Capitalism Creates Many Wars: U.S. Big Bosses Dogfight Over Whether Colombia or Middle East Is Primary in their War Plans
Imperialist, Local Bosses Endless Wars Murder Millions in Africa
Drive for Profits Ravage the Congo
Middle East Peace Process Paves Way for Imperialist War
Venezuela: Oil Price Rise Exposes Phony Chavez Revolution
Gore. Union Hacks Fight over China Trade, But Both Sides Serve Big Bosses
Racist Giuliani Down, Many More to Go
Ohio State Workers Expose Liberal Bosses BS
El Salvador: PLP Growth: Answer to Bosses Bombs
From Border to Cities, Organize Against Racist Murderers!
LA Teachers Fight Back
Workers of the World Write LETTERS
SEIU Is as Bad with Other Workers As It Has Been with LA Janitors
May Day: More than a March
Dont Send the Census Form
Promises and Promises
These people should be killed...
"The specter of communism is here to stay"
PLP Grows in NJ After May Day March
Less Talk More Action
The dominant Rockefeller wing of the U.S. ruling class continues its ruthless drive to consolidate power and cripple or neutralize its opposition. In recent weeks, CHALLENGE has described aspects of this process. The "Justice" Departments suit against Microsoft, the general disciplining of the NASDAQ high-tech market, the collapse of NYC mayor Giulianis Senate campaign and Washingtons attempt to take over the LAPD figure among the most important.
The decline of four-star general Barry McCaffrey is yet another sign of the Rockefeller house-cleaning. In 1996, this killer retired from the U.S. Army. Since then he has been Clintons Drug Czar. Hes the main spokesman for the lie that disguises U.S. imperialisms attempt to control Colombia as a crusade against illegal narcotics. However, he has a bloody history that goes all the way back to Vietnam and, most recently, to Exxons 1991 bloodbath for Iraqi oil.
On March 2, 1991TWO DAYS AFTER THE CEASE-FIREwhen U.S imperialisms victory in Iraq was a foregone conclusion, McCaffrey launched a massacre of retreating Iraqi soldiers and civilians and then lied about its military necessity. A long article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the May 22 NEW YORKER magazine exposes McCaffreys butchery and his cover-up. In addition, it charges McCaffrey with shooting down unarmed prisoners just before the needless "battle." While the Establishment has put McCaffrey on the hot seat for his disloyalty to the Rockefeller line on Colombia, theres a relationship between the two.
U.S. rulers dont blink at slaughtering millions of workers anywhere in the world to protect their profits and their political power. Suddenly theyve dredged up a nine-year-old massacre as though it was unusual for U.S. imperialism to murder unarmed civilians wholesale. Colombia is the starting point for understanding the decision to punish McCaffreys enthusiasm for his slaughter in Iraq.
Colombia is important to many U.S. bosses. The 50-year-long civil war, pitting a pro-U.S. fascist government against nationalist guerrillas, has taken a toll on U.S. businesses there. Fat profits are at stake. Exxon Mobil operates the worlds biggest export coal mine, Cerrejón, in Colombia. BP Amoco, Exxon/Rockefellers main oil rival within the U.S. imperialist orbit, has even more at risk. BP Amoco, Colombias largest foreign investor, pumps half a million barrels of Colombian crude oil a dayone fourth of the companys worldwide production. Occidental Petroleum, controlled by Exxons arch-competitors, the Hunt Brothers, has lost $100 million in Colombia since 1995 because of the guerrilla war. Alabama-based Drummond Coal, which imports million of tons of coal from Colombia, seems to be putting most of its eggs in the Colombian basket. So the issue among the bosses is not WHETHER to defend these interests but HOW extensively, given U.S. imperialisms need to extinguish many other fires around the world.
The BP Amoco-Occidental-Drummond Coal clique has enough to lose to want Clinton to risk major ground action in Colombia. Also, the expansion into South America by French oil rivals, particularly in Colombia and neighboring Venezuela, has given BP Amoco further incentive to champion U.S. troops.
Last February, Alabama Sen. Sessions, an obvious Drummond agent, went ballistic about U.S. failure to invade. He yelled at McCaffrey, but more for failure to carry out the dirty work than for lack of will. According to the GUARDIAN, McCaffrey had already demanded "operations that go far beyond what even the Colombians are pressing for, taking the U.S. to the brink of bankrolling an all-out war" (Aug. 22, 1999).
McCaffreys zeal to put U.S. ground troops in Colombia didnt sit too well with his Rockefeller masters, for whom Colombia means a lot, but not everything. The Rockefeller interests want to keep Colombia under U.S. control, and Clinton is pushing for a $1.8 billion "aid" package, 80 percent of it military. But the lords of Exxon are determined to stop short of ground war. Theyll go for helicopters, but not for GIs. Theyre afraid of another Vietnam quagmire, of stuck and dying U.S. troops, and they figure the risk far outweighs the benefit. Right now the Navy has ships positioned in and just outside the Persian Gulf. Iraqi and Saudi oil means incomparably more than Colombian coal to Exxon.
While McCaffrey was calling for ground war, Rockefeller loyalist Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering blasted troop deployment as a "crazy idea" (GUARDIAN). The big bosses tried to give McCaffrey a wake-up call when the U.S. government immediately arrested the wife of McCaffreys chief anti-drug military commander in Colombia, Col. Hiett. The charge: cocaine smuggling. She pled guilty, and the anti-drug missionary Colonel himself is facing money-laundering charges. But even this scandal couldnt make McCaffrey straighten up and fly right. Last February, he took Occidental Oils pro-invasion position before a House drug subcommittee hearing. Occidental already pays the Colombian government to maintain an army base next to its oil refinery. But the Occidental bosses and McCaffrey dont seem to trust this protection racket. McCaffrey has lined up on the wrong side of this squabble over the prizes to be defended by U.S. troops.
So the NEW YORKER exposé of McCaffreys nine-year old massacre in Iraq suddenly becomes national news, and McCaffrey faces far greater disgrace than the embarrassment of seeing his underling charged with laundering drug money. The Rockefellers expect obedience and they know how to punish when they dont get it. McCaffrey and Rudy Giuliani have a lot in common.
Aside from clarifying Establishment policy toward Colombia, throwing McCaffrey to the wolves has a secondary value for the main rulers. Preparation for major land war to secure Rockefeller control of Iraqi oil seems to head the bosses priorities for the next presidency. This bloody profit grab will need some sort of hypocritical "human rights" cover. Thats one of the main lessons workers can learn from Clintons aerial "humanitarian" genocide for oil pipelines in the Balkans last year. McCaffrey can be presented as the "bad apple" whose elimination will provide cover for the next genocide.
But by committing wanton murder for U.S. imperialism in Iraq, McCaffrey was only "doing his job." All imperialists rule at gunpoint. The more their profits are threatened, the more ruthless they become. Thats why the BP Amoco/Occidental/Drummond bosses want ground war in Colombia, and thats why the Exxon Mobil/Rockefellers want it in the Persian Gulf. McCaffreys disgrace merely shows the fate awaiting a hired hand who double-crosses the most powerful gangster on the block. The deeper lesson here for workers is the basic nature of imperialism and of all imperialists. Only tactical differences divide them. In Colombia or Iraq, their goal is profit, and their methods are always bloody. None of them is a "lesser evil." All of them must be destroyed by a communist-led working class revolution, no matter how long it takes.
The mass murder engineered by U.S. imperialism in Iraq makes McCaffreys butchery look like a tea party. Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was the architect of the strategy of Overwhelming Force that followed U.S. ruling class policy. This policy has caused the death of over one million Iraqi civilians, and still counting.
They began with a systematic 42-day aerial and missile bombardment against a basically defenseless foe. Most targets were civilian, destroying schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, shelters and residential areas. Towns, villages and highways were strafed indiscriminately. The first five weeks of bombardment amounted to the summary execution of 113,000 civilians, 60% children, according to the Jordanian Red Crescent Society [Red Cross]. It systematically destroyed Iraqs infrastructure.
Over 100,000 died in the first year after the war from dehydration, dysentery, diseases and malnutrition caused by impure water, lack of effective medical assistance and debilitation from hunger, cold, shock and distress. Tens of thousands of defenseless Iraqi soldiers, cut off from food and water, were systematically killed. War criminal Schwartzkopf said immediate Iraqi military casualties exceeded 100,000.
Perhaps the most abominable atrocity occurred on what came to be called the "Highway of Death." U.S. tanks and trucks with massive shovels attached scooped up thousands of fleeing, unarmed Iraqi soldiers and civilians and buried them alive. U.S. warplanes simultaneously strafed them from the air. "It was like a turkey shoot, like shooting fish in a barrel," said one pilot. A seven-mile stretch of the highway was littered with untold thousands of indiscriminately slaughtered soldiers and civilians of all agesKuwaitis, Iraqis, Palestinians and Jordanians.
U.S. planes dropped napalm and fuel-air explosives on Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil wells, starting fires which polluted the entire Persian Gulf.
Cluster bombs and anti-personnel fragmentation bombs were used in Basra and other cities and towns against civilian convoys of fleeing vehicles.
The U.S.-dictated sanctions imposed on Iraq for the last nine years have prevented shipments of needed medicines, water purifiers, infant milk formula and food, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and illness and permanent injury to many thousands more.
This is the U.S. version of Hitlers Final Solution. These champions of "human rights" who are censuring McCaffrey!
Wars are raging across Africa like unquenchable fires. And like fire, it is spreading even more. The British have sent elite troops to intervene in the civil war to control the diamond mines of Sierra Leone. The armies of Uganda and Rwanda (both considered key allies of the U.S.) are at war over some border areas. The "cease-fire" announced periodically in the Congo civil war involving local nationalists and the armies of several other African countries never holds. And now the former "close comrades" ruling Eritrea and Ethiopia are warring agasin.
Whats behind this killing of hundred of thousands in Africa? First, the old European imperialistsBritain, France, Belgium and Portugalwho ruled most of Africa until the 1950s (1975 in the case of Mozambique, Angola and other Portuguese colonies) totally ruined those countries. The British ruled under the old tactic of divide and conquer and intensified ethnic divisions. The Belgian and Portuguese colonialists prevented the emergence of an educated group of Africans.
Then came the Cold War. The U.S. supported the worst kind of brutal rulers, like Mobutu in the Congo and Haile Selassie in Ethiopia, because they were virulently anti-communist and opposed the former Soviet Union. After the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, the Soviet Union began to seriously Challenge U.S. power in Africa. Pro-Soviet governments emerged in Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique, some as corrupt and brutal as the ones the U.S. supported. In Angola and Mozambique, the U.S. used South Africas apartheid army to support anti-Soviet groups. The Cuban army was sent to help crush the anti-Soviet groups. Cuban and Angolan troops badly defeated the South African army.
But as the Soviet Union imploded, its allies in Africa either ran (like Colonel Mengistu, now exiled in Zimbabwe) or changed sides and welcomed the former imperialists. In Angola, U.S. oil companies like Gulf Oil were operating and protected by the same Cuban troops that had fought the pro-U.S./South African forces.
Today, the contradictions have changed. Now the old anti-Soviet imperialists, France, Britain and the U.S. are fighting each other for the minerals and oil of Africa. Alliances keep shifting. Their local allies change sides. For example, the rulers of Ethiopia and Eritrea were allies fighting the pro-Soviet Mengistu regime that used to rule Ethiopia (and also ruled Eritrea). Both anti-Mengistu forces fought for "national liberation." They allied themselves with the U.S. against the Soviet forces. Now, a few years after being in power, theyre fighting each other. Theyre not fighting, as some believe, for a "piece of the dessert in the middle of nowhere," but rather for control of the key Red Sea coastline, crucial to the oil tankers maritime route.
Says the on-line Stratfor website, "When Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1993, it took the entire coastline, including both Red Sea portsleaving Ethiopia landlocked. Although Ethiopias government supported independence, conflicts soon arose between the two. They initially clashed over Ethiopias access to Eritreas two ports and inequitable trade. Though smaller, Eritrea held the upper hand over its larger neighbor. The government in Asmara (Eritrea) kept the countrys market effectively closed to Ethiopian goods, while Eritrean goods could freely enter neighboring Ethiopia. Border disputes erupted into war. Small unit skirmishes led to artillery duels, trench warfare, trench warfare and air strikes." (Www.Stratfor.com/ 5/17/).
Millions are dying in Africa because of these wars for profits and control of oil and oil routes and because of their consequences: hundred of thousands are constantly starving in Ethiopia/Eritrea. The local rulers and the imperialists are the modern Attila the Hun, the scourge of the earth. Unless the cause, capitalism and imperialism, is unearthed and buried, this unending graveyard will be filled only with workers and their families. The most important thing workers and their allies must do now is to build a communist movement.
"When the bosses talk about peace, better get a helmet" wrote Bertolt Brecht, the German communist playwright/poet. After the CIA murdered Patrice Lumumba, the leftist Prime Minister of the Congo soon after it became independent of Belgium in 1960, dictator Mobutu came to power and renamed the country Zaire. Mobutu was the CIA favorite until he outlived his usefulness after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since crooked Mobuir was sent packing, "peace" was supposed to come to the Congo. But things did not turn out that way. The allies of Laurent Kabila, who led the war that ousted Mobutu, turned against him, and a new civil war started. In August 1998, the armies of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda turned against Kabila. The armies of Rwanda and Uganda are now fighting each other. In the middle of all this, the armies of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia sent troops to the Congo to help Kabila. These confusing horrors, created by capitalist ghouls, are devouring millions of poor workers so a small wealthy group of rulers can sit on golden toilet seats.
The imperialists say they have no vital interests in Africa. In reality the opposite is true. France, the U.S. and Britain are involved in Africa. And they support different groups at different times to go to war for their needs. Congo is rich in many important minerals, diamonds, copper, cadmium (used for military purposes), etc.
During July and August 1999, the warring forces in the Congo signed peace agreements and have broken them constantly. The last cease-fire violation was the massacre of 300 innocent people on the evenings of May 14 and 15 by the BANYAMULENGUE, the main militia group fighting Kabila. According to ABC, Madrid (5/21): "The massacre took place in the village of Katogata in the region of the Great Lakes. It began in the late afternoon and lasted till 5 A.M. the next day, reported a survivor .Men, women, children and old people were massacred with guns, knives, etc. Many bodies were thrown into a river."
When the bosses and their goons talk about peace, dont just get a helmet but organize to fight to smash them all before they kill you.
The U.S.-backed Middle East "peace process" is rapidly becoming a "war process." Israel-Palestine, Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon are all heading towards more conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Barak, with the full backing of the U.S. ruling class, got elected on a promise to end the 22-year occupation of Lebanon. But the Israeli retreat from Lebanon was disrupted with the collapse of the pro-Israeli Southern Lebanon Army (SLA). Syrian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas moved into the areas vacated by the SLAs collapse. Seizing large amounts of Israeli weapons and ammunition, and occupying territory up to the Israeli border has "added a dangerous new element of instability to the Middle East." (New York Times, 5/23)
This is not what U.S. imperialism needs. The centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy, to the degree there is one, is to add Palestinian and Syrian peace treaties with Israel to those already signed by Egypt and Jordan. They want to "stabilize" the region in preparation for a major war against Iraq to secure Exxons oil profits.
For years, Syria has controlled the flow of arms to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas. Syrian president Hafez al-Assad has kept them on a tight leash, strong enough to harass the Israelis but too weak to win. Now that Israel has left Lebanon, Assad faces a dilemma. If he stops the arms flow, Israel stops bleeding and has less incentive to reach a deal with Syria. But if Hezbollah launches attacks into Israel, they will "hold the governments of Beirut and Damascus, Syria, responsible and would not rule out retaliatory strikes." (New York Times, 5/24) The Clinton gang will press for a Syrian-Israeli peace pact, but it may be preceded by confrontation.
Meanwhile, Palestinian boss Yasir Arafat has figured out that his best bet is to let Palestinian workers rebel against Israeli occupation. Palestinian workers are getting fed up with Arafat's corruption and his vast army of 50,000 cops for three million people (four times as many cops-per-person as New York, eight times as many as in LA). Teachers in the West Bank have been striking for two months, demanding their first pay raise in four years. Arafat is using the rebellions to get workers to direct their anger against someone other than him, while he presses for more concessions from Israeli bosses.
Isreal is the dominant force in the region. Its economy is five times the size of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine combined. U.S. imperialism provides Israeli rulers with the latest fighter planes and the most sophisticated electronic gear. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and the most advanced anti-missile system in the world. They are still the dominant force in the region.
Clinton huddles with Israeli and Palestinian leaders practically every month, and the U.S. pours in $5 billion in aid every year. In February, Clinton went to Syria to meet Assad only to have his every request refused. U.S. capitalists are on the horns of a dilemma as one "peace initiative" after another goes up in smoke, from Sierra Leone to Ethiopia and Eritrea to Kosovo, Colombia, Congo and many more.
U.S. imperialism has had it good since 1991. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the victory in the Gulf War ushered in a decade of economic prosperity for U.S. capitalists. But as wars spread across the world, the good times may be coming to an end. But capitalism wont die a natural death, we have to kill it. Building a mass international PLP can help turn the next Middle East bloodbath into communist revolution.
When Colonel Chavez took power in Venezuela 16 months ago, he promised to end the corrupt two-party system which enforces mass inequality in this oil-rich country. Chavez promised a "revolution," ended the old constitution and its parliament and formed a new constituent assembly. For a while he got mass support from workers and their allies.
But illusions in capitalist politicians, no matter how "revolutionary" or "nationalist" they sound, are dangerous for workers. Now Chavezs own movement is in disarray. His former "close comrade," Francisco Arias Cárdenas, an ex-military officer, is running against him, accusing Chavez of "turning the revolution into a fiasco."
What happened to this "revolution"? Although oil prices are the highest in a decade, unemployment has doubled. Fifty percent of the workforce is unemployed or underemployed. Almost 90% of the population are below the official poverty line.
All this is caused by the crisis of capitalism. The rise in oil prices is not due to an increased demand but to a cutback in production by the leading oil exporters in OPEC. OPEC member Venezuela supported this cutback. The Chavez government ordered a 20% slash in domestic production. Oil wells were closed and 8,000 oil workers were laid off. When they struck against these layoffs, the "workers friend" Chavez broke it. He justified this attack with the phony excuse that union leaders are corrupt (which is true). But it was the workers who were victimized.
According to Business Week (March 3), the oil production cutback is the main reason behind the fall of the Gross Domestic Product and Venezuelas recession.
Since international privately-owned oil companies are not member s of OPEC and therefore not governed by its decisions, production was cut back only done by PDVSA, the state oil company. Production was cut by 625,000 barrels a day in 1999, but today it can be increased only by 150,000 barrels since many of the closed wells cannot be reopened. Meanwhile, international oil companies operating in Venezuela are making huge profits.
So the Chavez "revolution" has attacked workers while its oil price hike has increased profits for the imperialist oil companies (so much for Chavez so-called anti-imperialism). The lesson: only workers revolution, led by communists, can free workers from the yoke of capitalism.
The fight between Democratic Party presidential candidate Al Gore and the AFL-CIO over the China trade agreement is immersed in a myriad of contradictions. The AFL-CIO has endorsed Gore for President but simultaneously opposes the Clinton Administration policy on giving China permanent normal trade relations. Gore backs the Clinton policy but looks to the AFL-CIO for major support.
In general, Sweeney & Co. backs the Rockefeller wing of the ruling class but they also must retain a certain level of a base among the rank and file. Theyre using their opposition to the China trade pact as a"job-saving" ploy, agreed to concession after concession to the ruling class on the job issue for decades, watching auto plant after still mill close.
Gore spoke at a UFCWUnited union gathering and was given a standing ovation despite his support for Clintons China policy. The New York Times reported (May 23) that "the audience appeared to be forgiving of his pro-China position." Said one union political worker from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, "Were not naïve .On the vast majority of issues, well stand with him and hell stand with us."
Just as there are divisions within the ruling class, so too are there divisions among the union bosses, depending on their onstituencies. The Teamsters, Steelworkers and Autoworkers unions are vocal in their opposition to the China Trade Pact, and to some extent Gore, while others like the UFCWstill support Gore. The UAW is "hinting" they might switch from Gore to Ralph Nader, who is financed by racist textile billionaire Milliken. This billionaire also finances Reform Party Presidential candidate Pat "I-Love-Hitler" Buchanan. Hoffas Teamsters are flirting with supporting Buchanan.
However, one thing is certain: the Democratic Party and Sweeney & Co. are on the same side when it comes to serving capitalism and screwing the workers. Just as with NAFTA (supported by Clinton-Gore and opposed by the AFL-CIO), the labor honchos for the most part--and the Rockefeller-dominated Democratic Party will continue to remain thick as thieves.
Temporarily, they have opposing positions on the China Trade issue. But in the final analysis, both their positions serve U.S. imperialism. Gore is fighting to open up China for US imperialism rather than allow the Japanese and Europeans to be the main investors there. By pushing anti-Chinese sentiment and anti-communism (even though China is not communist but capitalist), the unions are really building deadly nationalism, which serves to tie workers to U.S. imperialism.
"There is joy from Flatbush to Harlem to the South Bronx" a black worker said when he heard about Mayor Giulianis fall. But, as we reported in last weeks CHALLENGE, workers have to temper that joy with the reality that Giulianis foes not only include anti-racist workers and youth, but also sections of the ruling class that saw him serve the wrong masters. Lets take a look at one of those masters Giuliani served.
All of Giulianis major policies as NYC mayor came from his masters at the Manhattan Institute (MI). The latters founding funders included both Rockefellers Chase Bank and its rival Citicorp. This tactical alliance lasted through Giulianis first term. Each group of bosses wanted drastic reductions in NYC social services and a corresponding increase in police terror. Meanwhile, they wanted to pump up real estate values, profit from tourism and attract corporate investment.
The MIs expertise in anti-working class savagery long pre-dates Giulianis arrival in City Hall. Rudolph/Adolf merely picked up the baton:
In 1984, the MI funded the publication of Losing Ground, the racist tract by Harvards Charles Murray that "many people believe begat welfare reform" [i.e., fascist WorkfareEd.] (New York Times, 5/12/97). CHALLENGE readers may remember Murray as the co-author of the viciously racist The Bell Curve. This modernized Nazi scribbling pushed the Big Lie about "genetic" causes to "explain" the difference in IQ scores between black and white children and called for dumping affirmative action policies. Shortly after the books 1994 publication, the MI-sponsored a luncheon in Murrays honor (www.accuracy.org).
By 1990, the MI was already promoting "theories" about crime and "quality of life," which Giuliani soon advanced in his first racist mayoral campaign in 1993. These ideas led to the infamous "zero tolerance" policy pursued by Giulianis first police commissioner, William Bratton.
The MI provided the intellectual ammunition for Giulianis attacks against open admissions at New Yorks City University and also laid out the justification for privatizing NYC hospitals. According to the New York Times, it is the "brains" behind Giulianis policies " on such issues as the citys tax structure, economic development, education policy, policing and quality of life." (5/12/97).
Giuliani proudly proclaims his respect for his racist mentors at the MI. He told the New York Times that he had found [the MI publicationEd.] City Journal "enormously helpful. Ive read it for years. It produces very good ideas" (5/12/97).
Now the Rockefellers have decided on a tactical approach different from the open racism of Giuliani and the MI. But workers shouldnt make the deadly error of falling for the next "lesser evil" liberal substitute. As previous CHALLENGE articles have shown, for example, Rockefeller-backed "community policing" is hardly a "kinder, gentler" form of bosses dictatorship than Giulianis "zero tolerance" terror. "Community policing" will mean even more arrests, more long jail sentences and more violence directed against workers and working class youth in particular. In the last analysis, terror is always the name of the game the rulers must play to hold power over us.
COLUMBUS, OHIO, May 22, 2000 Two thousand workers from CWA (Communications Workers of America) Local 4501 just tentatively concluded a three-week strike against the bosses that run the Ohio State University and OSU Hospitals here. OSU is one of the countrys largest universities, employing thousands workers. Thanks to the racist sexist capitalist system, a disproportionate number of black and women workers are funneled into the lowest-paying jobs. The strikers included janitors, maintenance workers, housekeepers, dietary workers, bus drivers and other categories and were led by liberal, Democratic Party sellouts. However, several lessons can be learned from this strike:
The workers are beginning to see through the unions phony leadership. It was militant workers who pushed for a $2 across-the-board raise for everyone rather than settle for a 4% increase.
The workers saw the need for militant multiracial unity of workers, students and other allies to counter the bosses tools. Many students occupied Bricker Hall (the administration building) to show support for the strikers. Much of the student leadership came from minority student groups. The university bosses tried their best to encourage students to scab and were successful to a certain degree.
Workers and students saw how the liberal university bosses, who blather about "diversity," really operate. They wanted the union to agree to less of a raise for the hospital workers. Surprise, surprise, these workers are mainly women and minority and are some of the lowest-paid on campus. Rank-and-file union militants (many of whom are women and minority) vocally opposed this move. To the liberal bosses "diversity" means inviting liberal speakers to hawk their books on campus while simultaneously trying to enforce a racist and sexist wage scale.
All the contradictions of capitalism can be seen inside the university. Liberal President Kirwan makes $275,000 per year plus extras. The salary of is second in command, Provost Ed Ray, rose from $177,000 last year to $219,000 this year (a 24% hike). This pattern saturates Kirwan's administration. Like the big capitalist bosses in the larger society, they reward themselves handsomely while crying budget constraints when poorly-paid workers try to make ends meet.
The liberal university bosses threatened to punish professors who cancelled classes out of support for the strikers. They took out full-page ads in the student paper to get students to report any professor who did not "fulfill obligations". So much for academic freedom and freedom of speech. Shades of Hitler!
Area Party members and friends must be better organized, bolder and more ready to provide communist leadership to workers and students. We must ensure that the most advanced workers see the larger picture. Success cannot be measured in how much we win from the bosses economically. We will never win enough to have a decent life under capitalism. Winning is getting more workers to see the need to destroy capitalism with communist revolution if we are to create a society in which workers share all the fruits of their labors.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador"When the bosses talk of peace, get ready for war." So began the discussion in a new Party club of university students.
Last May 10 this slogan described events here exactly. Thousands of bombs stored by the bosses army in the center of San Salvador exploded in the middle of the night. The military claimed a grenade went off accidentally, causing the explosion. It damaged and destroyed the homes of 800 workers who live in the neighborhoods near the barracks. Three people died and dozens were injured. Others remain exposed to the bad weather. Sonia Vilma Sanchez, 40, mother of three, was the first to die.
The Defense Minister said there are seven more arsenals located here, without mentioning those hidden in the rest of the country.
"In peacetime, why do they need to keep huge quantities of weapons?" asked a student. Because they are part of the war against the working class to enforce the bosses profit system of poverty and to put down workers rebellions, as well as potential staging grounds for U.S. imperialist adventures (Nicaragua). The armed forces torture and murder.
Workers shouldnt forget this explosion. We shouldnt believe fairy tales that the rulers army is for "democracy and peace" and will cease its attacks on workers and students.
Now more than ever we need to organize PLP clubs, build the understanding that capitalism wont fall by itself, that millions of workers need to fight for a new communist society.
PLP is the working classs only weapon to destroy the ruling class by armed revolution. This is the only guarantee of a successful communist revolution and the building of a society that produces for workers needs.
This group of students has read and studied CHALLENGE for some time. But the latest events in El Salvador, the possibility of imperialist war, and the economic crisis of world capitalism, spurred three of these youth to take the important step of joining PLP.
On this occasion, these youth declared:
"Im willing to fight for the communist cause no matter what the consequences."
"As long as Marxist ideas continue to be the ideas of PLP, I will be in the Party and fight for them."
"We must continue fighting to organize many more of our class brothers and sisters. We have to build more party clubs. Thats our main job."
LOS ANGELES, CALast Sunday, May 20, another undocumented immigrant worker was shot to death in Brownsville, Texas by the racist Migra (Immigration Service). The 25-year-old Mexican youth committed the "crime" of wanting to find a job to survive and to help his family. Instead he found death at the hands of the fascist policy of both Clinton and the "shoot-to-kill" Barnett brothers of "shoot to kill."
This workers death can be added to others in Sasabe, Arizona. On May 18, four youth were ambushed and shot by two racists on horseback armed with high-powered rifles. According to Miguel A. Palofox, survivor of the shooting, the other four fell before him and when he regained consciousness , bleeding, the other four bodies were nowhere to be found. According to these fascist vigilantes, this is only the beginning since, according to the newspaper LA REFORMA of Mexico, "in a meeting of racists in the border town of Sierra Vista, where ranchers, the Ku Klux Klan and Glen Spence of Voice of Citizens Together participated, the next step will be to put anti-personnel mines in the area."
Twenty-five years ago in Douglas, Arizona, George Hannagan stopped a group of undocumented workers crossing the border at gunpoint. He tied them up and, before turning them over to the Migra, burned their feet.
In the last five years Operation Gatekeeper, under the Clinton Administration, has killed more than 1,500 workers. This has forced many desperate workers to try to cross through these ranches of racism and death. These racist executions of black and Latino workers, both at the border as well as by the police in the big U.S. cities like LA, Chicago and New York are part of the growth of fascist terror to super-exploit the working class. These racist vigilantes are part of a movement against the liberal bosses. But the liberal fascist rulers are #1 in racist murder!
While the fascist vigilantes in Arizona murdered undocumented immigrants, the fascist LA County Sheriffs murdered 34-year-old Richard Garcia in East LA on May 20, just a few blocks from where they murdered Ricardo Close a year ago. They shot and killed Richard in front of his sister, brother and mother who had just asked the police to help him because he was depressed. Richard had had a small fight with his brother and was running away. The cops never told Richard to stop running. They just shot him, both family members and other witnesses said. PLP members have visited the family to express our anger and offered to help organize a demonstration. Our offer was gratefully received and we were invited back.
PLP is urging workers in unions and students in campus organizations to plan demonstrations and take up the fight against these fascist attacks and to join the long-term fight against this fascist system that rules through terror, lies and exploitation!
LOS ANGELES, Ca, May 23About 6,000 teachers demonstrated today at the school board for a wage increase and against the boards divisive merit pay proposal, which would tie pay increases to students test scores. They also demanded the right to grieve dirty, ill-equipped classrooms. A group of teachers passed out PLP leaflets attacking the new school plans like peer review, showing that this will be used to guarantee the retention of teachers who are loyal to this racist system. This system is attacking the students every day while it prepares more oil wars. Our leaflet called on teachers to unite with parents and students to help students fight to learn and learn to fight this racist capitalist system.
(Full story next week.)
I read with interest the May 24 CHALLENGE interviews with some of the striking janitors in Los Angeles and their criticism of SEIU (Service Employees International Union).
I was a member of this union in Western Pennsylvania for a number of years. I was local President, shop steward and was one of the rank and file chosen to re-write the constitution after the Sweeney Trusteeship thing.
Firstly, I can honestly say I was used by that unions head honcho, who was primarily interested in feathering her own nest and later went on to a higher-paying position. Most of the workers were so disgusted with this official and the unions inaction in helping with their problems that often very few would show up at meetings. This led to cynicism. But the blame rests with the union leadership, who operate in a top-down dictatorial fashion.
When I would go to Harrisburg with other workers once a month to work on the new constitution, hot shots from the top would be there to monitor us and usually dictate what they wanted in that constitution. At night we would sit in our hotel rooms and talk about what a farce the whole thing was, how we were merely puppets. After the constitution was re-written, nothing changed.
So I have seen the same sort of corruption and sellout leadership as those janitors. Still, I have worked at non-union jobs and it is better to have some kind of union. At least, you have some protection from the bosses. At a non-union job, I witnessed people terminated for no reason and replaced with a friend of the bosses.
But I still wonder what workers' power will mean, how workers will have more control under communism at the workplace. Will they have the right to strike if they feel important issues are being ignored on their jobs?
Finally, I was at my first May Day march on May 6, and felt a sense of hope for turning this mess around and getting rid of this rotten killing machine called capitalism.
CHALLENGE COMMENTS: Grandmother Jones raises some interesting points: (1) working in a union place is better than not having a union, even though the union hacks are so rotten; (2) would workers be able to strike under communism if their grievances on the job were not met. What do our readers think?
For me the bus ride to Washington, D.C. is as exciting as the May Day march itself. It's wonderful to hear people speak about their lives, especially young people. This year I was moved when one fellow apologized for his sexist actions, and one woman, in turn, was self-critical about feeding into his behavior. The incident reminded me that the bus ride represents communism today in that people get closer through struggle, collectivity and good leadership. But what motivated me to write this letter was a deep appreciation of how the Progressive Labor Party learns from history, applies lessons to current struggles and provides a realistic vision for our futurelike no other organization.
Many of us have sat on union-sponsored buses where no one is encouraged to speak. The implication is that the union leaders have all the answers. They are never self-critical or ask the masses to evaluate a demonstration. When do they talk about the need for unity with other unions or immigrant workers? And forget about making the link to working class history or rebuilding all society! Only our party takes the noble lessons of the Paris Commune, the story of the first May Day, the Russian and Chinese revolutionsall spoken of on the bus. We marchers are prepared with a tangible sense that the red flag we carry came from the hands of millions of other workers.
Other so-called "leaders" tell us, "look to a higher power; just live one day at a time." On the contrary, we know that our days are welded to the years where our brothers and sisters tried to build communism. The PL videos on welfare and education seen on the bus show how our power can only come from relying on workers alongside us. It is we who must lead, recruit and make plans for tomorrow based on today's lessons.
We asked ourselves on the bus, what is communism? No better time than in a group discussion to bring out our questions about the collectivity the bosses have taught us to fear. This year one young man who sold CHALLENGE on the march talked about how he was taunted, "Don't you know you could die for communism?" We talked about the Vietnam Syndrome that showed the world how fighting for the dollar bill was defeated by communist heroism.
All this is to say that we often take for granted the unbeatable methods of dialectics by which our Party learns from the past and gives to the present and our future. Confidence in the working class is renewed on the May Day buses but equally so is our commitment to PLP.
A New Jersey Comrade
"Did you receive your Census form?" I asked my friend as I filled my tank at the gas station. "I didn't send it in," I continued "Why should I designate race? We're all equal. We all need good services in Oakland."
"You're so right" he replied. I said, "Under capitalism the fascist institutions of the State serving the ruling classlike the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and the INS (Immigration Service)and use the census information to tighten control on workers in the U.S. police state."
"It could be different," my friend said. "Yes, under communism we would use the census to provide equality for all workers," I said. "Check out our newspaper CHALLENGE. We just had our May Day march!" "Its even in Spanish," my friend replied.
"It could even be in Chinese if you would write us a story" (my friend came to the U.S. from Taiwan). "Ill check it out," he said.
"Theres more to come," I replied. "See you next time!"
Keep up the good work in CHALLENGE.
The Presidential elections in the Dominican Republic replaced talk about baseball for a while among Dominican immigrants here in New York City. Opinions were divided but most people wanted a change in government and hoped that the social-democratic Dominican "Revolutionary" Party would win and "improve conditions" among poor people back home.
Hipólito Mejía, an agricultural businessman, won in the first election round, equaling the combined total of Danilo Medina, the candidate of the current ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) and of 94-year-old Joaquín Balaguer (president several times in the past).
The Hipólito Mejía victory was a rejection of the current government led by the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). The PLD won four years ago, "promising" it would modernize the country and improve the lot of working people. The PLD considered itself a "national liberation" party and a cadre organization (you couldnt just sign up but had to prove yourself first). But as soon as the PLD came to power, it adopted free market reforms (neo-liberalism), privatizing many state-owned enterprises. These policies enriched local and foreign investors and the top officials of the PLD While the Dominican economy grew by 8% a year, the highest in Latin America, nothing trickled down to the masses. So the rich got richer and poor got even poorer.
Now people have the illusion the new President will funnel some of this growth to the masses. But thats not the way capitalism works, no matter whos elected. In the past very little trickled down; now almost nothing does. The PRD, the new presidents Party, was in power twice between 1978 and 1986. Then corruption was rampant, including universal repression of workers and youth. In early 1981, a mass rebellion erupted against the PRD, opposing IMF austerity "reforms," making the poor even poorer. The PRD sent in the Army to crush the rebellions, murdering hundreds.
Workers and their allies do not understand that the state is the dictatorship of the capitalist class against workers and their allies. The phony left in the Dominican Republic, that used to be rather large, contributes to the illusion that something can be gained from lesser evil politicians. But the fact is no President will better conditions for the working class because all parties follow capitalisms profit system. Elections in the Dominican Republic are mainly a fight between rival sections of the ruling class over which one will control the state, and nowadays which imperialist power to serve (the U.S. or the Europeans). Workers end up losing no matter whos elected. Nothing less than a communist party, as PLP is, can win workers to this understanding.
....So says Professor Peter Singer talking about children with defects.
I found out a week before his visit that this Nazi-like professor from Princeton would be speaking at my university. In that week I took final exams (I'm still a student and also working full-time), wrote a flyer (with my oldest sisters help), passed out about 550 flyers on campus (aided by a multi-racial group of 13 co-workers, family members and friends), and raised consciousness of the true issues at the event itself.
When I first heard about this event, with little time to prepare, a co-worker volunteered to get more information from the Internet for the flyer opposing Singer's views. He also enthusiastically helped distribute the flyer.
One of my co-workers brought three family members to the protest. She had been debating on whether to come, not seeing the difference one person would make. When I explained the dangers of pacifism, she agreed to participate. She later paid for more copies of the flyer after we ran out during the protest.
About 500 people came and everyone wanted to read our flyer. After Singer's speech, I attacked him, explaining that his ideas would lead to death for the poor, while wealthy families with disabled children can pay for help. Then many others attacked his ideas.
As a PLP member I was able to get input from other comrades. Sometimes I can see "a wrong" but have trouble expressing the "why." Our ability to ask questions openly within the Party without feeling one is dumb is crucial and very supportive.
The following are excerpts of the flyer distributed at Cal State University, Bakersfield:
"Who is Worthy of Life?
According to Peter Singer, some lives are not worth living. Children with Downs' Syndrome, mental retardation, disabilities, infants born with birth defects, etc., should be non-voluntarily killed since they, "are not rational and self-conscious and so not persons," as he explains in his book Practical Ethics. This is only a part of Singer's dangerous agenda, which Hitler named and practiced as eugenics.
Lies like these are used for rationing services for the poor. If a person is less worthy of life, why continue to provide tax dollars to help them live healthy lives? If services are cut, those affected the most will be minorities and poor whites. Some say, "If you don't like his ideas, don't go hear him speak." [But] if you don't show opposition whenever a Nazi racist like Singer comes to talk, then you are allowing others to listen and be won over to their ideas. You are allowing fascism to grow.
Human life is not valued by this system. There are millions of homeless in the U.S., millions more starving across the world, but in March 1989 The Wall Street Journal described overproduction in many U.S. industries. As a result, [tens of thousands] were laid off. Overproduction does not mean more was produced than was needed. It means more was produced than could be sold for profit. We have the capacity to feed and house the entire homeless and hungry population, but this would not bring profits to the capitalist system. Greed runs this system, not respect for human life.
If there were a God out there, He would want a better system for us. A system that does not live and survive off everything bad and evil in human beings. He would want us to rise up and create a society where we live in equality, where everyone gets according to need; a system where nobody is forced to work in order to eat, but instead is motivated by their commitment to their children, to their community, and to the betterment of their collective society. A system where human beings are valued not because of the worth of their production, but simply because of the worth as a HUMAN BEING.
Singer and his ideas are dangerous. They reflect the worst of a bloody profit system.
[Editors Note: "That better system" described in the above leaflet is called communism, which is what we in PLP fight for. But we agree with Prof. Singer that "...people should be killed," but not the ones he mentioned....]
The specter of communism is here to stay. We saw it and felt it in our May Day march in Washington D.C. Years ago Karl Marx said, "Communism is already acknowledged by the bosses power to be itself a power among the working class." An example of this was seeing Asian, Latin, black and white young people taking leadership on the march.
Our youth are sick and tired of this capitalist system which cannot provide a community without drugs, an educational system which can't teach solidarity and sharing and streets without police brutality. That's why many youngsters decide to pick up the red flag of communism and march on May Day with PLP.
When I was marching. I saw this young black man carrying the bullhorn during the whole march. It was a hot, sunny day, but it didn't stop the comrade who was teaching English to an Hispanic woman comrade who only spoke Spanish. This is communism taking power.
A New York City Worker
In the wake of a better May Day effort, two more people have joined our workers club. In addition, two friends of the Party attended our last club meeting. We discussed what it means to be a member of PLP, and its role in the current period.
A new member described the importance of an organization like PLP. He said theres no other organization like our Party because were not afraid to speak the truth. Another comrade, a member for a few years, said for a long time he didnt agree with communism. Now he sees the need for it, but because of family problems, he is limited in what he can do. But this comrade has taken steps to secure his family situation and, in the long run, to contribute more to the Partys work. One of our friends, an ex-member, said the May Day march had helped bring him back around the Party.
Our club is beginning a dialectics class for new and newer members. We need to constantly return to the study of dialectical materialism. Dialectics can teach how to do work inside mass organizations. This work has posed lots of barriers for our Party, but is also the key to our advancement during this difficult and complex historical period.
All in all, our club members and friends have more confidence in the Party. We also see more clearly the growth of war and fascism. If we advance our line more strongly in the mass organizations, the working class will respond positively and our Party will grow.
Garden State Red
In response to NYC comrade's letter in CHALLENGE (5/24), I agreethe decline in May Day numbers can't be ignored. The working class is a cautious bunch, with good reason. Theyve been told lies all their lives. Believing the lies has caused disastrous results for them. As the old song says, "You're telling me all the things your gonna do for me. Well, I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see." If the Party's plan is to take our revolutionary message to the streets, we'd better be able to withstand the scrutiny of the working class.
What distinguishes us from other political organizations? You can be sure that the working class is asking this question about PLP. We'd better have something substantial to offer them rather than idle talk about "all the things we're gonna do for them."
The Party is not a social club. Building ties with people is important, but building peoples commitment to communist revolution is more effective in the long run. We can't be just a bunch of rocks heating up in the sun. We'd better be a Party of hatching communist revolutionaries. We have to be involved in class struggle daily whether it's within our collectives, on the job or while working in mass organizations. We must learn by practice and teach others by example how to build the Party for revolution. It isn't our job to help people climb social ladders as some reformist organizations do, but to help people climb out of the hold of the capitalist slave ships, which are sinking, and organize a mutiny.