The administration said funding for many important programs was "gone," and that the principal was "doing everything that could be done." But after our picket line on the first day of school, some money was miraculously "found."
PLP has been organizing at Wingate for many years. We distribute 100-150 CHALLENGES every week. We have organized walkouts against racist police terror and brought busloads of students to May Day marches. Students have joined PLP and we have run on a teachers' slate with activists for union office. All this and more has enabled us to challenge the traditional trade union outlook of our UFT local.
As contract negotiations approach we have won a small but meaningful victory in demanding that the UFT address the issue of education for our students and not just raises for teachers. We are demanding that the UFT organize parents and students to fight the conditions that make it impossible for students to learn the necessary skills to graduate.
While Philadelphia teachers are taking a strike vote and the Los Angeles teachers' union is negotiating its contract, mobilizing our UFT local to fight for the interests of the students sets an important precedent.
It has also become clear that rank-and-file teachers can be won to stand up for their students. This is the direct opposite of the UFT-Weingarten leadership's position, which negotiates for pay raises and racist anti-student demands like more "security" in the schools. Last year the UFT fought for and won a law that makes any assault on a teacher a felony.
In the past week, most Wingate H.S. teachers have participated in the struggle by attending chapter meetings, speaking up at faculty meetings, walking the picket lines or joining one of the organizing committees.
We are spreading the struggle to workers in the neighborhood, continuing demonstrations in front of the school and reaching out to other union chapters where many of the same racist conditions exist. We will fight for students and parents to unite with teachers and become the leadership in opposing the racist Board of Education. We will continue to point out how the capitalism destroys education for our children and only prepares them to be wage slaves or or to return home in bodybags from another imperialist war. We will invite students, parents and teachers to join PLP.
On July 3, a NJ network news program reported that police had been preparing for the demonstration for two months. It said the cops had been investigating several groups aiming to oppose the Nazis (obviously including PLP) to discover their plans. Morris County authorities mobilized cops from towns all over the county, along with State Police. It's a good bet there were federal agents involved on the cops' planning team.
They videotaped the anti-Nazi demonstrators, took hundreds of still photos and used industrial-strength pepper spray developed for crowd control to supress and keep communists and other militant anti-racists far away from the Nazis.
Morristown is just one example of this trend. The Philadelphia and Los Angeles police forces made similar preparations on a broader scale to keep liberal and fake leftist-led forces within bounds. In Philly, prosecutors and cops brought "conspiracy" charges against some liberal leaders who did merely planned pacifist actions against the Republican Convention. Several were jailed, with bail up to one million dollars. The Philly prosecutor refused to answer questions about reduction of charges, telling the demonstrators to "get a life."
LA cops underwent months of training in crowd control techniques. They viciously attacked an anti-police brutality demonstration and invaded the headquarters being used for actions against the Democratic Convention. There probably would have been more significant
attacks had the D2K leadership not included so many forces loyal to the liberal section of the ruling class.
Even before the anti-World Trade Organizations demonstrations in Seattle, the rulers were increasingly using the cops and courts to enforce legal forms of fascism:
An increasing centralization of state and local police forces with the federal government directly funding "community policing" schemes;
More collaboration of local cops with federal agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Army and others in devising tactics to respond to mass demonstrations or "civil emergencies";
Government use of anti-terrorism laws, secret evidence and other new provisions in criminal, immigration and welfare laws (see box);
Raiding planning meetings BEFORE demonstrations and jailing demonstration leaders for "conspiring" to disrupt meetings important to the capitalists (as happened in anti-International Monetary Fund actions in Washington, D.C.).
In the Morristown case, the prosecutor's office is now trying to get the defense attorney representing PLP members kicked off the case before a grand jury has even indicted anyone. The Assistant Prosecutor told the attorney he has a picture of her at the July 4th demonstration, and therefore she is a "potential witness" and cannot represent anybody. They are also refusing to hand over copies of pictures and videotapes taken by the cops. It's clear the Prosecutor's office is going all out to get felony convictions, particularly of PLP members.
PLP members, friends and supporters must take very seriously this latest attack by the ruling class on our Party. In the context of growing legal fascism, communists are among the main targets of the capitalist police state.
The bosses' plans for oil and other wars to secure their continuing control of the world require a "big stick" for control at home as well as abroad. The "Vietnam syndrome" and the specter of mass anti-war resistance continue to haunt the rulers. Communists winning millions of workers, students and soldiers to smash war and fascism with revolution will make their worst dreams a reality.
OATEDP set up special deportation courts which can accept secret evidence presented by the government. The evidence does not have to be disclosed to immigrants (or their attorneys) who are supposedly connected to political groups classified as "foreign terrorists" by the U.S. State Department. Any U.S. citizen who financially or otherwise supports a group on this list can be jailed for 10 years. The PRWORA legalizes slave labor Workfare, penalizes state governments that don't force enough people into "work activities," and uses the FBI to compile lists of people ineligible for food stamps and welfare because of outstanding state and federal arrest warrants.
Send Donations to Cover Legal Costs to CHALLENGE, 150 W. 28th Street room 301, New York , NY 10001
Drivers are thinking about how to reach out to workers who ride our busses.
More are becoming active in TWU and ATU union caucuses. Direct job actions,
like slow downs, OT refusal and sick-outs are on the agenda. Workers are
discussing the possibility of full-blown strikes and joint actions between AC
and MUNI workers. Many are debating what it would mean to take action the
bosses have declared "illegal."
Drivers' anger and a growing understanding that the profit system is destroying people all over the world have brought us to the present situation. CHALLENGE expands our vision of what this battle is all about. Capitalism won't let up, no matter what contract is passed. It is a mass base for communist ideas that creates a wild card the bosses cannot control. All this will build a network of activists from which new leaders will emerge to knock the bosses on their ass.
It is fair to say, for example, that George Bush Sr.'s racist Willie Horton ads (which claimed the Democrats released a prisoner who then allegedly committed another crime) did not just contribute to his election, but helped justify the vicious racist increase in jailing black and Latin workers carried on by both Republican and Democratic Presidents since then.
Class struggle is the antidote. The contract battles at MUNI and AC Transit in the San Francisco Bay Area are demonsrating some important lessons. We see the "free press," the "will of the people" and the "vote"--all the cherished phrases of capitalist democracy--are so much garbage the moment workers threaten to strike!
MUNI workers rejected the contract 4 to 1 by secret ballot. So the free press immediately warned workers striking was illegal! Lesson 1: The capitalist press may be free, but workers aren't! When the workers rejected what the bosses wanted, they had to vote again. Lesson 2: The will of the people really means you will vote the way the bosses want you to!
At AC the danger of striking was immediate and so the union called a strike authorization vote rather than a strike vote. Lesson 3: Those who control the political machinery control the meaning of the vote!
Every time workers organize, we see that capitalist democracy is in fact a dictatorship of the bosses. Far from being the best system for the working class, it is the worst! The ballot box can never liberate us. For that we need to organize a revolution led by the working class and its communist party, the PLP.
Meanwhile, local LA bosses are fighting for a piece of MTA's $2.5 billion annual budget. Construction interests created MTA's ambitious building programs to feast on. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich wants his pals to profit from manufacturing small bus components with minimum wage immigrant labor. Bosses who want to secede from the city of LA want a Transit Zone as their first prize in the Valley.
In this den of thieves, Governor Davis is trying to force some order. Davis is aware that the U.S. government is active in Los Angeles, representing the biggest Eastern capitalists. They are busy taking over the LAPD, with their eye on the LA schools and with three on-going federal investigations into MTA corruption itself. They will no longer permit Mayor Riordan, police chief Bernard Parks and friends run LA any more.
When the head of LA County Federation of Labor, Miguel Contreras, calls for all unions to support striking MTA workers' opposition to Transit Zones (and a low-paid, non-union work-force), these junior partners of the big bosses are delivering their bosses' message and coming on tough. Transit Zones are not to be. The Rockefeller-dominated Eastern Establishment knows it must have public schools that teach workers' kids basic skills, public hospitals to keep workers minimally healthy and a public transit system workers can rely on.
The big bosses need a working class loyal to them and their oil war plans in the Middle East. A fragmented transit system in LA would fatten local zone bosses but would leave workers and their families less willing to defend the American Dream at $8.50 an hour.
Gasoline prices in Britain are the highest in Europe. No wonder truckers, taxi-drivers and farmers there are following protests begun in France--and now spreading to Spain, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Belgium--against the sky-high prices. The protests blockade main roads and freeways or oil terminals and refineries, preventing gasoline distribution.
French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin caved in. After granting a break to fishermen, he followed suit with a $45 million tax break to farmers and subsidies to truckers. Jospin had considered using the Army against the protesters but, realizing the support they had, backed off. "One knows how that kind of thing begins," he said, "One does not know how it ends."
However, granting concessions doesn't necessarily mean the end of protests. European governments have raised fuel taxes as part of a broader shift away from taxation on income and wealth and toward indirect taxation on the sale of goods and services. This policy, which moves the tax burden onto the backs of the working class, has been approved by industrialists in general. However, in the case of fuel it attacks business too, since it threatens to bankrupt the trucking industry.
All this leaves European governments on the horns of a dilemma. Concede to direct action on the part of small businesses--like truckers, taxis and farmers--and the working class will expect similar concessions around protests over the hardships they face. Jospin is right; "one never knows where it will end!"
But the protests highlight another dilemma. Control of raw materials like oil--especially the cheapest and highest quality Mid-East oil--is as vital to European imperialists as it is to their U.S. competitors. These domestic protest movements will, in the end, heighten the competition between the U.S. and European imperialists over the control of the world's oil, particularly in the Mid-East.
Eventually, in this dog-eat-dog capitalist world, control of a barrel of oil comes out of the barrel of a gun. As this crisis matures PLP intends to make the choice even clearer. Either we follow "our" capitalists down a road of increasing poverty and war or we seize the gun and blaze a new trail for workers' power and communist revolution.
Clinton came to hand-deliver the $1.7 billion in military aid to President Pastrana as part of the so-called "Plan Colombia." U.S. rulers consider Colombia a "national priority."
Under "the war on drugs," Plan Colombia will bring more death and misery to workers and peasants here. This includes the use of deadly chemicals to "kill coca plantations." The deadly fungus, already being used on coca plants in areas controlled by anti-government guerrilla forces, will also affect all other crops.
Less than 0.5% of the population is involved in the coca trade. Even right-wing U.S. journalist George Will admits, "The coca plantations and labs...will just move their operations further into the jungle." (NY POST, (9/10)
Behind Plan Colombia are the needs of some U.S. oil corporations to defend their interests. On Feb. 15, Lawrence P. Meriage, a senior executive of Occidental Oil and Gas Corp. (Oxy), testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, on the strategic importance of Colombia. He made the case for more military muscle to fight anti-government guerrillas that hinder Oxy's Colombia operations.
But his testimony revealed the contradictions among certain sections of the U.S. ruling class. He said, "Colombia's oil is of a vital strategic importance to the U.S. because it reduces our dependence on oil imports from the volatile Middle East."
Middle East oil, particularly from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, is the cheapest and most abundant in the world. Colombia produces only 820,000 barrels a day. Most of its oil is unexplored. Increasing oil production will be extremely difficult and expensive. What's more, Rockefeller and Exxon-Mobil competitors--Oxy, BP Amoco and even France's Elf Aquitaine--will control it.
That is the contradiction faced by U.S. imperialism. While the ruling class supports Plan Colombia, the NY TIMES, mouthpiece for the Rockefeller wing of U.S. rulers, cautions Clinton not to overextend military resources in Colombia. They want to "outsource" the war in Colombia, using U.S. mercenaries as advisors and trainers of the special Colombian army units and death squads.
PLP participated in one of the many protests in Colombia against Clinton's visit. We gave out 3,000 leaflets putting forward that the only solution to imperialist war is to build a mass communist movement to smash all the bosses.
One is the need to win mass support. A call to stop gasoline and heating oil price hikes could win some initial backing.
The other, and most important, is for the politicians and military to overcome the "Vietnam Syndrome." In a WALL STREET JOURNAL article (9/11) entitled, "Will Bush Bury the `Body Bag Syndrome?'" editor Max Boot writes, "Why don't Messrs. Bush and Cheney [criticize this syndrome]? Perhaps because this attitude isn't confined to the Clinton administration. Bodybag syndrome has taken root in the Pentagon, run by generals and admirals traumatized by their baptism of fire in Vietnam. One of the foremost proponents of the no-casualties mantra is Colin Powell, seen campaigning at Mr. Bush's side last week. Gen. Powell was even reluctant to launch Desert Storm. Before risking his men's lives, he wanted to wait for sanctions to take effect . . . and then wait some more.
"Messrs. Bush and Cheney are campaigning on a Powellesque platform: We want to increase funding for the armed forces, they proclaim, but not put its personnel in harm's way. This suggests that a Bush administration would be unlikely to bury the bodybag syndrome. For those interested in utilizing U.S. military might to police the Pax Americana, this ought to be disquieting news."
It is quite disquieting, particularly for workers and soldiers who will die on the altar of Exxon-Mobil profits. It doesn't have to be this way. Let the bosses start their wars. Workers and soldiers from Baghdad to Chicago will unite and smash all the war makers with communist revolution!
The apparent story is this: two plainclothes Prince George's County detectives tailed Jones in an unmarked vehicle from Prince George's County, Maryland, through the District of Columbia, all the way to Fairfax County, VA,. The cops got separated. One of them blocked Prince after he had pulled into a driveway, probably fearful of being followed by a stranger at 3 A.M. Prince backed into the unmarked car, and the cop fired nine shots, five striking the victim in the back, according to autopsy results. This murder was so flagrant that the WASHINGTON POST published an editorial about the case with the title, "This Police Shooting Reeks!"
Jones had no police record. He was described as a hard-working, wonderful
person by all who knew him, the father of a year-old son and engaged to be
married. He needed only a few credits to graduate, and had participated extensively in work as an intern at the H Street Community Development Corporation in Northeast Washington.
Prince George's County police have shot 12 people during the past 13 months, five of them fatally. There has been a long history of similar brutal murders in this county.
The increasing racist police brutality here and throughout the country is not a matter of "rogue cops." It is systemic. The police defend private property and the system of capitalism. That's their job, black or white (here the cop was black). Racist, anti-working class terrorism by the state apparatus has always been a critical feature of capitalism. It attacks and intimidates the most oppressed section of the working class, to keep that population under control.
Why is it that the hundreds of efforts to reverse police brutality--including ostensible efforts by federal and local governments--have systematically failed? Because police brutality helps capitalism work better for the capitalists! If it hurt their profit-making, it would end!
As we continue the fight for justice in this case, we must "connect the dots" between all the police brutality cases; then the idea that revolution against capitalism is the only way to stop police brutality becomes understandable and necessary.
Faculty and students at Howard are circulating the following petition, and encourage readers to sign it, circulate it, and fax it to (301) 864-5772:
PETITION TO THE GOVERNING BODIES HAVING JURISDICTION
OVER THE CASE OF MR. PRINCE C. JONES
We, the undersigned, demand:
1. That police officer Carlton B. Jones be indicted for first degree murder
in the killing of Mr. Prince C. Jones;
2. That police officer Carlton B. Jones be fired from the Prince George's
County Police Department;
3. That Prince George's County Chief of Police John S. Farrell be fired
immediately from his position as chief for suggesting that Officer Carlton
B. Jones might have been justified in slaying Mr. Prince C. Jones; and,
4. That the family of Mr. Prince C. Jones be provided with substantial
financial compensation for the loss of their family member (recognizing
that no financial compensation can ever make up for the loss of Mr. Prince
Nader has always served the dominant wing of the ruling class. The groups he has founded, like Public Citizen, Public Interest Research Group and Global Trade Watch, receive major donations and direction from the Ford Foundation and various Rockefeller philanthropies. The Ford Foundation functions as an affiliate of Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank. The foundation's chairman and president both sit on Chase's board. One Nadir creation, the Consumer Project on Technology (CPT), names the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation as its sole institutional funders. Nader's CPT organizes consumer opposition to Microsoft (an anti-Rockefeller outfit) and lobbied hard for its break-up. Accepting donations from openly fascistic protectionists like Roger Milliken only proves Nader's opportunism. It doesn't change his fundamental allegiance.
The Rockefeller main wing of the ruling class has run third party presidential candidates in the past to unseat bungling incumbents. Rockefeller protege John Anderson undercut and helped oust Jimmy Carter in 1980 during the Iran hostage fiasco. Ross Perot did the same to George Bush in 1992, after Bush had let Iraq seize Kuwait's oilfields. But that's not what we have here with Nader. In fact, Nader, knowing he won't win, openly says he can help Gore's cause by moving him to the "left" and sucking in more voters thereby.
Writing in the BOSTON GLOBE (7/30), Robert Kuttner of the liberal Economic Policy Institute assured readers that Nader intends to "energize" Gore, not torpedo him: "Nader recently observed that in the famous `Give 'em Hell' campaign of 1948, Truman, a centrist, turned populist only after former Vice-President Henry Wallace ran as a third-party progressive to Truman's left. Wallace was polling as high as 12%, Nader told me. In the end, by running as a progressive, Truman mobilized Democratic voters and held Wallace to just 1.3%." Through this analogy, Nader says he wants to build a base and hand it to Gore on a silver platter.
One of Nader's phony tactics is the "class action" lawsuit, in which victims of outrages like Firestone's exploding tires, or their heirs, get pennies for their troubles. As Bush and Gore (with the help of Nader's nationalism) drive towards war, it's time for true class action of our own, building the Progressive Labor Party.
The Vote That Really Counts
Every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter has been a member of Rockefeller's Tri-Lateral Commission. "Neither Gore nor George W. Bush are members yet , , , so wags have joked that it is unclear who will be the next president." (NY POST, 9/10)
PLP has a better idea, instead of wasting your time voting, organize to fight for workers' power!
Methodist workers and some union staffers worked very hard, but the union was unprepared. Local 73 had no strike fund, and no intention of mobilizing its 25,000 members to support the strike. On the contrary, their role is to keep things under control, not to challenge the basic inequalities of the profit system. They hid behind the bosses laws ánd its threat of fines.
Once management made a slightly better offer, there was heavy pressure on the negotiating team to accept. We struggled with the choice of accepting the offer and returning to work together, or holding out for more and risking people breaking the strike and returning to work.
The union called a Sunday night meeting. Only after workers arrived were we told we would be voting on the offer. The union showed distrust of the workers by counting on the small turnout to vote to return to work. The result was 180 YES, 104 NO.
The union initially said they would fine people between $500and $1,000 if they
crossed the picket line. After the strike was over, we discovered that those
who crossed only had to pay $100.
On the negative side, we were too peaceful. This kept us from stopping deliveries and scabs. We should have organized more violent resistance to scabs. Why hadn't we? Firstly, the union leadership was against it. More militant leadership would have had to come from rank-and-file leaders. Secondly, some weren't sure what and when to do something. Others feared it would break the strikers' unity. All this points out the need for organized groups of communist-led workers who are not bound by the bosses' laws restricting workers, and who have their eye on the bigger picture.
On the positive side, workers felt pride in standing up to management and winning a better contract. We became closer and developed more confidence in each other. We will need this as we continue to fight. Also, there was a lot of community support. As economically devastated as this area is, the scabs mostly came from Illinois and Mississippi.
We all grew from this experience. We led some workers to support the strike and a few strikers who knew us introduced us to others. When Party members first came to the picket line to sell CHALLENGE, union organizers told workers to stay away from us and not give us their correct phone numbers. They had only limited success because, (1) we are active in the union; (2) many workers are not afraid; and (3) we have long-term ties to a spouse of one of the strikers.
Having a mass personal/political base on the job and in the union is crucial.
Overall, we have met some new friends who are interested in learning more about
Chicago comrades and friends
Starting in the 1960's, African societies changed from colonialism to rule by indigenous nationalist or fascist rulers allied with imperialism. For example, the Belgian Congo became Zaire. Patrice Lumumba was assassinated by the CIA. They installed Mobuto, a worthy successor to King Leopold in greed and bloodthirstiness. South Africa and Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe) remained under fascist apartheid throughout this period. Armies of male migrant workers left the countryside for the newly-crowded cities, while their wives remained behind in remote rural areas. Prostitution became a major growth industry, some European companies even setting up whorehouses near their factories for their workers. A seemingly endless series of nationalist and inter-imperialist wars sent millions of soldiers and refugees all over central Africa.
Enslaved by the global market economy, conditions created by colonialism continued and worsened in "post-colonial" African societies. HIV spread like wildfire through populations ravaged by poverty, war, famine and disease. HIV spread to Europe and the U.S., and then to Haiti and Thailand, primarily through sex tourism, often child prostitution. Prostitution and dirty needles spread it to Latin America, India and Eastern Europe, centers of new epidemics. The IMF's (International Monetary Fund) stranglehold on poor countries caused massive unemployment, promoted prostitution, imposed cutbacks in health care and education and made life-saving drugs unaffordable.
Sexism kills, just as surely as--and combined with--racism. In Africa, traditional oppression of women has meshed with new, profit-driven forms of oppression. In southern Africa, married women often don't dare ask their husbands to wear condoms, and are pressured by relatives to stay unprotected for maximum fertility. Husbands are expected to have many sex partners while their wives are expected to be monogamous.
Some day the HIV pandemic will be known as one of imperialism's worst crimes. Rulers in both Africa and the U.S. claim that the situation is hopeless, and that millions are doomed. Yet the money it would take to provide effective prevention and therapy now ($100 billion yearly) is only a small fraction of what imperialists spent on wars against Iraq and Vietnam. It is an even smaller fraction of the profits they've made from African rubber, diamonds, gold, copper, oil and slave labor. In a few countries (like Uganda and Thailand) even simple prevention campaigns have had a big impact. So building a larger movement now, that refuses to accept rules protecting the bosses' profits, can save many more lives. Mass production and distribution of pirated anti-AIDS drugs, in collaboration with medical workers in Africa, can prevent transmission and provide treatment for millions.
A larger movement must also lead a sharp and prolonged struggle against sexism in order to transform relationships between men, women and children, ending prostitution and sex slavery. It must fight to end the super-exploitation of migrant labor. These goals can only be achieved through the revolutionary destruction of capitalism. The experience of once socialist China in eradicating prostitution, syphilis and drug addiction (which have all returned in now capitalist China) shows that revolutionary communism can, even in poor societies, solve massive public health problems.
Sources: Hahn, B.H. et al. (2000); Korber et al. (2000); Science 287: 607 Chitnis et al. (2000), AIDS Res. Hum. Retroviruses 16: 5-8; Gao et al. (1999) Nature 397: 436-441; Hooper, E.M. (1999) The River; Schoofs (2000) "The Agony of Africa" (at http://www.villagevoice.com/specials/africa) ScientificAmerican, January 2000; New York Times, 6/28/00 and 7/9/00. Recommended background: A. Hochschild King Leopold's Ghost; W. Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa; B. Davidson, "The Black Man's Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State"
Firstly, there's almost no chance Pinochet will be jailed. Even if he is, what about Kissinger, then Nixon's National Security chief and the real brain behind the 1973 coup that overthrew the Socialist Party president, Salvador Allende, labeling him a Soviet puppet? What about the other military officers involved in the coup that put Pinochet in power and their many crimes? What about the bosses of International Telephone and Telegraph and local Chilean bosses who helped finance the coup? There cannot be justice under capitalism for the thousands who were jailed, tortured and murdered by the Pinochet regime.
Some say that because Chile is now ruled by another Socialist Party candidate, President Lagos, maybe there will be some justice. Well, Lagos has not changed one iota the capitalist exploitation which existed under Pinochet and has continued since "democracy" was restored in the 1980s under the Christian Democratic Party. Today's socialists are far behind even Allende. If Allende had illusions that somehow socialism could be achieved through capitalist elections, Lagos believes in free market capitalism forever. Today's socialists took down their Che Guevara posters long ago. Now their idols are unbridled capitalism.
We in PLP say that if workers and their allies want to avenge the crimes the bosses and their butchers commit against us and achieve justice, we must fight to destroy the system of wage slavery and fight for workers' power--communism.
PLP club, Chile
The sucre's disappearance stems from the brutal inter-imperialist struggle to control world markets. The U.S. imperialists have imposed dollarization as a symbol of colonialism and their total control of Ecuador.
On September 9, the sucre replaced the dollar. Dollarization was complete. Hundreds formed endless lines at bank windows to exchange their last sucres for U.S. currency.
Workers have been fed nostalgia for the disappearance of the miserable sucre. The social movements and unions, led by traitors, revisionists (fake leftists) and sellouts posing as popular fighters, push this absurd nationalist sentiment of "my currency," "my country" and "my boss." They never tell workers the oppressive nature of the sucre.
Communists understand the only way to end exploitation is by eliminating money, the capitalist wage system and all the machinery generating super-profits for the bosses and super-poverty for the workers.
The working class is an international class. There are many more similarities than differences among us, the fundamental similarity being we are the class that produces everything of value. We have common enemies: capitalism, the bosses, currency, poverty wages, lack of housing, unemployment, as well as social fascist labor "leaders" who push nationalism to serve their masters. They're all birds of a feather.
Under capitalism, workers need currency to get food, medicine, clothing, education, etc. Under communism workers will never again need money because production will not be for profit but for the needs of our class, distributed according to need.
We've had enough of fixing the capitalist economy and enough rulers' lies. If the capitalist economy is falling apart, let it! We shouldn't sacrifice ourselves to save it. All our efforts, all our sacrifices, all our force, all our valiant energy, we dedicate to build the society of and for the workers. To that end we must organize and build PLP.
Comrade from Ecuador
But although we all had essentially the same political outlook and experiences, our discussions revealed ideological problems we need to overcome in order to construct a world-wide party of millions. One is convincing each other that all workers, in industrialized and developing countries alike, need and are capable of communist revolution.
This point arose when a U. S. comrade described deteriorating conditions here, where 48 million people are without healthcare and the number of families in poverty is growing. A comrade from the Near East responded that conditions are much worse in his country where 86 % of the population makes less than $2000 a year. When an African comrade said that most workers in his country don't even have clean drinking water or electricity, it became clear that ALL workers are exploited under capitalism, although some more than others.Whether it be a landless peasant in Africa, a maquiladora worker in the Near East or a U.S. factory worker living from paycheck to paycheck, our similarities are greater than our differences. We all have the same enemy and the same fight.
However, differences still remained, especially the idea that workers in poorer countries are more revolutionary than workers in the U.S. But if this were the case and degree of misery were the criteria, then why haven't workers in, say the Congo, made a revolution?Another point raised was that U.S. workers have a better standard of living because they benefit from the super-profits made by U.S. and multinational companies in developing countries. The surplus value U.S. bosses steal from workers in places like Latin America, Asia and Africa goes straight into their pockets, not those of U.S. workers'. These same U.S. bosses rake in surplus value from U.S. workers' labors as well. The extension of this idea, that workers in the industrialized world are a highly-paid, pro-boss, "labor aristocracy" applies to a very small percentage of workers--formerly among the skilled craft unions and now more among the "dot.com" group of white collar workers.
Yet "Yankee Go Home," the cry of anti- imperialists everywhere, seems to be applied indiscriminately to all people in the U.S. A class understanding would direct it against the class responsible for the exploitation worldwide, the U.S. bosses. As communists we promote solidarity among all workers across the boss-created national barriers.Flip a coin. Today, workers in developing countries see workers in industrial countries as better off and therefore part of their problem. Meanwhile, U. S. workers victimized by U.S corporations relocating abroad many times fall for the bosses' ideology blaming overseas workers for their own unemployment or lower wages here. This lack of unity, class perspective and understanding of the international character of capitalism only helps the bosses control and exploit us.Those of us in our workshop, hearing first-hand the appalling conditions of workers' lives in the developing world and the terrible repression suffered by our comrades, only makes us fight harder to do what it takes to build the Progressive Labor Party into one worldwide Party, one united working class with one aim--the destruction of capitalism and the construction of a communist society.
A Brooklyn comrade
She works in a big garment shop with several hundred mostly women workers. After the summer layoff, she went to work as a sewing machine operator. The bosses called a meeting to say "how sorry" they were, but they had to eliminate hundreds of operators. Why? Not because of lack of work. As a matter of fact production is up. But because the company is sending work overseas and to non-union sweatshops all over New York City where labor costs are much lower.UNITE is the garment workers union and is behind United Students Against Sweatshops, which organizes protests against companies using overseas sweatshops. What are they doing about this? Nothing! They were content to settle for "re-training" and severance pay for the fired workers, as long as the company keeps some unionized (dues paying) workers assembling the parts made in sweatshops.
Re-training is a lie. Most of these workers are older immigrant women, who are sent to be "re-trained" for jobs that younger workers will take for less. A year from now, when the re-training and money runs out, they will be working in sweatshops for rotten wages. This is happening to workers all over the U.S.
This is the "dirty secret" behind the economic boom of U.S. bosses. At this year's conference of U.S. Federal Reserve officials and economic policymakers, Alan Greenspan said one of the main reasons high-tech capital and investment in the U.S. is greater than in Europe and Japan was that, "by law and by custom, American employers have faced many fewer impediments in recent years to releasing employees." Lower labor costs have meant higher profits.
So now my relative understands better how capitalism functions, and how neither Gore nor Bush in the White House will fundamentally change this.
A NYC Comrade
It reminded me of experiences at my own church. My treasured friends and I have had many struggles in my own city about the origin of racism under capitalism and its central role in capitalist society. We've discussed the bogus concept of "race. While they respect me, my friends remain wary about the revolutionary communist approach to destroying racism.
This brings me to the editorial in the last CHALLENGE, "PLP Exposes Anti-Globalization Liberals As Pro-War Patriots." The editorial was excellent, on target. However, at one point the editorial explained how PLP youth exposed the "lie" of "white skin privilege," that is the "idea that white people, not capitalism, are the cause of racism" and that we need to "fight racism to unite the working class." This is correct. However, we should be careful while working with people in "anti-racism workshops" and as we communists organize, initiate and/or participate in, and lead, anti-racist fights.
There are differences between us, as well as similarities as members of the working class. Our experiences as white or black people in history, growing up, living every day and being exploited in the U.S. are different. And, yes, whites DO have "privilege." There is no damage to our communist analysis of the "white skin privilege" theory to acknowledge and explore this aspect of racism. Our friends will demand this of us. In fact, I think we will not be able to build a fighting anti-racist Party if we are either defensive about, or gloss over, this reality.
In early August I had to be hospitalized for a serious health problem. I went to one of the "better" hospitals in Philadelphia. But several times my wife and two other comrades had to strongly intervene with the doctors because my life was further threatened by the doctors' lack of aggressiveness, their refusal to question the usual treatments which were clearly hurting me, and their resistance to listening to my family and friends. I was unconscious during much of this, but from what I hear I pretty much owe my life to my wife and two comrades in particular.
I often think about the difference between my experience and the reports of health care in the book "Away With All Pests" during the early days of the Chinese revolution. One particular difference is that the Chinese comrades organized collective discussion of patient treatment open to all. In my case the doctors resisted listening to my wife and comrades who are doctors and nurses themselves!Meanwhile my recovery is teaching me some deeper lessons about collectivity, individualism and dialectics. It's amazing how being a communist in PLP continues to offer profound lessons throughout life.During my recovery I do look forward to reading more reports in CHALLENGE about our efforts to build PLP and communist revolution. I know I won't be disappointed. My thanks and love to you all.
A Philadelphia comrade
In Chicago, hundreds of workers have been "part-time subs" for seven years. Being a sub doesn't mean you work fewer hours than a full-timer. It means you have no right to refuse overtime and are treated like a dog.
"Subs" have worked 6-day weeks since November of 1999. Now these "part-timers" are scheduled to work 9_-hour days as well. After working these long hours for so long, workers are tired. But when they ask for an extra day off they're told, "Services Needed." When they call in sick they are written up. At the same time, the bosses tell us that automation is taking our jobs and we are no longer needed. The stress of working almost 60 hours a week while taking care of a family is taking its toll. Many subs are single mothers and must take off for family needs. They're getting disciplined and fired.
A small group of "Subs" came to the monthly APWU union meeting last Sunday. They want the union to fight for them to be turned full-time. After waiting patiently through hours of talk, one finally got up and explained their situation. The president's response was, "Yeah, I know it's bullshit, but there's nothing we can do." Another worker asked if he couldn't put some kind of pressure on management to turn these workers over after seven long years, especially since they've worked more than full-time workers for almost a year. Again the president's response was, "No. We can't do anything."
The union's line is that if the contract says they can screw you, hey, you're screwed! We must win the workers to fight for what we need. The USPS has made billions off of the racist and sexist super-exploitation of black and women workers. Organizing against this exploitation will help workers see that only communist revolution will end exploitation. More workers are reading and distributing CHALLENGE. The sooner we build a mass movement to smash this system, the better!
Red postal worker
When he returned to work, two supervisors grilled him on what happened and tried to convince him to take the blame for his injury. This was done on the shop floor with no union representation. The supervisors were both craft workers until very recently becoming management. In their new role, they have taken the bosses' side. For a few extra dollars they're willing to sell out their working class brothers and sisters by doing anything management wants.
This event rekindled my belief that the only hope for workers is communism. Bosses and their flunkies will never do what is best for us. A society based on money and individualism will always have sellouts, whether they're supervisors or union leaders. Communism promotes different values based on the collective good. But knowing this and doing something about it are two different things. I'm working on it. Postal Comrade
Many of us had recently seen the movie of the same name, which describes the entire struggle to produce this play. Some of us had shown it to groups of young people during the summer. So we decided to see the play. It was wonderful.
There were about 40 of us. During intermission many of us got the same idea. Let's sing the Internationale at the end of the performance! We designated a leader. He did a great job getting us started and it was quite a stirring rendition. We were all tickled pink (really excited) to be able to make this little contribution to the struggle for communist revolution.
But we were not the only ones affected. Someone in the audience cried. One of our members hugged someone who was emotionally moved and wanted to know more. We talked and exchanged phone numbers. It was quite an evening.
On Monday there was more. The person who actually arranged to buy the tickets had a message on his answering machine from the theatre's artistic director. "I would like to speak to you about the wonderful event that happened at the Saturday performance." The next day they talked. "You have been the talk of the theatre. It was truly unique. Who are you?" There was more. The quotes were not written down but you get the idea. The artistic director had just been on a Manhattan cable TV program and had talked about the singing of The Internationale. This will be aired on the Metro Arts Channel on a program called "Speaking Freely." He asked if he could use the name of the Progressive Labor Party in the future. We said yes and agreed to send him a copy of CHALLENGE.
Everything we do counts. People everywhere want a better world. Let's get the message of communism out every way we can.
While I agree with most of that statement, I disagree that all rap music fits this description. In fact, many rap artists, though mostly little known ones, have ideologies similar to ours in some respects. They are fed up with the system, they want to fight back against police brutality and sometimes they even call for revolution in their songs. They seem to be good people who draw good people to them. If we are serious about trying to influence masses of youth who are fed up with capitalism, it's a grave mistake to put such a generalization in CHALLENGE.
P.S. In the Sept. 6th issue (pg. 3) the name of the band mentioned is spelled Ozomatli.
NEXT ISSUE We will run the second part of the series on illiteracy in the U.S.