Category Archives: Women’s Rights

The Science of Human Memory: Why Christine Blasey Ford’s 40-Year-Old Accusations Are No Longer Credible

When it comes to human memory, scientists speak not of its “reliability” but of its “fallibility”.  Under capitalism, which embraces superstitious belief and “common sense” while denigrating scientific knowledge, the generally scientifically illiterate working class is left to fend for itself when it comes to seemingly “deeply controversial” issues – like whether or not the 40-year-old memories of a person can be relied upon as an accurate record of their early-life traumas. In fact, as we clearly establish in this article, there is no scientific “controversy” in regard to the fallibility of human memory over time: human memory is nothing like a documentary record by which events in a person’s life can be recalled precisely as they happened – even by the very person who lived the experience.  Even worse, the passage of time and the acquisition of new life experiences cause human memories to be continuously revised and reconstructed. 
We oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court due to his well-documented extreme conservatism and hostility to women’s rights; but neither he nor anyone else should be compelled to submit to a public interrogation regarding unsubstantiated sexual assault allegations from almost 40 years ago that were never brought to trial in a court of law.  We have nothing against Christine Blasey Ford, but unfortunately for her the time for her to bring her assault allegations forward was 36 years ago; the passage of nearly four decades has rendered her accusations, in our opinion, inadmissible in a court of law due to the scientifically proven fact that human memories – even of traumatic events like sexual assault – degenerate over time.  This underscores the vital importance of sexual assault victims coming forward to report the crimes committed against them at the earliest possible opportunity. – IWPCHI

The nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of Brett Kavanaugh was brought to a screaming halt this past month by the sudden emergence of one Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward with an accusation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her some 36 years ago.  This explosive accusation – coming as it has against a prospective Supreme Court Justice in the wake of the #MeToo hysteria – has brought his confirmation hearings to a halt. Kavanaugh’s political and judicial record is that of a consistently right-wing, anti-worker and anti-woman conservative bent.  The battle lines for and against his confirmation for the Supreme Court have been drawn on strict partisan lines, with the Republicans and Democrats engaging in a shit-slinging contest like two troops of caged monkeys, with both sides cynically using the issue of women’s rights like a crude weapon in their political knife fight. The process of nominating a Supreme Court Justice has become not a careful assessment of the nominee’s qualifications as a jurist but a brutal running of a political gauntlet where as much salacious dirt as possible is either dug up from the youthful indiscretions the nominee may have engaged in – or the Congressional Inquisition just makes up as much damaging slander as they can and then hurls it in the face of the nominee, hoping that he or she will withdraw their candidacy for the Court rather than continue to be publicly humiliated by the Congressional cretins of both parties.  The nomination process has become so vicious that it is hard to imagine why any decent, qualified candidate for a Supreme Court nomination would put themselves and their families through the character assassination and humiliation of the process. Into the hellish partisan maelstrom of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings sailed one Christine Blasey Ford this past month, with top Democratic Party sponsorship and an explosive story to tell.  Revealed to the nation at the 11-th hour of the confirmation hearings by the Democrats, Blasey Ford launched her broadside of 40-year-old sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh using the too-credulous bourgeois press to leak out at least two different versions of her tale of “abuse” allegedly at the hands of a drunken 17-year-old Kavanaugh and (depending on the version leaked out) either one or four co-conspirators.  Her accusations – which were not reported to the police at the time of the alleged assault, and were reportedly not told to anyone at all until she revealed them to a marriage-counselling therapist in 2012, immediately were taken up by the bourgeois feminist #MeToo lynch mob which shrieked in unison that they believed every word Blasey Ford said – even before she actually published a coherent full version of her story.  The Congressional Democrats, who have been steadily destroying womens’ rights by degree for decades now, and terrified by the threat posed by the loose cannons of the #MeToo movement, who have been destroying the careers of the guilty and the innocent with glee, cynically supported Blasey Ford in a bid to pose as “the defenders of womens’ rights” as opposed to the Kavanaugh-backing Republicans who seem to be just as cynically utilizing the #MeToo phenomenon to pose as the defenders of the rights of the accused to a presumption of innocence – a fundamental principle of U.S. law won at the time of the American Revolution which they have been busy heaping contempt upon for decades.  It is a sorry spectacle symptomatic of the long degeneration of the political consciousness of the US capitalist class reflected in their bought-and-paid-for political parties, which have all grown steadily more and more depraved since the last dying gasp of the revolutionary bourgeoisie was breathed during the brief Reconstruction period immediately after the U.S. Civil War. With the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings brought to a screaming halt by the accusations leveled by Blasey Ford, and a large percentage of the populace finding her last-minute allegations more than a little bit suspicious politically, the Democrats and Republicans hunkered down and started digging up “evidence” to refute the “evidence” being put forward by Blasey Ford. The Republicans behind Kavanaugh produced a signed petition of hundreds of women friends of Kavanaugh who vouched for his deep love of children, women, apple pie and all things good; the Democrats came forward with a signed petition from the Friends of Blasey Ford vouching for her teenaged chastity and her all-around honesty, love of truth and all things good.  Kavanaugh denied Blasey Ford’s accusations; a few of Blasey Ford’s friends came forward to claim that they now remembered her telling them of the alleged sexual assault way back 40 years ago while howling partisan mobs vented their respective spleens across social media.  The Democrats called for an FBI investigation of the allegations and/or for the allegations to be probed publicly by the Congressional committee overseeing the Supreme Court nomination process. Calls for a full-on public spectacle in which Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford would testify before Congress on national television as to their respective 40-year-old memories of the incident (or non-incident) in lieu of an actual trial before a jury of Kavanaugh’s peers came shrieking down from the Democratic Party side, with the rabid “Start By Believing” forces of the crazed #MeToo legions in battle formation.  Anyone daring to publicly doubt the actual probative value that could be expected from such a pointless “he said/she said” trial by public opinion was declared to be “obviously” a woman-hating apologist for the rapists.  Such is the level of political discourse in the “Land of the Free(TM)” these days. Yet we did dare to ask: what is the value of 40-year old accusations in a court of law?  Is it possible for someone’s 40-year-old memories to be credible enough to destroy a person’s career or even to be used to convict that person and send them to prison for decades?  Most importantly: what does science teach us about the reliability of human memory over time? We had read over the past several decades many scientific articles on the fallibility of human memory in relation to “eyewitness testimony” – which was once believed to be the most reliable evidence that could be admitted in a legal proceeding, but which now has been scientifically proven to be highly malleable and utterly unreliable.  Irked by a Tweet posted by a Democratic Senator throwing shade on anyone who would express skepticism about the timing and inherent value of 40-year-old anecdotes of sexual impropriety seemingly very conveniently recalled just in time to derail a highly contested nomination to the Supreme Court, we responded by performing a simple Internet Search for the terms “reliability of human memory” – and we immediately found, on an Internet portal linked to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a half-dozen scientific studies and reviews of recent scientific research on human memory.  The results are not good for Blasey Ford and her shrill #MeToo friends. Human memory is not just fallible, it is highly unreliable even in the short-term, and becomes more and more unreliable over time.  The human memory is not, as many people believe, like a digital security camera video recording that can be rewound and replayed over and over again without any loss of detail at all; it is more like a very sketchy and incomplete series of snapshots that are modified by human life experiences that preceded and which occurred after any event we can “remember”.  In marked contrast to what “common sense” beliefs exist in the minds of most people, science has learned over the past 40 years that human memory is nothing like computer memory AT ALL.  There is simply no justification for the #MeToo crowd’s mantra that, especially in sexual assault cases, we should always “Start By Believing” – especially when the accusations were not reported until years or decades afterwards.  Even a delay of as little as a few hours can lead to profound modifications of human “memories”. We were initially driven to look for the science behind human memory thanks to this annoying Tweet by U.S. Senator Mark Warner:

The problem is, of course – as former Virginia Governor and now-Senator Warner, a Harvard-educated lawyer should know – that if Christine Blasey Ford were to take her 40-year-old allegations to any prosecutor in the country it is highly unlikely that they would spend five minutes investigating the case, precisely because the allegations are 40 years old!  There is no physical evidence that is known to exist in the case; it highly unlikely that any new and credible evidence could be collected after the passage of nearly 40 years; the witnesses (if any are still alive and still sentient) would be difficult and perhaps very expensive to find; and if they were found, their 40-year-old memories of the event would be completely useless in a court of law anyway due to current scientific knowledge about the profound fallibility of human memory over time.  Sen. Warner and his many lawyer-colleagues in the Senate and in Congress should know this; and many undoubtedly do know it.  But instead of acting like leaders who will take this as a “teachable moment” and use it to educate the public as to why 40-year-old memories of an alleged sexual assault victim shouldn’t be used in a court of law except as a weak buttress for physical evidence that a crime was committed; instead of educating the public that this case reaffirms the absolute necessity for victims of sexual assaults to report the crime as soon as possible after it occurs while their memory of the details are as valid as they’ll ever be, the Democrats and Republicans are consciously refusing to do any such thing.  They clearly prefer to make their cheap political attacks against their opponents in an effort to jockey for some imaginary “moral high ground” they can stand on when they run for re-election. In Warner’s case it is certain that he knows all about how profoundly the growing body of scientific evidence on the fallibility of human memory has forced major changes in the admissibility of eyewitness and other forms of human memory evidence in the law courts of the nation.  While Governor of Virginia he commuted the death sentence of Robin Lovitt in a highly controversial case in which the credibility of eyewitness testimony was a central issue (Warner – according to his Wikipedia entry – also “denied clemency in 11 other death penalty cases that came before him as governor”).  Yet instead of utilizing his own personal knowledge of the science of the fallibility of human memories or of the many U.S. Government-funded scientific studies available to educate people about the importance of timely reporting of sexual assaults and other crimes due to the increasing fallibility of human memory over time, Warner chose to remain silent and let the lynch mobs gather up their stocks of torches and pitchforks.  What could be more contemptible than to withhold such information from an increasingly frenzied populace? Then again, Virginia Democrats know a thing or two about how to direct a lynch mob from behind the scenes so that they cannot be held personally responsible for the work of the madmen – and women – they set in motion.  Virginia is, after all, the historical home of “Lynch’s Law”, named after slave owner Charles Lynch, a former member of Virginia’s House of Burgesses, Revolutionary War officer and later a State Senator. We sent Sen. Warner a dozen Tweets featuring lengthy excerpts from two or three of these scientific studies we found on a US-Government-run science website; of course neither he nor anyone on his staff bothered to respond to any of our messages.  Why haven’t any Senators or Congressmen been spreading this important, often taxpayer-funded research on the fallibility of human memory in order to educate the public as to why it’s not a good idea to allow 40-year-old undocumented accusations based upon the 40-year-old memories of a single human being to derail the nomination of someone with a well-documented legal history and no criminal record to the Supreme Court?  It’s undoubtedly because they feel that they can make more money and further their careers more effectively by lies and disinformation to be spread far and wide. Here is the first scientific study we sent to Sen. Warner. As with all of the studies we cite below, the most surprising thing that comes across is how diametrically opposed the scientific understanding of the nature of human memory is to the widely held (including by us, originally) “common sense” notion of the fundamental long-term reliability of memory, especially of traumatic experiences:

The link to the study we cited is here:  “The Neuroscience of Memory: Implications for the Courtroom” Here are a couple of excerpts from this study:

Introduction: “The Neuroscience of Memory – Implications for the Courtroom” by Joyce W. Lacey and Craig E. L. Stark, Nat Rev Neurosci
. 2013 September ; 14(9): 649–658. doi:10.1038/nrn3563

There really is no dispute among scientists when it comes to the reliability of human memory; in fact, there is so much consensus that scientists tend to speak not in terms of the “reliability” of human memory but in terms of its “fallibility”.

“The Neuroscience of Memory – Implications for the Courtroom_Common misunderstandings about memory” Introduction: “The Neuroscience of Memory – Implications for the Courtroom” by Joyce W. Lacey and Craig E. L. Stark, Nat Rev Neurosci
. 2013 September ; 14(9): 649–658. doi:10.1038/nrn3563

Here is the second scientific paper we sent to Sen. Warner:

Memory development: implications for adults recalling childhood experiences in the courtroom (Abstract) by M.L. Howe, Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 Dec;14(12):869-76. doi: 10.1038/nrn3627. Epub 2013 Oct 30.
Unfortunatley, like most scientific papers, this one is behind a paywall (reminding us of Aaron Swartz’ fight to make all scientific publications available for free to the public, for  which he was threatened with prosecution and driven to suicide). Presumably, Sen. Warner has access to all of these databases and could, if he cared to, provide this information to the public.

We kept searching until we could find a scientific paper that wasn’t being embargoed from public view by the capitalists’ greed.  Right away we found this:

The paper is available in full here: “The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: lessons from the past and their modern consequences.” Here are some excerpts, which we also Tweeted to Sen. Warner:

“The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: lessons from the past and their modern consequences” (Abstract) by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott                                      Memory. 2015;23(5):633-56. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709. Epub 2015 Feb 23

“The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences” (Excerpt 1) by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott – Memory. 2015 Jul 4; 23(5): 633–656.
Published online 2015 Feb 23. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

This paper, by the way, is not an assertion of the two authors’ own personal prejudices regarding human memory; it’s a review of many decades of published scientific research on the subject:

The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences – Excerpt 2 by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott, Memory, 2015 Vol. 23, No. 5, 633 – 656, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

“The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences” Excerpt 3 – “Children as Eyewitnesses” by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott, – Memory. 2015 Jul 4; 23(5): 633–656.
Published online 2015 Feb 23. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

This section on the false testimony of very young children is somewhat off-topic but has broad implications as to the gullibility of adults, including cops, judges and the press when it comes to the irrational “Start By Believing” paradigm being pushed by the bourgeois feminists of the #MeToo movement; it also goes a long way towards combatting the widespread and faulty “common sense” notion that “children would never lie about something as serious as sexual assault”:

The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences – Excerpt 4 – Children as Eyewitnesses (cont’d) by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott,  Memory, 2015 Vol. 23, No. 5, 633–656, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

Here the authors make mention of one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice ever to occur in the US since the Salem Witch Trials (which also featured outrageous accusations that had no evidence to back them up except for the “eyewitness testimony” of children): the McMartin Preschool Case:

The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences – Excerpt 5 – Children as Eyewitnesses – by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott, – Memory. 2015 Jul 4; 23(5): 633–656.
Published online 2015 Feb 23. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

This section of the study gets into the subject matter of the Blasey Ford vs. Kavanaugh controversy:

The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences – Excerpt 6 – Historic Sexual Abuse – by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott, – Memory. 2015 Jul 4; 23(5): 633–656.
Published online 2015 Feb 23. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences – Excerpt 7 – Historic Sexual Abuse (cont’d) – by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott, – Memory. 2015 Jul 4; 23(5): 633–656.
Published online 2015 Feb 23. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences – Excerpt 8 – Historic Sexual Abuse (cont’d) – by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott, – Memory. 2015 Jul 4; 23(5): 633–656.
Published online 2015 Feb 23. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

But what about the widely-touted concept of “repressed memories” that can be “recovered” through therapy?  Does that concept have any scientific validity?  It does not:

The fallibility of memory in judicial processes: Lessons from the past and their modern consequences – Excerpt 9 – Is there a special case for repressed memories? – by Mark L. Howe and Lauren M. Knott, – Memory. 2015 Jul 4; 23(5): 633–656.
Published online 2015 Feb 23. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2015.1010709

Yet another scientific article we found sheds more light on how easily adult memories can be modified and false ideas easily implanted – especially by those whom we tend to trust implicitly, like doctors, therapists and scientists:

“The Neuroscience of Memory: Implications for the Courtroom – Introduction” by Joyce W. Lacey and Craig E. L. Stark, Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 September ; 14(9): 649–658. doi:10.1038/nrn3563

“The Neuroscience of Memory: Implications for the Courtroom – How Memory Distortions Occur” by Joyce W. Lacey and Craig E. L. Stark, Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 September ; 14(9): 649–658. doi:10.1038/nrn3563

Clearly, there exists a massive amount of scientific research indicating that the longer a person waits to report a crime, the more unreliable their testimony will be, regardless of the intensity of the lived experience of the traumatic event.  To suggest that the public should simply “Start By Believing” a 40-year-old recollection of an event as if it was akin to a dashboard camera recording of an event – as the #MeToo crowd wishes us to do – is to commit a major error of judgement that flies in the face of the current state of our scientific knowledge of the fallibility of human memory.  It is in our opinion a highly suspicious aspect of the way the Democrats wish to conduct the Kavanaugh hearings that they will seek to do away with Kavanaugh’s right to a fair trial in a court of law with a highly prejudicial kangaroo court proceeding in which the public’s willingness to believe the charges brought against him will hinge solely on the quality of the live performance of Blasey Ford as she details her ancient, sensationalized charges of serious sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh; charges that in a court of law he would not even be required to personally refute but which in this rigged forum he will be forced to attempt to convincingly sway “public opinion”.  By ignoring the science, the Democrats are consciously stacking the deck against Kavanaugh in a vicious manner reminiscent of the proceedings of the Holy Inquisition. As much as we oppose the nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, we must vehemently protest against the use of such medieval methods of character assassination as are about to be used in these hearings.  Blasey Ford, by waiting 40 years to bring her charges against Kavanaugh, and by choosing not to pursue them in a court of law where there are rules of evidence to follow has chosen to pursue an avenue of attack for which there is no possible defense that can be effectively utilized by Kavanaugh.  We say she should not be allowed to testify at all, as her method of attack was outlawed long ago when we jettisoned medieval methods of legal procedure in favor of the far more rational evidence-based system of justice, in which innocence is presumed until an accused person is proven guilty in a trial before a jury of one’s peers, which was one of the great gains of the American Revolution.  These rights of the accused must not be allowed to be abandoned for the purpose of winning a political battle – even one as important as the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.

To us as revolutionary Trotskyists the entire sordid episode illustrates our long-held saying that the choice that confronts the workers of the world is: socialism or barbarism.  The US capitalist class, hanging onto power by a toenail, with the youth of the USA clamoring for “socialism”, and unable to rig national elections anymore (as the victory of Trump over their bought-and-paid-for preferred candidate Clinton shows)  is becoming more and more deranged and unhappy with their pretended fealty to democratic process and the rule of law; and now their wholly-owned political pawns are throwing out such “outdated junk” of the American Revolution as the presumption of innocence of the accused and the entire idea of majority rule.  But then that is nothing new; from the time of the American Revolution, it was never the intention of the US ruling class to allow (in slave-rapist Jefferson’s memorable phrase) the “swinish multitude” to rule.  Only a workers socialist revolution can bring about a more democratic society than the burgeoning police state we have now; and to achieve a more democratic, egalitarian society will require a workers socialist revolution led by a Leninist vanguard party of professional socialist revolutionaries.  Those of you who want to create a positive future for the workers of the USA and the world should get in touch with us so we can begin building such a party, without which the working class can’t move one inch forward.

— IWPCHI

Advertisements

Frederick Douglass: “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” (5 July 1852)

Abolitionist publisher, editor and orator Frederick Douglass, 1848 (daguerreotypist unknown)

Abolitionist publisher, editor and orator Frederick Douglass, 1848 (daguerreotypist unknown)

Once again we are happy to present, in honor of the victory of the American Revolution that proved once and for all time that the world could do quite well without Kings and Queens to rule over us, one of the greatest speeches ever given by a US citizen on the Fourth of July: Frederick Douglass’ outstanding 5 July 1852 denunciation of the massive hypocrisy of the United States – which nominally stands for “freedom and democracy” but which in fact – to this day – actually stands for neither of these things.

Today, African-American workers are still fighting, literally, for their lives against an American capitalist system which brutalizes them from the womb to the grave.  While the racist US capitalist class in the person of their perfect representative – Donald Trump – pretend that the USA is a “post-racial society”, infant mortality for black children and black mothers is a national disgrace and a national tragedy; while the US capitalist class sells military equipment to local police forces all over the USA, the killer cops gun down unarmed workers regardless of age, sex or race (but primarily black workers) and, usually, are never even charged with a crime.  The gross hypocrisy of the racist US capitalist class is alive and nauseatingly “well” 166 years after Douglass gave this speech and 153 years after the US Civil War (temporarily) smashed the slaveocracy.  Racism has always been “American as apple pie” from the genocide against the Native Americans to the slave trade and today, when a racist billionaire can be elected President even after he slanders the nation of Mexico as “rapists” and pursues a brutal racist crackdown on brown-skinned and Muslim worker-immigrants and refugees seeking sanctuary in the USA.

This speech – 166 years after it was given – still provides the working class with a valuable understanding of the true nature of the US capitalist state and the ruling-class origins of today’s renascent American fascism. In 2018, as in 1852, it is up to the working class to dedicate our lives to the fight to smash racism and the capitalist system that perpetuates it.  So long as the tiny minority of racist capitalists rule, they will find it necessary to buttress their usurpation of power and wealth by fomenting racism among the workers.  In order to maintain their class domination they will continue to try to spread racist ideology thereby making it as difficult as possible for workers to join hands across all racial, ethnic and religious lines as sisters and brothers in struggle to overthrow them.  Only by becoming intelligent anti-racist activists can the working class organize effective political parties of the working class capable of putting an end to a capitalist system that offers the working class a future of nothing but more racism, more poverty, and more war.   The working class must dump the political parties owned and operated by the capitalist classes and create class-independent political parties 100% financed by and run solely in the class interests of the racially integrated US working class.

—- IWPCHI

The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

Rochester, New York, July 5, 1852

Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens:

He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country school houses, avails me nothing on the present occasion.

The papers and placards say that I am to deliver a Fourth of July Oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for me. It is true that I have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful Hall, and to address many who now honor me with their presence. But neither their familiar faces, nor the perfect gage I think I have of Corinthian Hall seems to free me from embarrassment.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable-and the difficulties to he overcome in getting from the latter to the former are by no means slight. That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence I will proceed to lay them before you.

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the Fourth of July. It is the birth day of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, as what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. l am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score years and ten is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their years by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her destiny? Were the nation older, the patriot’s heart might be sadder, and the reformer’s brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young.-Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations.

Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the associations that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is, that, 76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects. The style and title of your “sovereign people” (in which you now glory) was not then born. You were under the British Crown. Your fathers esteemed the English Government as the home government; and England as the fatherland. This home government, you know, although a considerable distance from your home, did, in the exercise of its parental prerogatives, impose upon its colonial children, such restraints, burdens and limitations, as, in its mature judgment, it deemed wise, right and proper.

But your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of this day, of the infallibility of government, and the absolute character of its acts, presumed to differ from the home government in respect to the wisdom and the justice of some of those burdens and restraints. They went so far in their excitement as to pronounce the measures of government unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive, and altogether such as ought not to be quietly submitted to. I scarcely need say, fellow-citizens, that my opinion of those measures fully accords with that of your fathers. Such a declaration of agreement on my part would not be worth much to anybody. It would certainly prove nothing as to what part I might have taken had I lived during the great controversy of 1776. To say now that America was right, and England wrong, is exceedingly easy. Everybody can say it; the dastard, not less than the noble brave, can flippantly discant on the tyranny of England towards the American Colonies. It is fashionable to do so; but there was a time when, to pronounce against England, and in favor of the cause of the colonies, tried men’s souls. They who did so were accounted in their day plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men. To side with the right against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit, and the one which, of all others, seems unfashionable in our day. The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers. But, to proceed.

Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated, by the home government, your fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit, earnestly sought redress. They petitioned and remonstrated; they did so in a decorous, respectful, and loyal manner. Their conduct was wholly unexceptionable. This, however, did not answer the purpose. They saw themselves treated with sovereign indifference, coldness and scorn. Yet they persevered. They were not the men to look back.

As the sheet anchor takes a firmer hold, when the ship is tossed by the storm, so did the cause of your fathers grow stronger as it breasted the chilling blasts of kingly displeasure. The greatest and best of British statesmen admitted its justice, and the loftiest eloquence of the British Senate came to its support. But, with that blindness which seems to be the unvarying characteristic of tyrants, since Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea, the British Government persisted in the exactions complained of.

The madness of this course, we believe, is admitted now, even by England; but we fear the lesson is wholly lost on our present rulers.

Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity. With brave men there is always a remedy for oppression. Just here, the idea of a total separation of the colonies from the crown was born! It was a startling idea, much more so than we, at this distance of time, regard it. The timid and the prudent (as has been intimated) of that day were, of course, shocked and alarmed by it.

Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably, ever have a place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any great change (no matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong to be redressed by it), may be calculated with as much precision as can be the course of the stars. They hate all changes, but silver, gold and copper change! Of this sort of change they are always strongly in favor.

These people were called Tories in the days of your fathers; and the appellation, probably, conveyed the same idea that is meant by a more modern, though a somewhat less euphonious term, which we often find in our papers, applied to some of our old politicians.

Their opposition to the then dangerous thought was earnest and powerful; but, amid all their terror and affrighted vociferations against it, the alarming and revolutionary idea moved on, and the country with it.

On the 2nd of July, 1776, the old Continental Congress, to the dismay of the lovers of ease, and the worshipers of property, clothed that dreadful idea with all the authority of national sanction. They did so in the form of a resolution; and as we seldom hit upon resolutions, drawn up in our day, whose transparency is at all equal to this, it may refresh your minds and help my story if I read it.

“Resolved, That these united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved.”

Citizens, your fathers made good that resolution. They succeeded; and to-day you reap the fruits of their success. The freedom gained is yours; and you, there fore, may properly celebrate this anniversary. The 4th of July is the first great fact in your nation’s history-the very ring-bolt in the chain of your yet undeveloped destiny.

Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance, disclose to the leeward huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn, that chain broken, and all is lost. Cling to this day-cling to it, and to its principles, with the grasp of a storm-tossed mariner to a spar at midnight.

The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an interesting event. But, besides general considerations, there were peculiar circumstances which make the advent of this republic an event of special attractiveness. The whole scene, as I look back to it, was simple, dignified and sublime. The population of the country, at the time, stood at the insignificant number of three millions. The country was poor in the munitions of war. The population was weak and scattered, and the country a wilderness unsubdued. There were then no means of concert and combination, such as exist now. Neither steam nor lightning had then been reduced to order and discipline. From the Potomac to the Delaware was a journey of many days. Under these, and innumerable other disadvantages, your fathers declared for liberty and independence and triumphed.

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too-great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was “settled” that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were “final”; not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.

How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defence. Mark them! Fully appreciating the hardships to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep, the corner-stone of the national super-structure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you.

Of this fundamental work, this day is the anniversary. Our eyes are met with demonstrations of joyous enthusiasm. Banners and pennants wave exultingly on the breeze. The din of business, too, is hushed. Even mammon seems to have quitted his grasp on this day. The ear-piercing fife and the stirring drum unite their accents with the ascending peal of a thousand church bells. Prayers are made, hymns are sung, and sermons are preached in honor of this day; while the quick martial tramp of a great and multitudinous nation, echoed back by all the hills, valleys and mountains of a vast continent, bespeak the occasion one of thrilling and universal interest – the nation’s jubilee.

Friends and citizens, I need not enter further into the causes which led to this anniversary. Many of you understand them better than I do. You could instruct me in regard to them. That is a branch of knowledge in which you feel, perhaps, a much deeper interest than your speaker. The causes which led to the separation of the colonies from the British crown have never lacked for a tongue. They have all been taught in your common schools, narrated at your firesides, un folded from your pulpits, and thundered from your legislative halls, and are as familiar to you as household words. They form the staple of your national poetry and eloquence.

I remember, also, that, as a people, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favor. This is esteemed by some as a national trait-perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact, that whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans and can be had cheap! will be found by Americans. I shall not be charged with slandering Americans if I say I think the American side of any question may be safely left in American hands.

I leave, therefore, the great deeds of your fathers to other gentlemen whose claim to have been regularly descended will be less likely to be disputed than mine!

My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. The accepted time with God and His cause is the ever-living now.

Trust no future, however pleasant,
Let the dead past bury its dead;
Act, act in the living present,
Heart within, and God overhead.

We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. You have no right to enjoy a child’s share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blest by your labors. You have no right to wear out and waste the hard-earned fame of your fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have “Abraham to our father,” when they had long lost Abraham’s faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham’s great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great. Need I remind you that a similar thing is being done all over this country to-day? Need I tell you that the Jews are not the only people who built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchers of the righteous? Washington could not die till he had broken the chains of his slaves. Yet his monument is built up by the price of human blood, and the traders in the bodies and souls of men shout-“We have Washington to our father.”-Alas! that it should be so; yet it is.

The evil, that men do, lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, “It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed.” But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They ac knowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may con sent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding.-There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Take the American slave-trade, which we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy; and millions are pocketed every year by dealers in this horrid traffic. In several states this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave-trade) “the internal slave-trade.” It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been denounced by this government as piracy. It has been denounced with burning words from the high places of the nation as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign slave-trade as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the Jaws of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is admitted even by our doctors of divinity. In order to put an end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and establish them selves on the western coast of Africa! It is, however, a notable fact that, while so much execration is poured out by Americans upon all those engaged in the foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the slave-trade between the states pass with out condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and American religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh jobbers, armed with pistol, whip, and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-curdling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the centre of your soul The crack you heard was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow this drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shock ing gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States.

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave-trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell’s Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of Pratt Street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on flaming “hand-bills,” headed cash for Negroes. These men were generally well dressed men, and very captivating in their manners; ever ready to drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness.

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number has been collected here, a ship is chartered for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the antislavery agitation, a certain caution is observed.

In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror.

Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity on the way to the slave-markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.

Is this the land your Fathers loved,
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?

But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains to be presented. By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and Dixon’s line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women and children, as slaves, remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the star-spangled banner, and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman’s gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of State, your lords, nobles, and ecclesiastics enforce, as a duty you owe to your free and glorious country, and to your God, that you do this accursed thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have, within the past two years, been hunted down and, without a moment’s warning, hurried away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these have had wives and children, dependent on them for bread; but of this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this republic, the rights of God included! For black men there is neither law nor justice, humanity nor religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets ten dollars for every victim he consigns to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of any two villains is sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side is the side of the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered around the world that in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America the seats of justice are filled with judges who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding the case of a man’s liberty, to hear only his accusers!

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenceless, and in diabolical intent this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be another nation on the globe having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and place he may select.

I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were nor stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it.

At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness. Did this law concern the “mint, anise, and cummin”-abridge the right to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to engage in any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder of a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church demanding repeal, repeal, instant repeal!-And it would go hard with that politician who presumed to so licit the votes of the people without inscribing this motto on his banner. Further, if this demand were not complied with, another Scotland would be added to the history of religious liberty, and the stern old covenanters would be thrown into the shade. A John Knox would be seen at every church door and heard from every pulpit, and Fillmore would have no more quarter than was shown by Knox to the beautiful, but treacherous, Queen Mary of Scotland. The fact that the church of our country (with fractional exceptions) does not esteem “the Fugitive Slave Law” as a declaration of war against religious liberty, implies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love, and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy is a curse, not a blessing to mankind. The Bible addresses all such persons as “scribes, pharisees, hypocrites, who pay tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”

But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines, who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.

For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty and leave the throne of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that “pure and undefiled religion” which is from above, and which is “first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation-a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God. In the language of Isaiah, the American church might be well addressed, “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons, and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. Yea’ when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow.”

The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in its connection with its ability to abolish slavery.

The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert Barnes but uttered what the common sense of every man at all observant of the actual state of the case will receive as truth, when he declared that “There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it.”

Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday School, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against slavery, and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds, and that they do not do this involves them in the most awful responsibility of which the mind can conceive.

In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to spare the church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a thing be done? We are met on the threshold of our efforts for the redemption of the slave, by the church and ministry of the country, in battle arrayed against us; and we are compelled to fight or flee. From what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a fire so deadly upon our ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern pulpit? As the champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology have appeared-men honored for their so-called piety, and their real learning. The Lords of Buffalo, the Springs of New York, the Lathrops of Auburn, the Coxes and Spencers of Brooklyn, the Gannets and Sharps of Boston, the Deweys of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land have, in utter denial of the authority of Him by whom they professed to be called to the ministry, deliberately taught us, against the example of the Hebrews, and against the remonstrance of the Apostles, that we ought to obey man’s law before the law of God.2

My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be supported, as the “standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ,” is a mystery which I leave others to penetrate. In speaking of the American church, however, let it be distinctly understood that I mean the great mass of the religious organizations of our land. There are exceptions, and I thank God that there are. Noble men may be found, scattered all over these Northern States, of whom Henry Ward Beecher, of Brooklyn; Samuel J. May, of Syracuse; and my esteemed friend (Rev. R. R. Raymond) on the platform, are shining examples; and let me say further, that, upon these men lies the duty to inspire our ranks with high religious faith and zeal, and to cheer us on in the great mission of the slave’s redemption from his chains.

One is struck with the difference between the attitude of the American church towards the anti-slavery movement, and that occupied by the churches in Eng land towards a similar movement in that country. There, the church, true to its mission of ameliorating, elevating and improving the condition of mankind, came forward promptly, bound up the wounds of the West Indian slave, and re stored him to his liberty. There, the question of emancipation was a high religious question. It was demanded in the name of humanity, and according to the law of the living God. The Sharps, the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the Buxtons, the Burchells, and the Knibbs were alike famous for their piety and for their philanthropy. The anti-slavery movement there was not an anti-church movement, for the reason that the church took its full share in prosecuting that movement: and the anti-slavery movement in this country will cease to be an anti-church movement, when the church of this country shall assume a favorable instead of a hostile position towards that movement.

Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and body-guards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina. You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from oppression in your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot, and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation-a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty. You shed tears over fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her wrongs the theme of your poets, statesmen, and orators, till your gallant sons are ready to fly to arms to vindicate her cause against the oppressor; but, in regard to the ten thousand wrongs of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and would hail him as an enemy of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the subject of public discourse! You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for France or for Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of liberty for the enslaved of America. You discourse eloquently on the dignity of labor; yet, you sustain a system which, in its very essence, casts a stigma upon labor. You can bare your bosom to the storm of British artillery to throw off a three-penny tax on tea; and yet wring the last hard-earned farthing from the grasp of the black laborers of your country. You profess to believe “that, of one blood, God made all nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth,” and hath commanded all men, everywhere, to love one another; yet you notoriously hate (and glory in your hatred) all men whose skins are not colored like your own. You declare before the world, and are understood by the world to declare that you “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and yet, you hold securely, in a bondage which, according to your own Thomas Jefferson, “is worse than ages of that which your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose,” a seventh part of the inhabitants of your country.

Fellow-citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad: it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. it fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet you cling to it as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!

But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I have now denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that, the right to hold, and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.

Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before, your fathers stooped, basely stooped

To palter with us in a double sense:
And keep the word of promise to the ear,
But break it to the heart.

And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them to be, they were the veriest impostors that ever practised on mankind. This is the inevitable conclusion, and from it there is no escape; but I differ from those who charge this baseness on the framers of the Constitution of the United States. It is a slander upon their memory, at least, so I believe. There is not time now to argue the constitutional question at length; nor have I the ability to discuss it as it ought to be discussed. The subject has been handled with masterly power by Lysander Spooner, Esq. by William Goodell, by Samuel E. Sewall, Esq., and last, though not least, by Gerrit Smith, Esq. These gentlemen have, as I think, fully and clearly vindicated the Constitution from any design to support slavery for an hour.

Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but interpreted, as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gate way? or is it in the temple? it is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slaveholding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can any where be found in it. What would be thought of an instrument, drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the city of Rochester to a tract of land, in which no mention of land was made? Now, there are certain rules of interpretation for the proper understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. They are plain, commonsense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. I scout the idea that the question of the constitutionality, or unconstitutionality of slavery, is not a question for the people. I hold that every American citizen has a right to form an opinion of the constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to use all honorable means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without this right, the liberty of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the constitution is an object to which no American mind can be too attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He further says, the Constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. Senator Berrien tells us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The testimony of Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be named, who are everywhere esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the constitution. I take it, therefore, that it is not presumption in a private citizen to form an opinion of that instrument.

Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand, it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.

I have detained my audience entirely too long already. At some future period I will gladly avail myself of an opportunity to give this subject a full and fair discussion.

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery.

“The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from “the Declaration of Independence,” the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated.-Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, “Let there be Light,” has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. “Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God.” In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o’er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee,

And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom’s reign.
To man his plundered rights again
Restore.

God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;

That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.

Source:  http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/douglassjuly4.html

Some Things Never Change: Mr. Dooley Examines Opposition to New Immigration to the USA (1902)

When it comes to the tricks and false logic – not to mention outright racism – used by the US capitalist class and their bought-and-paid-for politicians in order to deflect attention away from their naked robbery of the working class by telling workers that “it’s all the immigrants’ fault”, nothing ever seems to change.  The capitalist class keeps telling the same old tired lies about how the lives of workers would be absolutely marvelous if only it wasn’t for the immigrants coming in and  messing things up – and the most ignorant workers keep on believing this nonsense.  It’s a lot easier for a slavish worker to attack a defenseless immigrant mother than it is to stand up for workers rights against the cops, courts and prisons of the capitalist class that are the actual source of the worker’s misery.

In the early 1900s, political satirist Finley Peter Dunne, who had started his career working for a number of Chicago newspapers had his most inspired creation, a first-or-second generation Irish-American bartender from Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood – Mr. Dooley – take on the immigration issue.  As you’ll see in this hilarious piece, the arguments used in 2018 against today’s immigrants are the same tired and long-ago-discredited arguments that were common and tiresome already in 1900.  The capitalist class and their racist attack dog politicians and nativist fascists have never been able to come up with a single legitimate reason to oppose new immigration, because there isn’t one.  The scapegoating of immigrants by the capitalists and those who they have “running point” for them by spreading racist lies about the new immigrants has never been very sophisticated in its arguments because the kind of workers who believe this shit have never been very sophisticated in their reasoning.  The immigrant-hating workers of 2018, like their idiot ancestors of 1900 are slaves of the capitalist class, without the guts to fight against the politically powerful capitalist class who are the ACTUAL cause of poverty and unemployment under capitalism; these worker-cowards prefer to use the limited amount of “courage” they possess to attack veiled Muslim women on buses, or half-starved immigrant women and their children who risk their lives to seek refuge here in the USA.  Workers who allow themselves to be used by the capitalist class and their politicians to attack our immigrant sisters and brothers are nothing but traitors to the working class.  They are scabs and proto-fascists, racist scum who will eat all the shit the capitalists can throw on them and then thank their capitalist masters and ask for more.  The capitalists and their racist, immigrant-hating worker-slaves, not the immigrant workers, are the biggest threat to the working class of the USA and the world.  As workers in the USA – and especially union workers – we have to educate ourselves to recognize all the dirty tricks the capitalist class will pull on us in order to keep us divided and conquered.  Anti-immigrant racism is one of the dirtiest tricks in the trick-bag of capitalism; but it’s also one of the easiest to recognize and to defeat.  By standing up for the rights of all immigrants to be treated as our working-class sisters and brothers – which the vast majority of them truly are – the US working class strengthens its power to defend its most vital class interests.  The Independent Workers Party of Chicago – seeks to build a revolutionary socialist Trotskyist political party of the working class that will be completely independent of the capitalist class in every way and that will fight for the rights of the workers in the USA and around the world.  We don’t just want to organize protest against the brutalities being waged against our immigrant and refugee working-class sisters and brothers; we want to elect true worker-representatives to every legislative office in the land so that we can repeal anti-immigrant legislation and to block all attempts by the capitalists and their bought-and-paid-for politicians to pass new anti-worker legislation of any kind.  Once the working class – which represents about 70% of the total US population – takes its rightful place as 70% of the elected representatives in the national government, we will no longer have to beg the capitalist politicians to do us favors – we’ll be writing and passing our own pro-worker legislation.  Eventually we’ll be in a position to democratically decide to put the capitalist system out of our misery permanently by overthrowing the capitalist system and replacing it with an egalitarian revolutionary socialist workers republic.  This is what we’ve got to do… but this will only happen if the working class wants it to happen and joins us in this struggle.  Without a political party of the working class in possession of the majority of the seats of the legislatures of the nation, no effective and enduring political change in favor of the working class can be put forward or guaranteed at all.  Join us!

—- IWPCHI

Note on the text: Mr. Dooley speaks English with a heavy Irish brogue which can be difficult to understand at first; but if you try to sound out the at first seemingly incomprehensible transliteration of the text by speaking to yourself in a heavy Irish accent, you’ll soon find that you can read Dunne’s written “Irish” quite well.  – IWPCHI

Finley Peter Dunne – Mr Dooley’s Observations – Immigration – Link to Full Text .pdf

Finley Peter Dunne - Mr. Dooley's Observations_title page_1902

Finley Peter Dunne – Mr Dooley’s Observations – Immigration

EXCLUSIVE: Translation of French womens’ collective’s rebuttal to excesses of the #metoo movement

We republish here our (rather poor) machine translation (supplemented (?) by our own additions) of the recent declaration of French women, led by Catherine Deneuve, in opposition to the reactionary aspects of the anti-sexual-harassment #metoo movement launched in the US in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

This article originally appeared in the French newspaper “Le Monde” [http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2018/01/09/nous-defendons-une-liberte-d-importuner-indispensable-a-la-liberte-sexuelle_5239134_3232.html].  Our translation was done primarily by the Microsoft/Bing Translator and was then improved (we hope) by our own additional interpretations of the meanings of difficult-to-translate French vernacular.  Our additions are in brackets.

We agree substantially that the direction in which the #metoo movement is heading is fundamentally reactionary and seeks to do away with the rights of the accused while simultaneously mandating that every investigation into a sexual assault allegation should “start by believing” the accuser.  This medieval concept of “justice” has already claimed the careers and even the lives of several people who have been convicted in the press on the basis of mere accusations of having committed “sexual assault”.  There are also moves afoot by facile politicians to capitalize on the #metoo hysteria by promulgating reactionary laws that will raise the age of consent – to 18 or 20! – and to broaden the definition of “rape” to include all kinds of what have long been considered to be mere sexual misdemeanors.  Also their is a movement afoot to make unsolicited comments to women an illegal act!  Truly, the USA is becoming the world’s largest open insane asylum; and the malicious tentacles of its anti-sex witch-hunters are crossing borders and influencing similar movements around the world.  The French women who published this declaration are responding to not just the US #metoo movement but to attacks on the rights of artists and writers being launched by right-wing politicians in France who are seeking to advance their careers on this wave of anti-sex puritanism sweeping the globe.

Sexual harassment and sexual violence is all too real – and it is far too serious to be trifled with by cheap political hacks of the left and right who seek to further their careers by launching a campaign to straightjacket normal human sexual behavior under the pretense of defending women from sexual assault.  While the new determination of women to aggressively fight sexual harassment in the workplace and on the streets is a very positive development, this goal can not be successfully pursued by criminalizing normal human sexual behavior, even if that behavior can be often annoying and obnoxious.  Criminalizing such things as clumsy street pick-up attempts or “unwanted touching” as “sexual assaults” or “sexual harassment” will make life more miserable for everyone and will only fill our already overcrowded prisons with more innocent people.  Normal human sexual behavior, though often awkward, messy and obnoxious, must never be criminalized.  We agree with the French women’s collective and their declaration: “We defend the freedom to annoy, indispensable to sexual freedom”!

— IWPCHI

Note: If we find a better translation, we’ll print it here; if you find one please send it to us.

*************************

“We defend a freedom of annoyance, indispensable to sexual freedom”

Rape is a crime. But the insistent or clumsy [pick-up move] is not a misdemeanor, nor gallantry a macho aggression.

In the aftermath of the Weinstein case, there was a legitimate awareness of sexual violence against women, particularly in the professional context, where some men abused their power. It was necessary. But this liberation turns today [in]to its opposite: if one wishes to be intimate one must speak the right way; those who annoy us must be silenced; and those who refuse to bow to such injunctions are regarded as treacherous accomplices!

But it is pure puritanism to borrow, in the name of a so-called general good, the arguments of the protection of women and their emancipation to better chain them to the status of eternal victims, poor little things under the influence of phallocratic demons, like [in] the good old days of witchcraft.

Denunciations and indictments

In fact, #metoo has brought [to] the press and social networks a campaign of public denunciations and indictments of individuals who, without being given the opportunity to answer or defend themselves, have been placed exactly on the same plane as sexual aggressors. This hasty justice already has its victims, men sanctioned in the exercise of their profession, forced to resign, etc., when their only wrong was to have touched a knee, tried to steal a kiss, talked about “intimate” things at a business dinner or to have sent messages with sexual [connotations] to a woman in whom the attraction was not reciprocal.

This fever to send the “pigs” to the slaughterhouse, far from helping women to empower themselves, actually serves the interests of the enemies of sexual freedom: religious extremists, the worst reactionaries and those who believe, in the name of a substantially Victorian value and the morality that goes with it, that women are “[special]” beings, children with adult faces, [needing] to be protected.

Now, men are summoned to [rack] their brains and to find, in the depths of their retrospective consciousness, an “inappropriate behaviour” that they might have had […] ten, twenty or thirty years ago, and of which they should repent. The public confession, the incursion of self-proclaimed prosecutors into the private sphere, is setting up a totalitarian climate of society.

The cleansing wave does not seem to know any limits. There, a nude of Egon Schiele is censored on a poster; Here there are calls for the removal of a painting of Balthus from a museum on the grounds that it would be an apology of paedophilia; In the confusion of the man and of the work, one asks for the ban of the retrospective on Roman Polanski at the film library and we get the postponement of that devoted to Jean-Claude Brisseau. One academic judges the film Blow-Up, by Michelangelo Antonioni, “misogynist” and “unacceptable”. In the light of this revisionism, John Ford (The Prisoner of the desert) and even Nicolas Poussin (the abduction of the Sabines) are not far away.

Already, some publishers are asking some of us to make our male characters less “sexist”, to talk about sexuality and love with less of an imbalance or to make sure that the “traumas suffered by the female characters” are rendered More obvious! On the brink of the ridiculous, a proposed bill in Sweden wants to impose a consent expressly notified to any candidate for sexual intercourse! One more effort and two adults who will want to have sex together must first check through an “app” of their phone a document in which the practices they accept and those they refuse will be duly listed.

Indispensable Freedom to offend

The philosopher Ruwen Ogien defended a freedom to offend indispensable to artistic creation. Similarly, we are defending a freedom of annoyance, indispensable to sexual freedom. We are now sufficiently warned to admit that sexual impulse is by nature offensive and Savage, but we are also sufficiently perceptive to not confuse an awkward pass and sexual assault.

Above all, we are aware that the human person is not a monolith: A woman can, on the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man, without being a “slut” or a vile accomplice of patriarchy. She can ensure that her salary is equal to that of a man, but does not feel traumatized forever by a [lecher] in the subway, even if this is considered a misdemeanor. [She] can even consider it as the expression of a great sexual misery, even as a non-event.

As women, we do not recognize ourselves in this feminism which, beyond the denunciation of abuse of power, takes the appearance of a hatred of men and [male] sexuality. We believe that the freedom to say no to a sexual proposition does not [exist] without the freedom to annoy. And we consider that it is necessary to be able to respond to this freedom of annoyance other than by locking ourselves in the role of prey.

For those of us who have chosen to have children, we feel that it makes more sense to raise our daughters so that they are sufficiently informed and aware to be able to live their lives fully without being intimidated or [racked with guilt].

Accidents that may affect a woman’s body do not necessarily [impugn] her dignity and must not […] necessarily make her a perpetual victim. Because we are not reducible to our bodies. Our inner freedom is inviolable. And this freedom that we cherish is not without risk or without responsibility.

The editors of this text are: Sarah Chiche (writer, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst), Catherine Millet (art critic, writer), Catherine Robbe-Grillet (actress and writer), Peggy Sastre (author, journalist and translator), Abnousse Shalmani (writer and journalist).

[Co-signers to this declaration]: Kathy Alliou (curator), Marie-Laure Bernadac (honorary general curator), Stéphanie Blake (author of children’s books), Ingrid Caven (actress and singer), Catherine Deneuve (actress), Gloria Friedmann ( visual artist), Cécile Guilbert (writer), Brigitte Jaques-Wajeman (director), Claudine Junien (geneticist), Brigitte Lahaie (actress and radio presenter), Elisabeth Lévy (Director of the writing of the Causer), Joëlle Losfeld ( Editor), Sophie de Menthon (President of the Mouvement ETHIC), Marie Sellier (author, president of the Society of the people of letters).

[Full list of signers of the declaration:]  Les-signataires-de-La-tribune (PDF)

 

 

 

Hero of the USSR, Sniper Liudmila Pavlichenko: Fascism – What It Is And How I Fought It

Soviet History: The Great Patriotic War
Lieutenant Liudmila Pavlichenko to the American People

From “Soviet Russia Today”; volume 11, number 6 (October 1942).

These simple, strong words of Liudmila Pavlichenko bring home to us in America the epic struggle that our great Russian allies are waging for us today. I wish you could hear them in Lieutenant Pavlichenko’s own ringing voice. I wish you could see that beautiful face with its warm brown eyes that glow with such love when she talks of her comrades that have fallen before Odessa and Sevastopol, that burn with such hatred when size talks about our enemies and their beastly deeds. I wish you could see hat sturdy, valiant figure—a figure that has been a shield to us. This girl has stood alone, in deadly danger, day after day from dawn till after dark, picking off our enemies—309 of them. Four times she has felt in her own flesh the steel of our enemy. Her wounds only stiffen her will. I wish you could feel the warm clasp of that firm hand whose unerring aim has meant so much to us. I wish you could see what happens when she pronounces the word Fritz.” Her whole being is filled with outrage against the monstrous crimes she has seen committed, and with the determination that unites her countrymen today in the flaming purpose to wipe the horrors that Hitlerism has brought on humanity forever from the earth.

Liudmila Pavlichenko knows that her visit here is a contribution to the winning of the war. But she does not feel very good about being safe and comfortable over here while her comrades keep on fighting. And I am afraid she does not feel very good about our part in the war. She knows it is our war. She knows that the heroic defenders of Stalingrad are fighting for us as well as for themselves, that their defeats are our defeats, their victories our victories. But she is not sure we know this. We must help to make her visit here worth while—these precious weeks she is spending away from the fighting front where she feels that she should be. We can do that first and foremost by multiplying n hundredfold our efforts toward the immediate opening of a Second Front—the only way we can discharge our debt to our allies, to ourselves, to the future. We can do it, each one of us, by multiplying a hundredfold our efforts in. whatever sphere of work we are making our contribution to the war. Not many of us are called upon for as difficult a task as Liudmila Pavhichenko’s. Let us dedicate ourselves to winning the war as wholly as she and her people have done.

We salute you, Liudmila Pavlichenko, for all that you have done and will do in our common cause. The strength and inspiration we draw from your presence among us will help each one of us to be a better fighter against the enemies of mankind. Your visit here, with your fellow—heroes, Lieutenant Pchelintsev and Lieutenant Krasavchenko, is a new link in the friendship between our two countries which is so essential to winning the war and building an enduring peace. To your victory—and ours!

JESSICA SMITH

*****************

You ask me first of all to say something about the urgency of the Second Front. Of course there is nothing more important. The opening of a Second Front is the only way we can be sure of a speedy victory over the enemy who threatens the freedom not only of my country, but of America, England, China—all the United Nations. There is much talk about a Second Front. Our people are still hoping and counting on it—but they are wondering when the talk will be translated into action. One thing must be clearly understood. We urge a Second Front not because we are weak, not because we lack confidence in our own strength, but because we want to bring this bloody war to an end more quickly. Think of how much blood has been shed, how much destruction and horror has been spread, how much cruelty and torture inflicted on innocent people— on old people and children. The sooner the monster fascism can be destroyed, the less blood will be shed—and that means your blood as well as ours.

Every day that passes without a Second Front increases the danger to you, increases the cost you will have to pay later for the defeat of Hitlerism. Remember that right now nine-tenths of all the armies of Hitler are engaged in our country—and not only the German armies. Hitler gathers his troops from all of Europe—from Hungary, Denmark, Italy, Rumania, Finland. Now, before our armies are further weakened, is the time to strike in Europe.

Stalingrad is a vital point for us and for you. I know our people are fighting and will keep on fighting as they did before Odessa, before Sevastopol, before Leningrad. Do not forget what each day of fighting means to our common cause. All the roads to all these cities were heaped with German corpses—the dead and the dying. The Germans do not rescue their wounded quickly from the battlefield, as we do. They advance over the bodies of their own wounded. It is that way at Stalingrad. It is important to you in America that we are killing so many of the enemy. Yes—we shall keep right on. But do not expect miracles of us. Our people are dying by the thousands too. The blow from the West must be coordinated with ours without any delay. Of course we have received help from your people, war supplies and medicines, for which we are very grateful. But the scale of the battles that are going on is very great history has never seen anything to compare with them. And the help we have received from outside is not enough. It is not only technical and material help that is important today. We need the help of people—of the armies of our allies fighting in the field.

I can’t help feeling that the American people are still too indifferent to the war and what it really means. I do not believe the American people as a whole entirely understand what war is like. Most of you so far only feel it as an inconvenience—doing without gasoline, being a little limited in the amount of sugar you use. You do not know what it is to have bombs falling all around you. You do not know what it is to see babies murdered, women and girls ravished by the Hitlerite beasts. You do not know what it is to find the charred bodies of your own comrades burned and tortured beyond recognition, to see rows of brave, fine people—people you knew—hanging along the roadside. You do not know what it is to walk into a home for old people won back from the Germans, as I did on the Sovkhoz Ilyichka, near Odessa. It was early morning, and the sun was just rising, and we went in to set the people there free. But what we found were the bodies of 108 old people, shot and tortured, slashed to pieces, blown up by grenades .

108 people, all of them old and ill. And so depraved are those Hitlerites that the old women had all been raped. Things like this could sometime happen to you if Hitler wins more victories.

And yet so many Americans still think of the war as something going on somewhere a long way off, where Russians and Germans are fighting each other. But we fight for your freedom too, we fight for the freedom of all the countries of Europe, of all the United Nations. And we are fighting alone.

Some people with whom I have talked seem to think the ocean is an obstacle of some kind. I think it is like a road—like your good American asphalt roads—perhaps better. You can go under it as well as over it. Look at all the submarines Hitler has sent to your shores. You have the great stretches of the ocean itself, you have the air above it to fly through, and the undersea passageway. I think you have a broad highway to a Second Front in Europe.

We have always admired you Americans for your great fighting qualities. You fought gloriously for freedom in your Revolution and Civil War. It is good to have such fighting traditions. But we feel that now also you must wish to fight for freedom as you fought in the past. Hitler threatens not only the USSR, he threatens you. I read your papers, and I do not see anything written there about the great danger to your country. It is all about the danger to Stalingrad. But that is your danger, too. How can we make the American people understand? It is not enough to write and talk—cry out at the top of your voice, tell about those children and old people, the millions of Hitler’s victims and what they have suffered.

And you must learn to hate the enemy as we did. Hatred did not come to us all at once. We are a peace—loving people, and we had to learn to hate. But fierce hatred rose within us after we saw with our own eyes what the Hitler beasts could do. Now we hate the enemy too much to fear him. When you are out there at your post you know that it is either you or your enemy who is killed. Our whole people know that today.

I have been asked often since I have been here how I feel when I kill a German. The feeling I have after killing a Nazi is the feeling of a hunter who has killed a beast of prey. Every time my bullet fells a Nazi I have the feeling that I have saved lives. Any people who have had Nazis trampling over their land know that. For the Nazis kill children, women, old men. To let a Nazi remain alive in your land is to abet the murder of your own people. Only the dead Nazi can be trusted to leave the innocent unharmed. Every Hitlerite killed is a step forward on the road to the liberation of mankind.

I have been asked to write something about my own life. If this will help in any way toward a better understanding of our people and our present struggle, I am glad to do this. Here is my story.

I am a Ukrainian. I was born twenty—six years ago in the town of Belaya Tserkov near Kiev. I have a younger sister, Valentina, who is now working in a munitions factory. I am proud to say she is reckoned as one of the best workers on the staff. My mother was a teacher. My father was a worker in a St. Petersburg factory when the revolution occurred. He took part in it and also in the Civil War. After we won and the country settled down, he was given an executive position which required traveling from place to place in the Ukraine. We all traveled with him. Every year of my early schooling was spent in a new school in a new city. But all this traveling around taught me a lot, and I finished school a year and a half ahead of the average. And this in spite of my being a tomboy and rather unruly in the class room. I’m afraid I was a trial to my teachers.

I was keen on sports of all kinds, and played all the boys’ games and would not allow myself to be outdone by boys in anything. That was how I turned to sharpshooting. When a neighbor’s boy boasted of his exploits at a shooting range I set out to show that a girl could do as well. So I practiced a lot.

When I was eighteen we finally settled down in Kiev. I had a choice of continuing my studies or going to work. I chose factory work and got a job in an arms plant, becoming a skilled turner. While at the factory, I continued my athletic activities and kept up my marksmanship. A funny incident occurred at this time, when my friends dragged me off to a nearby shooting gallery one day. Twelve prizes were offered. There were the usual stationary and moving targets. I bought fifteen bullets and won all the twelve prizes. The man who ran the place turned pale with alarm and astonishment as he unfastened one prize after another, and piled them up beside me. After letting him hand me the twelfth, I felt sorry for him and gave him back all the prizes.

After a few years in the factory, I was given an opportunity to enter the Military Engineering School. But war and military affairs were far from my thoughts in those days. I was interested in history and entered Kiev University in 1937. I dreamt of becoming a scholar, a teacher.

At the university I continued my athletic activities as before. I was a sprinter and a pole vaulter as well as a marksman. To perfect myself in shooting, I took courses at a sniper’s school.

I was in the city of Odessa when the war broke out. I had gone there to complete researches on my diploma thesis on Bogdan Khrnelnitsky, a great Ukrainian patriot and an important figure in the history of my country. At the very moment of the German invasion I was in a sanitarium where I had gone to recover from an illness. The moment I heard the news I stopped feeling ill. When I applied to the doctors of the sanitarium for a discharge, they refused. I didn’t feel that the time could be spared for arguments and appeals. I knew the war had done more to cure me than they could. So I took French leave.

They wouldn’t take girls in the army, so I had to resort to all kinds of tricks to get in. But I finally managed it. I served first with one of the volunteer detachments called “destroyer squads” organized in cities and districts close to the front, to dispose of German paratroopers. My detachment was later merged with a regular Red Army unit. I was a member of the 25th, the Chapayev Division.

Two Rumanian mercenaries of the Nazis helped me to become a sniper. To prove that I could qualify I was told to show my skill on a group of Rumanians. When I picked off the two I was accepted. They are not figured in my score total because they were test shots.

I have to admit I was scared in my first real baptism of fire. I was in range of hot German fire and I cried out to our machine gunners to cover me with return fire and save me. But I soon learned the steadiness and coolness required of our snipers. My sniper’s score began when I intercepted a German scouting party of three men. The Germans had laid down annihilating fire on a certain spot that they were determined to sweep bare. When they thought nothing there remained alive they sent out these scouts to reconnoiter to see if they could safely occupy the place. I spotted them and asked for the assignment to pick them off. Receiving permission I crawled to a spot from which I could cover them. I got two of the three. They started my score which now stands at 309.

Sniping is dangerous because we are hunted as well as hunters. The presence of a sniper can demoralize troops and everything is done to get rid of him with concentrated fire from all arms, even artillery, when his exact position is known; or by setting snipers of their own against him. A considerable part of my action has consisted of duels with enemy snipers.

It requires great endurance and willpower to be in exposed and difficult positions for fifteen or twenty hours at a stretch. And when you are in your position you must be under rigid self—control not to waste a shot or a movement. The slightest start may mean death. Your day begins before dawn, so that you can reach your position and build up your camouflage before there is light, and it ends after nightfall so that you can return under cover of darkness.

The Nazi hunters have often stalked me. One duel with a German sniper lasted three days. It was a hunt to the death. If either of us had a suspicion that the other had detected his position that position was shifted. That was one of the tensest experiences of my life. Finally he made one move too many.

Another time they assigned a squad of five Tommy gunners to get me. They camouflaged themselves and decided that they had set a clever trap for me on a road they thought I would pass on. They were right but I had my own way of using the road. I detected the trap, got into a position where their bullets couldn’t reach me and poured lead into what became a trap for them. I got three and when the two survivors ran for it, I got one of them. I searched the four bodies for the papers of the men and brought them back together with four tommyguns.

Once another sniper, Leonid Kitsenko, and I got quite a haul of Nazi officers. Following their communication wires to a dugout we took a position that commanded that particular field headquarters. Two officers came along to submit reports. Our shots dropped them. A man ran to their aid and we got him. An officer dashed out to see what the shooting was about and he joined them. The others fell into panic and for a while offered us perfect targets, as they milled around. Finally they concentrated protective fire around the spot while they abandoned the dugout, lugging out their files, and other equipment.

Our chief quarries were the enemy scouts. They and their snipers used many tricks to fool us or to get us to reveal ourselves. A German tin hat would appear, just a fraction of it, and we would think “I’ll get that Fritz !” Then the tin hat would waggle like the head of a toy elephant and disappear. We soon learned not to fall for this. One of their scouts whom I was hunting, after trying the helmet trick sent a cat out, either to distract me or to fool me into belief that nobody would be around where a cat could parade by so unconcernedly. Finally the scout tried his last trick. A dummy of a German soldier, in full uniform and even with a rifle in position, was raised and dangled before me. Then I knew that my man was there. I kept the spot covered but held my fire. The puppeteer now felt safe. He put his field glass to his eye. I shot at the flash of the lens. And that one had his last look at Soviet soil.

Yes, it is dangerous work, but things went better as I got used to the fire and German tactics. I have been wounded four times, twice rather heavily. I carry a scar, over the bridge of my nose, from the fourth wound, which I received during the evacuation of Sevastopol. In addition to the four wounds I suffered shell-shock which temporarily affected my hearing, but I was able to take treatments right on the front lines, and stayed in action.

Odessa and Sevastopol will remain in my memory forever. We defended Odessa till October. Then orders came to evacuate. We took positively everything with us aboard ship. The airmen took all the old airplane parts they could carry with them, and the cavalry took even old horseshoes. So we went aboard and started for Sevastopol.

Much has been written about Sevastopol. The history of wars can show nothing to compare with its defense. We were but one Russian to every ten Germans. Fifteen hundred planes flew over the long-suffering town every day. The air shook with incessant cannonading, exploding shells and bombs. The sun was blotted out by clouds of dust and earth. We hadn’t enough shells or food, but we hung on. The city had ceased to be—there was nothing save a heap of ruins—but still we hung on, battling from our stand on the ruins, shooting from behind every building, every elevation or mound.

Not a clod of Sevastopol ground was given up without a fierce fight not a step did we retreat without orders! We mowed down the Hitlerites like ripe grain. Drunk with blood as with ,vodka they swept headlong to death. Fresh German divisions were driven in to take the place of those fallen—there was no end to them! The Germans had to pay a high price —too high—for the heaps of brick and ash, the ruin that was once Sevastopol. Our 150 snipers alone accounted for a 1,080 of them. By that time I had trained a considerable number of snipers. Up to now I have trained eighty snipers and their combined score is well over the two thousand mark. By that time even the Germans knew of me. With their German stupidity they tried to bribe me. Their radios blared into our lines: “Liudmila Pavlichenko come over to us. We will give you plenty of chocolate and make you a German officer.” When they got no answer to that, they turned to threats. Their last message to me was: “Liudmila Pavlichenko, you will not escape us. When we catch you we will tear you in 309 pieces.” They even knew my score!

They might have known that they would not have that opportunity. Ten Germans managed to ambush a comrade of mine, Nikolai Koval. They didn’t get him alive. He blew himself up with a hand grenade and took six of the fascist beasts with him. Now I have come to America, the country which my people admire as one of the most advanced and democratic countries of the world. We are proud to be united with the American people in the fight against fascism.

Pavlichenko during her American tour, Washington, D.C., 1942.

There is a long tradition of friendship between our two countries. The United States and the Soviet Union have never fought against each other. This friendship must be deepened and strengthened after Hitlerism has been defeated by our common efforts. I think our country has understood America better than America has understood us. Our people have always been interested in the Americans, in studying their history and their life. I have studied quite a lot of American history myself, and I do not feel strange here.

I have come to your country as the representative of Soviet youth. I hope my visit may have some useful results. I am troubled to be idle now when everything and everyone is required by my country in the fight against the Hitlerites. I am impatient to be back. Later, when peace comes, I want to visit your beautiful country and see many things there is no time to see now—and enjoy myself a little and get to know your people better.

There isn’t time now. Perhaps then your people will get to know me better, too. Now I am looked upon a little as a curiosity, a subject for newspaper headlines, for anecdotes. In the Soviet Union I am looked upon as a citizen, as a fighter, as a soldier for my country. Yes, I am impatient to be back. I have 309 Hitlerites on my score. But the score is not finished, my work is not over.

In closing I have a special message for American women. I would like them to know first about our mothers. Soviet mothers love their children enormously. I know how much my mother loves me—and yet she writes to me: “I want to see you more than anything—but don’t come home until you come with victory.” And when their sons are killed our mothers do not stop to mourn—they work all the harder. Soviet mothers send their sons to the front, and if necessary their daughters too, without tears in their eyes. They know that it is necessary. While women are not regularly a part of our armed forces, many are fighting in one way or another. There are many, many cases where mothers whose sons are at the front become guerrilla fighters. Our women were on a basis of complete equality long before the war. From the first day of the Revolution full rights were granted the women of Soviet Russia. One of the most important things is that every woman has her own specialty. That is what actually makes them as independent as men. Soviet women have complete self-respect, because their dignity as human beings is fully recognized. Whatever we do, we are honored not just as women, but as individual personalities, as human beings. That is a very big word. Because we can be fully that, we feel no limitations because of our sex. That is why women have so naturally taken their places beside men in this war. We have a tradition, too, to live up to. There was Durova, the Russian woman guerrilla, who fought against Napoleon’s invading armies in 1812, and Dasha Sevastopolskaya who fought in the heroic defense of Sevastopol in 1854-55. So in today’s war our women have carried on these traditions—and added something. The names of many of them have already been immortalized Lisa Chaikina, Tanya (Zoya) Kosmodemianskaya, Maria Baida, Nina Onilova, Valya Phillipova—and scores of others. Our women have proved that we can master machines and technique as well as men can, that we can have as much will and determination as men can, that we can kill our enemies as well as men can. It seems strange to many Americans that women go into battle. They seem to think the war has changed them into some strange kind of creature between a man and a woman. But we are still feminine beings. We can still wear nice clothes and have polished fingernails in the proper time and place. We remain women and human beings as before. The war has made us tougher, that’s all.

Women behind the lines have almost entirely taken the place of men at machines. They are locksmiths, turners, locomotive engineers, miners. Now they do all the things that used to be men’s specialties—and they even manage to increase productivity 500 to 1,000 per cent. They know they are working as we are all working for our victory, for our army, for our freedom.

And on behalf of all these Russian women fighting in our common cause, I express the wish that American women should replace the men at the machines as our women do, that American women should understand as our women do that their sons and husbands at the front are fighting for universal freedom. That they should hurry and help defeat our common enemy—and do away with Hitlerism—and that such help can come only through opening the Second Front! American women must understand that if the Second Front is not opened now, the United States will face much greater suffering and losses later.

SOURCE: https://www.marxists.org/archive/pavlichenko/1942/10/x01.htm

DEFEND NORTH KOREA! DPRK Slams U.S. Human Rights Record, Citing Racism, Slavery, Child Abuse

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, known in the US as simply “North Korea”) slammed the US’ human rights record recently, calling out the US Government for its blatant hypocrisy regarding human rights in the US and wherever the US military has launched attacks against countries around the world.

Writing back on 28 February, the Korean Central News Agency (the official DPRK news website) accused the US of being the “world’s worst human rights abuser”, citing the US’ long record of racism and traffic in human flesh which “began with black slave trade”.

“Last year the U.S. released a ‘report on world’s human traffic in 2016’ in which it slandered 188 countries and regions, blaming them for failing to combat flesh traffic. Not content with this, the U.S. went the lengths of mapping out a list of such countries.
“There is no such country as the U.S. where human existence and security are not guaranteed and even the elementary rights of human beings are being violated blatantly.
“The U.S. is a cesspool of crimes and a veritable hell where grisly human rights abuses and bloody man-killing are rampant. It came into being through bloody man-killing and exists by dint of human rights abuses.

“The U.S. is only the country where children without their protectors are thrown behind bars for an indefinite period. About 70 000 children met such fate in 2014 only.
“It is shameless for such country to talk about international law and standards and pull up most of the countries in the world over their ‘human rights situation.'”

The full text of the KCNA article is reprinted below.

The complete political disorientation of the Kim Jong-Il-led DPRK leadership is shown in this article by their uncritical citation of a statement from the viciously anti-woman, anticommunist and antigay Iranian government regarding the US human rights record.  For alleged communists to needlessly make common cause with one of the most hideously backward and anti-worker regimes on the face of the planet merely in order to “buttress” a political attack against the USA’s human rights record is absurd.  It is a fine example of how once a “revolutionary socialist” leadership abandons the fundamental principles of revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist internationalism in favor of the utopian programme of “building socialism in one country” their ability to even distinguish friend from foe is completely lost.

While we do not agree with the Stalinist politics of the North Korean DPRK leadership, which long ago abandoned the fundamental tenets of Marxism/Leninism by repudiating the idea of building  revolutionary socialist political parties around the world dedicated to the global overthrow of the capitalist system in favor the utopian idea of building socialism in half a country, we defend the Stalinized North Korean workers state – despite its obvious and major flaws – as an important and historic conquest of the workers of Korea and of the world.  As Trotsky pointed out: if revolutionary socialist and anarchist workers refuse to defend existing victories of the working class they will never be able to conquer new ones.  Heroic North Korea stands today as the last nation in the world where the capitalist classes have been completely kicked out and are unable to exploit a single North Korean worker!  This is precisely why the United States and its capitalist allies in the UN hate North Korea and want to see it destroyed.  We desire to help build the political leadership necessary to launch a Trotskyist workers socialist political revolution inside the DPRK to replace the hereditary Kim Il Sungist/Stalinist bureaucracy with a true proletarian democracy that fights to defend socialism in North Korea, while simultaneously fighting against capitalist restoration in all the other Maoist/Stalinist degenerated workers states, from China to Cuba.

There has historically always been a strong internationalist current in the Korean communist movement, which was fully expressed by the heroic exiled Korean communist worker-leaders of the 1930s who provided crucial leadership for the Chinese working class in the workers movement of China back when Korea was occupied by the Japanese.  Today as the disgusting fake-communist Chinese “Communist Party” leadership slowly restores capitalism to China, stuffing its leaders’ pockets with money and sending the children of the fake-Communist Party leaders to study capitalist business practices in places like Harvard Business School, they stoop so low as to threaten to refuse to defend their brave sisters and brothers in North Korea from US attacks!  Overthrowing what is left of the gains of the Chinese Revolution is the Number One priority of US imperialism; the US seeks to split China away from North Korea by bribing the top Chinese “Communist Party” leaders with cold, hard cash.  The workers of China must oust the betrayers in the fake-“Chinese Communist Party” leadership and replace these cat’s paws of world capitalism with a revolutionary socialist leadership dedicated to defending and extending the historic gains of the Chinese workers and peasants socialist revolution! The restoration of capitalism in China – like the restoration of capitalism in the countries of the former USSR – will be a huge disaster for the workers and peasants of China and of the whole world! The capitalist world has barely recovered from its last great global crisis and is now staggering towards its next great economic collapse.  There is no future for the workers of the world under capitalism other than a future of endless wars, more poverty and more environmental and human degradation!  Every TRUE communist knows this fact down to the marrow of their bones!  A “communist party” that seeks “peaceful coexistence” with a capitalist world that must overthrow every gain of the working class in order to survive is not a “communist party” at all but is in fact a nest of conspiring counterrevolutionaries poised to betray the working class in exchange for the biggest bribes they can get from the capitalists!  The pro-capitalist leadership of the Chinese “Communist Party” must be arrested and thrown in jail – overthrown – by the workers of China in a pro-socialist Trotskyist political revolution before those fake-Communists sell China to the highest bidder!  China must DEFEND THE DPRK FROM EVERY ATTACK LAUNCHED AGAINST IT BY US IMPERIALISM!  The US and its capitalist allies are not potential “friends” of the Chinese working class but are their mortal enemies and future hangmen!

Likewise, we call for the DPRK to return to the road of Lenin and Trotsky and away from the death trap of the counterrevolutionary Stalinist and Maoist programme of abandoning internationalist Marxism in favor of building socialism in one country.  The Korean workers revolution led by the great revolutionary leader Kim Il-Sung has sacrificed to much in the cause of the workers and peasants of the world to be sqandered away by the politically disoriented Stalinist epigones of the “Juche Idea” – which is nothing but a Korean version of the counterrevolutionary Stalinist doctrine of “building socialism in one country” that led directly to the Stalinists’ betrayal of the workers of the USSR. DPRK workers: return to the road of revolutionary Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist internationalism!

The workers of the US and the entire capitalist world must defend our sister and brother workers in North Korea from the continuous death threats issued by US imperialism and its UN/EU/NATO allies.  US: Hands Off North Korea and China!  US OUT OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA NOW!

-IWPCHI

*****************************

True Colors of U.S. as World’s Worst Human Rights Abuser

Pyongyang, February 28 (KCNA) — The U.S. has come under fire by the international community for its human rights abuses revealed one after another.
Quoting the results of the recent survey made by Polaris, the national human traffic survey institution, UPI disclosed that the flesh traffic increased 35.7 percent in the U.S. last year over that in the previous year.
It said that more than 7 572 cases of flesh traffic were reported in California, Texas, Florida, etc., terming them “a form of modern-day slave system.”
Seyed Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, referred to the fact that a five-year-old boy was detained with his hands manacled in the U.S. some time ago, saying that this shows the present “human rights situation in the U.S.”
All facts go to clearly show before the world once again the true colors of the U.S. as the worst human rights abuser.
Last year the U.S. released a “report on world’s human traffic in 2016” in which it slandered 188 countries and regions, blaming them for failing to combat flesh traffic. Not content with this, the U.S. went the lengths of mapping out a list of such countries.
There is no such country as the U.S. where human existence and security are not guaranteed and even the elementary rights of human beings are being violated blatantly.
The U.S. is a cesspool of crimes and a veritable hell where grisly human rights abuses and bloody man-killing are rampant. It came into being through bloody man-killing and exists by dint of human rights abuses.
It has a history of the most cursed and disgraceful flesh traffic in the world.
Its history began with black slave trade and is still known as the world’s worst country in flesh traffic. 100 000 to 500 000 fall victim to the flesh traffic for slave labor every year and 100 000 children are forced into prostitution annually.
The U.S. is only the country where children without their protectors are thrown behind bars for an indefinite period. About 70 000 children met such fate in 2014 only.
It is shameless for such country to talk about international law and standards and pull up most of the countries in the world over their “human rights situation.”
The U.S. is loudmouthed about “defence of human rights” and “equality for all” world-wide but it can never cover up its true colors as the world’s worst human rights abuser.
The U.S. “human rights” campaign will never work on any country. -0-

CIA’s Outsourcing of Torture: Mitchell, Jessen and Associates and the Murder of Gul Rahman

cia-timeline-of-the-day-gul-rahman-was-murdered-at-a-cia-black-site-prison

We present to our readers a selection of recently released CIA documents relating to the CIA’s outsourcing of torture to a private consulting firm, Mitchell, Jessen and Associates.  The documents were apparently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) through a Freedom of Information Act request to the CIA.  The full set of 764 pages was uploaded to the “DocumentCloud” website by Charles Savage of the New York Times on 19 January 2017.  This original full set of documents can be obtained from our own website here:  cia-documents-from-aclu

Our selection featured here is

cias-outsourcing-of-torture_-mitchell-jessen-and-assoc_and-killing-of-gul-rahman_from-764pg-aclu-foia-docs

This 20-page document describes the CIA’s outsourcing of torture initially to a pair of US psychologists: James Elmer Mitchell  and  John “Bruce” Jessen.  This dynamic duo later formed a partnership –  the consulting firm of Mitchell, Jessen and Associates.

SERE training camp at Fort Bragg. Captain Michael Kearns, Psychologist Bruce Jessen (right). SOURCE: Michael Kearns, Truthout.org, via Wikipedia

SERE training camp at Fort Bragg. Captain Michael Kearns, Psychologist Bruce Jessen (right). SOURCE: Michael Kearns, Truthout.org, via Wikipedia

According to the financial statements given by the CIA in the ACLU document trove, between 2001 and 2009, Mitchell and Jessen were paid $74,633,075.75 to teach “enhanced interrogation” methods to CIA operatives as well as, apparently guards and officers from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.  Mitchell and Associates had, at the time these documents were created, approximately 80 employees all “certified” to provide “expert” torture-enhanced interrogations as well as torture consulting services to the US military and the CIA.

Jessen was involved in the design and execution of the interrogation plan used against suspected  Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin operative Gul Rahman.   Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin is named after its leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a deranged Islamic fundamentalist once the darling of the US Government back when he was fighting the USSR-backed moderate Afghan Government in the late 1970s and early ’80s.  Once the Stalinist misleaders of the USSR pulled out of Afghanistan in an attempt to placate an increasingly belligerent US capitalist class, Hekmatyar began to turn on his erstwhile allies in the US.  The US policy of financing the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in order to use it as a battering ram against Soviet Central Asia and western China was a short-term solution that has turned into a long-term disaster for the US and especially for the women workers of the Near and Middle East.  The chickens came home to roost on 9/11 as another darling of Reagan-era anti-Sovietism, Osama Bin Laden, launched the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Our party is inspired by the work of the International Communist League/Spartacist League whose brilliant analysis and defense of of the Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan stands as one of the greatest political achievements of the Trotskyist movement in history.  When the Sparts said “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan” in defense of the reformist pro-Soviet government that was trying to bring Afghanistan into the 20th century by fighting to end such horrors of Afghan tribal society as the buying and selling of brides and horrific enslavement of women, the entire reformist left howled in unison with the US and world imperialism, which backed the Afghan mullahs like Hekmatyar and Bin Laden.  We urge our readers to check out these brilliant writings of the Spartacist League/ICL on Afghanistan from 1979-80:17 November 1978. Sparts demonstrate what Trotskyist leadership is all about with crystal-clear analysis of Iranian Islamic counter-revolution.

https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/workersvanguard/1978/0219_17_11_1978.pdf

Trotskyists principled internationalist Leninist defense of USSR intervention in Afghanistan.

Trotskyists of Spartacist League/ICL’s principled internationalist defense of USSR and its intervention in Afghanistan, Winter 1979-80.

 

https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/spartacist-us/1972-1980/0027-0028_Winter_1979-80.pdf

Though there have been calls from several quarters to have these “war on terror” criminals brought to justice, as of this writing they are walking the streets as free men, enjoying the fruits of their labor in the service of the US capitalist class.  On 13 October 2015, the ACLU filed this lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Gul Rahman against Mitchell and Jessen:  salim_v-_mitchell_-_complaint_10-13-15

With bipartisan support among Democrats and Republicans for the aims and methods of the US “War on Terror” (which has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people) and a long-standing refusal of either party to bring anyone involved in the CIA torture program up on criminal charges, it seems to us highly unlikely that Mitchell or Jessen – or any of their many US government collaborators – will see the inside of a well-deserved prison cell anytime soon.

The only way that the war criminals in the service of the US capitalist class will ever see justice is if the US working class overthrows this bloodthirsty ruling class and takes power into the workers’ own hands.  This will require a socialist revolution led by a Trotskyist vanguard party that creates an egalitarian socialist workers republic which will see to it that these criminals are brought face to face with a jury of their victims.  Donald Trump – a full-fledged representative of the venal, greed-mad US capitalist class, has repeatedly announced to the world his fondness for torture – a sentiment that would have shocked the “Founding Fathers” of the United States, whose bourgeois-revolutionary founding documents officially denounced “cruel and unusual punishments” like torture as a hideous relic of medieval barbarism and sought to end its practice for all time.  It is a sign of the depth of the degeneracy of the 21st-century heirs of Washington and Jefferson that the topmost representative of their class now threatens to “make torture great again”.

For decades the Trotskyists have warned the workers that if the working classes of the world do not organize themselves and overthrow the capitalist system, the result will be a descent into a barbarism even worse than that created by the world’s capitalist classes in World Wars I and II.  The time for the working class to organize for this final struggle against the last class of exploiters is getting short.  We must build revolutionary socialist workers parties NOW and put an end to the savagery of the capitalist system before it plunges the planet into a nuclear World War III in which the world – and for the first time the continental US – will see total destruction of its major cities and of hundreds of millions of workers.  This does not have to happen!

Workers of the World Unite!  Capitalism must die so that the working class may live!

IWPCHI

 

For Trotskyist Political Revolution to Defend and Extend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution! A Response to Ross Wolfe

We republish our response to Ross Wolfe’s

Fidel Castro on the Frankfurt School

— a disgusting anti-communist rant slandering late Stalinist revolutionary leader Fidel Castro which he published on his sometimes interesting but ultimately reactionary blog “The Charnel-House”.

Pretending to be a form of Trotskyism, “State-capitalists” are those who, like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the USA, espouse the belief that the USSR, China and all the Stalinist/Maoist workers states (which Trotsky accurately described as “deformed workers states” that should be defended at all costs as historic gains of the workers’ movement) are in fact a new form of capitalist state that should be completely overthrown.  When the USSR collapsed it was one of the greatest defeats the working classes of the world ever suffered; the “State-capitalists” – along with the capitalist classes and the fascists of the world – celebrated its self-immolation.  We warn the workers of the world: those who call themselves “state-capitalists” are among the greatest enemies of the working class and have always proven in the end to be among the staunchest defenders of capitalism as the “lesser evil” in comparison to Stalinism.  They pretend to be Trotskyists but are unalterably opposed to Trotsky’s concept that the USSR was a bloc of bureaucratized, deformed workers states that had overthrown capitalism and therefore should be defended by the Trotskyists worldwide; he called for only a POLITICAL revolution to oust the bureaucracy in favor of a more democratic socialist workers republic.

Ever since the historic workers and peasants revolution led by Lenin’s Bolsheviks in 1917 whether or not they defended the USSR  has been a litmus test for all so-called “Marxist” workers parties.  “Those who can not defend old conquests will never make new ones” is a quote attributed to Trotsky in relation to this controversy.  When the USSR collapsed all the phony “workers parties” in the world celebrated this historic defeat for the workers of the world.  They pretend today that the “Defense of the USSR” is a moot point; in fact, as even such a relatively minor event as the death of Fidel Castro shows, any party’s response to “The Russian Question” (as it was known until the collapse of the USSR) enables us to make a very accurate characterization of the extent of their revolutionary Leninist/Trotskyist principles (or, more often, the lack thereof).

Unfortunately we do not have time to go into this in more detail.  We recommend that you read Trotsky’s  “In Defense of Marxism” (IDOM) which is a series of articles and letters Trotsky wrote attacking the Burnham/Schactman faction in the then-revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the US.  Trotsky succinctly describes the reasons why the USSR had to be defended by revolutionary Marxist/Leninists in  “Again and Once More Again on the Nature of the USSR”

which is included in IDOM.

— IWPCHI

Thank you Ross Wolfe, et al, for once again confirming Trotsky’s warning to workers not to follow the “state-capitalist” road. It leads to outright political disorientation and to counterrevolutionary collaboration with the capitalist class.

Castro was a Stalinist, yes. Like most people on the planet he was not a “red diaper baby”. He was forced to embrace Stalinism when the United States made it clear that there would be no acceptance of the Cuban revolution by the US capitalist class and their allies. Yet Castro must be considered to have been one of the great – if massively contradictory – revolutionary leaders of the 20th century. The Cuban Revolution transformed Cuba from being the “whorehouse of the Caribbean” to being one of the most egalitarian and civilized nation states in the entire Western Hemisphere – indeed, in the world! Even the most cursory comparison between Cuba and Haiti or the Dominican Republic – or even Puerto Rico or vast swathes of the USA – proves the superiority of even a backward Stalinist bureaucratic regime to the typical brutal satrapies of the capitalist nation-states of the region – or even that capitalist monstrosity of monstrosities the United States itself! Anyone who cannot see the tremendous gains the Cuban workers and peasants made under the – (perhaps it would be more precise to call it “Khruschevized”) – Castro regime as compared to what they suffered under the Batista regime is absolutely blind!

Attempting an analysis of the deeply contradictory nature of a phenomenon such as a Stalinized workers state is where the dialectical materialist method proves its indispensability. An analysis of the contradictory nature of a Stalinist workers state cries out for the nuanced and very comprehensive analysis only made possible through use of the dialectical materialist method as taught by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. The death of Castro provides a litmus test of every “Trotskyist”‘s ability to utilize this method of analysis in the same way that a successful solo crossing of the Atlantic by sailboat using only the most essential manual tools for navigation proves the skill of a sailor. You, Ross Wolfe and Ashmeet Teemsha – and all your “State-Capitalist” co-thinkers – have once again failed the test comprehensively. By now you should have learned that your “state-capitalist” analysis of the USSR and its progeny is rotten through-and-through. That you have not done so demonstrates your profound inadequacy as proletarian leadership material. Your chosen vessel – let’s call it “Burnham’s Folly” (with its obviously rotten, worm-eaten hull) – has never made , will never make – it CAN NOT MAKE its pretended destination!

Like all Stalinists, Castro was a man of many contradictions. Pursuing revolutionary socialist reconstruction of the Cuban economy one year and then breaking bread with the Pope the next. Praising Allende one year and standing side-by-side with his murderer and the butcher of the Chilean working class Pinochet later. This is where the anti-Marxist and nationalistic ideology of Stalinism leads: to make unprincipled blocs with the class enemy in all its forms over and over again.

But to claim that Stalinism is entirely counterrevolutionary – as Trotsky patiently explained – is absurd even on the face of things. Capitalism was indeed overthrown in Cuba and a Stalinist bureaucracy erected to defend then gains of that revolution which was, unlike the USSR’s, deformed at birth. The Castroists pursued the typical course of the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union which the Cuban Stalinist bureaucracy was modeled after: a zig-zag course full of unprincipled compromises and the occasional outburst of honorable internationalist impulses, as demonstrated in the heroic Cuban effort in Angola. To call Castro and his regime “counterrevolutionary” through and through and to refuse to recognise and defend the very real gains of the Stalinized Cuban Workers and Peasants’ revolution is to make a mockery of Marxist analysis. It is to place oneself FAR OUTSIDE the revolutionary Trotskyist movement and on a trajectory identical to that of arch-counterrevolutionary James Burnham.

In what way are your anti-Castro and anti-Stalinist statements to be distinguished from those of the most virulently anticommunist capitalists, or even the fascists? “Fidel Castro, Sta­lin­ist butcher and en­emy of the work­ers, is dead. [Good fucking riddance.”] The work­ing class won’t be happy un­til the last bur­eau­crat is hung with the in­test­ines of the last cap­it­al­ist.” This is not Trotskyism. It is pure, rabid, emotional anticommunism. Anti-Stalinism taken to an absurd length; where the well-engineered and time-tested tools that enable one to make a rational, carefully considered dialectical materialist analysis are tossed aside and replaced with cheaper, poorly crafted non-dialectical tools that can only create outrageously hysterical emotional outbursts. Using those cheap tools to craft your “analysis” of the Cuban revolution and one of its principal leaders, you find yourselves standing on a creaky platform of your own construction among your co-thinkers in the anti-communist Cuban gusano exile community in places like Miami, Florida; your words and theirs almost identical. You try to win these rotten elements over to your side politically by utilizing their entirely subjective and pro-capitalist analysis of Cuba in place of a scientific, Trotskyist dialectical materialist analysis. And you poison the minds of the workers by pretending to be Marxist revolutionaries – Trotskyists even! – while howling along with the anticommunist mobs chanting slogans indistinguishable from those of even the fascists.

Immediately after Castro died, we warned the working class to keep an eye out for those who are seeking to utilize the death of Fidel Castro as an opportunity for slandering him and the Cuban deformed Stalinist workers state, as these people thereby expose themselves as the mortal enemies of the working class they truly are. You have taken up your rightful position as such enemies of the working class and this lesson must never be – will never be – forgotten by young proletarians who are seeking to lead the workers of the world to the long-delayed (principally by fake-Marxist “leaders” like you!) final victory over the capitalist class. In the last analysis, today’s State Capitalist “Marxists” will prove to be as counterrevolutionary as were all the “state-caps” that came before them. You are headed down the road of the repulsive anticommunist James Burnham, not the road of Lenin and Leon Trotsky. You are well on your way to a rapprochement with “the lesser evil” capitalist class and their bribed lackeys. Some of you made that deal long, long ago and are deliberately trying to destroy the workers movement by spreading your anti-Trotskyist poison. The working class has no use for “leaders” like you! Be on your way! And “good fucking riddance”!

Workers: Defend the Cuban Revolution! For Trotskyist political revolution in Cuba to Defend and Extend the Gains of the Cuban Revolution Throughout the Americas!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

Join us on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook