Revolutionary Worker #1125, November 4, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
Over the summer a traveling team took a trip to the Southwest to take out the RCP's new Draft Programme. The team was made up of different people coming from diverse experiences--youth and veteran revolutionaries, women and men and different nationalities. The team learned a great deal for the Party of what some people think about the Draft Programme in this area. And in the process we had an amazing experience. The following is a story told by two young members of this team.
As the days got closer to our departure, we were feeling very excited. We didn't know what to expect, but we knew we were going to have fun. Just thinking of visiting a new place and traveling with our comrades filled us with joyous emotions.
The journey to our destination was a lesson in itself. One of the veteran comrades gave us a tour as we drove into the southwest. We passed by rocky terrains, which were very dangerous and deadly. The comrade told us that immigrants who cross into the U.S. are forced to climb over this rocky mountainous terrain. Many travel at night, which is extremely difficult and dangerous. Most can't see where they're going and many slip down the mountains, badly hurting themselves or sometimes falling to their death. This is what immigrants have to go through in order to come to this fucked-up country.
He told us about the New River and the Colorado River. Many immigrants cross the All American River, which is full of human feces, toxic waste, pesticides, etc. The New River runs into Mexico and poisons the shrimp and fish. Many people drink the water because they have no other choice--that's the only water that's available to them. Many die of cholera, especially children. This is what imperialism does. It forces people to make life and death decisions--like either drink or not drink water, which is fucked up!
As we entered XX, we felt the isolation kick in. Not only was the city small, but also two deserts surrounded it. This place was different than what we are familiar with and it filled us with anticipation, and we wondered how people in this small place would see the Draft Programme.
The first person we stayed with was very generous and really intelligent. He opened his home to us, gave us food and made us feel welcome in this new place. Then on the second night there was a welcoming party. Many people from different political lines and viewpoints came to see what we were about and wanted to discuss the Draft Programme. There were over five different discussions going on which lasted late into the night. Questions on violence, mass movements, core work with the proletariat, etc. filled the room, both in English and Spanish. It was very uplifting to see people wanting to change the world and questioning if what they saw in the DP was really possible.
Our team had several discussions and meetings with different types of people. Some were high school and college students, some were already involved in mass movements of different types, like fighting against the militarization of the border. Others were still trying to figure out what they wanted to do. Having these discussions with all these different types of masses was very damn challenging for both sides. While there was a lot of unity there was also struggle going on. Sometimes frustration and disagreement filled the room. But in the course of all this discussion and debate, we left with a great amount of unity. We made some mistakes, but used the mass line, summed things up and learned from it. We persevered with the masses and raised the level of political understanding during these discussions around the Draft Programme. We also learned very deeply about the different ways people were looking at the Draft Programme--which was the main part of our mission.
Many of the people we took the programme to felt isolated, disconnected from political activists in other cities. And they felt that political activism didn't exist in their city. After taking out the programme, we learned that this place was a hot pull for activism. We spoke to people who were fighting against national oppression, the militarization of the border, crooked slumlords, and the destruction of the environment. We spoke to youth who wanted to change the world, but needed help figuring out how to do revolutionary work. The isolation we felt when we first got to our destination deteriorated in a second. Things were going on here, and people were fighting against the system in many different ways.
Serious Discussion and Debate
Speaking to the masses during these discussions was an intense experience. People had so many questions and they really wanted to dig into the programme. Some youth wanted to know if revolutionary war was necessary. Many asked if violence was necessary and thought that all forms of violence are horrific. We talked to one Native American brother who really liked the vision of the Draft Programme, but believed that there could be another way besides an insurrection. He said he could never see himself picking up a gun and killing another human being. He said if revolution did kick off, he would rather see himself helping the wounded than fighting in the battles. In learning where he was coming from we also brought out why we felt only revolution could liberate the people. We also agreed with him that people can contribute to revolution is different ways. Everyone could play a significant role and if he wanted to help the wounded soldiers, then that could be his contribution. Even though he didn't agree with our strategy, he still united with the people's struggles around the world, and he would be on the people's side if a revolution did occur.
We spoke to a young Chicana who had really studied the Draft Programme and liked what it had to say. But she disagreed with our view that all communists are atheists. She said, " I believed in god, but consider myself a communist." We had some disagreements with her statement and said that communists are atheists. However, religion is not the dividing line among the people. Even though we are atheists we work and unite with many people who are religious or spiritual. Overall, there was a lot struggle around this question. And while we didn't agree, we learned a lot about why she felt the way she did and that brought us to a higher unity. And even though we had differences around this question, she still liked the Draft Programme, and we valued her comments on it.
Listening to what people thought about the Draft Programme was just incredible. Many people really connected with the DP and thought what it has to say is just right on! A young guy who was a member of a "communist organization" thought the DP spoke to him more than the organization he belonged to.
When the question came up of why the proletariat is the only other class that can run society, one young woman said, "It's 'cause we have the numbers and the strength" and when she said that she raised her arm and gave a little flex. Her programme was just torn apart, in a good way. She had her entire programme highlighted and it looked like its been read over one hundred times. The fact that the team went out to this area helped raise people's sights and their political consciousness a step higher.
At the Border
We got to meet with some activists around the border. Hearing stories of dead bodies being found in the desert which have been picked at by animals, or stories of cows eating the bones of the deceased migrants and never getting a chance to identify these bodies, fucking made our blood boil! It doesn't even stop there! If the body is found and can't be identified, then the bodies are buried in graves, which are separate from the nice grassy ones. Immigrants are buried in fucked-up dirt graves, which have no tombstones, just fucking wooden crosses. Their graves are poorly kept and there is shit all over the place--just goes to show you how people are valued in this society.
No one ever thinks about people who have crossed the border and what horrific stories they keep deep down inside. The man who sells oranges on the corner, the maid who cleans the rooms in a hotel, the woman who works at McDonald's, or even your neighbor who you don't speak to because of the language barrier. It's worth asking these people what it's like to cross the border--their life experiences, the horrific stories one might hear, the anger that might set in afterwards. It's just another reason why this shit has to come down!!
We met some youth in our discussions on the DP that didn't know much about the border issues and were interested in what we thought about it. So we went with them to the border and had a whole tour. The impact was intense on all of us. The walk through was heart-gripping. One of them asked, "Why, why does the U.S. do this?" A comrade explained how U.S. imperialism works, how "immigrants are a key factor in the U.S. economy, providing comfortable lives for the middle class and cheap domestic goods with their labor."
The people we met gave us strength. We learned so much from so many different types of people about how they view the Draft Programme. We learned that in these places, a lot of people we were not aware of were studying the Draft Programme. And we learned that many others were very open to getting with us to discuss what it is going to take to change the world and liberate humanity--including checking out the Draft Programme. We learned from people's insights and criticisms of the Draft Programme. And people learned more about the DP by discussing it with us. Having this experience helped us see more sharply why we need revolution, why we need to take the Draft Programme out to everyone and why having a programme is so important.
To all the youth out there who want to change the world and see an end to all oppression and exploitation... To all the people who put their lives on the line to help our immigrant sisters and brothers....for the people who set up water stations and who stand up when they are being harassed by la pinche migra...for that one person who feels isolated, for all the people, no matter where you are at, who resist and fight.....We want to send them a red salute and want to tell them that they ain't alone and that no matter what struggle they may be part of, we have their BACK!!!....You are truly a reason for Living and Dying!! Long Live the Struggle for a Better World!! Long Live Revolution!
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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