Challenge, August 7, 2000

Muni Drivers Reject Sellout Contract And Anti-Communism

Editorial: Liberal Campaign Against Death Penalty: Cover for Big Bosses’ Oil War

Liberal-Flunky Smokescreen Can’t Hide Profit System’s Deadly Racism

Morristown Anti-Nazi Battle Spurs Summer Project Anti-Racist Activities

LA Sweatshops, Prison Labor: Two Sides of Bo$$e$ Coin

Rally And March On Thursday, August 17 At 4 P.M. — 8th And Santee

In Boston ’75, The Racists Did Not Survive…But We Did!

May Day ‘75 Launched ‘Death To Fascists’ Fight Against Boston Racists

Nazi Torture: The Racist Beasts Of Clinton Prison

AFSCME Dances To Bosses’ Tune; Not A Hit With Workers

A Taste of Communism Under The Red Tent

Thousands Protest Racist Killing


Revolt in Iran

BOSTON ‘75 Revisited

Fighting Racism = Best Medicine

‘Who Wants to Be A Communist?’

Workers’Anger Brews in Colombia’s Bavaria Beer

‘What is Truth?’

Prayer Won’t Get Us There

Mexico: Beware of Fox Baring Fangs to Devour Working Class

El Salvador: ‘The System Works’ . . . For the Bosses

Muni Drivers Reject Sellout Contract And Anti-Communism

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. JULY 15 — TWU Local 250A union officials used anti-communism to try to pass their sellout contract by saying PLP member John Murray, a 26-year veteran bus driver and Executive Board member, "has a hidden agenda." At one heated barn meeting of MUNI bus drivers a worker rose and warned, "You say he has a ‘hidden agenda.’ Well, you better find that agenda, because that’s the agenda we want!" Drivers applauded.

Anti-communism wasn’t the only thing defeated in this contract fight. As we go to press, the workers have rejected the tentative agreement by nearly 4 to 1—1175 voted NO, with only 308 in favor.

At these barn meetings, pro-boss Executive Board members were trying to sell the now defeated contract. They wanted to ward off the growing mass rebellion against the union leadership, the new transit authority and the downtown ruling class they serve.

All hell has broken loose. At six barn meetings, the contract was discussed and then attacked. "Why do we always have to lose something to get something?" was a common sentiment. "When are we going to fight instead of giving things up?" In a high seniority barn a driver with close to 30 years service attacked the leadership for bringing back "a contract with work incentive programs which will save MUNI millions but give drivers chump change." He is retiring in a year and declared, "We have to do something for the newer drivers and this contact doesn’t do that."

At each barn meeting, the PLP member on the negotiating team broke the code of silence the union leadership imposes to keep Executive Board members in line. He told and retold how the contract was negotiated and how the membership was sold out. This opened a floodgate and the membership came pouring through demanding, "We want the truth!"

At meeting after meeting workers are asking, "What can we do if we turn this contract down?" Conversations range from "Can we strike?," to how to organize ourselves, to how to change the negotiating team, and how to "take back our union." At each barn the younger drivers, men and women, Latin, Asian and black, have emerged as a leading force.

While the anti-communist attacks on PLP have failed miserably, there’s a contradiction here. Workers respect PLP based on decades of militant struggle at MUNI, and defend our "right" to be communists. On the other hand, there is agreement and disagreement with communist ideas. As one driver said, "I’ll ride with you on some ideas and others I won’t." More drivers understand that this contract is the agenda of the downtown corporations. They see that this is no longer civil service, but corporate service.

Our political analysis that capitalism is booming by busting workers is growing. This is reflected in the distribution of 192 CHALLENGES by active and retired drivers and their friends. As we expose the system of wage slavery, the actual attacks by capitalism will convince our fellow workers of the truth of these ideas. Eventually people will see a need for a mass PLP to deal with this system once and for all. This is a long journey and like any long journey, we’re going to have to get to know each other very well.


Liberal Campaign Against Death Penalty: Cover for Big Bosses’ Oil War

The liberal Rockefeller forces—the dominant wing of U.S. bosses—are mounting a campaign against the death penalty on the grounds that it discriminates by "race." This is a sickening exercise in hypocrisy. Under Rockefeller rule, U.S. imperialism has used racism to murder more workers at home and abroad than Hitler ever did. These bosses have no intention of abandoning the trillion-dollar superprofits they rake in from racism. Attacking unfair death sentencing turns out to be little more than a public relations ploy by the bigger capitalists. It also helps them tighten their grip on state power as they prepare for a major military action. So, once again, the wolf is disguising himself in sheep’s clothing.

The Rockefeller wing has launched this phony crusade for two reasons. First, it needs to appear more "humanitarian." U.S. capitalism is by far the world champion of capital punishment. The high percentage of black people among those executed has earned the rulers an international reputation for racist barbarity. This doesn’t exactly enhance the Rockefeller strategy of giving a "human rights" cover to U.S. imperialism’s future oil wars and other military adventures against its rivals. Nor does it alleviate the "Vietnam Syndrome."

The Vietnam War opened many workers’ eyes to the fundamental racism of the U.S. war machine. Since then, the bosses have been unable to field a massive military force that is loyal and united. As part of a lengthy series entitled "How Race Is Lived in America," the NEW YORK TIMES warned of a "racial divide" within a U.S. tank battalion. The next invasion of Iraq will require a committed multi-racial military. Weighing this need against a desire to look "tough on crime," Clinton has postponed the upcoming federal execution of a Latino prisoner.

It’s even more urgent for George W. Bush to shed his well-deserved image as a racist butcher. He must show the Rockefellers he can lead U.S. troops, especially the high proportion of black and Latin soldiers, into Exxon’s next ground war for Persian Gulf oil. Bush’s Texas carries out more executions than any other state. Bush blithely signs the death warrants because he, like his father, politically plays both sides, courting both the Rockefeller wing and its ultra-conservative competitors. But, also like his father, Bush ultimately sides with the Eastern Establishment.

With Desert Storm II looming, the main wing wants Bush to distance himself from the openly racist ideology of his anti-Rockefeller backers. The TIMES issued him marching orders the day after Gary Graham’s execution, when it ran an editorial criticizing the governor’s hard-heartedness. A news story on another page blasted Bush for taking donations from oil barons, including the Hunt and Koch interests—large domestic oil competitors of Rocky/Exxon—who have nothing to gain from forcibly securing Exxon’s access to Mideast crude. Bush’s attempt to appease both camps explains his reluctance to hop on the anti-execution bandwagon.

The second reason for the Rockefellers’ current preaching against the death penalty has to do with their long-term effort to erode the individual strength of the 50 states and concentrate control in the federal government. The Rockefeller-funded Brookings Institution recently published a study called "Last Rites for States Rights?" which said, "Centralization has been the prevailing trend since the end of World War II, as federal policies have continued to preempt a widening range of state and local responsibilities." Brookings says the bigger bosses need this streamlining to gain an edge over their foreign rivals. To implement their program of "friendly" fascism and imperialist war, the main rulers are bringing the smaller bosses into line by robbing them of their local power structures. Denying or hindering the states’ ability to execute whomever they want marks a step toward political, economic and ideological unity.

But the crocodile tears over capital punishment don’t mean the rulers want to diminish state terror against the working class. Just the opposite. Curtailing the official death penalty will do nothing to end the summary execution of workers by racist cops across the nation or the skyrocketing imprisonment of millions of black, Latin and white workers. Expanding the prison population and sharpening mass terror against workers with a cover of "community policing," similar to Nazi Germany’s use of local informers, are integral parts of the Rockefeller strategy for fascism.

The Rockefellers also want to maintain a form of official capital punishment. Most of those on death row now are workers accused of killing other workers. The main wing doesn’t care if these prisoners live or die, because they don’t threaten its control of the government apparatus. However, the Feds jealously guard the license to put to death those they consider political criminals. The leaders of the anti-death penalty movement aren’t raising a hue and cry over the "human rights" of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. "Traitors," "terrorists," and "assassins" will still face lethal injection. Clinton pawn Janet Reno recently authorized federal prosecutors in New York to seek the execution of two men charged with the 1998 bombing of a U.S. embassy in Tanzania.

The big bosses will always use the death penalty when they need it. Its main strategic purpose is counter-revolutionary. Ultimately, as the class struggle sharpens over a long period of time it will target, as it always has, revolutionaries who threaten the system’s political survival. Capital punishment is primarily a class weapon the bosses need to continue holding power.

Under Communism…

When the time comes, communists will also make use of the death penalty. Winning and keeping state power is a war, and the working class, led by its Party, will know how to deal with its enemies, the mass murderers in the ruling class, as well as their lieutenants and flunkeys.

Liberal-Flunky Smokescreen Can’t Hide Profit System’s Deadly Racism

The circus organized around the recent execution in Texas of Gary Graham provides some insight into the politics of this charade. Rockefeller stooges were present at every stage of the "protests." Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton went to Huntsville as witnesses. Steven Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, is a Next Generation Leadership Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation.

The current outcry over capital punishment began with muckraking investigations led by David Protess, a Northwestern University journalism professor. Protess has received an "excellence in teaching" award from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which is funded by Exxon and the Rockefellers. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE and then the NEW YORK TIMES and the rest of the liberal media made Protess’s exposé top news.

Amnesty International, another big voice decrying the death penalty, also takes direction from Exxon’s owners. In January, Amnesty took part in a planning session, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, for the upcoming World Conference Against Racism. The participants, which included the notoriously racist World Bank, hammered out a plan to build up U.S. imperialism behind a false front of anti-racism. The Rockefeller "solution" to racism boils down to concentrating state power in the hands of—you guessed it—the Rockefellers and their allies.

Morristown Anti-Nazi Battle Spurs Summer Project Anti-Racist Activities

NEW YORK CITY, July 18 – This year’s East Coast Summer Project is our strongest in several years. We launched it with a battle against the fascists on July 4th in Morristown, NJ (see CHALLENGE, July 19). This has broadened our Project, opening many opportunities in New Jersey to pursue, as well as advancing our original plan to struggle in our local schools and mass organizations.

We face the wonderful problem of having too much to do. Urgency impels careful political analysis of all our plans. For example, the nine comrades and friends arrested in Morristown have had several court dates already. We felt it was crucial to organize demonstrations at the courthouse for every appearance. With consistent struggle we have involved many new teachers and youth in these events. Several defendants were NJ protesters from other organizations. We guaranteed that all defendants got out of jail. We have organized legal defense and fund-raising teams, which include everyone. We have taken on the Morristown courts as a united force. Each demonstration has affected Morristown’s residents, our comrades and the progress of the case. We are shaking up this town as we win people to our ideas.

Meanwhile, we have struggled to not lose our original focus—the bosses’ summer schools and organizations. This year, for the first time, we agreed teachers should volunteer to teach in summer school where there are over 250,000 students. We realized that if our teacher and student friends were in school, our Project should be too. Teachers are using CHALLENGE in the classroom, struggling around conditions in the summer schools and bringing youth to our other events. In our club meetings we are making progress struggling with the youth to follow that lead and do the same.

One elementary school teacher is working on a gardening class with his students. He has built strong ties with many parents and has formed a weekly communist study group with them. He has responded to the parents’ request to tutor their older children who face tests at the end of summer school to advance to the next grade. Many of these parents have joined us for other activities.

Finally, we have started a film collective. Although the other demands of the Project have slowed this effort, we are building a youth group interested in criticizing capitalist culture and working on producing some communist film and music. It is certainly a positive step forward. It is hard to believe the Project is only two weeks old! It feels like a year’s worth of work. That vigor and excitement shows the power we can feel when we are on the offensive and engaged in mass struggle.

LA Sweatshops, Prison Labor: Two Sides of Bo$$e$ Coin

LOS ANGELES, CA.— The competition among bosses to make maximum profits leads them to unimaginable lengths. In San Diego, CTM Blues has its factory inside the Richard J. Donovan Maximum Security State Prison. This company, like others in prisons throughout the U.S., are using more than 8,000 prisoners to manufacture clothing for outfits like Victoria’s Secret, No Fear, Lee Jeans, Mecca, Seattle Cotton Works and others. They join companies like Boeing, TWA, DELL computers and others in exploiting prison slave labor. The Washington TeleMarketing Group employs prisoners to sell all kinds of products from prison. Many of these prison laborers/workers are paid as little as 23¢ an hour.

These companies look for cheap labor not only in Mexico, Central America and Asia, but right here in U.S. prisons as well! Array Corporation uses Oregon State prisoners to produce Prison Blue jeans, which are then sold in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

The label "Made in the USA" could come from a U.S. prison. Two workers from CTM Blues were punished for saying they were forced to change the label on clothes from "Made in Honduras" to "Made in the USA."

Despite the fact that the big bosses say the economy is doing "great" while they are reaping huge profits, the majority of LA’s 150,000 garment workers must work over 40 hours a week to make the minimum wage. They have no health insurance, vacations, pensions, etc.

While Democratic Party politicians say they want to unionize the workers and defend the rights of immigrant workers, less than 1% of garment workers here are unionized. Their conditions are similar to those of prison laborers and sweatshops worldwide. Cristina Vasquez, vice president of UNITE (the union representing U.S. garment workers) says, "How can you organize people in prison?" Good grief! If this union is unwilling to organize the 150,000 garment workers in the sweatshops of Los Angeles, they’ll never organize prisoners.

We call on all garment workers and workers in general to form factory struggle committees. We need such committees in mass organizations and churches. We must build a movement of thousands of garment workers to fight against exploitation and racism, and for general amnesty for all workers and their families. In this struggle, we ask for support of other workers and students of all ethnic backgrounds.

These factory and neighborhood struggles will demonstrate that when workers unite, we are powerful. Using prison slave labor is part of the growth of fascism and the preparation for capitalist war. We can take on the capitalist system, with its oppression and exploitation. The more profits the bosses make, the more poverty they create for workers. We must build a mass movement to fight for a system based on meeting the needs of the workers, not the bosses’ profits.

The bosses and politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are only interested in profits, not workers’ well-being! That’s why PLP calls on workers to organize for revolution, join PLP and build a communist system.

Rally And March On Thursday, August 17 At 4 P.M. — 8th And Santee

Students Against Sweatshops and other groups are organizing a rally and march in the garment center against sweatshops during the Democratic National Convention. It will converge on the Staples Center to demand an end to sweatshops here and worldwide. We will fight to unite garment workers here with garment workers internationally, as well as with other workers. We call on workers in the factories to fight against slave labor conditions, and for students to support that fight.

Students Against Sweatshops and other groups are organizing a rally and march in the garment center against sweatshops during the Democratic National Convention. It will converge on the Staples Center to demand an end to sweatshops here and worldwide. We will fight to unite garment workers here with garment workers internationally, as well as with other workers. We call on workers in the factories to fight against slave labor conditions, and for students to support that fight.

In Boston ’75, The Racists Did Not Survive…But We Did!

BOSTON, July 15 — Several dozen veterans of the Boston ’75 Summer Project returned here today from throughout the country to commemorate the 25th anniversary of that heroic anti-racist struggle. The Boston Summer Project grew out of the need to confront the openly fascist movement instigated by Boston’s ruling class and led by the gutter racists in ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights) over the issue of school desegregation (see article below).

In the morning, we gathered for breakfast at Roxbury Community College. Many were moved to tears as we hugged comrades and friends whom we hadn’t seen for 25 years. We then heard a political and historical analysis of that summer’s actions and the impact they had on Boston, the country and on the Progressive Labor Party. A comrade explained an important lesson from that summer, that in certain periods, when you are determined to fight racism from a class perspective, even a relatively small group of people can make history. We cannot control whether the ruling class builds fascism. But we can control whether the fascist movement they build receives strong support from the working class (as happened in Nazi Germany), or very little support (as in Italy during the same period).

During the 1974-75 school year, fascist mobs in Boston terrorized black people and intimidated white people from opposing the violent racist attacks. The Project volunteers, organized by PLP and the Committee Against Racism, were the first people to physically confront the racists on their own turf. Three months of rallies, marches, door-to-door canvassing, a summer school for children in Roxbury, an anti-racist petition drive that collected 35,000 signatures, and numerous street fights with ROAR broke the back of the fascist movement. These efforts forced the ruling class to rely less on building an openly fascist movement and more on advancing it in more subtle ways.

After the initial presentation, three comrades spoke about how racism in education and the economic and legal systems differs from 25 years ago and what needs to be done to combat it today. In the afternoon, we toured Boston to visit the sites of major events in the Project.

At a banquet that evening, Project participants related their memories of that summer and about the impact it had on their lives. The necessity of relying on the working class was the main theme. Volunteers told many stories about courageously fighting the racists and being helped out of dangerous situations by community residents who didn’t know them, but were glad someone was standing up to ROAR. People spoke movingly about their fears and the ability to overcome those fears by their desire and determination to do the right thing and by relying on one another.

Several recalled the door-to-door canvassing in the white neighborhoods of South Boston and Hyde Park, and how encouraged and inspired they felt upon learning that many of the white workers there were anti-racist. They were glad we were fighting ROAR but were afraid to say so publicly because the racists had threatened themselves and their children with physical harm.

Repeatedly it was shown that "ordinary" people can do extraordinary things, can actually change the course of history, when given support and leadership by a disciplined communist party. Had we not defeated ROAR, it is very possible the ruling class could have built a stronger mass base for fascism in Boston, which then could have joined with other Klan and neo-Nazi groups around the country. Clearly, what you do counts!

The Boston Summer Project had a hugely positive impact on our Party as well. It taught the volunteers what fascism looks like, and what it means to fight it and win. Their experience in Boston steeled many comrades, who then went on to lead militant battles against the Klan and Nazis in places such as Illinois, Mississippi, California, Connecticut and Ohio in the years that followed.

Some of the people who participated in Boston ’75 are no longer politically active in our movement. Yet that experience and the desire to see old friends motivated them to attend the reunion. From their reaction at the banquet and throughout the weekend, it is clear that a political spark still burns within them. We hope this weekend’s activities will inspire them to renew their commitment.

The reunion was also attended by many high school and college students and young adults, who learned a history that has been ignored and distorted. They were impressed by the age of the Boston ’75 volunteers. Most were between 18 and 25, proving that young people can play a crucial and leading role in the fight against fascism and in the struggle for a communist future. Indeed, some of the teenagers attending the reunion had been active in the fight against the Nazi Nationalist Movement in Morristown, New Jersey two weeks ago.

Just as we will never forget what we accomplished in Boston 25 years ago, we will remember this celebration of that victory. We urge everyone who attended to write letters to CHALLENGE describing their experience and its impact on their lives.

May Day ‘75 Launched ‘Death To Fascists’ Fight Against Boston Racists

The militant struggle led by Progressive Labor Party in Boston against racism during the spring and summer of 1975 counts among our Party’s most important accomplishments in its history.

The liberal Massachusetts ruling class was floating the anti-busing movement as a trial balloon for mass-based fascism. This was a set-up from the start. Kennedy pal Judge Arthur Garrity had concocted a "busing-for-integration" plan that was guaranteed to provoke a violent racist reaction. Racists, led by an organization called ROAR ("Restore Our Alienated Rights") ran amok throughout the city, fully earning the title "Racists On A Rampage." The cops not only turned the other way; they actually gave ROAR open support, in the form of financial contributions by the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. Kennedy ally Mayor Kevin White mouthed a few platitudes about non-violence and then allowed ROAR to carry out its racist terror. Few, if any, ROAR members were ever arrested. Assaults against African-American schoolchildren became commonplace. Several prominent Boston politicians, led by Louise Day Hicks, publicly affiliated with ROAR. "Pixie" Palladino, a ROAR School Committee member from East Boston, bragged about the bust of Mussolini she kept on her mantle piece.

Only PLP stepped forward to challenge these fascists with militancy and a plan for relying on Greater Boston’s working class. We estimated, correctly, that the vast majority of Boston’s workers didn’t like Hicks or ROAR & Co. ROAR could mobilize a few thousand anti-busing demonstrators to yell for an hour or so and, at most, a few hundred thugs to commit acts of racist bullying. The PLP believed that the racists couldn’t withstand a determined challenge with a mass base of support.

We were right. May Day 1975 launched the struggle. The PLP organized several thousand May Day marchers in Boston, around the slogan "Death to Fascists." The fascists attacked. PLP marshals repelled them. Cops arrested some PLP’ers and left the ROAR goons alone. The march took place, despite an initial volley of rocks thrown by ROAR punks. The word was out: communists, as they always have, were mustering working-class forces to smash the fascists.

From June until September, PLP and its allies in the Committee Against Racism (CAR) recruited hundreds of young people throughout the U.S. to come to Boston to fight ROAR. The war raged on many fronts. It involved large and small demonstrations, bullhorn rallies throughout the metropolitan area, street fights, a pitched battle in August at Carson Beach against ROAR and the cops, a "freedom school" in Roxbury, appeals to Boston trade unionists and a massive canvassing effort to reveal the true sentiments of Boston’s workers. Over 36,000 workers, professionals, students and others signed a CAR petition calling for improved conditions in all Boston public schools and for the criminal indictment of Hicks and other ROAR fascists. The police made hundreds of arrests—virtually all among CAR and PLP volunteers. Many anti-racists were arrested several times.

By summer’s end, two important developments had occurred. The liberal ruling class, led by Mayor White and Ted Kennedy, had to slither out from under its rock, and reveal the extent to which it was supporting the racists financially and politically. The PLP had succeeded in exposing the fascist wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. Second, the ROAR organization as such had suffered a blow from which it would never recover. It, too, had been exposed as nothing more than a pack of vile gutter racists. Soon afterwards, Hicks had to retire from politics in disgrace, when her own son turned out to be a drug-running gangster.

These were important victories for workers and anti-racists everywhere. They proved the crucial importance of boldness, reliance on the working class, and communist leadership.

But the war is far from over. ROAR may be gone, but fascism is growing, in Boston and throughout the U.S. The main enemy is the same liberal ruling class that made ROAR possible in the first place. As CHALLENGE has pointed out in several recent articles, greater Boston has become a laboratory for the big bosses’ latest scheme to terrorize workers with racist cop brutality, so-called community policing. This is part of a plan to militarize U.S. society and prepare for a long period of imperialist war.

The lessons learned on Boston’s hot streets 25 years ago can serve us well today. Communist leadership and boldness are still decisive. Racism is still the enemy of all workers, and most can be won to see this. Scratch a liberal boss and you still find a fascist. The only solution to fascism and imperialist war is still communist revolution.

The urgency and determination with which Boston 75’s valiant volunteers applied these ideas should inspire us today, as we dig in for the long struggle to win a communist world.

Nazi Torture: The Racist Beasts Of Clinton Prison

NEW YORK CITY, July 11 — A vanload of family and friends of Felix Jorge, including several PLP’ers, traveled to Clinton Prison in Plattsburgh, New York to monitor the wrongful death suit against the State of New York. Felix was "found" dead in his cell, with wet tissue stuffed in his nose and throat on July 27, 1994. PLP members have known the Jorge family since 1985 when Felix and his sisters and brothers first marched with us on May Day in Washington, D.C.

After an all-night trip, we arrived at the Clinton County Government Center, 50 miles from the U.S.-Canadian border. Twelve miles to the west are a growing number of maximum-security prisons and boot camps, housing thousands of inmates. There are 72,000 prisoners in N.Y. State.

The inmates are overwhelmingly black and Latin, many from the NYC area. The prison staff is largely white, local residents. Racism seeps out of the pores of the prisons like the pus of a long-standing virulent infection. The trial offered glimpses of standard state and federal prison policy; racism, brutality and torture.

Felix was brain damaged at birth in the Dominican Republic. His mother fought for some level of psychiatric care for her son. He immigrated to NYC in 1983, and his life spiraled downward. He was in and out of five hospitals, variously diagnosed with epilepsy and paranoid schizophrenia. He was on and off medication. Eventually he succumbed to alcohol and drugs, which he overcame in time. He was arrested for attempted robbery with a toy pistol and sentenced to six years.

At Rikers Island prison he was placed in the general prison population. After a struggle by his mother, he was moved to a mental health unit. Following stints at two other NY prisons, he ended up at Clinton where he spent a year and three months before his death at the age of 25.

During the trial we learned that his medical records weren’t transferred with him to Clinton. Two psychologists and a nurse from the NY State Office of Mental Health, who work at Clinton, testified they were never told, or bothered to find out about Felix’s medical history. A psychologist testified that when Felix made a 13-foot rope out of bed sheets, he was "more concerned with escape than suicide." The judge declared a suicide attempt where Felix took 150 Tylenol pills as "unfounded."

One of the prison psychiatrists was a former Nazi doctor. At one point in his deposition, the Nazi doctor referred to inmates as "slime."

In all likelihood, Felix was in and out of a delusionary state at the time of his death. He was being "disciplined for behavioral adjustment." He was on "dietary restriction," a 5-day "loaf diet" (made of cabbage and bread), followed by two days of a "normal diet." Dietary restriction was the final level of disciplinary action against Felix, after denial of phone calls, packages, television earphones and any communication with other inmates.

Felix was a paranoid schizophrenic whose records were lost, whose illness was ignored and for which he was tortured. The family lawyer, whose mother-in-law had been in a concentration camp, was horrified by what happened to Felix, but was boxed in by his faith in the legal system and respect for the rules. The State’s Assistant D.A. argued that Felix received treatment, refused medication and the State was not liable. The family’s lawyer "won" the case and a small amount of money. The judge has a reputation for exposing problems and offering little or no money. He serves the system by opening the valve to let off a little steam.

Two powerful videos, required in "forced-cell extractions," were partially shown. The first video showed that even though Felix was on a suicide watch every five minutes, no one passed his cell for 50 minutes before he was "discovered" dead. There was no sound, and the video had been turned off for 2½ minutes. The second video shows at least five guards in riot gear brutally beating Felix in a "forced cell extraction." Moaning "Aye, aye...," Felix says his name and ID number and, "They’re going to kill me," over and over. He is carried by his cuffed hands and feet with his face dragging on the floor and placed face down on the ground. This torture of a mentally ill patient/inmate resembled a Nazi experiment to test when he would crack.

Guard Perry was in charge at that time. He was given a one-month suspension, and returned to work.

PLP members are working in a Prisoner Rights group at a local church. We will urge them to organize a loud, public protest at the Clinton jail. PLP was instrumental in helping the family prepare for the trial and in getting transportation to Clinton Prison. One family member was critical of us as communists. However, others defended our outlook. Felix’s stepfather said, "Where would we be without them in our lives?"

AFSCME Dances To Bosses’ Tune; Not A Hit With Workers

PHILADELPHIA, PA — From June 26-30, 6,000 delegates, alternates and guests packed the Convention Center here for the 1.3 million member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) convention. Imagine if they had come together to lead a massive fight-back against racist slave labor Workfare, welfare cutbacks, prison labor and out-sourcing to non-union contractors. But that’s not what AFSCME is about. Instead they beat the drum to get out the vote for the Democratic Party. They’re after a base in the working class for imperialist war and growing fascism.

As a guest, invited to attend just days before the convention, how could I raise aspects of PLP’s ideas and sharpen the ideological fight over AFSCME’s program? I participated with members of my local in the call for "one member, one vote." This was a protest against the entrenched bureaucratic union bosses of AFSCME’s District Council 37 and the vote-rigging in the last city worker contract.

In NYC, 40,000 Workfare slave labor workers now fill thousands of former union jobs and prison labor is growing rapidly. At a caucus of NYC delegates, D.C. 37 administrator Lee Saunders was challenged to explain why there were no workshops organized to discuss these issues. After a second member of my local rose to ask about "one member, one vote," the D.C. 37 caucus was adjourned.

During a demonstration to support Philadelphia city and hospital workers engaged in contract fights, members of my local carried a large banner reading, "Smash Slave Labor Workfare." It received lots of attention. Many members took pictures and help chant anti-Workfare slogans. Later in the week at a Social Service workers meeting, a PLP member pointed out that the AFSCME leadership made no mention of slave labor Workfare or prison labor because it was under Clinton and Gore’s leadership that these fascist attacks had been carried out.

During the week-long convention, 200 PLP pamphlets on Workfare, prison labor and the anti-globalization movement were distributed along with 20 copies of THE COMMUNIST and 20 CHALLENGES. During breaks, over meals and on the bus ride to and from Philadelphia, discussion and debate raged over the role of unions and of our Party in the world we live in today. Acquaintances became friendships and friendships deepened.

The ruling class and its ideas lead the mass organizations which workers are part of. In our day-to-day work, we must fight against the bosses and their ideas. Mainly we do this in our schools, on the job, in our communities and at meetings of our local organizations. The modest effort at the AFSCME convention was positive in many ways and shows we can challenge the bosses and their lackeys at every turn.

A Taste of Communism Under The Red Tent

Recently our Party’s schools section organized a camping trip/cadre school as a good post-May Day activity to have some fun and to consolidate some of the young activists who had come to the march.

Our plan included three discussions of dialectical materialism, led by young comrades who had themselves just completed a study group. They were learning how to analyze various situations and how to be Party leaders.

The available cabins and kitchens were too expensive so we opted for tents. One adult expressed reservations, but all the young people were eager to go; most had never camped before.

We collected 7-8 tents, borrowed or rented extra vans and organized a food committee. Friday afternoon everyone went into action from various points in the city. One van went early and secured five nice campsites close together. Amazingly most of us arrived within an hour of each other.

Everyone helped and we quickly erected the tents. Several were almost brand new but the "penthouse," a large tent over 35 years old, was unused for 15 years. It became a favorite. (One rented one was missing a piece—capitalism is everywhere).

With our excellent food committee, dinner was ready even before the tents were up. Still in daylight our organizing meeting arranged housing and the schedule for the weekend.

Thinking about it now, it was a little taste of communism. The young people who had never camped in tents before were the ones who had wanted to "go for it." It was their collective efforts that got us off to a great start.

As the weekend progressed, it became increasingly obvious that this was a communist trip. Essentially we all thought about everyone instead of just ourselves. For example: many of the teenagers said they wanted to do their own thing. In one case, the right thing was not to go out after 10 PM nor off the campground. After discussing it, everyone did the right thing for the whole group. This was a great lesson for those who thought communist ideas could not work.

A highlight was the three discussions about dialectics led by three young comrades. They had prepared beforehand and showed a profound understanding of dialectics, considering how briefly they had studied it. On the other hand, young people totally new to this philosophy were eager to learn and quickly grasped various aspects. The student discussion-leaders were well read and serious. The discussions continued after the formal meetings.

This really showed how important dialectical materialism is. It will enable us to lead the working class to communism. It is essential to organize a lifetime of study and action based on dialectical materialism.

Communism really does have a tremendous appeal to young working-class people. It is our future and young people grasp this very quickly.

This trip was a step forward, leading into the Summer Project. We’re planning on spreading communist ideas far and wide in some big reform organizations. We’re going to "get in it and win it."

Thousands Protest Racist Killing

DETROIT, MI. JULY 17—Over 8,000 workers, students and youth have participated in two rallies against the racist murder of Frederick Finley. Lord and Taylor security guards, who suspected his daughter of shoplifting a $4.00 bracelet, choked Fredrick to death on June 22 at the Fairlane mall. Al Sharpton, Dick Gegory, John Con yers, and a host of Democratic Party hacks are trying to channel the anger of workers into demanding a federal investigation by Clinton's Justice Department. They are also talking about buying stock in Lord and Taylor!

Finley's murder is another in a long string of racist murders and beatings in every major U.S. city. After today's rally, PLP rallied in Kennedy Square and sold over 100 CHALLENGES in about an hour. Workers in and around the Party have taken part in these rallies, including GM workers, teachers, and State Mental Health workers. We will bring this fight into our unions and churches in order to build a base for the Party. The only solution is communist revolution.


Revolt in Iran

[The following is taken from a letter sent by a veteran Iranian communist.]

Today, July 8, is a day of revolt for Iranian workers and revolutionary students. A bloody working class revolt broke out in four Iranian cities this past week. The military is on alert in all cities. The workers destroyed government buildings and the cops killed 19 workers in Abadan, the country’s oil center, where PLP has some friends. Last night I received a FAX from a comrade there. The city was bombed during the Iran-Iraq war and has not had safe water or electrical services for eleven years. Many workers are still jobless. The government bought its weapons from the U.S. and Israel. They are all united against the Iranian workers even though they sometimes criticize the Iranian government.

In Mashaad students have also protested. They have taken to the streets, joined by the workers. Rebellions are spreading to other cities. Meanwhile protestors throughout Europe plan to demonstrate against pro-U.S. President Khatami when he visits Berlin. The German government is checking the highways and buses to keep out protestors, but we have plans to be there with leaflets. The protests will involve thousands, showing that the opposition is not just from reactionary religious groups.

The European and U.S. press only talk about the pro-U.S. student opposition, but there is a large revolutionary student movement that opposes both the fascist religious government mullahs as well as the pro-US student opposition. This movement is gaining strength among workers and students.

The pro-U.S. faction and the reactionary religious faction attack left-wing students and workers, but that movement continues to grow. Please stay in contact.

Iranian Comrade

BOSTON ‘75 Revisited

This past weekend in Boston comrades and friends celebrated the 25-year reunion of the 1975 intense political Summer Project. For the 35 youth and adults who came from NYC and NJ, it was not only inspirational but also educational and historical.

On Saturday morning, comrades involved in the Project spoke about fighting the police, developing the freedom school, smashing a racist group called ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights), mistakes they made, and lessons learned, such as trusting and relying on the working class. Talks about law and racism showed how society was different back then but still connects to the present.

Towards the afternoon, friends and comrades toured the Project’s "hot spots"—Carson Beach, the Committee Against Racism office, Columbia Point, etc. The younger comrades and I found the most interesting part in the evening. Older comrades spoke about their experiences and dedication to the Party. Their commitment was essential to shut down the racist anti-busing movement (ROAR). The reunion inspired me, as a member of PLP, to follow the footsteps of the older and more experienced comrades. Hopefully in 25 years my comrades and I will have experiences like these to share with future comrades and the working class.

Red For Life

This weekend [July 15-16] was the 25-year reunion of the Boston ’75 anti-racist Summer Project and I think this was the best thing I have done in a long time. Coming here helped me gain an understanding of what a lot of people struggle with in a racist society that would actually try to keep children from getting a proper education. The stories were vivid and I felt like I was almost there with them fighting. Unfortunately I wasn’t but it helped me realize that the struggle still continues today. It is up to me, with the help of others, to help change things. I was so happy that we had a victory. It inspires me to fight harder so we can win today’s war and communism can take charge. That’s why I love PLP and I will continue forward.


Fighting Racism = Best Medicine

July 4, 2000 is a date I will remember for a long time. My political friends and I were scheduled to confront Nazis in Morristown, New Jersey. However, the night before I had broken up with my girlfriend and I was pretty upset about it. I called up two of my friends in the Party and they strongly encouraged me to come, not only for the cause, but because they both thought it would be the best thing for my emotions. How right they were!

By the end of the day, I had such a sense of what my life was really about—ending racism and this rotten system that upholds it—that my own trouble, while important as it reflected the personal commitment I had to the relationship, paled as I put my values on the line. I learned a truly important lesson. Perhaps it will serve you, the reader, also.

Brooklyn comrade

‘Who Wants to Be A Communist?’

I’m 15 years old. I used to live in South America but now live in Chicago. I recently participated in a camping trip with Party members. I liked the discussions we had about the fight between the workers and bosses. I also liked the integration. The place was nice. I especially liked the late night discussions among only young people (away from "oldies").

We also played a game called "who wants to be a communist." We changed the game from millionaire to communist. I wish more people would participate in these kinds of camping trips, and of course I personally want more.

A Future Comrade

Workers’Anger Brews in Colombia’s Bavaria Beer

Colombia’s bloody civil war and the U.S. bosses’ support of its death squad army and government has been in the news worldwide. But there’s another war receiving a lot less notice—the class war between bosses and workers. The Bavaria corporate group is controlled by Julio M. Santodomingo, who is also a big backer of the war against the guerrillas. In 1999, Bavaria Brewers netted $192 million. These profits come from paying poverty wages to its workers. Now, to intensify the exploitation of those workers, Bavaria is promoting a new scab union, led by Luis A. Pedraza. For 15 years he led the union representing Bavaria’s workers (Sinaltrabavaria), until workers dumped him three years ago.

Even though Sinaltrabavaria was not exactly a fighting union, a lot of rank-and-file workers, including PLP members, were very militant. Company plans included downsizing and consolidating its operation (fewer workers and more production), so it needs a totally loyal "union." Bavaria has already downsized its overseas plants: In its Andalusia, Spain facility, 60 workers were fired. This also happened in its Pilsener plant in Ecuador. Bavaria’s Tropical beer plant workers here in Cartagena, have been on strike for 80 days trying to stop the company from grabbing their few past gains.

We in PLP are trying to bring political understanding to these struggles, showing that it is not only sellouts like Pedraza or bosses like Santodomingo, but also the whole system which is our enemy. We are now circulating CHALLENGE in three Bavaria plants. Workers are reading about the politics needed to eliminate the increasing misery capitalism and imperialism has brought to Colombia.

A Comrade, Colombia

‘What is Truth?’

I am helping to lead a young workers’ club. Two weeks ago we had our first study group about Dialectical Materialism, the scientific communist philosophy. We know that the ruling class doesn’t want us to understand these ideas because they guide the masses to build a communist movement capable of gaining state power, destroying capitalism and building communism throughout the world. That’s why we must study it.

One of the main questions raised at the meeting was "What is truth?" Can different people have different truths?" Quoting the book we’re reading, "Truth is an accurate reflection of consciousness on the features of the object reflected." That is, we are able to see things as they truly are, not just as we feel about them or as they appear at any particular moment in time. This is materialism’s cardinal proposition, that there is an objective reality, apart from what one thinks or feels.

In looking for reality, you must include the inner and outer aspects of a thing, the inner being the truth, the outer being the appearance. These two aspects can be in sharp discord. Have you ever bought a used car from a dealer? He may have repainted it and polished the chrome, so it looks great, but if the engine is on its last legs, you wouldn’t want it. The outer aspect does not accurately tell the story.

To accurately predict something (in this case, how well the car will run), there must be a profound correspondence between our understanding of an object, process, etc. and the objective reality, as known by knowledge of laws and investigation. We test this through practice.

Back to the car analogy. The more you know about cars, the more likely you will choose one which will live up to expectations. The used car salesman will tell you what a great car is in front of you, but you are not likely to base your purchase on what he says or the way the car looks. Rather, you will want its repair history, test drive it, have it checked by a reliable mechanic, etc. Once you’ve purchased the car, practice will tell you whether or not you made a good choice. Did it die two weeks later? Is it still running after 200,000 miles? Or something in between?

We should not confuse feelings, which are subjective, with truth, which is objective. You may still love that car when it dies at 200,000 miles, but it is still dead. Idealism would have us change our real, objective chains that exist outside ourselves into mere ideal, subjective chains, existing only in ourselves. This would change real struggles to merely struggles of thought. As materialists, we know the truth is that those chains are real, physical chains, and that it will take a revolution to smash them!

Becoming Better Red in Seattle

Prayer Won’t Get Us There

I attended the latest rally on July 5 at Gary’s Methodist Hospital where members of SEIU Local 73 have been striking for more than a month. Workers are familiar with PLP and our fight for communist revolution because we’ve been standing on the picket line with our class, attending rallies and talking communist politics. Workers who gathered in the park after the march were eager to take our latest flier. "Hey, give me one of those! I want one for my sister. Thanks." One worker asked me for a handful. "The people on the street should see these," she said and went back to pass them out. I ran out of fliers right away and had to grab another handful to meet the demand!

Workers in the area should support SEIU Local 73 for taking a stand against a lousy hospital administrator who reportedly makes around $200,000 a year while these workers do the real work of taking care of patients for less than $10 an hour! Jesse Jackson spoke to the workers and the hospital bosses, but didn’t have any solution except "prayer."

It will take more than prayers to win this fight. Capitalism is a system designed to keep workers passive and waiting for something or someone else to save their jobs. Capitalism has nothing to do with God. The bosses worship profits over human life. They built this capitalist hell on the sweat and blood of the working class. It will take the organized solidarity of workers building a movement for communist revolution to tear down the bosses’ society and rebuild a communist world where workers share all benefits and burdens equally.

Gary Comrade

[Since this letter was written, the Methodist Hospital strike has ended. Full article in the next CHALLENGE.]

Mexico: Beware of Fox Baring Fangs to Devour Working Class

MEXICO CITY, July 17 — "Seventy years of the PRI were bad, but this transition agreement is the same thing," chanted students demonstrating their anger at the PAN Party’s victory here. This election of Vicente Fox as President deceived many workers. It gave the appearance of an electoral system functioning for all, but only the capitalists fought for their class interests. A section of the middle class that resents the crisis moved to the right, taking many workers with them. The voters jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The anger created by the PRI provoked its rejection, blinding people to the fascist consequences of Fox’s presidency. The ruling class will never give up its class position or privilege through elections. Now they’re selling us the idea that we already achieved change through voting. But a glimpse of Fox’s friends and their interests suggests that the worst is yet to come for the working class. Workers need to organize through the communist PLP to make war on the bosses and destroy their power to exploit us by creating a new communist society that eliminates exploitation.

"A worker can live with two minimum salaries. If that’s not enough, let him ask for charity!" exclaimed Fox’s friend Alberto Fernandez Garza, president of COPARMEX, the bosses’ confederation that supports the PAN party. Fox promised "a little house, a little car and a TV" for all the poor. Remember Hitler’s similar promises in the 1930’s? In Chihuahua a 14-year-old girl was raped and became pregnant. The PAN State government barred her from having an abortion. Fox supported this fascist rule, telling the TV news it was better to "teach this young woman to love her child." PAN leads the bosses’ efforts to reintroduce religious mysticism into the schools. This is the fascist profile of "populist" Fox and the rulers he represents.

Vicente Fox will complete the second generation of vital reforms for a sector of the bosses. Schools will strictly serve the market, making capitalist education even more reactionary. He will complete the dismantling of social programs. Fox will impose "labor flexibility," enabling bosses to contract out and lay off at will, eliminating hard won rights and "guarantees." All this "to make Mexico more productive," says Fox. His supporters use workers’ disgust with the pro-PRI union traitors in the CTM to push open collaboration between workers and bosses.

The bosses want to cheapen the cost of labor even more to attract investments and compete successfully now that they have expanded their trade deals in Europe and Central America. Fox recognizes that his macroeconomic policy will be the same as Zedillo and Salinas. Luis Dervez, ex-functionary of the World Bank, will lead Fox’s economic cabinet. Only the destruction of the wage system will free workers from exploitation, not the changing of faces on top.

With PAN’s victory, a sector of bosses from Nuevo Leon (Monterrey) is replacing those from the states of Mexico, Puebla, Veracruz and Tabasco as the dominant wing. The battle is just beginning. These bosses are allying with different imperialist to strengthen themselves. They will try to win the workers to defend each boss’s competing interests. The working class must be alert not to fall into another trap, believing elections will solve its problems. Joining together with the workers of the world is the winning strategy to confront our oppressors and to destroy them with communist revolution.

El Salvador: ‘The System Works’ . . . For the Bosses

SAN SALVADOR, July 17 — The new Supreme Court of Justice, led by the pro-US wing of the FMLN, ordered the rehiring of 221 Social Security workers fired during the recent strike. They said the bosses had violated collective bargaining contract clauses prohibiting massive layoffs and were given ten days to reinstate the fired workers. This demonstration of "justice" enables the politicians to declare, "The system works."

PLP stands in solidarity with these workers. We must not allow ourselves to be taken in by political opportunists who used our strike to win votes for their parties. The struggle had the solid support of the working class and made the bosses tremble. Liberal and conservative bosses met secretly as they faced growing unity of workers in the countryside, the city, among students and others. The FMLN and the ARENA party met to figure out how to slow down the growing wave of working-class discontent reflected in this strike.

Tiny "victories" like this will be all we can expect until workers build a mass PLP, which unites the workers of the world for communist revolution to eliminate the ruling class. As long as bosses exist, we will have to struggle against them. We must not give them a moment’s peace, or be fooled into supporting a "lesser of two evils." With friends like the liberal apologists for capitalism, who needs enemies?

"What happened with that [CHALLENGE] newspaper you gave me during the strike?" asked an energetic Social Security worker. "It said a lot of good things."

Remarks like that show that these workers are thirsty for communist ideas. We must not lose the valuable opportunities that arise during periods of great class struggle. This week we’re taking CHALLENGE to that worker. Eventually we’ll reap the fruits of our labor. Organize CHALLENGE study groups and join PLP to achieve a world without bosses, layoffs or demotions. Fight for communism.