Boeing Strike: Shutdown The Warmarkers
Solidarity With Boeing Strikers
Pogrom In Spain: Fascism Spreading Across Europe
Big Bosses Groom Latest HeroMccain: War Criminal Favors Gulf War Ii
Oil War II Is Next U.S. Prezs Number 1 Job
Rethinking Education Under Capitalism
PLP Raises Red Flag At Bosses T.U. Conference
Sweeneys Globalization Garbage Sours Domino Strikers
Imperialist Dogfight Over Colombia:
Dominican Youth: Dont Praise The Lord, Build PLP
Salvadoran Workers Fed Up With Fmln, Links To Euro-Imperialists
The Movies Of Luis Bu˝uel Show: Art And Class Struggle Do Mix
Communist Youth Page In the House
Goodyear Flattens Italian Workers
Red Youth Hates School: What to Do?
Cradle Red, But Not Red Enough
Moved By "Hurricane"
Its Capitalism Thats Genetically Dysfunctional
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
PA HS Student Fights Anti-Communist Brainwashing
That Beep You Heard On Your Pager Was Racism
SEATTLE, WA, Feb. 10 "When the fighting Machinists honor the SPEEA picket lines, it will bring this strike to a quick and successful conclusion," declared an IAM (International Association of Machinists) member addressing tonights union meeting. He had finished, but the debate was just starting.
Nineteen thousand SPEEA (Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) workers went on strike yesterday against the Boeing Company (the largest war plane producer in U.S,) in what many are calling the largest white-collar strike in U.S. history. This surprised Boeing since only 12,000 in the bargaining unit of 22,600 are actually members of the union. Technical workers, who comprise slightly less than half the bargaining unit and earn salaries similar to blue-collar IAM workers, led the way. Many had had worked in the shops and participated in strikes before. Even so, the vast majority of Engineers, who average about $57,000/year, also walked.
Everyone expected the Machinist contract, signed last fall, to set the pattern. Despite raking in billions in profits, Boeing had other plans. Since the mergers with McDonnell Douglas, parts of Rockwell and now Hughes, the company signs dozens of contracts with different unions; sometimes even different locals of the same union sign different contracts at different times. The crisis of overproduction is particularly sharp in aerospace. The battle amongst the worlds aerospace firms, intensified by this crisis, takes on political dimensions, as this industry is crucial to war production. Boeing decided it needed to set a new pattern. It picked SPEEA in Seattle as a good target because it is a union with no history of militancy or strikes, and the fact that it is Boeings second largest union means its defeat would have a big impact on thousands of other Boeing workers.
Despite the ominous implications for the next IAM contract fight, the IAM leadership has been conspicuously absent from the many expressions of solidarity. Teamsters and railroad workers are refusing to cross the picket lines. When one member at the meeting called for the IAM to honor the pickets, he was called a hothead by the leadership. Other members and shop stewards jumped to his defense.
"Theyre labor, damn it," said another speaker at the union meeting. "Im proud they got the smarts to walk, but theyre new at this. We have the obligation to teach them how its done!"
The union leadership cited the "no-strike" clause in the IAM contract to justify our crossing the picket lines. "What will it take to get rid of that clause?" shouted another member from the floor.
"Youll have to strike for six months," answered the hack.
"O.K., lets strike for six months!" shot back the fighting Machinist.
Another union official tried to divert the conversation. "Im not going to talk about SPEEA," he started.
"Then sit down!" shouted yet another member.
Another, older shop steward, who was not inclined to shout out his opinion, approached the member that started this brouhaha. "Ive been coming to these meetings for 20 years," he began by way of introduction. "Ive got respect for that union official, but he shouldnt have called you a hothead."
"Oh, dont worry. Ive been called a lot worse," our friend assured him.
"Yeah, but, still, he shouldnt have called you that. Anyway, you are right! If we all honored that picket line that would be the end of that damn no strike clause!"
Meanwhile, rank-and-file Machinists are taking matters into their own hands. Were joining the line at lunch. As the strike goes on, more blue-collar workers are participating: bringing coffee, snacks and pizza along with our own picket signs. Some of the picketers swear they are going to have to go on a diet after this strike is over. Our party is proud of helping organize some of the more regular trips to the lines.
The IAM has a tradition of marches through the plants as contracts come up. Our Party helped initiate those marches. We should organize such marches to the plant gate in support of the strikers. No doubt, well develop other imaginative ways to build strike support.
In order to "up the ante," rank-and-filers are circulating a union resolution for members to sign linking prison labor and unity in the working classuniting white and blue collar, different jobs, different wage grades, mental and manual laborto the need to honor the picket lines and May Day. This may not be the easy road, but the alternative is to sit back and get used to crossing picket lines!
Many Machinists are upset about crossing the picket lines. The union leadership and even some confused members are looking for excuses to justify their actions. SPEEAs motto "No Brains, No Planes" doesnt help anyeven thought SPEEA announced on their Web page they didnt mean to offend blue-collar workers. "The Engineers will have to get off their high horse if they are going to get real support," warned one rank-and-file leader.
Capitalism separates mental and manual labor. The boss justifies exploiting blue-collar workers more by promoting this conflict. To further divide us, the capitalist, in true racist fashion, makes sure few black and Latin workers become Engineers.
The capitalists believe their ideas are the most important element in production, not the sweat and smarts of the working class. But without the latter, there would be no production. Only a communist revolution can resolve the contradiction between mental and manual labor. Collective labor, with each contributing according to their commitment to the working class, will replace college degrees on the wall.
Building working class unity, in struggle with the most exploited leading, will help prepare us to take power. Therein lies the potential for success in this strike.
As weve struggled to build support for the SPEEA strikers among our fellow workers, some honest and sincere friends have asked us, "Why do you communists always want to promote more class struggle to up-the-ante?"
You cant learn everything from books. Practice is primary. As the working class engages the bosses in sharper and sharper class struggle, our class learns how to gain and hold power. We learn how to resolve contradictions within our classracism, sexism, mental and manual laborto bring a higher level of unity to our battle with the capitalists. We learn whos our friends and whos our enemies in these struggles. We deal first-hand with the reformist traps.
Labor peace is an illusion. Whether we fight back or not, the bosses need for maximum profits forces them to continually attack the working class. They are continually upping the ante. So our upping the ante becomes a question of survival. Indeed, building a revolutionary communist party becomes the clearest expression of the needs of the working class.
SEATTLE, Feb. 16 Blue-collar workers throughout Boeing have "adopted" the picket lines near their work buildings. Some are spontaneous expressions of support. Others are more plannedcomplete with "Adopt-a-Picket-Line" posters in the plants to recruit aid and around-the-clock shadow organizations to get the material to the picket lines. "You guys have really showed us about solidarity," said some picketers to IAM members joining the lines at lunch. "We want to do more," the factory hands answered. We all agreed that the real way to take on the bosses would be for all of us strike together.
EL EJIDO, Spain, Feb. 15 "What nerve the European Union has in criticizing us. Look at the pogrom against North Africans in Spain," wrote an Austrian newspaper. It was right: racism and capitalism go hand in hand all over the world. Hundreds of racists, organized by fascists, went on a pogrom against Moroccan and other North African farmworkers in El Ejido. The three-day racist rampage took place after a mentally ill Moroccan supposedly killed a Spanish woman. The immigrant farmworkers reacted with a strike that shut down production here. Eventually, the bosses and the government made a deal with the workers, which included replacing homes lost in the pogrom, investigation of the pogrom, normalization of the immigration status of many of these farmworkers, etc.
The "McCain insurgency" is the bosses latest gimmick for drumming up interest in the 2000 presidential campaign. In 1996, more than half the electorate stayed home rather than vote for Clinton or Dole. This lack of participation in the profit systems electoral circus has the rulers worried. They want our enthusiastic support for the office-seekers who help them exploit us, oppress us, and lead us into oil wars.
In the wake of the Clinton scandals, more people than ever have become cynical about politicians. The bosses understand this. Theyve decided to misrepresent McCain as the "anti-Clinton," a man of "character" and "integrity." Well, lets take a closer look.
John McCain is the son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals. During U.S. imperialisms war of genocide in Vietnam, he was a Navy attack pilot. His squadron carried out daily terror bombings against Vietnamese civilians. In other words, McCain is a mass murderer. His plane was eventually shot down, and he spent several years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. After World War II, of the handful of Nazisnot nearly enoughwho got the death penalty for war crimes, some had committed fewer atrocities than McCain. But of course, for U.S. rulers, McCain is a "war hero."
This background gave McCain his start in politics. At first, he flirted with the "New Money" crowd who wanted to horn in on the Rockefeller financial empire. Remember the "Keating five" and the Savings and Loan scandals of the 1980s, which threatened hundreds of thousands of workers life savings? (Eventually workers taxes will help pay for the more than one TRILLION dollars this fraud will wind up costing.) McCain was involved in all that up to his eyeballs. But then he figured that the Establishment offered him a better future, so he cast his lot with, and supported, the military-industrial complex barons who stood to reap billions from NATO expansion.
Next, McCain saw the wisdom of joining the Rockefeller camps campaign to launch the next ground war for oil in the Persian Gulf. In fact, as late as March 15, 1999, he gave only lukewarm support to the U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia, calling instead for action against Saddam Hussein. This is a straight Rockefeller position.
But McCain wasnt yet entirely won over to the Exxon Mobil camp. The BP Amoco faction of the rulers managed to dangle a few carrots to woo him temporarily away. Only two weeks later, at the end of March, Wall Street brokerage giant Goldman Sachs managing director John Thain became McCains fundraising chairman. Goldman is BP Amocos main financier. The firms share two board members. On April 13, McCain demanded ground troops to protect BP Amocos Balkan pipeline project.
But last summer, "shifty John" the prodigal son returned to the fold. The McCain campaign began benefiting from donations pouring in from Rockefeller-affiliated money houses like Brown Brothers Harriman, Merrill Lynch, and Fidelity. Rockefeller mouthpiece Henry Kissinger hosted a New York reception for McCains book launch in September. Early this year, Laurence Rockefeller, Jr. personally ensured McCains appearance on the New York State presidential primary ballot. Laurence and his father are the Rockefellers most closely associated with the "environmental" movement. CHALLENGE readers may remember that the liberal environmentalists provide the point of attack against the domestic Oil Patch barons attempts to compete with Rockefeller energy companies.
As we reported last week, McCain, like the other three candidates, is now pushing for the next Gulf War to protect Rockefeller oil. He may have bounced around in the past, looking to sell himself to the highest bidder, but he seems to have found religion, and he knows his lines.
This election is about finding the candidate, Democrat or Republican, who can line up the most working-class support for the Rockefeller agenda of liberal fascism, imminent oil war, and eventual world war. This week, McCains presidential chances appear to be improving. But regardless of who winds up in the White House, our job as a class is not to be fooled by any of these stooges for the big bosses. Millions have already stayed home on election day. But staying home isnt enough. This vicious system has to be destroyed; merely ignoring it only allows it to continue.
The best vote a worker can cast is for a commitment to the struggle for communist revolution. The only way to make this commitment is to join the Progressive Labor Party. The best way to start is to march with our Party for communism on May Day 2000.
Last weeks CHALLENGE editorial demonstrated that Gore, Bradley, Bush and McCain all have foreign policy advisors urging U.S. imperialism to launch its next Middle East oil war as soon as possible. Every day evidence mounts that Gulf War II is already front-burner priority for the next president. The New York Times is leading the way, with daily articles, editorials and op-ed pieces warning about Saddam Hussein and his "weapons of mass destruction."
The Boston Globe, wholly-owned by the Times, reflects the thinking of the Rockefeller foreign policy inner circle. A February 13 Globe editorial called Saddam Husseins continued "defiance" of U.S. rulers "the most flagrant and protracted failure of President Clintons foreign policy." It accused Clinton of trying to "ignore, obscure and represent the threat from Saddam." It ended by demanding that the Iraqi ruler "be forced to permit weapons inspections or be removed from power," and demanded that Gore, Bradley, Bush and McCain make "the failure to contain [Saddam] a central issue in the current presidential campaign."
There are barely microscopic differences among the candidates on this matter. The Rockefeller interests arent going to allow their Russian, Western European and Chinese rivals to make separate deals for cheap Iraqi oil. The 2000 presidential campaign will blow a lot of hot air to mobilize working-class support for a new version of "humanitarian" genocide in the Persian Gulf. U.S. rulers are already the greatest mass murderers in history. Theyre about to add to their record. Our Party must organize now to lead mass opposition against this imperialist slaughter whenever it breaks out.
CHICAGO, Feb. 16 "As communist teachers, we have the responsibility to go beyond the curriculum to educate todays youth," said a PLP teacher at the education conference held here January 22-23. High school students, parents and teachers from New York and Chicago focused on the crisis in the public schools, the role of communist teachers, and developing high school youth as mass leaders in the face of growing fascism.
A PLP member active in the schools as a parent gave the first report. She focused on the long-term struggle for communist revolution. Although inevitable, the process has been slowed by the defeat of the old communist movement. While U.S. bosses face many serious contradictions, for the moment they face no mortal threat either from a revolutionary working class or other imperialist powers. The rulers ability to get away with murder, from wiping out welfare to bombing Iraq and Yugoslavia, gives the bosses room to maneuver. Despite their temporary strength, they have failed to win workers and youth to be loyal storm troopers. We can build a mass PLP, but were in for a long hard fight.
Another PLP teacher reported on the need to integrate communist politics into our classrooms, while teaching literacy and educating our youth. This is vital for a mass PLP and a communist future. To maintain their system of wage slavery, the bosses schools are training working-class youth to be non-thinking. In Chicago, teachers have been forced to use scripted lesson plans. We need critical thinkers, curious and hungry for knowledge.
A comrade who recently finished her student teaching gave a third report, on increasing fascism. Its dangerous, she said, to be passive in the face of metal detectors and cops in the schools. When she was a high school student eight years ago, the first metal detectors were put up in her school. Her class responded with anger and rage in protest. She said, "Now students dont respond at all they just accept it on daily basis." Others pointed out that high school students are subjected to random searches, with little or no protest from anyone. This passivity is due in part to the bosses creating racist hysteria about "unsafe schools" and "dangerous youth."
A young comrade from Curie HS said she was suspended for three days for taking pictures of her friends in the hallway. A student from Morgan Park HS reported he was accused of being a terrorist for bringing a carpenters mask to school to show his friends. "They thought I was going to bomb the school!"
Several Brooklyn youth said theyd been mistreated by some teachers and administrators because of how they dressed. Two other students said they disliked going to school. One said it was too stressful. The other felt that teachers were not interested in teaching.
This part of the conference ended with the question, "What can we do to educate our youth in this period of developing fascism?"
The next day students and teachers met separately. We agreed to create a CHALLENGE youth section, written by young comrades and addressing issues they face. Teachers also agreed to stay in touch, sharing ideas and lesson plansparticularly to improve our raising of communist politics in math and science classes while still teaching the curriculum. And we vowed to have more conferences like this.
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 14 "We have to organize workers all over the world," declared a worker from Latin-America. "The capitalists are global. We need a great leader and that is a communist party. I came here looking for a communist party."
"You have found one," replied a PLP member.
That exchange occurred at a PLP forum held during a lunch break at the Open World Conference in Defense of Trade Union and Independence Rights.
Attended by workers from many countries, the forum was in sharp contrast to the Conference, which talked defense, defense, defense for three days. "Defend the International Labor Conventions (the ILO)." "Defend trade unions and democracy." "Defend National Sovereignty!" It detailed the global attacks on the working class, but only rarely did a maverick speaker explain their causecapitalism.
Coming from 70 different countries, each delegation was given time to present its issues. Every militant or class conscious idea was applauded. An African speaker pointed out that every year, U.S. bankers suck $35 billion out of Africa, saying that capitalism and imperialism had to be smashed. Revolutionary ideas kept breaking through in the workshops, too. A delegate from Brazil spoke of the origin of racism in the birth of capitalism and slavery. A delegate from India explained how all Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) were agents of imperialism.
The biggest applause came when a garment worker from LA spoke. She explained how 150,000 garment workers in LA sweatshops remain unorganized through no fault of their own. Groups of workers repeatedly approach unions like UNITE! and repeatedly the unions fail to follow through. Most sweatshop owners are Korean, and the workers come from many countries. She described organizing a struggle that united these workers.
This was not a speech of complaints and statistics. Here was a leader who was changing the balance of forces. Small of stature, her head barely above the podium, we were thinking, "If she can do it, we can do it too!" She introduced a petition that attacked prison slave labor in the U.S. and the AFL-CIO for supporting it. She got a standing ovation and the entire conference chanted, "Obreros, Unidos! Jamas Seran Vencidos!" ("The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated!")
When the conference opened the next day, the reactionary leadership condemned the petition for "slandering" the AFL-CIO. The petitioners asked for five minutes to defend their message, but were denied. So much for "Trade Union Independence and Democratic Rights."
Also, by this time security was following us. PLP was the only force to raise the crisis of overproduction. We showed how the death, destruction and impoverishment of the worlds workers were caused by capitalism, and only a communist revolution could liberate us.
Even a reactionary conference can open up opportunities to meet militant and political workers, and build the PLP. We set up an "unofficial" literature table and sold CHALLENGE while leafleting for our forum. We raised our May Day demonstrations in the workshops and with individual delegates. We were able to involve many friends in this conference, and this helped them understand how the Party fights for our politics in the mass movement. Everyone who helped us was energized. One worker joined the Party.
At the forum, a veteran worker said he liked PLP and CHALLENGE, but didnt agree with abolishing wages. A production worker with several years seniority replied, "[The conference organizers] want to restrict us to fight within the system. But we will still be wage slaves. We go to work every day and give the bosses the creative part of us that could be developed. But we in PLP fight for that creative part. Our liberation will mean being able to develop all the things a human being can be."
No wonder the agents of capitalism follow us. When workers like the unionist from India, and the LA garment worker grasp these ideas, the revolutionary movement will become an unstoppable material force!
BROOKLYN, NY, Feb. 15 "We were out there and we were cold. Our feet were cold. Our hands were cold. Sometimes the way the wind whips off the river, it feels like 35 below. The only thing that kept us going was we didnt want them to think the cold was going to stop us. Theyre always looking for weakness."
So stated Domino Sugar striker Robert Shelton, one of 300 workers who have been out for eight months against Dominos parent company, the British "global" conglomerate Tate & Lyle, one of the worlds largest sweetener producers. In an extraordinary display of working-class unity, not one worker has crossed the picket line.
With all of AFL-CIO president John Sweeneys blather about "fighting globalizations effects abroad," he, the NYC Central Labor Council and the workers own union, the International Longshoremens Association, have done zilch for these workers, victims of the globalization Sweeney is always crying about. The Labor Council, "representing" two million union members, has contributed the paltry sum of $9,000.
The workers are from a myriad of backgrounds (see "Red Eye" column, page 7). Through scorching summer sun and fierce winter winds blowing off the East River, the workers have held fast against company demands to lay off 100, virtually abolish seniority, eliminate full-time job guarantees, and slash sick pay and holidays"in order to compete globally." The company is using a small number of scabs but the strikers say normal daily production of 4,000,000 pounds has been cut 90%.
Last week another Domino refinery in Louisiana was struck which might pressure the company, but the Brooklyn strikers unemployment insurance runs out later this month. They need all the help that rank-and-file workers can give them.
The magnificent class unity displayed by these workers answers the bosses lie that workers are somehow "different" because of their color or capitalist-created "nationalities." All workers belong to one class, the one thats exploited by the ruling class. The strength of these strikers, once combined with the fight for commnist revolution, will be able to destroy the wage slavery profit system that has put them in their current bind.
U.S. BOSSES DIVIDED OVER ITS COLOMBIAS POLICY
Last week the U.S. Congress started debating Clintons $1.3 billion aid package for Colombia, including $955 million for military assistance. Up to last week, it seemed that the U.S. ruling class has opted for the "military card" to deal with the Colombian "drug problem" and its 40-year old civil war. But, like in all major foreign policy issues facing U.S. bosses, contradictions abound.
The New York Times (2/13), Rockefellers main mouthpiece, criticized this military card for not being "a realistic strategy to fight illegal drugs or to establish peace and stability. Instead it risks dragging the U.S. into a costly counter-insurgency war Peace talks .represent the best solution to both the drug problem and the war."
The NYT/Rockefeller position stems from the need to concentrate most of their military efforts in the Persian Gulf. Control of the Middle East oil is crucial for Rockys Exxon-Mobil oil empire.
But other U.S. bosses dont see the Middle East as strategic for their interests. Their priority is protecting their interests in Latin America now. Their outlook is more of a "Fortress America." They listen to "Republicans in Congress ..warning that the Clinton White House risked losing Colombia to rebel groups ." They understand the strategic importance of Colombia. (Stratfor, an internet news service, 1/28) puts it this way:
"As Colombias troubles spill across its borders and drug logistics intersect with U.S. oil supplies and the Panama Canal, the ability of the U.S. to ignore the problems is limited. Indeed as global great-power rivalries increase, the willingness of the other great powers to use these conflicts as a means for containing the U.S. cannot be discounted. The northern tier of Latin America (Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and Peru) is more dangerous than it appears."
Even within the Rockefeller camp there is both disagreement and a changing of positions. After all, Clinton is a Rockefeller man. But his aid plan, if approved, "will end the peace negotiations between the rebels and the government and re-ignite the war. Ultimately, the plan does little more than pave the way for greater U.S. involvement." (Stratfor (01/28).
According to Stratfor, the government doesnt appear to want a peace settlement right now. First, it could give the guerrillas permanent control of the demilitarized zone. U.S. officials claim that this area is a major producer of coca and a main cocaine corridor for Bolivia and Peru. So the drug problem would not be solved. Second, allowing the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombiaits major guerrilla movement) a free range in this area, which borders Venezuelas oil fields, would leave that country vulnerable to FARCs incursions. Venezuela is a major U.S. oil supplier. Oil, not drugs, is at the heart of this conflict.
But such a peace treaty now would give the European-backed FARC a major say in the Colombian government. This would have an important impact in Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Mexico, where some sectors of their ruling classes want to dump the U.S. bosses and ally with the Europeans. Allowing European influence at this level has always been unacceptable to all U.S. bosses. Yet the Rockefeller gang is advising Clinton to support the European bosses brokered peace process! This might not be so easy to win.
Of course, all these contradictions reflect on the Colombian ruling class. One week President Pastrana is in the U.S. lobbying for money for his Peace Plan. And later Colombian officials announced in Sweden (2/9) that an " end to Latin Americas longest conflict was closer than ever before, after secret talks with the countrys main Marxist guerrilla force." After Sweden they will convene "in Norway, and travel together to Italy, Switzerland and Spain." (Reuters 2/9) The peace accord claims it would also eradicate drug trafficking from Colombia.
Even though U.S. bosses claim to be "top dogs" in the imperialist world, their competitors are not accepting this quietly. The European imperialists are taking advantage of U.S. bosses worldwide. They can see their difficulties in (1) grappling with their "Vietnam Syndrome;" (2) in trying to fight on two fronts, Iraq and Colombia, simultaneously; and (3) trying to organize a regional army capable of invading Colombia.
Understanding all this, the Europeans are gaining ground, intensifying their efforts throughout Latin America. They supported a failed coup in Ecuador last month. They are on the brink of brokering a peace accord in Colombia. They support several Salvadoran ex-guerrillas in office. President Chavez in Venezuela leans toward the Europeans. European bosses broke into the energy field in the 70s and are now major producers of oil and gas in South America. They now surpass the U.S. in investments in Latin America.
The Rockefeller gangs advice to Clinton to support the European peace process is a retreat, possible a strategic one. The rest of the ruling class may disagree or be unwilling to accept it.
But whether Clintons aid plan is accepted, rejected or modified, one thing is certain: the inter-imperialist rivalry in Latin America will intensify, eventually leading to war. If the plan is approved, "In two years .. the U.S. will be forced to send more money or more troopsor both." (Stratfor 1/28).
If not approved and the European peace process succeeds, eventually U.S. bosses will need to counterattack. If they cant do this through elections (U.S. anti-drug Czar McCaffrey holds that the guerrillas could not win at the ballot box) or by their death squads exterminating ex-rebels, they will once more start their genocidal war.
But that is their concern. Ours is to build a mass communist PLP to eliminate all contradictions within and between all the capitalists by eliminating them all with communist revolution.
DOMINICAN REPUBLICA PLP youth club here agrees with the idea that writing for CHALLENGE about our Party-building is very important. Here is our first attempt.
For several months we have been working with some workers and students, discussing our newspaper DESAFIO-CHALLENGE and "Jailbreak" (PLP pamphlet on Dialectical Materialism), to win them to become communists.
In our last meeting we talked about religion and the role this idealist philosophy plays. We discussed how it has helped the rulers and exploiters throughout history make us believe that the rulers wealth and the masses poverty is a divine decision (Gods will).
With that in mind we agreed to go to church, not to "praise the Lord," but to build the Party among the many young men and women there. We want to explain to them the real reason why there are poor and rich and that we will only transform the world by building a communist society led by Red workers and youth.
We have also made a plan to help the party sell DESAFIO and distribute leaflets at factories. We are also planning a camping trip to help build May Day among many youth. We are clear that we are the future of the working class, and that by winning more workers and youth to PLP the day will come sooner when capitalism will be a thing of the past.
SAN SALVADOR On Feb. 12, about 200 people came to a meeting in San Miguel that opened the FMLNs (former guerilla group) national electoral campaign. On the same day the other political parties, the PDC and ARENA launched their activities. All were similar: a low turn-out and a lot of speeches. Thats because the working class lacks interest in demagogic speeches that dont meet the needs of our class. All these electoral parties have government positions supporting the economic power of the bankers. They all have the same objectives: exploitation and repression of the working class, serving the profit system.
A veteran FMLN member at the meeting said, "None of the candidates have a revolutionary ideology. Theyre all opportunists!" This is the feeling of many people whove been "forgotten" by the FMLNs old and the new leadership. "They only call you when they need to fill the chairs in their meetings. This is lousy," said another ex-guerilla fighter. Such comments are common.
At this meeting we met an old member of PLP who had emigrated years ago. He was happy to again meet with PLP members and agreed to attend the next meeting of our PLP club/study group.
PLP has said for many years that theres no lesser evilwhether its a government led by the FMLN, financed by European imperialism, or a government of ARENA supported by U.S. imperialism, its just more of the same exploitation.
Capitalisms job of super-exploiting the working class is being distributed more "equally" among the different electoral parties. Today we see more mayors and deputies from the FMLN challenging the old ruling class to see who can exploit our class more and better. The World Bank, the IMF, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the European Economic Community are the ones making the rules of the game in these elections. Whichever party wins, we workers lose.
Therefore the question arises: will these elections resolve the poverty, crime, unemployment, etc., to which the workers are subject? The meetings small turn-out and the election results confirm the answer: "No!" The capitalist system cant give workers any more, and we workers know elections wont solve this. The only solution to the problems of our class is organizing the fight for communism, being led by PLP.
Our class alternative is not voting but to fight this deadly situation we face. This May Day we must take our communist message to the thousands of workers celebrating our international workers day. Well be there to say that only under a communist system will we live better, and only with PLPs leadership will we achieve our goal.
The Oscar nominations were just announced. This years Academy Awards show wont have last years controversy, when PLP and many others picketed Elia "The Rat" Kazan being given a special award. Kazan is an example of the point of this letter.
The reason that 95% of todays movies suck in form and content is because there is no good social content. Despite all the crap the public is fed about how politics and art dont mix, the best art is art that is political. Kazan stopped making good movies when he squealed on his fellow communists and gave their names to HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee).
In my opinion, there are presently very few good movie directors and even those are not great compared to Eisenstein, Bu˝uel, etc. The latter were inspired by the great working-class political struggles of the first half of the 20th Century: the Bolshevik revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the anti-fascist struggles, the Chinese Revolution, etc.
This leads to my point: to honor Luis Bu˝uel on the 100th anniversary of his birth (February 22, 1900). Although Bu˝uel began as a surrealist, and his movies were greatly influenced by this, in 1932 he broke with this movement and joined the Communist Party of Spain (PCE).
El Cultural, El Mundos literary magazine (Madrid 2/13) reprinted the letter Bu˝uel sent to Andre Breton, the French poet and the father of surrealism, where he said, "I did not believe in the possibility of an apparent violent contradiction between the surrealist and the communist discipline. But the latest events have shown that these two activities are incompatible It is impossible today to maintain a closed concept of poetry above the class struggle. This word closed is what makes me disagree with you. The subversive value of poetry outside of this class content will only be subjective..."
Bu˝uel used his talent on the side of the working class and the fight against fascism. His film, Las Hurdes (1932), was banned because it exposed hunger in rural Spain. It was made soon after he broke with surrealism. In 1937 he was sent to Hollywood by Spaons Republican governmentwhich was fighting the Hitler-supported Franco forcesto advise U.S. filmmakers about the Spanish Civil War. Then the order came from Washington not to make these movies (the Roosevelt administration, although offically "neutral," actually helped Franco). During World War II Bu˝uel worked in Hollywood, turning Nazi propaganda into its opposite, anti-Nazi films. When the Cold War began in 1946, he was fired and went to Mexico.
While in Mexico, Bu˝uel made "Los Olvidados" which describes capitalist poverty as a horror for young people. His film "Viridiana" (made in 1961 in Spain by deceiving Francos censors) is one of the best movies ever made exposing the Catholic Church and feudalism. One of the scenes in "Viridiana" satirizes Leonard Da Vincis Last Supper. It was a superb movie. Indeed, Luis Bu˝uel was a superb artist for the working class.
YO! YO! YO! This is a call out to all the youth in and around the Party, from Coast to Coast, from the U.S. Midwest to Central America, from Mexico City to Santiago, Chile, and anywhere in between. Voice our opinions, struggles, questions, criticisms, reviews about movies, music, books, etc. Whatever you are feeling needs to be known. The PLP is starting a new Youth Page made for and by youth. You can send in artwork, poems, letters, raps, etc., basically how you feel like expressing yourself. Send us everything you have.
Youth Page Collective
Politicians and bosses always tell us to defend the national economy and the companies we work for. They never stop demanding sacrifices to "save our jobs." The deeper the economic crisis, the bigger the sacrifices they demand, so "our company" can compete in the global market. In this way, the bosses tie us to our bosses, build a nationalist "culture" and prepare us for the logical conclusion of capitalist competition: war for markets and higher profits. Communists, contrary to reformists and union leaders, reject this defense of the bosses economy and their state.
A current example is Goodyears intention to close its plant in Italy. For several years, Goodyear has pushed for more productivity among its Italian workers, who have improved production techniques, enabling the plant to function better. The bosses have pitted its Italian workers against their fellow Goodyear workers in Germany, France and Poland.
But in spite of higher productivity and sacrifices, Goodyear will close in Italy. This again, has taught us the hard way that: (1) capitalist competition, and defending "our" company and "our" country, are harmful to our interests; (2) when workers sacrifice for the company and the rulers, only the bosses benefit; the workers lose; and, (3) when workers are loyal to "their" company, we end up competing with our fellow workers in other countries. Again, the bosses win and we lose.
When workers increase productivity in one company, we hurt our fellow workers and ourselves.
When the British coal miners struck in 1983, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher bought scab coal from Poland. This helped defeat the strike. Today coal miners in Poland are also losing their jobs and being attacked by the return of open capitalism. The answer to globalization, and the attacks of capitalism, is organizing international unity of the working class to destroy capitalism.
A Comrade, Italy
Im a high school student from Chicago. Like other Party areas, we have been having a big struggle about the role and importance of schools. Im a red diaper baby [a child of a communist] and its been my personal practice for a long time to pretty much disregard the necessity of school. Now that Im in high school and the Party has been waging this huge campaign for students to do well in school it has become very hard for me to change.
There are a few reasons why this transition has been so difficult for me: 1) I really dont want to change, and 2) I still dont see the relevance of some of the subjects that they teach us in school (Algebra, Trig, Chemistry, etc.). Like most of my classmates, math and science are the most difficult for us. We dont see how they relate to our daily lives or our futures. So we dont apply the time and effort it takes to pass these classes. My teachers in both of these subjects have been feeling the frustration that we have been feeling for a long time and it saddens me to see that they are "burning out" at a rapid pace. Both of these teachers would really like to see their students understand the concepts that they are trying to teach us, but most of the students in these two classes find the curriculum extremely difficult, and most end up failing.
The struggle being waged with me is that as communists, we need to be able to understand this capitalist system, what they teach, and how to defeat them. I agree we need to understand the system, and how to defeat the bosses. But most of what they teach is lies, and what they dont lie to us about I dont feel we need to understand in great depth. For instance, I agree that we need to know some forms of math and science, but I dont think that most of us need to know how to balance a chemical equation (Chemistry) or Algebra Trig altogether. I say most of us because only some of us will become astrophysicists and nuclear scientists.
I know some other students agree, and some others think Im wrong. I would like to hear both sides so please write back. I wrote this letter to get some feedback and to start some debate about the school system and how other people feel about it.
The recent movie "The Cradle Will Rock" was a welcome change from the crap that movies and TV usually offer, a well-meant, beautifully done telling of the 30s, the depression, and left-wing art. Unsurprisingly, the movie was attacked by much of the press, notably the New York Times pimp Walter Goodman, who wrote a snide review, predictably attacking Tim Robbins for making the movie at all. (Robbins wrote a really good reply to the Times, Jan. 23.)
Im grateful for any movie that attacks capitalism, and especially the murderous Rockefeller family, as was done here, and if it shows leftists in a good light, so much the betterhow often do we get that treatment? How were normally treated is through lies and attacks.
The Challenge review properly noted that neither the movie nor the play of the same title was communist art. I would like to further emphasize the point. Both the movie and the original play are good, they told fine and significant stories.
But we should keep perspective, even while we enjoy the filmits too easy to settle for crumbs, calling some movie that may be sympathetic to the working class "revolutionary," when its just sympathetic to the working class.
Twenty years or so back, I saw a production of the play "The Cradle Will Rock," probably off-Broadway. It was touching and exciting, but I most remember one interchange between the big capitalist Mr. Mister and the union organizer Larry Foreman. Mr. Mister is telling the workers how great everything would be if they only stopped fighting for a union. "There will be nurseries for the kiddies, swimming pools, cars," that sort of thing.
Larry Foreman comments, "I thought we just wanted a union."
But isnt that the whole problem with trade union politics? If the bosses in good times (if theyll ever come back: much of the industrial base has been laid off) did manage to build a municipal pool, a nursery, etc., would Larry Foreman have been satisfied? I hope not.
The reality is theres no "fair share" for the working class, and no body knows this better that the bosses, who are taking the largest percent of the wealth since capitalism started. The clichÚ "The rich get rich and the poor get poorer," should properly be "The rich get rich because the poor get poorer."
Lets not lose sight of our goal: To take it all away from the rich so society may be run by and for the working class.
I was happy to see "The Cradle Will Rock," and as Challenge noted people should take their base to see it and discuss it afterward. But remember its essentially a romantic look at an era when the bosses screwed up their system and then further tried to exploit the workers by throwing them on the streets to starve.
The play more or less suggested that, but of course it didnt go one step further and say we need a revolution and communism to keep the ruling class from ever making a comeback, as they have done in Russia and China.
North Country Comrade
That I loved "The Hurricane" is only important when one considers why. This movie made me angry at racism (a positive thing, I would say). Nor would I attribute this to an alleged state of politicization that I have put myself through, as many of my friends got the same message who would see themselves as "good liberals."
Secondly, nothing was mentioned in the review of the movie about relationships. This movie moved me deeply, and that is important politically. There was no mention of the Afro-American youth who turned his life around by his contact with Carter.
It does concern me as someone who gets so much out of CHALLENGE that the review seemed a little bit created by a rigid standard of what is politically correct. Of course the movie is capitalistic and not revolutionarythat, at least in my mind, does not mean it is not an important movie.
Last Sunday, I gave a talk about racist psychiatric testing of inner-city youth to a congregation in Virginia. Over the past year I have done this for nine other churches and organizations. Usually I just speak extemporaneously and refer to notes. This time I read from letters, testimony and a prepared text. The presentation, while much more complete in details, came out too one-sided. While generally open and appreciative, the audience got the impression that I was against all psychiatric research and treatment, which is not the case.
Time and again, as a patient advocate as well as a parent, I have seen children (and adults) who suffer genuine mental illness (usually caused or exacerbated by capitalist society) and who benefit from treatment, including medication. But these represent only 2-3% of the population, not 18-20%, as the medical establishment claims. Fueled by a drive for drug-company profits, and more importantly, by a need for tighter and tighter social control, the ruling class, especially its dominant Rockefeller segment, is steamrollering the idea that all mental "dysfunction" is genetic and biological. They claim the primary example of this lies in inner-city youth who rebel against inhuman conditions of housing, education and medical "care."
This dangerously fascist position must be opposed by all patients, educators and health workers. In my speaking rounds I have met dozens of honest people who want to understand this phenomenon more deeply and to fight back against it in some way. Our chief job is to sharpen struggle and friendships with them in a way that explains the overall perspective of the Progressive Labor Party and to recruit as many of them as possible.
If youre a movie-goer whos also interested in the history of sports and politics, go see this documentary about a great ball player. Greenberg was born into an immigrant Jewish family and lived in the Bronx, New York. He was one of a very few Jewish baseball players and was subject to rampaging racism because of his religion. He came to the Detroit Tigers in 1934. That city was a hotbed of anti-Semitism.
The movie depicts the arch pro-Hitlerite, racist and anti-Semite Henry Ford who, along with GM and Chrysler, ran Detroit; the fascist "priest" Father Coughlin and his Nazi rantings; and a Madison Square Garden in New York City filled with German Bund followers.
Hank Greenberg was a great home run hitter who hit in the clutch with a high batting average. He vehemently fought anti-Semitism which took a lot of guts when such racism was the rule in baseball as well as the country as a whole. He once entered the Chicago White Sox clubhouse after a particularly vicious vebal attack from their dugout and Challenged all those John Rocker types to admit which ones had showered him with this racism. Not one of those spineless cowards opened their mouths.
When Jackie Robinson broke the color ban in 1947, Greenbergin his final seasonwas involved in an accidental collision with Robinson at first base. Greenberg helped Robinson up and encouraged him to answer back the way Greenberg had: by showing these racists up with great play on the field. Robinson later acknowledged that Greenberg was one of the few white ball players who had publicly shown support for him.
When Greenberg returned from the army after World War II, he said he had come to the conclusion that all religion was harmful, that it divides people and even leads to mass murder.
The films photography is excellent. Many parents and grandparents brought their offspring to see it. Given that the ruling class censors so much history, when many people are unaware of the role of the Henry Fords in those days, I strongly recommend this film.
I am a high school student at a school in Pennsylvania and I have some problems learning math. I read the article on math in CHALLENGE about how others have trouble too. This week the students were told that the teacher of the week was a math teacher. The announcement said that her favorite book of all times was "The God That Failed," which I learned was a bunch of essays from people against communism. Some students thought the book was about religion, and the teacher was saying "God failed." I thought that was funny. That book is hardly read by anyone. The annoucement also said that her favorite movie was "The Hunt for Red October," based on a book by Tom Clancey, who I read gives talks at the CIA.
Then they said her advice to students was to make your own choices to succeed or someone will make them for you. Then it all made sense. She was always giving me dirty looks. (I wear a hat with a red star on it.)
Last week she reported me to the office saying I had been grabbing girls in the hall and hit one on her butt. The letter was sent to my parents, and I was given detention. She tried to picture me as a sexual harrasser of girls. That is just crazy. She doesnt like me cause she is a fanatic anti-communist. No wonder people would have trouble learning from the old witch.
Also, a history teacher who saw my hat told me that his buddies died fighting people like me. I dont advocate communism in school but I raise questions and I make mostly good grades. I told him it wasnt a communist hat, and that was the truth cause I bought it at a record store in a mall.
These people are nuts in the head when it comes to communism. They dont call those who are racist and some with shaved heads Nazis and bother them. Just wanted to let this be known.
Student Against Capitalist Brainwashing
Im sure it will come as no surprise to CHALLENGE readers that our schools are becoming more like jails every day. One of the more obvious manifestations are the metal detectors now required in all high schools. Some schools, primarily those in the so-called "high-crime" black and Latin neighborhoods, have had them for a long time and always keep them on. Other more affluent, largely white magnet schools only recently started using them occasionally. Over 1,000 students per year have been arrested during these various metal detector checks.
If these students were carrying weapons, like. knives or guns, these arrests might be justified. But over 90% of these arrests were for the heinous crime of carrying a pager! The Chicago City Council decided in 1988 that pager-carrying students were gang-banging drug dealers and should be hauled off to jail. This law is racist in that it only affects the mainly minority Chicago School District, and not the white suburbs where students carry pagers without any repercussions.
In the winter of 1998, this was raised at a city-wide high school PTA meeting. At that time, while some of us pointed out the fascist, racist nature of this law, others still felt it was necessary to insure the safety of our children. During that year we struggled with various PTA members to change their minds, and by early 1999, the city-wide PTA voted for the City Council to repeal this law. The School Board was asked to join in the request to repeal this law, but they refused. During 1999, as more and more white students were arrested because of increased use of metal detectors at the magnet schools, pressure grew to repeal this law. Finally this month, the School Board joined in the PTAs request to repeal it.
At last weeks City Council education committee meeting, Chicago School CEO Vallas testified that mainly "good" kids are getting arrested, and he didnt think that was necessary any longer to maintain safety of the schools. However, he wants to continue to ban pagers from school, with students being suspended and pagers confiscated, under the school's Discipline Code. All of the Alderman agreed that allowing pagers in school, even if they are turned off, would be a disruption to the education process. They felt no exceptions could be made, because that would open "a can of worms." While Vallas and the Aldermen want to be tough on kids who carry pagers, they didnt seem to care that Vallas pager went off three times during his testimony! The PTA agreed to carry on the struggle to allow pagers in the school.