CHALLENGE, September 13, 2000

With this issue we return to our weekly schedule

Editorial: Bush or Gore -- Exxon-Mobil Votes for Middle East Oil War

Bay Area Transit Workers Are "Ready To Walk!"

‘‘Turn Off Your Machines! Join The March!’

Feds Vs. LAPD: It Takes a Criminal Gang to Know One

Smash Racist Killer Cops!

The Enemy is At Home: Boeing and Union Hacks

Maine: Bath Iron Works on Strike

LA MTA: Fascism in the Workplace

Illiteracy: a Big Problem for Bosses in Crisis

King Leopold’s Legacy: Imperialism and the Origin of AIDS


Sharpton’s ‘Solution’ Is Prescription for Disaster

Nationalism Turns ‘Dream’into Nightmare

There Is a Way to Fight Medical Fascism

Red Farmworker Back In Fold

Summer of Inspired Struggle

Needs Advice

Nader: Illusion And Reality

Bosses Make Mess of Philly Schools

DK2: A Collective Evaluation

Oops! Error corrected


Bush or Gore: Exxon-Mobil Votes for Middle East Oil War

The Democrats and Republicans are finally starting to admit that U.S. bosses must launch the oil war CHALLENGE has warned about for months. Behind all the baloney about "military preparedness," Gore and Bush are starting to focus on a sequel to Bush, Sr.’s 1991 Desert Storm. That slaughter for Exxon’s profits murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. A million more, the majority of them children, have died since then because of U.S.-enforced sanctions. U.S. bombing raids continue to kill Iraqi civilians and soldiers indiscriminately.

But this butchery has solved nothing for U.S. imperialism. Saddam Hussein remains in power. U.S. oil rivals in Russia, China and France have multi-billion dollar contracts to buy, refine and market Iraq’s oil, which remains the world’s cheapest. Rockefeller’s Exxon Mobil stands to lose big time if these deals go through. Saudi Arabia, the U.S.’s main ally among oil producers, is growing more unstable by the day. No matter who becomes president in 2001, either one will follow the orders of their master, Rockefeller & Co. and invade the Middle East once again, either to oust Hussein and occupy Iraqi oil fields, or to guarantee the flow of Saudi oil, or both.

The candidates haven’t said too much directly about this yet, but both their party platforms let the cat out of the bag. The Republicans are more open: "…we must protect our economic interests and ensure the reliable flow of oil from the Persian Gulf." The Democrats are only a bit less obvious: "The nation must be prepared to use force when American interests are truly at stake…we must be ready to act." Over 20 years ago, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, identified "national interest" with the Persian Gulf.

Exxon Mobil itself is leaving little room for guesswork. Every Thursday, it buys a quarter-page ad on the NEW YORK TIMES op-ed page spelling out the Rockefeller position on major issues. On August 24, the oil barons offered the following wisdom: "The sources of oil and gas will be increasingly concentrated among a comparatively small group of producers, mainly in the Middle East. New discoveries in West Africa, the U.S. Gulf coast and the Caspian region all help but do not fundamentally change the trend."

As the Eastern Establishment’s main media mouthpiece, the TIMES editorial page has been echoing the Exxon Mobil line about getting the military "ready to fight one regional war on short notice, using ground forces if necessary." The paper also warns Clinton not to over-commit U.S. military forces in Colombia (August 21).

The Times cautions Clinton to keep his eye on the oily ball and scolds Bush-Cheney for pretending in speeches that "less involvement by U.S. ground troops in peace-keeping in Europe and elsewhere" may be an option (Sept. 3). Translation: the candidates can lie all they want about any number of issues, but they must start preparing the working class and military for this oil war.

The last few years have seen a successful counter-offensive by Rockefeller forces to take command of the Republican and Democrat parties. The Clinton impeachment flopped. Rockefeller enemies Gingrich and Buchanan have been marginalized. Even Dick Cheney is toeing the Exxon line on committing to a ground war in Iraq. Eighteen months ago he sided with Exxon’s rival BP Amoco in urging a ground invasion of Yugoslavia—opposed by Rockefeller’s Exxon—to defend the oil pipelines his firm Halliburton was building there for BP Amoco.

Some contradictions remain between Rockefeller interests and competing bosses in both parties, but the trend clearly favors the Rockefellers. The next White House will carry out Exxon Mobil’s orders. Be prepared for the oil war rhetoric to escalate as the electoral circus heads into the fall.

The big question isn’t whether Bush and Gore will obey Rockefeller but rather what the working class will do. The next oil war will be far bloodier than Desert Storm I—on both sides. The bosses have a powerful military, but mainly in terms of numbers and hardware. Millions of working-class soldiers are up for grabs politically. Most can be won to see there are better alternatives than killing and dying for U.S. rulers’ billion-dollar oil profits.

In the coming period our Party’s main job is to show workers and soldiers that communist revolution is the best, in fact, the ONLY alternative to the endless profit wars that capitalism inevitably spawns. Whenever it breaks out, Desert Storm II will provide PLP with ample opportunity to grow in the heat of class struggle. What we do now, on the job, at school, in the mass movements, and in the military, will develop our ability to act as conditions continue to sharpen.

Bay Area Transit Workers Are "Ready To Walk!"

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, Sept. 5 — On Labor Day weekend over 30 MUNI, AC Transit and BART (train) workers held a Bar-B-Q and met to plan joint actions. These were some of the core activists who led workers to reject contract offers at MUNI and AC.

"These people are serious, they are committed," said one driver. Another said, "I’m in this fight because I don’t have anything, so I’ve got nothing to lose." Another spoke about political economy, and how the big capitalists use mass transit to make huge profits and want us to pay for it through low wages and high productivity. A PLP leader and union activist spoke about the need to build the Party and make communist revolution to meet the needs of the working class.

Workers on both sides of the Bay are realizing that they are not just battling isolated transit authorities. They’re taking on the whole ruling class with its state power, press and willing union leaders.

For months now MUNI workers have rebelled against the Transport Workers Union Local 250A leadership, attacking wage progression (a form of two-tier wages) as a particularly vicious aspect of wage slavery. Along with part-timing and temporary work, it divides and weakens the working class.

On August 22, both MUNI and AC Transit workers rejected contracts that maintained or extended wage progression (MUNI workers for the second time!), and created a potentially explosive situation. The idea that MUNI and AC workers could strike together made us all realize the power that workers could have.

On August 30, AC workers voted 98% in favor of authorizing a strike.

"I’ve got my picket sign, girl, and I’m ready to walk!" said one young worker as she left the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 meeting. AC workers were furious with the leadership, prompting union president Zook to plead, "I’m not the enemy. I’m not the enemy." We sold over 50 CHALLENGES and distributed 300 "No Contract, No Work" leaflets urging a strike. Some drivers took handfuls to distribute at their Divisions.

All the powers-that-be want to wear us down with fact-findings, rollovers, cooling-off periods, votes, votes and more votes. They’re doing everything possible to prevent a strike, let alone two simultaneously.

The union at AC Transit claimed that a strike could upset plans to pass Measure B (a ballot initiative giving AC Transit $15 million a year to which will enhance the booming real estate market off the backs of workers victimized by wage progression).

The SF CHRONICLE pointed out that a MUNI strike is illegal, and singled out PLP in a front-page article, as central to the rebellion among MUNI workers. The bosses are using fear, nationalism and anti-communism to try to pass their lousy contract. We don’t fear their anti-communist attacks, we welcome them. It gives us a chance to discuss why capitalism doesn't work, who is attacking us and that there is an alternative way to organize society. PLP has helped open the flood gates of workers' rebellion.

Bay Area transit workers can take advantage of this contract fight to open the door to revolution. They are beginning to organize along class lines, breaking down the artificial divisions of union membership or local geography. CHALLENGE is becoming a political organizer of this fight, and as the circulation grows, so will our ability to defeat every scheme of the capitalists and all their agents.

More workers are looking to PLP for leadership and will fight to defend the Party. "You really turned me on to communism," exclaimed one driver. "This is fascism, a dictatorship," said another. "Why vote on a contract over and over if your vote doesn't mean anything. Action is what counts." For Bay Area transit workers, this protracted struggle is a class in the need for workers’ power and communist revolution.

‘‘Turn Off Your Machines! Join The March!’

LOS ANGELES, CA. August 17 — "Turn off your machines and join the march against exploitation and racism," yelled through a bullhorn a garment worker and PLP member. Dozens of garment workers were watching from the windows. Some answered, "We’re coming." Others indicated with their hands to wait for them, while others raised their fists high in the air.

A woman garment worker declared, "The boss threatened to fire me, but I don’t care. This march is a chance to come out and protest and I want to be here." A group of young garment workers reported that "the bosses let us out early so that we would go home, but we stayed here to participate in the march."

This was one of the four big marches organized during the Democratic Party Convention by the Free Trade Network, Students Against Sweatshops, MECHA, pro-immigrant organizations and PLP. Unlike PLP, many of these groups are organized by the AFL-CIO. At the pre-march rally, while most other speakers pushed passivity, patriotism and voting for Nader candidates, PLP called for international working-class unity and workers power.

For weeks before the march, PLP distributed thousands of leaflets and a special edition of CHALLENGE in many different garment shops. PLP members also participated in protests, leafleting, meetings and lunch-break discussions in the factories on shop floors.

The bosses launched a campaign of fear in the press and on TV that was mainly directed at immigrant workers. Their message: "there will be many arrests and fighting on in the streets." They repeatedly showed what occurred in Seattle. Many bosses in the area of the march closed their doors or sent workers home early.

It was a difficult ideological struggle to mobilize factory workers to march. On the one hand we were faced with the AFL-CIO’s opportunism and lies with their sudden "concern and friendship" toward immigrant workers. On the other hand we felt it necessary to be in this fight for unconditional amnesty and unionization, but with a revolutionary communist outlook, exposing Gore, Bush and Nader and the AFL-CIO hacks all as pro-war enemies of the working class.

CHALLENGE was central to the discussions as we tried to win new readers and sellers. Before and during the march we met many garment workers willing to participate in the campaign for unionization and the fight for unconditional amnesty. Some want to know more about the Party and communist ideas. Some will try to involve their community organizations in these campaigns. We’re organizing factory committees that we will also build in the churches and neighborhoods.

At the corner of 7th and Los Angeles St., hundreds of garment workers inside the factories, men and women, greeted the march with fists in the air and waving red cloth from the windows. Hundreds of marchers chanted in Spanish "Workers, united, will never be defeated! and "This fist you can see, workers to power!" Workers and students, black, Latin, Asian and white were on the street. Behind the factory windows stood immigrant workers. Many protestors were moved to tears by the strong feeling of internationalism. We got a taste of the working class potential as one united powerful fist, with the single goal of destroying capitalism and building a new communist society.

Feds Vs. LAPD: It Takes a Criminal Gang to Know One

Since May, the Justice Department has been investigating whether there is a "pattern or practice" of civil rights violations by the LAPD. A part of the Rockefeller oil interests’ plan to consolidate control over Los Angeles involves cleaning up the image of the LAPD. A federal takeover of the LAPD has been rumored for weeks. Inevitably the LAPD must either accept a consent decree or face a suit in federal court it would almost certainly lose.

The latest wrinkle in this fight is the RICO suit against the LAPD. On August 30, U. S. District Judge William J. Rea, a Reagan-appointed Republican, ruled that plaintiffs in a federal class action civil rights case can offer proof that the LAPD is a criminal enterprise. This statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, was designed for use against more traditional examples of organized crime. If it happens, it would be the first time that it would be used against a government entity. Its use involves acts of racketeering such as planting evidence, setting up innocent people, extortion, assault-like behavior and attempted murder. Victims of police terror will attest that these are easily proved allegations. Workers will agree that the LAPD is the real gang.

LA politics has begun to be characterized by fights between the Eastern Establishment and the local LA bosses over several issues, from who runs the schools to which industries will be unionized to who will be mayor. CHALLENGE has detailed these fights. Their most dramatic battleground has been the LAPD.

The U.S. ruling class is faced with a real, and ultimately unsolvable, contradiction. On the one hand, capitalism needs racism to divide the working class and repress the super-exploited sector of the population that provides them with super-profits. On the other hand, they need to use the youth of these same super-exploited sectors to fight in their imperialist wars. The same youth whose parents work in non-union garment and other factories, whose mothers make $630 a month for a family of three on make-work welfare (until 2003 when they will get kicked off), the same youth who themselves are the targets of police abuse are the ones the ruling class will ultimately need to rely on to fight and die for oil in the Middle East.

This contradiction is inescapable for them in the long run. But in the short run, different sectors of the ruling class come down on one side or the other of this contradiction. LA garment and other bosses who rely on immigrant labor have come down on the side of open police terror. In order to stop garment workers from organizing and demanding even the minimum wage, these bosses have waged a campaign of terror in the garment district as a whole, particularly in the Pico-Union neighborhood, where the LAPD’s Rampart division (together with the Immigration and Naturalization Service) has waged a similar campaign against youth.

The Rockefeller bosses have longer-term needs, especially troops for the next oil war. While they require racism, to provide super-profits for the whole capitalist class, they can definitely downplay it—and do their best to mislead minority youth into believing in this system enough to fight and die for it. These forces are pushing for community policing which, while continuing to terrorize workers, would try to win workers to support the cops and see the Federal Government as "humanitarian."

A federal takeover of the LAPD will not end police terror. After all, this is the same Clinton administration which paid for the hiring of 100,000 more cops nationally under the guise of "gun control," which ordered mass racist cutbacks in social services, which has bombed and murdered many thousands in Iraq and Yugoslavia.

PLP is building a base among the youth of Los Angeles. As we grow, and are more active in the mass organizations fighting against racist police terror, we can expose these bosses’ lies, and recruit these young people to our Party. In the schools, and in the army, they will organize to turn the guns around.

Smash Racist Killer Cops!

DETROIT, MI, September 5 — Killer-cop David Krupinski murdered Errol Shaw in his own driveway in cold blood on August 29. This comes just weeks after Fairlane Mall security guards killed Fredrick Finley, after his daughter allegedly shoplifted a $4.00 bracelet.

This racist murder is the latest in a long trail of death. Detroit cops have averaged one murder a month for the last twelve years, and are the deadliest police force in the U.S. That is how two black mayors and a string of black police chiefs have tried to terrorize black workers and youth into accepting a future of low-paying jobs, racist budget cuts and more wars. Chief Benny Napoleon boasted that cops are "trained to shoot…to kill."

Errol was married with two children. He couldn’t hear and he couldn’t speak. He was the neighborhood yardman, and had a history of mental illness and drug and alcohol problems. The racist cops in the 8th Precinct knew this since they had been called to the house before. They shot him down for failing to drop his rake!

The small church where the funeral was held overflowed with hundreds of relatives, friends and angered residents. But unlike the Findley murder, there has been no mass protest. The main reason is the treacherous role of the nationalist leadership. Findley was killed in Dearborn, a white suburb with a long racist history. Al Sharpton and a host of opportunists led a rally of 7,000 against that murder.

But Shaw was killed in Detroit and the nationalist misleaders can’t, and won’t, attack black politicians. They’re too busy trying to win black workers and youth to vote for them. Meanwhile, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality picketed the 8th Precinct, calling for an "independent" investigation of the Detroit Police.

Only a communist-led working class can end racist police terror. What would happen if walkouts shut every auto plant in response to Errol’s death? That’s what we’re aiming for and more. We’re bringing the fight against racist police terror to our jobs and unions. We want to raise resolutions in our unions and organize job actions. Our goal is workers’ power and communist revolution. That’s a tall order and a long hard struggle. But we can turn every racist murder against the rulers by building a mass PLP.

The Enemy is At Home: Boeing and Union Hacks

SEATTLE, WA., Sept. 1—Defense and aerospace workers are flexing their muscles. The two prime Navy shipyards and the top three aerospace companies have all been struck this year. Job cuts and work rules have been central to all these strikes, even as the bosses brag of a ten-year "boom." In glaring contrast to this sharpening class struggle, Machinist Union District 751 leadership pleads with Boeing’s bosses that "we can find a solution if we work together."

On August 18th, Boeing announced the closing of some Seattle area facilities and consolidation of others, affecting 3,500 workers. Two months ago they said they intended to sell the St. Louis fabrication center, involving another 1,500. Through leaflets and radio commercials, District 751 urges Boeing workers to "call Boeing Chairman Phil Condit and join us [the union] in asking him to work with us to find a solution to keep Boeing competitive and keep our jobs here."

How does the union plan to keep Boeing competitive? Dick Schneider, overall Boeing coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), let the cat out of the bag. When asked why tooling work was being shifted from Seattle to Wichita, Kansas—Boeing’s new tooling center, Schneider said, "[The Wichita plant] has a ‘high performance program’ in place, in which the company and union work together to become more efficient, increase performance and tackle problems"—speed-up, pure and simple. The IAMAW at Bath Iron Works in Maine negotiated the flagship "high performance program." Last week, Bath workers struck against this program because, they said, it would eliminate 500 production jobs. No wonder the District’s leaflets say this strategy "makes good business sense!" For us, it’s nonsense!

Misleaders Serves Bosses In the Short-and Long-Term

The union misleaders’ strategy disarms us first in the short-term. The aerospace bosses are caught in a crisis of overproduction. The job cuts and work-rule changes are the bosses’ answer to this crisis. Instead of uniting with aerospace workers worldwide to defend ourselves against these attacks, District 751 president Bill Johnson says, "We understand Boeing needs to compete in the global marketplace and earn a profit. We understand Airbus is the enemy."

Over the long haul the union strategy will be even more damaging. The job cuts and destruction of work-rules are part of the bosses’ overall fascist assault on the working class to try to solve their crisis, from slave labor Workfare to prison slave labor to racist police terror. Ultimately, the bosses will have to solve that crisis by going to war to crush their competition. Both presidential candidates have endorsed war in the Middle East to secure an oil stranglehold on U.S. imperialism’s competitors. Portraying foreign Airbus workers as our enemy builds nationalism within our ranks—a key political necessity for any imperialist war plans.

Short-Term Memory Loss

The hypocrisy of the union leadership knows no bounds. "Last year the Boeing Company and Phil Condit promised us ‘unprecedented job security,’" say union flyers, condemning Condit and the company for going back on their word. But Johnson said the exact same thing at a joint press conference with CEO Condit. They both repeated that lie as they traveled the radio talk show circuit hand-in-hand to sell the last contract.

The Party, in alliance with other rank-and-file activists, were the only ones calling for rejection of the contract because it meant job cuts.

"Tens of thousands of our fellow workers covered under this [new] contract will soon find themselves on the street without a job," warned our leaflets. Truer words were never spoken!

"How can you get job security in a market driven economy?" asked a number of shop stewards during last year’s contract debate.

"Job security remains an illusion as long as are wage slaves, living in a society that produces for profit," we answered in our leaflets. "While the warmakers and strike-breakers hold power, and carry out mass terror to ‘beat the competition,’ we have the same security as a pig at a barbecue. Yes, we need to strike. Yes, we need to fight against every job cut, and for those young workers looking to raise families like we did. But most of all, we need to strike to expose the deadly nature of the profit system, and to build a mass communist movement." Strikes, sit-downs, fights for every job to achieve these aims are still the order of the day.

The choice is clear: hypocrisy that paves the way for accommodation, or class struggle for every job to build working-class revolution!

Maine: Bath Iron Works on Strike

Machinist Union members recently struck Bath Iron Works (BIW) in several locations in Maine. Bath is one of the two prime Navy shipbuilders. The Machinists’ leadership brags that the BIW is also the home of the flagship High Performance Work Organization, a type of contract emphasizing cooperation between workers and bosses to increase productivity. Bath workers had enough of this HPWO, which they said would lead to the layoff of 500 of their brothers and sisters. Fellow workers who had been cross-trained under the term of this "ground-breaking" contract would fill those jobs.

Joe Donlin, a 46-year old tool and dye maker, now on strike against Raytheon, remembered bitterly: "We worked around the clock when they needed us [during the 1991 Gulf War]. We were heroes then." These Raytheon strikers are learning that support for U.S. wars ends up biting you in the ass.

LA MTA: Fascism in the Workplace

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 6 — Last week an MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) bus mechanic asked two bus drivers for the latest dope about a possible drivers’ strike. The mechanic’s jaw dropped when both drivers told him, "We heard it was you guys" [the mechanics’ union] who are going out."

Despite a 5-month run-up and a 60-day "cooling off" period, a virtual news blackout in the three transit unions has left the drivers unaware of the company’s plan to attack their working conditions.

MTA, like all transit outfits, has seen its federal and state funding grow in the last two years because of the overheated U.S. economy. LA transit bosses gave away $4.5 billion to their influential pals in the construction industry for a 17-mile subway. They let the bus system go to hell. A Federal judge forced MTA to scramble and spend over $300 million on high-maintenance natural gas buses or risk a federal takeover like the one facing the LAPD. Now, with this crisis in maintenance, there’s a shortage of qualified mechanics so their union is not being attacked as hard—for now.

MTA bosses seem determined to make up any extra costs for mechanics by squeezing drivers who they feel are a dime a dozen. Even in the best of capitalism’s "good times" they want to cheapen the cost of drivers’ labor power. MTA’s plan against the drivers is two-fold:

Get their union leadership to contractually agree "in principle" to hold down workers compensation costs. MTA says "some of the savings will be passed on to the drivers as increased wages."

Get the drivers’ union leaders to sell the membership on lengthening the current split shift of 8 hours pay in a 10- to 11-hour work-day in a 5-day week to a 12- to 13-hour work-day in which drivers are paid for 10 hours at straight time over a 4-day week.

Currently drivers have plenty of stress and injuries working 8 hours over an 11-hour day. A 13-hour day will greatly increase drivers’ misery and more workers comp claims as drivers go out on still more job stress, back injuries and accidents.

With this scheme the MTA "hopes to reduce the costs of overtime for certain job categories" by keeping drivers around from 6 A.M. to 7 P.M. daily. Talk about fascism in the workplace!

This bosses’ shell game pits drivers against each other. When the number of drivers going out sick on occupationally related illnesses rises, the bosses will use the "agreement in principle" (on workers comp costs) to take wages away from drivers. This could cause drivers to blame each other for a loss in pay and for the rotten conditions of overwork under capitalism.

Similarly much bigger bosses, of the Rockefeller variety, hope to pit "foreign" workers against U.S. workers, blaming each other for the problems caused by capitalism. They hope to win us and our children to link our interests to the bosses’ interests and die in their wars overseas even as we kill ourselves behind the wheel and in the factories here at home.

PLP members have distributed several hundred leaflets exposing the MTA’s schemes, connecting them to the rejected contracts in the Bay Area (see page 1). At a Labor Day march we handed out leaflets calling for support of an MTA drivers’ strike.

Despite the expiration of the 60-day "cooling off" period, there has been no strike. The union granted an extension while waiting for Democratic Governor Davis to sign a bill he vetoed last year which would "guarantee" MTA workers’ jobs and union contracts if transit were privatized. Don’t hold your breath.

We must consolidate mechanics and drivers from several divisions into a communist study-action group to counter the union/MTA-inspired passivity among transit workers and to build the Party among drivers and mechanics.

Illiteracy: a Big Problem for Bosses in Crisis

A student comrade looking up world literacy in his new computer encyclopedia found the U.S. has a 100% literacy rate. Wow! Another reason why this is "the greatest country of the world." Yeah, right! The capitalists may try to mask the truth at every turn, but facts are stubborn things.

In truth, almost half the U.S. adult population reads at low levels of literacy (National Adult Literacy Survey [NALS], 1992). That’s about 80 million people, excluding teenagers who cannot read or who read only at very low levels. According to NALS, over 20% of all U.S. adults are functionally illiterate. That means they’re unable to "read, write, and speak in English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one's goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential." (My students calculated that to be about 40 million functionally illiterate adults, 75% of whom were born in the U.S.!). In addition, almost a quarter of the young people who GRADUATE from, or drop out of, high school are functionally illiterate, reading below the fifth grade level.

Our Party has often said the ruling class "wants the working class to be ignorant and divided against itself." A report compared today’s education system with the pre-Civil War South, which passed laws against teaching slaves to read. Capitalism still thrives on keeping workers from the knowledge that would invite revolution. However, the bosses face a serious contradiction. In this age of increased capitalist competition, U.S. imperialism also needs the working class to defend it from their capitalist rivals. Lawrence Siskind, the Chairperson of History/Social Science Committee on the California Academic [Standards] Commission explained the bosses’ requirements clearly: they need students who will graduate "ready to vote, to serve on juries, and to take their place in society as responsible citizens. Should they ever be called upon to fight for their country, these standards will teach them why their country is worth fighting for." The bosses need ignorance all right, but they also need obedience.

The capitalist culture they’ve created is a monster: MTV, rap music, video games, the sick sit-coms—they all emphasize a decadent "do-what-you-want" ideology that keeps people distracted and stupid, but also self-centered and demanding. But U.S. rulers need better literacy skills for the working class to satisfy the bosses’ own needs, to outperform their rivals in their do-or-die profit system and—mainly—to better train the working class in capitalist ideology, to win their hearts and minds to defend capitalism.

Business—both big and small—has been complaining for years about the money they must spend to train workers in basic reading and math. In contrast to the public school system, whose money comes largely from the working class through taxes, businesses are having to take money directly out of their profits. They don’t like that. The military has also had to invest in costly basic education programs so they can recruit black, Latin, and white youth to fight their profit wars. As U.S. business feels increasing pressure from its rivals in Europe and Asia, and as they prepare for war to defend their oil empire in the Middle East and elsewhere, business wants a more serious government commitment to protecting its interests.

This is the context for the substantial new investment in literacy training in school systems across the country, promoted at least in part through formal business-education coalitions. These "partnerships" have always existed under capitalism. The schools have always existed to train the wage slaves of tomorrow. But these alliances are becoming more open. Portraying education as a neutral bestower of knowledge is quickly coming to an end.

(Next: the liberal plan for teaching literacy and what’s wrong with it.)

King Leopold’s Legacy: Imperialism and the Origin of AIDS

"I can choose to die of starvation now, or of AIDS later"—Prostitute in Harare, Zimbabwe

Reports to the 13th International AIDS Conference last month in South Africa described a holocaust of mind-numbing dimensions. Fifteen million have already died. Thirty-four million are HIV-infected, including 25 million in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS will kill 67% of today’s teenagers in some African countries. Women are twice as likely as men to become infected. Thirty million African orphans are predicted by 2010, life expectancies dropping from 70 years to 30 in some countries. If neutron bombs were dropped on the dozen biggest cities of Africa, the damage could not be worse. International response to this crisis has been obscene. Bosses and politicians fight over drug prices and profits, while they spend much more on Viagra and baldness remedies ($333 million QUARTERLY earnings, according to Pfizer), than on all international HIV programs in sub-Saharan Africa ($600 million YEARLY of international aid for HIV/AIDS).

Though many see the AIDS pandemic either as a "natural" disaster or as a biological warfare conspiracy, it is actually rooted in the devastation imperialism has inflicted on African societies. This first of a series of articles on the political economy of AIDS will discuss where the HIV virus and the AIDS pandemic in Africa came from.

Scientists have recently learned much about the origin of HIV. Like influenza and rabies, AIDS is a disease transmitted from animals to humans. The closest relatives of HIV are SIVs, viruses carried by apes and monkeys. HIV-1 most resembles a chimpanzee SIV, found in rain forests of coastal West Africa. HIV-2, a milder West African virus, is nearly identical to a monkey SIV. These viruses have lived in their natural hosts for millions of years and don’t make them sick. Among scientists, the currently favored idea of how the viruses jumped into humans is that people hunted chimps and monkeys for meat, and cut themselves while butchering.

HIV is relatively new to humans. The earliest verified HIV case was in 1959, in Kinshasa, Congo; African blood samples from earlier times are free of the virus. HIV exploded in Africa during the early 1970’s, just before it spread to the U.S. and Europe. Very early cases were found near the borders of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. From there it quickly spread to Zambia and Tanzania. Before the 1970’s, AIDS was as unknown in Africa as in the U.S.

HIV evolves rapidly. Its gene sequences accumulate mutations in a steady, clock-like manner. The more differences, the more time has passed since viruses had a common ancestor. By comparing the genes of currently circulating viruses, it is possible to make an informed guess as to when the common M type of HIV-1, the one responsible for the worldwide pandemic, began. The best guess is in the 1930’s.

HIVs not only jumped from animals to humans recently; they also did so OFTEN, at least four times. This is inferred from the fact that some HIV strains are genetically more similar to SIVs than to each other. So it seems that HIV is relatively easy to catch from animals, and that no special mutations are needed to make it virulent in humans. In fact, a lab worker recently developed AIDS from a monkey SIV after an accidental needle stick.

So, if the virus jumps easily to humans, why did the pandemic not start until the late 20th century? What changed that made repeated transfer to humans more likely and explosive growth a certainty?

Until the late 19th century, most Africans farmed and lived in rural villages. Then feverish land grabs among imperialists—seeking rubber, gold, ivory and diamonds—created the largest forced labor system since African-American slavery. For example, King Leopold II of Belgium seized the Congo and ruled it for years as his personal rubber plantation. Fifteen million Congolese died in this genocidal holocaust. Forced labor was the rule in colonial Africa. Copper mines in Katanga (Congo) rounded up miners from Zambia, Rwanda, Angola and Mozambique. Colonial armies drafted millions of Africans during both world wars. During the 1930’s, the French built a railroad through coastal West Africa, drafting hundreds of thousands of African laborers from distant locations and marching them through the rain forest under appalling conditions of near-starvation. According to one theory, it is here that Africans first were exposed to SIVs, as workers made desperate by starvation had to hunt apes as food.

Another theory places the origin of AIDS in the Belgian Congo and neighboring countries. In his thoughtful book, The River, Edward Hooper argues that HIV spread to humans through racist trials of polio vaccines. During the late 1950’s, Hilary Koprowski of Philadelphia’s Wistar Institute gave an experimental oral vaccine to over 300,000 Africans, using them as guinea pigs. Hooper suggests that Koprowski may have grown vaccine poliovirus in chimp cells contaminated with the SIV ancestor of HIV. Hooper’s ideas lack solid evidence, but they are being taken seriously enough to prompt testing of remnant vaccine stocks.

Whichever theory turns out to be true, it is clear that the crossover of the virus was a result of conditions created by colonialism. But what caused HIV’s later explosive growth? (Continued next issue)


Sharpton’s ‘Solution’ Is Prescription for Disaster

On August 26, thousands—90% African-American—demonstrated at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to "Redeem the Dream." Sponsored by Martin Luther King, III and Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, this event was called to protest racial profiling and police brutality. A group of us distributed leaflets and CHALLENGE, trying to convince people that only destroying the system that relies on racism to divide the working class can end racial profiling and police brutality. Sharpton, King and D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams instead told everyone to vote on November 7th and to "trust the cops first and fear them last."

This is a recipe for disaster. All U.S. police forces represent the bosses’ interests, defending their "right" to private property and to steal the fruits of our labor. We should hate the cops first and destroy them in the end! While the liberal ruling class hacks were misleading the masses of black workers in the crowd, we were running off a racist who foolishly decided to set up his anti-immigration table right next to us. He quickly found out how PLP deals with racists.

Racist profiling and police brutality, nationalism (from Sharpton and his cohorts), and the anti-immigrant racism we confronted all serve to preserve and strengthen capitalism by weakening the working class. They must be fought wherever they appear. When we have millions of workers won to communist ideas the Dream we Redeem will be the reality of communist revolution!

D.C. Comrade

Nationalism Turns ‘Dream’into Nightmare

On August 26, some 51,000 anti-racists of all political points of view demonstrated in Washington, D.C. against racial profiling. The dominant ideological position was Black Nationalism, the use of minorities to push separatism, all-black unity, etc., blaming white workers for racism, all as an aspect of maintaining racism.

This Redeem-the-Dream rally demonstrated that nationalism is becoming a major part of the development of the liberal fascist movement in the U.S. The leadership and the vast majority of the participants were black, led by Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III. Clearly the Rockefeller bosses are building Sharpton to be one of their black messiahs. Victims of racism like Abner Loumia and Mr. and Mrs. Dialo were used as the Kool-Aid to cover up the cyanide of neo-racist politics.

This was in sharp contrast to the 1963 march when white brothers and sisters were major participants in a real march. This time our bus was one of the few multi-racial groups there.

Indeed, when Sharpton lied about white people being the cause of racism, one of our white comrades rightfully shouted, "Capitalism causes racism, not white people." A few nationalists around us wanted to take him on but we calmed the situation. However, the fascist nature of Black Nationalism was revealed when one of them called the cops on the comrade.

As a matter of fact, it was PLP that led the attack on the KKK when these scum appeared in New York City, protected by black and white cops, while Sharpton was nowhere to be seen. And it was PLP that joined thousands of militant black workers and youth in confronting the cops at the funeral of Patrick Dorismond—murdered by racist cops—while Sharpton skipped off.

The commitment of Black Nationalists to U.S. American nationalism was symbolized by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner capitalist anthem before they sang the African-American nationalist anthem. The black capitalists just want to guarantee that their class interests are protected. So the main attack was against racial profiling because too many members of the "black middle class" are being profiled. They attacked "rogue cops," not the vicious, racist nature of the entire criminal injustice system, because lots of cops are black nationalists.

In other words, the main purpose of this rally was to guarantee that members of the Black Nationalist Movement get a piece of the fascist pie, which the Rockefeller bosses are baking in preparation for Gulf War II. One of the functions of these Rockefeller agents is to ensure that black workers do not participate in mass resistance to this plan.

That's why our leaflet pointed out that this anti-racist rally was being used as a step in winning black workers to support a coming ground war in Iraq, just as President Johnson hijacked the old Civil Rights Movement to win black workers and youth to support the invasion of Vietnam 35 years ago.

There were many weaknesses in our effort: for example, we never sharply attacked Sharpton before the rally, in deference to some of our reformist friends. We only attacked him after he sabotaged the rally by canceling a bunch of busses. Nevertheless, we did wage a broad, anti-racist struggle in organizing for the march. We did bring out a multi-racial bloc of workers and students. And at the march we did raise the red flag of communism, distributing about 2,000 leaflets and about 150 CHALLENGES. So upon returning I had this thought: even the little that we do doth count in the struggle to create communism, the force which will ensure that the dark night of capitalism will end one day.

Red Deacon

There Is a Way to Fight Medical Fascism

As a physician recently "downsized" by a private practice, here are a few observations about how medical fascism might develop.

We know a high percentage of doctors in Nazi Germany were members of the Nazi Party. Physicians played an integral role in the functioning of the death camps. How this could happen, what with their training to "heal the sick" and allegiance to the Hippocratic Oath, etc.? I recently glimpsed how that might develop here in the U.S., working in a private clinic.

The other physicians in this practice seemed to be under a siege mentality. They constantly rant about the poor reimbursement rate by HMO’s, the incessant paperwork, the bills unpaid for months or years. These doctors are small-time businessmen with a bottom line, overhead and a profit margin. They feel squeezed against a brick wall. They lament the "unfairness" of it all. They condemn the insurance companies and the government and then "fight back" (I use this term very loosely) against what they see as a cause of their predicament: their own patients. This translates into shoddy health care at best, and dangerous/negligent care at worst.

I’d been a salaried employee until my effective layoff. While there I saw how the owner/physicians treat non-private (e.g. HMO or public aid) patients. Assembly-line medicine: the faster patients are seen, the more that are seen, the better for the bottom line. One problem only per visit, please. If you have several, choose one only and make another appointment (weeks or months later) when you can miss a day of work again and endure another 2 to 3-hour wait. This "privilege" will only last for a couple of visits. If you’ve signed on with an HMO—tough! No consideration is made for people who have jobs or families.

"Blaming the victim" rules the day. Although these doctors are in some sense victims of a greedy and rotten capitalist health care system, their answer is to provide only minimal, "no frills" health care or care only on paper. They see no problem because they feel it’s a question of survival.

These doctors and many others like them see no way out. The remedies capitalism is providing are bankrupt (a single-payer system such as Canada’s). They end up sacrificing any principle they may have had for what they see as survival for the almighty dollar. Because they don’t see (and are becoming more incapable of seeing) any alternative (communism) they persist in continuing to be dictated by capitalism. If this means medical fascism, rationing, etc., so be it.

Are doctors effectively a lost cause in building for a communist society? Can they be won to see their interests lie with their patients? Cynically, I conclude right now that most doctors will continue to believe they have a stake in capitalism. Many, but not all doctors in Germany became Nazis. What moved those who didn’t not do it?

Red MD

CHALLENGE comment: The writer is correct in showing how HMO doctors have developed a proto-fascist small business mentality. Their resentments and blame-the-victim nastiness is based on the dashed hope that somehow these doctors could still become entrepreneurs, as they did 25 years ago. No longer. Whose fault? The main bosses.

But HMO doctors won’t arrive at this understanding by themselves. If we become active in a mass movement related to our specialties and dig in for a number of years, raising in an appropriate way the issues mentioned by "Red MD," patient, energetic work could move them towards the Party. Many physicians want to provide "good care." By getting involved with them on a regular basis and sharing their frustrations and struggles, win can win them. Write us more on your progress.

Red Farmworker Back In Fold

I was a little skeptical about participating in the recent PLP International Conference, saying to myself, "what else can I learn?" My cynicism paralleled a recent lack of enthusiasm in doing revolutionary political work. In my 20 years in PLP I have seen some good active comrades leave the movement. I always thought I would never do that, but frankly, I was afraid I was headed that way.

The first big blow against my cynicism came during the Conference dinner, when hundreds arose to chant, "Fight for communism, power to the workers!" in saluting one of the founding member of PLP. Tears rolled down, tears which said thanks to comrades like him who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for a world without capitalist exploiters. "I want to be like him," I said to myself.

The next day during a Conference workshop I talked about my cynicism the last two years and asked for help in fighting it, saying I want to stay in the Party. All the comrades there used all their resources to help me. I felt like they were trying to bring a stowaway back to life. The younger comrades injected their enthusiasm into the discussion. The older comrades showed their long-range outlook and patience in doing communist political work. Someone shook my ego saying, "Being a Party member must not be seen as a sacrifice but as a privilege."

During the final closing assembly a young woman gave a short speech that brought everyone to their feet, cheering and applauding. This time the tears in my eyes mirrored shame in allowing myself to be weakened by cynicism.

After the conference came the dialectical materialism class. When my group discussed contradictions, a comrade said, "Being both emotional and scientific is a contradiction." Indeed, that was the contradiction in my political life. I have always relied on my emotions to do the work and it has helped because I am very romantic. But the long-range nature of the work and some setbacks blew holes in my romanticism. I must be more scientific, make plans and do the work not because it satisfies me but rather because it is necessary. I must find satisfaction in serving the working class, not just my ego. As a comrade, who had just came out of a similar state of depression, said: "I have discovered that behind my depression hid my bourgeois ego. This ego makes us subjective and stops us from realizing we belong to a tremendous Party. With all its zigzags it is still leading to the road that will emancipate the working class from the hell of capitalism."

Red Farmworker, California

Summer of Inspired Struggle

What a summer! We feel younger now than at the beginning. Earlier we worked with students in an action project which also involved some of the deepest discussions of dialectics—led by young comrades— that we’ve ever experienced. And we have been involved a long time. In 1964 we saw PLP being attacked on TV for its role in the Harlem Rebellion—the first mass action against racist police brutality in the ’60s. Then after forming our own study group, we decided to join the Party.)

There was the inspiration of the International Conference, the many comrades who participated and together discussed how to build a new international movement. We had more deep discussions about dialectics in the workshops.

Finally we traveled in Europe and visited some comrades with a long history of struggle. They are not yet in the Party but they told us how important CHALLENGE (and its web site) and PLP are to them. They e-mail parts of our paper to hundreds of people every week.

They detailed many important items of agreement with us which they arrived at from their own struggle: We must go straight to communism. Nationalism is always a loser for the working class. For a communist movement, racism is the most important thing to fight against. Attacks on Stalin are attacks on the working class—although we don’t agree with him on every point.

CHALLENGE stands out as a beacon of revolution today. Things are hard, with the fall of the Soviet Union and China. It may seem a daunting task for our relatively small Party to take up the flag of international revolution—but to many in the world we have already done it!

Comrades: PLP and the whole working class will win!

Now back to school to win more comrades and deepen the class struggle!

Two Red Travelers

Needs Advice

I am a young comrade from Chicago in a complicated situation. My girlfriend and I have been going out for a little over two months. Her parents have hated me since the beginning. Why? Because I am partly black. They want her to break up with me because of their racist ideology. To her credit she has refused.

I’m very confused on how to handle this. When we come up against racist groups like the KKK, the VCT or ROAR we beat them down, because of their violent nature towards particular sections of the working class. This girl’s parents are not in any type of racist organization; in fact they are Hispanic working-class people. But their racist ideology is killing our relationship. I know that violence is not the answer, but how do I reach these people with a communist perspective on "race" and racism, when they refuse to speak with me?

Anti-racist Fighter

Nader: Illusion And Reality

(The following are excerpts from my response to someone who believes that Ralph Nader is a progressive force.)

Dear J,

Nader's views are a parody of the class struggle. Marxists regard the two main contending forces in capitalism to be: (1) the class that owns the means of production and the products made with them, and (2) the class that works the means of production and owns none. In contrast, Nader regards the two main contending forces to be (1) the corporations and 2) the citizens. At first glance Nader's categories seem to be the same as the Marxist categories. Not so.

His citizen category combines the capitalist class with the working class and treats corporations and citizens as adversaries only in the voting arena. By naming corporations as the enemy of the citizens, Nader feeds the illusion that the enemy can be beaten at the ballot box.

In reality, the capitalist class and the working class are primarily adversaries in the process of production, where exploitation takes place. So Nader's categories are: (1) something owned and controlled by the capitalist class (corporations) versus 2) the capitalist class plus the working class (citizens).

Nader claims corporations seized power from the citizens only 20 years ago and that citizens can re-gain control of the government from the corporations. He ignores several hundred years of history, during which the capitalists controlled the government and have used it to consolidate their repression and exploitation of the working class. From the genocide of the Indians to the enslavement of millions of Africans to the extreme exploitation of white immigrant workers from Europe, the government has always done the bidding of the dominant forces within the capitalist class. Furthermore, in any direct conflict between workers and bosses, such as daily exploitation or strikes, the government has never sided with the workers.

Nader sidesteps the issue of who controls the legal means of force and violence. He implies that violence by the government (war, killings by cops, etc.) is not a normal part of its functioning, and it would end if only citizens would capture control of the "legitimate" political process. He ignores the relationship between the executive branch (the Presidency) and the other two branches of the government--Congress and the courts. He implies that if he were President, through him the citizens could gain complete control over the entire government.

Contrary to Marxists, Nader poses that economic power is subordinate to political power at the ballot box. His prescription for the working class is to vote, an arena in which political power would remain securely in the hands of the capitalists. So by sounding unusually progressive and on the side of the working class, Nader acts as a pied piper for the ruling class, whether he knows it or not. Like Allende in Chile in the early '70s, even if he won, at best he would set himself up to be assassinated and the working class to be the victims of rapidly-imposed fascism.

Some try to expose Nader as a hypocrite, since he has amassed millions in the stock market, investing in the very corporations he publicly attacks. He claims he pours almost all his income into his consumer advocacy organizations and lives on a very modest income. I think the strongest case can be made against his IDEAS by granting that he is honest about them and not arguing about the man's character, a point that is more contentious and irrelevant.

Exposure of the fallacies in his outlook prepares the working class, students, and other allies of the working class to see the need to capture political and economic power by destroying the form of government that lends itself only to rule by a small class over the vast majority and expropriating the means of production from the capitalists. Hiding the fallacies in Nader's outlook disarms the working class and its allies and leads to the futile belief that power can be captured within the capitalists' wholly-owned voting arena. Progressive people, like professionals, who look to his campaign to solve their problems will be left as victims of economic exploitation and political repression.

Your friend, B

CHALLENGE comment: The writer is correct in exposing Nader as feeding the illusion that the working class can "capture the government from the corporations" at the ballot box. However, we believe the main role Nader's candidacy plays is to keep workers, youth and "progressives" who are disenchanted with the bosses' parties within the electoral system, giving them this "radical" to vote for. As we will detail in future issues, Nader is financed by many of the same Rockefeller interests that fund the two major boss-run parties.

Bosses Make Mess of Philly Schools

I’m a member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT). I’ve been following the negotiations closely—the quality of my job is at stake. The school district has become increasingly antagonistic towards its own workers. They want to increase the school day by over an hour and the school year by five days without compensation; establish cheaper healthcare plans costing us over $1,000 each; increase class size; AND give almost complete authority over transfers and placements to school principals. The PFT originally asked for a small raise BUT has now turned defensive. It’s just trying to stop the district from taking everything away.

Besides the school district’s anti-labor position (its bureaucrats couldn’t teach a class to save their lives), last year the State passed a law preventing contract extensions, virtually guaranteeing State takeover of the city’s schools if a contract is not settled by today, August 31. This would mean the State nullifies the contract and enforces its own rules. Everything could be lost.

The school district and politicians like Democrat Dwight Evans love to tell the teachers how to teach, about "what’s best for the children." Yet they’ve never spent a day of their lives in the classrooms. They don’t know what’s necessary or what works or doesn’t. They just love to blame the teachers. They also "can’t understand" why so many teachers either leave or fail to apply for positions. It’s simple: lower salaries, cheaper health insurance, harder working environments, huge class sizes, a lack of resources and a completely incompetent school district. Why would anyone want to work in the Philly schools?

Aggravated and anxious Philly teacher

DK2: A Collective Evaluation

At the end of the LA Democratic Convention, we met to collectively evaluate our week's activities. Each person spoke in turn. An LA teacher from Manual Arts H.S. said the presence of thousands of police and miles of 17-foot-high fencing indicated the bosses were afraid of the workers. Then a young woman said in her experience the bosses didn't fear the workers; on the contrary, they take advantage of us. Later a young man said both were true—the bosses do take advantage of us and exploit us, but they're afraid of us when we're united. He criticized himself for forgetting to bring a friend to the garment workers' march.

Another person felt that just as the politicians always say one more vote is really important to them, likewise every person coming to the march is really important to us; we each need to bring one more person.

Someone said we mishandled our relations with another group in the march, drowning out their chants with our chants. He said we should have talked to them and worked together. People agreed. A Party veteran said people should join PL clubs and study groups. The young comrade who had forgotten his friend took the lead, saying everyone who wanted to be in a Party club in west LA should see him. The person who spoke about the chanting said he'd call.

These were a few of the many interactions that night and throughout the week between old and new Party members and people just getting to know the Party. At least five people had never been to a march, but one got a sense of how much people were ready and willing to contribute. We made about 25 contacts in person and another 65 on sign-up sheets so we have lots of work to do.

A Friend of the Party

Oops: In the article titled "Nazi Torture: The Racist Beasts of Clinton Prison" (CHALLENGE, 8/2) we said that Felix Jorge, the young Dominican imigrant who either committed suicide or was murdered at Clinton Prison, "succumbed to alchohol" as a youth. Felix was NEVER involved with alchohol. Our apologies for this error.