of a paying job and an escape from the vicious Jim Crow regime of lynching and segregation that had brought many Black people out of the rural South within a few short decades became a bitter, dried up reality of dead cities, shuttered factories, and impoverished neighborhoods constantly prowled by police.
And to pile outrage upon outrage, the youth themselves are blamed for the situation that the system has caught them in!
This world was not created by the youth of the inner cities, but it is the world they have inherited. This system has no future for the youth. But the revolution does.
"A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD, A MUCH BETTER FUTURE, IS POSSIBLE. WE HAVE WHAT WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR THAT WORLD, THAT FUTURE.
"IT IS UP TO US TO GET WITH IT AND GET TO THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING THIS HAPPEN.
"As our Party's Constitution says: 'The emancipation of all humanity: this, and nothing less than this, is our goal. There is no greater cause, no greater purpose to which to dedicate our lives.'"
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
The following is a letter from a prisoner. We greatly appreciate receiving these letters and encourage prisoners to keep sending correspondence. The views expressed in letters from prisoners are those of the writers, and not those of Revolution.
The upcoming National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation is a day I await with much delight. This day is very endearing to me as I am a product of this war on poor people.
The economically depressed barrios I was born and raised in were the perfect hunting grounds for the white supremacist claiming to "protect and serve" while chasing down poor people like runaway slaves. Growing up, the brutalization from so called "law enforcement" was constant and consistent out in society and incarceration was never an interruption of the horror. My "meet and greet" with the police was before I was even school age, watching my front door get kicked off the hinges and my uncle get beat unconscious for a suspected property crimes case.
Growing up in these oppressed conditions this brutalization becomes the norm for many and is seen as "the way it is." But every now and then a person reach a tipping point and rebel to this dehumanization and rise up in many ways. The police brutality that millions face in this country does real damage to many. It is a tool to a much bigger situation, police terror is unleashed as a tool of capitalism-Imperialism in this country. It is designed to keep poor people in "their place," to instill fear and break the will and spirit of a colonized people, of a potentially revolutionary base of support. This is why in any city in America where you find the biggest concentration of poor Latino and Black people, you'll also find the highest rate of not only police brutality, but of these people of color being murdered by police in these areas. The reason is that these poor people of color are the backbone of a future Revolution in this country. Poor people live in a police state in this country as anytime we leave our front door we know we may not come back. Prison or morgue awaits us any time we go out in public, whether to go to work or simply a walk to the park. Yet we get labeled as criminals and street terrorists when we make any act of defiance or resistance to the brutality we face in this society!
Growing up as "state raised" I have learned more from other oppressed people about the police brutality and criminalization of poor people than I ever learned from any textbook. And part of what I learned from talking with people, poor imprisoned people whether they were Latino, Black, Asian, white or native was that just as the slaves of old had rejected the entire institute of slavery when they refused the whip whether by running away or self defense, so too had many imprisoned (neo slave) rejected the entire system of capitalism and this criminalization of a generation when an act of defiance or will to live led one to end up incarcerated. For many these small acts that led to incarceration were in fact acts of poor peoples' struggles for liberation. The Ruling Class understands this and respond by employing laws such as the three strikes law where stealing a slice of bread warrants a neo slave to life in a U.S. Dungeon.
As I stated above police brutality is a tool, as the first line of defense for capitalism-Imperialism is the police who occupy Barrios and Ghettos. The triple threat that all Barrio and Ghetto dwellers face from the cradle to the grave is poverty, police assault/murder and prison. These are all elements of an occupied war zone, this is life for the oppressed nations in America.
Just as the people of Palestine live under the constant threat, poor people in America also understand that police in this country will not answer from the courts for any action taken against poor people. I have had friends shot and killed by police, one in the back while he was running unarmed away from his hunter and still no prosecution by the courts.
The last time I was on the prison general population I began to file a law suit against the prison guards for refusing to give prisoners yard time outside our cells. This brought repression in the form of harassment, having my cell turned upside down, mail undelivered or missing pages, phone calls cut off "mysteriously" and outright threats. When I continued with my legal work, I was ambushed by guards and Rodney Kinged where I was beaten so bad I urinated blood for a week and then charged for fighting them! This was years ago and I have been in the hole ever since with false allegations piled on top of each other to keep me housed in the hole. Police Brutality does not discriminate to any areas where the poor reside, it is an equal opportunity abuser.
But this is the difference between a capitalist society that relies on such methods to keep its system intact and that of a socialist society. In Mao's China prison guards were happy to work in prisons as they knew by working to educate prisoners they were building the Revolution. The prison cells were all stocked with revolutionary books and prisoners would have study circles every day where they would discuss revolutionary theory and political line. Brutality was not an issue by the jailers as they knew these prisoners would be released and be helping to build the Revolution as well. It was a lively time for all people in society, even prisoners. The 2+ million languishing in U.S. gulags suffer a very different fate.
This criminalization of a generation is in all honesty a criminalization of a poor generation as this stepped up police activity is rarely seen in suburbs or gated communities. Hyper policing is mainly targeting the inner cities where large concentrations of poor reside and although the intensity to lock up young people may have increased, the reasons for actions such as there have been here since the birth of the capitalist system on these shores. Over 500 years ago there was the invasion of what is now Mexico where the native populations' males were enchained and literally branded with the letter "P" for prisoner or his owner's name on his cheek. We also seen the African kidnapped slaves brought to America and branded for the same reason as cattle. We seen during the McCarthy era where people were "branded" with the word communist and were locked up, fired from jobs, etc.
Today we are seeing this same "branding" occur with labels such as "terrorist", gang member and now ex-felon to create the same outcome. The outcome is control. Those who this rotten system feels most threatened from will always be labeled and targeted to control. The so-called Justice system, i.e., the Courts are not designed for poor people of color. A look at all the pictures at this October 22nd protest of those murdered by police and how those responsible have gone unprosecuted shows what we are really up against. It is not a game, this is a war on poor people.
Over 200 years ago the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in "The Social Contract" that: "In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing." Of course, Rousseau wrote these words before any Socialist society was ever created so this statement was obviously written about the capitalist system. I think we see this playing out here in America where the laws are used to uphold the grip of the Ruling Class while at the same time repressing the have nots.
We recently seen it happen when comrade Gregory was arrested for simply holding a camera. The state somehow twisted up the actions of a person simply doing something that is not only legal but supposedly written in the U.S. Constitution, and yet somehow a judge who claims to practice blind justice and all that, criminalizes this young man. This I am sure was a shock to many, a great injustice as it very well is. Yet for a large portion of the U.S. population this is part of life. So when I first heard of the "Bear Witness" event I thought it's almost in my mind and I know many will agree, that it's almost like asking someone to recall every other day or every week of their life, as police brutality is for many a way of life.
As the article "Stop and Frisk" pointed out 2,000 arbitrary stops in New York City in one day - to see these numbers is pretty crazy. It is crazy as Revolution pointed out that nine out of ten of the people stopped will be Black and Latino. It is also crazy that with these disproportionate numbers we are not hearing more about this targeting of Black and Brown people from news media in this country and it is because the craziness is designed by the society we live in and nobody will right these wrongs but us! Nobody will raise these injustices in print via Independent Press such as Revolution newspaper but us! And nobody will eventually liberate humanity but us! So this October 22nd know that many are in unity with you to end this madness. Even those buried alive in America's dungeons are raising clenched fists with nothing to lose, so fight the power!
P.S. Please send me the new Constitution [for the New Socialist Republic of North America (Draft Proposal)] publication when possible.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
If the police have... sweated you at school, dogged you in the streets, hit on you or otherwise sexually harassed you, or ... if the police have racially profiled, "stopped and frisked," threatened, tasered or brutalized you or any member of your family, ...if the police have killed friends or family.
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Views of those who contribute to "Bear Witness" are their own and they are not responsible for views expressed elsewhere in this newspaper.
The following was submitted to Bear Witness...
I was late for school. So I wrapped up my breakfast in a paper towel and ran out of my house. I was running and I put the sandwich in my pocket. A police officer saw me put the sandwich in my pocket so he stopped me and made me take it out and I had to unwrap it. He saw that it was just a croissant but he said I could have put something inside it so I had to open it up and hollow it out. He kept saying I might have drugs. But, then he took a bite of my sandwich and let me go. It was stupid and ridiculous, but what could I do? They stop a lot of people.
16-year-old student at A. Philip Randolph High School
I was on my way home from school and the police told me to stop. They asked me to take out the stuff in my pocket. So I asked them why and then they told me to get against the wall. The patted me down and took stuff out of my pocket and threw it on top of their car. Then they told me to get my stuff and leave. "Go home!" No questions. I didn't feel too great after that. I felt like I had just been robbed.
14-year-old student in Saint Nicholas Park
My brother got arrested for trespassing. He was standing in front of this building and this white cop told my brother and his friends to step forward. The cops went through their pockets and they didn't find nothing so they charged my brother with trespassing. I think they did it because he's Latin.
13-year old in Saint Nicholas Park
The police shot my cousin. They said he had a gun but it was his inhaler because he has asthma. He died two years ago. We been trying to fight the case but they say the cop has no fault in it. He was just using force because that's what good cops are supposed to do- whatever. We've been trying to fight it... we can't... we don't find a way out. I don't know. I don't know what to do.
A high school student in Saint Nicholas Park
Story #7 – West 6th Street
I have personally witnessed and been a victim of the discriminate and disparate treatment of African Americans and other minorities by the police as well as the bar owners and staff of West 6th Street, a club area in Cleveland, Ohio. I am Black and the friends I hang out with a diverse group of friends that enjoy the night life offered by the Warehouse District. The group of friends that I was with the nights that I was discriminated against were white (2 men and 2 women). I receive the exact same treatment from different bars on West 6th, almost as if it's some unwritten rule shared by the owners and management of the West 6th bars, on several different occasions: What happens is my friends and I approach the door, (the men wearing the same types and fits of clothes), the bouncer (from the Liquid Club) proceeds to check our I.D., When they get to me, they say my clothes are too baggy and deny me entrance to the club. In all the situations my friends (white) are outraged and protest, while I just walk away, and they agree to let me in. On another night the same thing happens at the Barley House, this time by a police officer checking I.D. at the door, again my white friends protest and they let me in.
Also, I have noticed that the police presence has different protocol on days in which West 6th is predominantly white (usually Fridays) and days in which minority-sponsored club events are going on, and/or days when West 6th has an influx of African American partygoers (usually Saturday night). The police presence is apparent both nights but on the nights of minority-sponsored club events, the police are aggressive and rude, they yell obscenities at you if you're not driving fast enough out of the parking lot. They block off the end of the street to incoming traffic (supposedly to ensure the safety of the crowd) but what they are really doing is corralling us in like cattle, poking and prodding to elicit some kind of response they can use to make an arrest. Behavior they would not dare use on the nights the street is majority white. Something needs to be done about this evil antiquated behavior and mentality.
A 39-year-old Black man and student at Cleveland State University
Story #8 – A bear witness statement
Me and my friend just finished work and stopped at a restaurant in the Flats. I came out the restaurant to get inside my car and eat my burger and my drink. Then 4 white guys walked up to my car with guns out, telling me to get out. I thought they were going to rob me because they had guns drawn. They told me to get out and put my hands on the car. They shook me down. I had nothing on me. Then they handcuffed me and put me in the back seat of their car, took me downtown, going underneath the Justice Center to the garage. And one cop asked me if I ever had my arm broken. I said, "No." He said, "It is very dark and no one will hear you when you scream." Then we get in the elevator and one cop punched me in the face and told me, "You are going to say you tried to steal [my] car." "No I'm not," I said. I was booked and in jail for about 2 weeks. I went to court and the judge asked me if the detectives were in the court, I said, "No." The charges were grand theft of my car and they didn't show up because they didn't want to go before the judge. The judge said, "You are not the only Black guy that came here to be charged with stealing his own car." I can't understand how they are going to charge me with theft when I had my title and keys. They never asked me for them. But he hit me in the face and said he would make me say I stole my own car. Sittin' in my car eatin my sandwich. They stopped me cause I am Black. This happened a few years ago. This is something I will never forget, like if a person robbed you, something you will never forget.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
At every point, we must be searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built toward.
The objective and orientation must be to carry out work which, together with the development of the objective situation, can transform the political terrain, so that the legitimacy of the established order, and the right and ability of the ruling class to rule, is called into question, in an acute and active sense, throughout society; so that resistance to this system becomes increasingly broad, deep and determined; so that the "pole" and the organized vanguard force of revolutionary communism is greatly strengthened; and so that, at the decisive time, this advanced force is able to lead the struggle of millions, and tens of millions, to make revolution.
Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
We have a strategy—and our newspaper is, as "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" statement says, "the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for [the] whole process" of carrying out that strategy. This is the paper that cuts to the bone to tell you WHY things are happening... to show you HOW it doesn't have to be this way... and to give you the ways to ACT to change it. It is a call to action and a means of struggle. It is, and has to be much more, the scaffolding on which this movement is built, where those who are getting into it and following it can wrangle in its pages and on its website with how we can better build this movement. It is a guideline where today thousands, but soon tens of thousands and eventually millions, all over the place, stay connected and learn to act in a powerful and united way. It is the foundation where those who read it learn about the larger goals of revolution and communism and come to see the ways in which the struggles of today are connected to those larger goals... where they come to grasp the scientific communist outlook through its application to all the many particular events and outrages and developments in society... and where they get organizationally linked up to this revolution.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
Revolution newspaper is the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for the movement we are building for revolution. Stop and think about it—how essential is that?! But the reality is that this newspaper will not fill this need without more people becoming regular monthly sustainers. Sign up yourself to contribute regularly. And then, wherever you are—at a protest, a concert, selling Revolution, at FaceBook... or just hanging out—struggle with people, including people you just met, to sustain Revolution regularly. Once a week, check yourself: How is this going? How many new sustainers did you sign up?
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
It is this system that has got us in the situation we're in today, and keeps us there. And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much better system into being. The ultimate goal of this revolution is communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
This revolution is both necessary and possible.
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Revolution #215, October 31, 2010
In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity. Bob Avakian came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s—taking part in the great movements of those days, and especially working and struggling closely with the most advanced revolutionary force in the U.S. at that time, the Black Panther Party. Since then, and while many others have given up, Bob Avakian has worked and struggled tirelessly to find the way to go forward, having learned crucial lessons and built lasting organization that could continue the struggle, and aim to take it higher, while uniting with the same struggle throughout the world. He has kept on developing the theory and strategy for making revolution. He played the key role in founding our Party in 1975, and since then he has continued the battle to keep the Party on the revolutionary road, to carry out work with a strong revolutionary orientation. He has deeply studied the experience of revolution—the shortcomings as well as the great achievements—and many different fields of human endeavor, through history and throughout the world—and he has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win. Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing. And it is up to us to get with this leadership...to find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he heads...to learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the world...to build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the core...to defend this leadership as the precious thing it is...and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better.
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