August 28, 2005
Back to School
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Important “back-to-school” message to all students, teachers, campus workers and revolutionary activists:
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A Message to Students in Dangerous Times
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Right now, as you’re heading back to school, the question is being ever more sharply posed: what kind of future will we end up with?
Who would have imagined coming of age in a country where wars without end are waged on the basis of lies, justified on the basis of fear and patriotism, and continued despite tremendous opposition?
Where immigrants are detained and deported, without access to lawyers or contact with the outside world, solely on the basis of suspicion? And where people taken into custody are held outside the bounds of international law and--yes, openly--tortured?
Where religious fundamentalism is being promoted from the highest offices in government, invading all aspects of public and personal life?
Where the theory of evolution is being undermined, and scientific research that contradicts a literal interpretation of the Bible is being suppressed?
Where those who once defended a woman’s reproductive freedom are openly conciliating with Christian Fascists who view women as submissive incubators?
Where the looting and pillaging of not only the planet, but whole sections of the planet’s people, rages on unabated?
And where all this is presided over by a President who stole his election, who threatens countries and peoples all over the planet, who refuses to listen to contrary opinions, who openly promotes and enforces ignorance in myriad ways, who has instituted a whole series of fascist laws and measures based on scare campaigns, and who smirks and lies his way down this unprecedentedly dangerous course?
Yet this is where we live, in the United States, the sole superpower in the world. It’s on a global rampage that is larger in scale and scope than any empire that has ever preceded it. And with this rampage have come dramatic changes in how the rulers rule at home--from how civil rights are conceived, to the powers of the state, to morals and values and even the very meaning of truth.
This whole dynamic is bad enough, but should the fanatics at the core of this succeed in their full aims--and they are getting closer all the time--this will bring very dangerous consequences indeed. What might happen if some of those now in power are able to turn the U.S. into a theocracy--a religion-based government--and can implement Biblical law and on that basis justify executions for "habitual offenders"--including the over 2 million people now in jail -- or for gay people, or women who have sex outside of marriage? If abortion and birth control--and even divorce -- is outlawed? If faith trumps reason everywhere from the courtroom to the laboratory to the schoolroom?
It doesn’t matter how many times you say, "Oh, we’ll never go there. It’ll never get that bad." Look around you now: how much worse do things need to be before "that bad" seems all too possible? How much further do they need to go with dismantling fundamental rights?
We’re on a fast track to very dark times. And it’s no exaggeration to say that each of us is being confronted with a choice: to be silent, keep our heads down (or in our books), and "go on with life as normal," or to pour all our hearts, souls, and imagination into bringing another future into being.
Look for a minute at the serious attacks coming down on the campus itself. Critical-thinking professors and dissenters have been labeled "seditious" and "treasonous" for simply speaking out or organizing against the U.S. war on Iraq. Well-funded and highly organized reactionary students are trained to act as modern shock troops and brown-shirts, informing on and systematically harassing progressive faculty. And highly connected fascists like David Horowitz (see page 14) and even Karl Rove are right in the middle of this. Where is all this going? What is it leading to?
The campuses have been one of the few remaining sites of critical thinking and dissent left in this country. But now the fascist movement in this country aims to shut that down, to enforce uniformity in thinking and compel consent. We can’t allow that!
Again, where is all this going? And what do we have to do about it?
When you see the real stakes for how the future is shaping up it is clear that this generation has a very real responsibility. At major junctures in history students have played a critical role in advancing society forward and standing against reaction. What happens--or for that matter, what doesn’t happen--on the campuses means a huge amount for what happens in society as a whole.
The future won’t take care of itself. The forces behind this fascist dynamic have been working at it for over 20 years--they have stolen elections and some of them actually believe they rule by divine right! So hoping for a pendulum swing--or for a savior from the Democratic Party--will not deal with a force this relentless. Something radically different is needed.
And something radically different there is. There is now taking shape an exciting and crucial movement that millions can be part of. A movement that aims to break people out of the dangerous dynamic of politics as usual. A movement that has a real shot at actually winning a whole different and far better future. A movement that aims to repudiate the whole reactionary package of the Bush regime, beginning with a huge mobilization on November 2--the first anniversary of Bush’s "re-election."
Check out this vision of November 2 from the call "The World Can’t Wait…Drive Out The Bush Regime" (see pages 6-7):
"People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: "NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!"
"November 2 must be a massive and public proclamation that WE REFUSE TO BE RULED IN THIS WAY. November 2 must call out to the tens of millions more who are now agonizing and disgusted."
But November 2 is only two months away. To make this giant first step urgently requires your energies. Check out pages 6 and 7 for more information on this--for the movement’s call and for information on an upcoming conference.
Sometimes, when people get involved with this effort, one of their first--and perhaps most important--questions is: "what will replace the Bush Regime after we drive them out? What comes next?"
First off, think about how great it would be to have a groundswell of movement from the people that would actually drive out this insane regime. Think of the horror that would stop, dead in its tracks. Think of what succeeding in that would mean to the people around the world and right here.
And think of the kind of movement that would develop--while people unite to force this hated regime from power, they discuss and debate what needs to replace it, from a host of different perspectives and viewpoints.
As communists we have our own vision and program for "what comes next"--a revolutionary socialist society, playing its part in the world struggle to get to communism--to a society where class exploitation and the institutions and ideas that arise on that basis and back it up are no more, and where people live as freely associating human beings.
We are proud in this issue to introduce many of you to a unique and outstanding revolutionary leader with a truly unique vision of a communist world and the historic revolutionary struggle needed to get there. That leader is Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He has re-envisioned communism for the 21 st century and his vision as well as his method are exhilarating. We invite and challenge you to read, for example, Bob Avakian’s page 8 centerfold article, "Three Alternative Worlds" (excerpted from his new book Observations On Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy)--and see how many of your preconceptions and stereotypes remain intact. And check out his article on abortion on page 4 and 5, as well as the "toolkit" of books, CDs and an incredible DVD in the centerfold.
To quote that centerfold, "Bob Avakian is the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party and a path-breaking Marxist thinker. He follows the truth wherever it goes--and he’s not afraid to put it out there, either. He calls out the powers-that-be with a fire, depth, and humor that is one-of-a-kind. He boldly defends the overwhelmingly positive experience and ideas of communism...and he just as boldly criticizes its shortcomings and points to a whole new vision for the future. He analyzes how a real revolution could be made in a country like this, in a time like today.
"In short, Bob Avakian is bringing something really new onto the scene, and you’ve got to find out what it’s all about."
You hold in your hands the newspaper of the organization which can lead the struggle for revolution. This party has the political and ideological line, the revolutionary communist leadership and plan to bring that new world into being. If you read this paper every week you will learn the truth about every twist and turn in society; you will stay plugged in to the crucial struggles of today; and you will get an understanding of how all that links up to the fight for a whole better world--for communist revolution. And if you distribute this paper--if you spread the "contagion" of truth and revolutionary ideas--you will help lay the groundwork for the crucial days when a chance at revolution may very well develop out of the increasingly sharp conflicts of this system and the struggles it gives rise to.
As kids we were always asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" but no one ever asked, "What kind of world do you want to live in?" and then invited us to fight for it. Well, we’re doing that here, because the world desperately needs you to fight for that different future right now.
Welcome to REVOLUTION newspaper…and welcome to The Revolution. CHOOSE A LIFE THAT MATTERS.
The Bible and Baby-Killing
by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
In countering the attack on abortion as "killing babies"--which is one of the main lines of attack of the religious fundamentalists--we should bring out forcefully things like Psalm 137 and the book of Isaiah (for example, chapters 9 through 14 in Isaiah). In those chapters of the book of Isaiah in particular, "The Lord" (the "god" of the Bible) and the prophet Isaiah, speaking directly on behalf of "The Lord," calls repeatedly for destruction and atrocity to be brought down on the peoples, including the small children, who have angered "The Lord." And, as in Isaiah, so Psalm 137 ends with this call for smashing to pieces the little ones of Babylon:
"O Babylon, you devastator,
Happy shall they be who pay
what you have done to us!
Happy shall be they who take
your little ones
and dash them against the rock!"
Here in Psalm 137, as well as in the book of Isaiah, and elsewhere in the Bible, when it calls for, demands and celebrates the bashing in OF the heads of babies, what is being talked about is NOT a fetus, in the uterus of a woman, but babies that have been born and are distinct human beings, physically separate from their mother. So, the next time we hear of these fanatical fundamentalists howling that women who have abortions and doctors and other providers of abortions are "baby killers," these "Bible-thumpers" should be confronted like this: "Do you believe in the Bible?" "Yes," they will of course reply. "Well, then, do you believe in this?"--referring to what is in passages like the end of Psalm 137 or in the book of Isaiah, where "The Lord" and those representing for "The Lord" demand and celebrate the killing of actual babies. "If you won’t uphold that," we should insist to them, "then don’t wave your Bible around and invoke ‘biblical authority’ to de-nounce others as ‘baby killers’! If you are going to try to ‘pick and choose’ what you will uphold from the Bible, then you are hypo-crites--because all this time you have been insisting that the Bible is the literal word of god and has the absolute moral authority of god’s law. So, unless you will uphold everything, every last word, that is in the Bible--including where it repeatedly calls for wanton and grotesque atrocities, like the mass murder of actual babies--then you need to just shut up, and quit harassing and threatening women who want abortions and providers who enable them to have safe abortions."
Now, if these fundamentalist fanatics will uphold these atrocities in the Bible, including the slaughter of actual babies, then they definitely are the worst hypo-crites when they condemn others as "baby-killers." And this is especially outrageous when they hurl this accusation of "baby-killers" at women (and doctors and others who assist them) who in fact are not "killing babies" but are carrying out a medical procedure which aborts a fetus, not a separate, developed human being (I will come back to this in a minute). In this case, too, the fundamentalist fanatics have nothing to say--nothing that anyone should listen to--about "killing babies."
Another very important point is this: These people who attack the right to abortion are overwhelmingly opposed to birth control as well--and they are opposed not only to the IUD, which technically prevents the embryo from attaching to the uterus after the egg has been fertilized, they are opposed to any and every kind of birth control. Certainly, all these Catholic reactionaries who are opposed to abortion are also opposed to birth control. It is a matter of official Catholic Church doctrine to oppose birth control, for a fundamental reason that is very much at the heart of this whole issue: according to this reactionary religious viewpoint, a woman’s role is to be a subordinate to her husband and a breeder of his children, and birth control as well as abortion can undermine that. And the Protestant fundamentalist fascists are also overwhelmingly opposed to birth control--not only outside the confines of marriage, but even within it (this is clear from many statements of leading Protestant fundamentalist opponents of abortion, although it is important to pin them down on this very concretely).
These are ways that we can hit back hard at them, politically and ideologically, getting to what is the essence here: It is not the supposed "killing of babies," it is that they want women to be in essence the property of men, to be controlled by their husbands and to be breeders of children, breeders of property, for their husbands. We should continue to hammer at them: " That is what your Bible advocates, and that is what you are for. And this is shown not only by your opposition to abortion but also by the fact that, at the same time, you are against birth control."
It is also very important to be bringing things back to the reality of what 90 plus percent of abortions actually consist of--the fact that they are performed in the first trimester, the first three months of pregnancy, when the fetus is anywhere from the size of the period at the end of this sentence to about an inch in length. Those opposed to abortion distort and play up things they make sound like horrors, like late-term abortions. First of all, they label these procedures "partial birth abortions," distorting what they actually are. Second of all, they misrepresent how often they actually occur--the fact that they are really quite rare--and they misrepresent under what conditions they generally occur, they leave out or push to the background the health of the woman in question. And then this --their distortions of late-term abortions--becomes, in their propaganda, identified with all abortions. Not that we should be defensive about the necessity for late-term abortions, but all this is just total distortion. We have to wage a counter-offensive here, and get to what the essence of the issue is. In the case of the great majority of abortions, over 90 percent, what is involved, in terms of the fetus, is a very tiny clump of cells--it is that versus a woman’s fate. That’s what we’re talking about here. Physiologically and socially, that’s essentially what we’re talking about here--the fate of women vs. a clump of cells, which at that point (during the first three months in particular) are by no means even completely differentiated (into different organs and parts of the body with different specific functions) and certainly are not anything like a developed human being--and are, in fact, a tiny clump of cells. We have to get things back to the real issue.
This is not only a crucial issue in an overall sense, but it is being even more sharply posed in the aftermath of the 2004 election, where the Christian Fascists are pushing like crazy to abolish the right to abortion--they are insisting to Bush and the Republicans: "You’ve gotta deliver on this now." That is why they went after Arlen Specter (a long-time Senator from Pennsylvania, who is supposedly a more "moderate Republican," whatever that means), because Specter cautioned Bush about nominating people as judges who would support the outright outlawing of abortion.
And, as with the political situation in general at this point, the polarization around the question of abortion is not favorable now. Even among women, particularly younger women, there is a lot of confusion around this issue, a lot of influence of the reactionary offensive against abortion, including the characterization of abortion as "killing babies." Many of these young women have not understood the essence of this issue--and many other people have lost sight of it, or become "fuzzy" and "conflicted" about it--not only because of the reactionary offensive but also because the bourgeois-democratic leaders of the women’s movement have let themselves believe that they could just become passive and let Democratic Party politicians like Clinton and Gore take care of it. They fell into the false notion that, "Oh, they’ll never really take away the right to abortion--or, if there is a real threat of that, we just gotta vote for Democrats." They have let the other side--the Christian Fascists and the reactionaries generally, with their offensive against abortion--completely have the initiative, politically and ideologically (including morally), for years and years now.
And, while it was of course a very good thing that a million people came out to demonstrate recently in support of the right to abortion, by itself that will not end up amounting to very much, because these people haven’t seized the political and ideological initiative around this question. And, to be blunt, many of the million women and men who were there, to support the right to abortion, would have a very hard time answering the moral and overall ideological offensive of the other side--other than to just sort of retreat into certain catch phrases about a woman’s right to choose, without being able to engage the substance of the attack on that.
It is also a fact that in general the women’s movement is shrinking because it is not engaging, or not effectively engaging, key issues that affect women. There is a lot of right-wing Christian Fascist organization among women who are frightened by all the things that the feminists, for good reason, cherish and uphold. And those questions are not really being addressed by the more reformist women’s movement. It’s not that the women who are being heavily influenced by the Christian Fascist arguments are the main group that needs to be reached right now, but they shouldn’t be just ignored and written off either.
I am going into this and giving it a lot of emphasis because these questions are very important themselves, because all this is a major part of how polarization is presently taking shape in U.S. society--and because this could play a big part in favorable repolarization, touching profoundly on the whole direction of society.
This is yet another crucial challenge that we must take up, coming from our full revolutionary communist perspective and its goal of the complete emancipation of women, the abolition of all oppression and exploitation and ultimately the emancipation of all of humanity.
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Bob Avakian is the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party and a pathbreaking Marxist thinker. He follows the truth wherever it goes--and he’s not afraid to put it out there, either. He calls out the powers-that-be with a fire, depth, and humor that is one-of-a-kind. He boldly defends the overwhelmingly positive experience and ideas of the communist project...and he just as boldly criticizes its shortcomings and points to a whole new vision for the future. He analyzes how a real revolution could be made in a country like this, in a time like today.
In short, Bob Avakian is bringing something really new onto the scene, and you’ve got to find out what it’s all about.
There’s two places to start the process. The first is the DVD/Video Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, and What It’s All About. Bob Avakian breaks down those questions on this video, before a live audience. You’ll see him go at these things in a way that’s both very deep and very accessible. The second place is his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. You learn about the people, the experiences, and the times that shaped Bob Avakian. You see how he came to be a revolutionary leader, and how he’s managed to stay true to his revolutionary ideals through the challenges of over three decades. You come to know him as a person. And you learn a hell of a lot about communist politics and ideology in the process!
The next place to go is to your computer, to burn a few CDs off the Internet. Online, bobavakian.net contains speeches, complete with questions and answers, focusing on religion and democracy--and resistance, revolution, and liberation. You’ve never heard anyone call things out like this before. You can also listen to revolutionary journalist Michael Slate ask--and Chairman Avakian answer--the toughest questions about revolution and communism. Also, on the Revolution website, revcom.us, you can hear Carl Dix interview the Chairman shortly after 9/11 on war and revolution, and on being a revolutionary and changing the world.
To learn about how Bob Avakian has revived and re-shaped the whole idea of communist revolution, you need to download the talk "Dictatorship and Democracy and the Socialist Transition to Communism," available online at revcom.us. The Chairman gets into the great achievements of past revolutions, even as he critically sums up their weaknesses. Beyond that, he sets forth a vision of a society moving toward the elimination of all oppression and providing the vibrancy that would make it a place where people would really want to live.
Some similar themes--along with a whole range of philosophical and cultural issues--are taken up in the new book co-written by Bob Avakian and Bill Martin, Marxism and the Call of the Future: Conversations on Ethics, History and Politics --available from Open Court’s website at www.opencourtbooks.com.
Marxism and the Call of the Future: Conversations on Ethics, History and Politics and Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy are of special interest to students and professors in philosophy, history, social studies, art and literature, political theory, science and cultural studies.
Excerpted from talks as well as more informal discussions and conversations, Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy, offers a real treat. Many of the texts in this collection invite the reader to experience the freewheeling Bob Avakian as he continues to develop his extensive body of work.
You’ve also got to read or hear Bob Avakian’s analysis of the dynamics of the heavy events of today, the real forces shaping them.and the actual "fighting chance" that people may have to wrench a better future out of it all. In addition to the talks on bobavakian.net, check out the articles "The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy. And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer" and "The Pyramid of Power and the Struggle To Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down." And there’s the important new series "The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era," now appearing in Revolution newspaper, where the Chairman’s work appears almost every week. All of these are available at revcom.us.
And that’s just the beginning. He’s written a host of important books and pamphlets on a wide range of subjects, including Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?, Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones (on religion and Christian fascism), Could We Really Win? (on military strategy), Phony Communism Is Dead.Long Live Real Communism!and many more.
A leader like this only comes along once in a great while. When we get one, we need to cherish him and defend him against the powers-that-be, and we definitely need to get into what he’s saying. That’s how we see Bob Avakian. So check him out, and see what you think.
One last thing. Don’t just read, or listen to, or watch this stuff alone. Get some people together who are also losing sleep over the future. Play the DVD. Talk about the memoir. Dig into it. Debate it. Share it with everyone you know who is thinking about where the planet is headed.
by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
This is an excerpt from "Three Alternative Worlds," in the new collection Bob Avakian: Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy. It is from the talk Dictatorship and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism, which is available online at revcom.us.
As the world exists today and as people seek to change it, and particularly in terms of the socialist transformation of society, as I see it there are basically three alternatives that are possible. One is the world as it is. Enough said about that. [ Laughter.]
The second one is in a certain sense, almost literally and mechanically, turning the world upside down. In other words, people who are now exploited will no longer be exploited in the same way, people who now rule this society will be prevented from ruling or influencing society in a significant way. The basic economic structure of society will change, some of the social relations will change, and some of the forms of political rule will change, and some of the forms of culture and ideology will change, but fundamentally the masses of people will not be increasingly and in one leap after another drawn into the process of really transforming society. This is really a vision of a revisionist so-ciety. If you think back to the days of the Soviet Union, when it had become a revisionist society, capitalist and imperialist in essence, but still socialist in name, when they would be chided for their alleged or real violations of people’s rights, they would often answer "Who are you in the West to be talking about the violation of human rights--look at all the people in your society who are unemployed, what more basic human right is there than to have a job?"
Well, did they have a point? Yes, up to a point. But fundamentally what they were putting forward, the vision of society that they were projecting, was a social welfare kind of society in which fundamentally the role of the masses of people is no different than it is under the classical form of capitalism. The answer about the rights of the people cannot be reduced to the right to have a job and earn an income, as basic as that is. There is the question of are we really going to transform society so that in every respect, not only economically but socially, politically, ideologically, and culturally, it really is superior to capitalist society. A society that not only meets the needs of the masses of people, but really is characterized increasingly by the conscious expression and initiative of the masses of people.
This is a more fundamental transformation than simply a kind of social welfare, socialist in name but really capitalist in essence society, where the role of the masses of people is still largely reduced to being producers of wealth, but not people who thrash out all the larger questions of affairs of state, the direction of society, culture, philosophy, science, the arts, and so on. The revisionist model is a narrow, economist view of socialism. It reduces the people, in their activity, to simply the economic sphere _of society, and in a limited way at that--simply their social welfare with regard to the economy. It doesn’t even think about transforming the world outlook of the people as they in turn change the _world around them.
And you cannot have a new society and a new world with the same outlook that people are indoctrinated and inculcated with in this society. You cannot have a real revolutionary transformation of society and abolition of unequal social as well as economic relations and political relations if people still approach the world in the way in which they’re conditioned and limited and constrained to approach it now. How can the masses of people really take up the task of consciously changing the world if their outlook and their approach to the world remains what it is under this system? It’s impossible, and this situation will simply reproduce the great inequalities in every sphere of society that I’ve been talking about.
The third alternative is a real radical rupture. Marx and Engels said in the Communist Manifesto that the communist revolution represents a radical rupture with traditional property relations and with traditional ideas. And the one is not possible without the other. They are mutually reinforcing, one way or the other.
If you have a society in which the fundamental role of women is to be breeders of children, how can you have a society in which there is equality between men and women? You cannot. And if you don’t attack and uproot the traditions, the morals, and so on, that reinforce that role, how can you transform the relations between men and women and abolish the deep-seated inequalities that are _bound up with the whole division of society into oppressors and oppressed, exploiters and exploited? You cannot.
So the third alternative is a real radical rupture in every sphere, a radically different synthesis, to put it that way. Or to put it another way, it’s a society and a world that the great majority of people would actually want to live in. One in which not only do they not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or if they get sick whether they’re going to be told that they can’t have health care because they can’t pay for it, as important as that is; but one in which they are actually taking up, wrangling with, and increasingly making their own province all the different spheres of society.
Achieving that kind of a society, and that kind of a world, is a very profound challenge. It’s much more profound than simply changing a few forms of ownership of the economy and making sure that, on that basis, people’s social welfare is taken care of, but you still have people who are taking care of that for the masses of people; and all the spheres of science, the arts, philosophy and all the rest are basically the province of a few. And the political decision-making process remains the province of a few.
To really leap beyond that is a tremendous and world-historic struggle that we’ve been embarked on since the Russian revolution (not counting the very short-lived and limited experience of the Paris Commune)--and in which we reached the high point with the Chinese revolution and in particular the Cultural Revolution--but from which we’ve been thrown back temporarily.
So we need to make a further leap on the basis of summing up very deeply all that experience. There are some very real and vexing problems that we have to confront and advance through in order to draw from the best of the past, but go further and do even better in the future.
Ruling Class Divisions over Iraq Heighten as…
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The encampment outside Bush’s ranch vacation unleashed a furor. Cindy Sheehan stood outside and demanded that Bush explain to her what "noble cause" had got her son killed in Iraq. It all got onto prime time news--and struck a nerve. People have been choosing sides. Support vigils have been held in over 1,400 places. And the response also showed cracks in the war morale of military families, and in the military itself. All this shows two things:
First, millions of people believe this war was launched on lies and that the U.S. should get out of Iraq. Millions think this is not a war worth dying or killing for. And many thousands are ready, right now, to act on that conviction. These many thousands need to be given an outlet that can actually satisfy that profound desire.
Second, the mounting problems for the U.S. in Iraq are intensifying divisions within the ruling class.
This war was a high-stakes gamble for the U.S. government from the beginning. And now, two years later, they have still not stabilized their control over Iraq and the larger region. They are stretched thin and isolated, facing a growing insurgency and seemingly unable to bring together Iraqi forces to run the country for them. There is a real danger that this could all turn into a major strategic setback for them.
The U.S. imperialists are not about to pull out of Iraq and abandon their grip on this highly strategic spot. The consensus within the ruling class remains that this war has to be won, in some form. But while Bush insists everything is going well--that is being challenged from right within the ruling class.
And this is shown by the very fact that some of the forces controlling the mainstream mass media obviously decided to bring Cindy Sheehan into every living room, night after night. What a change, from the same mass media that has so crudely censored antiwar sentiment from the national news.
But these ruling class critiques of Bush’s war leadership are coming from fundamentally different interests than the millions of people who want an end to this war.
Just look at what former Senator Max Cleland said, in the official Democratic Party reply to Bush’s radio address: "The Bush administration’s plan for victory is not working... Iraq is still not secure and we don’t have the forces to make it secure…It’s time for a strategy to win in Iraq or a strategy to get out." And while Cleland may hold out the promise of withdrawal, his emphasis is clearly on a "strategy to win."
Is that what the people of the world need? A more effective U.S. counterinsurgency in Iraq? A Hillary Clinton approach of sending more U.S. troops in to conquer Iraq?! Some more skillful or persuasive American commander-in-chief?
No, the world needs an end to U.S. war, empire, threat and torture!
There is a danger that all this antiwar sentiment may, once again, be herded into those well-worn ruts of politics-as-usual. And you can see that danger sharply in the endless repetition of "Support the Troops."
First off: Isn’t the real injustice here the killing and torture of Iraq’s people? The only U.S. troops who should be supported are the ones who refuse to fight and resist their unjust orders.
Beyond that, if this moment is made all about supporting the troops, then all too quickly the slogan "Support the troops, end the war" gives way to "Support the troops, send reinforcements…and send more armor, find more allies, and don’t undermine their fighting morale!" This narrow poisonous logic around "the troops" too easily brings people back to supporting the war, the system, and all the misery that represents. And this simply can’t be allowed to go down!
All this bitter infighting within the ruling class creates cracks and crisis--it can shake many more people awake, and draw them into political life. And it helps create the possibility for many more people breaking away from a logic and class interests represented by all that official imperialist politics-as-usual. To do that requires a bold initiative -- dramatic mass action that refuses to settle for anything less than the repudiation of the whole course of action represented by the Bush regime, including this outrageous criminal war in Iraq. And such action is represented by the November 2 call on the facing page.
If we are really going to liberate people --a radically different and revolutionary political direction has to be fought for, to end the capitalism and empire that give rise to this whole endless offensive of war and torture.
by C. Clark Kissinger
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Many people who are really angry about the Bush regime and who care about what is happening in the world are turning a wistful eye toward the Democrats and hoping for 2006. But illusions are very dangerous.
Time for a reality check.
YOU want an end to the murderous wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Hillary, Biden, Lieberman, Reid, Pelosi, and all the rest of the Democratic big-shots are down for these wars. Didn’t Kerry pledge, "We will never be forced out of Iraq"? They helped to approve Bush’s $82 billion military budget, they pledged to give the troops better armor, and they are even calling for putting "more boots on the ground." If you follow them,you end up with never-ending war.
YOU are against the Patriot Act, with all its fascist police-state measures, but the Democrats in Congress unanimously joined the Republicans in backing Bush’s move to make most of the sections of the fascist Patriot Act permanent. If you follow them, you will end up with more secret searches, more arrests and detention by executive order, and the use of military tribunals.
YOU are for preserving secular government in the United States, but the Democrats’ "Secretary of Religion" Jim Wallis tells one and all that you can’t fight "bad religion" with secularism; it must be opposed with "good religion." If you follow this, you end up accepting the basic thesis of theocracy.
YOU support women’s reproductive rights and women’s refusal to be reduced to the social role of incubators, but that is certainly not the direction the Democrats are going. Everywhere they are scrambling to establish antiabortion credentials. In Pennsylvania they are running an antiabortion candidate against Republican Senator Rick Santorum. Hilary Clinton now talks about the "tragedy" of abortion. If you follow them, you will end up capitulating to the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the outlawing of abortion.
YOU are for the full extension of civil rights to gay and lesbian couples, including the right to marriage, but you can see the clouds of dust as the leading Democrats flee this issue. At most--and who knows for how long--the Democratic leadership is for "civil unions." If you follow this, you will be supporting a U.S. version of the 1935Nuremberg Laws in Nazi Germany that established a legal category of second-class citizenship, and the basis for much worse.
Is all this that the Democrats stand for what you want to support and be a part of? If you don’t bust out of this framework, you will end up where you never wanted to go. Sure, they may dangle another Kucinich or Sharpton type in front of you as bait. But the Christian fascist agenda is right now setting the terms overall, and the elections will be used once again to drag YOU, and the very terms of political discourse, ever further to the right.
The time to take action--mass action, action independent of this framework, action based on what the people really need and really want, and not what some Democrat tells them it is okay to want--is now. The world can’t wait.
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
This call is from worldcantwait.org:
Your government,on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in their sights.
Your government is openly torturing people, and justifying it.
Your government puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.
Your government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.
Your government suppresses the science that doesn’t fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.
Your government is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion.
Your government enforces a culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.
People look at all this and think of Hitler--and they are right to do so. The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come. We must act now; the future is in the balance.
Millions and millions are deeply disturbed and outraged by this. They recognize the need for a vehicle to express this outrage, yet they cannot find it; politics as usual cannot meet the enormity of the challenge, and people sense this.
There is not going to be some magical "pendulum swing." People who steal elections and believe they’re on a "mission from God" will not go without a fight.
There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into "leaders" who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.
But silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn--or be forced--to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.
And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.
To that end, on November 2, the first anniversary of Bush’s "re-election," we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: "NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!"
NOVEMBER 2 must be a massive and public proclamation that WE REFUSE TO BE RULED IN THIS WAY. November 2 must call out to the tens of millions more who are now agonizing and disgusted. November 2 will be the beginning--a giant first step in forcing Bush to step down, and a powerful announcement that we will not stop until he does so--and it will join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.
This will not be easy. If we speak the truth, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Bush and we are NOT going to stop.
The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.
These next two months are crucial. The call you are reading has to get out to millions right away--on the internet, passed out as flyers in communities, published as ads in newspapers. DO NOT WAIT!! GET ORGANIZED!!If you agree with this statement, add your name to it!!! And do more than that: send it to friends, get them to sign it, organize a meeting, take it to your church, your school, your union, your health club, your barber shop, to concerts and libraries and family gatherings, everywhere you go. Raise money, lots of money. Get people together, make plans to be there on November 2, and to build for it. GET IN TOUCH WITH US AT OUR WEBSITE, worldcantwait.org
The world can’t wait! Drive out the Bush Regime! Mobilize for November 2!www.worldcantwait.org
Help build the vehicle people need! The leaders of this movement will come out of this meeting. And this will include people who have never organized anything before. Come envision, together, the mass outpouring needed to Drive Out the Bush Regime. Come and take responsibility for putting together the organization, plans, and structure to do it.Years from now, people will look back and say that on Labor Day, 2005, in New York City, an extraordinary meeting started something that many people at the time thought was impossible.
This can happen in the two short months we have until November 2,
but it will take organizing on a scale and with a vision that has not been
seen in our time. We invite you to be there on Day 1.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center
208 West 13th Street
New York City
Register to participate: (347) 693-3319
Fee: $25-$100 sliding scale
SCHEDULE: (times are firm, program may be adjusted)
Saturday, September 3rd
11 am--Presentation by the initiators of the World Can’t Wait Call
12:30pm--Working lunch (provided) Break into small groups brainstorming for November 2nd
2 pm--Report back into larger discussion on November 2nd
4 pm--Workshops: website, publicity, students and youth, Art & Culture, Fundraising 6 pm-8:30 pm--Public Forum: How we are going to drive out the Bush Regime
Sunday, September 4th
10 am--Working group sessions
1 pm-6 pm--Planning for November 2nd and Beyond
Monday, September 5th
Work groups and travel day or stay and come with World Can’t Wait to the giant West Indian Parade in Brooklyn.If you are planning or even thinking about attending, e-mail us now: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Revolution received the following:
When the possibility of far-reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity exists, people of conscience have a solemn responsibility to inquire into the nature and scope of these acts and to determine if they do in fact rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. That is the mission of the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity. It will be held October 21-23 in New York City. This tribunal will, with care and rigor, present evidence and assess whether George W. Bush and his administration have committed crimes against humanity. Well-established international law will be referenced where applicable, but the tribunal will not be limited by the scope of existing international law.
The tribunal will deliberate on four categories of indictable crimes:
1) Wars of Aggression, with particular reference to the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
2) Torture and Indefinite Detention, with particular reference to the abandonment of international standards concerning the treatment of prisoners of war and the use of torture.
3) Destruction of the Global Environment, with particular reference to systematic policies contributing to the catastrophic effects of global warming.
4) Attacks on Global Public Health and Reproductive Rights, with particular reference to the genocidal effects of forcing international agencies to promote "abstinence only" in the midst of a global AIDS epidemic.
The Commission’s jury of conscience will be composed of internationally respected jurists and legal scholars, prominent voices of conscience, and experts and monitors in relevant fields. The tribunal’s legitimacy is derived from its integrity, its rigor in the presentation of evidence, and the stature of its participants. Representatives of the Bush administration will be invited to present a defense.
Prior to the meeting of the Commission, teams with sufficient expertise will prepare preliminary indictments in each of the four areas, setting forth the scope of the Bush administration’s actions and how they contravene legal and moral norms for international behavior. At the meeting of the Commission, there will be four prosecution teams that organize the presentation of the evidence. This evidence will be documents as well as eyewitness testimony by victims and observers of the crimes alleged. The formal proceedings will be held in a public venue and all attempts will be made to publicize and broadcast its deliberations internationally. The Commission’s jury of conscience will come to verdicts and its findings will be published.
The holding of this tribunal will frame and fuel a discussion that is urgently needed in the United States: Is the administration of George W. Bush guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity? The Commission will conduct its work with a deep sense of responsibility to the people of the world.
The Commission is sponsored by the Not In Our Name statement of conscience, joined by the following individuals and organizations:
[List in formation]Anthony Alessandrini, organizer with the World Tribunal on Iraq and New York University Students for Justice in Palestine
[institutions referenced for identification only]
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Forty years ago this month, the Watts Rebellion rocked Los Angeles and sent shockwaves around the world. Tens of thousands of Black people rose up in anger and defiance. The police had to put 46.5 square miles of the city under military-enforced curfew, mobilizing 21,000 cops and National Guard troops. More than 30 Black and Latino people were shot to death, and 5,000 were injured or busted. But even with all this, it took the authorities six long days to bring the Rebellion to an end.
The authorities called the Rebellion an irrational "riot." In fact, the rebellion was a just and righteous action of the masses against oppression. It was a very political act against the whole brutal, racist setup in society. It marked the opening of the urban-based Black liberation struggle that rocked the U.S. in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Forty years after the Watts Rebellion, many things have changed in the situation of Black people and other oppressed nationalities. But the basic reality of barbaric racism and injustice still confronts the masses of Black and other oppressed people. And for the proletarians at the very bottom of society, the situation has actually gotten worse.
Today, 40 years later, the need for a real solution--for revolution--cries out more than ever. But while the Black liberation struggle of that time ebbed, there is a Party that came out of that time with a leadership, a programme and plan--and that is prepared to lead today, all the way to revolution.
Raymond Lotta Speaking On…
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
We received the following from Set the Record Straight Project:
This fall on major university campuses, Raymond Lotta will speak on why and how "Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be A Far Better World." He will take on the "official history" of the 20th century: that the "socialist experiment has proven to be a failure" ... that "communism is dead" ... that "while capitalism may do terrible things, if you try to organize society in a fundamentally different way, it’s going to lead to a nightmare." Raymond Lotta’s speech will challenge this reigning consensus about communism. He will put before people the actual historical record of the "first wave" of socialist revolutions, in the Soviet Union (1917-56) and China (1949-76). He will be rescuing from distortion, and plain suppression of facts, what these revolutions were setting out to do and what they accomplished. These experiences of the past are very much connected to the possibilities of the future.
This speech is urgently needed. Many people are concerned about the direction U.S. society is headed in--"endless war," the "normalization of torture," moves towards a theocracy. People are anxious about the state of the world and the fate of the planet. In this situation, doesn’t intellectual discourse have to challenge the present framework of capitalism in order to be responsible? Can we leave humanity’s future to Bush and company? An honest conversation about the real achievements of the first round of socialist revolution, while critically examining shortcomings and errors, is required in order to point to a future qualitatively different. The Lotta speech will help pry open and create conditions for a more two-sided debate about the socialist experience.
Raymond Lotta is a leading Maoist political economist. He has written extensively about trends in the global economy, conditions in the Third World, and the experience of socialist revolution in the 20th century. His book America in Decline is a wide-ranging study of the economics and politics of empire. His essays in Maoist Economics and the Revolutionary Road to Communism survey socialist economic development under Mao and explore the character of what Lotta calls "a visionary and viable socialism." Raymond Lotta’s books have been reviewed in such journals as Foreign Affairs and China Quarterly. He is a contributing writer to Revolution newspaper.
An activist-scholar, Raymond Lotta has participated in antiglobalization conferences and protests in India and the Philippines. He has been a featured speaker at antiwar teach-ins. He has appeared in the media, most recently on Book TV in July of this year. Lotta is a engaging speaker who brings an informed and provocative perspective to the discussion of communism’s past and communism’s future.
To anyone who can see the necessity of this thought-provoking speaking tour to happen right now--starting on major campuses this fall:
Donate to help make this tour a reality. We have travel expenses, as well as the cost of reproduction of tens of thousands of copies of the upcoming "Frequently Asked Questions about Communism." This FAQ will take on the "settled verdict" that "communism is dead--and anyway, it was horrible," speaking to students and others who have never heard anything but this.
As one important aspect of fundraising, we are starting an ongoing eBay auction of items from revolutionary China. People with items they wish to donate to this auction should contact us via e-mail.
And others interested in getting this tour going and helping to Set the Record Straight--including if you have contacts at major universities who may be supportive--contact us at:
Thursday, October 27, 2005, 7 p.m.
First Church Unitarian Universalist
3 Church Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Contact No: (617) 492-5443
Other events TBA
Online Maoist analyses of the Chinese Revolution, Tibet, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the Tienanmen events: revcom.us/s/china.htm
Inspired by the writings of Bob Avakian, and against the facile verdicts that socialism has been a nightmare, or at best a terribly failed experiment, Setting the Record Straight is a project aimed at bringing forth the real and historic accomplishments of communist revolution, especially the lessons of the Cultural Revolution in China, while digging into the mistakes and shortcomings.
We want to contribute to creating an intellectual current that challenges the slanders and superficial summations, that insists on truthful examination of what these revolutions were actually striving to accomplish--the difficulties they faced, and what they were able to achieve--and that sees the relevance of all this to the deeply felt desire of so many for a radically different world.
by Li Onesto
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has been waging armed struggle against the government since 1996 and now controls most of the countryside. Their People’s Liberation Army is able to mobilize thousands of guerrillas against the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA), and in areas run by new revolutionary governments, they are leading millions of poor peasants to radically change the economic, political, and cultural life. Lately there has been a rash of reports in liberal publications like Harper’s, Rolling Stone, and Newsday that have attacked the people’s war in terms that are at minimum distorted and in some cases outright slander.
Revolution asked Li Onesto to respond to some of the disinformation and lies being put out about the People’s War in Nepal. Li Onesto traveled deep into the guerrilla zones of Nepal in 1999 and is the author of the book Dispatches from the People’s War in Nepal (Pluto/Insight Press, 2005).
Why are the Maoists in Nepal waging an armed revolution?
In Nepal over 85% of the people are peasants in the countryside, desperately poor, malnourished, and exploited by corrupt officials, landlords, and moneylenders. Lower castes and oppressed ethnic groups face systematic discrimination under a rigid caste system. Women are intensely suppressed and treated as inferior in every facet of society. A king controls the army and an oppressive monarchy is deeply embedded in the ruling structures of society. The whole country is subordinate to, dependent on, and dominated by India and imperialist countries like the U.S.
The ruling class and the government in Nepal defend and serve this whole oppressive setup. They have amply shown that they will use torture, rape, and summary executions against anyone who seriously opposes them. And the Nepalese people can never be free until this state power is overthrown.
Through armed struggle the Maoists have been able to carve out liberated areas, establish revolutionary governments and mobilize the people to begin transforming things: the redistribution of land, equal rights for women, an end to the caste system, autonomy for oppressed ethnic groups, healthcare, education, and the building of roads and bridges.
The broad masses of people are putting their minds and hearts into building the embryo of a new society. But this is limited as long as the reactionary regime holds state power. To seize nationwide power the Maoists have to defeat the Royal Nepalese Army. They can then build a new socialist society which they see as part of the worldwide struggle to bring about a communist world--free of all oppression and exploitation.
Some reporters say the common people in Nepal are "caught in the middle" between the Maoist guerrillas and the government forces.
This so-called "analysis" echoes the disinformation put out by the U.S. State Department that completely distorts what is really going on in this war.
The People’s Liberation Army is made up of tens of thousands of common peasants who are not "caught in the middle" but have joined the insurgency. And many more are participating in the new revolutionary governments.
The Maoist revolution aims to get rid of the whole economic, political and social system that oppresses the people. The Nepalese regime rules over, enforces and is fighting to preserve the status quo. Are the masses of people caught between these two fires? No! Sure, there are people who don’t fully support the government or the Maoists. That happens in any civil war or revolution. But more importantly, the Maoists are organizing and providing leadership to millions who are brutally and systematically oppressed by the system AND who are inspired by and support the Maoists’ vision and concrete program for building a new liberating society.
What kind of support do the Maoists have?
Those trying to justify the brutal counterinsurgency claim the masses don’t support the Maoists, that people are being coerced into joining the revolution. Anyone who seriously studies this situation knows this is a lie.
When I was in Nepal I interviewed military commanders and political leaders as well as rank-and-file guerrillas, poor farmers, and peasant youth. Something that struck me over and over again was the political consciousness of the participants in this revolution. These people were not unthinking robots, terrorized into joining the revolution. I met young women who had been denied an education--who were fighting with rifles as well as learning to read by studying revolutionary theory. This is a revolution of desperately oppressed peasants who are inspired by the vision of a whole new society and world.
The guerrillas started off small and up against a brutal regime backed by India and the U.S. They could not have achieved their current military and political strength without the genuine support and participation of thousands who believe in the goals of the revolution and on this basis go into battle and risk their lives.
What about all the people who are dying in this conflict?
First of all, we should look at all the people who needlessly die every day in Nepal, of starvation and disease and brutality under the "normal" workings of this system. But even in terms of this war, the vast majority of the 12,000 killed since the start of the war have been civilians murdered by the police and Royal Army, along with suspected revolutionaries also tortured and murdered. The U.S.-trained RNA has carried out human rights abuses against a wide swath of the population, killing thousands suspected of "supporting the Maoists," which could mean simply providing food and shelter for the guerrillas. Human rights organizations have documented how the police and RNA have burned whole villages and rounded up, tortured, murdered and jailed thousands of people. In 2003 and 2004, Nepal recorded the highest number of new cases of disappearances by security forces in the world.
On the other hand, the vast majority of people killed by the Maoists have been police and soldiers in combat. When others, like informants, have been targeted, this is because their actions have directly led to Maoists and others being jailed or killed. On several occasions, the Maoists have issued self-criticisms of actions they felt were wrong and have changed some policies after being criticized.
There is widespread censorship and government disinformation which claims the Maoists "kidnap students," "use forced labor," "execute teachers," etc. These outright lies and distortions about the nature of the Maoists are aimed at justifying a brutal counterinsurgency, backed by India, the UK and the United States.
What is the role of women in this revolution and how are the Maoists addressing the question of women’s oppression?
For centuries, feudal traditions like arranged marriages, dowries, and polygamy have been enforced in many ways and under a mixture of feudal and capitalist rules; women’s bodies are owned, controlled, and bargained over in everything from marriage to sex trafficking. Religious and cultural practices promote and perpetuate male domination. And everywhere a woman turns, her freedom and independence is policed and smothered.
Where the guerrillas have control, land is being redistributed, and for the first time women own land. Arranged marriages, polygamy, and other feudal traditions oppressive to women are no longer practiced. Wife beating and rape are severely punished by people’s courts. Women are equal participants in the new economic, political, and social life of the villages. Women are given the right to divorce, go to school, and fight in local militias as well as the People’s Liberation Army. Women make up at least 30% of the guerrilla army and there are women military commanders and political leaders.
The U.S. has called the Maoists in Nepal "terrorists" and is supporting the Nepalese government with arms, money and military training to defeat the guerrillas. Should we be concerned about this?
The Maoists in Nepal have nothing in common with groups like al-Qaida, but this has not stopped the U.S. from fabricating a comparison or arguing that if the Maoists are not defeated the country will become a "failed state" and "safe haven" for other terrorists. The U.S. is attempting to label as "terrorists" any movement that dares to challenge their domination--or rises up against a regime they support.
There are many people who are inspired by the revolution in Nepal and oppose the counterinsurgency being carried out by the U.S.-backed Nepalese regime. But even those who do not support or have questions about the People’s War in Nepal should oppose U.S. intervention--and cannot allow attacks on those who do. If the U.S. is allowed to attack real liberation struggles and call them "terrorist"… If those who politically support people’s wars are attacked and called "supporters of terrorists"… If those who say we need revolution are targeted and persecuted.... this will affect all the people and put an even deeper blanket of repression on all progressive organizations, movements, thinking, and actions.
Pluto Press, www.plutobooks.com;
University of Michigan Press, www.press.umich.edu;
Insight Press, insight-press.com;
Revolution Books stores and outlets.
Go to lionesto.net for photos, updates on news, reviews, and speaking engagements.
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
In the fall of 2003, David Horowitz came to town. As a result, Dr. Oneida Meranto’s teaching career became a nightmare. By the 2004/2005 semester, Dr. Meranto, a Navajo professor in political science at the Metropolitan State College of Denver, was taping her classes to defend her career. And two days after class started, a student filed a grievance with the college saying that in her class the professor "attacked Republicans. She implied that we are incapable of thinking critically and should therefore drop her class." The college president reviewed the tape and found no grounds for the complaint. Dr. Meranto was forced to tape her class as self-protection against students trained in dirty tactics and egged on by David Horowitz to go after their progressive professors.
According to the campus paper, the complaining student was actually sent into the class by a former student who had filed complaints against Meranto in 2003, after attending the speech by David Horowitz. That student, a six-year Marine Corps veteran and president of the campus Republican club, had accused Meranto of a liberal bias and of intimidating conservative students. After a lengthy investigation the university found she had done nothing wrong. In the meantime, Dr. Meranto endured death threats after the Marine student posted a slanderous article on David Horowitz’s on-line magazine. Fearing for her life, students walked Meranto to her car after evening classes. ("A Liberal Professor Fights a Label," Jennifer Jacobson, The Chronicle of Higher Education,11/26/04)
Who is David Horowitz? He is a former 1960s radical turned right-wing bully, a self-described "battering ram" in service of extreme right-wing politics. Recently, he has attracted attention for his part in the highly organized ideological and political assault on Ward Churchill, a radical Native American professor in the ethnic studies department at the University of Colorado.
In the wake of 9/11, the Bush regime, through press secretary Ari Fleischer, put out a threat: "People have to watch what they say and watch what they do." Later, Fleischer had to back off the "watch what they say" part.
But in America today, "watch what you say" is back with a vengeance. Will people be allowed to engage in critical inquiry and speak out against the government, or will critical thought be muzzled? This question is being sharply battled out at universities across the country.
Enter David Horowitz.
Horowitz is president of the right-wing Center for the Study of Popular Culture and founder of the online FrontPageMagazine.com. He is a major architect of the so-called "Academic Bill of Rights," versions of which are being introduced by Republican politicians in legislatures in Ohio, Florida, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and California, among other states (see "A Student Bill of Fights," The Nation, 04/04/05).
In tandem with these legislative efforts, Horowitz has promoted a network of campus spy squads of Republican youth called Students for Academic Freedom (SAF). This handful of brownshirts harass and demand the firing of liberal and radical professors. Horowitz and SAF amplify the tales and charges by arranging for these students to appear before state legislative hearings--at which point the conservative blogsphere and Fox-like media go into action and create lynch-mob hysteria against these professors.
There is a pattern to the reactionary tactics. It can be seen in every sphere in battle after battle: in the arts, in the media, in the teaching of evolution, in judicial nominations.
First, the fascists play the victim. On campuses, these Republican students allege that they are persecuted by left and liberal professors. They complain about bias in classes, file grievances, write slanderous articles, and drag progressive professors through unjust investigations.
Second, they dress themselves up as advocates of "fairness." They charge that conservative students receive low grades and are intimidated in classrooms. And they pretend that all they want is fairness and equal time for their views, including hiring conservative faculty. (Horowitz and these students oppose affirmative action for oppressed minorities but want it for right-wing Republicans to get jobs as professors!)
Third, they intimidate and seek to suppress those with opposing positions--to turn on anyone who objects to this persecution and, once they have the ability, to impose a regime of "thought control." In the case of the universities right now, they are setting out to purge radical and progressive scholars. Horowitz himself has said: "In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy’s fighting ability."
The Bush forces are out for nothing less than to create a society where there is NO platform to contest their worldview. Students won’t learn that evolution is a fact. Students who have been indoctrinated that the U.S. is a force for good in the world will not even be introduced to the contradiction between that propaganda and the realities of the situation.
A professor at the University of New Mexico described the reaction of students to a film that carefully documents the Bush administration’s pretexts for the Iraq war: "I found the students to be almost speechless. One student became visibly enraged and began pounding on his desk. ‘I want to know why we aren’t allowed to see this kind of information in mainstream news. I feel betrayed, used. I feel like my government is more dangerous than the terrorists.’" ("The New McCarthyism on Campus: Ward Churchill and the Immi-nent Destruction of Higher Edu-cation," Carolyn Baker, Counter-punch.org, 2/9/05)
What will it mean for society if the reactionaries carry out their witch-hunts?
There’s a booklet that Karl Rove, George Bush’s chief strategist, describes as "a perfect guide to winning on the political battlefield." It is a booklet that Republican congressman Tom De
lay and the right-wing Heritage Foundation made sure that every Republican member of Congress and 2,300 conservative activists got a copy of before the 2000 election. That booklet is "The Art of Political War " by David Horowitz. (See "The Banana Republicans: How the Right Wing Is Turning America Into a One Party State," John Stauber, 2005, excerpts online). Horowitz wrote the tract after a 1998 visit to Austin, Texas, at the invitation of Rove, to discuss strategy and crafting the message for a Bush run at the presidency. Hanna Rosin, in a Washington Post article (April 23, 2000), writes that, earlier, when Bush’s bid for governor of Texas was being shaped, Rove gave Bush his three favorite books, one of which was Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties by Horowitz. Rosin describes how in 1997-98, Rove "started to summon his favorite thinkers to the governor’s office," as he strategized about Bush’s run for president. Horowitz was one of the select few.
In waging the culture war in academia, Horowitz works on a parallel track with Lynn Cheney (the wife of Vice- President Cheney). Lynn Cheney was the former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities in father Bush’s administration. Cheney has tried to effect a high-toned disguise, while Horowitz has been unabashedly down and dirty working in the gutter. But Cheney and her American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) were also responsible for a post-9/11 hit list of radical and liberal professors whose teaching and statements were to be monitored. And it is no coincidence that when the media frenzy against Ward Churchill began, the governors of New York and Colorado immediately called for Churchill’s firing--both are members of ACTA’s "Governors’ Project."
Horowitz invokes the idea of "balance" in academia, but what he is really up to can be seen in his many writings and on his website. A typical headline of an article from his online magazine: "The ALA Library: Terrorist Sanctuary." The ALA is the American Library Association.
Horowitz rants that those who dare deviate from the government’s propaganda are themselves "terrorists" and "terrorist supporters." The left in the antiwar movement and on the campuses is portrayed as having " alliances with the Islamic radicals." "Treason" is a legally lethal label slapped on those who dare to critique U.S. designs of empire. Horowitz’s treatment of Noam Chomsky is a perfect example. Described by The New Yorker magazine as "one of the greatest minds of the 20 th century," Chomsky is also one of the most outspoken critics of U.S. foreign policy. Horowitz vilifies Chomsky’s work as "demonic and seditious" and declares that "its purpose is to incite believers to provide aid and comfort to the enemies of the U.S." (Horowitz, The Unholy Alliance, Radical Islam and the American Left,2004).
A key target of the right-wing campaign for thought control on campus is certain courses and entire departments. According to Horowitz, they are "interdisciplinary and are ideological in their very conceptions… Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, American Studies, Cultural Studies, Peace Studies and other easily identified disciplines." ("Bowling Green Barbarians," 4/4/05, frontpagemagazine.com).
Horowitz and the reactionaries are determined to discredit any questioning of the history of the U.S. and what the U.S. does in the world today. Examination of the brutal history and legacy of slavery; the genocide of the Native Americans; the stealing of land from Mexico; the domination of other countries at the point of the American gun--this is all "America bashing."
The reactionary forces are fearful of the birth of a new student movement that knows and spreads the true history of the U.S. and its role in the world. They want to bury the lessons and legacy of the 1960s. As Horowitz puts it, "When Americans are sufficiently divided, their government is significantly weakened in its ability to exert its will on international actors and events." Translated: we must preempt the possibility of radical ferment and upsurge on campus and in society that might threaten the Bush team’s global agenda of unprecedented U.S. domination over the world. Horowitz sums up: "It is the war at home that will ultimately decide America’s fate." (from introduction to Unholy Alliance.)
A sledgehammer is being taken to academia in the U.S. Its critical thinkers and dissenters are in grave danger of being mowed down and silenced. Labels like "sedition," "treason," "collaboration," and "support for terrorists" are bandied about by a man who strategizes with Karl Rove. In the current political climate, these spurious charges are designed to destroy the richness of academic life, to ruin careers, and to incite violence and government persecution against those who have been targeted.
There is far too little critical thinking and dissent in society as a whole. That is the criminal situation. And critical thinking and dissent must not only be defended in the colleges and universities but spread in society. This is what the reactionaries want to prevent. And it is why a major assault on academia is emanating from and connected to the highest office in the land.
A counterrevolution is gathering speed and momentum. It matters to the whole direction of society and to millions around the world who hate U.S. domination and oppression whether the campaigns of David Horowitz and his backers triumph or are trounced. They will be forced to back off only if powerful opposition is built on campuses and spills out and intersects with the broader battle in society--as two worlds more and more collide.
Pathological Liar: Horowitz writes, "On March 16, 2003 an Israeli bulldozer set to work removing shrubs in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah. These shrubs obscured the tunnels terrorists were using to smuggle weapons from Egypt to the West Bank. As Rachel Corrie knelt in front of the terrorists’ supply lines, the bulldozer’s driver...ran over her." What actually happened? "Along with several other people, Rachel sat down in front of a house that was targeted for demolition by the Israeli army--one of thousands of Palestinian homes in Gaza and the West Bank destroyed by the Israeli occupiers just in the past two years. Witnesses say the bulldozer’s driver could clearly see Rachel, who wore a fluorescent jacket and was speaking into a bullhorn. But the bulldozer continued forward, pulling Rachel under--then it reversed and drove over her again." (Sources: "Campus Support for Terrorism," edited by Horowitz and Johnson, 2004, Revolutionary Worker #1201, June 1, 2003.)
Shameless Hypocrite: A commentator posted on Horowitz’s website, fellow reactionary Ann Coulter, said that North Korea should be nuked because it would be "fun." She also said that the 9/11 hijackers should have flown into the New York Times offices. Horowitz is not demanding that Coulter be silenced or denied the right to speak on campuses--as he has done with Ward Churchill.
Racist Bigot:Horowitz praises Jared Taylor of the Council of Conservative Citizens, an openly racist organization, calling him the "author of a pioneer book of political incorrectness on race...a very intelligent and principled man." Taylor says things like "in some important traits--intelligence, law-abidingness, sexual restraint, resistance to disease--whites can be considered ‘superior’ to blacks." Taylor’s group calls immigrants "slimy mass of brown glop." (Source: Tim Wise, in a symposium on "Ward Churchill: A Symbol of Higher Education?" 3/4/05, FrontPageMagazine.com)
Fascist Thug:During the stealing of the 2000 election, Horowitz issued "war room briefings" for the Republican operatives who intimidated Florida election officials into calling off the recount. Entries on Horowitz’s website had advice like this: "Question.: ‘David what do you recommend for the Republican strategy on the Florida recount?’ [Horowitz replies.] ‘This is my answer (courtesy of Al Capone): If he comes at you with a fist, you come at him with a bat. If he comes at you with a bat, you come at him with a knife. If he comes at you with a knife, you come at him with a gun.’ " (Source: Wash-ington Post, "A Radical Transformation," 3/28/01)
Whining Philistine: Horowitz tries to appeal to narrow-minded
philistinism towards academics when he attacks professors, claiming they are
only in class six hours a week and get four months paid vacation while getting
paid $60,000 to $100,000 a year. This is cheap demagoguery--from someone whose
own work could never stand up to peer review and who makes many times that
through funding from right-wing foundations. (Source: "Bowling Green
Barbarians," Horowitz, FrontPageMagazine.com)
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
This week an Army intelligence officer risked his career to disclose that by mid-2000, a secret Pentagon surveillance program code-named "Able Danger" had identified and was tracking Mohammed Atta, supposedly the ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and three other alleged hijackers. This is just the latest in an ongoing stream of revelations that show that the whole Bush "war on terror" is a fraud based on lies--and that the full truth about what took place on (and before and after) Sept. 11 is being suppressed.
Many different writers and researchers have dug into what happened that day. While a definitive account has yet to emerge, their work casts serious doubt on the "official story," shows how much more needs to be unearthed, and points to the real possibility that U.S. officials--at the very least--may have allowed the attacks to happen.
For example, David Ray Griffin, a retired Claremont School of Theology professor, has written two in-depth studies of Sept. 11: The New Pearl Harbor--Dis-turbing Questions About the Bush Admin-istration and 9/11and The 9/11 Com-mis-sion Report: Omissions and Dis-tor-tions. As Richard Falk pointed out at the recent World Tribunal on Iraq, "Read David Griffin’s The New Pearl Harbor and you will never be able to take 9/11 at face value in the future."
Page after page, Griffin raises profound, well-documented doubts concerning the official story (including stark contradictions in what different officials have said at different points). The issues he covers include:
Why does this matter? First, because in reality the Bush regime saw September 11 not as a shocking horror, but as an opportunity to implement an agenda in the works for over a decade. A year before Sept. 11, the Project for a New American Century laid out a detailed plan for expanding and fortifying the U.S. empire--and singled out Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as immediate targets nearly two years before George W. Bush labeled them an "axis of evil"--but warned that implementing it would be a long process unless there were "some catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor." Among the authors of the plan were Bush administration heavyweights like Paul Wolfowitz, Dov Zakheim, Stephen Cambone, and Abram Shulsky in the Pentagon, and Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby. On the night of 9/11, Bush wrote in his diary, "The Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century took place today."
And it matters because the U.S. rulers are still using "terrorist attacks" to advance their agenda of ongoing war and fascistic repression--for example seizing on the London bombings to renew the Patriot Act. Another attack or incident in the U.S. could witness levels of repression on a whole other level. All the more urgent to generate a culture in which millions refuse to buy government explanations or swallow false promises of "safety," but instead think critically, and actively repudiate the entire direction the Bush regime is taking the world, including its "war on terror."
Revolution #013, August 28, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Last week the media inundated us with images of Israeli settlers being taken from "their" land. In fact, the Israeli settlers stole this land through armed force, and for the last 38 years have subjected the Palestinians of Gaza to a reign of terror. It is the Palestinians of Gaza who have had their sons and daughters killed, their land stolen, their orchards and olive groves bulldozed, and their houses razed. It is the Palestinians who have been denied all rights and sovereignty and subjected to astronomical unemployment, with the exception of those who were turned into a super-exploited labor force for the settlers and Israeli industry. But Israel and Israelis serve as the attack dog of U.S. interests in the Middle East, while the Palestinians are an oppressed people fighting Israeli occupation, and that makes all the difference in the world as to whose stories get told and how.