VOL. 36, NO. 13 JANUARY 19, 2000


  3. Ecuador: Dollar Economy Won't Get Workers Out of Hellish Conditions in Ecuador
  6. Dialectics of Evolution: The Potential of the Flexible Human Brain
    1. Flexibility of the Bigger Brain
    2. Evolutionary Origins of Flexibility
    3. Actual vs. Potential in Evolution
    4. Evolutionary Science vs. Religion
    The Cradle Will Rock


The four remaining presidential candidates all back the dominant wing of U.S. rulers, the Rockefeller oil and banking empire. Some surface differences may appear to exist. But whoever gets elected will follow the basic Rockefeller agenda. As CHALLENGE has been saying for some time, it is a short-range plan for mass racist terror and "small" imperialist wars and a long-range program for fascism and world war.

The big bosses' essential unity on these questions is clear from the current issue of Foreign Affairs Magazine, published by the Rockefeller-contolled Council on Foreign Relations. Its purpose is to spread the Eastern Establishment line among business executives, politicians and academic leaders. The January issue gives horses' mouth confirmation to our Party's analysis of U.S. imperialism's moves toward fascism and war.

Top billing goes to Jay Mazur, head of the UNITE garment union. Mazur and other AFL-CIO big shots have long since proved their loyalty to Rockefeller. They supported Rockefeller-backed Clinton in his fight against Gingrich & Co.'s failed coup attempt to impeach him. They supported the imperialists' genocidal wars for oil against Iraq and Yugoslavia where workers suffered most. By their refusal to mobilize worker militancy, the AFL-CIO honchos y have given a green light to every recent racist attack against workers, from increased police brutality to "Workfare" and prison slave labor schemes. During the Reagan-Bush 1980's, these labor lieutenants of the bosses sacrificed billions of dollars in workers' wages and benefits, scrapped work rules and helped the imperialists increase productivity.

In his Foreign Affairs piece, Mazur explains why he and his pals support higher labor standards outside the U.S. It comes down to profits for U.S. corporations. Mazur supports increased labor costs for foreign bosses which will give U.S. rulers a competitive edge. Mazur sees higher wages for workers around the world as boosting U.S. corporations' bottom line. In other words, Mazur's "humanitarian" language is just a cover for a scheme to defend U.S. imperialism against its rivals.

Sure, Mazur and his cronies are businessmen looking to feather their own nests. That's why they wanted a "a seat at the table" during the bosses' recent World Trade fiasco in Seattle. But they also have a key class role to play. Rockefeller & Co., much like the bankers and industrialists who bankrolled Hitler, Rockefeller & Co. are turning to the labor unions to build a pro-capitalist, patriotic work force. That's also the not-so hidden message behind Mazur's call for a "new internationalism."

The remaining important articles in Foreign Affairs deal with the need to counter growing threats from Russian and Chinese bosses and to secure control of Middle Eastern oil by armed force. One piece on oil comes from Amy Jaffe and Robert Manning. Jaffe has a big job in the James A. Baker Institute, named after an heir to Chase and Exxon billions. Manning sits on the Council on Foreign Relations. They warn that the present high price of oil is basically an illusion. The reality is the oil glut on the world market. They worry that Persian Gulf oil-producing countries may soon become powder kegs when oil prices once again collapse, because the rulers of these countries won't have financial maneuverability to pacify the population. To prevent chaos and ensure continued oil supplies, Jaffe and Manning call for a military coalition to "defend" Middle Eastern crude oil.

Next are two authors who reassure Rockefeller loyalists that the Republican Party will toe the Exxon line if either Bush or McCain is elected. There's little doubt here about who benefits from Gingrich's defeat in the impeachment brawl and Buchanan's exit from the Republicans. Robert Zoellick, a top Reagan-Bush aide, recommend using U.S. military power to "counter those dangerous states that threaten...vital interests such as maintaining access to oil in the Persian Gulf." The Republicans make clear their willingness to get ready for another war against Iraq.

Condoleezza Rice, a Bush's campaign advisor, goes even further. She criticizes Clinton's half-way war policies and says that the only worthwhile military adventures are a major oil war or, better yet, a world war: "The president must remember that the military is a special instrument. It is lethal, and it is meant to be....Military force is best used to support clear political goals, whether limited, such as expelling Saddam from Kuwait, or comprehensive, such as demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan and Germany during World War II."

Other Foreign Affairs stories put a damper on this enthusiasm for blood-letting. But these authors' hesitations have nothing to do with a reluctance to see U.S. imperialism go to war. Rather it stems from the bosses not having yet won the working class to die for Exxon's oil. Their articles propose taking tactical steps building toward the next ground war for oil, like maintaining the current bombing policy against Iraq or dealing with the Iranian bosses.


MEXICO CITY -- After eight months on strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Administration, the government and the mayor of Mexico City from the opposition Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) continue trying to violently destroy it. The PRD achieved what the ruling PRI couldn't do since 1968: jail and try students for political reasons. There are barely seven months before the presidential election and the ruling class urgently wants to end the strike to avoid more instability, which would make an already cynical electorate even less likely to go to the polls. The resignation of former university president Barnes and his replacement by Ramon de la Fuente opened the possibility of a negotiated settlement but the rulers are trying to isolate and repress the more militant strikers.

The strike has exposed the fascist bureaucracy which controls UNAM, and its intentions to convert it into another private university. This would make it even more elitist. The bosses war' for markets causes them to squeeze the students, teachers, workers and academic programs even more. Imposing their program on UNAM is vital for the industrial and financial oligarchy, given their commercial treaties with the US and European imperialists. The student strike has also exposed the PRD as part of this rulers' plan. Even if any of the strikers' six demands are won, it will only temporarily slow the bosses' drive to make UNAM a private university.

Education for the masses as demanded by the student movement is impossible under this system. Capitalism is based on profits and competition, leading to the concentration of wealth in fewer hands. The extreme inequality created by capitalism means millions of youth never get to UNAM. Even if the strike wins, the thousands of youth who do enter UNAM and the other universities still confront growing unemployment, created by the deepening capitalist crisis of overproduction.

The social sciences cannot be taught in a scientific way because then they would question the very existence of capitalism. When they teach history, it becomes an intellectual exercise divorced from social practice, from class struggle and from the building of a revolutionary party that will lead the workers to their liberation. Science at UNAM is mainly involved with capitalist production, to generate profit and inequality, not to solve the problems affecting the working class. Science in UNAM and in all the universities essentially benefits the capitalists.

Capitalist education intensifies the division between mental and manual labor which splits professionals from workers. One reason socialism failed was its maintenance of the wage system and the division of labor, which is the essence of what capitalist education teaches. Understanding this will help overcome the anti-communism the capitalists have spread to separate workers and students from the fight for communism.

Communism continues to be the only hope. Communism will eliminate the wage system, the division of labor, the market, individualism, profits and the fascist beaurocrats like those who boss UNAM.

The student movement says democracy will smash the rulers' fascism. But you can't confront and defeat fascism with democracy. This concept hides the class struggle between the capitalists and the working class. The only way to destroy fascism is by organizing a communist party whose goal is to smash capitalism, the source of fascism with communist revolution. This party, the PLP, is being built. Join us.

This contradiction, between the rulers' need for a working class won to fight in imperialist wars and the workers' lack of enthusiasm for this scenario, presents our Party with a tremendous long-range opportunity. As Foreign Affairs shows, the bosses dream of a loyal working class gladly marching off to kill and die for Exxon Mobil's billions. But our Party can turn that dream into a nightmare for them by patiently and vigorously building for communist revolution. Planning and organizing now for mass May Day mobilizations in the spring, to raise the red flag around the world, is the best way to move forward and to guarantee that the working class and its Party will gain the strength we need to seize power when the time is ripe.

Ecuador: Dollar Economy Won't Get Workers Out of Hellish Conditions in Ecuador

QUITO, Ecuador -- The new year began almost like every other here in Ecuador, with hunger, poverty, corruption, deaths and few possibilities for workers to achieve a better life. The discredited administration of President Mahuad responded to the crisis and demands for his resignation (amid rumors of a coup d'etat) by adopting the US dollar as Ecuadorian currency. This is his plan to stop the-out of-control devaluation that has made the Sucre (the local currency) a worthless piece of paper, and has increased unemployment, poverty and the cost of living for most people.

The situation is so bad that many workers are subsisting by eating garbage. Housing, education, health care and other basic services have become a luxury for the eight million workers and their families. In a country rich in oil and natural resources, which produce huge profits for the local bosses and imperialists (like Texaco), begging in the street and slow death because of lack of health services and adequate food are now common among the poorest sections of the working class.

Of course, a dollar economy or a coup won't solve this situation. Ecuador is not in the pits just because of the corruption of local politicians who have stolen everything, but because of the crisis affecting the entire capitalist world. This is the same crisis and imperialist rivalry that have turned neighboring Colombia into a killing field.

But something will be different this year. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the political alternative for workers and their allies, the communist PLP.We in PLP fight to win the masses of workers, youth and members of the Indigenous organizations to turn their militant struggles away from the demand of " a patriotic government" to topple Mahuad. This only plays into the hands of the capitalist forces whose interests are contrary to those of the current rulers.Fellow workers, join with us to build a communist alternative, to make the Ecuador PLP into the mass revolutionary Party that can put an end to the living hell of capitalism.


CHICAGO, Jan. 10 -- A Chicago State University (CSU) student asked her teacher, "Do you know about the `Crack Sterilization' plan? This group C.R.A.C.K. is offering addicts $200 to have themselves sterilized. Someone could be sterilized, then kick their habit and want to start a family, but it would be too late. I am totally against it." As a matter of fact, the teacher did know about it. He's a member of PLP, and we are launching a fight against this fascist program.

This student is a young working mother, who pulled information about this program from the CRACK web-site. She e-mailed them, describing her disgust with their movement. Their reply did not satisfy her. She was looking for someone to join in the fight to stop this movement. She came to PLP and helped us plan a teach-in on "Racism in Social Policy," for March 1 at CSU. She will organize a one-hour panel, with a criminal justice professor, exposing this racist program.

"I think we need to discuss homelessness," said another student, who has been to two May Day marches and joined PLP. "It is so wrong that so many people do not even have a place to live." This young comrade helped to write, criticize, and improve the call for the teach-in. He is getting in touch with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and will organize a panel at the teach-in.

These discussions illustrate the strengths and the weaknesses of our work. On the one hand, there is energy, understanding, and commitment on the part of these young students. Many are angry and ready to organize. This is terrific.

But there are weaknesses. We need to involve other organizations to be part of the teach-in. The College of Arts and Sciences has agreed to sponsor it. Two teachers brought it to a union meeting but did not get it on the floor for discussion. We can involve students in the Social Work Club (who have attended organizing meetings), Student Government, Black Student Union, and Muslim Student Association, among others. We are not yet immersed in these organizations, but we have made a start. We need to do much more if we are to build a mass anti-racist movement.

The most important problems are political. We must defeat the fascist mentality that advocates "crack sterilization," and sees abortion as a helpful "crime fighting" tool. Many on campus believe the racist hysteria about "crack babies," and support sterilizing drug addicts. We must expose the racist and sexist stereotypes that blame the victims of drugs in a society that promotes drug use, eliminates drug treatment programs, and denies pregnant women access to the few treatment programs that exist. This is racist because the most deeply victimized are black people, without other resources to escape addiction. While this program could lead to mass sterilizations, the main danger is that it weakens us politically by directing our anger at victimized workers, not the racist profit system.

PLP is organizing a fight against racist sterilizations and abortions, to win many who oppose racism and fascism, to fight not only the gutter racists like those of C.R.A.C.K., but also the more liberal politicians who are even more dangerous, because they carry out massive racist cutbacks as they speak softly. This fight can open the door for workers and youth to see that the only solution to racism is to smash the system that created it and profits from it, capitalism. The teach-in will provide an opportunity to struggle with many students, professors, and campus workers over these issues. We can move thousands into communist-led anti-racist action, and many of those will march on May Day and join PLP. Workers are the force that will change the world.


On Sunday I attended a worship service at which Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, spoke about the 6-year-old boy from Cuba, Elian Gonzalez. In introducing her, the pastor listed her accomplishments, including the trip to Kosovo with Jesse Jackson and others last year [This was supposedly to free U.S. servicemen, but in essence it was to help extricate U.S. rulers from a military ground offensive there.]

We heard about all the liberal, reformist organization Boards and think-tanks to which Campbell belongs. We were informed that while in Cuba she became ill and was treated by Fidel Castro's personal doctor. One of my friends was skeptical and later said, "My grandmother taught me not to worry about people sloppily dressed, but to worry about people in fancy suits with briefcases. So I was on the alert." Not so many parishioners were as politically savvy.

Elian's father had asked Campbell to help return his son to him. She had spent a few days visiting him and his maternal and paternal grandparents. "Elian must go home quickly to his loving family," she said. "If the boy were other than Cuban it wouldn't be a question. The INS made a correct and courageous decision." Campbell said Elian's grandmother had been worried about her daughter because her daughter's boyfriend was a smuggler who regularly put 14 people in a small boat (built to hold six) in order to get the $1,000 paid to him by each person he smuggled into the U.S. Campbell said she was appalled by statements by Elian's relatives in Miami who said, "Elian's father in Cuba has nothing to give him but love." Campbell then said, "The lesson for us is simple and profound: love matters." Sounds good, is moving. But what's behind it?

"The U.S. should normalize relations between Cuba and the U.S., end the embargo, view Cubans as neighbors, not enemies, and not render Cubans more vulnerable than they need to be," Dr Campbell exhorted. The Cuban Council of Churches called the National Council of Churches to mediate. "The churches are playing an important role in the growing civil society in Cuba....[It] shows the strength of the church as it comes out of a time of revolution," she said. "Why do we get involved? Because it is just." Many stood to applaud. I didn't.

In several conversations following the service I suggested to my friends that Campbell saying "love matters," and the pronouncements that in the U.S. "we" abide by "law" and "justice," are covers for the Eastern Establishment rulers in the U.S. to use Elian's case to help end their isolation from Cuba. European and Japanese imperialists have invested heavily in Cuba. But Cuba U.S. bosses are building their own trade, financial and military bloc in the Americas to oppose their imperialist competitors. This makes Cuba even more important to liberal U.S. rulers. It appears the Castro government welcomes this development.

One of my friends, somewhat disgusted that once again I had raised questions, said her main fear was that the exile Cubans in Miami would win. I said I doubt it. The Miami Cubans will spout their anti-communist, "pro-democracy" and "law" position which is always acceptable in the U.S. It is especially useful to U.S. rulers' current drive to build patriotism here.

Today's global trade wars lead to shooting wars and U.S. rulers are desperate to build a reliable army. The Miami Cubans, as well as Indiana Senator Burton, will abide by the law. They may want their day in court. But what the rulers really want, conservatives and liberals alike, is to distort and bury the lessons of communism, while hypocritically proclaiming themselves the champions of "human rights" and "labor standards." The need to study the history of communism and use the lessons learned to continue the struggle is the main concern for the workers of the world.

New York City Comrade

MIAMI, Florida -- Cuban exiles, led by the right-wing anti-communist politicians like Representatives Iliana Ross, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Senator Dan Burton, rioted here and delayed the INS ruling that Elian should return to his father in Cuba. At the same time 389 Haitian refugees, 16 Dominicans and two Chinese refugees were deported without benefit court hearings.

In the first week of January, the small boat carrying these refugees to the U.S. ran aground near the coast of southern Florida. The Coast Guard quickly detained them and the INS quickly sent them back. There were some demonstrations, mainly by Haitian immigrants here (see photo). There were no riots by Cubans nor claims by politicians that these refugees should stay here in the U.S. The reason is obvious: they are mostly black, poor and have no high friends in Congress.

And those who believe that Janet Reno and the INS have all of a sudden become "good guys" because of their position on Elian. The same week they said Elian should return home, it was reported that 119 immigrants died crossing the Mexico-Southern California border. Most of them died because of the racist persecution by the INS-Border Patrol, forcing them to cross in the most dangerous zones.

Dialectics of Evolution: The Potential of the Flexible Human Brain

A recent CHALLENGE article (12/1/99) summarized scientific evidence showing the human brain as constantly changing. These new discoveries about the flexible brain also shed light on the dialectical materialist science of evolution and the controversy over evolution vs. creationism.

Flexibility of the Bigger Brain

One of the results of evolution was the greatly increased brain size in human beings. If birds and mice all have brains that control much of their behavior, what's the big deal about the bigger brain size in humans?

The behavior in birds and mice tends to be rigid, programmed. The extra neural connections in the larger human brain are enough to convert an inflexible, rigidly programmed device into a highly flexible organ. This allows for sufficient logic and memory to substitute non-programmed learning for "hard-wired" behavior as the basis for social interaction. In other words, humans have the potential for learning and adapting to a changing physical and social environment that birds and mice have little of.

Evolutionary Origins of Flexibility

Why did the larger human brain evolve? Evolutionary scientists have argued that natural selection favored large brains that made possible certain necessary skills in gathering food or socializing. But here's a key point: these skills by no means exhaust the limits of what such a complex device (the human brain) can do. The same brain that developed many years ago in relation to food-gathering needs has the potential for composing poetry and typing newspaper articles on a laptop computer.

In a similar vein, the human larynx (voice box) became capable of evolving when movement (walking) went from four legs to two. This allowed for a limited range of sounds needed to coordinate labor and social life in early humans. That same larynx has the potential for singing opera and chanting, "Fight for Communism" at a political demonstration.

Actual vs. Potential in Evolution

Charles Darwin, the founder of evolutionary science in the 19th century, recognized that living beings display many features that are not adaptations and do not promote survival directly. This is because: (a) organs may have capacities beyond what they were selected for; and (b) because organisms are integrated systems in which an adaptive change in one part can lead to a non-adaptive change of some other feature.

Evolution thus embodies the dialectical category, actual vs. potential. A factory may install a computer to keep track of accounts, but that computer can also be used to play games or surf the Internet. In evolution, natural selection may build an organ for a certain purpose, but that (actual) organ, as a result of its inherent structural complexity, may serve other purposes as well (the potential).

Evolutionary Science vs. Religion

Some 19th century scientists ("hyperselectionists") did not see the potential in the actual. They believed that every trait in living beings, including humans, had to be a product of natural selection. ("Sociobiologists" have this view today.) So the capacities to write articles and sing operas would have had to be products of natural selection. But, they argued, the brain and larynx evolved long before they were used for writing and singing. Therefore, some "higher intelligence" ("god") must have shaped the development of the brain and larynx so that ultimately the human activities, writing and singing, could develop. This was really a version of the old idea of "natural harmony," orchestrated by some higher being ("god").

There's no need to invoke "god" here. Organs in living beings have all kinds of potential, beyond what they were selected for. In this flexibility, particularly the flexibility of the human brain, lies our hope for the future. The human brain that evolved so that early humans could better dig up roots has the extraordinary capacity to think about dialectical materialism and make communist revolution.


Stephen Jay Gould: "Ever Since Darwin" and "The Panda's Thumb"

Frederick Engels: "The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man"


SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador--"What's wrong with the system?" asks Mauricio Funes. "Why not keep trying it?"

Funes is considered the country's most liberal journalist. He's seen on TV's "Uncensored" and "Interview of the Day."

"Why not keep trying capitalism?" Señor Funes, the working class has been suffering the effects of this system for more than 300 years. It simply doesn't work for workers.

Although many here think Funes is an "impartial critic," the truth is, "All that glitters is not gold"; there are many "wolves dressed in sheep's' clothing."

Funes has never defended the working class and never will. He's serving the ruling class ass one more piece in the scaffolding of capitalist propaganda flooding the working class. Scratch a liberal, find a servant of capitalism.

During the recent labor unrest and crisis in Social Security and other government agencies, Funes has been the system's up-front defender. He assures us there's no room for communism. But then why did the whole capitalist world send its armies into the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1925 to try to destroy the Bolshevik Revolution, fearing its spread to the world's workers? In this, history's first experience with a workers' state, certain mistakes undermined it. errors of less communism, not more, especially continuation of the capitalist wage system. From this gigantic experience, PLP learned that communism--and abolition of the wage system--is the only way out of capitalism.

Funes, claims workers experience democracy and peace daily. He paints lies with the brush-strokes of liberalism, trying to convince workers to cool our anger against the system and resign ourselves to capitalism as "the best that we can get."

We should not be fooled by these servants of the system and fight for a society worthy of human beings. That's communism.

Mauricio Funes is like Salvador Samayoa, Facundo Guardado and Joaquín Villalobos, the last three commanders of the FMLN guerrillas, who are now right wing "political analysts." These traitors to the revolutionary cause, who mis-led hundreds of fighters to their death, are now used by the capitalist press as useful front-men for the system. Their "brilliant" analysis cynically claims fighting back is now "out of style." But for the working class the fight against the hunger and poverty which the system generates will never go "out of style."

Workers need real revolutionary literature, sparking class consciousness, like our newspaper CHALLENGE, the only tool workers can trust. The articles are written by the people who live the oppression of the system, not by those who have never felt our problems. The latter only want to profit from the pain of our class and use it to sell their system.

PLP members must win more workers to read our revolutionary communist press, with the most comprehensive expression of the Party's communist ideas. The bosses' press may provide some useful information and possibly stimulate workers to read between the lies, to distinguish the appearance of things from their essence.

Class struggle continues as long as one oppressed worker exists. There is no peace when a small group of bankers and bosses live fat and happy while millions of workers live in misery and die of poverty. Join PLP.


CHILE -- The people have just finished voting for the representative of their exploiters and oppressors.

One group of bosses was represented by "Concertation of Parties for Democracy." A decade ago they ousted General Pinochet from power but continued his free market capitalism under the cover of democracy. In the recent elections their slogan was "growth with equality."

The second group is "Reformed Pinochetists" (conservatives) proud of being the followers of the regime that murdered thousands after the 1973 fascist coup. This group represents are outright free marketeers.

The other three groups represent ecologists, humanists and liberals of very little significance. The sixth group, the so-called "real left," formed by the "Communist" Party (CP) whose program is based on "sustainable growth" led by the state which will be in charge of "centralized economic planning."

There was no decisive winner in the December election, so there will a run-off election between the incumbents and the Pinochetists. Of course, no matter who wins workers will lose because elections are really a contest between different bosses to see which group is going to control state power in order to best serve the interest of their particular section of the ruling class.

The illusions created by opportunists, like the CP, are deadly. Workers in Chile already paid dearly for supporting this illusion in 1970, when socialist Allende was elected with full support of the CP. Three years later, Pinochet with the guidance of Kissinger-Nixon carried out one of the bloodiest coups in Latin America in recent history.

Our local PLP group is using the pamphlet, Voting, the Big Con, put out by our Party during the 1994 elections in the U.S. We updated it to include conditions here in Chile. We are bringing the message to the workers and youth that under capitalism workers can never be free, we will always be wage slaves. Building a mass communist PLP is the only choice we have.

The Cradle Will Rock

What a movie! Workers march through the streets demanding a theater be made available to perform a pro-working class play. The Federal government's Dies Committee--predecessor of the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC)--is hunting for communists in the arts. But the play goes on. The workers win!

We should see this movie. One leaves it upbeat and excited. Bring friends and co-workers. Discuss this struggle, for working class art and against the ruling class' attacks.

The movie is based on a true story. During the 1930's Depression, government programs hired unemployed workers to get them off the streets (fearing they might start organizing). One such program was the Federal Theater Project (FTP), which employed actors and crews and brought live theater and new, bold, breakthrough plays to millions of workers who'd never seen a live play before.

One play, The Cradle Will Rock, written by Marc Blitzstein, shows the strength of the working class and the degeneracy of the bosses. The title refers to workers shaking the capitalist tree to make the cradle (capitalism) rock and fall. In this movie about the FTP production, Blitzstein's spiritual mentor is Bertolt Brecht, the German communist poet and playwright.

The movie depicts the struggle against fascism by many workers, even at personal cost. It shows many big U.S. capitalists supporting and building fascism in Europe, actually giving cash to Mussolini's mistress to take back to Italy, primarily to stop communism. We see the struggle over the politics of art. We see workers rallying behind steel workers striking for unionization, while William Randolph Hearst, the fascist newspaper publisher, is telling the steel boss that that he must learn how to give the workers a dollar and take back two.

These different threads tie together: capitalism in crisis, workers unable to find jobs, the ruling class attacks on workers' fightbacks and organization. On opening night Federal troops stood in front of the theatre to prevent the play's production. The right-wing AFL (American Federation of Labor) actors and musicians union orders its members not to perform. However, the play itself is a pro-worker, pro-union play showing a growing, mass CIO (Congress of Industrial Organization).

Yet, in the end, the workers triumph. They march to, and fill, an empty theatre where Blitzstein plans to read all the parts himself on a bare stage. Suddenly the play's actors and actresses rise inexorably, spontaneously out of the audience to play their parts. The crowd goes wild.

The film's strongest character is an actor of Italian background (played by John Turturro). When he discovers that his brother has taught his children the Italian Fascist anthem. Turturro condemns his brother and takes his family from the house. He refuses his mother's offer of support, saying he does not want to teach his children to abandon your principles when you get hungry.

There are many interesting stories within the movie. When FTP head Hallie Flannigan testifies before the Dies Committee, she is asked why she visited "communist Russia." She answers that the Soviet Union has more live theater groups bringing more theater to workers than any other country. Flannigan is a typical left-liberal who, while she supports the arts and the freedom to create, is not anti-capitalist. She lacks a class analysis of the art she is supporting. She's against censorship but does not necessarily believe art should serve working class interests.

There is the ventriloquist, played by Bill Murray, who has turned his back on communist ideas and is figuratively destroyed by the system. That he is conscience-stricken is reflected in the challenge from his "dummy" who winds up singing the working class anthem, "The Internationale" and then collapses.

The struggle over politics and art comes out in the actual story of Diego Rivera's mural in Rockefeller Center. Base on his reputation, Rivera, a famous Mexican communist muralist, is hired by Nelson Rockefeller to paint a mural in the then new Rockefeller Center. When Rockefeller sees the mural, which includes V.I. Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution, he demands Rivera "paint Lenin out." Rivera refuses., so Rockefeller pays Rivera and destroys the mural, (After all he paid for it "so I can do with it what I want." However, as the mural is destroyed one little germ is left on the wall, depicting the germ of change in the future, that they cannot destroy all working class art.

Intertwined with this scene the bosses are shown at a Marie Antoinette costume ball (pre-French revolution) and Hearst, dressed as a cardinal, tells Rockefeller he must spend his money on abstract art, alluding to Rockefeller's erecting and expanding the Museum of Modern Art. This promotion of abstract art crowds out artists depicting socio-political content.

We would criticize some of the characterizations as cartoonish. Some characters are developed, others aren't. Most of the media criticisms stem from political disagreements. The movie says clearly that art has a political point of view, that workers deserve better than they get. It also says no art should be censored, however, as the Turturro character says, all fascist art should indeed be censored. But the role of the Communist Party in organizing the march and raising the money to rent a theater where the play can be performed is never mentioned. In fact, the "Party" is mentioned only when Rivera says he was kicked out for criticizing Stalin and Blitzstein says he can't join because he is homosexual (but still praises the CP's ideas).

Even so, "Cradle Will Rock" tells the workers' side of life with humor, courage and class consciousness. However, if you don't know the history of the FTP play, the movie may seem less forceful. Hopefully moviegoers will seek the truth of this period, view proletarian art and literature and read the play.



I recently completed BCT (Basic Combat Training) in the U.S. Army. The U.S. is trying to build the military in preparation for inevitable wars. Building the Party among soldiers is essential. On the one hand, the military wants solidarity among soldiers. On the other, they want to strengthen dedication to the U.S. But dedication to the U.S. is low in the military, so they use fear to keep soldiers in line. Communist organizers in the military must build solidarity between soldiers and workers to overcome any feelings of fear or nationalism pushed on us.

Three weeks into training, my platoon had just been "smoked" (did pushups, sit-ups, etc. as punishment) in the pit (a pit of dirt and sawdust). When standing in formation, the Drill Sgt. ordered a few soldiers who he continually picked on because of their weight to get in the pit and do sit-ups.

After a minute watching the Drill Sgt. smoke them, I stepped out of formation and started doing sit-ups in the pit with them. A few people immediately followed me. After ten seconds half of the platoon went in, and within a minute everybody was doing sit-ups. We all felt unified. All the Sgt. could do was show his disgust and tell us to leave the pit.

I've tried to build friendships as much as possible. Self-critically, I haven't brought up politics and the Party as much as I could. In a time of increasing fascism we have to be fearless and bold in our organizing wherever we are. The opportunity is there. We must step forward and take leadership. Fight for communism. Power to the workers!



On November 22, Rosa, like many other workers was laid off from the Do All Enterprises factory in the San Marcos industrial zone south of San Salvador. Rosa knows the only "wrong" thing she did was to fight for a small improvement in the inhuman conditions at the plant.

The workers here have started an organization to protest the boss's lousy treatment.

"He didn't want us to ever say we were sick, or go to the doctor or clinic [Social Security], much less go to the bathroom," said Rosa, who added they only had 20 minutes to eat. This is not uncommon in the El Salvador maquilla zones.

Friends of PLP and CHALLENGE readers have been encouraging these workers to continue organizing. They must fight intimidation by the bosses, who are desperate to survive their capitalist-created crisis of overproduction.

We have explained to our fellow workers that in a communist system there would be no bosses to oppress the workers. The capitalist profit system would no longer exist. The wage system would be abolished.

The bosses don't care how many workers die in their drive to extract profits from our blood and sweat. The big and small bosses, along with their ideology, must be wiped out. This can be accomplished only by joining an international Party, the PLP. Every worker who joins PLP is one more nail into the heart of our class enemy.

Maquilla workers from El Salvador, Mexico, Los Angeles, India and worldwide ask for CHALLENGE. Read it! Write to us! Organize in the PLP and fight for communism, the only system that will guarantee a better life for all workers.

Comrade from El Salvador


The U.S. capitalists are attacking students all across the country. Many states are forcing students to pass special tests in order to graduate high schools. In Massachusetts, the MCAS test has been given for two years, and by the year 2003 it will be mandatory for graduation.

The Gaston Institution for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at University of Massachusetts Boston released the first study that showed MCAS test results by ethnicity and race. "In the 1998 test, Latinos and blacks failed at a rate twice that of whites...83 percent of Latinos and 80 percent of blacks failed the 10th grade math exam. Many fear it will result in a majority of frustrated Latino and black students dropping out of school."(The Boston Globe)

The future for these students is bleak because the bosses will push them into prisons, into minimum-wage jobs or into the army. But their future will be bright, if they organize against the system that is doing this to them.

Bilingual teachers here are organizing against the racist MCAS tests. My friend teaches bilingual students in a Boston elementary school. He says these teachers are angry because they are held accountable , but not given enough books or materials to do their job. The administration is always changing programs and assessment methods, without even giving teachers a chance to learn the new methods with some success with their students.

Last week, some teachers met to discuss this. The collective anger inspired all of them to begin organizing against these attacks on bilingual and working class students. More parents, teachers and students should join them!

PLP says we must demand:

1. No MCAS requirement for graduation. Smash racism.

2. Give teachers the materials they need.

Only communist revolution to overthrow the racist U.S. education system can produce decent education for the working class.

A Reader


Bernie Seltzer, a member of PLP for the decade before he was stricken with Alzheimer's disease, died on January 8 at the age of 73. Bernie's life symbolized both a commitment to communist principles as well as the frustrations of living under capitalism.

Bernie fought fascism in World War II, and was wounded in France in 1944. It was there that he began to acquire some of the principles he would live by for the rest of his life.

Bernie was always ready for a discussion about anything and everything. He found it difficult to accept the limitations put on us by capitalism, always wanting to raise "one more question" to see if we could go beyond the limits. However, he was not immobilized by these frustrations.

As a biochemist at Downstate Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, he won the respect of hundreds of fellow workers. Over 400 of them elected him shop steward because they had confidence he would handle their grievances in the best way possible.

Both of us were in the U.S. Communist Party (CP) when we met in 1955, I had had many discussions with him and his wife, especially after I quit the CP and joined in building the Progressive Labor Movement and later PLP. They read CHALLENGE intensively every week, made regular financial contributions, came to many Party affairs and marched on May Day.

Finally, in 1983, 28 years after I met him, he joined the PLP. Often I had wondered why it took so long for me to recruit him, but as one comrade told me, "Some people take longer than others."

Often he would join us outside Downstate, especially after he retired, selling CHALLENGES and distributing leaflets from the International Committee Against Racism (InCAR). He would always engage in very animated discussions with his co-workers during these distributions.

Bernie was a very generous comrade. His house (and well-stocked refrigerator) was always open to all. He was very close to his two children and two grandchildren, but sadly his relationship with the latter suffered with the onset of his debilitating disease in the early nineties.

Until then he had been a second doctor to his wife who suffered from a myriad of illnesses. Actually, he was more like her primary doctor, always challenging her doctors when he felt they weren't doing right by her. His scientific and medical knowledge and common sense kept them on their toes. They learned early on not to mess with Bernie.

Bernie wound up in a VA facility and then in the VA hospital in the Bronx where he passed away. His daughter told me she was convinced their shoddy care contributed to his death.

Although he is no longer in our midst, what his life represented shall always remain in our minds and hearts. His friends and comrades will miss him but will keep fighting for the communist future he believed in. This is the best testimonial we can honor him with.

A Brooklyn Comrade and Friend of Bernie


A current series on public TV in New York City on African roots hosted by Professor Henry Louis Gates, a black historian who travels extensively in Africa and fawns over any descendants of African royalty he can find while dwelling on three main points:

* Blacks have roots that prove they were cultured, rich and powerful long before white Europeans came to power.

* Slavery was horrible but would have been impossible to the extent it was if not for black complicity in the slave business. Also black on black racism and class society in Africa has deep roots and continues widely today.

* Many groups of U.S. blacks who returned to Africa because they were fed up with their racist society couldn't wait to get back to the U.S.

The greatest "wonder" to me is how a history professor could do a series on the horrors of African slavery, racism and colonialism without ever mentioning their main cause, the capitalists who finaced and profited from it all while accumulating the vast wealth that would enable them to enslave the whole world.

In order to be well-funded and get on prime time TV the program's content had to serve the interest of the U.S. ruling class so I thought the following might reflect their interest in the professor' s points:

* "Black pride" is necessary to obscure centuries of U.S. racist oppression beause blacks make up an increasingly larger percentage of U.S. imperialism's military;

* Capitalists need to get the issue of slavery off their backs ("blacks were in it up to their elbows") and to rationalize racism today (Africans have a long history of racism);

* The capitalist bosses want to believe that U.S. imperialist society with its racism,wage slavery and endless wars is still the best of all systems.

Professor Gates anguishes endlessly over how much he hates his slave roots and that he doesn't think he can ever forgive the slaveholders. But he has much more in common with slave owners than with the slaves because it as a servant for the capitalist class that he owes his high standard of living, his funding and his ability to do TV series. He realizes that he must sell out the workers and serve the interests of the capitalist system which causes all the misery he discovers. Only communist revolution can end racism and wage slavery because it destoys the reason for their existence, capitalism.

A Comrade


Well, we are now in the middle of January 2000 and the Y2K hysteria has turned into much ado about nothing. Well, not exactly, for some it meant a lot (billions to be exact).

First, for those not into computerese, Y2K means that when the big computer companies (shortsighted as many capitalists are) first programmed them, they used only the last two digits to identify a year. To save time, space and money, instead of recording "1981" they just programmed "81." When the year 2000 arrived, many computers might confuse 2000 with 1900. It was supposed to be a big problem, particularly for bill collecting, since all the bills could just be wiped out.

It probably wasn't much of a problem for most computer users but the very computer capitalists who created the problem decided they could make big bucks exaggerating it.

The emergency measures and almost $300 billion spent on the "Y2K bug" exceeded money spent on many of the natural disasters which have ravaged the world in the last few years. Instead of being punished for their big mistake, the computer bosses were rewarded with big contracts to "fix it." That's the nature of the capitalist beast.

Anti-Y2K Reader


The front page in CHALLENGE (1/12) depicting events in the last century was useful. However, it had the wrong emphasis. The primary events of the 20th century were the Russian and Chinese revolutions and the battle for Stalingrad, not how bad capitalism is. The signal event of the 20th century was the Russian Revolution. It proved that the working class, with its communist vanguard party, could seize power.

It was a body blow to imperialism to lose one-sixth of the earth's surface to the working class. The Russian revolution paved the way for the Chinese revolution. These revolutions left capitalism reeling. For most of the 20th century imperialism was forced to spend its efforts reversing these revolutions. Eventually the capitalists built fascism in Germany and Japan to roll back the tide of revolution, but the German and Japanese fascists double-crossed their pals and tried to gobble up the entire world.

This is where the battle of Stalingrad and World War II connects with counter-revolution and anti-fascism.

After many easy triumphs against their capitalist rivals, the German Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. Early Nazi successes made the German bosses seem correct in their claim of invincibility. After a period of bloody triumphs the German war machine drove to Stalingrad. It's capture would have cut the Soviet Union in half. However, the communist iron will of the Soviet workers triumphed over the Nazis. The Red Army surrounded the Germans in Stalingrad and 350,000 Nazis were captured. From then on it was one continuous drive to Berlin by the Soviets. So the 20th century produced another dramatic lesson: only communists can defeat fascism.

Ultimately the Soviet and Chinese communist parties defeated themselves. Winning power was one feat; learning how to hold onto it may be the biggest lesson of the 21st century. The tide of revolutionary history has been slowed by grievous mistakes made by previous communists. But the red tide can never be stopped. As the CHALLENGE article made clear, capitalism can never serve the workers. Only communism can do that.