Monday, 28 October 2013
It's easy enough to get bogged down in the petty day to day struggles that affect us all. But the ability to do so, while keeping the bigger picture in mind, and indeed, the ability to subordinate the small stuff in favour of working towards the bigger picture, is a difficult thing to achieve. Reform or Revolution. It's a debate that's been dogging the Revolutionary movement for decades, and is still being argued about. This article by Chairman Avakian is an excellent compass to work with. Read it.
Reform or Revolution
by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA| Oct. 28, 2013| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a talk given by Bob Avakian to a group of Party members and supporters in 2005.
Now, when you come up against the great gulf that often, and even generally, exists between the conditions and the suffering of the masses of people, on the one hand, and what you are able to do about that at any given point—when you run up against that repeatedly, everyone feels a definite pull which expresses itself in moral terms: how can you stand by and not do something about what’s happening to the masses of people? As I have said a number of times, I have enormous respect for people who do things like volunteer for Doctors Without Borders. But the fact is that while they’re doing what they’re doing, and even with the good they do, this is being engulfed and overwhelmed by a tsunami of suffering (metaphorically speaking and sometimes literally) that’s brought forth by larger objective forces.
When I was younger, I considered being a doctor or a lawyer, not to make money and get on the golf course, but because I knew there were many people who needed good medical care and people who were victimized by the so‑called legal system who could use an advocate who really would be an advocate and a fighter for them. But at a certain point I came to understand that, while I would be helping a few people, and even if I threw myself into it, much greater numbers of people would find themselves in the position of needing these services—far beyond what I, and others, could do to help them—and it would just be perpetuated forever, and the conditions would get worse. And once you understand this, you can’t look yourself in the mirror and do anything less than what you understand, if you’re going to be consistent and follow through on your own principles.
So, yes, there’s a moral dimension here. How can you sit by and watch people die of diseases that are preventable, not just in the Third World, but right down the street from you? How can you “sit by”? How can you not immediately try to do something about that? But moralities are a reflection of class outlooks, ultimately. They are a reflection of your understanding of reality, which takes a class expression in class society, in an ultimate and fundamental sense. And there is a morality that corresponds not to reformism and seeking merely to mitigate the conditions and the suffering of masses of people—not merely to addressing some, and only some, of the symptoms of that suffering—but to uprooting and abolishing the causes of that suffering. This morality corresponds to a revolutionary understanding, that we cannot eliminate the suffering of the masses, and in fact it’s only going to get worse, as long as this capitalist‑imperialist system remains.
This doesn’t mean that it is unimportant to address particular abuses, or that mass resistance to particular forms of oppression is not important. Far from it. The basic point that Marx emphasized is profoundly true: If the masses don’t fight back and resist their oppression, even short of revolution, they will be crushed and reduced to a broken mass and will be incapable of rising up for any higher thing. But, as a fundamental point of orientation, we have to grasp firmly the truth that, despite the best and most heroic and self‑sacrificing efforts, it is not possible, within the framework of this system, even to really alleviate, let alone eliminate, the suffering and the causes of the suffering of the masses of people. And our morality has to flow from that.
Let me give you an analogy. Let’s say you went back several centuries, somewhat like Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Let’s say in this case you went back to the time of the plagues in Europe that wiped out huge swaths of the population. And the most people knew to do then was to try to quarantine and stay away from people infected with the plague. Then, looking at all these people dying of the plague, if you were a good‑hearted person perhaps you would take wet towels and put them on the foreheads of the people who were dying, or take some other steps to try to minimize their suffering to some degree. And maybe you would do what you could to keep the disease from spreading. But let’s say that, as a person from the present time, you know that the plague could actually be cured, fairly easily, with antibiotics, if they were administered in time. And, further extending and elaborating the analogy, let’s imagine that somehow there were antibiotics back in that time—of course, in reality antibiotics did not exist and the scientific understanding had not been developed to produce antibiotics until more recent times, but let’s say that somehow these antibiotics also existed back then: let’s put into our scenario some other people who had also gone back in time from the present age and had taken with them a big stash of antibiotics, which could prevent the millions of deaths that were caused by the plague several centuries ago. But these other time‑travelers were monopolizing the ownership of these antibiotics and had organized and paid an armed force of thugs to guard this stash of antibiotics, and were refusing to distribute any of these antibiotics unless they could profit from it, by charging a price that most of the people could not afford.
Now, knowing this, which way would people be better served: by continuing to put towels on the foreheads of the fevered people, or by organizing people to storm the compound where the antibiotics were being hoarded, seize the antibiotics and distribute them among the people?
This is, by analogy, the essential difference between reform and revolution. And our morality flows from our understanding of this. Yes, it’s very hard to see masses of people suffer and not be able to put a stop to this suffering, right at the time; and, yes, we should organize the masses to fight back against their oppression and the ways in which this system causes them to suffer; but if we really understand where “the antibiotics” are and who’s hoarding and monopolizing them and turning them into machinery for profit, into capital, and what it is that’s preventing the masses of people from getting to those antibiotics, then our responsibility is to lead the masses to rise up and seize those things and distribute them among themselves.
Now, let me emphasize again: I can and do admire the morality of people who want to alleviate suffering (and who may not see beyond that). We should in no way denigrate or put down these people—people who do things like put water in the desert for immigrants crossing from Mexico—we should admire them and we should unite with them. But that cannot provide the fundamental solution to that particular problem, of the suffering of these immigrants and what drives them to leave their homelands in the first place, nor can it eliminate all the other ways in which masses of people, throughout the world, are oppressed and caused to suffer. Or, again, while I admire the people who volunteer with things like Doctors Without Borders, if they were to say, “this is the most anybody can do, there’s nothing more you can do,” we would have to engage in principled but very sharp struggle with them, even while uniting with them and admiring their spirit, because it is objectivelynot true that this is all that can, or should, be done—and it is harmful to the masses of people to say that this is all that can be done.
In fundamental and strategic terms, it is necessary to choose where the weight and the essence of your efforts is going to go: into fighting the effects and the symptoms, or getting to the cause and uprooting and getting rid of that cause? And that’s why you become a revolutionary—when you realize that you have to seek the full solution to this, or else the suffering is going to continue, and get worse. That’s one of the main things that impels people toward revolution, even before they understand, scientifically, all the complexity of what revolution means and what it requires. And, as you become a communist and you increasingly look at the whole world, and not just the part of the world that you are immediately situated in, you see that the whole world has to change, that all oppression and exploitation has to be uprooted, everywhere, so that it can no longer exist anywhere.
So we have to be on a mission to liberate those antibiotics, and not get diverted into thinking that the most and the highest good we can do is trying to lessen the misery, to mitigate the symptoms, rather than getting to the cause and bringing about a real and lasting cure. The question of reform vs. revolution is not some petty notion of “our thing” vs. somebody else’s “thing”—it is a matter of what is really required to eliminate the horrendous suffering to which the great majority of humanity is subjected, day after day, and what kind of world is possible.
Nor are we revolutionaries because it’s a “fashionable” thing to do—right now, in fact, it’s not very fashionable at all. Back in the ‘60s, among certain sections of the people, Black people and others, being a revolutionary was a “legitimate avocation”: What do you do? I’m a doctor. What do you do? I’m a basketball player. What do you do? I’m a revolutionary. Legitimate avocation. I was talking to another veteran comrade about this, and they pointed out that, in a certain sense, it was easier in those days to be a revolutionary because you had a lot of “social approbation”—there was a lot of approval coming from significant sections of society for being a revolutionary. Right now you don’t get that much “social approbation” for being a revolutionary, and in particular a revolutionarycommunist. [laughter] “What the fuck, you crazy?!” [laughter] That’s a lot of what you get, as you know. Or you get more theoretically developed arguments about why it’s hopeless or a bad idea, or a disaster, or a nightmare. Well, we aren’t doing this because we’re seeking social approbation. It’s good in one sense if you have that—in the sense that it reflects favorable elements in society, in terms of how people are viewing the question of radical change—but we’re not doing what we’re doing in order to get “social approbation,” and we’re not relying on such “social approbation” for what we’re doing. If there isn’t “social approbation,” we have to create it—not so people will “approve” of what we’re doing, in some more narrow or personal sense, but because we need to transform people’s understanding of reality and therefore the way they act in terms of transforming reality.
So this is a fundamental question of orientation, but that orientation is not just: revolution, it’s more righteous. “Reform, that sounds kind of paltry; revolutionary, that’s more righteous.” [laughter] No, that’s not the heart of the matter. It’s very righteous to be in Doctors Without Borders. But the essential thing is that revolution corresponds to reality, it corresponds to what’s needed to resolve the contradictions that have been spoken to repeatedly in this talk—the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and other contradictions bound up with that, and all the effects of this in the world—to resolve these contradictions in the interests of the masses of people. That’s why we’re revolutionaries—and a certain kind of revolutionaries—communist revolutionaries. Because that’s the only kind of revolution that can do what needs to be done, what cries out to be done. So what we do has to proceed from that, in terms of our fundamental orientation.
Thursday, 24 October 2013
Anyone who has ever gotten any enjoyment out of the shitheaded sitcom "two and a half men" is a fucking idiot. The smug assholes who say shit like "bro's before ho's" are totally pathetic, and couldn't think their way into tying their own fucking shoes. Any imbecile who believes in crap like the "bro code" is worthy of a lifetime of pain and suffering, along with all of those insecure weasels who come up with such precious insights like calling miley cyrus a "slut", while sporting a shiteating better than you grin on their lowlife brainless faces. Fuck them all. They are all symptoms of this fucking worthless society, and need to be struggled with, and quite likely swept away with the rest of the fucking garbage. Just a little venting this Thursday night. Bye.
On my way to work on Monday morning, running on about 6 hours sleep over the last two days, I made a slight miscalculation, and broke my fucking head on the pavement. Yes, I know I'm "too old" to be skateboarding, even to work, but fuck you. The scared-ass motherfucker working in the 24 hour convenience store wouldn't even let me use his fucking bathroom. Nor did he offer to call for help, or even ask me what the fuck happened. In fact, no one in the fucking store did. They all just got the fuck out of my way because I was covered in blood. I grabbed some napkins, and skated the rest of the way to work. My co-workers were great. I insisted on staying for the entire shift, but they made me go and get stitched. I did, and came back to work the rest of it. Overall, it was a fun day. We had many laughs about the situation, but everyone wants me to start wearing a helmet. I lied and said I'd think about it. I always make my kids wear them, though. Enough about my whiney bullshit.
The October 22nd Protest Against Police Brutality went off down in the u.s., and some parts of kkkanada. There were many actions in many cities, and they will be built upon. Here's a statement the RCP put out just before the events took place.....
The October 22nd Protest Against Police Brutality went off down in the u.s., and some parts of kkkanada. There were many actions in many cities, and they will be built upon. Here's a statement the RCP put out just before the events took place.....
October 22, 2013
Statement from RCP on the Occasion of the October 22 Actions Against Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation
October 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Revolutionary Communist Party salutes you who have come out here, who are part of actions going on all over the country. We salute you who have been fighting this fight for years, and you who have taken your first step today. Without the kind of resistance we're seeing here today, we have no chance whatsoever at justice, and at a better life for everyone. And we need more of this—as our Party says,
The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world... when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness... those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.
We need a mass movement, far beyond what we have here today, yes eventually of millions, that says NO MORE to this outrage. A movement that unites all kinds of people who suffer under this horror and all kinds of people who refuse to go along with it and want to act against it, even if it doesn't personally affect them. A movement that can change the ways that middle-class people are taught to fear those under the gun, and that can change the ways that the people under the gun are taught to blame themselves for what is being done to them by the system, or to feel that if they dostand up, nobody will hear and it will make no difference.
Bob Avakian, BA, the Chairman of our Party and the leader who has brought forward the new synthesis of communism, starts his epic speech REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! by asking, how long must "this nightmare of oppression and brutality that so many in the world are forced to endure, day after day, generation after generation" go on? And he goes on to say, "Let's start with just one great crime of this system—police murder… after murder, after murder, of Black people and Latinos, especially youth."
And many, many people in these past few months have expressed that very same kind of sentiment over the outrageous acquittal of the man who killed Trayvon Martin—a murder that harkened back to Emmett Till and the days of lynching. How long... how long indeed!? That is the question we're asking today.
And we also have to ask ourselves—what kind of a system, for generations now, has confined millions, maybe tens of millions, of mainly minority people into prison? What kind of a system vindicates the police who chased down an unarmed young Black man in the Bronx, Ramarley Graham, and then killed him in his own bathroom? Or who hogtied a young Chicano father in California, David Sal Silva, and then murdered him in front of witnesses from the community? What kind of a system treats those who are driven here to survive as criminals, calling them "illegal aliens" and hounding and persecuting them, and breaking up their families? What kind of a system must wiretap literally billions of people around the world in the name of "security"? The horrors we are here to fight against today—the police harassment, brutality and outright murder of young Black, Latino and other minority people, the criminalization of whole peoples, the Big Brother repression, and other horrors of an equally towering nature—will go on and keep going on just so long as the source of the problem is not dealt with and eradicated.
Let's be clear: it is crucially important to stand up and fight back against police brutality and mass incarceration, as well as other horrors and outrages. At the same time, it is just as important and even more important, that we get to the source of the problem and that we get into the real solution: revolution—nothing less.
We can do that. We can get rid of this system, and put a whole different one in its place. We can make revolution—not today, not next week... but we CAN do it. That is not just talk, it is real. And we are not just talking about it, we are working to prepare for the day when we can do it, and we are hastening that day.
This system has deep problems. Just look at this shutdown, with two camps among the rulers fighting among themselves. Why? It comes out of the very way they have to exploit and oppress the whole world, the problems and resistance of various kinds that they run into in doing that, and the bitter arguments all that gives rise to among the rulers themselves about HOW they are going to do that. When those kinds of things happen, it potentially raises big questions among millions. It can show that these rulers are NOT all-powerful, and that their system doesn't have to be permanent. And when the people decide that they are not going to keep letting the system keep them down, when and as people increasingly stand up in struggle as you are doing today, when people check out and get with and increasingly get closer to the real revolutionary alternative, it can prepare the ground and it can organize the people to bring closer the day so that when those on top cannot easily get out of their conflicts, and when people broadly see a real alternative and are ready to sacrifice for it, then millions of people will actually be able to make a revolution.
We can build a movement that can hasten that day—but you can't know how to do that, and you can't fully participate in it, without going to the revcom.us website or keeping up with Revolutionnewspaper. This site and this paper exposes the lies they tell all the time, and shows how our movement is doing and gets into WHAT it is learning about making revolution.
A whole new system can be built, one in which people are NOT subject to the myriad horrors of today—the police murder and massive systematic criminalization of whole peoples, the persecution and super-exploitation of immigrants, the oppression and constant demeaning of women, the horrible wars and the living hells of an even worse degree in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the way that the monsters who run this thing are raping the natural world we live in—we can get beyond that into a world where people can truly flourish. But you can't know that and you can't know how without getting into BA, and the whole new synthesis of communism he's brought forward, and the Constitution for this new society that's been written and that's based on his work.
Our Party is determined to bring forward and to lead the millions to make revolution and to bring in a whole new day, a whole new society where October 22 is no longer a day of protest but a day of celebration and commemoration each year so that the children and young people in the future can learn about this horror of the old society, and how people like you courageously stood up to fight it, and they will shake their heads and cry and they will echo BA and look in our faces and ask, "How long did this go on? How could people live like that? What did they do to end it?" And then they will commemorate those who lost their lives to this system and those who sacrificed everything fighting it and answer that question by saying, "Never Again!"
This cannot happen without you. But with you, it can. And there IS a role for you in this movement—there are ways for you to contribute, large and small to help make this revolution happen. Number one: get into BA. Start with this film, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! If you have seen it, see it again. Show it to your friends. Talk with them about it and talk with people in the movement for revolution about it. Get into BAsics, the book of quotes and short essays by BA.BAsics is the handbook for revolutionaries, and we say, "You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics!"
And while you're doing that, be part of a campaign to spread this to every corner of society. We are in the middle of—and we are going to take to a whole 'nother level—a campaign to raise big money to get BA everywhere, to let people know that another world is possible and that there is someone who can lead us there.
Get with our Party. Work with it, support it, come closer to it and join it—because not only are we going to need a strong, experienced, deeply-rooted vanguard party capable of leading when the deal does go down—we need that Party right now and we need it all the way through the revolution and after.
And finally, let's continue this struggle against police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation, let's intensify it and let's broaden it, and let's work together to get to the day when people no longer have to say "how long" and they can walk in the liberating sun of a whole new day. There are no guarantees, and the struggle will be hard, but can we settle for anything less?
Sunday, 20 October 2013
There are a lot of smug fucking prejudices about people who have been to, or are in, prison. Everything from fear to insecure self-congratulatory judgements are generated by people who are too fucking caught up in their own social media diseased celebrity obssessed bullshit they call a fucking life. The reality is, people get caught up in shit because the system is fucking corrupt and lopsided. No, I'm not talking about child molesters and rapists (because I know that is where the fucking liberals and conservatives will automatically go when they start shrieking about "criminals"), but the majority of people who have been caught in the game. Here is some wisdom from someone who is one of these so called "criminals". Read this.
Destruction of the Environment, Nightmare of Mass Incarceration, and the Need to Sweep This Illegitimate System from the Pages of History
October 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
I recently received a letter from a brother who recounted to me a story of a fish rights activist who compared the conditions of a fish being raised in a fish farm to the conditions of prisoners. He asked if I could write something regarding the conditions that prisoners are subjected to here in the United States’ world-leading system of mass incarceration in response.
As a prefatory matter, I should explain that I am currently a political prisoner being held in the Cook County Jail in Chicago. My “crime”? Recording a political statement opposing censorship on an iPhone at a public meeting of the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago four years ago. Further details of my case are available at my defense committee’s website: www.dropthecharges.net.
I want to begin by uniting with the sentiments of people—like the fish activist—who find the commodification of animals and nature by this capitalist-imperialist system a travesty. Factory farming undeniably causes undue suffering and wanton cruelty to animals and our planet teeters on the precipice of ecological disaster from the despoliation and defiling of the globe due to the driving demands of capitalist production. I would point people to the special issue of Revolutionnewspaper on the environmental emergency, especially the section on principles for a socialist sustainable economy [“State of EMERGENCY! The Plunder of Our Planet, The Environmental Catastrophe & The Real Revolutionary Solution,” #199, April 19, 2010), as well as theConstitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Both provide a very concrete yet broadly sweeping vision of how we could collectively begin to address and reverse the scars to the global environment inflicted by capitalism through the course of the struggle to bring into being a radically different world.
I know personally the living nightmare of spending many years—including over six years straight in solitary confinement—locked down in the hellholes of America’s historically unprecedented system of mass incarceration. The U.S. has a rate of incarceration for Black males that is five times higher than apartheid South Africa. More women are imprisoned in the US than anywhere else in the world—and women are one of the fastest growing segments of the prison population. Entire families of immigrants are held in immigration prisons. Children in juvenile prisons face mind-numbing conditions of solitary confinement and high rates of sexual assault and abuse at the hands of prison guards.
The United States leads the world in torturing its own people under long-term solitary confinement—a policy of torture afflicting at least 80,000 men, women and children and categorically condemned by the United Nations and international law.
On July 8, 2013, 30,000 prisoners in California began a hunger strike and work stoppage to demand an end to the conditions of long-term solitary confinement. I spent my first two weeks as a political prisoner here in Cook County Jail on hunger strike in solidarity with the courageous and heroic prisoners in California. Many of those brothers remain on hunger strike approaching 60 days and are entering a critical period where they are facing long-term health damage and imminent death. All people of conscience must step forward now to stand with the prisoners and demand that officials end the systematic practices of torture and refuse to allow long-term harm or deaths to occur. The Five Core Demands of the brothers in California must be met immediately.
The human suffering inflicted by the rulers of this system upon millions and millions of its own people here in prisons is reason alone to sweep this illegitimate, oppressive system from the pages of history. Yet this is but one example of the crimes of this system! Women are treated as less than full human beings, with access to abortion and reproductive health care under assault; massive programs of surveillance and spying on the entire population of the world go forward; activists and whistleblowers who expose the crimes of this system are imprisoned while the rulers of the system that perpetuated the crimes they expose continue to rain terror down on the people of the world; and the entire planet faces ecological disaster.
Not only does the world not have to be this way, we can end these crimes and bring into being a radically different world. This is going to take revolution—nothing less, based on a serious, scientific understanding and strategy. The RCP has such a strategy for revolution, based on the path-breaking new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian—who has dedicated his life to analyzing the historical experience of previous socialist revolutions and societies and is leading the Party to build a movement for revolution. And let me say from personal experience: BA deeply respects those this system counts as nothing and believes in our potential to transform the world.
Both the despoliation of nature and the untold suffering and oppression inflicted upon humanity can and must be ended. Those this system treats as worthless have the tremendous potential to step forward—along with people from more privileged backgrounds who refuse to live in comfortable complicity—to fight the crimes of this system, to transform themselves and the world through building a movement to end these crimes once and for all. This will not be easy—people will face repression from the rulers of this system. But those with nothing to lose but our chains must realize that potential and struggle together for the emancipation of all humanity from thousands of years of class divisions, exploitation and oppression.
A world where everyone contributes what they can and gets back what they need to lead lives worthy of human beings, where truth is struggled for by everyone, where everyone has the ability to participate in intellectual, artistic and cultural pursuits and the people are unleashed in ways undreamed of is possible—a communist world. Get with the movement for revolution to be part of bringing this world into reality.
Love and struggle
Friday, 18 October 2013
For all of those stupid naive patriotic motherfuckers who think that racist brutal cops only exist "over there", fuck you. Kkkanada is racist. It's just hidden a little bit better over here. How often have you heard anti-Asian, and anti-Native racist fucking comments? Plenty, I bet. This is a racist, imperialist country, and Revolution needs to happen here just as much as it does south of the fucking border. Read this about racist fucking pigs in edmonton....
A former cop with an exemplary record is going public about what he calls corruption in Edmonton police ranks, after he tried internally to expose what he believes is organized brutality, but got no results.
"I stood up for what's right, and I just got run out of the police service,” said Derek Huff, 37. “I still can’t even really believe it.”
Huff is a 10-year-veteran who resigned in February, three years after he said he and his partner watched — stunned — as three plainclothes officers viciously beat a handcuffed man while he was down.
“They basically had their knees on his back and were just punching and kicking him just as hard as they could …six fists just pummelling this guy … I could hear him screaming,” said Huff.
He reported what he saw — and his allegations are now being investigated — but he said until recently the alleged assault was kept quiet.
“I can still remember the sounds of the contact of the knuckles hitting his face… I’ve seen lots of arrests and I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Huff said the main instigator was Constable Jack Redlick, now 30. Before joining the Edmonton Police Service, Redlick, who is six foot three inches tall, was a hockey defenceman who was notorious for his fights on ice.
The alleged victim, according to Huff, was Kasimierz Kozina, who was 29 at the time. Redlick and the other officers had targeted the suspected drug dealer in a sting.
Vicious beating reported
Huff said Kozina was much smaller than Redlick — and the attack was unprovoked.
“I compared it to the Rodney King beating,” said Huff. “My first initial thought [was] that 'I want to get in this car and get out of here as fast as I can.' [My partner and I] were in shock.”
Back at the downtown police station, Huff said he saw Kozina being taken away by ambulance.
“His face was a great big giant black ball … of blood and bruising,” said Huff. “It looked like he had a gotten into a full head-on collision and smashed his head into a steering wheel.”
Huff said he and his partner Mike Furman agonized over what to do. They felt they had two choices; "rat" on their fellow officers or — if Kozina complained — they might be forced to lie later, to protect their jobs, because they were there.
“We had a big decision to make,” said Huff.
The next day, Huff said he and Furman told their sergeant what they’d seen. They were so scared, Huff said, they met their boss in a police cruiser and didn’t put anything in writing.
In the meantime, Huff said Kozina needed surgery to repair his face. He never did file a complaint, though.
“If a pack of police officers handcuffed me and put me in the hospital and nothing happened, I’d be pretty scared of them,” said Huff, who said nothing came of their report to their boss, either.
“[The sergeant] came back and said that he read all the reports that were submitted and as far as he’s concerned it justifies the actions that Redlick and his partners took, and that Mike and I no longer need to be involved,” he said.
“I couldn't believe it. Even to this day I still can’t believe it.”
Huff suggested the other officers involved lied, by telling the sergeant Kozina attacked first.
“People stick to a story. They cover things up. They want to justify beating people up,” said Huff. “I ran into corruption. Covering up evidence is corruption.”
He said he and his partner were then branded as "rats" and were mocked and shunned. Huff said it got so bad, when he and Furman called for backup on the street, no one came.
“I went from having a great career to being a rat — and it’s almost like jail,” said Huff. “If you’re labelled a rat in the police service, you’re done.”
Go Public contacted Redlick for comment on all of this, but he didn’t respond. We also asked to talk to Furman. A police spokesperson said neither officer is allowed to talk about this case because it hasn’t been resolved.
Huff said the ostracizing became so unbearable, he couldn’t function at work. He went to other supervisors and managers for help, but he said no one did anything about the root problem.
“Every time I tried to talk to superiors, they would minimize it — into me and my partner having a problem with these beat guys,” said Huff. “And I kept saying, ‘That’s not the problem.’”
Complaint still unresolved
Two years after witnessing the alleged police brutality, Huff said he went to the deputy chief and revealed all, in a formal, written complaint. It was sent to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), which investigates police misconduct.
He also went on stress leave. The investigation into his complaint was completed six months ago, but he’s still waiting to hear the outcome. In the meantime, Huff was ordered back to work in the same division. He quit instead.
“I gave up. I sacrificed my career. I stood up for what's right, and I just got run out of the police service. I thought there is nothing else I could do. I lost.”
Since Huff initially reported the alleged beating, Redlick has been investigated for other violent police incidents.
In 2011, he shot and killed a 17-year-old aboriginal boy. Police who were there said the teen, Cyrus Green, had fled the scene of a robbery and was threatening them with a knife and a baseball bat.
Redlick shot the teen three times. The officer was cleared of wrongdoing, but the boy’s mother is suing him.
'Street justice' carried on
Then, last year, Redlick picked up a man in his 50s and beat him up in a schoolyard. Redlick later admitted to that in a statement of fact agreed to during a disciplinary action.
The officer and his partner had arrested George Petropolous after his mother called to say he’d hit her during an argument.
Redlick rode in the back seat of the cruiser with Petropolous and then told his partner to pull in to a high school parking lot.
Redlick took the handcuffs off Petropolous and walked him to an area where they couldn’t be seen. Petropolous said the officer then put him face down in the snow and punched him repeatedly — while holding his head.
“He knew what he was doing exactly. I could tell that this man is trained,” said Petropolous, who said he was terrified.
“I was in a tremendous amount of pain — to the point that I couldn’t breathe from the punches … there is something wrong with him.”
Petropolous's lawyer said the allegations his client was arrested for turned out to be unfounded. The charges were stayed.
“But Redlick just shows up. No investigation. Just on basis of a complaint — decides to beat him up and administers street justice,” said Tom Engel.
Petropolous filed a complaint against Redlick, alleging the officer told him he wasn’t the first to get beaten up.
“He says, ‘I’ve done it to other inmates before. I’ve taken them out of the car. Some of them wouldn’t come out. They were crying and begging,’” said Petropolous.
At first, Redlick and his partner denied wrongdoing. Redlick then pleaded guilty to misconduct and was docked $15,000 pay. His partner now faces discipline for lying to protect him.
The file was sent to the Crown, but no charges were laid. However, a spokesperson from Alberta Justice said because of "other recent information" the Crown is now "re-examining the evidence."
Lawyer wants cop fired
The disciplinary decision on Redlick said he was suffering from “mental health issues.” Because he had no previous disciplinary citations on his record, it stated, “This was clearly an isolated incident.”
Petropolous’s lawyer said that is outrageous, especially given what Huff reported years earlier. He can’t understand why Redlick is still on the job.
“I’ve been told this guy has been doing this for a long time,” said Engel, who has filed an appeal. “They have a cop who goes vigilante … if you don’t fired for doing that, what do you get fired for?”
“There were so many people inside the organization that knew what Redlick was doing, they knew he was doing this to people, but yet they continue on,” said Huff.
Rod Knecht has been Edmonton’s police chief since 2011. He told Go Public he knew nothing about Huff’s initial allegations until last year. He said he also wasn’t aware of why Huff had resigned.
“Obviously if the good cop goes and the bad cop stays, that’s not a good thing,” said Knecht. “Could things have been done differently? Absolutely.”
When he came on as chief, Knecht promised to protect whistleblowers. He’s now promising to take Huff’s allegations seriously.
'We'll deal with it': police chief
“Obviously it’s intolerable behaviour. We don’t accept that as tolerable behaviour at all. An officer committing a criminal act — or act against the Police Act — we won’t tolerate that in this organization and we’ll deal with it.”
Despite what’s happened, Huff said he still loves being a cop and wants his job back once this is resolved.
"I did absolutely nothing wrong,” said Huff. “All I’ve ever wanted since day one was the truth — and it’s finally coming out.”
Thursday, 17 October 2013
There are millions of people who accept the opinions and analyses of "experts" on the Middle East, economics, war, history, etc., without reallly digging into what class these experts represent, and whose interests they serve. The title of "expert" doesn't mean shit. You can always be a slave to the imperialist bourgeoisie. Raymond Lotta is someone who cuts through the bullshit, and gets to the truth. Read.
Nicholas Kristof’s Ode to Imperialism...
Nicholas Kristof’s Ode to Imperialism...
What Kind of World Is He Celebrating? What Kind of World Can Emancipate Humanity?
By Raymond Lotta | October 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for the New York Times who has gained a following for his apparent concern for the disadvantaged and poor of the world. He is also a prominent liberal advocate of globalization—in 2010, he famously declared, “the only thing worse than a sweatshop is indeed no sweatshop at all, no employment whatsoever.”1
Recently, Kristof wrote a column entitled “A Way of Life Is Ending. Thank Goodness.”2 He paints a picture of the impoverished countries of the Third World undergoing great and positive change owing to the combined effects of the work of “Western donors or aide groups” (people like Bill Gates) and economic growth that enables poor people to “get jobs ... [and] forge their own path out of poverty.” He marshals some data to march the reader to his bold conclusion: “The world of extreme poverty and disease that characterized life for most people throughout history may now finally be on its way out.” Kristof proclaims that we have reached a watershed moment: we can now “celebrate a triumph for humanity.”
“A Way of Life Is Ending. Thank Goodness.” is an outrageous, deceitful, and morally bankrupt ode to imperialism.
I. There Is a System: Capitalism-Imperialism.
Kristof talks about growth, poverty, aid, and wealth. But he cannot speak about a system with systemic drives and systemic outcomes.
The reality is, we live in a world of capitalism-imperialism. It is an economic system and social order organized around profit, in which a tiny handful, the ruling capitalist-imperialist class, controls the vast wealth and means of producing wealth on the planet.
This is a global system of contending imperial powers. It is a world economy dominated by competing transnational banks and corporations that finance and organize the extraction of minerals and resources destroying livelihoods and ecosystems, that coordinate the supply chains of low-cost manufacturing production based on savage super-exploitation in the oppressed nations of Asia, Latin America, and Africa. It is system in which institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) control the economic lifeblood and shape polices and direction of economic development of the countries of the Third World.
It is a system kept in place by a colossal apparatus of force and repression to carry out imperial wars and occupations... to deploy drones and death squads... and to wage rivalry among the great powers.
Capitalism-imperialism has integrated the world into a complex of production and exchange that rules the lives of billions and that reinforces the privileged position of a handful of rich countries. This system is capable of promoting development in the Third World. But of a certain kind: it isdependent development (dependent on foreign capital and loans); distorted development (that leads to the ruin of subsistence agriculture, to specialization that serves the world imperialist economy, and to swollen cities with vast armies of the unemployed); and unsustainabledevelopment (spurts of growth that have adverse long-term environmental consequences).
Nicholas Kristof assumes the structure and functioning of this system to be the unchangeable order of things—and a force for good, so good that he heralds a new dawn in which poverty will be a thing of the past.
II. A Self-Serving Measure of Poverty and Progress
A linchpin of Kristof’s celebration of the world system is the reduction in what is called “extreme poverty.” He cites World Bank data showing that the share of people living in extreme poverty in the “developing world” (the oppressed nations of Africa, Latin America, and Asia) has declined from 1 in 2 people in 1980 to 1 in 5 today.
There are several basic problems with this statistic:
A. To begin with, the World Bank has conveniently revised the measure of extreme poverty—from its original benchmark of $1 per person per day in 1985 dollars to an even lower $1.25 person per day in 2005 dollars. The $1.25 a day measure is worth less in real purchasing terms than the $1 of 1985. So this revised statistical measure creates the impression of poverty improvement on a scale that is simply not happening.
It also masks the tremendous rise in inequality over the last two decades. The bottom 20 percent of the world’s households experienced a 22 percent decline in their share of global household income between 1988 and 2008, while the top 5 percent saw its share of global household income grow 7 percent.3
The “extreme poverty” measure also underrates the cost of food in poor countries and overlooks the increasing vulnerability of the poor to fluctuations in food prices—in 2008 global food prices hit historic highs. The poor spend on average half of their income on food. So “official” poverty can go down while hunger goes up. And when economic crisis upends fragile livelihoods, there is no social safety net.
Moreover, this single metric ($1.25 per person per day) does not take into account the multi-dimensional character of poverty: from poor schooling and poor health care and nutrition, to lack of access to clean water and effective sanitation, to debt bondage, to women denied access to land and resources in rural areas. 780 million people worldwide lack access to clean water and 2.5 billion lack adequate sanitation. On average, women in the oppressed nations walk about four miles each day to collect water.4
From 1981 to 2008, the number of people living below what is still a low poverty line of $2.50 a day increased by almost 8 percent, to three billion.5 The truth is that the majority of the world’s population is still living in life-threatening and spirit-crushing poverty.
B. Much of the official reduction in “extreme poverty” is accounted for by the massive migration of huge swaths of humanity from rural to urban areas. Incomes might rise, but poverty is reproduced in different forms. Let’s look at some key elements behind this dynamic.
Raymond Lotta: The Rape of the Congo & Your Cell Phone
Imperialist agribusiness has grabbed up land, consolidated holdings, and undermined rural livelihoods based on small-scale subsistence agriculture. Environmental devastation, droughts, and civil wars (often fueled or taken advantage of by the great powers, as in Congo) have brought ruin to agricultural systems. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the IMF insisted, as a condition for loans, that governments of many poor countries eliminate subsidies to small rural landholders, and also “open up” economies to food imports from the West.
These and other factors have driven people into the cities. Many are forced to live in squalid, dangerous slums and shantytowns—where investments in public services are totally inadequate to the rapid and chaotic growth of these slums. We are talking about lack of functioning utilities and sewage systems, people living in dilapidated, cramped, poorly ventilated, and unclean dwellings, where diseases like diarrhea are widespread.
To survive, hundreds of millions on this planet have no choice but to work in the unregulated and unstable “informal economy,” a technical term put into quite vivid human terms by the author Mike Davis who explains that in large parts of Latin America and Africa vast numbers of women are “improvising a life as piece workers, liquor sellers, street vendors, cleaners, washers, rag pickers, nannies, and prostitutes.”6
Imperialism has been globalizing and outsourcing production. In countries like China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Honduras, and elsewhere, new legions of laborers, many drawn from the countryside, are working in the “formal economy” of industrial factories and death-trap sweatshops—producing garments, electronics, and other consumer goods for the West. These factories are often run like military barracks; safety is ignored and women preyed upon sexually. In Bangladesh earlier this year, some 1,000 workers, most of them women, died in a horrific but totally avoidable building collapse (had safety not been sacrificed for profit).
These workers may have cell phones, and their standard of living may have risen—but basic needs go unmet, and these are not lives of fulfillment.
The point is, money income tells us nothing about the actual quality of life. Someone driven off a farm that provided nutrition outside of a formal income economy into a city where every tortilla or piece of bread has to be bought with cash, and whose income has “risen” from $1 to $1.25 or $1.50 a day could very well be in a more dire situation, or at least in circumstances that hardly call for celebration. A prostitute living a desperate life with AIDS in a Rio slum (or, for that matter, a high-priced one in Bogotá) has something to cheer about on account of a rise in money income? What a twisted measure of quality of life—even if it is the case that in certain situations some exploited and oppressed people have technically higher incomes than before.
And Kristof gloats about how jobs are allowing the poor to “forge their own path out of poverty”? No, the choices and framework are set by imperialism. This system continues to dispossess small farmers, to consolidate control of seeds and other farm inputs, and to shift the use of farmland from food to fuel production; the workings of the world capitalist system lead to the explosive growth of slums and shantytowns; and this system has generated a global cheap-labor, manufacturing economy.
III. The China Factor
The biggest contributor, in the last 25 years, to the decline of “extreme poverty,” measured by the $1.25 yardstick, has been the rise in formal money incomes in China, particularly among peasants drawn into the rural capitalist market economy and into the cities.
After Mao Tsetung’s death in 1976, a counter-revolution took place in China. Socialism was overthrown, and what followed was the capitalist restructuring of society and the economy.
Some 230 million people from the countryside have been pushed into the cities by the dismantling of China’s formerly socialist economy and by the churning of capitalist market forces. Better-off farmers have consolidated land holdings; land has become an object of commercial development and speculation; and hundreds of millions of the rural poor have struggled to eke out survival on tiny plots of land. These kinds of conditions, and the far more dynamic growth in and lure of the cities, have produced the largest mass migration from countryside to city in human history.
Imperialist outsourcing has led to export-processing zones and factories like those run by Foxconn, which makes iPhones for Apple. Young migrant workers are often working 12 to 14 hours a day, subject to grueling work regimens, facing injury and loss of limb, and denied basic rights. During 2010, 18 Foxconn workers jumped from the roof of the factory in suicide attempts (14 died), and in 2012, 150 workers threatened to jump in a protest against unbearable working conditions. And suicide is the leading cause of death for young women in China.7
Capitalist development in China has led to grotesque extremes of inequality in income and in access to education and health care. It has led to an environmental catastrophe: China’s cities are choking on pollution, rivers are dying, and China is now the largest emitter of carbon into the atmosphere.
But... by the measure of the World Bank standard of overcoming “extreme poverty,” China is experiencing “big gains.”
IV. Lower Infant Mortality in a World of Misery
Kristof points to the decline in deaths for children under five (the infant mortality rate) as a crucial measure of “spectacular progress.” It is true that the number of under-five deaths has dropped worldwide from 12.6 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012.
This decline is the result of several converging factors, including: more effective vaccination campaigns and treatments; more widespread reach of such prevention and cure, especially in the cities of the Third World; and the epochal movement of populations out of the more desperate conditions of the world’s countryside, where lack of sanitation, disease, and hunger take enormous tolls.
But there is nothing to celebrate about 18,000 children, overwhelmingly in the Third World, dying each and every day of preventable disease and undernutrition.
Nothing to celebrate in sub-Saharan Africa where hunger, disease (especially AIDS), and conflict have been killing off and ruining the lives of women and children on a scale that has ravaged the social fabric of society.
Nothing to celebrate when infant mortality rates in the poorest countries of the Third World are 13 times the average rate in the high-income capitalist countries.8
Nothing to celebrate when such deaths are totally unnecessary.
And what happens to those children who make it beyond five years? What kind of life, what kind of world, awaits them? In 2008, over 200 million girls and boys aged 5-17 were engaged in child labor, 115 million of them in hazardous work. Some 15.5 million children under 18 years work as domestic laborers, and 10 million of them are working in conditions that the International Labor Organization has described as “tantamount to slavery.” These domestic laborers are overwhelmingly young girls, forced by harsh economic circumstances to surrender their childhoods and their basic right to education.9
The life chances of the young are increasingly impacted by the global environmental crisis. In India, 70 percent of surface water and a growing amount of groundwater is contaminated by chemical, organic and inorganic, biological toxic pollutants. So once again, what of those children who make it past five years of age? Some will be killed by toxic water, while others who survive their contaminated daily doses will live “half-lives,” debilitated by disease, weakened and stunted in mind and body.10
V. And Bill Gates?
Kristof sees philanthropic donations from the likes of Bill Gates to combat malaria and other diseases, by providing mosquito nets and underwriting immunization programs, as both essential to the battle to reduce poverty and disease and a guarantee of its continuing success.
What kind of world is it that depends on the good will and philanthropy of people who monopolize the great bulk of productive forces and wealth of the planet? And the vast wealth of Bill Gates derives from a particularly parasitic form of capital: intellectual property rights. So here you have a situation where, on the one hand, he is donating funds to malaria and measles vaccination campaigns; while, on the other hand, it is precisely the regime of intellectual property rights that turns human knowledge gained through the interconnected efforts of great numbers of people throughout the world into a private source of wealth and control. Thus, needed medicines are protected as intellectual property and priced beyond the reach of those who need them.
200 million cases of malaria are reported each year, and 660,000 people die of malaria each year.11 The potential of the disease to strike and spread is intensified by chaotic urbanization, by poor irrigation planning, by deteriorating sanitary conditions, and by environmental hazards like heavy rains and floods that are linked to global warming (and rises in atmospheric temperature will increase malarial risk).
Philanthropy is not going to solve this. On the contrary, all these “good deeds” are linked to a wider project: the further penetration of imperialist production and social relations into these countries. A self-critical reflection by philanthropist Peter Buffett (son of Warren Buffett) about charity and Western promotion of programs like microlending is salient: “People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?” 12
VI. Things Do Not Have to Be This Way
The problems confronting humanity are so great, so interdependent, and so urgent that something radically different is required to overcome poverty, disease, and inequality, and to act on the environmental crisis: the conscious mobilization of the masses of people, both experts and basic people; the socialization of the means of production and resources of the planet; vast cooperative efforts in which knowledge is shared and deepened; and comprehensive planning.
That cannot happen without revolution, without the creation of socialist society and world.
The way the world is... is not the way it has to be. The development of the world’s productive forces and technology, the accumulated knowledge of humanity, and the creative potential of the billions on this planet open up the possibility to move society and the world beyond scarcity and exploitation. And there is the experience of a truly transformative revolution to learn from.
Earlier I mentioned China during the Mao years. On a societal scale and under a different system—socialism—China was able to wipe out major infectious diseases and mass hunger. Revolutionary China carried through the most massive reduction in poverty and attack on inequality in history, lifting hundreds of millions out of destitution.13 It established the most egalitarian health care system in the world, based on the principle of serving the people, with essential primary care reaching practically the entire population. Education and basic literacy were extended to the countryside, and a basic level of essential consumption was achieved. Life expectancy doubled, from 32 to 65 years, between 1949 and 1976, and by the early 1970s Shanghai had a lower infant mortality rate than did New York City.14
This was not the spectacular, glittering development of the kind that sees skyscrapers going up to serve financial elites... alongside sprawling shantytowns. It was development based on social cooperation, social mobilization, and integrated planning to solve the problems of society and to advance the world revolution. It was balanced development—between regions and between town and country. And built into this model of development was the goal of overcoming the oppression of women and the ages-long division between mental and manual labor.
There was a quality to life, meaning and purpose to people’s lives, as they joined together to transform society and their own thinking. Under communist leadership, real political power was being exercised by masses in communes and revolutionary committees of the cities. People took up big questions of society and the world and took increasing responsibility for the direction of society.
The world has changed considerably since the defeat in 1976 of the Chinese revolution; and there are new challenges, not least the environmental crisis. Most decisively, Bob Avakian has brought forward a new synthesis of communism that sums up the great achievements as well as the problems of the Russian and Chinese revolutions, that draws from diverse spheres of human endeavor, and that enables humanity to go further and do better in a new wave of revolution. To create a society and world in which human beings can truly flourish.
The world cries out for this, and it is possible to achieve.
Nicholas Kristof wants readers to believe that a “way of life is ending.” It is not true, and what he is offering up is a brief for a world of misery and powerlessness, with some incremental changes...that leave that world as it is.
1. “Nicholas Kristof on Journalism and Compassion,” Transcript of radio interview, On Being, September 23, 2010 [back]
2. Nicholas Kristof, “A Way of Life is Ending. Thank Goodness,” New York Times, September 28, 2013. [back]
3. Thomas Pogge and Mitu Sengupta, “New Millenium Development Goals: A New Version, an Old Wish List,” Economic and Political Weekly, September 28, 2013. I have benefited from the authors’ critique of the World Bank’s definition, and revised benchmarks, of “extreme poverty.” [back]
4. Francis Moore Lappé, “Poverty Down! Inequality and Hunger Up... Huh?”, Huffington Post, September 13, 2012. [back]
5. World Health Organization data summarized in One, “Water and Sanitation.” [back]
6. Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (London: Verso, 2007), p. 159. [back]
7. Jenny Chan, “A Suicide Survivor, The Life of a Chinese Migrant Worker at Foxconn,” The Asia Pacific Journal,” Vol. 11, No. 1, August 12, 2013. World Health Organization, “Women and suicide in rural China,” Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 87, No. 12, Dec. 2009. [back]
8. UNICEF, Levels and Trends in Infant Mortality, Report 2013. [back]
9. UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an urban world, February 2012, p. 8; International Labor Organization, Ending child labor in domestic work, June 2013. [back]
13. Land reform was a pivotal, preliminary measure. In the early 1950s, the new revolutionary state power, carrying forward the land reform enacted in the communist-led base areas, distributed 30-40 percent of China’s cultivated land away from landlord-exploiting classes to some 300 million peasants. China historian William Hinton characterized this land reform as “the most massive expropriation and distribution of property and repudiation of debt in world history.” See, William Hinton, “The Importance of Land Reform in the Reconstruction of China,” in Fred Magdoff, et. al., Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), p. 216. [back]
14. Penny Kane, The Second Billion (Hammandsworth: Penguin, 1987), p. 172 and chapter 5; Ruth and Victor Sidel, Serve the People: Observations on Medicine in the People’s Republic of China (New York: Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, 1973), pp. 255-56. [back]