CHALLENGE, VOL. 36, NO. 23, MARCH 29, 2000

Rulers’ Racist Death Squads Strike Again: Electing Hillary Won’t Reform Racist NYPD

LA HS Youth Walk Out Against Racist LAPD, Prop 21

Editorial: Oil And Control Of Middle East Behind Rockefeller Aim To Split Iran From U.S. Rivals

Washington War Hawks Launch New Cold War

A Look Inside A PLP Auto Club

Auto Workers In A Fighting Mood

One Year After The Ford Blast

Growing Class Unity Makes Government End Boeing Strikel

Workers Lose, Rulers/FMLN Win in Electoral Farce

Fascism: a Monster with Many Faces

Liberals Won’t End LAPD Terror

Movie Review: Life Is Not So Rosy Under Capitalism


Rulers Do Guarantee You a Job: In Jail!


Are NYPD Cops Civil Rights Workers?

What do we do about all this police brutality and killing of innocent workers?

Bradley Campaign Feared Grass Roots

‘Board the Revolution Bus’

The Struggle Continues At Lasalle Steel

‘Boom’: A Leaky Boat in Penn. Coalfields

Three Workers Killed

Rulers’ Racist Death Squads Strike Again

Electing Hillary Won’t Reform Racist NYPD

BROOKLYN, N.Y., March 20 — "We must shut this city down, block by block, union by union. We must attack all the politicians, including the Clinton hypocrites."

So spoke an angry member of the Haitian community at a neighborhood meeting this past weekend, called to organize protests against the latest NYPD murder of a black man. Patrick Dorismond, a young Haitian worker, was gunned down near his workplace in Manhattan last Thursday.

Patrick and a friend were hailing a cab when undercover cops approached him. One of them, not identifying himself as a cop, asked if he had any drugs to sell. Indignant, Patrick told him "No!" in no uncertain terms. The cop persisted anyway. Patrick was angered by the "dealer’s" insistence. When Patrick tried to wave him off, the cop punched him. Patrick defended himself, and the next thing his friend saw was Patrick, shot by one of the cops, lying on the street in pool of blood, gasping for air. He died soon after.

Patrick Dorismond may be the first person killed for saying "No" to drugs! Fascism in New York City in the year 2000 has become an innocent black man hailing a cab and being murdered for refusing a drug offer from a cop.

Immediately, Mayor Giuliani and his puppet police commissioner Safir—after warning the public "not to rush to judgement"—proceeded to do exactly that. They tried to paint Patrick as some "violent criminal" with a "record," as if that, even if true, justified murdering him in cold blood!

It turned out that Patrick had been issued summonses for "disorderly conduct." But it also turned out that the cop Ghouliani praised as a "hero"—Anthony Vasquez—had drawn his gun in a bar fight in 1997, had shot a neighbor’s dog and had domestic abuse complaints lodged against him. So much for "reforming" the NYPD by hiring more black and Latin cops.

This is the third innocent black man gunned down by the racist NYPD in the last 13 months, going back to the slaying of Amadou Diallo in February 1999, and the second in the last two weeks.

This weekend, a large and very militant demonstration was held in front of Patrick's workplace and was attended by many rank-and-file community groups. The protesters tore down barricades and the police were asked not to "escort" the marchers. While politicians and misleaders tried to run the show, calling for a federal investigation, the mood of the protesters was clearly different. People were very receptive to Progressive Labor Party literature and CHALLENGE and some speakers talked about the need to close down Wall Street and the city's business districts.

The political leadership of the anti-police brutality movement, however, is part of the problem. The demands put forward by Sharpton and others include voting for Hillary Clinton and defeating Giuliani for Senator, as well as calling for federal intervention against the NYPD. They are doing this because many workers see the system for what it is, a murderously racist one, especially after the verdict that cleared the killer cops of murdering Diallo. It is the Clinton ruling class that has blood on its hands—from paying for 100,000 additional cops on the streets to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq to tens of thousands in Kosovo. Calling on them to keep their storm troopers in check is ludicrous.

It is the capitalist system that trains the cops to shoot to kill, especially in black and Latin neighborhoods. It is an illusion to think that getting rid of Giuliani will solve the problem. In fact, the intensive growth of the police and "community policing" started under the administration of Dinkins, a black Mayor. Hillary Clinton and the liberal Democrats want to "reform" the NYPD when they know that the role of the cops under their profit system is to control working-class resistance to that system and to its murderous police.

Yesterday, PLP members and friends attended a community meeting and put forward the need to link high school student walkouts to other planned protests. High school teachers and students are planning a weekend of protest, including participating in the funeral demonstration on Saturday and a town hall meeting on Sunday. Within our schools, we are calling for teach-ins and speak-outs, wearing black armbands and organizing a larger citywide protest that would close all the schools for a day. PLP members in the teachers union are raising a resolution calling for job actions and work stoppages.

This year, with the courage and political commitment of so many new members, both teachers and students, to draw on, PLP’s May Day march in Washington, D.C., May 6, looks very bright indeed! It is only communist revolution, the clarion call of May Day, that can bury the profit system which spawns these racist police murderers.

LA HS Youth Walk Out Against Racist LAPD, Prop 21

LOS ANGELES, March 22--Over 500 angry black and Latin students rallied and walked out of Manual Arts High School today against Proposition 21 and racist police terror. Chanting "Governor Davis, tell the truth, Prop 21 is a war on Youth!; Schools, yes, Jails no, Prop 21 has got to go!; Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Police Terror has got to go!" they marched around the school and through this South Central LA neighborhood, drawing a great response from passersby. Students marched to a freeway overpass and held up their signs and banners. They made up many other chants like "You'all didn't need to kill Margaret Mitchell," and "Take our youth out of jail or you racist cops are gonna rot in hell!"

The students who organized the walkout wanted to march to the police station, but not everyone agreed. Instead they returned to school to have a brief open forum in the auditorium. Several students said this fight must continue. Another student invited everyone students to march on the Rampart Police Station on Saturday, April 1st and to come to the May Day dinner this Saturday and the May Day march in San Francisco. The Black Student Union sponsor, one of several who march participants said he believed in democracy and that the students who marched were exercising their democratic rights. He also said he had nothing against students reading CHALLENGE. He just wanted to make sure they saw both sides. He also encouraged students to demonstrate on April 1st.

A teacher in Progressive Labor Party said that students all over the world have been part of the revolutionary struggle, and to really end racism and police terror we need communist revolution. She invited everyone to March on May Day.


Oil And Control Of Middle East Behind Rockefeller Aim To Split Iran From U.S. Rivals

A year ago, Clinton was bombing Yugoslavia back to the Stone Age. Now he’s launching a "peace" initiative in Iran. Workers shouldn’t be fooled by it. Madeline Albright’s "caviar-and-pistachio" diplomacy overtures to Teheran’s holy rollers are just a tactic in a long-range strategy to prevent U.S. imperialism’s rivals from uniting as one bloc. More war is the only logical outcome of this wheeling and dealing.

For over 50 years Iran has played a key role in U.S. bosses’ plans. Iranian oil is a rich prize in itself. But Iran holds further strategic interest for every imperialist who wants to influence events in the Middle East. During the Cold War, it was crucial to the U.S. anti-communist strategy of containing the old Soviet Union. In 1953, the CIA engineered the overthrow of an insufficiently pro-U.S. Iranian government and replaced it with the fascist Shah, who served Washington well for nearly 30 years. During this period, Israel and Iran operated as U.S. client states, forming a pincer to safeguard Rockefeller interests in the western and eastern flanks of the Middle East.

But this couldn’t last. The Shah made a lot of internal enemies and found himself bounced by an equally fascist gang of Islamic fundamentalist bosses with profit interests of their own. Coupled with their defeat in Vietnam, the loss of Iran was one of U.S. rulers’ worst post-World War II fiascoes. They long to reverse it. Their cynical "dual containment" strategy of helping Iranian and Iraqi bosses fight wars with each other during the Reagan-Bush years helped kill over a million young workers in both countries but failed to unseat the anti-U.S. governments there.

Now the U.S. imperialists think they have a chance in Iran. With a weak economy and millions of youth entering the workforce, Iran’s bosses want to attract foreign investment. Washington’s policymakers also figure they can take advantage of splits within the Iranian ruling class.

But none of this maneuvering will lead to peace. Despite the reasons they may have to flirt temporarily with each other, Iranian and U.S. bosses have divergent interests. The Iranians want to become the Middle East’s dominant power. U.S. imperialists don’t want to share power with any of that region’s bosses. This isn’t a recipe for a long, happy marriage. Furthermore, current policy in Washington seems to be in the hands of "hawks," who view war preparations as the only way to maintain U.S. supremacy. They are led by Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former Carter Administration National Security Advisor with a résumé that includes rivers of workers’ blood spilled in Vietnam.

Today, Brzezinski holds no official post but his strategic thinking, as spelled out in a 1997 book called The Grand Chessboard, is an almost word-for-word prescription for Clinton-Gore’s foreign policy. Brzezinski, who was Madeline Albright’s Ph.D thesis advisor at Columbia, also has close ties to other hawkish Clinton-Gore foreign policy gurus, like Richard Holbrooke and Strobe Talbot.

As CHALLENGE has pointed out frequently in the last several years, the goal of the U.S. bosses’ main wing, for whom Brzezinski speaks, is, in his own words, to "maintain global primacy." This implies a classic "divide-and-rule" strategy geared toward preventing "the emergence of a hostile coalition." Brzesinski’s primary fears are a "grand coalition of Russia, China and, perhaps, Iran," and "either German-Russian collusion or a Franco-Russian alliance."

Russian rulers want Iran on their side, as they prepare to restore their own fragmented empire. They and the Iranians have inked a ten-year "peace and friendship" treaty. In 1995, they cemented this love-making with a contract to have the Russians rebuild Iranian nuclear reactors. Russian and Iran rulers have common interests regarding the exploitation and transport of Caspian energy. Their plans conflict with U.S. bosses’ scenarios. French oil companies are also involved with the Russians in Iran. France’s Total, now merged with Elf, signed a 1997 deal with the Russian Gazprom and Malaysian Petras to develop Iran’s huge South Pars gas field.

Until now, the U.S. policy of boycotting Iran has only helped the Russians and French at Exxon-Mobil’s expense. So the Clinton-Gore diplomatic sweet-talk is aimed in part at reversing a profit drain. But the goal is also to nip the Russia-France-Iran alliance in the bud. A further goal is to neutralize the Iranians while U.S. imperialism gears for another war against Iraq. The Russians and French also have major contracts for cheap Iraqi oil. U.S. imperialism can’t tolerate this trend. The U.S. ruling class has defined unseating Saddam Hussein and replacing him with a pro-U.S. government in Baghdad as priorities for the next presidential administration, regardless of who wins the Gore-Bush beauty pageant.

When U.S. rulers go to war, as they did in 1991 against Iraq and again in 1999 against Yugoslavia, the result is only more war. When they pretend to make peace, as they are now doing in Iran, the result will also be calculated in workers’ blood. This is the nature of capitalism.

Brzezinski and the government hawks he advises plan for wars not because of some personal or mental flaw, but rather because the profit system inevitably produces war to protect and maximize their profits. "Caviar-and-pistachio" diplomacy will soon turn into gunboat diplomacy.

As we build for May Day 2000’s mass marches, our Party will continue to expose the rulers’ true intentions behind the lies about "peace." And we will continue trying to sharpen the class struggle with our ideas in the vanguard. This is the best way for workers, soldiers and students to learn that nothing short of communist revolution can get this deadly monkey off the collective back of our class.

Washington War Hawks Launch New Cold War

Clinton’s diplomatic maneuvering over Iran must be viewed as part of a much larger strategic gamble by U.S. imperialism. The Brzezinski hawks, who have the upper hand in the bosses’ foreign policy debates, consider "Eurasia" the main area the U.S. must continue to control in its drive to remain top dog. Iran is obviously an important piece of the puzzle.

But the bigger question concerns NATO. When the old Soviet Union collapsed, a split arose within the U.S. Establishment over the approach it should take toward Russia. The "doves" wanted to reduce tensions with Russia and bring it into the Western market economy. They advised against expanding NATO to include former Soviet client states. The "hawks," led from the sides by Brzezinski and directly by Albright, Holbrooke, Talbott and Anthony Lake, wanted to kick Russian bosses while they were down. They argued for the "fast track" expansion of NATO.

The hawks won out. NATO now includes Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. No less an authority than George Kennan, the main architect of U.S. Cold War foreign policy, called this decision "the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era" (New York Times, 2/5/97).

Communists don’t believe that imperialist wars begin because of "errors" by bosses’ policymakers. War is part of capitalism. But every consequence predicted by Kennan has come true so far. He warned of a rise in "nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion." The rise to power of Putin, the war in Chechnya, and the Russian Duma’s refusal to ratify the START II nuclear agreements confirm this estimate. All these developments are direct responses to the Clinton/NATO 1999 air war over Yugoslavia, which aimed directly at boxing in Russian imperialism. Putin & Co. are ruthlessly suppressing the Chechen nationalists to make the point that NATO expansion will not succeed in breaking up Russia.

In other words, less than ten years after the so-called "New World Order," the Brzezinski "doctrine" has launched a new Cold War. But imperialist wars don’t stay "cold" for long. Unlike the old Cold War, which allowed anti-communist unity to exist among the U.S. and its European capitalist rivals, this one is all about inter-imperialist rivalry. As the Kosovo war proved, NATO isn’t much of an alliance. The Europeans have indicated that they intend to go their own way, independently of the U.S. So the Brzezinski "hawk" position is likely to produce the very anti-U.S. coalitions it identifies as the main danger to prevent. Once again, capitalism produces nothing but instability and war.

A Look Inside A PLP Auto Club

(Despite all the hoopla about the "hi-tech" economy, the bosses understand that manufacturing workers, especially those in basic industries—auto, steel, electrical, etc.—are the foundation stones of capitalism. They add the real value in production, without which the bosses’ system could not exist. They also are the source of all armaments, without which imperialists could not wage war. No wonder the bosses’ fear of communists is greatest among basic industrial workers. As the following article shows, PLP is being built in the "belly of the beast.")

The Party members are mass leaders in this auto assembly plant of thousands. They are leaders on and off the job, and have learned from each other and from their collective experience. One has taught the other about how to lead the workers in class struggle. In turn, the "teacher" has learned the importance of starting every day reading the papers so he can talk to workers about current events and open up possibilities for raising the Party's ideas. He feels he's making progress with one worker.

The comrades have been a major obstacle to the bosses and union hacks. One worker says we need to be more aggressive in putting forward the Party and asks whether we should also be more aggressive in the union. Workers want us to lead. He's concerned that if we don't fight to lead the union, workers will think we're not serious. But he's also worried that leading the union will distract us from Party-building, our main task and the toughest of them all. He knows that the bosses are going to keep attacking, with job cuts and increased productivity, and that "the union can't deliver." He's worried that if we become union leaders and can't stop the attacks, the workers will look at us as "sellouts, just like the rest."

One comrade meets with 8-10 workers on and off the job. His brother and their friend, both new Party members, do the same. He had his wife's family over to the house for dinner, and told them all about PLP, May Day and the need for communist revolution. At work he thinks he's too confrontational with the bosses, and not political enough with the workers.

The club leader says we need to increase the distribution of CHALLENGE through hand-to-hand sales and networks that aren't visible to the company or the union. Another agrees, saying we must open up to more workers. We need to be less fearful and have more confidence in the workers. A third talks about a worker who came and asked him for CHALLENGE. He didn't have any with him at the time, so he carried one in his jacket for a week, looking for him. He distributes most of his CHALLENGES off the job. Inside the plant he finds it very difficult.

One way to make CHALLENGE more central to our organizing, is to write for it more. "That's right," says a comrade. "We have to write more, and learn to write. We have to become complete leaders."

We are taking the long-term view for building the Party and making revolution. We aren't looking for get-rich-quick schemes. Given the tremendous defeat of the old communist movement, the very presence of the Party inside this factory is a significant development. We have worked very hard to get to our current very modest level. We will need more hands, working harder, to advance. But the Party collective is internally stronger than ever, and we're ready to advance.

Auto Workers In A Fighting Mood

"We're living in a crisis," said the boss. "WE’RE not in crisis, YOU are!" answered a worker. This was the scene two weeks ago, at a series of special training sessions in our factory. The boss said, "People are our main concern. We're very concerned about your safety and security." Then he explained why we have to be responsible for production, repairs, cleaning our areas and keeping them safe.

He pointed to a world map, locating all the auto factories. He explained the crisis of overproduction in the auto industry, and how factories were being closed to reduce capacity. He said that over the past ten years, bigger auto companies have gobbled up smaller ones. In the future, only six will survive. "This is the world," he said. "If you want to survive, you have to be one of those six."

The boss complained about poor quality and low production in one department. Workers said, "You always talk about making improvements but it never happens. You're looking to blame us, not solve the problem." Many workers were laughing at the boss. He asked one worker, "You seem very happy. What's you're name?" He gave the name of his favorite baseball player.

The boss said, "Everyone has the responsibility to improve production and quality to survive." He never said the company was in danger, but he threatened our plant. "Another factory builds the same cars as you do. If you don't improve, you'll be on the streets."

A worker responded, "The main trouble with the dashboards is that you contracted out the work to pay low wages. That's the problem. Another fact: from their desks the Engineering Department is planning how to cut back on workers. They don't know what it’s like on the shop floor. You want one worker to do the work of three, in three minutes. Put more workers there." He gave other examples. Then he said, "You talk about safety, but you speed up the line. You talk about quality, but what you really mean is more production. You show us a tape of how Japanese workers produce high quality cars, but we don't have time to go to the bathroom. It's your responsibility, not ours."

At first there was silence. Then the workers let loose with a barrage of complaints, turning the meeting into an attack on the boss. The big boss called in various supervisors to take the heat. He then told the workers to "read up" on how to improve, and ended the meeting.

The next day there was a safety meeting. The boss went on and on about their "concern" for us. Five months ago, an electrician was killed and another lost both legs in an "accident." A worker said, "You're the expert. What happened?" He abruptly ended the meeting. The workers left grumbling, "They have no answers!"

In another department, the workforce has shrunk from 500 to 200 over the past two years.

The bosses are trying to institute the "team concept," to increase productivity. The supervisor tried to lure one worker into being the "team leader." He yelled, "I told you, I don't want to participate!" When he tried to quietly apply more pressure, the worker yelled even louder, "I told you, I don't want to participate!!" Another worker said, "You complain about this department. But you got rid of half the workers and increased the workload. We don't want any part of it!"

The boss is right. The increased competition between the bosses will lead to more plant closings and massive unemployment from Korea to Brazil to Detroit. Today they destroy the factories. Next they will destroy the workers. But the workers are also right. The bosses "have no answers," to increased exploitation and oppression, to fascism and war. We are leading more struggles, but we must increase the regular readership of CHALLENGE. We look forward to a successful May Day and have confidence that we can win the political leadership of the workers.

One Year After The Ford Blast

DEARBORN, MI, March 16 — On February 1, 1999, the No. 6 boiler at the Ford Rouge power plant exploded. Six Ford workers were killed and dozens of others injured in the deadliest explosion in the history of the U.S. auto industry. Last year Ford pocketed $7.2 billion, the highest profits ever recorded by an auto company. Three of the six men killed had filed health and safety grievances, including pipe fitter John Arseneau, who cited leaking valves on Boiler No. 6.

On the first anniversary of the explosion, workers at Ford and Rouge Steel held two minutes of silence for their murdered comrades. Hundreds of workers attended a memorial held at the union hall, only to hear UAW Local 600 President Jerry Sullivan join Ford CEO Jack Nasser to claim this was an "unavoidable accident." In reality, Ford bosses knew of the potential for disaster, but decided not to spend the money to improve safety. UAW officials ignored safety grievances filed by powerhouse workers complaining of dangerous equipment.

The Detroit News (1/28) reported that Ford and Rouge Steel rejected the advice of independent auditors over a 12-year period to install new safety equipment, including replacing the boiler controls at a cost of $10.2 million. A Ford memo warned: "Once the boilers are upgraded, the 'grandfather clause' will no longer be applicable and all present safety standards will have to be met." In other words, if it upgraded the boilers, Ford would have had to spend tens of millions of dollars improving safety equipment throughout the plant. Powerhouse workers also pointed to the inches-thick coal dust that coated beams, ledges and machinery, the result of years of cutbacks in the number of cleaners. This coal dust caused a large secondary explosion and fireball.

Ford agreed to pay a $7 million settlement. In exchange, they admit no fault and avoid a criminal investigation. The UAW got more than $1 million hush money to set up a Ford-UAW scholarship fund. Over the past 20 years, the UAW has helped Ford eliminate tens of thousands of jobs, shut scores of plants and increase productivity in their relentless drive for maximum profits. Uniting with "our" bosses to "beat the competition," is building increased fascism at work, and leading workers to war. PLP is uniting industrial workers of the world in the struggle for communist revolution.

Growing Class Unity Makes Government End Boeing Strikel

SEATTLE, WA, March 20 — Today, the union of Boeing engineers and technical workers (SPEEA) ended the largest ever white-collar strike against a U.S. corporation. The company sweetened the pie by eliminating medical cutbacks, offering a higher wage increase and giving some modest bonuses over the next year. Seventy percent of the workers voted to accept the deal, thus ending the 40-day walkout by 19,000 engineers and technicians.

Large numbers of strikers—even some disheartened souls who eventually voted to accept—thought the company was "on the ropes" and accused union misleaders of "selling them short."

"Joe Weber, a technical worker for 21 years, said SPEEA leaders rushed the balloting to prey on the financial hardships workers and their families were enduring," reported the Seattle Times (3/20).

IAM Leaders Tried To Isolate Strikers

In reality, Joe and his fellow strikers faced even more formidable enemies than the SPEEA leadership. Despite publicly supporting the strike, the leadership of the largest union at Boeing, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), did everything it its power to isolate the strikers. Hundreds of Machinists, either organized by our Party or on their own, joined the strikers on the picket line. Dozens of these activists got Local C to pass a resolution for a "Day of Solidarity." When it came time for the District Council—the governing body of the four Locals in the Puget Sound region—to pick a day, the hacks refused to even allow a vote. They adjourned the meeting before the resolution could be discussed.

IAM chief Thomas Buffenbarger brags that he called Boeing officials to stress that the company’s most powerful union "stood firmly behind the strikers." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 3/18) More likely, he stood firmly gripping a knife behind the backs of the strikers. We Boeing workers will judge the union leadership by what they DID, not by what they said. In this case, public platitudes only hid secret agendas.

The Power Of The State Forced The Deal

The treachery of the IAM leadership stems from the threat this strike posed specifically to a new military aircraft, the Joint Strike Fighter, and to Boeing generally in its competition with the European Airbus. The strike—and, to some extent, our Party’s influence among sections of workers—raised the specter of a Boeing workforce that understood the meaning of class. "There was definitely a class division," Martin Banel, a 21-year Boeing veteran engineer, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "We are all workers now."

The ruling class could not tolerate these developments. "This thing was about to escalate," warned Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. Williams Dickens, a senior fellow at the Rockefeller-run Brookings Institution, was also raising alarms, saying this "new-found solidarity at Boeing and elsewhere could be a harbinger" of the future. These bosses’ top think-tanks are less than pleased with this increase in white-collar worker class consciousness.

The ruling class, the same set of Old Money financiers and industrialists that sit on the Boeing Board, used the power of their state to force a deal. Richard Barnes, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, convened a secret meeting in Washington, D.C., last week. Present were Boeing’s chief negotiator, himself the past director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, other company and union officials and—you guessed it—Trumka. He "played a key role in brokering the agreement in Washington, D.C." according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Just two weeks ago, Trumka gave a seemingly militant speech to SPEEA strikers concluding with praise for the virtues of partnership. The new contract creates a joint "Leadership Council" to "promote partnership." Boeing CEO Phil Condit and Paul Almeida, president of SPEEA’s parent, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, will co-chair the panel. "We need to mend the disconnect that has occurred between the workers and the leaders at Boeing," said Almeida. In other words, we’ve got to erase this new-found class consciousness and replace it with loyalty to the bosses.

Smash The Bosses’ State; Build The Party

The bosses’ schools and press love to go on about how the State—including the government, its laws and agencies—is neutral. In fact, the State is the key organ of the bosses’ control. The law, the Federal Mediation Service and even the AFL-CIO are all used to force the will of a small clique of capitalists on the vast majority of workers.

Make no mistake about it, our class cannot be victorious until we smash the bosses’ state. The AFL-CIO spreads the illusion we can elect a government that can serve the interests of workers, while its leaders sabotage class struggle. We must smash these secret meetings and secret agendas that thwart the will of the working class.

Instead of this impotent labor "movement," with its reliance on electing one or another of the bosses’ servants, we need a general staff to organize and lead the assault on the bosses’ state. We need a revolutionary communist Party. The real victory for Joe and his fellow strikers will be the growth of the Progressive Labor Party, the general staff of the working class.

Our Party aims to replace the bosses’ state, its laws and agencies, with the rule of the working class, communism. This is a long, hard road to travel, but it is the only road to victory for our class. Join us this May Day as we continue the long march to workers’ power.

Workers Lose, Rulers/FMLN Win in Electoral Farce

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, March 13 — "Elections? No, thanks!", said a 25-year-old worker, Margarita Guerrero. "I’m fed up with the same thing," said Luis Aguilar who preferred to go to the beach with his family. This was the principal message workers sent the political parties. The indifference and incredulity of the working class toward politicians competing in the March 12 elections was more than obvious.

Approximately 70% of the 3.2 million people who are eligible to vote did not go to the polls. Workers saw through this electoral show, sponsored by the imperialists of Europe and the U.S. Basically both imperialist groups sponsor their own set of politicians to vie for control of the country.

The winners in the elections were the "born-again" capitalists of the former guerrilla group FMLN. It is now claiming to be the only Latin American "left-wing" force with a "legislative majority." It now praises bourgeois democracy to the skies.

But bourgeois democracy is nothing but one face of the dictatorship of the ruling class. The FMLN will only be useful to the bosses and the imperialists (whether from Europe or the U.S.) as long as it keeps workers under control.

It is up to workers, and we in PLP, to make sure that the FMLN and the various competing bosses don’t get away with their plans to control us to serve their interests. Workers did well by not going to the polls, but that is not enough. We cannot go to the beach and think that this is of no interest to us. We must take action by organizing ourselves. Join us in the PLP this May Day and take a step towards spoiling the rulers’ plans by marching for communism, the only solution.

Fascism: a Monster with Many Faces

What do you think when you see the word fascism? Jack-booted thugs leading helpless victims to their deaths in concentration camps? Yes, but it’s also: (1) a method used by capitalism to maintain power when threatened by revolution, (2) an intensification of the capitalist dictatorship (and racist terror), (3) a limitation and repression of the working class struggle and an increase in class collaboration, (4) a decline of bourgeois democracy, (5) a massive merging of industry and finance, and (6) the concentration of each national ruling class into one group that dominates all internal rivals, enabling them to "solve" any problems by uniting their own class to go to war against competing ruling classes. ("Fascism and Social Revolution," by R. Palme Dutte.)

Fascism is also a process of development, an intensification of the exploitation workers face all the time under capitalism and an ideology justifying the attack on the working class, as well as radical changes in laws and practices institutionalizing these changes.

In the 1930s for example, as fascism grew in Germany, "real net wage rates…declined by 13% during a period of rapidly increasing business activity-a unique departure from conditions and trends as observed throughout the whole history of capitalism!" (From "Germany, Economic and Labor Conditions Under Fascism," by Jurgen Kuyczynski.)

Today, in the U.S., "One can argue about the exact percentages, but something on the order of 80% of the workforce is now experiencing falling real wages.…At the same time, real per capita gross domestic product has risen by a third.…Probably no country has ever had as large a shift in the distribution of earnings without having gone through a revolution or losing a major war." ("Reclaiming America," by Lester Thurow.) Between 1978-80 and 1996-98, the poorest 20% lost $900 in average yearly real dollar income…while the richest 20% gained $34,370 (NY Times 1/19).

In NYC alone, the racist Clinton/Gingrich welfare "reform" law forced 500,000 people off public assistance rolls while 40,000 others are forced to work for nothing more than their pitifully small welfare allotments replacing 20,000 unionized city workers. Throughout the U.S., hundreds of thousands of prison laborers produce everything from clothing, eyewear, furniture, aircraft parts, computer circuit boards to mattresses for as little as 20 cents a day.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of formerly union-wage manufacturing jobs, in aerospace, auto, etc., have been offloaded to subcontractors paying a fraction of union-wage rates. For the millions of workers affected by these policies, fascism is here.

The bosses want and need to build fascism. That doesn’t mean workers and PLP, must sit back and just watch. The Italian Communist Party, in its fight against fascism, had a saying: "they killed and killed and killed us until we grew to where there were two million of us."

PLP cut its teeth in the fight against fascism. In the 1960s, PLP founders were called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) as part of the latter’s anti-communist witchhunt. PLP boldly turned the hearings into an indictment of racist, warmongering U.S. imperialism, forcing HUAC to end the hearings and eventually disband. In the 1970s, PLP led tens of thousands of anti-racists in stomping the KKK wherever it showed up. Similarly, PLP and its anti-racist supporters crushed ROAR, the violent anti-busing movement in Boston. We also fought the ideologues of racism, from Harvard’s Herrnstein in the 1960s to Kelling in Rutgers today, the key to the rulers winning workers to support fascism.

As slave labor Workfare, prison labor and subcontracting developed, PLP organized the fight against them within unions, churches and other mass organizations. Fighting the bosses’ ideas within these groups enables us to lead workers against these fascist developments.

In fighting against "sanctioning" (removing otherwise eligible people from welfare rolls), against the dumping of the homeless out of shelters back to the streets, or helping welfare recipients who run afoul of some bureaucratic rule, we are combating the rise of fascist ideology.

When we bring issues like racist police murders into unions, churches and other organizations we are leading a struggle over how society as a whole is run and for whom.

Communism is the solution! If we dare to struggle, we will win!

Liberals Won’t End LAPD Terror

LOS ANGELES, March 15 — Over 200 spirited protestors gathered downtown as part of an International Day of Protest Against Police Brutality. We assembled at the Civic Center’s Criminal Courts Building and marched one block to rally at LAPD Parker Center. People came from as far as Riverside and San Diego to demand an end to racist police murders. Chants of "No justice, no peace! No racist police" were greeted with honks of approval from passing cars. Absolutely no taunts or jeers were heard except from one professional LAPD agent-provocateur who went through the crowd trying to start arguments.

Police wore black Nazi-style helmets and used batons to knock back anyone who merely stepped onto the grass in front of the building, but we refused to be intimidated by any more police violence.

Many organizations were represented but few working-class people were there. The poorly-publicized rally happened at rush hour on a Wednesday. Clearly the people who led this event did not organize the poor. Working-class Californians who are the ones being harassed, arrested and murdered by the police. The reformers would rather appeal to the Mayor than to workers.

Their protests are not much different than the scandal-raking of the TV stations and big business newspapers. They call for a civilian review board and "community control of the police." Police violence won't be ended this way. The cops’ job is to control and terrorize workers, especially black and Latin workers and youth, in order to continue to exploit all workers, pay low wages and keep power in the hands of the bosses.

In addition, as in the case of the Rampart cops, the police push gangs and encourage gang violence because they know that youth rebel against this racist system and, from South Africa to Nicaragua, have been in the forefront of anti-racist mass struggles. They would rather have youth join gangs and fight each other for drug profits and turf than unite into a force for revolution. Then they have an excuse to pass laws like Proposition 21 and put more youth in prison.

The best part of this rally was that several of the demonstrators who are friends of PLP members and who came to protest cop terror helped PLP members distribute CHALLENGE and leaflets which invited people to May Day. They gladly carried a sign that blamed D.A. Garcetti, Police Chief Parks, Mayor Riordan, the cops, the judges and capitalism for police terror and racist jailings.

Police terror and corruption won't be ended without overthrowing the government and its police departments. To stop police violence forever, join the PLP and organize the long-term fight for workers' revolution!


Life Is Not So Rosy Under Capitalism

American Beauty is one of the rare cases where I would recommend a movie nominated for several Oscars.

As a city dweller, I am partially biased against suburbia, but that’s not the reason I liked this movie. Although it’s supposed to be an exposé of life in the "burbs," mainly it lays bare the alienation, consumerism and dysfunctional families under modern capitalism.

It’s true that not all families in suburbia are "dysfunctional" like Lester (Kevin Spacey), his wife (Annette Benning) and their teenage daughter, but suburban conditions don’t make family life any easier. Most workers are forced to work long hours just to make ends meet. But others, like those portrayed in the movie, work long hours to afford all the goodies capitalism says they need to "succeed." This, plus the long commute to work and the general lack of any real meaning in their lives except to consume more, are the norms of life under capitalism for tens of millions. This film follows in the footsteps of recent films like Happiness and The Ice Storm in which the families depicted have achieved the "American Dream" and find it’s really a nightmare.

The scene I liked best showed Lester trying to make love to his wife, after years without any. She stops him, worried about spilling beer on an expensive Italian couch. He responds, "It’s just a couch."

Most of the characters in the movie are pretty repugnant. Even more screwed up are the new neighbors. The retired Marine colonel, trying to use military discipline to free his son from all the "filth," turns out to be a Nazi and a repressed homosexual. His son is a drug dealer and his wife resembles a zombie, abused by the colonel, something not uncommon among military families. Maybe the moviemaker is trying to attack the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy of the military towards gays. The only "normal couple" in the movie is a gay doctor and lawyer.

Lester, the movie’s "good character," redeems himself at the end when he refuses to commit statutory rape, just before he is shot.

Of course, watch this movie with a critical eye. Don’t expect real solutions to the problems of alienation, but among the crap coming from Hollywood, this one stinks less.

Rex Red


The article on NY postal workers in our March 22 issue (page 4) should have read that the US Postal Service "netted" [not "needed"] hundreds of millions in profits....Also, the order of the second and third paragraphs should be reversed. Sorry about that....

Rulers Do Guarantee You a Job: In Jail!

When inmates in U.S. jails and prisons hit the two million mark last month, there was a spate of publicity about this gigantic figure, constituting one-fourth of all the prisoners in the world! Liberals were lamenting the fact that "maybe we’ve gone too far," especially when reports began revealing that hundreds of thousands (not 80,000 as a recent NY Times article reported) are engaged in slave labor jobs working for pennies an hour.

Actually, two-thirds of these two million are non-violent offenders and, under Western European capitalist standards, shouldn’t even be in jail in the first place. In fact, when the U.S. gloated over its "low" jobless figures as compared to Europe’s, the French shot back that the U.S. has "jailed its unemployment problem." (The U.S. does not count prisoners in its unemployment statistics.)

The proponents of prison labor claim: (1) putting prisoners to work will help "rehabilitate" them, "teach them a skill, responsibility and prepare them for a job upon release"; and, (2) the prisoners themselves "want to work" while in prison.

Firstly, if the rulers are so concerned about "teaching the prisoners," why not pay them the going rate in their industry? Because that would eradicate one of the bosses’ main advantages for exploiting them: the tremendous super-profits extracted from 23¢-an-hour "wages" without any benefits or any right to strike Then they wouldn’t be so interested in "reforming" them. And could it be that prisoners who are being paid such slave wages might—when they get out—look at a $5.75-an-hour, minimum-wage poverty-level job as an "upgrade"?

Secondly, if they’re so concerned about "teaching skills" to help prisoners get jobs when released, why do corporations seek prisoners with long-term and life sentences to learn these skills? Because they don’t want to "waste" their investment in skilled workers on prison laborers getting out in a couple of years.

Thirdly, what jobs will workers get using these "skills" when they leave prison? A sweatshop job, if they’re lucky to get any job at all. Perhaps they wouldn’t be fodder for imprisonment if the system hadn’t presented them with such a dead-end life in the first place.

Fourth, if they’re so concerned about "rehabilitation," why are only 5% of all prisoners with drug problems getting any treatment at all? Most of the one and one-quarter million non-violent offenders are in prison because of a drug problem. But funds for drug treatment in prisons, such as it is under capitalism, keep getting cut and cut and cut. How much good is a "skill" if one still has a drug problem, which U.S. capitalism imprisoned you for originally.

Finally, if as they claim, there are now "only" 4% unemployed (a sizeable underestimate), that’s still about five million jobless in a workforce of 120 million. If the 1.25 million non-violent offenders were released tomorrow, they would surely join the jobless millions, adding to capitalism’s unemployment figures. No, the "rehabilitation" rationale is simply a transparent attempt to put a "humanitarian" mask on a brutal slave labor operation.

As for many inmates on "waiting lists for prison jobs," this is precisely what hundreds of thousands of these prisoners wanted all along, BEFORE capitalism jailed them—A JOB! If they had had decent-paying jobs, they might not be in jail in the first place. And if these prisoners were offered jobs at $12 or $15 an hour, watch those "waiting lists" swell. But at those rates no boss would offer any jobs.

While U.S. bosses attack prison labor in China, they’re throwing those stones from their own gigantic "glass house." The U.S. has 500,000 more prisoners than China, and with only one-fifth the population! Now U.S. competitors around the world are exposing this "human rights" hypocrisy. So the U.S. may seek "damage control," ways to reduce or slow down the increasing prison population.

One partial "solution" may be to offer youthful non-violent offenders a "chance" to join the military and "wipe their slate clean." Two-thirds of all prisoners in the U.S. are black and Latin, the most racist "criminal justice" system in the world As the Army and Navy find it increasingly difficult to fill their enlistment quotas, the predominantly black and Latin youth in prison could be a new source of cannon fodder to fight the bosses’ wars.

Capitalism creates and expands its prison system to exercise social control over a potentially rebellious section of the working class. Its criminal racist injustice system is a crucial element in the development of fascism. It can be abolished only by destroying the profit system itself, with communist revolution.

(For a fuller examination of this question, see PLP’s pamphlet, "Prison Labor, Fascism U.S. Style.")


Are NYPD Cops Civil Rights Workers?

In a recent address to a class of police academy recruits, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani drew an analogy between the New York Police Department (NYPD) and civil rights workers. He said everyone in the city has a right to feel safe, whether on the street or returning home at night. Since the right to safety is a civil right, the NYPD are "civil rights workers," according to Giuliani.

Let us examine two high profile cases. A Bronx family is having a friendly game of touch football. Did they have a right to safety? NYPD arrives. An illegal choke-hold is administered and one member of the family is dead. Were the NYPD protecting civil rights? No. On this night they were involved in murder. A young, innocent, African immigrant returns home from an errand at night. Did he have a right to safety? The NYPD (street crimes unit) arrives. A barrage of gunfire is released. Forty-one bullets are spent. Where were the "civil right rights" workers? They were involved in murder.

Most people involved in the civil rights struggle believed in equality. Capitalism is based on inequality. Those in the civil rights struggle are unpaid, receiving benefit from the desire to fight racism and poverty. The civil rights struggle mainly employed non-violence, passive resistance and peaceful protest. The police are paid to "protect and serve" those that have and control capital. They are issued guns, rifles, Billy-clubs and protective armor. Their struggle, if it is a struggle, is an armed one.

The long history of the civil rights struggle has been besmirched by this leap of illogical thought by an uncaring, uninformed Mayor. Civil rights workers, indeed! Murderers!

What can be done to combat this reality? Fight for communism. Throw off the shackles of capitalism. Let the chains of capitalism be broken by the power of the collective. Learn more about how a society based on equality can work. Attend May Day 2000!

A NYC Worker

"What do we do about all this police brutality and killing of innocent workers?"

"March on May Day" was the answer of night school physiology students at Chicago State University (CSU). Outraged by the freeing of the killer cops who murdered Amadou Diallo, students broke into a spontaneous classroom discussion about why these things occur and what to do about it.

The instructor invited the students to a May Day dinner at his home on March 4. There the students met with others who wanted to "do something." The discussion included comments like, "Why can’t everyone benefit from our society?" and "I was thoroughly impressed by the idea of coming together to create a better working class." Fifteen students left with books of bus tickets for the march.

At a second dinner, more of the CSU physiology students and others came, many ideas were discussed, but the tone was different. One of the main student organizers said she wanted to become a lawyer to fight the increased police terror. After a splendid dinner, out came the checkbooks and cash as deposits for May Day tickets. Six students paid for their bus tickets, four from the physiology class, and made plans to bring others.

Students organizing students is an exciting development on the CSU campus! We aim to build stronger relationships with these students and help their organizing efforts and political development. We must draw on their excitement, and develop them as revolutionary leaders.

All power to the working class!

Chicago Red

Bradley Campaign Feared Grass Roots

In his failed bid for the Democratic Party nomination, Bill Bradley posed as the anti-racist who aimed to inspire the masses with his calls for greater equity and heightened "social" (patriotic) consciousness. Although he and Gore differed little on any significant issue, scores of grass roots activists volunteered in his campaign, including youth never before involved in electoral politics. Others had been active decades ago in the McGovern campaign.

Gore emphasized his endorsements by a variety of social fascists, like the AFL-CIO, the pro-abortion group NARAL, and the Congressional Black Caucus. How, he asked, could workers, women, black people do anything but follow their lead and support him? His "sweep" signals the key role of these mass organizations tieing to capitalism, and underlines the importance for us to struggle sharply inside those organizations.

Maybe Bradley was doomed from the outset by McCain’s competition for disaffected voters and media attention. But some analysts and supporters, including Bradley’s wife, complained he wouldn’t "use his elbows"—attack Gore. There was no full-time volunteer coordinator. Staff members and volunteers pleaded to have materials available at the January pre-primary caucuses but this didn’t happen. Convention delegate candidates were never called together for a meeting. Instead of a "grass-roots campaign," this was a "media campaign." Bradley had plenty of money, and volunteer-coordinators would have come cheap. They could have done both. I think it was a political issue.

A grass-roots campaign would have brought out much sharper attacks on Gore and the Democratic Party establishment. Bradley understood just how vulnerable the Democratic Party is on issues like racism, education, health care and campaign finance reform. His goal was to strengthen the Democratic Party and widen its base of support, not expose its attacks on the working class.

But many of his volunteers, and even some of his paid field organizers, hated the Gore-Clinton policies. The broader the campaign, the harder it would have been to control. It was safe to put up a website, but not safe to put a lot of volunteers out in the community.

Informational materials about the criminal injustice system had been circulating around Bradley’s Los Angeles office for a few weeks before the California primary. At campaign meetings and public events, people spoke about the fascist Proposition 21 extending "three strikes" and attacking youth. Gore supporter Gray Davis endorsed it. Bradley was "on record" against "three strikes," but refused to address the issue in a mass way. At one district caucus meeting, nearly everyone signed a petition to put a rollback of "three strikes" on the November ballot. Just days before the primary, Bradley staffers and volunteers attended rallies against Proposition 21.

Bradley and his Wall Street/Silicon Valley financial backers must have known they had to be careful not to unleash the anti-racist anger of the masses, even as they pushed "anti-racism" to get votes. Bradley didn’t keep his elbows to himself in order to keep the campaign "clean," but trather from fear of opening up the Democrats to attacks from "below." I think this was a direct consequence of one of the more serious contradictions facing the ruling class: their need to super-exploit and oppress black and Latin workers and youth, and at the same time win them to serve in the next war.

West Coast Reader

‘Board the Revolution Bus’

Two weeks ago my son and I were vacationing in Guatemala. Every day articles appeared in the local press reminding people about the nearly 200,000 mostly indigenous (Mayan speaking) peoples butchered by the fascist death squads. They operated under Christian evangelist and former president General Rios Mont. Presently, a more liberal president rules the country, but the General is still President of the Congress.

There are still soldiers and blocked streets. Unemployment is up at 70%, there is almost no drinkable water, everywhere people drink bottled water, the children of the indigenous people suffer from an appalling death rate and work either in the fields or selling souvenirs to tourists.

People travel via overcrowded buses packed in like sardines (I know because my son and I traveled on them). People hang onto handrails. I read of at least one death from someone who, like me, was hanging on the handrail with the bus door open. While on one of these buses returning from the mostly Mayan town of Quiche someone asked me where I was from. We began talking and he reminisced about his time living and working in New York City. When I asked him about the Guatemalan government and the terrible conditions so many people lived under, he asked me why I was so interested in these things. I explained I had spent many years fighting capitalism and imperialism. I told him about the Party and he asked me to mail him CHALLENGE.

Working people of all lands unite; get on board the revolution bus!

East Harlem Red

The Struggle Continues At Lasalle Steel

Lasalle has given the union a list of 28 workers they will not call back, even though they were not fired, reprimanded nor have given up their seniority rights. What's the problem with these 28 workers? Many were active during the 1998 strike. They led the union and their fellow workers in numerous other struggles. They fought to make the union strong, stood up to attacks, and organized support for the strike. Is boss Scharf & Co. afraid of these workers? Do they think they have everything going their way since the contract was rammed down our throats? Do they want to keep these union activists from upsetting their apple cart?

If the bosses are allowed to get away with this attack on the "28," they will be even more vicious and arrogant. The company was able to cut wages, benefits and jobs after the strike. But we've learned over the years, the Scharfs of this world are never satisfied. They want more and more cuts so they can keep up with other bosses in the race to wipe out jobs and raise profits. If the "28" are abandoned, Scharf will knock us over like ducks in a shooting gallery. Those of us who remain are facing increased harassment, murderous overtime and lower wages for many. Without a fight-back it will get worse. It is time to demand answers from the union. Bring back the "LaSalle 28!"

La Salle Striker

‘Boom’: A Leaky Boat in Penn. Coalfields

In the coalfields of Pennsylvania, the so-called "Economic Boom" is like a ship on the water that has a You’re O.K. if you’re on the part of the ship that’s not leaking, but if you’re on the part that’s sinking, you’re in bad shape. And there are few life preservers left.

In the past week, the JA Corporation announced it will be laying off 900 workers at its steel mill in Johnstown, Pa. sometime in July. This is one of the last remaining mills in Johnstown, once a thriving steel town. Even the conservative local paper editorialized about the psychic damage this was causing for workers living in uncertainty for their future in an area with the highest jobless rate in the state.

Also, this past week it was announced that one of the last remaining union coal mines will close on May 14; 196 jobs will be lost. This is in the town of Marion Center, Indiana County, southeast of Pittsburgh. Most mines and mills in this region have already closed. The main employers remaining are the service sector, Wal-Mart, fast food, etc.

Finally, the shooting of some white people by a deranged black man in Pittsburgh, gave the media a field day. The man was charged with a Hate Crime. He targeted only white people. Also, anti-white, anti-Semitic, and anti-Asian writings were allegedly found in his apartment.

It began when three maintenance men, two white and one black, came to fix his door and he went berserk. He killed one white worker. The black worker carried his fellow worker from the building to get help. He told the other white worker to hide somewhere in the building, until the gunman fled outside. The press downplayed all this. Of course, the KKK jumped right on the bandwagon, passing out "White Power" leaflets throughout the area, including in front of one of the victim’s home.

The black man who did the shooting was mentally ill, living in poverty in Wilkensburg, a mostly black and very poor neighborhood. His neighbors claimed he talked very little, and was probably simmering for some time about his predicament in this life in racist capitalist America. Capitalism and racism, not hate, are the culprits that drove this guy over the edge. Certainly though, he took out his rage on the wrong people, as many do. This is the tragedy.

Red Rocker

Three Workers Killed

On March 5, an explosion at an auto parts plant killed three workers in Adford, VA. The blast at New River Castings (NRC) blew a hole the size of a football field in the center of the plant, and threw clouds of soot over a wide area. About 100 workers were in the plant at the time of the blast. Six were hospitalized, with two still in serious condition. Intermet Corp., of Troy, Michigan, owns NRC and a related parts plant, Radford Foundry. Like the dead and injured at the Ford explosion last year, workers are being killed in the bosses' drive for cheap labor and maximum profits. Communist revolution will have many scores to settle.

A Reader