The dispute leading up to yesterday's rebellion has been simmering for years, from Charleston to Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore and other southern ports. Stevedoring outfits were offering scabs to shipping companies at lower-than-union rates to load and unload cargo. Union members in the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) here had deep fears their jobs were threatened. Finally they decided to take direct action.
Starting last month, a Danish shipping firm, the Nordana Line, contracted for scabs to unload its ships. Members of ILA Local 1422 have been working Nordana's ships for 22 years and had even given concessions to keep its work. But now Nordana was refusing to negotiate over its use of scabs.
Then, on January 2, union longshoremen stormed the terminal where a Nordana Line ship was docked, overturning equipment and roughing up some scabs, forcing the ship to leave early without its full cargo. By January 19, with another Nordana ship headed into port, the situation boiled over.
At 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday, the 19th, a force of 600 city cops, State troopers, deputies from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office and the departments of two other near-by cities began assembling at the State Port Authority terminal where a Nordana ship was slated to dock. Buses filled with cops followed by armored vehicles passed through terminal gates. A helicopter circled overhead. More than 200 of the cops wearing riot helmets and carrying clear plastic shields and long wooden clubs formed a line along the terminal entrance.
As the cops waited, 1,000 longshoremen held a closed-door meeting at 6:00 P.M. in their union hall near-by. Many declared they "were fighting for their jobs."
An hour later the Danish freighter Nordana Skodsborg appeared, and 20 scabs went aboard to start working. Soon two union pickets appeared in front of the 200 cops guarding the terminal.
At midnight, 600 longshoremen returned to the union hall for another "meeting." Soon they were streaming out, moving towards the terminal chanting, "ILA! ILA! ILA!" and carrying signs, bottles and wooden clubs. They marched right up to the line of 200 cops, inches away, waving signs and shouting threats.
Immediately a hailstorm of rocks, bricks, logs, and other missiles rained down on the cops. The Police Captain was hit by a railroad tie and sent to the hospital for seven stitches. At 12:15 A.M., the dockers knocked over a police floodlight, plunging the area into darkness. While the police helicopter circled with its spotlight, the rebellious workers continued their barrage.
Then two State Highway Patrol squad cars were driven directly into the rear of the crowd of angry longshoremen, dropping shock grenades and slamming into one worker. The other squad car was pelted with debris. At 12:45 the cops ordered the crowd to disperse or be arrested. They fired guns containing bean-like projectiles at the retreating workers, although some held fast and overturned a TV van. The cops then fired tear gas, moving the workers back to the union hall. By then the rebellion had ended, and at 7:00 A.M. the Nordana ship was loaded and sailed.
While the workers had failed to halt the scabs, they did put the ruling class of Charleston on notice that they would no longer take the robbing of their jobs by scabs lying down. Expecting the workers' challenge, South Carolina Attorney-General Condon answered back with the fascist announcement of what he described would be "a comprehensive plan for dealing with dock workers' violence" that involves "jail, jail and more jail." He said "union members who don't like our right-to-work laws" will not be allowed to "riot in the streets."
But as one union longshoreman who has worked the docks for six years told the Charleston Post-Courier, "This is not the first time jobs have been chiseled away from us. Something has to be done."
They always try to obscure the class struggle, up to and including the recent march of 50,000 against the racist Confederate flag in Charleston. The open racist politicians refer to this flag of slavery as "white heritage." The liberals opposing the flag are hypocritically trying to turn the masses' anti-racist sentiments into votes for Gore & Co. This is the same crew that ended welfare, filled the prisons with black men (to become slave laborers) and have launched dozens of military strikes around the world to advance U.S. imperialism. The dockworkers, perhaps somewhat inspired by the recent march against racism, have turned the spotlight back on the class nature of society. Black and white workers, fighting black and white cops, led by a black police chief!
Another lesson is, there are limits to everything. While the bosses literally get away with murder, this won't last forever. The Charleston dockworkers prove again that the working class is filled with anger, capable of rocking the bosses and their cops, and is open to much more, including the building of a mass revolutionary movement for communist revolution.
The fact that the bosses continually commit their crimes does not mean they have won the working class to all their plans. Although they have a huge arsenal and can kill a lot of people, they haven't overcome the "Vietnam Syndrome." They fear they may have an unreliable army that is leery about fighting, as well as a working class that has to be threatened or bribed with temporary or shallow improvements, to be taken away at a later date. When workers realize this, often they choose to fight back, many times massively. This is the history of the working class throughout the world. Just look at some of the larger events in only the last third of this century, even just here in the U.S.
* In Newport News, VA. In 1967, 15,000 black and white shipbuilding workers took over the waterfront in a mass rebellion for a decent contract and against the blood-sucking merchant/loan sharks who were bleeding them dry.
* Pick-ups in their fight for equal treatment against the racist city bosses, scabs, cops and the National Guard.
* In 1970, a quarter million black and white postal workers shut down most mail delivery from New York to San Francisco, defying Nixon's wage freeze and forcing him to call out the National Guard.
* In Detroit in 1973, 200 black and white autoworkers, led by the Workers Action Movement and PLP, organized the first sit-down strike since the 1930's, fighting unsafe conditions at Chrysler's Mack Avenue plant.
* In Washington, D.C., in 1978, over 1,000 rank-and-file miners, representing tens of thousands on a nation-wide strike, seized their national union headquarters, demanding ouster of their sellout president.
* In New York City, in 1980, 30,000 black and white transit workers struck all subway and bus transportation, bringing the city to a halt in fighting for a decent contract
* In 1989, 25,000 rank-and-file miners in ten states wildcatted to back striking Pittston miners fighting benefit cut-offs of retired and disabled miners and scabs stealing their jobs. They burned scab trucks, exploded company offices, surrounded company buildings with thugs inside and defied federal injunctions.
* In Los Angeles in 1990, hundreds of mostly Latin janitors fought attacking L.A. cops in a struggle to defeat the bosses' contracting-out swindle.
Now this century begins with the dockers' rebellion in Charleston. Workers are still choosing the option of fighting back. But an essential ingredient has been missing in these mass working-class struggles: turning them into a revolutionary solution to our class's problems. We saw a glimmer of that in the recent election of a PLP member to the executive board of San Francisco MUNI transit workers as their contract approaches. But all these struggles, while heroic and directed against a variety of ruling class forces, are still attempts to change conditions within the bosses' profit system, capitalism. Unfortunately, this keeps workers on the treadmill of reform. Holding state power, the bosses always find a way to wipe out these reforms.
We need to opt for the revolutionary solution--overthrow of this oppressive system and its replacement by communism, led by the communist PLP. There has never been, nor will there ever be, anything else that will end bosses, profits, sellouts and a wage system that forever keeps the workers of the world in all levels of misery. Then and only then will the working class determine what to produce and how to share according to need.
If we are to have a more significant impact on a rising wave of struggle that Charleston may be signaling, we must be more deeply immersed in the unions, churches and other mass organizations, so we can lead more class struggle while fighting for the political leadership of the working class.
Ecuador, like many other countries in Latin America, is ripe for revolution. The 12 million people here Ecuador can no longer live in the old way. The country is on the verge of hyper-inflation, the average wage is under $10 a month, throwing most people into abject poverty, and it has had six different governments in three years. But a REAL revolution--to overthrow capitalism--needs a mass communist party. That is the missing ingredient in Ecuador.
All this might be an acute, but not unique, example of what is happening in most of the world today. It is a direct result of the crisis of overproduction, which sharpens the capitalist-imperialist dogfight over who is going to control the world's markets, cheap labor and natural resources (especially oil).
Oil is Ecuador's main export. Overproduction has kept oil prices low for several years (until recently when its main producers agreed to curtail production by about five million barrels a day). For Ecuador this has meant billions in lost revenues, drastic cuts in social services, high unemployment and hyper-inflation. To make matters worse, the European Union (EU) has barred imports of Ecuadorian bananas, the country's second main export. This is also because of overproduction (the EU can get more than enough bananas from its ex-colonies) as well as a reflection of inter-imperialist rivalry: U.S. companies own Ecuador's bananas.
The political in-fighting is also a product of the rivalry between the U.S. and EU imperialists for control of Latin America. Deposed Harvard-educated President Jamil Mahuad was a U.S. lackey. He favored imposing the U.S.-controlled IMF austerity programs (to bleed the workers dry to pay U.S. bankers). He also wanted to privatize the government-run industries (oil, electricity, mining, etc.) so the U.S. bosses could buy them cheaply, and he made the U.S. dollar the country's currency (which helps U.S. bosses compete against the Euro).
The organizers of the first coup represent those Ecuadorian bosses who want to ally with European imperialists. Colonel Lucio Gutierrez, Antonio Vargas and Carlos Solorzano were the original triumvirate that deposed Mahuad. Gutierrez represents the middle officers of the armed forces who are populists and nationalists (anti-U.S.) like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. They are against U.S.-pushed neo-liberalism, and sympathize with the reformist indigenous and workers movements.
Antonio Vargas, the leader of the indigenous movement CONANIE, is against the IMF, privatization and the "dollarization" of the currency. Izquierda Democratica (a social democracy party) supports the demands of the indigenous movement.
But this movement is no threat to capitalism. The leaders are using the just aspirations of the Indian masses and anti-racist forces to pursue their personal goals and those of the bosses. As Vargas puts it: "We don't demand anything; all we want is to change the country....eliminating all the corruption that exists. We are an absolutely pacifist movement and I think that thanks to it, a civil war was averted. We never attacked private property....[and] will show that the people could get power without voting and without violence, thanks to their will expressed in the streets."
The second coup saw the U.S. bosses recouping their lost ground. With threats of isolating the new regime and the backing of the armed forces' high command, they installed Vice-President Gustavo Noboa as President. Noboa will continue implementing Mahuad's program, especially his "dollarization."
U.S. bosses have temporarily recovered the upper hand here. But the situation is very fragile. Two factors will certainly intensify: the anger and hatred of the masses, and the inter-imperialist dogfight. Ecuador's problems are not unique. Peru's are similar. Venezuela is drifting further away from the U.S., and so is war-torn Colombia. Ecuador and Peru are crucial to the U.S. bosses' plans to invade Colombia, if need be. Both are proving to be very unreliable. This might force the U.S. to go it alone. This is a sharpening situation.
Instability and capitalists' desperation do not bode well for the working class. No imperialists or capitalists, be they European, Asian, Latin or U.S., will benefit the working class. No politicians or pseudo-revolutionaries, be they Gutierrez, Vargas, Mancayo or Chavez, can lead the working class to its liberation.
The PLP grouping here has a huge task ahead of it. We can and must grow in the middle of this deepening crisis and provide the missing ingredient workers and peasants need to get out of this living capitalist hell: communist revolution.
* Capitalism is falling apart everywhere, but it won't collapse unless we build a mass communist movement to bury it.
* The bosses' armies are not as faithful to capitalism as it may appear; many soldiers can be won to fight for a workers' society.
* Only a mass, armed revolutionary struggle can establish a new social order benefiting the interests of workers and peasants. We must never negotiate with the class enemy. If we don't take power when we can, we lose.
* The mass media are tied lock, stock and barrel to the capitalists; they lie and distort our struggles to favor their masters.
* By themselves, the Indigenous people (30% of the population) cannot achieve emancipation. They need the support of the rest of the working class. The hammer and the sickle represents the unity of workers from the cities and the countryside.
* Communist revolution is the only road towards workers' emancipation.
* It doesn't matter how many times the bosses change presidents or economic models under capitalism, workers will always be exploited as long as the bosses rule.
* The so-called democracy of capitalism is actually the class rule of the bosses. It can never act for the majority of people.
* Only when the working class led by a communist party leads the revolutionary movement will we achieve emancipation for our entire class.
* Only a communist society--where production is geared to the needs of the masses of people--can benefit the interests of workers and peasants.
* We need an international mass communist movement, uniting workers, students and soldiers of all ethnic groups and countries, to free us from
the living hell of capitalism.
Researchers didn't send consent forms in Spanish, though Candida and Jose speak very little English. They obtained Candida's consent by phone, then signed her name on the consent form. The mother, who was at work, requested that the lab part of the test be postponed until she could be there. But she was told that they wanted to complete the test in one day so that her daughter wouldn't miss school. Maria was then surprised and frightened when she was subjected to a 15-minute "carbon dioxide" test to see how quickly she would panic. Researchers were studying the "association between abnormalities of ventilatory physiology and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents."
The article about the study, titled "Ventilatory Physiology of Children and Adolescents With Anxiety Disorders," was published in February 1998. The first name listed among the researchers is none other than Daniel Pine, one of the NYSPI researchers (together with Gail Wasserman) of the fenfluramine study on 6-10-year-old black and Latin boys. Under "Subjects and Methods" the authors write: 15 children or adolescents without psychiatric histories "were recruited to the study through advertisements." "Subjects were evaluated through parent interviews by one of three clinicians..." All subjects and their parents were then "clinically interviewed by one of three child psychiatrists..." During the carbon dioxide challenge "parents remained in adjacent rooms..." Proper procedure, slick, but all lies in Maria's case and probably in others.
Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center has instituted clinics and "teen screens" in the public schools in NYC, mainly in the largely latin and black District 6 in Upper Manhattan and in high schools in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. NYSPI's Dr. Timothy Walsh patronizingly speaks of their "obligation to help the community" and the "strong support of people in the community." Those people are mainly school administrators and some local politicians and professors.
To some degree, the clinics and surveys provide basic health services. But other aspects are dangerous for the working class. One is mass "diagnoses" of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children. When Juana's son, Roberto, was "diagnosed" with ADHD she protested and wanted information before putting him on the widely prescribed drug, ritalin. The counselor in his elementary school in District 6 then threatened to call child services to report her for child endangerment. Afraid, Juana complied. Since then she has investigated her child's needs and is ready to speak out about how she was treated. She has contacted local activists.
Teen screens, or surveys, in high schools are also being used to "identify" students with so-called violent, aggressive or negative disorders. One Bronx high school student, whose only "behavioral disorder" was that he didn't pass two classes, was referred to a study at NYSPI. Teachers at that school protested, the "teen screen" was dropped for the moment and the father angrily removed his son from the proposed study at NYSPI.
Activists in NYC have been protesting these studies for a number of years, pointing out the bogus science involved, the racist nature of the research, the abuse of consent and the danger to the subjects. We have spoken at a number of organizations and churches. On January 16, parishioners at a NYC church debated the issues following a service at which one activist was the speaker. On February 14 we will speak at the social justice group of a large church. We are building support in District 6 and have been asked to speak at a leadership meeting of PTA presidents in the district and at a local PTA meeting in an elementary school.
Communist members of the Progressive Labor Party are consistently giving leadership. We point out the fascist nature of the studies and why liberal institutions are their main backers. We insist on relying on the working class to fight back. We go to legislative hearings and court cases. But we warn that it is a dangerous illusion to believe that the new rules and legislation currently being proposed in Congress and backed by institutions like NYSPI and Columbia University will protect research subjects. Fascism can present itself cloaked in liberal sentiment and design. We discover its content in the stories of Maria, Roberto and the Bronx high school teenager. These children and their families, as well as other workers and professionals, are now acquainted with the PLP. They are learning the value of communist leadership and why the working class must one day destroy capitalism with its racism and fascism.
During breaks you can routinely see small groups of workers in the parking lot. At first we only focused on jokes, personal comments and sports in one of these groups. As some months passed, the discussions became more political; communist ideas began sparking big debates. Who said workers aren't interested in communist ideas? If they could see how long and emotional these discussions are!
"We workers are the creators of all the wealth, even though we're poor," said a PLP comrade. "That's true, but we don't have anything because we're stupid," answered Joaquin with a cynical tone. "No, friend, poverty is created by capitalism," another worker replied. This was the start of a long discussion.
Days later the comrade brought copies of the CHALLENGE editorial which detailed the millions of deaths caused by U.S. imperialism during the past century. He told them to read it slowly and they'd talk about it afterwards.
The next day the discussion continued. "This article only talks about the deaths caused by this country, not the others," said Carlos referring to the other imperialists. The PLP'ers agreed that all bosses are murderers, that only a communist society can change things. "We need a society without money or borders, where production will be based on the needs of the workers and not profits, since these are the things that cause wars which kill workers."
Manuel, who was listening attentively, said, "This is kind of crazy." "No," Carlos interrupted him, "I think it's intelligent. The only thing is it's negative. What you have to do is think about yourself and your kids and stop going around defending others who in the end won't appreciate it." Another worker commented, "No, he has an ideal, and with this ideal, it's possible to do anything."
These political discussions have united us more as workers and have created the opportunity to distribute more CHALLENGES. Now these discussions are planned and sought out. The comrade constantly brings in articles from the bosses' papers and from CHALLENGE, which will tend to spark discussion and debate. The next step toward recruiting these workers to PLP and communist revolution is to invite them to march on May Day, May 6, in San Francisco.
PLP has a plan as well. We want to fight against the politics of accommodation with the growing threats of war and fascism in the unions and increase the level of struggle against the bosses' attacks. In that process, we can unmask the liberal politicians and their friends in the mass movements and prove them to be the main front for the bosses' goal: fascism and war. We need to relate big issues like world war and fascism to the nuts and bolts of union contracts and to the policies we're ordered to carry out on our jobs.
In NYC, the contracts of some 300,000 city workers are about to expire. Workers are angry after a five-year pact that allowed racist Mayor Giuliani to replace 20,000 union-rate city jobs with slave labor Workfare. Some 40,000 men and women are being forced to work off their welfare grants. That contract froze workers' wages and benefits for two years and enacted give-backs. Workers see danger in the mass removal of needy families from public assistance rolls. The billion-dollar surplus in the city coffers comes directly from these attacks on the working class.
Angry workers didn't want to knuckle under to these attacks. For example, teachers in the UFT voted down a tentative contract. AFSCME DC 37 workers did as well. However, the leadership of the 120,000-member district council rigged the vote count and declared the contract "ratified." Without a strong communist-led movement in the unions, the bosses and their junior-partner union leaders had their way.
Communists need to give leadership in these contract fights. Workers don't want to forgo pay raises to fill up the bosses' war chests. They don't want their social service jobs to be used to force the homeless and unemployed into slave labor Workfare programs. Communists can unite with other workers around these issues. We can start by building strike committees in the offices and schools where we work. We can propose union-wide strike mobilization committees in our unions and/or in union caucuses. We can fight for contract proposals to end Workfare, prohibit below-union wage interim job proposals, and protect workers who refuse to sanction or illegally close welfare cases. Within union Political Action Committees we can build the fight against New York State's Taylor Law which makes any strike by government workers illegal. We can explain why this is a fascist law and why the demopublican politicians and union leaders want it.
Communists in the PLP have long understood that in schools, welfare offices, city hospitals, etc., government workers must unite with the working class people they serve. Be it teachers and students, welfare workers and clients, hospital workers and patients-in this class unity is the power to defeat the bosses. Nowhere is the need for this unity clearer than in the "welfare industry" where an attack on welfare clients is also an attack on welfare workers. If the figures in the adjoining box make it clear that these new and harsher measures have been affecting NYC welfare clients, then mass layoffs (which are hitting New Jersey welfare workers in Essex County) are likely to affect NYC welfare workers soon.
Before World War II, when the Nazis were building fascism in Germany, the civil servants played a pivotal role. They enforced racist fascist laws, bought into the bosses' ideology and sent their sons to willingly fight and die for fascism. Workers in the U.S. can make a different choice. With leadership from the PLP, we can become a bastion of struggle against the bosses' fascistic attacks. We can start fighting for our class needs by joining together to march with our international brothers and sisters on May Day, and by joining the PLP in building a Red Army to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a communist society.
It's been more than two months since the strike of 10,000 workers at Social Security began. The first demands were to follow the agreement signed on December 8, 1998, which promised a pay hike. The bosses have shown one more time they're at war against the working class. They'll sign a thousand agreements, and ignore them when it suits their class interests.
A little history: elections for union leadership had been scheduled for December 16, 1998. Oscar Aguilar (an anti-communist lieutenant of the bosses) had felt threatened by a new group of militant workers who opposed the openly sellout nature of the union. Aguilar's leadership group, planned, together with the boss, had planned to stop them.
Eight days before the election, Aguilar and the then Social Security Director, Dr. Castillo, announced a "big victory" for the union, a pay increase. And on the 16th,--surprise, surprise--Aguilar & Co. won the union election.
Then the new Social Security director of Social Security arrived, along with another surprise, the bosses had planned for the workers. The new director declared management had never signed any agreement for a pay increase. They no longer needed the support of the union, which had played its role of pacifying the workers.
Now, almost three months into the strike, a Social Security worker says, "The only thing that keeps me going in this struggle is the desire to get the fired workers their jobs back. The union leadership has sold out, and only used us to keep their jobs." It's hard to fight the cynicism that workers fall prey to because of these unions, but we must be clear that the unions are capitalist tools to keep the workers under their control.
The present Social Security director claimed that both the workers' union and the doctors' union have agreed to privatization in many documents. She says she's surprised that now they say they're against it.'
The workers and doctors of Social Security have carried on this reform struggle conscientiously, but have been led by sellout, pro-capitalist leadership. We must stop following that road, being easy prey for the bosses because of such traitorous leadership.
PLP has always supported workers' struggles but has always said the only solution to the crisis of capitalism is to fight for workers' rule, where there are no bosses. The agreements between unions and bosses are only one form of delivering the lives of the workers into the hands of the capitalists and their system of profit and exploitation.
The bosses had listed 40 workers for layoffs. Their explanation? The hospital was in "financial trouble." In this case, the layoffs had nothing to do with Medicaid cuts, which were rescinded. It had everything to do with competition between hospitals for profits.
In this hospital, health care workers are told every day to take care of crowded wards and keep a safe and clean environment for the patients. A committee was established and leaflets were distributed informing the workers about the bosses' plan. So far, the committee has found jobs for some workers in other hospitals. The remaining workers threatened with layoffs were placed in other hospital departments.
Meanwhile, the Local 1199 union leadership was working jointly with the New York Hospital Association bosses to expand the Health Reform Act and bar any cuts for three years. However, this would not stop hospitals from laying off workers, merging or closing altogether. They're still capitalists, competing against each other for profits.
Despite "poverty" cries, the hospital CEO's got huge salary increases last year. To top it all, they're subcontracting work out and bringing in low-paid workers. That's where working jointly with the bosses gets you, a "promotion" to lieutenant of the capitalist class.
In the last few years the capitalist health care system faced many crises, with more to come. The federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997 included $3 billion in Medicare cutbacks to hospitals in New York State. The HMO's denied reimbursement for health care services, claiming that many were not medically necessary. The growing number of uninsured workers has passed 43 million.
The drive for profits and the competition between the hospitals, the insurance companies and the capitalist-run government places profits perilously above patients' needs.
But there is another alternative for the working class: fight to build a mass communist party in the 21st century to lead a communist revolution. Then we'll have a health care system for the entire working class without wages and profits.
A lot of people think "The Hurricane" is a good movie. As far as acting, photography, drama, it's okay. But this is supposed to be an historical political film, and using history and politics as measurements, the movie fails dismally. In fact, it's a lie.
Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, a ranking boxer in the 1960's, was arrested and convicted for murdering three people in Paterson, New Jersey. A young fan, a bystander, was also sentenced with Carter to life in prison.
I lived near Paterson then. Everyone knew the case was a frame-up. It was during the strongest period of civil rights and anti-imperialist war protest, and politically Carter was considered a pretty decent, outspoken guy. A perfect target for the cops.
Few believed he would ever get out. They knew the case was fixed against him, as it is against so many, especially young black men.
Through the years, Carter's lawyers got him a new trial and tried to appeal his convictions. After over 20 years, long after it was proven that the cops' "evidence" was manufactured and testimony was lied and paid for by the cops, it was too scandalous a case to be ignored. It had support from famous people like Bob Dylan. The convictions were overturned. Whatever other political considerations, it had become too embarrassing to ignore.
The Hurricane, though brings in alternative versions of these facts. In the film, several people from Canada take up Carter's cause and force the legal system to release the two convicted men.
But though he did have supporters all over the world, all the facts had been known for years. There was no real new evidence found, because the state really didn't give much of a damn what most working class people know too well: there is rarely justice for the working class.
Norman Jewison, the director of this movie, smeared romance and mystery over very bald-faced facts. (In a recent Nation magazine, one of Carter's lawyers, who worked for free for years to get Carter out, presented convincing evidence that the Canadians had nothing to do with the overturning of the case. They were just supporters, like many Carter had had for years.)
This distortion may be excused by the needs of drama. But why did the movie lie? Because if the frame-up actually was known all along, then the government kept these two men in jail against all the phony "rules" only the rich really ever benefit from.
Hollywood leaves us with the conclusion that, in the long run, "the system works." Even if it took 20 years, he got out. But anyone with any degree of political smarts knows Hurricane Carter is not the only prisoner convicted for something he didn't do. There are people in jail who are guilty, but there are tens of thousands who were simply caught in the injustice system. The movie tries to convince us we live in a country where rules matter. (And once Carter was released, what happened to the people who framed him? Nothing, because it wasn't "a few racist cops" who did it; it was the system itself!)
Nothing that appears in a film is an accident; it's no accident that the American flag is shown flying over the courthouse when Carter is freed.
This director seems addicted to lying. Back in 1967, the height of the civil rights era, just after Carter's conviction, the director made "In the Heat of the Night." Cops and sheriffs all over the country were killing and beating demonstrators. Guess who the surprise hero of the movie turned out to be? Right, a racist southern cop, who came to realize he had to support the black people he hated. Oh, give us a break!
Another one of his films was "A Soldier's Story," a truly horrible movie which claims that rampant racism in the U.S. army during the 1940s also was cured by a vigilant "justice system." I'm not making this up.
But it's not this one director. The problem lies in a system that robs us of our working class histories and its heroes.
We have to learn and tell our own story.
On January, 14, French military chief Pélissier announced a plan to hold a series of military exercises along with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, during the first half of February. The bosses of all these Gulf countries are trying to break away from U.S. rule. French oil and gas companies have interests that differ sharply from Rockefeller's. The major French companies, Total and Elf, want to end U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iraq. These sanctions have murdered a million Iraqis, mostly children, since 1991. But that's not the concern of the French oil companies. They want the sanctions ended because they're anxious to take full advantage of multi-billion dollar investment deals they inked several years ago to rake in oil profits from both Iraq and Iran. U.S. competitors China and Russia also have a stake in similar deals. The French arms industry is now the Persian Gulf's third biggest supplier.
These arms sales make fat profits for French death merchants. But the contracts are mainly connected to French strategic energy interests. Because French oil giants have a large investment in Qatar's South Pars gas fields, France and Qatar signed a "defense co-operation agreement" last October, which will station French military forces in the region.
These joint military exercises and agreements like this one aren't harbingers of peace. The fight to control Persian Gulf oil, which is still the cheapest and most plentiful in the world, is getting sharper. Of course, the French military machine isn't capable of taking on the U.S., and the exercises don't mean that a major showdown is imminent among the big imperialists. But, like other recent developments, these events indicate a very general long-range trend.
The scramble for oil super-profits increasingly pits the U.S. against every other major capitalist power. The French-led joint exercises planned next month are both straws in the wind and an attempt to test the waters. U.S. rulers aren't going to sit idly by while Exxon Mobil's most important competitors from Russia and France scheme to hack away at U.S. command of Persian Gulf energy.
The build-up toward an inevitable military confrontation between the U.S. and other imperialist powers is a slowly maturing process. It won't happen overnight. However, renewed oil wars in the Persian Gulf are another matter altogether. Every one of the four major U.S. presidential candidates has foreign policy advisors who advocate U.S. ground action to take over Iraqi oil. This is the biggest hidden factor of the current primary campaign. Imperialism always leads to war. Rockefeller's next expedition, to make Iraq safe for Exxon, and to keep France's Total and Russia's Gazprom out, can't lie too far in the future.
The CGH (Strike General Council) countered with a mass meeting to demonstrate that the strike continues to have the support of hundreds of thousands of workers, students and teachers in Mexico City. The striking students declared that they won't give in and will continue to defend their demands. It's expected that in the coming days the State will act to violently break the strike.
PLP urges U.S. students to organize rallies against the fascist attacks on the striking UNAM students. We fight for working-class internationalism.
Five of the student demands involve stopping the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of working-class students. The sixth demand, for a representative body to run UNAM, reflects the fight between various capitalist groups who are fighting over the University.
This fight over UNAM reflects the struggle for power among the bosses in the upcoming presidential election. It's becoming clearer that this struggle revolves around two conflicting ideas about the university and the country. One is the free-market model maintained by the current rulers, who have been joined by the liberal PRD. The PRD has stopped being the leading representative of the nationalist bosses' sector. They now support the privatization advocated by the neo-liberals and their imperialist cohorts.
The PRD is now doing the capitalists' dirty work that was traditionally done solely by the PRI. The PRD is leading campaigns to disqualify students, defending the proposals of the Dean of the University and preparing the ground for repression of the strikers. The PRD is also trying to show its imperialist partners that it, the PRD, is more trustworthy and efficient in privatizing the Metro (Mexico City subway) and in beginning the privatization of the electric company. It's no accident that Juan Sanchez Navarro, powerful businessman and the PRD's ideological leader, has given his support to PRD candidate Lopez Obrados for Mayor of Mexico City. This makes it likely the PRD will continue to govern here.
The nationalist option, abandoned by the PRD, has been adopted by other activists in the strike leadership body. The group of advisors to the student leadership body continues to try to frame this strike as one " "in service of the nation." They talk of the broad struggle against the technocrats in power who serve the World Bank and the IMF. This rampant nationalism is a trap for the working class. It means fighting to liberate ourselves from one group of capitalists only to fall into the clutches of another equally criminal group of exploiters. These nationalists attack the World Bank to make themselves and their allies look good. But they want to control state power themselves, and to mislead students and workers into supporting them.
The student strike can win a big victory if students understand that scientific education serving the workers can only be achieved by getting rid of all capitalists and imperialists. Then more students will concentrate on organizing together with the workers to fight for communism. This is the alternative offered by PLP. Join us! There's no "lesser evil" capitalism or imperialism. Free Market capitalism or nationalism (state capitalism): they're both deadly for the workers of the world!
While it may seem that high-tech upstarts are making big inroads into the Eastern Establishment, the opposite is true. The main Rockefeller wing of the U.S. ruling class actually came out on top in these deals. The biggest capitalists are tightening their grip on the economy and the media so that they can better compete with their foreign rivals and, when the time comes, go to war against them.
The New York Observer (1/17) declared Time's chief Gerald Levin the clear winner: "Mr. Levin has maneuvered America Online's pretty-boy chief executive, Steve Case, into becoming the Wall Street poster boy for Time Warner itself. And this in turn, Mr. Levin hopes, will enable Time Warner to shed its image as a media dinosaur and reposition itself as a `new media' Internet company. He'll still effectively control the company in spite of Steve Case's title as chairman of the board."
Significantly, AOL-Time will have its headquarters in New York, under the watchful eyes of the bankers, and not in Virginia where AOL is based. The move targets Time Warner's overseas competitors. The day after it was announced, a German AOL director quit. He represented the German media giant Bertelsmann,which has been battling Time for control of Britain's $20-billion EMI recording operations. Time has just taken it over.
Time Warner stands squarely in the Rockefeller camp. "Saving Private Ryan," which said that killing and dying for U.S. imperialism was sweet and beautiful, typifies Time Warner's message. The merger gives the rulers' main wing millions more outlets for such murderous lies.
In both the Time-AOL and Schwab-U.S. Trust combinations, the supposed "acquirers" wind up losers by grossly overpaying for their "prey." As analysts discover the truth of the new arrangement, AOL's stock is falling and Time's is rising.
On U.S. Trust, the Observer (1/24) notes: "It was a sale that was not a sale. The old bank serving the let-them-eat-cake class now gets to have its cake and eat it, too. San Francisco-based Schwab is paying a whopping 64 percent premium for the company, yet U.S. Trust is retaining its name, its workforce, its board of directors and its New York headquarters. Founded in 1853, U.S. Trust is America's oldest trust company. It managed the fortunes of the Astors, Whitneys and Rockefellers."
Beleaguered as they may be, the heirs of these robber barons remain in power. Our Party's goal is to remove them through the ultimate hostile takeover, communist revolution.
The discussion started off about a fundraiser the PTSA is organizing for the students' scholarship fund. It then veered toward the topic of our next PTSA meeting, standardized testing. I expressed to her the frustration that parents felt when they picked up their children's last report cards. Our students still are not doing well in math and science.
I asked her about tutoring programs for the students. She said she provided tutoring on Saturday, but no students showed up, so it was a waste to pay teachers to just sit around. "The parents are not making their kids come, so what can the teachers do?"
I told her she could not just blame the parents. I didn't think there are any parents out there who want their children to fail. We must to find some way to get the students the help they need and the PTSA wants to help in whatever way we can.
The only thing she could enthusiastically come up with was for our PTSA to organize a student trip to Cook County Jail to impress upon them that this is where they could end up if they don't watch out. Sandy (the other parent ) immediately told her, "I expose my sons to positive experiences, not negative ones." The principal unenthusiastically agreed to have a table at report card pick-up to sign students up for tutoring on specific dates. Can you believe she trains new principals?
After leaving her office, the principal-in-training (who attended our discussion) approached me when we discovered we have a mutual friend in the PTSA from his previous high school. He said he thought our conversation with the principal was interesting. However, he thought she was right about not expecting the school system to change.
I told him they were both absolutely wrong. "There is a political and ideological fight going on in the schools as well as throughout capitalist society. We as parents should instill in our children the idea never to accept the status quo. That's the principal's job. Our job as parents and my role in this PTA is to fight for our children to learn how to change the world, and to involve ourselves in fighting inside these schools. You never know when people will understand what's really happening, especially as contradictions sharpen."
He then responded by saying, "So you're a `smoke eater'?" I looked at him and said with a slightly light-weight attitude,"What's a smoke eater?"
"Well," he said, "I had a friend who was a teacher and his role in the school was to suck up all the smoke so everyone could see clearly." I looked at him more thoughtfully, this time dropping the attitude and replied, "Yes, I guess so. We will have to talk again." This conversation really made me appreciate our responsibility as communists in the mass movement.
Midwest Smoke Eater
He told me that the bosses there ordered all the NTE custodians (89-day employees) to work their 8-hour shift as custodians, then work another four hours MANDATORY OVERTIME on the mail. When they finish at 3 A.M., there's no bus service back to the city.
His analysis is correct--the bosses are able to get away with these attacks because many of these NTE's are young black and Latin workers who desperately need these $7/hour jobs to survive. The union refuses to represent them, so they're stuck. "Do what you're told or get fired, there's 1,000 other workers waiting for your job," is what the mostly black racist supervisors tell them.
However, there is something we CAN do. Number one is to get our newspaper CHALLENGE to as many workers as possible. That's the only way workers will understand why these attacks are happening. Second, we need to spend time with the workers, build strong ties, personal and political. Third, we must be active in the union, to be able to help lead all the struggles and conflicts invovling these postal workers. This way, we can expose the union leaders not merely as sellouts, but as active agents for the bosses.
Chicago Postal Worker
He was drafted by the Army to fight in the Korean War as a young man. He fought with all black 24th Infantry Division and spent most of his time in heavy fighting on the battle lines. He saw a lot of death and had to kill others himself in order to survive. He seldom spoke of his experiences there, being of a very modest and unassuming nature. He was in the Army when Truman issued his order desegregating the Armed Forces. He participated in some of the many rebellions that the black soldiers organized to protest the discrimination they faced.
He came home, married and raised a family. He worked two jobs most of his adult lift, retiring from his day job at Alameda Naval Air Station after 37 years, while working at Del Monte Cannery on the night `tuft for 27 years. All through these years he fought back against racist discrimination, filing (and winning ) many grievances on the job. At one point, after the war, he was attending some dances that were organized by the Communist Party of the USA and as a result the FBI came knocking on his door. They produced pictures of Charlie at the dance. They told Charlie that these people were communists. He was unimpressed and kept going to the dances anyway. The FBI kept coming back. Finally they asked him if he owned a .38 caliber revolver. Charlie was contemptuous . He said, "Why do you ask me that question? You already know the answer. I have a .38 and it's registered-- that's how you got the information in the first place." So the FBI agent said, "We want to know why you own this gun." Charlie's answer came right back, "Because I_m a black man living in America." After that, the FBI stopped coming.
At his funeral, a long line of people got up to speak about how Charlie had helped them. He became a surrogate father for the kids next door after their father died. He did chores for people all the time--people who were struggling to survive in his neighborhood. He was especially good with youth, always advising them to work hard, get their education, and stay out of trouble. He was a loving father to his children. He drove his grandchildren to school and picked them up every day. It became clear from the many people who spoke at his funeral that Charlie was a beacon of strength to all who knew him.
Charlie's qualities reflect the best that is in the working class--borne of centuries of struggle against oppression if you neded help, Charlie was there. You didn't have to ask him. He was a man of his word. He asked nothing for himself. He met his responsibilities faithfully and without fail. He was kind and gentle, but if you needed correcting he would tell you so in a straightforward manner.
We will miss Charlie Morris. And we'll take inspiration from his example.