Challenge, Oct. 11. 2000

Editorial: Black Workers Are Still The Key Force For Revolution

Dump All Bosses and Union Hacks, Strike! Strike! Strike!

LA County Workers Flexing Strike Muscle

AC Transit Workers Champion Solidarity

Students, Faculty, Workers Rip Racist Police Terror

Protest Scares Principal And Cops At Bogus Bogan HS

Police Terror Against Youth = Chicago Bosses’ School Reform

Workers’ Poverty Grows Among Bosses’ Economic Boom

Columbus Day: Celebrate Or Protest — You Be The Judge

Clinton-Barak-Arafat’s ‘Peace Process’ Kills More Workers

Alaskan Oil: Another Oil Bosses’ Battleground

The Communist Fight for Literacy and Knowledge (conclusion)


Workers of the World, Write! AFL-CIO Betrays Immigrants Again

Waiting for Lefty’ Sparks Strike Call

Fujimori May Go But Fascism Stays

Dialectics Inspires Workers

A Communist Who Was Not a Communist


Black Workers Are Still The Key Force For Revolution

Racism is the main weapon U.S. bosses use to rule. Racism produces billions and billions in extra profits from workers. It is also used to divide workers and keep white workers from uniting with black and Latino workers to fight the system that oppresses us all: capitalism.

(The following is based on a report and discussion on Fighting Racism and Nationalism from a PLP Workers’ Section meeting Sept. 30-Oct.1.)

"Without patience I wouldn’t be here today." A black worker from Detroit told how for 15 years his close friend kept him around the Party through CHALLENGE and on-the-job struggle. He remembered the first time he saw CHALLENGE, and how at first he didn’t read it. After reporting on his experiences in a recent union election he said, "That’s why I’m here; to join the Party!"

Right now we’re fighting for the political leadership of MUNI, AC Transit and striking MTA transit workers in California. These mostly black, Latin and Asian workers, with a lot on the line, are defending the Party and standing up to the bosses and union hacks. They are a key part of the infrastructure that makes the economy function. A black worker described how stepping forward in this struggle was related to developing stronger personal ties with Party organizers. The transit report benefited from the comments of transit workers from five cities. One worker joined PLP during the discussion. Another had recently joined.

In the Jefferson Hospital contract fight in Philadelphia, the union president sarcastically referred to a leading PLP member as "believing in the revolution no one else believes in." The 400 mostly black and Latin workers at the meeting stunned the union hack by giving PLP a standing ovation.

These experiences bear out our strategy that the fight against racism is primary in building the revolutionary movement, and that black workers are the key force for communist revolution. Super-exploited black workers and youth are concentrated in basic industry, the military and the major urban centers, the main pillars of our revolutionary strategy.

Fighting Racism:A Hallmark of PL

The 1964 Harlem Rebellion was the first of many that swept the U.S. in the 1960’s. PL "Wanted For Murder" Posters against "Racist Gilligan The Cop" were everywhere. CHALLENGE became the flag of Harlem’s rebels. The rulers accused PL of initiating the rebellion and jailed our members. We did not initiate it, but are proud to have played an important role in this rebellion against racist unemployment and police terror.

Over the next 35 years, we established a record and culture of anti-racism from which there is no turning back. From the 1970’s to the current fight in Morristown, NJ, we have led tens of thousands in confronting the Nazis, the KKK and their police protectors. In the 1990’s we gave leadership in fighting the wave of racist police terror in many major cities. Black workers and youth have always warmly embraced the Party. Yet we continue to face obstacles to recruitment and consolidation of black workers.

The Collapse of the Old Communist Movement and Rise of Nationalism

In July 1967, the Detroit Rebellion exploded. Within 72 hours, an armed working class spontaneously defeated the racist cops and the Michigan National Guard. President Lyndon Johnson was forced to use troops on their way to Vietnam to retake Detroit. The Chinese (then) Communist Party proclaimed its support for the rebellion before the entire world.

But those days are long gone. The rebellion was put down, the Chinese revolution was reversed and there is a new Ford assembly plant in Vietnam. Nationalism helped kill the old communist movement and has spread like a cancer.

Now we have to contend with nationalist misleaders like FBI informant Al Sharpton, The Jackson Two (Jesse Sr.& Jr.), and a host of black politicians, preachers and union leaders. Jesse & Son are all smiles on the cover of their new book, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. A parade of black Olympic athletes, especially the NBA "Dream" Team, wrapped themselves in the bosses’ flag of racism and genocide to get fat endorsement contracts and set black workers up to support Gore and another Mideast oil war.

The collapse of the old communist movement has slowed every aspect of the revolutionary process. The racist rulers have been given a second wind that workers are paying for with millions of casualties.

Defeat the Twin Evils!

We have the ability to overcome the twin evils of racism and nationalism. Some of our greatest resources are the black workers and youth currently in the Party, like those at the Workers’ Section meeting. We must rely on these comrades and win them to take more leadership and responsibility for the Party.

Hardly a week goes by without black youths being killed by the police. Two million people are in prison; half are black and Latin. By every measure—infant mortality, wages, longevity and health care—super-exploited black workers face the brunt of the bosses’ attacks.

Every area can initiate a more aggressive plan for recruitment, consolidation, and development of black workers. Part of this is winning more CHALLENGE readers, writers and distributors, which will improve the quality of our paper and make it a more effective weapon.

The bosses have long feared the revolutionary potential of black workers, and their ability to lead the whole working class. Let’s give them plenty to worry about. Black workers are more open to the Party, but weigh their decision carefully. Although we’ve got a long a ways to go, this meeting showed were making important strides to guarantee black workers will lead the way to communist revolution.

Dump All Bosses and Union Hacks, Strike! Strike! Strike!

LOS ANGELES, October 4 — "I was wrong. You were right; we can’t trust the company or the union leadership," declared a higher-paid, senior mechanic to a PLP member. He had just heard Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1277 President Neil Silver and the ATU board say union mechanics were "free" to cross the picket line of striking drivers in the United Transportation Union.

Silver’s treacherous dealmaking with Democratic governor Gray Davis shocked this city’s entire working class. The union leaders promised Davis to get workers to cross the picket lines if he signed a bill covering possible privatized transit zones in which cuts in wages and benefits would be barred for four years. After that it’s bosses’ heaven.

Even as Silver was spilling his guts on TV, friends and members of PL were writing a leaflet denouncing the sellout and making plans to deliver the message to the striking drivers that the only ATU member crossing the line would be Silver.

‘Kill the Bastards’

As these leaflets arrived on the picket lines, the strikers cheered when told that the union leaders were the only scabs. "Kill the bastards" was the sentiment on the lines at division after division, reacting to the flyers and promises of unity. At one downtown division a group of about 20 drivers nearly hoisted a mechanic on their shoulders when he brought the flyers. Others told a Party member that ATU back-stabbing made them stronger.This is the spirit the union hacks fear and are trying to ignore. PLP is tapping this strong burst of workers’ solidarity and class sentiment by building the unity to counter the misleaders’ attempts to weaken the strike. "I was afraid to go down to RRC (Repair Center) this morning," said one worker. "I thought so many of these guys who are hurting would take it as an excuse to cross." He shook his head; "God, I was so glad so many showed up, so the ones who came to cross were ashamed or afraid to do it."

It is impossible not to run into workers during this strike that are not open to the ideas of CHALLENGE and of militant and revolutionary leadership.

Strike! Condemn The Union Hacks!

This strike should be spread. The fact is, the mechanics’ contract is also expiring. We are advancing the idea that mechanics should walk out as well and make it a really mass transit strike.

We must get CHALLENGE into the hands of as many of our old readers as possible. And we will reach workers who have lately awakened to how close to the edge we live, even though many of us are comparatively well-paid. Whatever "comforts" we’ve had are slipping away. More workers must be won to realize that instability and insecurity are growing in—and are built into—this capitalist system.

LA County Workers Flexing Strike Muscle

LOS ANGELES, October 4 — A possible general strike of 90,000 County workers was shaping up here, which, if combined with the bus drivers already on the picket lines and a possible walkout of 40,000 teachers, would make for one of the largest strikes in the city’s history.

The 47,000 County workers in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 660 were scheduled to go out on Oct. 10. They are demanding a 15.5% wage increase over three years, after having gotten peanuts for most of the 1990s. The County bosses are "offering" slightly more than half of that, while corporate profits and CEO incomes are out of sight. Many rank and filers are opposing the 2-tier wage scheme which would use Workfare to bring in low-wage workers.

Meanwhile, the bosses here have reduced workers’ health care to a new low and are scheming to throw thousands of workers off of welfare. They will then be forced into Workfare where they will "earn" poverty level "wages" and replace unionized jobs, lowering wage levels for the whole working class. Plans for privatizing welfare would worsen this situation even further.

Workers must demand: (1) an end to Workfare and these welfare cuts; (2) abolition of the 2-, 3- and 4-tier wage systems; (3) smashing of the racist cop terror that tries to keep the super-exploited black and Latin workers "in line"; and (4) an end to racist wage differentials.

The other 43,000 County workers and the teachers should join Local 660 and the striking transit workers to build a general strike that unites all workers across all lines, uniting black, Latin, Asian and white workers in one mighty wave to set the bosses back on their heels. This could stop LA dead and would demonstrate it is the workers who produce everything of value but it’s the bosses and bankers who grab most of it in their drive for maximum profits.

Workers must be wary of bosses and union leaders who try to appear as our supporters in an effort to use us for their own purposes. The fight by the Rockefeller interests for control of LA involves these top bosses trying to build a mass popular movement—working through the sellout leaders of the AFL-CIO and those in the black and Latin communities—to get workers on their side as they prepare for an oil war in the Mid-East. That’s why their ruling class media, like the LA TIMES, publishes apparently favorable reports about the strikers and potential strikes.

We can’t rely on any boss, nor on their lieutenants in the AFL-CIO or whoever they install in the White House. There is no "lesser evil" under the profit system—only absolute evil. Capitalism is anti-worker and racist to the core. No matter who runs it, it is set up to make the bosses rich by attacking the workers and making us fight their wars for control of the world. We say dump it!

AC Transit Workers Champion Solidarity

OAKLAND, CA., October 2—Transit workers in Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 here took a solidarity stand with their striking brothers and sisters in LA today while endorsing a transit unity rally in the Bay Area along with a work action of their own to put pressure on their bosses during a contract struggle. They voted to:

•Send a letter of solidarity to their fellow transit workers in LA opposing any crossing of picket lines and declaring that no union member in the transit locals in LA return to work until the contract fight is decided;

•Call for a Bay Area Transit Unity Rally of workers at MUNI (in the Transport Workers Union) and at AC Transit here to support each others' demands in their contract fights;

•Refuse to work overtime for at least one week, which could cripple the company since it refuses to hire additional drivers (it's running with 55 drivers short) and depends on overtime to meet schedules

Students, Faculty, Workers Rip Racist Police Terror

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 3— Students and workers are fighting hard to avenge the murder of Howard University student Prince Jones by the Prince George's County Police Department. Over 2,000 signatures have been gathered on a petition demanding the racist cop be indicted for first degree murder. Howard University students and staff rallied at the office of the Virginia prosecutor, putting Fairfax County on notice that nothing short of the murder indictment would be tolerated.

Over 150 residents attended hearings in Prince George's County, held by a government-appointed Task Force on Police Accountability. They condemned the police and the county government for brutality and racist murder. Those who testified included the leaders of the Howard University Alumni Association, Howard University students and faculty, and members of the newly formed Prince George's County People's Coalition for Police Accountability. A representative of the transit workers' union Local 689 testified. The Local 689 executive board voted to condemn the killing. Many victims of the police told stories that moved many to tears and determination to fight back.

In each of these activities, PLP played an important role mobilizing in our mass organizations to build a militant, multi-racial movement against police brutality and racial profiling.

Many critical strategic political questions are being debated. Should we fight for a more independent civilian review board? Should we focus on changing the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBOR), which shields killer cops from scrutiny? Should we focus on getting elected officials to come to our side?

PLP argues that only a sustained, militant, working-class movement can limit police murders in any way. Legislative solutions are dead-ends. The capitalists will evade them since they need to have a brutal police force to keep the private property system strong for the rich. The movement must mobilize workers, students and others to lead the struggle to punish the cop and the politicians. We will participate in an anti-police brutality demonstration on October 14 at the Capitol and aggressively petition at the Million Family March on October 16. But only communist revolution can stop the capitalist system that generates racist police brutality.

Protest Scares Principal And Cops At Bogus Bogan HS

CHICAGO, IL, October 2 — "Look, I could have arrested him for felony mob action. He had 200 students trying to get back into the school. Our lives were in danger." Yeah, right! Their "lives were in danger." Two cops with guns against students with notebooks.

On Friday, September 29, two students were arrested at Bogan H.S. We were both charged with disorderly conduct. The young woman was also charged with trespassing. It had been a really spectacular day for students because we staged the first ever, real protest in front of our principal’s office. At Bogan, all students must wear a white shirt, black pants and black shoes. But seniors normally get out of wearing their uniform on picture day.

Our principal decided to change that and demanded we come to school in our uniform, change into our picture clothes and change back into our uniforms after we take our senior pictures. This pissed off the entire senior class and we even got support from some teachers.

Anger was so deep and widespread that almost the entire senior class marched to the principal’s office demanding that she change her policy. Students were really hyped about having such a large group fighting for the same cause. We felt that with the right leadership we could get almost anything we wanted. The designated leader made a devastating mistake by letting the principal talk him into a private meeting. He then told everyone to go home and he would personally handle it on Monday.

As we were all leaving, the security guards and cops started hassling everyone for their ID’s and forcing us to leave our school. Outside, we were discussing our protest and criticizing the leader. Someone yelled out that someone was being arrested in the school.

I ran into the school to find two kkkops on top of a young woman, handcuffed and in a headlock. I asked them, "Why are you arresting her?" They told me "Get the f--k out of here! This is none of your business." I said, "This is my business! She’s a fellow student." They told me, "Get the f--k out of here before we arrest you too." I refused to leave the 16-year-old girl in a headlock with the two cops, so they arrested me for "Disorderly Conduct."

A student who reads CHALLENGE got on his bike and tried to organize students to block the police car. He also circulated a petition demanding that I not be suspended. Others circulated petitions against wearing our uniforms on picture day.

As long as the bosses have state power the laws, cops and courts will always be anti-working class. Many Bogan students understand that things are only getting worse and more restrictive. This week I am making more of an effort to get CHALLENGE into their hands. This will help their political development.

Fascism is developing rapidly in the Chicago public schools. Under the disguise of Zero Tolerance, thousands of students have been suspended and expelled and hundreds of teachers have been fired. Education under capitalism is only for the bosses’ profits. Under communism, it will be for the use and development of the entire working-class.

Police Terror Against Youth = Chicago Bosses’ School Reform

CHICAGO, IL, October 2 — "You crooks got away this time, but sooner or later I’m going to get you." This threat to four 14-year-olds came as they were leaving Juvenile Court, from the cop who had arrested them. Armed robbery charges against them had just been dropped. However, being innocent means little under capitalism and even less under racist Chicago school reform.

Mona is an active parent at her children’s schools. On Saturday, May 13, she saw her son and three classmates being put into cop Whitehead’s police car. Whitehead is stationed inside Dixon Elementary School. The four eighth graders had been playing ball in their Southside neighborhood. Whitehead claimed to be looking for a gun, a pair of gym shoes and a silver chain.

Later that evening, Whitehead called Mona to say the four youth were being charged with aggravated robbery. Mona asked, "Was a weapon or the stolen property found on the boys?" "No!" squealed Whitehead.

The next day Mona’s neighbor told her that her seven-year-old son was offered a chain by an 18-year-old youth with a criminal reputation in the neighborhood. Mona went to talk to this youth and found he also had the gym shoes. She reported this to the police but nothing happened. On Monday the boys had a preliminary hearing and were put on house arrest. They could only go to school and back home.

Under racist Mayor Daley’s school reform, there is a reciprocal reporting system between the school district and the police department. It says that any time a student is arrested on drug, weapons, or forcible felony charges, the schools must be contacted. Even though cop Whitehead and Dixon Principal Cristler knew these boys had no prior record, they wasted no time handing down ten-day suspensions and barred the boys from attending their 8th-grade graduation activities.

The boys did graduate and started high school. But their story is far from over. Even though the charges were dropped, the racist Board of Education has ordered the students and parents to appear at expulsion hearings on October 11. Mona said, "The board has three sets of rules; the ones they make up as they go along, the ones they have to protect principals, and the ones they use against parents that give leadership in the schools."

Clinton/Gore have used Chicago as their national model for "School Reform." Modest increases in test scores have been paid for by unprecedented fascist attacks on students, parents, teachers and school workers. Since 1997, 42,255 Kindergarten through 8th-grade students and 33,887 high school students have been suspended. Only 1% were suspended for weapons: only 3% for drugs. In the same period 1,537 students have been expelled; 1,128 are black, only 69 are white. Black students are 54% of the student body, but 72 % of all expulsions. (All figures from Chicago Public Schools, End of Year Reports to Illinois State Board of Education.) Over 200 teachers have been fired, including PLP members Moises Bernal and Carol Caref. School workers have lost their health care coverage.

PLP fights to "Put Students First." We will demonstrate with Mona and the other parents, at the Board of Education, at the expulsion hearings. Our PTA is forming a committee to investigate the number of students affected by the record-sharing between the schools and the cops. This fight for our children exposes capitalism as the children’s oppressor. Smashing this system stops this. Building communism buries it.

Workers’ Poverty Grows Among Bosses’ Economic Boom

Last month, the Census Bureau reported poverty rates fell to 11.8% in the U.S., the lowest level since 1979. The Clinton administration quickly took credit for this. It will surely help Gore’s candidacy.

But amid this economic "good news," there’s a lot of old-fashioned bad news for black and women workers. "Median income for women declined last year even as men earned more money. As a result, women’s earnings are only 72.2% that of men, down from the peak of 74.2% in 1997. Economists said the decline in median income for women reflects an influx of poorer women into the market. "(WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/27).

So in the middle of this capitalist "boom," the oppression of women grows. But when one group of workers is super-exploited, the rest of the working class suffers. Bob Greenspan, the director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said, "women entered the work force at a rate four times faster than men did, pulling the median income level down." (WSJ).

The Census Bureau report wasn’t good news for black workers either. Even though median income for black families hit a record $27,010". "that is significantly lower than the $42,504 the average white household takes home" (WSJ).

The fact is in the "best of its economic times" capitalism can’t solve the problems of sexism, racism and inequality. Larry Mishel, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said: "Inequality is stubbornly high and not declining as one would expect in a strong recovery. It’s historically high, and still higher compared to other countries." Mishel also noted that over the past 10 years, the average middle-class family works 279 more hours a year. He added: "This is why you could have prosperous times where people are going to talk about the stress of balancing work and family."

The Census report doesn’t register the full magnitude of capitalism’s inequality "since it fails to factor in all income for the top earners, capping it at $1 million. Nor does it include capital gains income, which has risen significantly in recent years as stock options and investing have become more popular." (WSJ).

When it comes to children, capitalism is an even bigger failure. While children represents 26% of the overall population, they make up 38% of those living in poverty. And even though the Bureau considers the poverty rate lower now, it is still higher than it was in 1973.

Thus, capitalism in "the best of its times" cannot serve the interests of millions of workers and their families. This is because those bosses and companies who made huge profits, and gave stock options and capital gains to a few investors and CEOs, made these profits "the old-fashioned way": exploiting all workers, and super-exploiting black and women workers.

We in PLP have a better choice: fight to destroy capitalism and its racist-sexist oppression and build a society where workers produce to satisfy the needs of the entire working class, not those of a few bosses and their lackeys. That’s communism.

Columbus Day: Celebrate Or Protest — You Be The Judge

The official history books tell how Columbus "sailed the blue in 1492". Thus, began the "glorious" history of the European "civilization" of the Americas, leading to the establishment of the U.S.A. less than 300 years later. For years the U.S. has celebrated Columbus Day. Like this writer, many workers get Columbus Day as a paid holiday and millions of students are off from school. However, should this be a day of celebration or of protest?

Columbus had persuaded Spain’s king and queen to finance an expedition to the East Indies and Asia, seeking gold, spices and other valuables. Spain had recently become a nation. Most Spaniards were poor peasants who worked for the nobility. The nobles were 2% of the population but owned 95% of the land. Thus, Columbus was helping to fulfill the greedy goals of Spanish royalty.

During Columbus’ first voyage to the "New World," the first crew member to sight land was supposed to get a large lifetime pension. In the early morning of October 12, 1492, an ordinary sailor named Rodrigo called out when he saw the white sands of an island (in the Bahamas). Columbus lied, claimed he had seen land the evening before and later received the reward. So much for Columbus’ honesty!

Columbus was known as an expert sailor. He chose to sail west to find a shorter, more economical route to Asia. Instead he "discovered" the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands. Never mind that there were already several well-developed civilizations in the Americas, including (but not limited to) the Arawak, Inca, Mayan and Iroquois. Some were relatively peaceful, some were warlike; some were led by men, some by women; some had rigid class structures, some were collectively organized. Upon returning to Spain after his first expedition, Columbus insisted he had reached Asia (it was Cuba) and an island off the coast of China (actually Hispaniola, later called Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

Columbus recorded his first observations of the Bahaman Arawaks in his ship’s log (diary): "...They willingly traded everything they owned....They do not bear arms (weapons)....They would make fine servants....With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

European observers noted how the Arawaks, like many of the "Indians" on the mainland, were remarkable for their hospitality and their belief in sharing. However, these honorable traits were abused by the European merchants (early capitalists) of the Renaissance, consumed as they were by the religion of the popes, the government of kings and the frenzy for money (gold, raw materials, markets) that marked Western civilization’s elite and their first emissary to the Americas, Christopher Columbus. After finding little gold, Columbus wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."

A significant source of information on Columbus is the multi-volume "History of the Indies" by Bartolome de las Casas, a Catholic priest, who also transcribed Columbus’ journal. (Las Casas had participated in the conquest of Cuba. For a time he had a plantation with Indian slaves, and later suggested replacing Indians with African slaves until the cruelties he saw turned him into a critic.) Las Casas wrote that when he arrived in Hispaniola in 1508, "there were 60,000 people living on the island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery and the mines...I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it..."

The noted historian Howard Zinn wrote: "What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas, Cortes did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots." Over the centuries that followed, millions of Indians and African slaves perished in the holocaust of the Americas. The legacy of Columbus is nothing less than genocide, a product of a system based on money, profits, class exploitation and oppression.

[Source: A People’s History Of The United States, by Howard Zinn, published by Harper Collins, 1999.]

Clinton-Barak-Arafat’s ‘Peace Process’ Kills More Workers

The renewed fighting in Israel and the occupied territories is another example of U.S. imperialism’s peace-making skills. It was touched off by a provocation from openly fascist Israeli politician Ariel Sharon, who last week held a public rally at the Dome of the Rock, a shrine sacred to Arab muslims.

Sharon dislikes the deal Clinton & Co. are hoping to force on Israel. He thinks his faction of bosses can get more than Clinton is offering, and so he’s trying to sabotage it. The Palestinian boss Arafat heads a shaky coalition of capitalist wannabes, many of whom disagree with concessions he has OK’ed in talks with Israeli and U.S. rulers. The Sharon provocation merely set a spark on powder that was already very dry.

U.S. imperialism wants to stabilize the situation between Israeli and Palestinian bosses in order to guarantee its western flank in the Middle East, as it prepares to launch its next oil war in the Persian Gulf. But the western flank doesn’t seem to want to be stabilized. Even if Clinton & Co. can get a few politicians like Barak and Arafat to go along, the latest fighting shows the entire region torn by conflicts that can’t be suppressed by signing a piece of paper.

Now Clinton’s Secy. of State Albright is calling a meeting of Arafat and Barak, presumably to force them into line. The big gangster wants the little punks to obey, but the little punks can’t or won’t knuckle under. No deal can satisfy all the different factions of bosses, because any deal will come at the expense of one or another. More importantly, no deal can meet the needs of Arab and Jewish workers, whose deepest class interests require the leadership of a party that fights for revolutionary communism. The militancy of Palestinian working-class youth in the current struggle is admirable. But under the leadership of nationalist thugs like Arafat, it is a dead-end that will keep the Palestinian working class imprisoned in the profit system’s misery.

Imperialism can never solve the problems it creates. In the words of an ancient Roman historian, "It creates a wasteland and calls it peace." The current fighting in Israel may temporarily subside. But eventually, it will be followed by much wider and more deadly war.

Alaskan Oil: Another Oil Bosses’ Battleground

As the liberal rulers continue to lay the groundwork for their next oil war in the Persian Gulf, Alaskan oil is emerging as a significant issue in the presidential campaign. Iraq and Alaska are related. Although it’s a very complicated situation, we should understand its main points, to be able to see through the baloney tossed at us by the candidates.

Bush has promised to open up the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) for oil exploration. Partly he’s tossing bone to the domestic Oil Patch gang, BP Amoco and energy equipment giants like Halliburton. These forces form part of the Republican base, but the Rockefeller forces have been adamant about denying ANWR access to the domestic oil industry. However, the latter needs to be brought into line if the Rockefeller interests are to forge any class unity around their plans for Middle Eastern oil war.

But BP (British Petroleum) Amoco is another story. If Bush can induce BP Amoco, Halliburton, et al. into supporting the Rockefeller Persian Gulf war agenda, he may yet be a future president. Halliburton stands to reap billions from any deal to make and install the equipment that would bring in ANWR oil. BP Amoco is at present the main producer of Alaska crude, with 70%.

The Rockefeller wing has opposed opening up the ANWR right now, for its own reasons. In the long run, releasing these vast reserves benefits Exxon Mobil, which will need large increases in domestic production as a hedge against disruption of Persian Gulf supplies by a major war. In fact, the main wing of the big bosses has always viewed Alaskan crude largely as a strategic military reserve. But this oil is useless until it can be brought to the pump. Even if Bush & Co. were to win the White House and open up the ANWR, the first drop wouldn’t be brought on line for five or ten years.

The issue is less whether to open ANWR than who should open it and for what purpose. BP Amoco and the domestic Oil Patch, rivals of the Rockefeller camp, wants to sell it for profit on the world market. Cinton/Gore want it mainly for use in war. Two years ago, Clinton opened up a quarter of the former Naval Oil Reserve in Alaska.

But Clinton/Gore/Rockefeller also want BP Amoco to jump on the Middle East war bandwagon. So bribery becomes necessary. In addition to Alaskan profit-sharing, they may offer BP Amoco a cut of the action in Iraq or possibly Iran, both of which BP once dominated—provided the U.S. can seize them back. The U.S. rulers figure this would be enough of a bone for BP Amoco to tone down its alliances with Russian and Chinese oil companies and BP’s attempts to re-enter Iraq or Iran without the U.S. stamp of approval. However, BP has its own desperate need for new oil sources, as last year's NATO butchery in Yugoslavia for Caspian oil pipelines showed. It might not easily knuckle under to the Rockefeller trade-off.

This is another significant aspect of the inner class contradictions of state power. The U.S. federal government is absolutely the creature of the dominant capitalists. Whether Bush or Gore becomes president, the ANWR will be used primarily to meet Exxon Mobil's goals. In a pinch, this state power will be used ruthlessly against "friendly" rivals like BP Amoco. In the event of a "national emergency," the main wing would immediately sieze these reserves and what could BP Amoco do about it? How many British divisions can strike Alaska on BP Amoco’s behalf? Exxon Mobil has already prepared for such an eventuality. When BP Amoco took over ARCO and its huge undeveloped Alaskan holdings, Exxon Mobil claimed "rights of first use" over oil from these tracts, dating back to 1964, and then vowed to enforce these "rights" if exploration or production ever started. Exxon Mobil also maintains significant operations in Alaska.

For now the Rockefellers are content to let BP Amoco and other Exxon rivals do the bulk of the hard, very expensive work of getting crude from the frozen earth. This is a basic capitalist tactic: let your competitors take the biggest risks and then elbow them aside to grab the reward.

Meanwhile, the war drums are beating harder for another U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf. U.S. stooge Kuwait is the latest to fall in line asking for U.N. protection against Iraqi threats. U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright came up with a list of "red lines" Iraq mustn’t cross and threatened war if it disobeyed.

So, with increasing rapidity, the stage is being set for the next oil war. The jockeying on the home front for the upper hand in Alaska must be viewed as part of this process. Our Party will continue to expose U.S. imperialism’s war plans and to organize against them on every front where we have forces.

Step on Rulers’ Achilles Heel!

U.S. rulers face a major obstacle as they gear up for their next Persian Gulf oil war. Their class interests require preventing French and Russian oil companies from gaining a foothold in Iraq that would Challenge Exxon’s world energy dominance. Ultimately, this goal can’t be achieved without war. But oil war demands a large U.S. army of committed ground forces, and the U.S. ruling class continues to be haunted by the so-called "Vietnam syndrome"—a military whose troops won’t willingly fight and die for the rulers’ aims.

The latest warning about this dilemma comes from former Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, who until last summer had been head of the U.S. military’s Persian Gulf Central Command. On Sept. 27, Zinni warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that the "political will to take military action" against Iraq is still absent (Reuters). He cautioned against launching another oil war without public support.

The bosses know they have a problem. They haven’t won working-class soldiers and sailors to their agenda. We must carefully evaluate this contradiction. We must avoid leaping to the wishful-thinking conclusion that therefore they will not go to war. That would be a deadly error. On the other hand, we should see that their political weakness is an Achilles heel that our class can turn to its advantage. Our communist forces can grow in the midst of these blood-lettings for oil profit. Nothing is going to be handed to us, but if we put forth our line and organize around it under all circumstances, we can plant the seeds for turning imperialist war and fascism into their opposite—communist revolution.

Exxon: The 800 Pound Gorilla

From the OIL DAILY, April 5, 2000, on Exxon's tiff with BP Amoco over legal claim to Arco's oil tracts. "While Exxon has a reputation for vigorously protecting its contractual rights, the Dallas-based giant may have also been teaching its expansionist British rival a lesson: ‘Exxon wanted to remind BP who the 800-pound gorilla is,’ one industry source said."

The Communist Fight for Literacy and Knowledge

(Conclusion of three-part series.)

Any bosses’ education initiatives face a basic contradiction of capitalism: while they have a life-and-death need to mask the truth, objective reality refuses to be ignored. The more they try to shove their lies down our throats, the more they will expose themselves as liars. The bosses’ version of reality simply doesn’t fit the daily experience of working-class families.

Workers will not reach these conclusions automatically. Seeing through bosses’ lies doesn’t necessarily lead to communism.

But communist teachers are in the middle of these education wars, IN the schools! There we can: (1) engage in class struggle for working-class literacy, both inside and outside the classroom; and (2) thereby sharpen our ideas on educating the working class to take power.

The bosses force teachers to spend years studying capitalist teaching techniques, to learn how to teach their ideas. In contrast, many of us are really just starting to develop a communist approach to teaching, and in capitalist-controlled schools at that. Our individual experiences may be rich in lessons beneficial to the working class, but we still lack truly comprehensive knowledge.

We need to become true experts in the fight for literacy. It is the fight for knowledge, the fight for revolution, which, Marx said, is a fight to change the society, but also to change OURSELVES. We should involve ourselves deeply in the bosses’ reform programs to learn how to wage struggles for educational practices serving the working class, especially how to apply our scientific philosophy—the principles of dialectical materialism. All this can become springboards for initiating class struggle at all levels of the school and community. Knowledge gained from this practice adds to future action.

Teachers should collectively make plans and report our progress and problems in CHALLENGE to encourage debate and development (like the recent exchange on rap music).

The bosses are raising the stakes in education, sharpening their attacks on the working class. They want to train workers and soldiers to serve fascism and capitalist war. To answer them, we must train workers now to serve their class and to prepare themselves to take power.

Literacy, For What?

Ruling Class Purpose:

Train workers to be more useful tools of capital by teaching them certain skills necessary for capitalist production.

Train workers in capitalist ideology so they can better serve the needs of the capitalists preparing for war against their economic rivals.

Workers who can’t read are generally unreliable for the bosses, both on the job and the battlefield. They are almost certainly disenchanted with the system, angry and bitter. Jails to control "unmanageable" workers and youth are only one part of the rulers’ strategy. They need loyal workers who will fight and die for capitalism. As NEW YORK TIMES columnist and ruling class spokesman Thomas Friedman says (8/8), in complaining about popular resistance to war, "Americans don’t want to die for virtually anything." Workers and youth are still seen as "inferior." Truly high levels of literacy will continue to exist for only a small percentage of the population.

Communist Purpose:

For communists, literacy is a weapon for understanding and changing the world. Workers need to analyze events and understand and apply dialectical materialism, to understand the Party’s ideas better so as to develop their commitment to communism. This creates determined revolutionary members and leaders, vital to move the working class to power and successfully construct the first truly communist society.

High Communist Standards for the Working Class

In every subject area, we can plan lessons that critique aspects of capitalism. For example, when a local hospital was conducting biodeterminist experiments to "prove" black and Latin youth were "violent by nature," a ninth grade English teacher developed a unit in "controversial issues." By investigating issues from all sides (a principal of dialectical materialism), students unmasked the racist nature of these experiments and wrote letters to a mass organization fighting the experiments. Through this they learned: (1) literacy strategies for reading difficult material; (2) how to evaluate sources; (3) the perfect form for business letters; and (4) appropriate vocabulary (like "fascism" and "pseudo-science"). They later attended and spoke at a scientific forum condemning the experiments. Later, after a local police murder, these students could make the connection between the racist experiments racist police terror. More could have been done to link the classroom learning to class struggle against capitalism, but several youth were recruited to the Party out of this work.


Workers of the World, Write! AFL-CIO Betrays Immigrants Again

On Oct.2, the AFL-CIO presented its proposal for amnesty for undocumented immigrant workers at a mid-town Manhattan press conference. Local 1199 president Dennis Rivera welcomed other hacks and politicians, including Central Labor Council head Brian McLaughin who announced the AFL-CIO endorsement of the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act of 2000 (LIFA).

This is the second recent change in the AFL-CIO’s position, In the past, the union leadership had been leading attacks against immigrants, but a couple of years ago they began supporting immigrant workers’ rights because (1) the need of many U.S. bosses for cheap labor; and (2) to build Latino support for the Democratic Party. Now it supports LIFA, which provides limited amnesty, affecting less than 500,000 undocumented immigrants.

Monica Santana, organizer of many mass marches for unconditional amnesty, was at the press conference to protest the AFL-CIO’s support for LIFA since "it excludes 5.5 million other undocumented immigrants." She also said the AFL-CIO "took advantage of the mass mobilizations organized by immigrant groups like hers, to betray it [by] pushing for a partial amnesty." Several groups active in this fight also protested, calling it a stab at their movement.

Indeed, we in PLP participated in many of these mobilizations but warned workers not to trust the AFL-CIO or the Democratic Party, that they were just using workers to push their own political aims. They serve the interests of the liberal section of the ruling class, the Exxon-Mobil-Rockefeller bosses who are preparing for another oil war in the Middle East. They need such workers both for support and as soldiers.

The moral? Never trust such union hacks or politicians—they all serve and defend the profit system.

A Red Immigrant

Waiting for Lefty’ Sparks Strike Call

Recently a friend organized twelve of us to see the play "Waiting for Lefty." We had a great time. Written by Clifford Odets in the 1930s about a New York taxi strike, this stirring work shows drivers struggling against their own fears and against the union leadership to fight for their class. It depicts the many ways capitalism corrupts and destroys everything, from personal relationships to science to medicine. It sharply attacks anti-communism, recognizes the militancy of working-class women and ends with the workers chanting "Strike! Strike!"

The cast even restored a scene from the original production that the author had cut from the published version because he feared it was too openly Left. In this scene, which exposes the commercialism of Broadway theater, the producer’s receptionist offers a starving actor a copy of the Communist Manifesto.

As a prologue, the theater company enacted a short play of its own about the current strike of TV commercial actors. They dramatized both the reasons for the strike and the struggle involved in trying to win entertainment industry workers to solidarity with the strike. It was clear that the reality of workers’ struggles today had inspired this company of artists.

It sparked our group to discuss the growing strike wave in Los Angeles. Besides the actors and the recent janitors’ strike, MTA workers are now out, city workers are about to start a series of "rolling strikes" and 95% of LA’s teachers voted to authorize a strike.

"It’s interesting how the LA TIMES is portraying these strikes so favorably," one person remarked.

"That’s true," said another. "This is the first time I’ve ever seen TV news and the papers interview riders who supported the strike."

"The CHICAGO TRIBUNE—which recently took over the TIMES—never gave transit workers such favorable publicity there either, she continued. "I guess it’s true that [as CHALLENGE has reported] it’s not so much pro-union as anti-Riordan and pro-Rockefeller. The Eastern Establishment is using the strikes as a way to attack Mayor Riordan and his group of real-estate developers and entrepreneurs."

"They’re going after his law firm too. And don’t some of his relatives own big stakes in some of the smaller regional bus companies that would benefit from the breakup of MTA?"

"We should call for a general strike," said a young worker. "That would really up the ante in this struggle. It would give workers a taste of power."

"You’re right! We should call for a general strike—and point out that the enemy is capitalism. Of course, however badly the Rockefeller forces want to go after Riordan’s crowd, I don’t think they’d go that far!"

Workers’ struggles can inspire art, and good art can inspire struggle. We were all sorry we hadn’t known about this production sooner, so we could have gotten more of our friends to come with us.

LA Comrade

Fujimori May Go But Fascism Stays

After 10 years in power, Peru’s fascist dictator Fujimori is calling for new elections and is dismantling the hated Intelligence Service (SIN), exiling its head, Vladimiro Montesinos, to Panama.

After the last electoral farce on July 28, Fujimori declared "victory" even though everyone knew it was a huge fraud. Since Fujimori’s Peru 2000 Party did not win a majority in Congress, Montesinos began buying some opposition congressmen. He was such a sleaze bag that he videotaped every act of corruption to blackmail those he corrupted, just in case. This video was made public and now the almighty Montesinos is in exile and the Fujimori regime is collapsing.

Indeed, behind this power struggle among different bosses, there was CIA pressure on Fujimori to dump Montesinos, who had become a hindrance for the CIA he had served so well for so many years. In addition, mass protests against the Fujimori-Montesinos cabal mushroomed. The mass discontent made this deadly duo expendable for U.S. imperialism and the local capitalists.

Even though the CIA and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) claimed Peru did a lot to fight drugs during the 10-year Fujimori regime (the DEA-CIA has two military bases in Peru), still Montesinos’ connection with the drug mafias was well-known. In the 1980s, Montesinos was a lawyer for some of the biggest drug bosses here.

Under Fujimori the old comprador [native bosses agents] rulers were replaced by a new set of bosses. So in the July elections, these old bosses supported the presidential candidacy of Alejandro Toledo, a World Bank official. After the July electoral fraud, this set of bosses organized the mass protests against Fujimori.

But the fact remains Peru’s economic crisis is so big and poverty has increased so much, any new government will have to follow the same fascist shock measures Fujimori used against workers for the last decade. Fifteen of the 25 million here earn less than $50 a month, and five million earn less than $25 a month!

This has provoked many people to discuss what to do about the widespread corruption and vast poverty. They won’t find the solution among the many different groups of bosses and reformists who, unfortunately, are leading the protests. There’s a good opportunity to build a PLP group here to fight for the only true liberation for workers: the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Some comrades in Peru

Dialectics Inspires Workers

Although I have been around the Party for a few years, I just recently really began analyzing things dialectically. The international Dialectical Materialism (DM) school the Party organized in July helped me become a better Party member. Since this revolutionary philosophy gives us more confidence in fighting the capitalist system, a group of workers in Upper Manhattan, NYC, have begun DM classes to better defend ourselves against the many bosses’ attacks in a country claiming to be the most "humanitarian" in the world.

In our first discussion we discussed how many people think philosophy is something very complicated, but in practice we deal with it every day. It is the profound study of every process, and the universality [all things are connected] of everything. We studied how things appear externally (appearance) and internally (essence).

All of us gave simple examples and applied them to our workplaces. One person said the factories where we work look very nice and neat from the outside (appearance), but inside we are exploited and labor under very unsafe conditions (essence). It was a good beginning for our classes.

I also attended the first day of the Workers’ Section meeting last weekend. We discussed international events, particularly the threat of another oil war against Iraq by U.S. imperialism. We also heard some interesting reports from the LA transit strikers, who thanked the Party and CHALLENGE for their support. They all agreed the best part of the struggle was meeting PLP. An autoworker from Germany attended and was very happy seeing us united under the red flag of communism.

An Upper Manhattan Worker

A Communist Who Was Not a Communist

A former fellow worker of mine just died suddenly of an unsuspected aneurysm (bulge) of her aorta (the main artery from the heart to the rest of the body). The aneurysm started to leak, with catastrophic results. She was 71 but acted, spoke and moved like a 50-year-old. She had been a former supervisor of mine, but was more like a beloved mother to all those whom she supervised.

She was born in China, one of seven children of an international banker, all of whom moved to the U.S. before the 1949 revolution. She was alone among her brothers and sisters in getting a graduate degree and becoming a professional scientist.

Primarily as a result of her background she was staunchly anti-communist, but despite her professed class outlook, her relationships with those around her and her attitudes toward other people set an example that communists would do well to emulate.

She always made you, never herself, the center of interest in any conversation. Whenever she would call the house to speak to me, and my wife answered the phone, the conversation always began with an inquiry as to how my wife was doing, how her job was coming along, how the children were doing and so on. Then, and only then, would she ask to speak to me. She never regarded it as a waste of her precious time to greet my wife by name and chat with her for a few minutes. She never simply asked to speak to me without even identifying herself, as so many people do.

She made everyone—whether building-maintenance workers or secretaries or fellow scientists—feel equally important. She also made you feel you were capable of doing anything, particularly when you went to her to express self-doubts. Instead of parading her own accomplishments, she built peoples’ self-esteem and self-confidence.

It was clear from her attitude that, as far as she was concerned, everyone was equally capable if she/he put her/his mind to the task at hand. She always gave you the feeling you made a difference in the world.

If she disagreed with a point you were making, she would first compliment you on your insight and thoughtfulness. Then she would add tiny adjustments to it, that you would be able to agree with, until it turned out to be somewhat different from your original point and sometimes closer to her own thoughts on the issue.

With her ready wit and winning smile, she brightened up the entire office. Rather than a boss, she was a leader.

So ironically, while in her own mind she was a staunch anti-communist, in practice she was, in many ways, a far better communist than I. But I was not afraid to learn from her.

An Eager Student of the People