What’s Behind the Attacks on the RCP and What’s at Stake
“It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work.”
On September 27, 2001, only 16 days after the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, the Washington Times ran an article entitled “Communists, Go Home.” Ostensibly in response to a long-planned Washington mobilization against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund by forces in the anti-globalization movement, this article was a very clear call to put communists in the government’s crosshairs immediately after 9/11.
“Why are we sending aircraft carriers halfway around the world to look for enemies,” the article asked, “when our nation’s worst enemies--communists proclaiming an anti-American jihad--will be right there in front of the Washington Monument on Saturday?”
Singled out in this article were C. Clark Kissinger and Mary Lou Greenberg, identified as “RCP activists,” and Brian Becker and Larry Holmes from the International Action Center. About Kissinger, the article goes on at length:
“Kissinger--who recently served a 90-day jail sentence for probation violation--was a national officer of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s, was involved in the 1968 riots in Chicago, then left SDS. A follower of Mao Zedong, Kissinger has been affiliated for more than 20 years with Maoist RCP.
“Last year, Kissinger offered this bit of analysis: ‘The problem in this country is the oppressive system of capitalism that exploits people all over the world, that destroys our planet, that oppresses minority people, that sends people to the death chambers in droves. That is a problem that has to be done away with. Is there a solution? Yes. Revolution is the solution.’”
A Serious Campaign Unfolds
Since the fall of 2001, over 50 similar articles have appeared in different newspapers, magazines, and web sites, all offering various fabricated “exposures” of how communists, supposedly in the pay of foreign terrorist organizations, are behind the mass opposition to Bush’s war program. Most of these articles made a special point of singling out Clark Kissinger. Here it is important to understand that these articles are not just the petulant outpourings of rightwing zanies. Some are written by people with close ties to the government and contain information (however distorted it is presented) that appears to come from government files.
In short, this campaign appears to have been initiated by the political police with some clear goals in mind. One is to frighten people away from the growing movement of opposition to war and repression. But a more important goal is to create public opinion, and concoct a legal basis, for the criminalization, and quite possibly prosecution, of those who uphold internationalism and rally people to the banner of revolution.
As outlined in an earlier article (“Serious Attack on Antiwar Movement,” RW #1193, available online at rwor.org), the attacks on communists in the antiwar movement went through several phases. Initially, the attacks were from the hard right and consisted of rather crude red-baiting. Michael Temoglie, a former Philadelphia cop, wrote about “The Communist-Iraqi Fifth Column” and Ronald Radosh attacked the Not In Our Name statement and Clark Kissinger as “Saddam’s Little Helpers” in the New York Post in summer 2002.
But then two stunning events made it clear this tactic was not working. First was the publication of the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience, the first public statement repudiating the administration’s whole “war on terrorism” and domestic repression, in the New York Times on September 19, 2002. Then on October 6, 25,000 people jammed Central Park’s East Meadow to loudly proclaim their opposition.
The Light Infantry Division of the Anti-Antiwar Movement
When it became clear that determined opposition to the war program was actually resonating with millions, a new force jumped into the fray--with the same target, but reaching into the antiwar audience. Writing in fashionably liberal venues like Mother Jones, Salon.com, L.A. Weekly, and the Washington Post, authors like Mark Cooper, Todd Gitlin, David Corn, Michelle Goldberg, and Christopher Hitchens now joined in warning that the new antiwar movement was being organized by communists like Kissinger. Rather than denouncing the antiwar movement per se, however, these writers called instead for purging the leadership of the movement so that it could become “more effective.”
Writing in The Nation and in Counterpunch, Alexander Cockburn aptly tagged this crew as the “anti-antiwar movement, Light Infantry Division.” None of these people who expressed such concern for the antiwar movement had lifted a finger to help organize resistance to the juggernaut of war and repression. Rather, they became agitated when that movement began to grow. Goldberg, for example, posing as an “inquiring journalist,” called through a list of prominent signers of the Not In Our Name statement to ask them if they knew that communists were among the organizers of that initiative. (They did, and they were not particularly alarmed.)
Most of this crew then thrashed about trying to find some alternative to the growing movement of resistance that would neither challenge the underlying policy of the current administration nor compromise the Democratic Party for its complicity.
Communists Painted as “International Terrorists”
As events moved toward a U.S. attack on Iraq and with the mass antiwar outpourings of February and March 2003, the next wave of attacks was taken up by rightwing web sites like David Horowitz’s FrontPage.com and Joseph Farah’s WorldNetDaily.com. The new theme was that the communists leading the antiwar movement were supposedly directly linked to and financed by “international terrorism” and/or Saddam Hussein.
This theme had already been sounded earlier in a full-page ad in the New York Times by a high-level ruling class outfit called “Americans for Victory Over Terrorism.” Signed by AVOT chairman William J. Bennett (the gambling moralizer), this statement warned that “The threats we face today are both external and internal ... Our goal is to address the present threats so as to eradicate future terrorism and defeat the ideologies that support it.” [our emphasis]
This charge that domestic opposition was tied to terrorism and/or Saddam Hussein’s forces soon grew to a whole new level. Articles like “Iraqi Spies Behind Anti-War Protests?”, “Anti-war Groups Supporters of Terrorism?” and “Not in Our Name and the World Wide Terrorism Web” began to appear. So how was the supposed connection to terrorism or Iraq concocted in these articles? Through six degrees of separation!
Consider the following chain of “connections” luridly described in an editorial in the New York Post : 1) Not In Our Name uses the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) to receive contributions earmarked for NION; 2) IFCO provides the same service for the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom; 3) A former president of the NCPPF was Sami Al-Arian, a Florida professor of computer science; 4) Al-Arian has been indicted on charges of fundraising for the Palestinian Islamic Fund. So that is supposed to establish a “link” between the anti-war movement and Islamic terrorism.
The Post then goes on: “IFCO also sponsors Refuse & Resist!, an active pro-Castro group with ties to the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party--one of whose members, Clark Kissinger, has played a key role in organizing the pro-Saddam rallies.” It doesn’t take much investigation to establish that Refuse & Resist! takes no positions on Castro or any other foreign leader or government, and that Kissinger is most decidedly not “pro-Saddam.”
The internet article entitled “Not In Our Name and the World Wide Terrorism Web” attempts to make a tortured connection between NION and “narco-terrorism.” How? 1) Clark Kissinger is “co-director of NION and the RCP”; 2) The RCP is a member of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM); 3) the Communist Party of Peru and the Kurdish Worker’s Party are closely associated with RIM (the Kurdish Worker’s Party, now known as Kadek, is not a participating organization in RIM); 4) “These Maoist terrorist organizations are financing their activities by trafficking in controlled substances.”
Of course, the Not In Our Name statement, Kissinger, the RCP, and the RIM have no connection whatsoever with international drug trafficking. But such bogus charges are intended to establish a climate that will tolerate government attacks on these political opponents. If anyone seriously wanted to look into “narco-terrorism,” they might start with Iran-Contra exposures or how the U.S. war on Afghanistan made that country safe once again for warlords and opium production.
“Follow the Money”
The suggestion was repeatedly offered that the antiwar movement was being subsidized by mysterious foundations with foreign connections that didn’t have to make a public accounting of their fund sources. But the sources of funds for Not In Our Name and other projects are not a secret from the government, which now has the power under the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain all the relevant bank records. The funds came from thousands of individual contributors who were disgusted and frightened by their own government’s policies and who wanted to have a voice of opposition heard. And far from being supported by foundations, it was the other way around: the foundations serving as fiscal agents charged a fee for their services.
In raising the charge that the antiwar movement has financial ties with foreign terrorist groups, the government and its agents (both paid and volunteer) are not just seeking to slander the antiwar movement. Great portions of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996 and the USA Patriot Act of 2001 are concerned with the financial ties of domestic individuals and organizations with groups labeled as “terrorist” by the U.S. government. Both these laws seek to criminalize internationalism and make any form of support or “services” for officially designated “terrorist” organizations a serious federal felony. Thus the promotion of this charge is directly connected with preparing public opinion and fabricating the legal basis for potential prosecutions against those who see the possibility of a whole different world.
Here a word should be said about the “official” terrorist list established by the U.S. government. You will search in vain on this list for any pro-U.S. Cuban exile terrorist groups based in Florida, even though they have committed arson and assassinations, planted bombs, and even blown a Cuban civilian airliner out of the air. You won’t see any Nicaraguan Contra groups. You won’t see the Cambodian “strip mall revolutionaries” recently profiled in the New York Times Magazine . There are no German neo-Nazi groups that murder foreign workers in Germany. The U.S. list does not include Hindu nationalist groups in India who massacre Muslims. Under the 1996 law only non-governmental organizations are included in this list. Of course, even if governments were included, you wouldn’t see governments like Israel or the U.S. itself on this list.
A particularly dangerous development has been the attempt by the U.S. government to conflate popular communist-led revolutions against reactionary governments with movements guided by reactionary ideologies. (See “In Defense of Fighters and Dreamers,” RW #1206.) Thus the U.S. government has officially designated the Communist Party of the Philippines as well as the Communist Party of Peru as “terrorist” organizations. In addition, the U.S. has added the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to a secondary list (of groups not yet “officially designated”).
President Bush has also issued an executive order blocking financial transactions with a long list of individuals and organizations--including the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)--that are accused of posing a “terrorist” threat. The significance of this is that “the making or receiving of any contribution of funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of those listed,” or conspiracy to do so, is now a serious federal crime. Individuals, organizations, and movements can now be prosecuted for the “crime” of standing with the people of the world, since almost any kind of political support could be construed as “services.”
And just whom do these Maoist communist parties threaten, so that all support to them must be criminalized? Maoist people’s wars are secular, and their goal is to liberate the oppressed. The people’s war in Nepal, for example, is about overthrowing the old reactionary order and breaking the country out of domination by big powers. It’s about redistribution of land with the goal of socialized ownership. It’s about freeing women from the status of chattel and stopping the international trafficking in young women. It’s about ending the caste system and the oppression of minority nationalities. It’s about being part of an international proletarian revolution to build a whole new world free of all forms of oppression and inequality. The threat is to imperialism itself.
Open Calls for Prosecution
Immediately upon the March 20, 2003, U.S. invasion of Iraq, with the country “officially at war,” articles like “Some Dare Call It Treason” and “American At War: The Enemy Within” openly began to raise the question of “treason.” One article, “The Peace Movement and the Revolutionary Communist Party,” gave a short biography of Clark Kissinger and then quoted the text of the Smith Act. (The Smith Act, which is still on the books, was used to prosecute the leaders of the Communist Party in the 1950s during the Korean War for “conspiracy to advocate” the overthrow of the U.S. government.)
Another pointed example was the article “Nepal’s Maoist Insurgency” by Steven C. Baker, published on FrontPage.com. Baker, a former FBI agent who works for the Center for Security Studies in Washington, tried to “connect the dots.” Repeating the State Department’s condemnation of the peoples’ war in Nepal, Baker noted that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is a member of the RIM and wrote: “RIM’s extremism is evidenced by two of its notable founding members: the Communist Party of Peru (PCP)--also known as the Shining Path, a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization; and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP), led by Not In Our Name ‘peace’ activist C. Clark Kissinger.”
The article concludes with this call to criminalize the RIM and the RCP for their political support of the liberating people’s war in Nepal: “Domestically, the United States Government can take an immediate step to curtail foreign support for [Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Chairman] Prachanda’s revolution. It should formally designate the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement a terrorist entity based on its overt support for the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). This sanction against the RIM would directly penalize one of its strongest members, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.”
They Certainly Do “Follow the Money”
It should not come as any surprise to learn that those in the forefront of making the attacks on communist revolutionaries described in this article are both well funded and closely connected with the administration.
For example, Byron York, who wrote “Follow the Money: The Antiwar Money, That Is” for the National Review (the article also appeared as a column in the New York Post ), is the White House correspondent for National Review, which puts him in daily contact with the administration. His article runs out detailed financial information on IFCO and the Bill of Rights Foundation, as well as the distant Sami Al-Arian “connection” cited above--information so obscure that it gives the distinct appearance of having been assembled for York by government agents. York also works for the White House Writers Group, a firm founded in 1993 by a group of former White House speech writers. They place conservative commentaries in publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post .
David Horowitz of FrontPage.com is also well situated. His “Center for the Study of Popular Culture” is sumptuously funded by the Scaife, Bradley, and Olin family foundations. These foundations are notorious for their lavish funding of major rightwing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. The Hoover Institution has specialized in the study of communism--from the imperialists’ point of view.
Among Horowitz’s many projects is his annual rightwing retreat called “Restoration Weekend,” held at a Florida resort hotel. Among those who have attended are Tom DeLay (House Majority Leader), Grover Norquist (president of Americans for Tax Reform), Kathleen Harris (former Florida Secretary of State and election fixer), Edwin Meese (former Attorney General), and James Woolsey (former CIA director). Invited as an all-expense paid panelist was Michelle Goldberg from Salon.com--which gives a glimpse at the growing relationship between the networks of the far right and those engaging in red-baiting “journalism” aimed at progressive audiences.
These Attacks Call for Heightened Resistance
In “Resisting the Heightened Repression--Building the Movement of Opposition” (RW #1152 & 1206), Chairman Bob Avakian stressed: “In building resistance to the whole imperialist juggernaut, we are going to be facing a very complex situation and very great challenges even as compared with the Vietnam War or the Gulf War. The movement of opposition will have to be built in a situation and conditions which are going to be highly repressive, in a more extreme way than has been experienced for some time (if ever) in the U.S. This will be a situation in which it may become outlawed not only to call for the overthrow of the present system, for example, but even to actively oppose what the imperialists are doing, even to mobilize demonstrations against the war, even to speak out against the war, may be things that become banned or things for which you’ll be thrown in jail--perhaps even put before a military tribunal and shot summarily. These are the conditions which could very well develop.”
Virtually all the articles cited here make a point of singling out C. Clark Kissinger. Because Kissinger has a lifetime history of opposition to U.S. imperialism, is a long-time supporter of RCP Chairman Bob Avakian, is a contributing writer for the Revolutionary Worker, played an important role in uniting the wide array of people who produced the Not In Our Name statement, and managed the finances of publishing the NION statement, the government has singled him out as the prospective “common link” between all these things and a “doorway” to establishing a legal basis for potential prosecution of the Revolutionary Communist Party and its Chairman, Bob Avakian.
Revolutionary activists like Clark Kissinger need to be appreciated and defended by all progressive people and movements.
As we pointed out in the “Fighters and Dreamers” article cited above: 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. If the government succeeds in distancing the most radical elements from other activists. And if red-baiting tactics succeed in dividing the peoples movements. Then it will affect all the people. It will put an even deeper blanket of repression on all progressive organizations, movements, thinking, actions, and speech.
Serious attacks on communists and radicals in the U.S. are a very important aspect of the government’s whole war on the people of the world. There is a fundamental contradiction between the needs of their system and the dream of millions already fighting for a whole new and really liberating world order. Thus they are moving to get in position to crush their most determined enemies--those with the potential to lead the masses to totally defeat them and everything they represent.
Revolutionary Worker #1239, May 9, 2004, posted at http://rwor.org