- Maoist activist
- Former national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society
- Originator of "Not In Our Name" and "Refuse & Resist"
- Member of the Revolutionary Communist Party
Born in 1940, Charles Clark Kissinger is a devoted Maoist and a prominent member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1960 and subsequently took some graduate courses in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, where he served as chairman of the campus’s Wisconsin Socialist Club. In 1960 Kissinger became an active supporter of the nascent Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; in 1962 he joined the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); and in 1964-65 he served as SDS’s national secretary. Kissinger also worked closely with Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party (BPP) in Chicago during the ’60s — and in particular with Fred Hampton, the leader of BPP’s Illinois chapter.
In 1965 Kissinger organized the first March on Washington to End the War in Vietnam. In the mid-’60s as well, he defiantly mailed his military draft card to the National Liberation Front, a political organization that the Communist Vietcong had formed in an effort to effect the overthrow of South Vietnam’s government. When he was nonetheless ordered to report for military service in 1967, Kissinger responded by accepting what he called “the invitation to do anti-war organizing among GIs at government expense.” Soon after arriving at the induction center, he stood on a table and bellowed anti-war speeches to his fellow Army inductees, at which point he was promptly thrown out of the facility.
On April 28, 1966 in New York City, Kissinger was a sponsor of the Herbert Aptheker Testimonial Dinner, which celebrated Aptheker’s 50th birthday as well as the publication of his 20th book and the 2nd anniversary of his American Institute for Marxist Studies. Most of the event’s speakers, organizers, and sponsors were known members or supporters of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).
In 1967 Kissinger ran unsuccessfully as an anti-war candidate for an alderman post in Chicago.
In 1968 Kissinger chaired the national conference of the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. That same year, the Chicago Peace Council, which had close ties to the CPUSA, hired Kissinger to organize an April 27th March Against the War.
In the late 1960s as well, Kissinger was listed as a sponsor of the GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee, a Socialist Workers Party front group.
An ardent supporter of Mao Zedong’s Communist regime, Kissinger traveled extensively in China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which he avidly supported. In 1971 he was a founder of the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association (CPFA), a pro-Communist entity. And in 1974 Kissinger served as CPFA’s vice chairman.
Backing Iran’s Islamic revolution, Kissinger in 1979 led a delegation that visited the U.S. embassy in Tehran where Muslim fanatics loyal to Ayatollah Khomeni were holding 52 American citizens and diplomats hostage.
In October 1983, Kissinger and RCP tried to sabotage the Reagan Administration’s efforts to deploy Pershing and cruise missiles in Germany. Kissinger personally led a “World Without Imperialism Contingent” (WWIC) on an eight-week tour of Germany to lay the framework for thwarting those deployments. Accompanied by members of Peru’s Marxist guerrilla army, the Shining Path, Kissinger and his RCP comrades penetrated the Mutlangen U.S. military base in West Germany, where Pershing II intermediate-range missiles were in storage.
The following month, Kissinger’s fellow RCP / WWIC members were involved, along with the so-called Red Cells and other German anarcho-terrorists, in an assault against Vice President George H.W. Bush’s caravan during a visit to Krefeld, Germany.
In 1983 Kissinger organized a conference examining the political and economic nature of the Soviet Union.
In January 1985, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) newspaper Revolutionary Worker, for which Kissinger has written frequently, called for the assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
In 1987 Kissinger was an initiator of the RCP front group Refuse & Resist!
In 1992-93, Kissinger was in Los Angeles defending prisoners who had been arrested for their roles in what the RCP agitator dubbed the “Los Angeles Rebellion” — i.e., the infamous riots (in the wake of the Rodney King jury verdict) that had left 63 people dead and more than 2,000 others injured. Kissinger’s RCP had been instrumental in triggering the violence in L.A. Also in the wake of the riots, Kissinger promoted the idea that local Crip gangsters who had participated in the looting and violence should not be viewed as criminals, but rather as revolutionaries battling an oppressive state, and that anyone doubting this was a “racist.”
In 1989 Kissinger organized the first national conference against the “War on Drugs.”
In 1991 Kissinger spoke out against the Gulf War at numerous teach-ins on college campuses across the United States.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, one of Kissinger’s top ongoing priorities was his campaign to “stop the legal lynchin[g] of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” the former Black Panther who had been incarcerated and sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. In 1998 Kissinger attributed the Abu-Jamal’s conviction to America’s “political program of criminalizing black youth, using prisons and death chambers to ‘solve’ the problems of poverty and social breakdown, and the use of police powers to suppress radical or revolutionary opposition.”
In 1999 Kissinger supported an initiative titled “Call to Justice,” which proposed a nationwide “Mumia Awareness Week” aimed at overturning Abu-Jamal’s purportedly wrongful conviction. Fellow backers of this campaign included actor Ossie Davis, Robert Meeropol of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, and Sam Jordan of Amnesty International‘s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty.
In July 1999, Kissinger and 95 fellow activists were arrested for their involvement in a public protest, held at the site of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, against Mumia Abu-Jamal’s incarceration. Kissinger was subsequently found guilty of “failure to obey a lawful order” and was given one year of supervised probation, which restricted him from traveling outside the federal court district wherein he lived. (His attorney in the case was Ron Kuby.) But Kissinger disobeyed the order: In August 2000, he spoke publicly at a pro-Mumia event in downtown Philadelphia, where he was introduced to the crowd as “D. Clark Kissinger” (supposedly the “twin brother” of C. Clark Kissinger). For violating the court order, Kissinger was sentenced to three months in jail.
On August 1, 2000, Kissinger addressed protesters outside the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Dubbing the event “the Executioner’s Ball,” he characterized the Republicans in attendance as “the greatest collection of mass murderers that has been assembled in this country in decades” – in part because Florida and Texas – headed by Republican governors Jeb Bush and George W. Bush, respectively – accounted for a significant percentage of all death-row executions in the United States. Asserting that the people at the convention were there to “decide who will be the imperial ruler of this country for the next four years,” Kissinger thundered: “F— their election!” The Republicans’ ultimate goal, said Kissinger, was to secure a “coronation for that scumbag George W. Bush … a smirking frat rat son of a former head of the CIA who went on to become a speculator oil man, and from there went on to be a blood-stained executioner, and now wants to be the ruler of the world.” “This serial killer has now killed 135 people,” said Kissinger in a reference to the Texas death penalty.
“The [major] problem in this country,” said Kissinger at the same August 2000 spech, was “the oppressive system of capitalism that exploits people all over the world, that destroys our planet, that oppresses minority people, [and] that sends people to the death chambers in droves.” “That is a problem that has to be done away with,” he exclaimed.
In 2002 Kissinger helped create the anti-war initiative Not In Our Name, which condemned “the injustices done by our government” in its pursuit of “endless war” and greed-driven “transfusions of blood for oil.”
In 2003 Kissinger joined the National Lawyers Guild, Lynne Stewart, Ramsey Clark, Leslie Cagan, and Michael Ratner in calling for Jose Maria Sison to be removed from the European Union’s terrorist watch list. Sison, an activist with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (a guerrilla faction) and the Communist Party of the Philippines, would later be arrested for his involvement in three high-profile assassinations.
In an April 2005 article on his website, Dissident.info, Kissinger charged that President George W. Bush and like-minded “reactionaries” were seeking to establish a “theocracy” that would “smash the independence of the courts in the name of God.” He characterized Bush as a “Christian fascist” whose modus operandi closely resembled that of Adolf Hitler. Two months later. Kissinger established World Can’t Wait, a project that sought to drive President Bush out of office.
Also in 2005, Kissinger formed the “International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.” This Commission indicted President Bush and key members of his administration for such transgressions as “Wars of Aggression, with particular reference to the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan”; “Torture and Indefinite Detention, with particular reference to the abandonment of international standards concerning the treatment of prisoners of war and the use of torture”; “Destruction of the Global Environment, with particular reference to systematic policies contributing to the catastrophic effects of global warming”; and “Attacks on Global Public Health and Reproductive Rights.” The Commission ultimately found the Bush Administration guilty on all counts. Other notable participants in the Commission included William Blum, Marjorie Cohn, Joel Kovel, and Michael Ratner.
In 2009 Kissinger organized an emergency town hall meeting to condemn Israel’s recent “attack on Gaza,” – a reference to Operation Cast Lead, which was a defensive military operation wherein Israel targeted Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorists who had been relentlessly launching rocket attacks against the Jewish state.
Today Kissinger is the manager of Revolution Books, a New York City store that markets a wide array of publications rooted in “the new synthesis of communism brought forward by … Bob Avakian,” chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Kissinger has also been a contributing writer for the RCP newspaper/website, Revolution.