Deep in the Heart of Texas: Students Rip Racism
Editorial: Clinton-Gores OIL Is More than an Electoral Ploy
U.S. Air Sorties Against Iraq: More than During Vietnam War
Spread MTA Strike to Bay Area Transit Workers
MTA Strikers Welcome Student Support
Bosses Battle For Control Of LA!
Workers Power Is "Illegal" Under Capitalist Democracy
Union Bosses Win Big At IAM Convention
Defense Contractor Raytheon Makes War on Workers
Morristown Politicians Beat Fascist Drums
Local 371 Donates $1,000 to Anti-Fascist Fighters
Bosses Have Shaky Hold On Amnesty Marchers
Postmodernism: Virtual Idealism
Wen Ho Lee Is No Friend of the Working Class
Amnesty Marchers Embrace CHALLENGE
Get In It To Win It!
Kicking Around Communist Politics
Fired and Fired Up
Peru: Is U.S. Playing Both Sides?
We Must Get Rid Of Capitalism!
LUBBOCK, TEXAS, Sept. 25 In July 1999, police in Tulia, a town of 5,000 in the Texas panhandle, indicted over 40 alleged "cocaine dealers" in a dawn raid. Thirty-eight of those arrested were black (of a black population of 240). The rest had close ties to the black community. The raid netted no drugs, no money and no guns. Yet most of those arrested have been convicted on the testimony of a single undercover agent, despite the fact lawyers have proven his testimony false. Sentences have been harsh, with people with no prior convictions receiving 20-25 years in prison; others received 60, 99 and over 400 years. These long sentences have forced still others to accept plea bargains in order to care for the communitys children. On September 20, over 100 people attended a forum at Texas Tech University (TTU) here exposing these racist prosecutions and discussing the campus campaign to boycott prison-made goods, such as Dell computers. A minister from the Tulia Friends of Justice, a defense lawyer for one of the accused and a student from TTU Activists spoke. The minister and the lawyer both detailed the injustices of these trials. The student linked these arrests to broader issues of racist police actions and the rise of prison labor.
TTU Activists first initiated a campaign against prison-made goods and learned of the Tulia atrocities at a May Day dinner last April. Since May, we have sponsored a fund-raising dinner for Friends of Justice, participated in their activities and attended one of the trials. This fall we began leafleting the campus and local working-class communities. We took CHALLENGE, PL Prison Labor pamphlets, the petition against prison-made goods and a forum leaflet to a local Green Party meeting. Students there endorsed the forum and the prison labor campaign and helped to leaflet the campus.
We went to first meeting of the student feminist organization and highlighted the Tulia incidence, prison labor and the forum. They agreed to co-sponsor the forum. Many from this group distributed leaflets and sign-up sheets and petitions during the forum. We also contacted the student ACLU, the Black Student Association and the campus Democrats. Many teachers allowed us to announce the forum in their classes. Others did so on their own.
The forum was one of the biggest political events in many years on our very conservative campus. Many students stayed afterwards to continue discussing these arrests and prison labor and how they could get involved. Some wanted to confront local political candidates. Others wanted to figure out how to help the Tulia families. Over 30 students signed up to participate in the TTU Activists campaign against prison labor. Twenty-five CHALLENGES and over 20 PL Prison Labor pamphlets were distributed.
Many of these groups and concerned individuals view what happened in Tulia and the growth of prison labor as "deviations" from a basically sound and fair legal system. In fact, as the election nears, national liberal groups, the LA TIMES, ABC-TV, and other national media have been developing exposes of the incident in Tulia some saying its a product of a few rural Texas racists. The ACLU is contemplating bringing a civil rights lawsuit.. Many hope these actions will lead to reforms that will correct the injustices in Tulia and the prison system.
In working with these groups and individuals, we intend to show the fundamental relationship between racism and capitalism and the growth of fascism and war. The corporations that demand ever cheaper labor and employ prison labor and their henchmenthe local DA and courts, the federal government that funds the "war on drugs" and "community policing"are responsible. We cannot rely simply rely on the courts and appeals, but must raise the fight against these arrests and prison labor on our campus, on the job and in the community, to build a mass movement of workers and students. Only when the working class is in power, when capitalisms wage system has been abolished and replaced with communism, will the racist exploiters, not the working class, be in jail.
Clinton's decision last week to release 30 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (or SPR, oil put aside for the military in case of war) isnt just a cheap gimmick to help Gores presidential campaign. Sure, Clinton-Gore want to pose as opponents of high energy prices and as friends of the working class. But theres more to this maneuver than electoral politics.
The SPR decision is consistent with U.S. rulers search for a tactic to eventually provoke a military provocation with Iraq. Iraq holds the largest, cheapest petroleum reserves in the world, next to those of Exxon ally Saudi Arabia. According to the French newspaper LA TRIBUNE (9/18), despite U.S. sanctions, Iraq could produce as many as four millions barrels a day right now, and possibly much more than that if sanctions were to end. PETROLEUM INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY (2/1/99) reported that Iraq has a master plan to pump more than six million barrels a day, after the embargo is lifted. Production costs in Iraq average less than a dollar a barrel.
So Saddam Hussein & Co. could throw a big monkey wrench into the Clinton-Gore wizardry simply by cutting production. Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other U.S. oil firms are the biggest users of Iraqi crude at the moment, though they resent having to pay Russian and French middlemen for the privilege. If Hussein decided to withhold this oil from world markets, prices would rise again. Clinton-Gore know this. Their decision to release a modest amount of SPR reserves could be interpreted as a dare to the Iraqis. Eastern Establishment mouthpiece BUSINESS WEEK warns: "Saddam May Soon Release His Best Weapon: Oil Blackmail" (issue dated Oct. 2).
U.S. imperialism is gearing for another Persian Gulf war. Saddam Hussein and the gang of bosses he represents have their own immediate profit interest. But much more is at stake. Whoever controls Iraqi oil can dictate trends in the crucial world oil market. As CHALLENGE has repeatedly pointed out, the current situation is intolerable to Exxon Mobil and other Rockefeller-controlled oil companies. The U.S. policy of sanctions has failed politically. Its only success has been the murder of a million Iraqis, mostly children, since the end of Desert Storm I in 1991. Despite these sanctions, Iraq is "officially" producing nearly three million barrels a day and another 200,000 to 500,000 on the "illegal" market. Worse yet, from U.S. rulers viewpoint, is the series of multi-billion dollar contracts the Iraqis have with Russian, French and Chinese oil firms. These contracts become effective the moment sanctions end.
Control of oil is critical to the world domination every imperialist power craves. U.S. bosses strategy requires preventing the emergence of a rival super-power in Europe and/or Asia. In Europe, only the Russians could play this role. Right now, they are down but not out. If Russias Lukoil were to play the same role in Iraq that Exxon Mobil plays in Saudi Arabia, Russian imperialism might get well in a hurry and threaten U.S. rule.
So behind the Clinton-Gore bullshit about lowering home heating bills for "working families," the outlines of a much larger conflict are emerging. France is clearly allying with Russia to end the embargo against Iraq, on Saddam Husseins terms rather than Exxons. In direct defiance of U.S. policy, French and Russian airplanes landed in Baghdad on September 24. The visits were supposedly for "cultural" and "humanitarian" exchanges, but the Russian flight just "happened" to have on board some executives from Russian oil companies.
French bosses are playing a pivotal role in the developing inter-imperialist rivalry over Iraqi oil. In 1990-91, the U.S. managed to bribe them into joining the Gulf War coalition by offering them a cut of Kuwaiti oil. But Kuwaits oil reserves pale against Iraqs. France stands to gain much more from co-operating with the Russians and Chinese to beef up Iraqi production than from taking a few Kuwaiti crumbs offered by Exxon Mobil. With Iraqi crude and Russian and Chinese markets at its disposal, Frances oil giant Elf TotalFina could leapfrog past BP Amoco and Shell to rival Exxon Mobil as the worlds top supplier of refined oil products.
The main Rockefeller wing of U.S. rulers is determined to prevent an anti-U.S. alliance that would include France, Russia and China and that would drag the rest of Europe into its net. But bribery can go only so far. Ultimately, war remains the only solution for U.S. imperialism in its drive to prevent Exxon Mobil's chief rivals from cornering Iraqi oil.
By releasing a fraction of SPR reserves, Clinton-Gore have solved nothing. Even if prices dropped slightly in the short run at the gas pump and for home heating deliveries, they could rise again when the SPR reserves must be replenished. However, if Saddam Hussein takes the bait and pulls some Iraqi oil off the market to counter the U.S. move, look for more sabre-rattling from Washington.
U.S. rulers know their sanctions policy has failed to accomplish its goal. Iraqi oil must be controlled on the ground. Whoever holds the oil wells will determine who pumps the oil, refines it and profits from it. The capitalist system can never solve these disputes without armed conflict. If the SPR ploy fails to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving U.S. bosses a reason to beat the war drums, they'll find another excuse.
War and imperialism are inseparable. The next oil war will kill more workers than the last. It will also sharpen many contradictions among the major imperialist powers and possibly generate a lot of mass anger both inside and outside the armed forces. Our Party can certainly grow in the crucible of these contradictions.
The recent CHALLENGE articles about the U.S. presidential elections becoming a forum for war against Iraq are correct. Both Bush and Gore favor this position. As CHALLENGE has said repeatedly, next to Saudi Arabia, Iraq has the worlds biggest oil reserve, and it is cheap to produce.
Since Desert Storm 1991, U.S. policy towards Iraq has been based on (1) bombing, and (2) trying to build an internal opposition to topple Saddam Hussein and put a U.S. puppet in power.
Interestingly enough, one of the key forces in the U.S.-financed anti-Saddam group is the Iraqi "Communist" Party (ICP). Indeed, the April ICP Central Committee meeting called for no change in the U.S. Iraqi policy following the U.S. elections (IRAQ NEWS, 6/28). The history of the ICPs turn from having led mass general strikes and being the key force among the oil workers from the 1940s to 1960s to a totally corrupt pro-imperialist party today is beyond this short letter.
The other aspect of U.S. policy to take Iraq is war. "According to the Pentagon, since the end of Desert Storm 280,000 air sorties have taken place against Iraq, the biggest U.S. modern air campaign ever, bigger than during the Vietnam war. Iraq says that since December 1998 more than 300 civilians have died and 890 have been injured by 21,600 air attacks carried out by U.S. and British planes. The Pentagon spends $50-$60 billion a year in its military siege of Iraq." (WWW.laInsignia.org, 9/25).
The imperialist fight for control of oil combined with Saddam Husseins nationalism have been deadly indeed for the working class of Iraq.
LOS ANGELES, CA., Sept. 27 With the transit strike in its third week here, contract talks have broken down. Picket line morale is good. Mechanics and clerks continue to honor them. But the bosses are determined to slash wages and increase workloads. Waiting on the AFL-CIO leadership or Democratic Governor Grey Davis to save the day would be a big mistake. There are no "good" and "bad " bosses. Theyre all bad. Striking drivers, along with mechanics and clerks, have the power to take on all the bosses, and in the process spread the movement for communist revolution.
During a dinner meeting at the home of a striker, an MTA mechanic (a regular CHALLENGE reader and May Day marcher) said, "I want to join the Party, and I want help to involve my friends." After this, the Bar-B-Q ribs tasted even better.
The next night, a striking driver called a PLP member to ask, "What do you think about this strike? What should we do?" The Party member explained, "The union is always working with one set of bosses or anothersometimes with both. We need to expose the bosses plans, along with those of the union sellouts. We need to meet and visit workers in their homes, and put the fight for workers power and political demands on the table." The driver answered, "I agree. If you want, we can meet at my house. Ill invite another driver who thinks like a radical too."
The MTA Board of Directors, with their $500,000 professional negotiating team, is insisting on $23 million in givebacks from the drivers (plus what it wants from mechanics and clerks). However, we have other enemies too. Transit unions throughout California gave a lot of money and manpower to elect Democratic Governor Gray Davis. But the union big wheels were shocked when he vetoed a bill that would have "guaranteed" that any privatized "transit zones" maintain union drivers. A union leader said, "The strike would be over in 24 hours," if Davis signed the bill. The unions strategy of relying on these slime balls means delivering workers into the hands of our enemies!
More than 2,000 strikers and supporters marched on Gateway Center last week to protest outside contractors scabbing on the strike. Teamsters and United Transportation Union(UTU) members are transporting the well-paid, white collar, mostly white suburban commuters. Strikers must confront the Teamster and UTU leaders, reach out to the drivers, and organize mass pickets to shut Gateway Center tight!
Whats more, MTA mechanics and clerks should be on strike, not merely honoring picket lines. Everybody out together! No one goes back until we all go back! Clerks and mechanics are receiving neither strike benefits nor unemployment checks. Going on strike would start the meager strike benefits and raise the ante against the bosses.
MTA strikers are battling for the whole working class. In the Bay Area, MUNI and AC Transit workers have rejected similar contracts, but are being kept from striking by the union, media, politicians and courts. This strike can encourage AC and MUNI workers to follow their lead. Simultaneous transit strikes in LA, San Francisco, and Oakland would go beyond our local bosses and expose the hand of the main wing of the ruling class behind the drive for low-wage mass transit. PLP is active in all three of these contract fights. We will organize more concrete support between MUNI, AC and MTA workers.
The PLP is bringing communist revolution to the workers through CHALLENGE, leaflets, and discussions. We are bringing some workers and students to the picket lines, but we can do better. We are exposing the dogfight between the bosses, while alerting workers to the growing threat of a Mideast oil war. By giving more concrete leadership to the struggle at hand, and fighting for the political leadership of the workers, we can build the movement for communist revolution, and a society where free mass transit will exist to meet the needs of the workers.
The MTA bus drivers have been on strike in LA for about 12 days. Students have struggled to get to school, asking friends and neighbors for rides. Many students miss school because their parents may not have cars. They must walk blocks and blocks to get there, all because of the MTA bosses.
I feel its wrong for the MTA bosses to take advantage of the bus drivers. Without them thered be no MTA, no bus transportation at all. The main reason for the bus drivers strike is the long hours and hard work the bosses force on them.
We went to the bus drivers picket line with signs reading, "Students support MTA strike"; "Defend and support MTA strike"; and, "If MTA workers win, students win; if MTA workers lose, students lose. Workers and Students Unite."
The bus drivers were very glad to see us. When we got there they started a picket line and we joined them. It seems like we energized them. We gave them CHALLENGE and leaflets and had good talks with them. We said wed return with more students. They said we would be welcome.
If the bosses werent so selfish and greedy, the bus drivers would not be on strike and students would not have to miss their education like the bus drivers are losing out on their jobs. We will continue to support the strikers.
LA High School Student
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 26 For the last fifteen years, two groups of capitalists have been battling for control of this city. This fight has been fueled by the general crises of overproduction and the sharpening inter-imperialists rivalry, especially over oil.
The Committee of 25 used to rule LA. These were leading industrialists not allied to the Rockefeller group. But as the NEW YORK TIMES (8/13) reported, "Nearly all of the Fortune 500 companies that once had headquarters in Los Angeles, from Arco and Unocal to the First Interstate Bank, have been acquired or have moved elsewhere But the most potent symbol of the decline of the old order was the sale of the LOS ANGELES TIMES to the Tribune Company of Chicago by its controlling share-holders, the Chandler family, which once defined civic commitment but now has almost vanished."
Ever since this happened, the LA TIMES has been attacking the motley crew of real estate developers around Mayor Riordan who have essentially replaced the Committee of 25. This has helped the Rockefeller drive to capture LA politically. Occidental Petroleum remains headquartered here but is locked in competition with the Rockefellers.
The battle for LA has been hell for the working class. A UCLA study ranked Los Angeles County 100th among 318 urban areas in personal income, down from 36th some 10 years ago. Thousands of high-paid jobs in aerospace and manufacturing have been wiped out by Rockefeller victories against their rivals, such as McDonnell-Douglas.
Like the war in Yugoslavia, or the invasions of Haiti and Somalia, the main wing of the ruling class is using "humanitarianism," this time to politically re-capture LA. Their mass organizations are their foot soldiers. THE NATION (8/21) pointed out, "But when the [janitors] strike came, the public response was overwhelmingly supportive. Not a day went by without an article or column in the LOS ANGELES TIMES about how the struggle of the primarily Latino janitors reflected LAs class and ethnic divisions." Later on it explains, "Community groups and unions have always talked about economic justice, but now these issues are resonating within the mainstream, the media and even some business folks."
The Rockefeller wing is building this Latino community base to gain its allegiance in the battle against the local ruling bosses and in order to use its youth in a future war for oil in the Middle East.
Riordan and the remnants of the Committee of 25 may be vicious, but they are up against the masters in the Rockefeller gang. When NYC transit workers threatened to strike last December, the courts issued a fascist injunction, threatening huge fines against the union and each striking worker. There was no strike.
In LA, a 1996 Consent Decree ordered the Metropolitan Transit Authority to invest $1 billion in improving bus service; the biggest civil rights award ever! Again, this was to insure that the low-wage, predominantly Latino garment workers (without cars) get to their exploitative jobs efficiently enough as well as win them for the aims previously described. Behind this contrasting tale of two cities, the Rockefeller section of the ruling class dominates both court systems and uses each for their own purposes.
The LA transit strike presents us with a chance to organize against wage progression, part timing, welfare-to-work and prison slave labor. To add fuel to the fire, 47,000 County Hospital workers, court and welfare workers in SEIU Local 660 have set a strike date for October 10. In strikes like this, we can learn that we can organize and run society better than Riordan or Rockefeller. We can expose the billionaires dogfight and build a mass base for PLP. We can learn how to make a revolution!
Apparently, workers power is illegal in the manufacturing plants of the USA. Class collaboration, on the other hand, represents the height of "democracy."
Recently thousands of leaflets appeared at my plant, from candidates for union office calling for workers power. The present union leadership wants a "partnership" with the company. Management declared the "Workers Power" leaflets, "Illegal!" The union hacks had already distributed their literature throughout the plants the prior week.
While the bosses cut our jobs and sell whole sections of the plant, the present union leadership pleads with the company to "find a solution together with the union." We call for class struggle, international working-class unity, strike support, fighting racism and sexism on and off the job and uniting immigrant and native-born workers to build workers power to fight these attacks. We are also the only ones campaigning to end fascist prison labor.
The events of the past week have led to many good discussions about how the bosses use the cover of democracy to maintain their dictatorship. Weve discussed the history of how the company fired communist activists and leaders of our union after World War II. The unions anti-communist leadership, with the support of the company and the government, organized locals according to crafts, spread over vast distances. This was to discourage rank-and-file groups from organizing at the worksite and developing voting blocks. Shop stewards were appointed, and expected to support the misleadership if they wanted to maintain their badges. Not to mention the large numbers of paid full-time union functionaries whose main job now is campaigning.
The discussion of the local elections has not ended. Our supporters have gotten into public debates with the hacks about the AFL-CIO calls for "workers rights" and "democracy" around the world. Weve obtained proof that the new AFL-CIO international department is getting its money from the same old sourcethe CIA! Then we showed how the AFL-CIO supports U.S. imperialism around the world. (More in next issue.)
Another hot topic is whether to make fighting racism a big deal in the campaign. Some opposition candidates think pictures of us fighting the Nazis "wouldnt get us any votes." "Its alright to put in one sentence about that, but no more," they say. Even some rank and filers question how fighting the fascists relate to the campaign. We answer that resolute struggle against racism, on and off the job, is absolutely necessary to build the type of rock-solid unity we need to fight back against the bosses fascist attacks.
An older white worker expressed his support for one of our candidates. "Ill tell you why Im voting for you," he said in front of a group at work. "Its because you are against racism and because you have left-wing ideas. There are too few like you around here!"
As these examples show, the question of whether we should "curb" our politics to get votes has been front and center. Votes cant be our primary goal if we are to build the revolutionary movement. We will carry on a serious electoral campaign, even while the very nature of the workplace limits our "freedom of speech." We must judge our success in a mass way by how many workers weve moved to understand the true nature of capitalism in this period. Lets see if we cant get a few more like our anti-racist, left-wing candidate around here!
We should have no illusions. In the final analysis the only way workers can take power is with communist revolution. Winning masses to the left will give confidence to our new and potential members. In this way, we can make this campaign a "school for communism." Being declared illegal wont stop this campaign, or our revolutionary march to workers power.
Mid-West union-election campaigner
SEATTLE, WA., Sept. 20 CEOs aren't the only ones widening the gap between the haves and have-nots. The Executive Council of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) gave themselves huge salary increases at the IAM Convention here this week. International President Buffenbargers salary went from $138,000 to $180,000. General Secretary-Treasurer Wharton went from $127,000 to $170,000. The General Vice-Presidents went from $112,000 to $155,000. It pays to be a union leader!
How did the rank and file fare at the anti-Republican, pro-Democrat Machinists love-fest? Union bosses gave their wholehearted support to an increase in strike pay, from $100 a week to a whopping $115!
A proposal to add language to the IAM Constitution opposing prison labor was voted down. A proposition to elect union stewards where they aren't currently electedvoted down. Prohibitions against discrimination and harassmentvoted down. Propositions to remove provisions preventing over 95% of union members from seeking officevoted down. A proposition to eliminate language that limits freedom of speechvoted down.
Not all IAM members, including some Convention delegates, are "allowed" copies of Official IAM Circulars that govern the actions of union members. A proposal to make copies available to all union members was voted down. A proposal to add a union member's Bill of Rights to the IAM Constitution was voted down. The Law Committee said that the IAM Constitution already contained the rights listed, so it wasn't necessary to add anything to the Constitution. However, when the exact same proposal was brought before the 1996 Convention, the Law Committee said the Constitution would have to be rewritten to provide the rights contained in the proposal.
The CEO of Harley Davidson spoke at the convention and received a standing ovation! A previous recipient such an ovation was Boeing CEO Phil Condit. Condit is selling off chunks of the company and has already off-loaded enough work for a company the size of Boeing. Meanwhile, Boeing has turned its back on retirees and laid-off workers.
Boeing managers who are also IAM members attended the convention, so the company has reps voting on proposals. The convention promoted the "lean manufacturing" High Performance Work Organization (HPWO) that supports maximum profits for the elite at the expense of workers. HPWOs mean more paid union reps on the company payroll, acting as managers for Condit. Bath Iron Works (BIW), the flagship IAM Local where the HPWO was introduced, is now on strike. Workers there have rejected the IAM/company HPWO.
It's obvious that IAMs union bosses have earned their reputation of having a COMPANY/union. They support the bosses corporate-funded Democratic Party that helped give working people NAFTA, GATT and the WTO, all of which cut jobs and workers wages.
IAM Convention Delegate
CHALLENGE comment: As the delegate describes, the IAM international leadership wants to assure complete control over this manufacturing and "defense" industry union.
The BIW strike referred to was like the proverbial elephant in the room that nobody wanted to talk about. The BIW workers have rejected both the original contract and a company/union deal arranged a few days later. This bitter strike, along with a similar one against Raytheon, has lasted over a month.
Both Raytheon and BIW, a unit of General Dynamics, are key war producers. The union leadership, with political allies like the Kennedys, aim to build pro-war feelings blaming others (Like Iraq) for the problems suffered by workers like the current high price of gasoline and heating oil (see editorial and Raytheon article).. Our Party must fight tooth and nail to realize the revolutionary potential contained in this outburst of working-class anger against job elimination. As pressure builds for another Middle East confrontation, our Party has the responsibility to make strikes like these "schools for communism" throughout the working class.
BOSTON, MA, Sept. 26 The laws of capitalism are operating full blast against the strike of Raytheon workers fighting the third largest war contractor in the country. The company netted $400 million in profits last year. Now it is forcing workers to fight to maintain their health and pension benefits and to prevent their jobs from drowning in a sea of fierce bosses competition.
Other war contractors have moved as far away as Arizona to take advantage its lower wages. To compete, Raytheon has reduced its IBEW union workforce by two-thirds. It is also "rewarding" its non-union white collar workers for their loyal scabbing by threatening to move 550 of their jobs out of state.
Capitalism drives bosses to strive for maximum profits to stay afloat. This leads to fierce competition to cut costs, mainly the cost of labor. Raytheon is no different than any other boss. So no matter how much profit they make, if they "rest" for one minute, other war contractors will leap ahead of them.
PLP supports these striking workers. A leaflet prepared for distribution at the picket line pointed out that these attacks on workers are "happening when the U.S. economy is supposed to be the strongest its ever been. Perhaps these attacks are one reason the economy" is "booming."
However, it is important for workers in war factories to understand that their jobs produce the weapons used by the ruling class to enforce poverty-level wages around the world and kill millions on behalf of Exxons need to control oil supplies. Even more, when workers in the U.S. rebel against this same ruling class, the bosses call on the National Guard and even the Army to smash the workers. And the weapons they use are produced by the very same working class being attacked.
Turning strikes into schools for communismand building a mass PLP to smash all the bossesis the best victory Raytheon and all workers can achieve.
Morristown, NJ, Sept. 25 Politicians in this city, which has become a center for racist attacks on immigrant workers, are goose-stepping behind the fascists in Farmingville, NY. There last week two day-workers were picked up and beaten, almost killing one of them. This attack followed "complaints" that the workers were "crowding the streets" in the morning. The NEW YORK TIMES reported that these workers are harassed on daily basis and have even had their residence shot at in the middle of the night.
In Morristown, almost 100 immigrant workers from Ecuador, Guatemala, Colombia and Honduras gather at many corners early in the morning for work. Most of these jobs are hard labor ones like landscaping or bricklaying.
Morristown politicians pushed, but failed to pass, a so-called "quality of life" loitering law which would have punished immigrant day-workers with fines and jail terms for standing on corners.
These events follow a string of racist attacks in Morristown:
Several months ago the First Baptist Churchlocated right across the street from the Morris County Courthouse"mysteriously" burnt down. The church was used mostly as a soup kitchen and a place where many Latin and black workers gathered;
On July 4th, the fascist Nationalist Movement, protected by the cops, held a rally against affirmative action and defended the former Chief of the State Police, Carl Williams, who admitted using racist profiling to make arrests;
During the counter demonstration that day, cops arrested ten anti-racists (including PLP members) and viciously attacked demonstrators with pepper spray. Those arrested were charged with felonies and held on high bail;
Immigrant workers trying to play soccer in the town continue to be harassed in local parks by the cops and neighbors. Town officials claimed that if they wanted to play soccer in one field they needed a million-dollar insurance policy!
All these racist attacks are signs of the bosses fascism. The sharpening of the inter-imperialist rivalry steps up the bosses march towards war against their competitors. They need to use a bigger stick to discipline workers to accept their war plans. PLP has been organizing Morristown residentsblack, Latin and whiteto fight these attacks, expose the bosses racism and fight for workers power.
NEW YORK, N.Y., Sept 20 Tonight the Delegate Assembly of Social Service Employees Union (SSEU) Local 371 voted overwhelmingly to support the anti-fascist defendants who protested a racist march in Morristown, N.J. on July 4th. PLPers have a long history of bringing anti-racist and anti-fascist issues both to our members on the job and to city-wide union meetings. We have organized and joined co-workers from our job sites in demonstrations against police terror here in NYC, against slave labor Workfare and around issues big and small where we work.
Our mass sale of CHALLENGE also helps ESTABLISH an atmosphere in which we can raise sharp political issues. Tonight, for example, 52 CHALLENGES were distributed among about 180 union members present.
We hope other comrades will raise similar proposals in their locals. This will help spread the anti-racist, anti-fascist, pro communist message we helped bring to Morristown, NJ into our mass organizations.
The approved resolution reads as follows:
"WHEREAS SSEU Local 371 has a proud history of opposing the activities of racist groups like the KKK and against police brutality; and,
WHEREAS at a July 4, 2000 rally in Morristown, N.J. against the racist Nationalist Movement of Mississippi nine adults and one minor were arrested; and,
WHEREAS vicious police tactics at this year's anti-World Trade Organization demonstration in Washington, D.C., and at the Republican and Democratic Party conventions, as well as the anti-racist action in Morristown reveal a change in how federal, state, and local governments respond to mass demonstrations; and,
WHEREAS these changes in police tactics and use of the legal system as well as the growth of Workfare and prison labor are signs of growing fascism; therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED that this local support those arrested in Morristown by contributing $1,000.00 to their legal defense."
CHICAGO, IL, September 23 Today, about 10,000 workers and youth marched for amnesty for the six million undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S. More than 300,000 live in the Chicagoland area. The Democratic Party and AFL-CIO leadership used nationalism and patriotism to line up votes for the upcoming elections.
Workers mainly marched in groups by their country of origin, while being encouraged to take a shirt with the American flag and the Statue of Liberty.
But the marchers were way ahead of the misleaders and wide open to PLP. We distributed 1,500 communist fliers and sold over 650 CHALLENGES (More workers might have chosen CHALLENGE than the Statue of Liberty T-shirts). We could have distributed twice as many if we had done a better job at mobilizing our forces to attend the march.
In the 1980s, the AFL-CIO led the fight to penalize employers who hired undocumented workers. But with the economic "boom," the bosses need more workers at low-wage, dead-end jobs. The union leaders are ready to accept these low-paid workers as long as they pay union dues. Tens of thousands of immigrant workers making minimum wage are already paying dues to SEIU, the Teamsters and others. At the first sign of an economic downturn, they will face mass unemployment and immigration raids.
The bosses are using the amnesty movement as a Trojan Horse. Under Clinton and Gore, "Operation Gatekeeper" has doubled the fascist Border Patrol in four years. This has led to one million arrests and more than 1,500 deaths of immigrant workers! The price of amnesty will be Latin workers sending their sons and daughters to kill and die for U.S. imperialism. U.S. rulers are preparing for ground war in Iraq, and will do whatever it takes to maintain control over Latin America. The politicians and union leaders want us to wave their masters flag.
The bosses amnesty will not end terror at the border, stop racist cops or starvation wages. To the rulers, we are all "illegal." There will be no amnesty from imperialist war. PLP is an international communist party, open to all. Working people have no nation! Smash all borders with Communist Revolution!
Rejecting the real world and truth about that world has become very popular in recent capitalist culture. Many current ideological fads reject any possibility that people can have actual knowledge of the natural or social world. Authors widely read in college classes on philosophy and literature declare, in the name of "Postmodernism" or "Deconstruction," that science, logic and history can never be objective and true. These views claim that science and knowledge generally are mere "social constructions" or "narratives" which have no more right to be considered true than religion or astrology.
One reason people consider these fads favorably is their claim to be "liberating" points of view. To some degree many people realize the capitalist media and schools feed us many ideas that either have little value or are downright harmful. Capitalists use their control of these institutions to foster ideology benefitting them and victimizing us. The "postmodernists" respond by saying that if there is no real world and thus no truth about it, then all claims by defenders of the system, and by religious dogmatists, racists or sexists as well, must be bogus. They claim if we all understand that illusion and reality arent really different, we will be free of the systems hypocrisy and lies. This "truth" only liberates the rich and powerful. Here are some examples.
One of the most influential figures in postmodernism is the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche boldly declared that "truth is an illusion" and that "free spirits" would recognize this. (Nietzsche was not troubled by the fact that this implies his own position is an illusion!) Good capitalist philosopher that he was, Nietzsche glorified war and rejected equality and equal rights. He advocated a conception of class liberation which required wage slavery for the working class: "A higher culture can come into being only where there are two castes of society: the working caste and the idle caste, capable of true leisure; or, to express it more emphatically, the cast of forced labor and the caste of free labor" (Human, All Too Human, p. 439).
More up-to-date is French post-modernist Jean Baudrillard, who maintains there is no difference between appearance and reality. "Today the entire system is fluctuating in indeterminacy, all of reality is absorbed by the hyper-reality of the code and of simulation. It is now a principle of simulation, and not of reality, that regulates social life." ("Symbolic Exchange and Death"). Just before the 1991 ground war started in the Persian Gulf, Baudrillard applied this idea that reality and simulation are now the same, and wrote that the Gulf War would not take place. After it did take place and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed, he wrote another article saying that THE WAR HAD NOT REALLY HAPPENED. [!] It was only a mass media "simulation" of war.
It is common for Postmodernists to claim that they are exposing important biases in science or history. (Of course, if biases really do exist, then science and history must exist in order to have these biases, no?!) French Postmodernist Luce Irigaray claims Einsteins famous equation E = mc2 is "sexed" because it "privileges what goes the fastest" and "fastest" is supposed to be a masculine characteristic. She also claims that physics "privileges" rigid body mechanics over fluid mechanics because only the male sex organ becomes rigid. (Never mind that capitalist science and technology uses the physics of fluids f9or its many economic and military applications.) Parts of science certainly are distorted by sexism and used against women, as in medicine or biology. Ridiculous analyses like Irigarays can never expose real sexism in natural science, however, since they cant tell the difference between ideology and genuine knowledge.
Undoubtedly there are Postmodernists less stupid and reactionary than Nietzsche, Baurillard and Irigaray, but the postmodern attitude that there is no real world and no truth can never lead to liberation, only to passivity and helplessness. Established powers are always safer if many people believe little or nothing can be known. Changing society to destroy oppressive conditions or institutions requires collective action, and that action requires knowledge in order to plan and organize change. People who believe knowledge cannot exist cannot change things. Baudrillard understands that inaction results from his view, and praises apathy and indifference.But the ruling class knows, and fears, the working class is not always apathetic, so it makes all sorts of bogus claims: that capitalism will last forever and get better and better; that some "races" are "inferior"; that the miseries of this life will disappear in heaven, etc. This, of course, is bunk. But "exposing" it by saying there is "no reality or knowledge" leaves the working class with what we have nowthe misery of capitalism, with the rulers on top and the workers on the bottom. Rejecting truth and knowledge guarantees that all changes will be directed only by the rulers of the capitalist system, not by the rest of us. The truth does not automatically make you free, but its indispensable for getting there. Lenin was right on target when he wrote, "Without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement." The movements we get without revolutionary theory are the movements for more war, racism, unemployment, and police murder that the capitalists already offer us.
For months and months, the capitalist media, led by the NY TIMES, told us we should hate nuclear physicist Wen Ho Lee because he was a "Chinese spy." Now many of the same pimps of print and whores of the airwaves urge us to support Dr. Lee because he was lied to and threatened with execution by the FBI, was a victim of anti-Chinese racism, was chained in solitary confinement and is a devoted patriot and family man who loves fishing and is probably not a Chinese spy after all!
Save your tears. Some workers, soldiers, professionals and others have the political sophistication to understand that ALL the actors in this drama represent factions within the U.S. capitalist class. We must spread the idea that to support any of them is against the interests of our class. You cannot fight for freedom and against racism by supporting loyal servants of the racists who divide, exploit and oppress us.
Wen Ho Lee was born in 1939 in Taiwan, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1963. He came to the U.S., and gained a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1969, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1974. "An accomplished physicist with more than 20 years devoted to the design and development of nuclear weapons [LA TIMES, 9/24]," Lee worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory in applied mathematics and fluid dynamics from 1978 until he was arrested and fired in 1999. If Lee held a similar position in Iraq, the U.S. government would condemn him for developing "weapons of mass destruction." (Like all capitalists, they emphasize property. The working class should see hydrogen bombs as "weapons of mass murder.")
Dr. Lee may appear to be "loveable," but in essence he is a real-life "Dr. Strangelove," an accomplice in designing efficient weapons to kill our fellow workers. He worked for the only government that has ever used nuclear weapons. In 1945 the US dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing a quarter of a million Japanese civilians, not to end World War II (Japan had already offered to surrender) but to threaten the then socialist Soviet Union. Talk about racism against Asians!
In addition to being a killer for U.S. imperialism, the mild-mannered Lee is a stoolpigeon. The FBI used him and his wife to spy on other Chinese scientists. According to the Sept. 17 LA TIMES, "The case against Lee was complicated by the little-publicized fact that he and his wife, Sylvia, acted as FBI informants in the 1980s, reporting on contacts with Chinese scientists they made on two trips to mainland China.
"Lee first came to counterintelligence attention in 1982," the TIMES reported, "during an unrelated FBI investigation. At the time, the bureau was investigating another Taiwan-born scientist at the Lawrence Livermore laboratory, who it code-named Tiger Trap. The FBI suspected that Tiger Trap had passed information to China about the neutron bomb, and agents overheard Lee talking to the scientist in California. The bureau contacted Lee and asked him to go to Livermore to meet Tiger Trap and try to learn what the other scientist might have done. Lee flew to Livermore, and the FBI paid for his trip."
The FBI has a record of vicious racism. No one who works with the FBI can conceivably be worthy of the support of anti-racists. Yet just as black nationalism has blinded many to Al Sharptons history of being an FBI informant, so have Chinese and other Asian nationalist organizations and individuals flocked to the support of Wen Ho Lee.
Communists who participate in these reform organizations should do so with the intention of winning sincere anti-racists away from their nationalist misleaders. For example, in LA today anti-racists should be won to organizing support for the striking transit drivers, who are primarily black and Latino, and building unity between them and the riders, also primarily black and Latino. If the teachers and County workers also strike, we should build unity among all these groups, and blame the capitalists, not the workers, for the rotten public transportation, health services, and education foisted on black, Latin, Asian, and white workers. To ultimately defeat racism means to recruit anti-racists to PLP to destroy the capitalist system that requires racism to survive.
(Next issue: The appearance and essence of the case against Wen Ho Lee.)
As we were separating the Spanish and English versions of CHALLENGE-DESAFIO at the Chicago amnesty march, someone approached me and asked about the paper. When I explained its a communist paper, he handed me two dollars.
I know hardly any Spanish except for a few phrases Ive learned to sell the paper to Latin workers. I took 80 DESAFIOS to distribute. Many workers responded when I said I had a communist paper that fought for the unity and equality of the workers of the world. Often when one worker reached into a pocket for some change, other workers would tap me on the shoulder with change or dollar bills in their hands, requesting copies. (I was asking for donations and telling these workers they should give whatever they wished.) Then I was swept along with the march. While the leadership led nationalist chants ("La Raza si, La Migra no"), many workers around me joined enthusiastically when I started chanting, "Obreros si, La Migra no" and "Las luchas obreras no tiene frontieras" (The workers struggle has no borders"). When I ran into a friend I had not seen in many years, she encouraged the group she was with to take up the working-class chants.
Many carried Mexican or U.S. flags and had T-shirts saying, "America is my home." They were following the nationalist leadership that dominates the groups they came with. But many hundreds of these workers were eager for communist ideas. By the end of the day I had distributed 85-90 papers and collected almost $70.00. This experience brought home to me how important it is to be in the mass organizations that brought these workers to the march.
Pocket Full of Change
Today we were very excited to be part of the 10,000 workers that participated in the Chicago amnesty march. I work for a community organization involved in the amnesty struggle for 25 years. Now that the Democratic Party and the AFL-CIO are behind a new wave of amnesty demands, my group has become more alive.
Still, the march belonged to the ruling class. The community organizations serve the bosses, whether they know it or not. The speeches were both political and religious. Some cardinal was there. I was thinking, "Please dont start mass now. Its raining!" He didnt. Congressman Luis Gutierrez told the crowd he would introduce an amnesty bill in Congress on October 2. Many speakers were honest workers who really believe the politicians are on their side.
One of the most exciting moments for me was to see marchers joining in Party chants as they passed the corner where we had a bullhorn and red flags. "Obreros, Si! Capitalista, No!" Some Party members came to the march in buses from different organizations. We led many chants, passed out 1,500 leaflets and sold over 650 CHALLENGES. But it wasnt enough. The most important work is yet to be done.
We cant organize people from the sidelines. We must be in the mass organizations and do the work theyre doing in order to build a mass base for the Party. In this case, we need to be marching with the workers, demanding amnesty with them, while exposing the capitalist misleaders and winning people to fight for communism. How are we going to convince people to join the Party and be communists if we dont organize with them in the mass movement they are a part of? Weve got to get our feet wet. We must do this reform work without letting it absorb us. This will make us stronger, like today, 10,000 stronger. Que viva el comunismo!
United with PLP
Some youth here in El Salvador have organized a soccer team to build unity and friendship among young people. We are also using the opportunity to bring communist politics to these youth.
A few weeks ago we received the supplies and uniforms. We thank our class brothers and sisters for their contributions that made this possible.
One way were building PLP is distributing CHALLENGE-DESAFIO after each game. Youth here and in other areas are beginning to realize that the road to our liberation from capitalist slavery is to join with the working class and the PLP. This is bad news for the bosses.
Red Soccer Players, El Salvador
I am a 38-year-old peasant who has always considered myself a fighter for the working class. I feel even stronger about this since PLP comrades have been explaining to us here how to build the Party to fight for communism.
I call on other farmworkers to join with us to build a world without bosses.
A Peasant CHALLENGE Reader in El Salvador
I am a factory worker in New Jersey. On Sept. 20, at 3 PM, my bosses fired me. Earlier in the morning, a new general manager told the guy with the lunch and breakfast truck in front of the factory to leave and never come back, or he would call the cops. I called the manager outside the factory and told him what he did was unjust, and that workers are not animals and need the food truck. The manager told me he was following orders from the factory owner. So I said, "Lets go see him."
The manager asked me, "What do you propose?" I said that they should allow the truck to come in the morning. He agreed and even shook my hand. While this was happening, workers had stopped working and were coming out to the eating area to protest what the manager had done. The manager agreed with them and told them what we agreed to just minutes before.
At 3 PM, the head of the shop called me and said the owner had fired me for, "incited the work action earlier." I know deep inside that the action was spontaneous, but I was moved by the reaction of my fellow workers, men and women, who are fed up with all the abuses, exploitation and harassment by the bosses of this factory. I am outside the shop but I know the struggle has just begun. My brothers and sisters will continue fighting back. Long live the struggles of workers! Down with exploitation!
Fired and Fired Up
Perus president Fujimoris sudden announcement of national elections minus his candidacy has produced an interesting scenario in that country. Fujimori dissolved the dreaded SIN (National Intelligence Service) and sent his own Rasputin, SINs chief Vladimiro Montesinos, off to Panama. Why was Montesinos dumped so fast? After all, hes been serving U.S. imperialism since the mid-1970s when the Peruvian army began buying Soviet MIGS. Montesinos was jailed for giving the CIA blueprints of the MIGS. Upon his release he became a lawyer and went to work for well-known Peruvian drug dealers. He then became what many believed to be the real power behind Fujimoris 10-year regime. He used the SIN to spy on everyone and to jail, kill or "dissappear" many of his enemies. Thousands were imprisoned as "subversives," just for being suspected friends or members of the Shining Path guerrilla movement.
Suddenly both Fujimori and Montesinos became a hindrance to U.S. imperialism. This accelerated several months ago when it was revealed that Montesinos and the Peruvian army were importing thousands of Russian rifles from Jordan and selling them to the FARC (the main guerrilla army in Colombia). This erupted at the same time Clinton was visiting Bogota to seal his Plan Colombia ($1.7 billion in U.S. aid for the Colombian government and army).
At first, Montesinos blamed "rogue" officers in the Peruvian army, but Jordan certified the rifles were a legal sale. This was the tip of the iceberg. Either Montesinos was trading with the "enemy" (the FARC), or was part of a CIA maneuver to deal with both sides. Many believe his removal was used to take this incident off the front pages, including the realization that the CIA and the U.S. ruling class might be playing both sides of the fence in Colombia. After all, Montesinos has been a faithful CIA operative for decades; the CIA knew about the Jordanian shipment and sale to the FARC for a long time (Stratfor Intelligence Report, 9/19). As recently as the summer of 1999, the head of the NY Stock Exchange journeyed to Colombia to meet with FARCs chief, Tirofijo ("Sureshot"), in his jungle headquarters.
This series of events demonstrates that capitalism and its lackeys have no principles except those which serve their particular class interests. It would be a big mistake for any worker to side with either Fujimori or Montesinos or any politician who wants to replace them.
A friend and colleague recently told me about a powerful experience he had at a meeting of public health workers. As the invited "scientific expert," he presented research showing that racism is bad for peoples health. He said being exposed to racial discrimination while pregnant contributes to premature birth and infant mortality. This is important because infant mortality in the U.S. is twice as high for blacks as it is for whites.
During the discussion a guy asked, "If society has limited resources and black babies are doing much worse than white babies, it sounds like resources have to be shifted from the better off group to the ones who need more. How is this going to happen?" Another black scientist responded with a long statement about " the many factors and mechanisms which are still not well understood " In other words, she ducked the question.
After several more questions, the same guy raised his hand again: "Maybe I didnt ask my question clearly enough, but what I really wanted to know is how this sort of Robin Hood thingtaking from the well-off to improve the health of the poor, black mothers and babieshows it going to happen?"
My friend, feeling a bit nervous, finally jumped in and said, "As a friend of mine is always telling me, the real answer is that it CANT happen under this system. If we want to really eliminate the inequality that causes high black death rates, we must get rid of capitalism."
Im not sure exactly what he expected, but what happened took him by surprise. The room burst into applause. The whole tone of the gathering changed. The boring questions stopped and people started relating the fate of their struggling clinics to the activism of the 60s, and moved past the proper, academic style into a discussion of society, power and politics.
Hearing this story made me think: how many times over the years did I NOT raise political points in the course of conversations with this colleague, or how many CHALLENGES did I NOT get around to sending him? He seems to have been paying more attention than I thought.
But it works both ways. Years ago when we were working hard on a project, I made the comment, "Well, its only research." I meant it wouldnt change the world. But I kept working on research with him, and it turns out he had a point. This kind of research can be a useful way to get political ideas in front of many, many good people. That can help build the fight against racism and capitalism. And that is exactly what can change the world.