May Day Marches: When The Working Class Unfurls The Red Flag Of Communist Revolution
Janitors At SF May Day Product Of Long-Term Struggle
Workers In Dom. Rep. Bare Bosses Ballot Baloney
G.I.s Join Workers Army
Mexico City: Sign Up For Communism
The Red Flag: Symbol Of Working Class Revolt
Well Eat The Fruit Our Labor Brings...
OConnor Preyed For Capitalism
Truth About Kosovo Air Wars Stirs Pot For Ground Invasion
Imperialist Vultures Descent On Diamond-Rich Sierra Leone
Rules Of Engagement: Hitler Would Give It Four Stars
Journey Thru Hell
Workers From Ecuador Want Info On PLP
Birds Of A Feather
Dont Hold Back On Red Ideas
Rock The Capitalist Boat
Capitalism = La Vida Loca
My First May Day: One Ill Never Forget
Watch Out Bush, Reds In Texas
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 6 "Today is a special day. It is the day in the year when we, the working class, march under one flag, the red flag of communist revolution. As you stand here, look around and you will see black, Latin, white and Asian workers, men and women....All here on May Day, standing together in unity. We are here today to build a movement to smash racism and exploitation of our class once and for all."
These were the welcoming words by a young teacher that inspired Progressive Labor Partys May Day. Although there was a modest turnout of 1,300 workers and youth, 60 people joined the PLP, 70 signed up to be in study groups, and 100 bought subscriptions to CHALLENGE.
May Day was built this year through work in factories, unions, schools and churches. We held dinners and invited workers to our homes to discuss the importance of fighting for communism. In the last several weeks, we put up stickers in New York, Newark and Chicago. We brought workers, soldiers and youth who we met fighting against police terror, the KKK and sweatshop labor. This work in the mass organizations produced small breakthroughs. 20 workers and their families came from work in a church soup kitchen, 20 from an ESL class, 15 from the factory organizing project, and several busloads of high school students. As fascist conditions for workers intensify and the bosses prepare for another oil war, opportunities are created to win more workers.
Red flags flew high as all chanted and marched. "It was a great experience," one marcher said, "and it seems to me that the people were dedicated and knew what they were fighting for."
Youth from Boston and NYC gave electrifying raps about police terror and building for May Day, and the PLP chorus sang lively communist songs.
After the opening speeches, we marched through Washington chanting, "Fight For Communism, Power to the Workers!" People came to their windows to see the enthusiastic marchers. Many onlookers waved clenched fists in the air and bought CHALLENGE. Some people ran to our sellers to get a copy. As we roared, "Join the March!" Some did!
The stream of red flags lit up the streets as we arrived at the White House. When we reached the house of U.S. imperialism, anger and enthusiasm rose. One student from Brooklyns Clara Barton H.S. said, "This was my first May Day march and I think it turned out well but I thought we were going to take one step further by entering the White House. I would definitely attend another one next year."
By days end, May Day had given everyone a feeling of workers power. "I never went on May Day before," said one student. "I only read about it in history class. To actually be in a May Day March was a wonderful experience."
Another student from Brooklyns Murrow H. S. exclaimed, "People were disciplined and excited. We marched for freedom from the bosses chains, and we came one small but sure step closer to it. I am inspired." Another added, "This march made me feel powerful."
When the march was over, we had a picnic, with songs and raps.
The bus rides home provided time to consolidate the new friends met during the day. We signed up people for summer projects and made plans to participate in more class struggle. However, for PLP to become a mass Party of thousands and then millions, we must improve our work and spend far more time developing close ties with our co-workers and fellow students and become entrenched in their daily lives. Only if we do that can we win many more workers and youth to march next year, and more importantly, win them to join PLP and become May Day organizers themselves!
LOS ANGELES, May 9 How did a group of 120 janitors come to march at our communist May Day in San Francisco? This has been a long-term process with many ups and downs.
We first met the janitors about ten years ago. The SEIU (Service Employees International Union was organizing the janitors into a hospital workers local. A comrade and some of his friends had been very active in that local, fighting racism against patients and unjust firings of workers. A group of his friends read CHALLENGE.
Some CHALLENGE sellers went to a janitors contract vote. Workers were outside cursing the leadership. They grabbed CHALLENGE and some gave their names glad to find communists in LA.
The hospital workers began meeting with a group of these janitors. Some wanted to run a multi-racial slate of hospital workers (higher-paid black, Latin and white, mainly non-immigrant) and janitors (almost all latino immigrants) for union office. They formed a caucus to fight for the rank and file.
Our comrade spent many hours and weekends at these meetings, raising the need for a militant, politicized rank and file, and for building the Party to fight for real workers power through communist revolution. He said winning positions in the union hierarchy by toning down the defense of rank-and-file workers would be a huge mistake. He always brought CHALLENGE to the meetings.
Over time, he became a friend of the workers, especially those most interested in CHALLENGE. Some met from time to time with a Party club. Some in the group were increasingly intent on winning the election, and less and less on politicizing the workers with revolutionary ideas.
He stuck with the group for several years. They won the election. But SEIU head John Sweeney nullified the election and put the union into receivership. He did this at the very moment he was preparing to run for president of the AFL-CIO based on his "great record" of organizing janitors! Sweeney put the janitors into a separate local from the hospital workers. Both groups fought this racist action. But the division was made.
The caucus kept meeting, now predominantly janitors. When PLP led an attack on the racist anti-immigrant group VCT (Voice of Citizens Together), caucus members invited PLPers to speak at a fund-raising dinner about it. Party members were introduced as heroes. They linked the growth of racism and fascism to the bosses crisis, showing Clinton as worse than VCT, and cited the need for revolution.
Some janitors became regular CHALLENGE readers and May Day marchers. In organizing last years May Day March in San Francisco, a janitor asked for 20 more tickets for union members. Plans were made. Twenty workers paid for their tickets and marched; many more knew about it. Several began attending study groups and club meetings. CHALLENGE was welcomed by many. During the AFL-CIO convention, some of these workers, who have a deep hatred for Sweeney & Co, demonstrated against him and his AFL-CIO cronies.
Building for a strike this year, it became clear there were many militant, angry janitors. At an International Womans Day march of 1,500 janitors, there were silly staged arrests. A PLPer brought CHALLENGES and leaflets; the workers eagerly grabbed them.
However, some of the more angry workers abstained from some of these events. They saw the coming strike as a "show," knowing a settlement had already been agreed to. Some didnt want to participate, but after discussion, they realized that not participating to expose the leaders wasnt good for the working class! The leaders are mobilizing the workers for the needs of imperialism. We must be there to offer the alternative.
Several of these workers liked the idea of striking and simultaneously building for May Day as a way to win workers to the long-term fight for workers power and revolution.
They exposed the leadership-sponsored appearances of Jesse Jackson, Gore, Kennedy and LA Mayor Riordan as a show to win workers especially these immigrant workers) to be loyal to their system, building patriotism and nationalism to get workers to fight and die for the bosses. For that, they make promises to the workers but cant deliver because the bosses need to maximize profits, compete with their rivals and prepare for war. These union leaders dont act in the interests of any workers!
Before and during this years strike, in marches, picket lines and meetings, the Party had a presence with leaflets, CHALLENGES and by bringing workers to the picket lines. This also helped build for May Day.
In one of these marches, we re-met an old Party friend, a striker not seen for several years. He was leading a group of strikers and was known by many workers. We were both happy to become reacquainted. He introduced us to other workers and became another organizer for May Day.
Other experienced workers, angry with the union leadership, were looking for an alternative. We met with some of them to explain our politics. "But you dont put limits on the militancy of the workers?" asked a rank-and-file leader, saying the union only focused on attacking a few buildings, not on paralyzing the whole industry.
"Well, the only limits are the workers strength and determination based on the circumstances," replied a comrade. "Our goal is to get rid of the bosses with armed revolution," he continued. "The May Day march wont be an armed struggle, but a political march. We want to win millions to confront the bosses and to take power. For example, when we confronted the VCT racists we were prepared for them."
"I like that," said the worker, with a smile. "Heres my list of 20 workers for the march."
The match was lit, and many began calling for information about the march to ask about bringing friends and family. Obviously this involved workers at different political levels, but in the final analysis 120 janitors marched. Now we have a big job, to get to know and win many.
Its a grave error to only assume workers are won to support the bosses agents. When the bosses launch a war, theyll boast that the workers support them, as they did during Desert Storm. But thats only one side. The workers are open to alternatives, communism included! We cant get frustrated. Its a long-term struggle, with many ups and downs, learning from mistakesall leading to winning.
A group of workers who came to May Day asked to be in study groups. Several called Party members to ask when the first meeting was.
Many workers are angry over the union leaders settling for different wages for janitors from different parts of the city. Scabs are getting preferred treatment.
There are hundreds of thousands of workers here in low-paying jobs. Like the group of janitors who marched on May Day, they have much class hatred. The rulers lackeys mobilize them to either accept their conditions under capitalism or suppress their resistance with fascism. Our job is to encourage and organize that resistance, pointing them towards joining PLP and the long-term fight for communism.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, May 1 The Progressive Labor Party here Challenged the bosses electoral politics at the gathering of workers on May Day. Revisionist (fake leftist) and union groups were at the march, but the largest political presence was that of the PLP. We brought workers from various factories in the maquiladora zone, school and university teachers, as well as youth and workers in general.
PLP distributed a Party leaflet with communist chants and 86 CHALLENGES, which were very well-received. The unions and left-wing groups have been fitting themselves into the bosses schemes, to culminate in the May 16th presidential election. They used this as a pretext to avoid participating in the May Day march and called on other groups to stay away as well.
During the day, four people joined PLP and contacts were made among workers who will be visited soon, to take them CHALLENGE and try to win them to the Party.
Having planned a PLP meeting after the march, we invited a number of marchers to join us, and some did. (See below.) We collectively vowed to better organize for next years May Day, to double the the number of workers the Party brings.
The PLP luncheon meeting after the March included members, friends and sympathizers working in different factories in the countrys northern region. Our goal was to discuss how to build a mass Party, how to overcome our weaknesses and how to make the organizing for May Day more collective.
Reports and discussions included criticism and self-criticism, commitments to strengthen the work in the zones where the Party is being built, and plans to distirbute the international CHALLENGE in the factories where Party members and friends work. We also planned a series of cadre schools.
We analyzed the weaknesses of the revisionist and economist movements and the opportunities this presents for building PLP. We also discussed the conflict between Old and New Money bosses in relation to the Dominican presidential elections and what may result from it. This conflict also creates a favorable framework to attract new workers to PLP.
There was a great feeling of collectivism among the growing soldiers group that went to May Day. We stuck together in the march and later went out to eat. Through all this we saw that workers and soldiers can come together as one Party to organize something big.
The study group the next day went well. The soldiers who participated in the march went through four lessons on political economy, inter-imperialist rivalry, the role of the military and what the Party is fighting for.
Seeing soldiers who traveled miles to listen to, and be involved in communist philosophy motivates me to push my small club of soldiers to do more back where I am stationed. There are plans for us to get together with some of the other soldiers again.
I thought the May Day March was cool. It was my first one, it was different but cool. I liked being with everybody. A little too much like the military, with the marching and all. But it was good getting away and seeing something new.
The May Day March was really inspiring. It was very diverse, people of different races. The drums were good, the youth that rapped and the reggae was good
MEXICO CITY, May 9 "The PLP has confidence that the masses will fight for communism,. Communist ideas can be understood by all those who are exploited," concluded a student in a speech during a meeting before the May Day March here. These ideas kept spirits high during the entire march. From Chapultepec to the Zócalo (the city square facing the Presidential Palace) you could hear, "Struggle Struggle Struggle, dont stop struggling for a communist society."
During a year-long strike, hundreds of UNAM (National University of Mexico) students heard and read PLPs communist ideas through Party members active in it. Twenty of these students marched, raising high the red flags of PLP. "Rebellious worker, sign the list of those who fight for the communist cause." Chanting, "Reformists, step to one side, forward, forward Marxists Leninists," a group of these students joined our contingent. Our lead banner proclaimed, "Scientific and Popular EducationOnly Communism Can Give it."
Electrical workers from SME and GM workers marched near us. We asked them, "What do the electrical workers, GM workers and all the worlds workers need? Communist revolution!" we answered in a chorus. A GM worker waved our banner in the middle of his contingent throughout the whole march. Dozens of CHALLENGES were distributed to these workers and they gave us donations. "One class, one Party, Workers of the World, Unite!" was our slogan.
When we neared the Zócalo where tens of thousands of workers were concentrated, the emotion of our contingent grew. "End, End the electoral farce. Advance, Advance, Communism will triumph." We sang Bandiera Rossa and Bella Ciao repeatedly. In the center of the Zócalo we ended with the workers anthem, Internationale. It was a good day of communist struggle.
This May 2000 Progressive Labor Party proudly unfurled the red flag of workers revolution in several cities on this continent. Why do we carry high the red flag?
In 1890, just before historys first May Day marches, Frederick Engels wrote, "The proletariat of Europe and America is holding a review of its forces. It is mobilizing for the first time as one army, one flag, one class..." The flag was the red flag.
The red flag had first appeared as a workers' symbol in Britain during the 1768 London seamens strike. The strikers used it because it was the navy's battle flag and they were going into battle against their bosses. Again in London in 1780, when 100,000 workers marched on Newgate Prison to burn it to the ground, the multi-racial leadership carried the red flag. Their cry was, "Away with all prisons," because the working class was being increasingly incarcerated in them.
In 1831 the red flag was part of the struggle of the working class in Wales as well as in the revolution to topple the monarchy during the French revolution (1789-1794), especially during the struggle in July of 1791. But the general adoption of the red flag as the workers' own symbol occurred in 1848 when the flag appeared spontaneously on the barricades in Paris, and then everywhere throughout revolutionary Europe.
During the Paris Commune of 1871when workers first took over a whole city and held it for two monthsthe red flag of the working class flew over the city of Paris. It had become the symbol of emancipation. By 1892 it flew above the May Day marches throughout Europe, Australia, South America, Cuba and Japan. In 1889, in order for the newly formed Labour Party of Great Britain to win the masses, a song was written about the red flag which became the anthem of the Party. One of the most stirring stanzas in that song goes, "The people's flag is deepest red. It shrouded oft our martyred dead. And e'er their limbs grew stiff and cold. Their heart's blood dyed its every fold." In Italy, too, the song "Bandiera Rosa" became a symbol of May Day. In it we hear the words, "Arise you workers. Your chains of slavery will vanish under the scarlet banner."
In the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, the red flag became the symbol of the working class in power. And as revolutions spread around the world in the next 50 yearsfrom China to Eastern Europethe red flag of working-class emancipation was raised on high.
In 1971, the Progressive Labor Party picked up the red flag from where it had been dropped and has marched proudly with it in every gathering we hold throughout the world. The red flag is truly the flag of workers internationalism, as opposed to the hundreds of flags that the bosses-of the world fly to symbolize their respective capitalist states.
"Big Red Songbook," compiled by Mal Collins, Dave Harker and Geoff White; Pluto Press, London, 1977.
"The Penguin Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century History," Edited by John Belchem and Richard Price; Penguin Books, London, 1994.
"The London HangedCrime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century," by Peter Linebaugh; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994.
"May DayA Short History of the International Workers' Holiday 1886 to 1986," by Philip S. Foner; International Publishers, New York, 1986.
Russias new central bank has issued a new coin with the face of communist leader Joseph Stalin, commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Hitler fascism in World War II. Giant posters carrying medals, photographs and slogans from the communist era have been put up all across Moscow. Is the newly-installed war-maker president Vladimir Putin bringing back communist leadership? Hell no! But he is attempting to win support from war veterans and workers who still treasure the achievements of the Stalin-led socialist state.
While the memory of Stalin and communism may be "dead" in the Western bosses media, it appears to be very much alive in the hearts and minds of workers in the former Soviet Union, which lost 20 to 30 million lives in their smashing of Hitlers Third Reich.
Well Eat The Fruit Our Labor Brings...
Rockefellers shiny dime
can't buy this rhyme
I dont have the time
for the blind sublime
I wanna shut the main breaker off
flip the car of the man
in the business suit
toss a monkey wrench
into the machine
of industrial pollution
derail all trains
bound for debt distribution
Or will we decide to take over
seize the means of production
as use value liberates technologys function
our hammers and our sickles swing for equality
they flatten and cut out economic brutality
the war makers guns will point the other way
the solders will march on May Day
as united fists smash badges with nightsticks
we bust straight through their crowd control tactics
cause they can't hold us back
this time we're on the attack
they can't hold us down
we'll rename this town
the day is near
when we will kick the thugs and the parasites
off the end of the pier
and if they decide to swim back to shore
they will know injustice and greed
does not fly here anymore
cause workers run things
and we will eat the fruit
that our labor brings
NEW YORK CITY, May 7 John Cardinal OConnor died here last week. He had served his god well. That god was capitalism. Excelling in hypocrisy, OConnor aided the rulers most vicious attacks on the working class, all the while claiming to be the "workers friend." The crowds at St. Patricks Cathedral show that thousands have made the serious mistake of falling for OConnors pious lies.
In one of his last public acts, OConnor bestowed his blessing on the cops who savagely murdered Amadou Diallo. At a meeting designed to stifle working-class outrage at the cops acquittal, the Cardinal intoned, "Our prayerful thoughts are with all of our police who face difficult situations each and every day, some of which end in deep tragedy for themselves and for others'' (Catholic News Service, 3/1). OConnor had supported Giulianis racist thugs all along.
Shortly after Diallos murder, members of NYPDs Holy Name Society heard OConnor speak at their annual banquet. And every March 17th, OConnor would wave an approving sign of the cross over the decadent copfest known as the St. Patricks Day Parade. None of these racist acts prevented ruling class lieutenants like Al Sharpton from hailing OConnor as a "man of principle," or Local 1199 union boss Dennis Rivera from calling him "a union man."
OConnor enjoyed a reputation for being ecumenical, that is, for being a good Catholic who nevertheless befriended those of other faiths. Reality reverses the image. OConnor strongly supported the Opus Dei (Gods Work), a secretive, virulently anti-Semitic, anti-communist sect within the church. Opus Dei backed John Paul IIs rise to the papacy. In 1998 OConnor said a special anniversary mass for Opus Deis late founder Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, a Spanish fascist, before 1,000 sect members at the cathedral. Escriva idolized Hitler for his military aide in defeating the United Front government of Spain, the majority being communists and other left-wing forces in the Spanish Civil War. An ex-member of Opus Dei recalled Escrivas words of praise, "Hitler against the Jews; Hitler against the Slavs; it was Hitler against communism" (Le Monde Diplomatique, 9/95). Known as "a friend of the Jews," OConnor devoted his sermon to extolling this Nazi. Tear-jerking eulogies for OConnor from New Yorks leading rabbis appear especially disgusting, given their choice to ignore this mans vile record.
OConnor was surely no friend of the Vietnamese working class. He served as a Navy chaplain at the height of the Vietnam War, absolving U.S. sailors when they carried out the bosses genocide and giving them last rites when they failed. In a book he wrote about his tour in Vietnam, OConnor repeatedly spoke of the need to "confront and destroy" communism. He was accomplice in the murder of the four million Vietnamese by the U.S. imperialist Vietnam war.
The Popes elevation of OConnor to Cardinal made him boss of a vast empire of Catholic schools and hospitals. Like any boss, he followed the dictates of the profit system, somehow ignoring his "social conscience." New Yorks Catholic schools cram rotten ideas down students throats in overcrowded classrooms (like the public schools), with many parents forced to work extra jobs to pay for the privilege. Teachers in Catholic schools make less than half what public school teachers can. When archdiocesan teachers went on strike in 1996, OConnor, in his consummate compassion, threatened to fire them. In his hospitals, which largely serve the poor, OConnor has left a legacy of under-staffed, poorly equipped hellholes.
For more than a millennium, the Catholic church has not missed a chance to help the ruling class of the day by stomping on the exploited masses in the name of "Christian charity." OConnor joins the hallowed tradition of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Vaticans support of Hitler.
Ending this pattern of murderous deceit means replacing capitalism and its religious lies with workers rule through communist revolution. The thousands of workers who marched with the Progressive Labor Party on May Day were, by implication, "celebrating" OConnors funeral with far more love and concern for the worlds working class than OConnor ever showed in his entire life.
The U.S. claim that last years aerial bombing decimated the Yugoslav army was grossly exaggerated according to a secret Air Force report revealed in Newsweek magazine. It found that the initial claim of 120 tanks, 220 armored personnel carriers and 450 artillery pieces being destroyed turned out to be 14 tanks, 18 carriers and 20 artillery pieces, or 93% less than first reported.
NY Daily News interviews with military experts in the area found "miles long lines of tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces being driven out of Kosovo after the bombing stopped." (Daily News, May 8)
Air Force inspectors also found that, "NATOs high-tech aerial assault, which was carried out from an altitude of three miles to avoid casualties among pilots, was easily foiled by fake bridges, fake artillery and phony anti-missile batteries."
So much for the "overwhelming victory" of U.S./NATO forces.
Maybe the reason Newsweek magazine exploded this story is to help shatter the illusion that "invincible" air armadas win wars. Its ground invasions, stupid....
Since the start of the violent civil war in Sierra Leone in 1991, tens of thousands have died and half a million people have become refugees. The various warring factions mutilated many thousands. Finally, last year Britain and the U.S. got UN chief Koffin Annan to send "blue helmets" (UN "peace-keeping" soldiers) to enforce a cease-fire. They came mainly from African countries. The Nigerian army was the leading force, imposing a brutal "peace" among the various factions. Once the Nigerian army left, the 10-month old cease-fire between the government and the "Revolutionary" United Front (RUF) ended when the RUF kidnapped 500 soldiers from the remaining UN forces.
Like many other conflicts in Africa and the rest of the world, this civil war is not mainly about ethnic rivalry, as the racist Western capitalist media says. Its about which of these warring factions will control the rich diamond mines, used to finance the armies and the power of faction leaders. The Libya-trained RUF, which began in the early 1990s as a "peoples movement" fighting the corrupt Sierra Leone ruling elite and its imperialist backers, degenerated into a brutal reactionary force. The RUF now controls the lucrative mines in eastern Sierra Leone. Over the last two years, the value of diamond exports has dropped from $60 million to $30 million. The RUF has grabbed this $30 million.
For the imperialists it is more than regaining control of the diamond mines for British and U.S. mineral companies and saving the government of their puppet, President Kabbah, from the RUF forces closing in on Freetown, the countrys capital. British and U.S. bosses fear the Sierra Leone conflict will endanger the cease-fire planned in the Congo. UN forces will be sent there shortly to end the civil/regional war involving armies from Angola, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. Congo is the largest country in Central Africa, and rich in many key minerals, including those used for military weapons. France, fighting for its imperialist interests, is also involved in the Congo, many times conflicting with U.S. interests.
Also, oil-rich Nigeria is not exactly a land of stability for Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, with billions invested there. Recently Nigeria has been wracked by religious and tribal clashes. Also, many workers and youth are fed up with the corrupt ruling classes, who share the oil bonanza with the big imperialist oil companies while the masses get poorer and poorer.
Britain immediately sent 800 elite troops from the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, which led the NATO forces that occupied Kosovo when the war ended there last year. These paratroopers supposedly were sent to evacuate foreigners. In reality theyre trying to save the President of this former British colony. Royal marines will follow. Britain also sent a carrier off the coast of Sierra Leone, the sixth Royal Navy ship in the region.
Increasingly, oil, minerals and other huge deposits of wealth are being uncovered throughout Africa. Internally, different factions are fighting for control of this wealth. Civil wars are erupting with murderous violence, with no clear end in sight. So while UN chief Koffi Annan asked U.S. Secy. of State Madeleine Albright to send a U.S. rapid deployment force to Sierra Leone, Albright appears reluctant to committing any troops. U.S. bosses are still affected by the Vietnam and Somalia Syndrome. Both U.S. invasions ended in costly defeats, militarily, financially and, at the time, in rising opposition of an anti-imperialist character.
For African workers, already ravaged by civil wars, AIDS, mass poverty and hunger, imperialism and capitalism are a living hell. This situation cries for organizing a mass communist movement to unite workers and peasants against all their local and international tormentors.
If there ever was a film made by U.S. bosses to promote fascism, this is it! It opens with scenes of Vietnam in which the Viet Cong kill U.S. marines with almost documentary-like realism. It focuses on the friendship of two colonels, one black, the other white. Billed as a "courtroom drama," its political implications are both subtle and glaring! The black officer (Samuel L. Jackson) is shown executing a Viet Cong soldier for refusing to call off (by radio) a group of Viet Cong soldiers about to kill his friend.
Later in the movie the black officer, ostensibly to save his own troops, orders a massacre of hundreds of men, women and children who are attacking the U.S. embassy in Yemen (The film is based on a true incident in which U.S. rangers massacred Somalians who attacked and killed several U.S. rangers and shot down a Black Hawk chopper.) Another black officer initially balks at this order, but then agrees. The scenes of gratuitous violence are impressive in their realism, right down to scenes of maimed children seen later in a decrepit hospital.
A civilian national security officer and the U.S. ambassador are portrayed as cowardly and corrupt, trying to blame the massacre on this one "rogue" soldier. The protesters, including children, are later seen in a videotape shooting at the embassy, supposedly justifying the massacre, in line with the so-called "rules of engagement."
The reason for this protest, U.S. imperialisms role in the Middle East and its need to control oil at all costs are not addressed. For that matter the Vietnam scene implied that war is hell, but for an "honorable" cause. Near the end of the movie the Viet Cong officer, who was not summarily executed because he called off the attack, is forced to admit he would have killed a POW in an effort to save his own troops. He is seen shortly thereafter saluting the black officer.
The movie tries to imply this was a "true story" by reporting in the credits what "happened" to the characters." The theater drew an integrated audience. To their credit there was no revelry at the outcome. It was a subdued group as we filed out.
Interestingly, this movie opens right at the 25th anniversary of the defeat of U.S. imperialism in Vietnam and of John McCain's fascist pronouncements while visiting there recently. McCain, a former POW, won't "forgive" his former captors. As a bomber pilot he undoubtedly participated in the killing and maiming of untold numbers of men, women and children. He himself is a war criminal!
Jackson's character, like McCain, comes off as a hero (if a flawed one) because he followed the "rules of engagement." The message? Fight, die, kill and maim for the glory of U.S. imperialism). I'm sure the Nazi storm troopers felt the same way fighting for "Deutschland Über Alles!"
I made a long journey north from my country because I couldnt find work there and have a family to support. The trip was miserable. The first border was crossed in a locked trailer holding 150 of us. We endured this for eight hours, but eventually couldnt take it any more. The "coyote" (smuggler) in Guatemala had provided us with three hatchets to break open the walls just in case we ran out of air. We had to hack out a few holes from inside the trailer to keep from suffocating. Once we were unloaded from the truck, we were taken to a mountain where for eight days we were without food or water. After the fourth day, when we were starving to death, we spotted some monkeys and thought of catching one to eat, but couldnt do it.
Following our ordeal in the mountain, all 150 of us were shoved into a bus with a maximum capacity of 70, one on top of the other. The ride was supposed to be 60 hours non-stop, but the tires could not sustain this extra weight. Frequent stops were made to fix many flat tires. After another 30 hours drive to Agua Prieta, we were dumped in the desert, but couldnt walk because of exhaustion. We were left there that entire night amidst a huge snowstorm. Everyone began to freeze and shout or pray or demand that God explain why he had abandoned us in this endless nightmare. Everyone, particularly the children, could no longer walk because our feet had turned purple and lost all feeling. We still had no water or food. The "coyotes" told us the "solution" was "not to think about food or water."
To get us moving they showed us numerous crosses marking the graves of all those who died trying to cross the border. In the desert an older man became very sick and fainted. We helped him to his feet, but he became delirious. Another brother got very ill after losing a lot of weight. The "coyote" said, "I cannot take this guy as he is." Two coyotes grabbed him, one at his feet and the other at his wrists, and threw him to the ground. The man struggled back to his feet and begged not to be left there to die. We never found out what happened to him.
After a nightmare crossing from Mexico, we were imprisoned in a "jail" run by the Coyotes in Phoenix for another 28 days, unable to see any light this whole time. We were kept that way until our families came up with the money to get us out.
The saddest part of it all is that now I am here in the "land of opportunity" without work, without money and without family.
In El Salvador, I had met a member of PLP and now I understand what he told me about communism. Im thinking about joining the PLP to fight for communism.
Greetings from Ecuador from a group of workers that were fired unceremoniously without any severance pay or explanation. This experience has made us form a bloc of workers willing to fight for social and labor changes. We want to know more about PLP and its politics.
Please e-mail me any comments or information about PLP.
A Fired Worker in the Middle of the World, Ecuador
CHALLENGE responds: Thanks for your letter. We will gladly report about your struggle. Please send us more information about it.
I am writing to thank you for publishing the letter (CHALLENGE 5/10) concerning Harvard's pro-Nazi past in the context of its current Hillel controversy. I am shocked and appalled that a Jewish organization would use such a song with such obvious connections to the Nazis.
Many people consider Harvard the be-all, end-all of post-secondary education, but many don't realize it used to be, at least, a very exclusive organization that denied entry to minorities, including Jews. As a Jew, I don't think I could attend an organization that sponsored such anti-Semitism, no matter what the reputation.
The most enduring impression I have from the May Day march in San Francisco is the many, many people who saw us in the street and began honking their horns and raising their fists in salute. Many times we ourselves hold communism back because we are afraid of what people will say. While many times people can be hostile, it is also true that lots of people have come to similar conclusions as we have, albeit independently, and are moved when they see us putting it forward on the streets.
A May Day marcher
As a PLP member, I learn many things each time (and over time) that I march on May Day. It helps me understand what my job is, so to speak, and what capitalism is. My job is to organize for international communist revolution. Capitalism is a system that produces profits for the few, not for the needs of the many.
Our work to build revolution can mean starting with something as simple as asking friends to look over a copy of CHALLENGE. Perhaps he/she may agree, or disagree, with PLP's active stand on an issue and be willing to come to a forum, study group or rally in your community for open minded discussion/action. Every person's collective work in the Party is unique, but equally important to the working class and our future. It all starts with our choice to accept the job or not. The working class cannot be neutral in this struggle. One can remain part of the problem (capitalism) or become a part of the solution (communist revolution).
PLP members stand up for communism and rock the capitalist boat, so to speak. It may temporarily scare those around us when we do this. While working, one may often hear, "sit down and shut up!" but just ignore that. We have no time for that because the bosses are killing us in the streets and storming into our houses like Nazi troopers whenever they please. The contrast between our work for communist revolution and its effects, and the daily effects of capitalism will show people we are telling the truth, so push on.
There is plenty of "on-the-job training" available from comrades who know your true value and potential as a member of the working class. We're just waiting for you to choose your side. Hope you joined our side, the communist side, this May Day 2000. If you did, I want to say hello and welcome to the Progressive Labor Party and communism; you won't regret your choice. Let's get to work, then.
A recent study of 30,000 people by the World Health Organization shows a rapid rise in mental illnesses in some of the worlds leading capitalist countries. It reports that 48% of the population in the U.S. and Germany, 40% in Holland, 37% in Canada, 20% in Mexico and 16% in Turkey suffer some kind of mental problems at least once in their lives. In those countries, half of those affected get no medical attention or are given insufficient therapy. As usual under capitalism, poor people are the most affected: "These illnesses tend to affect more unfavored social groups, especially persons with low incomes and little education as well as the unemployed and single people."
Some problems, like anxiety and behavior, become chronic and affect more women than men. More men suffer alcoholism and other addictions. The WHO blames these problems on the lack of proper health care, particularly preventive care. Gro Harlem Bruntland, WHOs general director, said most psychiatric services are usually centralized in big cities and are inefficient and even counterproductive for those affected. She also blames the cost-efficient method prevalent the capitalist medical care systems. She warns that the rise of mental illnesses have become a modern crisis.
The WHO implies, without saying so outright, that capitalism and its many evils are the main cause of these problems. Work or jobless-related stress, war, racism, rotten medical care, drugs, alienation, sexism, etc., literally drive many workers and youth crazy. Even many forms of exploitation and mistreatment among workers themselves can be traced to a capitalist system that treats people as commodities. Indeed, only communism can free us from the ravages of capitalism.
Mad About Communism
On May 6, I was privileged to participate in the PLP May Day march in Washington, D.C., and have nothing but many positive things to say about this experience. It would take a book to give all my views.
The sight of red flags flying under the hot sun was very uplifting. I no longer felt alone in my views. I experienced camaraderie with my fellow workers, something somewhat missing in the rural area of Pennsylvania where I live. I was also extremely impressed with the youth, who demonstrated such commitment and determination to really make the march a very disciplined and militant one for workers power and a communist future. No reformism was present at this march.
I watched as youth and others distributed CHALLENGE to onlookers, and noticed very little, if any, hostility. I saw many reading it with great interest.
I was extremely happy with the marchs multi-racial character. I met people from various places. On the bus, I sat next to a woman who had emigrated here from Mexico. Though she spoke mostly Spanish and I know little Spanish, we communicated quite easily with each other. She was a very fine person and very moved by the march. Sitting across from me was a younger woman from Ethiopia, also very friendly and I enjoyed talking with her as well.
The experience made me realize it is truly possible to win workers and the oppressed to the need for a workers revolution and that those groups who attempt to hide their so-called Marxism behind reformist politics to be "popular" are doing no one in the working class a favor.
I came home feeling more inspired to keep up the fight and to reach out to more workers. I want to thank all the great people I met and all the others for making May 6 a day that I will never forget. Long live communism!
As college students in Texas, we began reading CHALLENGE and PLPs ideas four months ago. In studying fascism, we decided to initiate a local campaign reflecting our struggle against it. We discovered that Texas has a contract with Dell Computers, which uses prison labor to make their computer components. After discussing this with our friends and members of other student groups we belonged to, we started a petition campaign demanding the university stop purchasing prison-made goods. Although the spring semester is ending, support and signatures will be gathered throughout the summer and fall.
We also wanted to attend the San Francisco May Day march to demonstrate against capitalism and fascism. To raise money for plane tickets, a garage sale was organized, helped by comrades and supporters who donated goods. Faculty and students were invited to a May Day dinner, showing the May Day video. A student spoke about our campaign against prison labor and collected donations. These projects raised enough money to fly five people to San Francisco.
When we arrived at the march site, a sense of pride filled the air, the pride of communism. Soon large numbers of Los Angeles youth arrived as well as janitors who had just come off a militant strike. The overall organization of the march was great. People stayed close together and marched in solidarity, turning hundreds into a single unit, whose chants resonated through the streets. This led many bystanders to honk their horns and raise their fists in support.
By nightfall many friends had been reunited and many new ones made. The speeches opened our eyes and inspired us to more struggle. Each of us now has a new level of understanding and dedication toward the Party, enabling us to grow stronger, each one of us working to the best of our ability until the hammer falls on capitalism and smashes it forever.
Comrades in Texas