NO to the New Rome
Revolutionary Worker #1251, August 29, 2004, posted
NO to Ashcroft and Abu Ghraib, to pre-emptive wars and Patriot
Acts, to "smart bombs," lockdowns and midnight raids, to Rumsfeld's
leer and Cheney's sneer and Rice's lying eyes.
NO to razor-wire penned-in "protest zones," to FBI
knocks on the door, to infiltration, permit denials, fear campaigns, slanders,
threats and massive shows of force . . . all to stop a goddamn protest in the
NO to living in a "new Rome". . .
Or an "old" Germany.
NO to Bush . . . and all he stands for.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
The people now in power talk of fighting "terrorists" abroad, while
they rain down terror on innocent people in Iraq, far surpassing 9/11, and
openly claim the right to wage war whenever they feel threatened. They talk of
defending freedom in the U.S., while they lock people away incommunicado, run a
fear campaign that is color-coded in more ways than one, and rip up what people
once thought were their constitutional guarantees. They talk of "good
versus evil" and unleash a holy-war spirit among their closest followers.
They talk of "safety," and it becomes a password to fascism.
But this has not gone down easy for them. In their war on Iraq they came up
against the interests of their rival imperialists; they met a global antiwar
movement that denied them a mandate going into that war and drew their lies into
the open after it; and now they have run head on into the determined resistance
of a whole range of Iraqi people-- angry and disillusioned at a brutal, imperial
As their convention gathers, they face the fact that millions even in this
country are sharply questioning this whole trajectory, agonizing over how to
stop it, and wondering whether a different kind of future might be possible.
Have no illusions. They do not intend to just drop this program; the horse
they're riding is not one that you can easily or gracefully dismount from. They
have one way forward through this mess, and that is to further bludgeon their
way abroad with their overwhelming military force and to back that up
domestically with an even more pervasive campaign of intimidation, persecution
and political suppression. And they view the next few months as crucial to an
agenda to remake the entire planet and to reshape America as part of that.
There is a collision course between the trajectory launched by the Bush
clique and the real interests and deep- down aspirations of millions of people.
This collision course threatens the whole juggernaut they have set into motion,
and it forms the backdrop for what will not be just any old election--if they
even hold the election! Dick Cheney has said that we are in for a
generation-long war and he calls for a "new normalcy." Karl Rove has
said that he intends to cement Republican rule for 20 years. The moment crackles
with danger. The analogy that haunts the hearts and leaps to the lips of
people--the unavoidable reference point--is Nazi Germany in the early '30s.
But many, many people do not want to go there. Literally millions have
resisted this course; now more than ever, they must be brought into even sharper
resistance--resistance on a whole other level of breadth, diversity,
determination, and ferocity. We're going to talk a lot more later in this
article about our views on what needs to be done in that resistance. For now,
let's just say that we support this resistance movement mightily, and we want to
work with everyone we can, coming from all different kinds of views, in making
this resistance strong enough to withstand, derail and defeat this juggernaut
bearing down on us. As we do this, as we work together, we have in our minds and
hearts a vision of a whole different future--and we want to share that with you.
WE NEED A REVOLUTION
It's like this. Shut your eyes and imagine that you were a space traveler
coming upon a relatively small but very beautiful blue planet. As you flew over
it and crossed its many lands you would see a bouquet of peoples in different
colors, speaking different languages and singing different songs, while all
sharing a common humanity. You would see that these people had drawn on their
resources and created incredible forces of production, forces which could easily
guarantee a happy and healthy life for all the planet's many peoples.
But then you would look closer and see that a relative handful of these
people controlled and consumed vast mountains of this wealth, while most of the
rest desperately struggled just to survive. You would see tiny children working
in squalid factories or hot dusty fields in some parts of the planet, and you
would wonder why. You would watch millions of people travelling the planet's
roads and rivers, sometimes hunted by other people, looking for work or just
shelter from the storm. You would learn that the people were divided by gender,
and that one dominated the other--and you would hardly be able to believe the
twisted forms this took. You would sorrow as you found out that the wondrous
array of colors and languages had itself been turned into markers for one
section of people to lord it over another.
Then you would examine further and shake your head, struck dumb with shock,
as you learned of the horrific destructive powers built up by this dominating
handful to use against the oppressed and, at times, against each other in
desolating spasms of violence, all to defend their plunder. Your tears would
fall as you discovered that beautiful forests and fresh streams and entire
species of animals and plants had been decimated and reduced to smoking ruins
and foul sewers, all in pursuit of yet more wealth for the insatiable few.
And the knowledge would taste bitter but clear to you as you came to
understand that this same handful had locked the vast majority of the people out
of the realm of working with ideas, that they had refused them all but the most
minimal right to even talk about society, let alone run it, and that in doing so
had thwarted their vast potential and violated their spirits and their very
humanity. And finally, after learning all this, you would discover the name of
this planet--and it would be Earth.
Then you would land your craft on this planet and leap from its doors and you
would cry out at the very top of your voice, "Listen! It doesn't have to be
this way! Not anymore! There is no reason to let these few tyrants grind your
lives and your dreams and your very planet into dust. You could all share
in your planet's great abundance, you could all share in the tasks of
thinking and working and dreaming and creating and determining the direction of
how you want to live. There is no need anymore for these divisions that weigh so
unbearably heavy on you, for the ways in which you exploit each other, for the
institutions which enforce all that, and for the destructive and antiquated
habits of thought that this whole thing has engendered in you. For the sake of
all your children and their children and the very future of your planet, cast it
And if you did, you would be talking like a communist. 'Cuz that is our
It's an eminently sane vision, and the only one that is both worthy of our
humanity and can save us. But to reach that vision, we need to do two
things. We need to make a revolution to take the power away from the
imperialists that do in fact rule the planet, seizing power from them through
the force of tens of millions rising up, when the time is ripe. And we need to
set up a new power and a new kind of power. We need to set up a power led
by the class that, working together, produces the majority of the world's great
wealth--that is, the proletariat. A proletarian power that would also take in
and deeply involve the vast majority of groups and classes that are neither part
of the proletariat nor part of the imperialists. We would need to exercise that
power not for its own sake, but to get humanity to that different place--to step
by step help the rest of the world get free, and to begin breaking down the
inequalities inherited from millennia of oppression. We need a new power where
its whole reason for existence would be to eliminate the need for any kind
of state at all--including itself!
We need a power that would build off the tremendous achievements of the first
revolutions the proletariat has led, in the Soviet Union and China (when those
countries were still revolutionary), and that also goes boldly forward off of
them; a society that would take the best from those first steps but also learn
from their shortcomings and bring into being something very new and different.
We need a power that brings forth a society full of dissent and diversity and
the struggle to know and change the world--where the vast majority of people
would thrive and really want to live-- as the only way to get to our ultimate
goal, a society whose outlines can be seen in the vision of Bob Avakian, the
Chairman of our party, the Revolutionary Communist Party.
That's what we're about. And that's how we come at everything, including this
huge and historic NO being delivered in New York City and the still bigger NO
that must be manifested between now and election day--as a way to get closer to
the day cherished by that imaginary space traveler who lives deep in our hearts.
RESISTING THE AGENDA. AND RECASTING THE POLARIZATION
Coming from that very place, we say that, right now, resistance--a united
resistance of many different people coming from many different viewpoints--is
urgent and crucial. Without it, we won't even be able to debate about what kind
of future we need, let alone get to it.
And here's a tricky question that this resistance faces. The Bush people are
formidable enemies. So it might seem logical at this point to look for other
powerful people, powerful people who may seem more humane or even just more
reasonable, to protect us against this scary bunch. And yes it's logical, but
it's a seductive and misleading logic that always comes with a string or three
attached. As in, "We gotta get Kerry in office, because these Bush people
are way evil, so chill out on the resistance because it might hurt him with the
`swing voters'." As in, "Yeah, Kerry has to say he's for the war in
order to win the election, but when he gets in he'll do the right thing."
As in, "Yeah, the war and repression are really wrong and Kerry has spoken
out against them, but if Bush gets in again we'll be really screwed, so
put your energies and money and heart into the election."
People have, unfortunately, tried this logic many times before. And the
results, it must be said, have been uniformly bad. The "more
reasonable" section of rulers may have some concerns, but in the end they
share the same class interests and corresponding strategic objectives as the
hard-core, and so they ride the thing out . . . until it runs into too much
resistance. Then, and only then, do they fall out. Think Vietnam.
Right now Kerry may express a few reservations--and these may be more or less
real--but he himself insists on his firm commitment to the invasion and
occupation of Iraq and to the new repressive measures like the Patriot Act. You
can see, just from the way he's been campaigning and his whole history, that he
is not about to take on the American holy war theocrats--the Christian
fascists--and their continued infestation of the army, courts and schools, their
attempt to take over the culture, and--not the least of it--their relentless
campaign against women and gay people. You can see, from the way Kerry doesn't
even mention, let alone protest, the continued outrageous attacks on the voting
rights of Black people in Florida, that he's not going to do anything to reverse
the program of impoverishment, imprisonment and demonization of Black people
that has intensified under Bush (but which didn't start with Bush). All this is
because Bush's program--and, right now, Bush's persona and leadership--fit the
underlying needs of the system, of imperialism. This is why Bush and the
Republicans always seem to have the initiative, always seem to fight with such
zeal and conviction, and why the Democrats don't.
Right now everyone talks about how the country is polarized between Bush and
Kerry. But if the next two months go down as just a horse race between Big Evil
and Lesser Evil, each professing the same program, then whatever happens on
November 2--whether Bush wins, or he just steals the presidency again, or
somehow becomes so much a liability that Kerry gets the nod--it will of
necessity be interpreted as a mandate FOR the war and repression that we have
said NO to here this week.
That will have consequences, very bad consequences. It will give the mantle
of legitimacy to the U.S. rulers and it will make it much harder for people in
this country to question and resist--"after all," we'll be told,
"you voted for 'em, didn't you?" And it would have worldwide
consequences, as well--people from Ankara to Egypt to London would think that
the American people didn't mind pre-emptive war and unlimited aggression done in
their name, so long as it came with a refined Massachusetts accent. They would
lose heart, and the precious dialogue--manifested in massive anti-war
protests--that began in the fall of 2002 between the people of the world and the
people here would take a very hard hit.
PEOPLE, WE GOT SOME SHIT TO DO, RIGHT NOW!
We can't let it go down like that. Go ahead and vote for Kerry if you feel
you really have to, but put your efforts toward recasting this
polarization. Let's make it a polarization between a growing section of people
more determined to STOP this program of war and repression and a shrinking
section of people who support it. Let the whole world know that, whoever gets
into office and however they do it, there is a larger and growing section of
people in this country that intend to RESIST its present course. We can do that,
but only if we turn this coming week and then these next two months into a huge
resistance campaign against the Bush program of war and repression.
And that too will have consequences. Remember Lila Lipscomb, in Fahrenheit
9/11? The woman whose son was killed in Iraq and began to question what was
going on? What happens as more Lila Lipscombs come to question? Or what happens
as their sons and daughters in uniform become disgusted at what they're being
ordered to do, whether by a re-installed Bush or a newly elected Kerry? If this
agenda seems to win a mandate at the polls, they would very likely feel
hopeless. But how would they look at their options if instead they have heard
that there are millions who have made clear through word and deed that what
these soldiers are being ordered to do is illegitimate, immoral and unjust ?
If they have a sense that there is a strong movement of resistance that can hear
their questions and have their backs if they take a stand? They might feel as if
they had a different, better option, than risking life and limb to mow down
people in a foreign land. And what would that do to this government's
ability--whoever is in charge--to rain down terror anywhere it so pleases?
Or what happens if there is another "incident" like 9/11--an
incident which people like Condi Rice have been all but promising? What then will
happen to the immigrants--immigrants who, to the great shame of all of us, have
since 9/11 been treated as a separate caste in this country? Will they still
feel utterly isolated, persecuted for the crime of being the "wrong"
religion, or coming from the "wrong" part of the world? Or would they
draw hope from a huge movement that, beginning now, makes known their plight and
pledges to resist it? Will there be a movement they can look to that declares
its intent to uphold the best traditions of the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s,
or the Underground Railroad of slavery days?
And what about the political opponents of the government, as they face
slander, suppression and worse? Will they hold firm, inspired by huge
outpourings of people between now and November 2 who declared their solidarity
in opposition to this government and its lies? Will those who have been
persecuted perhaps feel empowered and emboldened and might they spread the
contagion of resistance? And what would that do to this government's
ability to intimidate and repress and run roughshod over people's rights? All
that needs to happen--but none of it will, if our movement rolls over and plays
dead so as not to disturb the electoral shell-game now being so loudly
We can't just turn things on after the election. Later may be too
late; the time is now. By our acts, by our relentless political initiative
between now and November 2 and beyond, we must build this resistance and change
the entire climate in the country. There's plenty of basis to do this; what is
required is that we join together not only to act, but to make our actions count
for what we want to see happen.
No, this will not be easy--you think we don't know that? And yes, this will
be a real struggle, a bitter and, at times, a demanding and even desperate
struggle. You will be told that you are messing things up for Kerry, your ideas
and values will be misrepresented by the media, you will be threatened, you may
be arrested, and you will no doubt at times wonder if it's worth it. You will
need to stay in touch with the defiant part of yourself that brought you to New
York this week, or to whatever other site of resistance you find yourself at,
and you will need to keep talking with other resisters. To wage this
struggle--to build this resistance--is the right thing, and it will continue to
be the right thing, and no seductive logic or nasty slander or ugly threat can
change that. This was not a struggle that any of us chose, or would have
chosen--but it is the struggle that events have put before us, and now the
people of the world are counting on us.
We communists are all the way down with this. We need this resistance because
first it makes a huge life-or- death difference to the people in the path of
this juggernaut. It makes a huge difference as to whether we all are going to be
able to build, or even conceive of, a larger movement. And on the positive tip,
there's this: the more that people resist, the more we open up to new
possibilities and to our own potential power. The more we resist, the more we
develop the skills of critical thinking and tight organization. The more we
resist, all of us, the more we develop the ability to debate our differences as
part of strengthening our unity against the biggest threat to the planet and its
people, the U.S. imperialists. And as our resistance changes the minds of
millions and draws them closer to seeing the need for radical, fundamental
change, all those qualities that we develop as we resist and the new
values and morality that we forge in the course of that struggle will fit us to
be able to recast all of society, and to seize power as the first step in doing
that. The more we resist, the more we see the glimmers of a possible new society
and the more we foster the fragile but precious shoots of that society.
This is a time of great heaviness and, paradoxically, a time of great hope.a
time for great deeds and, perhaps, the bringing into being of a great new
future. . . if we rise to the occasion.
We need to talk with each other. We need to work together. We need to
struggle, for our lives and for the future of this planet. Get with us. Check
out the revolution.