On the surface, this movement seems to be organized by caring mothers who really do want to end gun violence. But in essence this "mom" movement is being pushed and endorsed by the Establishment. Donna Dees-Thomases, who refers to herself as a housewife and mother of two young children, was inspired to organize the march by watching the horrific television footage of a neo-Nazi attacking young children in a Jewish-run daycare center in Granada Hills, California.
Dee-Thomases is not the ordinary mom she proclaims. According to the May 15th WALLSTREET JOURNAL, she was a former publicist for Dan Rather and now works for David Letterman. She is also the sister-in-law of Susan Thomases, who just happens to be one of Hillary Clinton's "closest friends, long-time political strategist, heavy-handed enforcer and frequently attorney of record."
The Million Mom March is an apparent attempt to continue the attack on the capitalist rivals of the Rockefeller camp by co-opting the anger and despair that many workers have about the increasing violent killing of youth by guns.
While the Clinton Administration is crying crocodile tears for the victims of gun violence, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has rebuilt itself from the ashes of its own political mess created by the Oklahoma City bombing and its ties to the fascist, racist militia movement. Now led by the fascist actor, Charleton Heston, the NRA is claiming over three million members, even in the wake of the Columbine massacre.
These rival forces are attempting to win millions to their fascist movements, especially during this election year.
Workers and youth should understand that guns are not the enemy as the liberals say. It is who is shooting who that determines the enemy. U.S. rulers, among all capitalists, are responsible for more untold millions of deaths by guns than any other group or individuals. Their cops increasingly murder black and Latin youth across the country. None of these gun control movements are fighting to reign in these racist cops.
The bosses use guns and bombs to destroy and kill millions during wars and have no problem using them. In Kosovo and continuing in Iraq, U.S. bombs killed hundreds of thousands of workers, including mothers and children and left millions homeless. On May 14, U.S. and British planes bombed civilian targets in southern Iraq, injuring nine people, including one child.
The bosses portray violence as something divorced from class interests--that it's "evil" and "mean" people who do it, rather than being inherent in capitalism. When a worker gets laid off and lives day to day, it's violence. According to a Congressional report, every 1.4% increase in U.S. unemployment leads directly over the subsequent five years to 30,000 worker deaths from stress-related diseases and suicides When workers in maquilladoras are forced to work 13 to 18 hours a day, that's violence. When young girls even younger than 10 are forced into slavery for labor or sex all over the world, it's violence. All such forms of violence are committed against the working class every day.
Communists don't oppose guns. The bosses will never surrender their riches or their system to the working class that produces that wealth without an armed struggle. We will have to use guns and other weapons against the bosses in a violent revolution. That's why we say, "Turn the Guns Around, Shoot the Bosses Down." But that can only be achieved by a movement of tens of millions of workers and youth fighting for a communist world, the only thing that can free us from capitalist class violence. Join PLP today!
These racists are using the Internet, the press and TV to recruit fascist volunteers to hunt immigrants who try to cross the border in search of a job to survive. Last May 3rd the Barnetts and two women, all on horseback, with bloodhounds and armed with rifles and pistols, invited ABC TV to see how they enjoy themselves terrorizing immigrant workers. That day nine workers were followed and captured. After threatening to kill them, and raining insults on them, they were turned over to the fascist INS. In this same area the body of another immigrant was found with rope marks on his neck and signs of having been tortured.
"The Mexican Government will not allow U.S. citizens to hunt Mexicans," said Rosario Green, Secretary of Foreign Relations. These hypocritical bosses don't say they themselves are also part of the same problem, caused by the poverty to which they have subjected the workers. How many people has the Mexican government killed in Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, etc? We shouldn't expect any help from these exploiters and their killer cops!
In the U.S., nationalist groups and politicians are calling for the defense of the Mexicans and demanding the fascist federal government stop the Barnett brothers. But Clinton is responsible for "Operation Gatekeeper" which has led to the deaths of more than 1,500 immigrants in the last five years. Barnett and his fascist gang are babies compared to the terrorist history of the Migra [immigration service] in Texas. Barnett and Clinton are birds of a feather!
The AFL-CIO, along with immigrants' rights groups, is calling for general amnesty for undocumented workers. They are organizing a massive campaign to support the Democratic Party and asking that they support a general amnesty. But what do the Democrats and the U.S. ruling class want in return? Our sons and daughters in the army to kill and die for the interests and profits of the bosses led by Rockefeller. In addition, they want us workers to passively accept the bosses' exploitation and racist police terror.
Our alternative? First, we must organize class struggle at work, in school, in the unions and mass organizations; organize work stoppages, demonstrations, resolutions and strikes against these racist acts. We need to show our fellow workers who are our friends and who are our enemies. CHALLENGE is crucial to showing all workers that such actions are in their interests. They are one step forward in building a revolutionary communist movement which will destroy borders, exploitation and imperialist wars.
A few years ago in LA, the fascist VCT received a little of what they deserve--the fists and sticks of black, white and Latino workers and youth, led by PLP. Let's fight to prepare our class massively to destroy all these Barnetts, Migra, police terror, exploitation and all the capitalists, with communist revolution.
The big bosses have a major stake in New York City. It's still the nation's biggest city and the world's most important financial center.
When Giuliani became mayor in January 1994, he had three key assignments. The first was to complete the task, started under his liberal Democrat predecessors, of attacking workers' living standards. He did this through fascist Workfare, layoffs and a variety of racist, union-busting, service-cutting tactics, to forestall resistance to these attacks.
Second, in the name of "reducing crime," he was ordered to continue and intensify a reign of police terror on large sections of NYC workers, particularly in the most oppressed black and Latin neighborhoods. He has certainly done this, even though liberals are now hypocritically complaining that he has been much too openly racist in defending police murders of black and Latin workers. However, they are certainly not opposed to this police terror, and in fact have advanced the Rockefeller-backed policy of "community policing," hardly a "kinder, gentler" form of bosses' dictatorship than Giuliani's "zero tolerance" terror. "Community policing" will mean even more arrests, more long jail sentences and more violence against workers and particularly working-class youth.
Thirdly was to make sure the major banks and financial houses reaped windfall profits from the longest bull market in the stock exchange's history. Until recently, he succeeded here too.
Part of the stock market's rise is due to the so-called IPO (Initial Public Offering) craze. IPOs are a gimmick to raise billions for financial houses that float the capital for stocks entering the market for the first time. This is a highly speculative business. IPOs create huge profits for investors without making the companies themselves profitable. (See box.) Amazon.com is a prime example. This is a recipe for a crash, and the Rockefeller banks don't want such a crash.
Giuliani's main loyalty isn't to the Rockefeller banks but rather to the bosses that back the Manhattan Institute (MI), his key "think tank." This bunch includes Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Crédit Suisse, and Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney. They are the top underwriters for IPOs for 1999. Rockefeller's Chase and J.P. Morgan are not to be found on the MI's trustee list. In comparison, Crédit Suisse has more than 250 IPOs completed or pending. Chase has 11, J.P. Morgan seven and Rockefeller Securities none. As long as the markets were fairly steady and rising, the Rockefellers went along with Giuliani's masters, but everything has limits. The MI bosses can't see beyond speculative greed. The Rockefellers have a world to and need internal stability. In political and economic strategy, the Giuliani and Rockefeller camps diverge.
The liberal salvos at Giuliani are just the first line of assault in this latest bosses' dogfight. New York's Republican governor Pataki, who until now has had a foot in both camps, just crossed over to the Rockefeller side. On May 3, the $91 billion New York State Teachers' Retirement System fired two of its money managers, Manhattan Institute trustees Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. and Citibank Global Asset Management, prominent Manhattan Institute backers, for "poor performance" (BLOOMBERG NEWS). Both the WALL STREET JOURNAL and the NEW YORK TIMES have called for Pataki to replace Giuliani in the Senate campaign. The Manhattan Institute, once chummy with Pataki, now despises him for toeing the Rockefeller line (CITY JOURNAL).
So the attacks on Giuliani's are clearly tied to Rockefeller efforts to discipline the markets and swat down upstart rivals. There's no "lesser evil" here. Giuliani's a vicious, anti-worker racist. However, his liberal opponents are just as bad, if not worse. In fact, the Rockefeller Chase Bank gave initial funding for the Manhattan Institute when it was founded in 1978 by future Reagan CIA chief William Casey. And the Rockefeller strategy of preparing for oil wars and major imperialist bloodbaths down the road will lead to the death of more workers than Giuliani's cops and his BP Amoco and MI allies have in store for workers. The shifting sands of alliances among the rulers--for war and exploitation to see who gets the most profits--should serve only to increase our commitment to the working class and to the victorous fight for communism.
Everybody would be happy and getting richer were it not for two sobering realities. First: the shares are worthless. Their market price may be dozens or even hundreds of times the company's real value. In fact, some companies, like Amazon.com, may actually lose money even though their soaring stock prices make billions for a few of the shareholders. The current high tech market downslide was triggered in part by bankers and insider technology executives dumping their own shares early and letting the small investor take the hit. Second: the main wing of the ruling class sees this mania as a gross waste of capital heading for a crash that will severely harm the long-term profit rate of Establishment firms. That's why Greenspan raised interest rates again this week in order to cool off the market and avoid a general crash. And that's why the Rockefeller wing is forcing a return of capital to the so-called "old economy" companies.
Management dumped the mail. They do it all the time. When they get caught, they blame the workers. Carrier after carrier told how they had been harassed, written up, fired and spied on by postal bosses. Several said they had to go out on stress-related leave and were now on medication. The horror stories were endless.
Management's drive to become more competitive with UPS and FedEx has led to intense speed-up, harassment, intimidation and cutbacks. They've made billions in profits over the last five years from the blood, sweat and tears of the workers.
The workers at the meeting were nearly all black and they were not falling for the bosses' nationalist trick of using black bosses to harass them. A non-postal worker in the audience asked, "What percentage of these supervisors and union representatives are African-American?" The meeting's leader answered, "99.9!" Another worker half-jokingly added, "It's black on black crime!"
The union meeting tonight was a packed house of angry workers. A motion was made to have a demonstration at the Postmaster's Office, and it passed unanimously. The local President tried to derail the will of the workers with some mumbo-jumbo about "the process...to select a committee...blah, blah, blah." But workers want to do it with or without official union backing. We got about ten names and phone numbers after the meeting. WE will be the committee.
These struggles give us an opportunity to build ties among workers who want to fight back. Our politics of "Revolution, not Reform" can be like a breath of fresh air. Workers know how bad we're being treated, but it's not so clear why, or what we can do about it. We must view every fight against the boss as a way to increase the circulation of CHALLENGE and win workers to become leaders of the Party.
Hardly a moment in her speech was not interrupted. Despite Federal security agents checking all who entered the open-air theater, four anti-Albright banners were smuggled in and unfurled. Fifty-nine protesters were ejected.
Outside, pickets had leafleted and agitated among the graduates and their families as they had lined up to enter the stadium. A couple of PLP'ers exposed Albright's role as a servant of Exxon-Mobil and the Rockefeller ruling class, while pointing out that only communist revolution can liberate workers. Several people gave us their names and some deep discussions ensued.
However, the demonstration was organized by forces that only demanded lifting the UN sanctions against Iraq. Yes, the sanctions should be lifted. They spell death for the Iraqi working class, killing almost two million, mainly workers' kids. But to imply, as the organizers did, that lifting the sanctions would free the Iraqi working class spreads dangerous illusions.
Sanctions or no sanctions, all workers in the Mid-East are under a death sentence because the imperialist rivalry to control the region's oil is getting sharper and more desperate by the day. Death by sanctions; death by depleted uranium bombs; death by an Iran/Iraq war; death at the hands of the Taliban (fighting to secure oil pipelines through Afghanistan). Inter-imperialist rivalry kills the working class in many ways.
Even some imperialists want to end the sanctions because they block deals made with Saddam Hussein. And they will cut their deal in the United (against-the-workers-of-the-world) Nations. Yet workers in the Mid-East and elsewhere will not escape this death sentence until we build a revolutionary communist movement--the PLP--capable of putting power in the hands of the working class. That's the message we brought to the demonstration and are carrying today to the new friends we met there.
Also, recently the city's black citizens have been waging a battle against police harassment and terror. Last year, the cops arrested a mentally ill black man and placed him in a holding cell. When he was found dead, the cops claimed he hanged himself with his own socks. They would not release the report to the local press.
On May 11, 100 black citizens of Johnstown met with city officials, presented overwhelming evidence of racial profiling, brutality, excessive force and false arrests and demanded the resignation of the Chief of Police. Jack Daniel, a black man and former Johnstown resident, now a vice-provost at the University of Pittsburgh, stated it was more than just racial profiling but "pure racism, racism, racism. The evidence included:
& A black man, a church deacon, charged that two cops unjustly stopped two young black males on their way home from a church revival in Pittsburgh;
& Toni Smith, a 66-year-old black woman, described how one night police crashed through her door without warrant searching for her grandson, rushed upstairs, battered down the young man's door and dragged him down the steps by his shirt.
& John Walker, Jr., a black man, told the story of his two college educated daughters and a friend being arrested by cops for driving a van with New York plates. The young women were jailed but were later released by a magistrate since there were no real charges against them. The young women were traumatized by this blatant cop terror.
& Another black man said he overheard police one night stating they were headed for Kernville, a black section, "to round up some n----rs."
Many others told similar stories of while city officials listened silently. But there are a number of problems with this fight-back. Firstly, white workers should be involved as they also have been victimized by the cops during past strikes; unity is necessary here. Secondly, it should be realized that under capitalism and developing fascism the cops exist to terrorize the oppressed and workers. So even if the Police Chief is fired, it won't solve anything since the problem is not one chief but the system of racist capitalism.
As a CHALLENGE has pointed out, the only way to halt racist police terror is through workers' revolution. Still, it's positive that Johnstown's black residents are standing up to the cops, as many did--along with white workers--against the KKK rally there last August and drove the scum out of town.
The day before the hearings started, students, teachers and parents demonstrated in front of the Board, exposing this kangaroo court and Mayor Daley's racist "school reform." Moises was pulled out of school in January 1999. PLP member Carol Caref was pulled out of the same school in January 2000. The Board claims this is not about our politics, but after three days of testimony that's all it's about. The Board is out to get us for being anti-racists and revolutionary communists, for taking students to demonstrations against racist police brutality and the KKK.
Ringmaster Russell-Williams, a rabid anti-communist teacher and sponsor of the school Bible Study group, led their circus of witnesses. She echoed the Board's lawyer, describing CVCA as 99.9% low-income black students, some not even having bus fare to get to school. She testified that students feared Moises because he became "highly animated when discussing his beliefs." But even she admitted he was a competent teacher.
Then came four CVCA students. Russell-Williams had given their names to Board investigators, who interrogated, coerced and promised them rewards to testify. Russell-Williams was present during at least one of the interrogations. She was the key to getting everyone under the Board's big top. But even they testified he was a good teacher who cared about his students.
Their last witness was a known liar who said Moises spent five and six days a week with her son, but that she had never met him or talked to him. She had written a letter requested by the principal, which was used to investigate Moises and remove him from class.
Over the next two days we presented our case. The political struggle with our friends to defend the Party was very important and rewarding. Parents and students testified that Moises was a caring and committed teacher. One mother attacked the principal for ignoring her repeated concerns about lack of teachers and books.
A student described organizing a walkout because she had no biology books or teacher for a whole semester. When a sophomore, she complained to the principal that a security guard had sexually propositioned her. She even gave his name. The principal said she would investigate. Now the student's a senior and still hasn't heard a word. A young man testified how much he appreciated the various political discussions in the classroom, and how Party club meetings were challenging. The parents and students who testified were inspiring examples of the support we enjoy in the school and community.
We are reaching out to teachers, parents and students in the Chicago Teachers' Union, Board of Education public meetings, youth groups, PTA's, Local School Councils, classrooms and more. Reverend Paul Jakes, a liberal leader of the anti-police brutality movement testified about the role of young people in the civil rights movement. A dissident union group whose newspaper has a circulation of 5,000 readers is covering the case. We are broadening out the struggle and learning how to be communist leaders in the mass movement. Victory is not in the hands of the hearing officer. It's in ours. Building a stronger fighting PLP is the real victory.
On May 3, the cops killed 39-year old Joseph Zagar on his porch. They claim they "mistook" the battery pack he was holding for a gun. On May 9, 23-year old Antonio Blandin was shot in the arm after a traffic stop. A day later, police shot a man in the legs after being stopped on the South Side.
For some mothers, Mother's Day was spent holding photos of their imprisoned sons outside the Cook County Criminal Court building. Justice Is Blind/Mothers Against Injustices called for a federal probe of the city's criminal justice system. Congressman Danny Davis, Rev. Paul Jakes, Jr. and 25 friends and family of Michael Taylor also called for a federal investigation, and the creation of a civilian review board to investigate police shootings.
Investigations and review boards will not stop racist police terror. Never has, never will. Under the last seven years of the Clinton gang, the prison population has doubled. Nearly one in four young black men is either in jail, on probation or awaiting trial. Many, if not most, black and Latin workers and youth understand the futility of asking the fox to guard the hen house.
More to the point, the police are the armed thugs of the ruling class. Their job is to terrorize workers and youth into accepting a future of mass poverty, racist cutbacks and imperialist war, especially as the bosses boast of unprecedented wealth. The system of capitalist wage slavery created these cops. Only communist revolution will end racist police terror.
Many of these racist atrocities will sound familiar. In August 1998, Cora Bell Jones was shot dead in her home. Arthritis, deafness, poor vision and senility hobbled the 79-year-old great-grandmother. She was trying to defend her great-grandson who was being chased by the police, and her daughter who had been knocked out of her wheelchair.
In November 1997, 40-year-old autoworker Hong Leong, with a history of mental problems, was murdered. The cops claim they "fired in self-defense." But 12 of the 16 shots hit Hong IN THE BACK and palm of his hand.
Detroit is home to one million workers, about 80% black. Over the past 20 years the downsizing of the auto industry has devastated Detroit. The old downtown is a graveyard of empty office buildings. Only two factories remain within the city limits, GM's Hamtramck Assembly and DaimlerChrysler's Jefferson Assembly plant. These two factories opened while dozens closed. The new Jefferson factory has half as many workers as the old one, and is out-producing it.
The average income in Detroit has probably been cut in half in this period. Factory jobs have been replaced by janitorial and food service work in the new gambling casinos and the new luxury-box-filled Tiger Stadium, playgrounds for the rich.
These attacks have been carried out at a terrible cost of broken homes and families, closed hospitals, collapsing schools, homelessness, prisons bursting at the seams and almost one police killing a month for the past 10 years.
In the 1960's Detroit's workers were left out of an "economic boom." Unemployment, poverty and racist police terror combined to spark the 1967 Detroit Rebellion. In July '67, Detroit exploded into flames as an armed working class, many of them recently returned Vietnam veterans, turned their guns on the rulers.
In 48 hours the Detroit police force was pinned down in their precincts and out of action. The National Guard was called in, and in another 48 hours, they too were defeated. It finally took units of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions being diverted from Vietnam to retake control of the city. Thousands of workers were arrested and dozens were killed, but many cops never lived to see the rebellion crushed. In it's wake, the shaken auto bosses hired 100,000 black workers.
But things have changed. The Vietnamese no longer inspire the masses to fight U.S. imperialism. The old communist movement has been defeated. Rather than high expectations, there is mass cynicism. And the auto bosses don't have 100,000 jobs to deliver. But the hatred of the workers for the racist rulers and their cops is constant. Even a small communist movement, dedicated and immersed among the people, can lead many. Building a mass PLP must be our answer to this current wave of police terror. Dark night shall have its dawn.
Q: Do you know about the convention of your international union, SEIU [Service Employees International Union]?
A: No. They never tell us anything about such things. They only talk about them to the few workers they trust. They'll probably say our struggle was a great victory for unionism and for the janitors. But the truth is the opposite. The workers here are very angry with the leadership and with the results of the strike. That's why they haven't told us anything about the convention.
Q: How was the strike?
A: There was a good side. There was a lot of unity among the workers. A lot of women with their children marching and picketing in the rain, or until the middle of the night. These things gave the feel of workers in struggle. Many people used the little money they had to buy food for their fellow strikers. In these struggles, there's an opportunity for rank-and-file leaders to emerge and for them to become real revolutionary leaders, fighting for workers' power.
Q: What did you think of the marches and the militancy?
A: There was a lot of militancy by the rank and file but it was limited by the union leadership. They concentrated more on bringing Democratic Party politicians rather than relying on the rank-and-file workers. They had us march all over the city instead of concentrating on keeping scabs out of our buildings. There were workers and their children whose feet were bleeding, and they came back the next day to keep marching, because they felt they were fighting for something important for themselves and their families.
Q: How is the morale of the workers now?
A: Some are more or less OK. But we feel betrayed. When we decided to strike we said we were fighting for a $1/hr increase for all of us. The somewhat higher-paid workers got only 60cents/hr as of May 1st. The rest of us were sacrificed even more. They gave us only a 30cents increase and we don't get that until October, so overall it's only 15cents/hr averaged out over the first year.
Q; What's happening with the scabs?
A: That's a big problem, because we don't want them in our work locations. But in several buildings, the owners are giving them preference, and the union says it will "take time" to get them out. We think they made a deal, between the companies and the union leaders not to touch these traitors. But we're going to keep fighting against what we think is bad in the union. We also intend to find out what happened to the more than $2 million that some churches and others donated for the strike that was never used.
Q: What do you think of CHALLENGE newspaper?
A; We like it because it tells the truth and teaches things that the union never even mentions, things that are important to our lives.
The history of the leadership of LA SEIU Local 1877 (janitors) is full of corruption and support for the capitalist system. Mike Garcia is the current president. He wasn't elected by the members, but imposed by then SEIU President John Sweeney in 1995. That year, a group of Latino, black and white workers challenged the sellout leadership of Jim Zellers, President of SEIU Local 399. The reform slate was elected to 21 of the 25 positions in the union leadership. They immediately called a meeting and tried to clean house. But Zellers was unwilling to remove his henchmen and he refused to accept the changes and the will of the membership.
The meeting turned into a fist fight between the old and new leadership. Zellers called the cops to kick the newly-elected leaders out of the union hall, saying they "threatened" him. Then he called Sweeney and asked him to prevent the keep the rank and file from taking control of the union. At the time Sweeney was running for president of the AFL-CIO under the slogan "union democracy." He put Local 399 under the "friendly leadership of the International," completely ignoring the new leaders elected by the members. He installed Mike Garcia from northern California as union chief. Days later, Garcia and Sweeney split the union into two Locals, 399 and 1877, dividing the workers by wage level and splitting the unity of the more militant workers.
This experience showed some workers what PLP had pointed out, that there can be no democracy for workers under capitalism. That's why the fight for workers' power must be the long-term fight for communist revolution. The AFL-CIO's role of is to win the workers to support the mperialist war policies of the liberal Rockefeller wing of the U.S. rulers, and get them to accept racist exploitation as the only way. PLP's goal is to win workers to fight to take power to end racist exploitation and imperialist war with communist revolution.
Current over-all European productive capacity is 21 million cars per year. But production is 14.4 million. One-third of the productive capacity is unused. Ford in Europe has the capacity to produce 2.2 million cars, but last year sold only 1.65 million. It netted a profit of $28 million on sales of $30 billion. "Totally unacceptable," says Ford's European CEO. Its "future growth depends on capturing market share from its rivals." (London FINANCIAL TIMES, May 13)
But Ford is losing market share. "The European Automobile Manufacturers Association said that new car sales in Western Europe fell by 7% in April. Ford was hardest hit with sales dropping 17.7 percent. And while European new car sales reached a record 15.1 million vehicles last year, Ford's share of the market slipped to 9.09 percent from 9.87 percent in 1998." (NEW YORK TIMES, 5/13)
To cut costs by $1 billion, and productive capacity by half a million cars, Ford is wiping out nearly 15,000 jobs and closing plants in Britain, Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Belarus. British workers will take the brunt of these cutbacks. Ford's Dagenham plant, will close sacking 2,750 workers. Last year the union agreed to the closing of Ford's Halewood plant "to save the Dagenham plant." This year they agreed to boost annual productivity to 62 cars per worker.
To further complicate matters, the auto industry is consolidating. The big fish are eating the little ones. Daimler bought Chrysler. Ford now owns Jaguar and Aston Martin of Britain, Volvo of Sweden and will pay $2.9 billion for BMW's Land Rover sport utility vehicle. As production is merged into fewer, more productive factories, more plants will close and more workers will be thrown out like garbage.
Capitalism can make your head spin. While factories are being closed across Europe, Ford will spend billions to upgrade their existing plants, and build new ones, that produce more with fewer workers. Ford said it would invest $500 million to expand its Dagenham diesel engine center, and $3 billion in its British plants over the next five years. This is to destroy jobs, not create them. The capitalist dream is to have one worker sitting at a computer running an entirely automated assembly plant. And even then they would try to cut her wages.
The toothless pro-capitalist union leaders are worse than useless. They cling desperately to the bosses' promises and look on workers at the "other" company as their enemy. In Britain they also view workers in Germany, Poland and Portugal as their competitors and blame them for their loss of jobs.
Production for profit is what causes the chaos and anarchy that leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. Workers across Europe know all too well that this leads to World Wars and unthinkable destruction. As long as we labor under the system of wage slavery and production for profit, this is how it must be. The only solution is communist revolution, and production to meet the needs of the international working class. Autoworkers across Europe and around the world can answer this crisis by smashing all borders and waging international strikes and strike support. We can build a mass international PLP to organize the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist beast.
Today, if you get hired, your job hangs on international currency rates, how cheaply you will work and nationalist slogans pushed by the unions.
"Save British jobs," the unions cried at a big march on April 1st in Birmingham, "Save British manufacturing industry!"
The march came as Honda had just cut 50% of its workforce at Swindon. Rumors were circulating about Nissan threatening 2,000 jobs at its plant in Sunderland (affecting some 10,000 supply jobs) and, of course, Ford Dagenham was about to close. The strong [[sterling]] (pound), it was claimed, had priced British-made goods out of its biggest market, Europe.
Worse still, it appeared all 24,000 jobs at Rover would be lost, affecting some 50,000 supply jobs. A buyer has come through at the last moment and will save most of the Rover jobs but the April 29th GUARDIAN reported that the West Midlands area has lost 30,000 manufacturing jobs in manufacturing since September 1998.
Get a job in auto today and one is on the front lines of inter-imperialist rivalry. You cannot be indifferent. Trade union hacks and their nationalism lead us into one side or another of the bosses. There is another choice: workers' internationalism and communist politics. That is the road PLP offer, join us!
Last week the German army renamed an important military base after a Wermacht (German Army) sergeant who risked his life saving a couple of hundred Jews. Previously the base had been named after a general who began his career during World War I and then served Hitler during World War II. This was reported as a "change in the mind" of German capitalism from the old militarist mentality.
Meanwhile, a commission restructuring the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) proposed reorganizing all troops into a rapid deployment force capable of intervening overseas. After WWII, the German military, so discredited by the atrocities committed by Hitler, was supposedly reorganized mainly as a defensive force, forbidden from fighting overseas. But during last year's NATO/U.S. air war against Yugoslavia, the Bundeswehr fought as part of NATO.
Under the new proposal the military draft will end. Instead a professional force of 210,000 troops will be set up; 140,000 will be part of a "crisis reaction force for foreign actions," with Kosovo the testing ground for this new force. It reflects the growing influence of German imperialism in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
But interestingly, support for this change comes not so much from the old-fashioned reactionaries, but from the Greens, the "peace" party. They, in coalition with the Social Democrats, run the government. The Greens were known as a pacifist, environmental, anti-nuke organization, and claim this "restructuring" will abolish the draft. What they don't say is if the German bosses need more soldiers, they'll reinstate the draft. As a matter of fact, the new plan calls for a token conscript force of 30,000.
The Social-Democrats since before World War I have always been imperialism's best friend. In Germany they have served their masters well. During WWI, the Social-Democrats (SPD), calling themselves "a workers' party," voted for war credits for the bosses' military. The Bolsheviks, the revolutionary movement led by Lenin in Russia, was the only force in Europe to oppose the war and strongly attacked the Social-Democrats. The SPD played the same role in Germany as the Democratic Party do in the U.S., to lead the workers to support the ruling class. The Bolsheviks called for turning the imperialist war into a revolutionary war to destroy capitalism (which is exactly what they did in Russia). After WWI, the Social-Democrats were vital to the German bosses crushing the workers' uprising led by German communists.
During the 1920s and early 1930s, the KPD (the German Communist Party) had to fight the SPD, which ran the labor movement. The KPD never broke the SPD's hold on key sections of the proletariat. The KPD mistakenly encouraged reliance on parliamentary elections to take power, totally underestimating the rise fascism and the German ruling class. Their slogan was, "After Hitler, Thaelmann" (head of the KPD).
While today there is no communist Soviet Union, workers are not starting from scratch. We have the experiences of past communists, their great achievements as well as mistakes. As all the imperialists prepare for their constant wars, workers must also organize for these bloody battles ahead.
My sixteen-year-old sister and I had just gotten off a May Day bus from Washington, D.C. The D.C. marchers were the first to arrive at the staging point, a vacant shopping center. I recall seeing dozens of police cars and motorcycles filling over half the parking lot, waiting for the march to begin. Our attention was drawn to a ridge a few hundred yards away to our right. I was 21 and very naive. We could see people approaching with what appeared to be hockey sticks. I thought to myself, this is summer, why would anyone be carrying hockey sticks. My innocence was quickly shattered when I realized these people also had baseball bats and were about to attack us.
My sister grabbed my shirt and clung to it like there was no tomorrow. She said, "I want to go home!" I told her the buses had left and we couldn't go back. We then heard a thundering voice from the sound truck directing the security volunteers to "Go! Go!" and stop these attackers from getting too close to the marchers. The security force sprang into action. They ran up to the attackers and engaged them in battle. It became obvious in only a few minutes our security force would be victorious.
The whole time the police were just sitting and waiting to see the result of this confrontation. When the racists were being bloodied and scattering, the police decided to intercede. They started up their cars and motorcycles, raced to the battle scene, and proceeded to attack mostly our forces. At the same time, a police car cruised by my sister and me. The cops were grinning and one of them was giving us the "finger" as they went by. I realized then how much the cops hated our cause and us. There were cops in combat fatigues who approached us too, but quickly withdrew as the buses from NY and other cities started arriving.
Bus after beautiful bus, filled with May Day marchers, seemed to form an endless line, as we cheered with joy. The security force that had just won the battle of Columbia Point was welcomed back with open arms. As the marchers disembarked, the story of the battle was recounted from the sound truck for all to hear. The marchers were electrified upon hearing how the battle was fought and won.
The Party had organized a very successful march that led to the recruitment and consolidation of many new comrades (including myself). I am not the first to say that achieving communist revolution consists of many small and large battles, including the process of struggling with our friends over many issues, like their participation in May Day. May Day is step on the long, arduous road to revolution.
While it is true many workers in the USA own a house (as long as the mortgage is paid), and a number have relatively good-paying jobs, the majority live "paycheck to paycheck." If I lost my job, I could lose my house; a trauma experienced by many workers, especially in the auto and steel industries.
Under capitalism, workers have no assurances for a fulfilling and happy life (all too often, quite the opposite) because our destiny is in the hands of a few billionaires. Their system demands constant profits, which means exploitation of our labor. They have the power to decide when to go to war, whether to use nuclear weapons, and whether our young people are drafted or go to prison. They guarantee the worship of the dollar bill. The capitalist future includes imperialist wars, fascist terror and continued oppression for the profit god.
I choose a different scenario. I choose a future based on sharing everything our labor produces. I choose to have confidence in the leadership and cadre of the communist PLP. I hope some day that you join me.
On the fields of Delano, CA, in the winter of 1965, the growers hired women to pick grapes to try to break the farm workers strike. The growers formed "Mothers Against the Strike," led by the wives of contractors and growers. They promised better treatment and higher wages to the women they hired. Of course this was a big lie.
Today women working in the fields are as super-exploited as ever. Many women in Delano work in the packing plants and produce profits for their owners. But they are actually hired by contractors, who also grab part of their wages.
These doubly-exploited women are also forced to sign a paper allowing the company to fire them without cause. The bosses have also installed cameras in the plant to spy on the women, to insure they're working fast enough. This weaker sex myth means super-profits for the bosses.
Men and women workers must unite to fight this oppression. The same bosses who super-exploit women workers to lay off and/or lower wages for men workers. Join the PLP the only organization that unites men and women workers to eliminate the system requiring this exploitation: capitalism.
Veteran of the 1965 Farm Workers Strike
However, I think it would be incorrect to be overly positive. The "modest turnout of 1300" people in the Washington march, which represents a decline over the last two years, should concern us. A "modest" turnout on May Day demands that we change and improve our efforts.
I think each Party club and section should make a sober analysis about the "turnout." I think each comrade should ask himself or herself, "What are your goals and expectations for the Party in general and for yourself in particular?" The Party must grow and everyone must help!
I think each club should make plans to at least double its membership, to consolidate new members and to develop new organizers and leaders among workers, youth and professionals. Whatever criticism and self-criticism and adjustments are required to do this, we must do it.
While it is uplifting to meet people at May Day who agree with communism, we can not allow ourselves to underestimate the effort it takes to win these and many others who are confused or unsure about communism and whether it will work.
The magic of the May Day moment doesn't by itself produce the type of plans and build the courage and commitment necessary to build the Party all year round. I recognize and appreciate the positive lessons from this May Day. I fight to have full confidence in the working class. But I don't think that communism and the Party's future is automatically secured. I don't think the Party leadership or CHALLENGE should contribute to anyone's illusion that this is true.
Our work to build revolution can start with something as simple as asking your friends to look over a copy of CHALLENGE. Perhaps they will come with you to a forum, study group or rally in your community. Every person's collective work in the Party is unique, but equally important to the working class and our future. It all starts with your choice to accept the job or not. We cannot be neutral in this struggle. Either we remain part of the problem, or become part of the solution.
Members of PLP stand up for communism and rock the capitalist boat. It may scare those around us when we do. But the bosses are killing us in the streets and storming into our houses like Nazi troopers whenever they please. Our work for communist revolution 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. Choose your side, the communist side. On May Day 2000, I want to say welcome to the PLP. You won't regret your choice. Let's get to work.
Hammond, Indiana Red
Most important, two adults and one student indicated they wanted to join PLP, and three more people agreed to distribute CHALLENGE. We must decide which collectives will be most appropriate for our new comrades, and where to help them concentrate their efforts in sharpening class struggle, in Workfare, police terror and/or youth-schools work.
These developments have come through five years of increasing participation in many aspects of the church's life, but concentrating on the soup kitchen, base-building, trying to politicize relationships and, in the last year, guaranteeing the distribution of 16-20 CHALLENGES. As a result of this exciting activity, three professionals and one auto worker who couldn't go to May Day may now become regular readers. None of them is a church-goer but they respect the fact that we try to lead class struggle there.
I also met five more people (two artists, two teachers and a nurse) at a regional denominational social justice meeting. They liked aspects of our ideas they've seen in our church newsletter. These are modest but encouraging developments. We are beginning to learn how to work within, and the raise, the limits that now hold back the working class and us.
In struggle, Amen!