Some Notes on the Developing Crisis and War

By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

Revolutionary Worker #1124, October 28, 2001, posted at

The RW received these notes from RCP Chairman Bob Avakian and we are sharing them with our readers--for discussions, debates, revolutionary agitation, and food for thought.

"An attack on our way of life," say "W," et. al. Well, what is that way of life, and what are its consequences for people around the world and within the U.S. itself?...We need penetrating, compelling exposure around this, and continuing political (and ideological) work with people to drive this home, as things continue to unfold.

Many have expressed sentiments that, instead of responding with more acts of violence and destruction and tremendous suffering for many people (war), why don't we address the underlying problems--the inequities, the global division between haves and have-nots, the bullying and previous acts of war, and so on--that have led to this deep and widespread hatred for the USA among people in the Middle East and around the world.

These are very positive sentiments and inclinations, and uniting with them is very important.

But it is also extremely important, while uniting with these sentiments, to really go into why this is something that could be done and should be done--and how the great majority of people in the world and large numbers of people in the U.S. would like to see this happen--but it will not even be attempted by the rulers of the USA. And, if they were inclined to attempt this, which they most definitely and emphatically are not, they could not take this course of action.

Such a course of action is simply not possible under this system and not in accordance with its underlying dynamics, driving forces, and political and geostrategic requirements. (Again, this must be done in a living and compelling way--not by merely asserting it and not with mere rhetoric and dogma.)

The real "greatest generation" was the " '60s generation"--to be outdone by this current generation.

Standing up against the unspeakable crimes carried out by the ruling class of your own country and striving for a world in which such outrages would no longer exist, is something far, far greater than being cogs and instruments in the machinery of destruction and killing that enforces and adds to these crimes.

The " '60s generation" went in the face of great pressure and made great sacrifices to set a high standard in this way, and we are called on to live up to and even surpass that now, in face of what may be even greater challenges--and it is up to the current generation to pick up that banner and raise it even higher, carry it even farther.

Look at the "monolithic unity" of the representatives of the U.S. ruling class in this crisis/war.

First, the media: Ah, the sanctity of a "free press"--"hallmark of a true democracy"--which has been shown to be nothing more than a bunch of cheerleaders, crude propagandists, and in essence extensions of the U.S. government--functionaries of a "state-controlled media."

Then there are the politicians, with their support of nearly unlimited powers for the executive (the President and his crew) to wage this open-ended "war on terrorism": witness Trent Lott's statement, appearing jointly with Tom Daschle, after Bush's speech to Congress, that "there is no opposition party" in relation to all this. Very well put! And how about the fact that people are being repeatedly told that this "war on terrorism" will last for years--could even last for something like 20 years? So much for any real "choice" in the bourgeois electoral process!

And through the course of this whole process what is coming to the fore is the important point that--when it comes to issues and events where its fundamental interests are at stake--it becomes more starkly evident that there is indeed a ruling class that has its own interests, which are separate from and fundamentally opposed to those of the people, in the U.S. itself as well as internationally, and that this ruling class will pursue these interests as ruthlessly as it deems necessary, regardless of the sentiments, wishes, or even broadly manifested demands of the people.

In a "free country" like the U.S. you are free to ask questions, but you are not really free to question.

This becomes all the more clear when the interests of those who really hold power in this society are threatened in any way, or are seriously at stake. The current crisis--with its heightening repression and stifling of dissent--shows this very dramatically.

"W" and other U.S. government officials are saying and emphasizing--for now at least--that this not a war against Islam, not a "clash of civilizations," etc.; but at the same time Pat Robertson insists that it is, and the Prime Minister of Italy (Silvio Berlusconi) openly trumpets the "superiority" of "Christian Western Civilization" in opposition to that of the Muslim world. (See NYT Thursday, Sept. 27, 2001). This undoubtedly reflects some real division but probably also a certain "division of labor." And it remains to be seen how all this works out--and which "line" wins out among them overall and, in particular, within the U.S. ruling class.

It is very important to take on this "rehabilitation" and glorification of the NYPD (and of the police more generally).

It is crucial to continue driving home--again, in a living, compelling way--what the actual role of the police is: They are not "working class heroes" but oppressors of the people, part of the state apparatus of repression which especially and systematically terrorizes the basic masses. (This is distinguished from firemen who, even though they may to some degree identify with the police, and even with military organization, etc., play an objectively different role).

It is important to "remind" people of this actual role of the police, as shown by what was done to Amadou Diallo (and Abner Louima...and Nicolas Heywood, Jr...and Anthony Baez...and on...and on...and on...and on) as well as Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati (and the thousands portrayed in the Stolen Lives book, and the many more murdered by police since that book has been published).

THIS is the real role of the NYPD, and of the police in general--as enforcers of this exploitative system and its whole set of oppressive social relations. And exposing this is very important also in the face of the outrageous verdict in the case of the cop who murdered Timothy Thomas--and the insulting remarks by the judge who rendered that unjust verdict, "rubbing in" the murder and the fact that the cop was just carrying out his duty in perpetrating this murder. For these same reasons--as well as more overall reasons--the importance of NDP this year also stands out.

Related to the above point, it is very important to do some particular exposure of Adolph Giuliani, to counteract the systematic propaganda and myth-making offensive to "elevate" him into a great, and highly popular, leader.

In many definite ways, and through many different media--from political commentators to movie reviewers--we are being told that criticisms of the system and its power structure are no longer appropriate, since September 11 and the supposed heroics of the police in New York. All criticism and opposition to the status quo and its enforcers in America must now be silenced, they insist--everything is different now. Oh really? Tell that to the judge who handed down the ruling exonerating the cop who murdered Timothy Thomas--and who "rubbed in" this murder in delivering his verdict!

Does "everything is different" mean that the police will no longer murder people--and harass and brutalize the youth in particular--in the ghettos and barrios and indeed throughout the country?

Does it mean that discrimination will now be ended completely and in every sphere of society--that genuine equality will now really be implemented with regard to Black people, Latinos, and other oppressed peoples in the U.S., and for women? That Christian fascists and other reactionaries will no longer terrorize and murder women who seek reproductive freedom and doctors and other health care providers who make it possible for women to have abortions as well as birth control--and that Bush will denounce these reactionaries for their attacks on women?

That immigrants will no longer be hounded and viciously exploited at minimum wage or less? That political prisoners and people unjustly convicted and condemned to death like Mumia Abu-Jamal will now be freed and such political persecution ended? That hundreds of millions of people, from Mexico to Haiti to Bangladesh to China, including millions and millions of children, will no longer be enslaved producing everything from computer chips to designer clothing to soccer balls, for American and other imperialist corporations? That the U.S. and other "great powers" (or wannabe "great powers") will no longer bully, bludgeon, and bomb their way to global domination and will actually apply their resources to ending starvation and disease--including the rampant and growing epidemic of AIDS--and to overcoming the great and growing gulf between haves and have-nots in the world?


A number of people have pointed out, with regard to the current state "profiling" and persecution of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S., that after the bombing in Oklahoma City, there was no comparable approach to "young white guys with crew cuts."

The larger picture with regard to this is that, after Oklahoma City, there was no widespread arrest (and "detention") directed at the various militia and other right-wing groups, no comprehensive digging into their finances, connections, etc., etc. Among other things, one of the essential reasons for this not happening then is that, had this been done, it would have led, before long, to the highest reaches of the U.S. ruling class and ruling structures, including the military!

This discrepancy in what was (not) done then vs. what is being done now is one reflection of the way in which (even if these U.S. ruling institutions, etc., or forces within them, were not in some way involved in, or at least aware in advance of, the September 11 attacks) this situation is now being seized on to create a whole sweeping, rolling wave of reactionary programs and actions: from bullying and outright warfare internationally, of which we are now witnessing only the opening phases, to greatly heightened repression "at home," with whole new and sweeping precedents being set.

Powerful sections of the ruling class have been trying to build momentum for this repressive program, for some time. And they are now succeeding in getting the ruling class as a whole to unite, or at least acquiesce in this, while they are also moving in various ways to create and fortify an atmosphere in which all this can be rammed through--including by whipping up and manipulating fear among the populace.

In relation to the "internal repression" dimension of this whole imperialist "campaign"--and specifically in relation to the "phased way" in which this is being carried out, targeting at first Arabs and Muslims--it might be good to "revive" and "repopularize" that statement by the protestant pastor Martin Niemoeller concerning the "salami tactics" of the NAZIs:

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

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