CHALLENGE, Oct. 18, 2000

Editorial: Nationalism, Religion A Killer For Arab And Jewish Workers

Shut Down LA with a General Strike!

‘We’re here to support the strike, not to break it!’

Janitors-MTA Workers: Solidarity Forever

Wen Ho Lee Fiasco Reflects Fight Among Capitalist Factions

Yugoslavia: Fight for Oil Pipelines Behind Televised ‘Democratic Revolution’

Turn Strikes Into School for Communism

LA Times: Workers’ Ally Or Eastern Establishment Mouthpiece?

Union Leaders—Friends or Foes?

Workers Stand Up for Class Struggle Union Candidate

Nader Has Nada for Workers and Youth


Why I Was Won to PLP

PLP Has Answer for UNITE Organizers

More on ‘White’ Skin Privilege’

In the Party, but Never Alone

What Che Stood For

AIDS Not a Killer?

AIDS Denial Is a Killer

Capitalism Can’t Conquer AIDS


Nationalism, Religion A Killer For Arab And Jewish Workers

The renewed killing in Israel and the occupied territories shows that the peace brokered by imperialism is the peace of the tomb. It also exposes the utter bankruptcy of nationalism and the deadly role of all religion in sabotaging workers’ struggles for a decent life.

PLP members working in mass organizations should vigorously put forward these key lessons as the situation unfolds.

The Clinton White House set the stage for the present bloodshed when it orchestrated the 1994 Middle East "peace" agreement signed seven years ago in Oslo, Norway. This deal supposedly pledged an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by 1999. The deadline wasn’t met, largely because U.S. bosses can’t control the internal politics of their own Israeli vassals.

Israel sees U.S. support lessening. Without it, their expansion as a capitalist power is virtually nil. The fact remains that the Israeli ruling class, as all capitalist ruling classes must maintain and extend its power. How to do this has become a conflict among Israeli rulers.

An important faction of Israeli bosses opposes the concessions promised by the Oslo agreement. The depth of this contradiction became clear with the 1995 assassination of Yitzak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister who had signed off on the Oslo deal.

Even if implemented, the agreement offers Palestinian workers little more than a vicious form of updated apartheid: "…a Palestinian state truncated by a massive system of bypass roads, encircled by Israeli settlement blocs, subject to closures and restrictions on freedom of movement and commerce, with no control of its borders or natural resources…" (Allegra Pacheco, an Israeli lawyer, NEW YORK TIMES op-ed page, 10/5).

Since Oslo, 800 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the West Bank and Gaza to make room for Israeli "settlers"; Palestinian joblessness has tripled; the Palestinian gross domestic product has declined by 21%; and 13,000 Palestinian workers have been jailed.

In the name of a Palestinian state, Yassir Arafat has brought the workers he rules nothing but misery, unemployment and exposure to terror from both Israeli cops and his own Palestinian Authority police force. No wonder they’re rebelling massively.

Arafat is clearly no longer in control of the situation. Even if he were willing to negotiate a cease-fire, there’s every reason to believe he couldn’t enforce it. His leadership faces a serious challenge by Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist gang with a strong base in Gaza, where some of the deadliest battles have taken place. According to the TIMES (10/8), Arafat may not even control the militant Tanzim youth organization, which is supposedly under the banner of his Fatah organization.

But these internal conflicts among Palestinian nationalists don’t spell good news for workers either. The anti-Arafat revolt is taking place in the name of Palestinian nationalism and Islam. It leads straight into a capitalist trap. If Arafat falls, another boss will take his place.

Israeli became a state in 1948, when British imperialism—which had stood idly by while Hitler massacred six million Jews—decided its oil interests could best be served by a divide-and-conquer policy setting Jews against Arabs in the Middle East. After the 1967 Six-Day War, U.S. rulers hopped on this strategy for their own reasons. From the beginning of statehood, the Jewish nationalist-religious line led Israel to become a liberal fascist society—liberal in its internal politics and ruthlessly repressive toward the million Palestinian refugees Israeli independence had forced into exile.

The current fighting only widens this vicious circle. As we wrote last week, U.S. imperialism requires a pacified, stable western flank in the Middle East as it prepares for oil war in the Persian Gulf. But no treaty or back-room wheeling and dealing can smooth over the contradictions the profit system generates. And no amount of nationalist posturing or Jewish/Muslim sermonizing can settle rivalries among competing bosses or make capitalism serve the needs of Jewish and Arab workers.

Only communist revolution can put an end to this murderous scenario. Our Party can’t yet directly influence events in the Middle East. However, we can organize class struggle here around our revolutionary line at work, at school, in the mass movements and in the armed forces where GI’s can be won to understand that the bosses’ wars for oil are not in their class interests. As the situation sharpens throughout the Middle East, our political influence can grow as a function of the work we do now.

Shut Down LA with a General Strike!

LOS ANGELES, CA., Oct. 11 — As CHALLENGE went to press, 40,000 LA County workers went on strike today for a 15.5% wage increase over three years. A judge ordered about 5,000 nurses and lab technicians to remain at work. Workers need to defy the court injunction as part of learning how to smash the whole bosses’ dictatorship.

PLP workers, co-workers and students have been picketing with County workers and will continue to do so. CHALLENGE and PLP leaflets blaming capitalism have been received enthusiastically. Teachers at Manual Arts H.S. and other schools are picketing before school about their upcoming contract. Rank and filers in three unions are beginning to circulate petitions calling on the County Federation of Labor to organize a general strike.

The greedy County bosses would have workers’ families live on $22,000 a year while the capitalists enjoy more prosperity than ever. The rulers say there’s no money for health care or welfare, but they spend a billion dollars a WEEK to maintain a U.S. naval armada patrolling the Persian Gulf to defend Exxon’s oil empire! This strike can become a political battle against racism and exploitation.

‘We’re here to support the strike, not to break it!’

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 4— On Monday, Oct. 2, as soon as I heard that our union "leader" Neil Silver was calling on us mechanics to cross the MTA bus drivers’ picket line I asked some of my fellow workers what they thought about this back-stabbing. "We’re not going to work," they responded. "Instead we should go to the Division to show our solidarity with the striking drivers, to show them we’re not sellouts."

Early the next morning, several black, white and Latin mechanics met near the Division and began walking towards the drivers’ picket line. As we got close, a supervisor appeared to show us the door we could use to go to work "without being harassed by the drivers." We yelled, "We’re here to support the strike, not to break it!"

As we got closer to the drivers, mostly black and Latin, they began chanting against our union. We answered: "We’re here to continue the struggle, shoulder to shoulder with you guys. Any betrayal of you is a betrayal of ourselves." The pickets cheered, embracing us and shaking our hands. Indeed, working class solidarity won the day.

United we began marching towards a nearby corner where some County workers had begun the first day of their own strike. As we got close, the County workers crossed the street to join with us. We all rallied together against the rotten working conditions we all suffer. Motorists honked their horns to show their solidarity. It was indeed a joyous working-class celebration.

Later we had good discussions with the strikers, showing us that many of them are open to the communist politics we presented.

Janitors-MTA Workers: Solidarity Forever

The history of the relationship between LA transit workers and janitors goes back to the 1994 bus mechanics strike. A PL’er at Kaiser hospital was working with the janitors, who at that time were members of Local 399 in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She brought a number of janitors to the picket lines at bus Division 1 where PLP was concentrating its support of the strikers and distributing leaflets and CHALLENGES. Through their efforts, striking mechanics and supporting drivers were asked to speak at a July ’94 Local 399 union meeting. We explained the strike and thanked the janitors for joining the picket lines despite the 100° heat.

A year later these janitors and hospital workers put together a potent challenge to the rotten leadership of Local 399. Their Multi-Racial Alliance slate won 21 of 24 seats on the Local’s executive board. Our Party and a transit comrade were active in this reform victory, voided immediately by the international, led by none other than John Sweeney, now AFL-CIO president!

A core of these janitors has held together all these years. They have withstood the attack of the current Mike Garcia leadership as well as the on-and-off courtship by several fake left Trotskyite groups. The fraudulent election last April by the Sweeney-installed Garcia leadership failed to disrupt them. Party members have remained active with the janitors, both socially and organizationally, including their current battle to recapture the Local union leadership in a new U.S. Department of Labor-supervised election this coming Oct. 27. One hundred and twenty of these janitors came to this year’s May Day march.

It was a pleasant surprise for a Party member—in the middle of a transit strikers’ meeting—to get a call from a janitors’ caucus leader asking where and when to bring down a group of janitors to support the striking bus drivers. Cynicism sown by the bosses and union leaders should never blind us from the eventual rewards to be won from relying on our fellow workers to fight for liberation from the rot of capitalism.

Wen Ho Lee Fiasco Reflects Fight Among Capitalist Factions

As reported in a previous issue, all sides agree Wen Ho Lee spied on other Chinese nuclear scientists for the FBI. Was Wen Ho Lee also a spy for China? Who knows? Who cares? China is now a capitalist country. Capitalist competition includes economic and military espionage. Under communism we will have no nations, corporations or capitalists. We’ll have cooperation, not espionage.

Despite all their posturing, U.S. bosses probably don’t really care either. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, sophisticated Soviet nuclear scientists have been roaming the world, waving resumés and "secrets." Furthermore, the investigation into the "leaking" of U.S. nuclear secrets began when it appeared that China had obtained the design of the U.S. W87 nuclear warhead. This warhead is useless without a MIRV (multiple independent re-entry vehicle) delivery system, in which one missile takes off with 10 warheads and then comes down on 10 different targets. But China’s whole nuclear arsenal contains two dozen single-warhead ICBMs (the U.S. has 8,000 nuclear warheads mounted on missiles). Nor is China spending the money necessary to develop MIRV. China's total annual military budget of $35 billion is approximately what the U.S. spends on nuclear weapons alone.

The Struggle For Power In Washington

The case against Wen Ho Lee began in the fall of 1998 with secret hearings of an U.S. House committee chaired by Christopher Cox. He and many other right-wing Republicans represent a faction of the U.S. ruling class unconcerned with guaranteeing access to cheap Mid-East oil. They want to use high-energy prices to profit from domestic oil and oil produced in Latin America and Asia. They also want to invest heavily in the aerospace industry, for strategic weapons, rather than on more and better-paid troops (as their Clinton/Rockefeller rivals believe is primary for an invasion of Iraq). Portraying China as an immediate nuclear threat fuels their goal.

This right-wing faction sees Clinton, a servant of Rockefeller/Big Oil, as its main internal enemy. They hated Clinton’s policy of improving relations with China and granting China permanent normal trade relations. They think increased trade with China will hurt domestic manufacturers who are also part of their political base.

In February, after the 1999 the impeachment of Clinton failed, the Cox Committee began leaking information about security failures in the Department of Energy (DOE) during Clinton’s administration. The Cox Committee’s star witness was DOE intelligence officer Notra Trulock. Trulock claimed Wen Ho Lee’s spying threatened the lives of "tens of millions of people." The DOE awarded Trulock its $10,000 Special Act Award as a payoff for pinning the blame for the DOE’s security lapses on Wen Ho Lee. The DOE had more leaks than a colander. There were over 500 laboratories and aerospace industry locations from which the Chinese (or anybody else) might have obtained the codes for the W87 warhead.

Trulock, however, betrayed his Clinton-Administration bosses. He participated in a right-wing web site calling for the impeachment of Clinton, DOE Chairman Elliot Richardson and Janet Reno. Eventually the Clinton administration disbanded Trulock’s office. He took his ten grand and went to work for TRW, a military contractor.

China Vs. The U.S.

Regardless of the failed Wen Ho Lee case, it seems clear the ruling class want to use trade relations, cultural exchanges and other tactics to avoid confrontation with China now. They recognize that China, with its huge population and resources, is a future threat. Ultimately they may have to go to war with China for control of Asia. But for now they want to avoid anything that will divert their military forces from concentrating on the Middle East and its oil. Their strategy is to consolidate control of the Persian Gulf before getting involved in a war with a major power like China. Our strategy is to expose their plans, unite against these spymasters and use every class struggle to win workers to fight for communism.

Yugoslavia: Fight for Oil Pipelines Behind Televised ‘Democratic Revolution’

He "storming" of the Parliament building in Belgrade, that put an end to the Milosevic regime, was carefully orchestrated by bourgeois forces which no longer found Slobo useful. Indeed, this "democratic revoluiion" was televised for the benefit of Skyplus, CNN, etc.

Behind the smoke-screen of media spin about this "democratic revolution" lies a tangled web of steadily sharpening inter-imperialist rivalries. The struggle to control oil and use it for world domination lies at the heart of them.

In 1999, U.S. rulers and their NATO pals conducted a 78-day reign-of-terror bombing over the former Yugoslavia. They pulled off this atrocity in the name of "human rights." The big gangsters in Washington, Paris, London and Berlin blew up factories, bridges, and school busses, supposedly to stop genocide in Kosovo and free Serbia from the Milosevic dictatorship. Milosevic had killed his share of workers, but he was a choirboy compared to Clinton and the other NATO heads of state. In their eyes, Milosevic’s real crime was an attempt to build a network of oil refineries and pipelines that would have made him a major regional energy player independent of U.S. and British oil firms in the scramble to market Caspian crude.

The election of Vojislav Kostunica doesn’t change the essence of this conflict. If anything, the deadly rivalries over oil have sharpened since the bombing ended in June 1999. Milosevic seems to have become the fall guy for his own faction. His downfall appears to have been engineered with the collusion of U.S., German, British and Russian bosses (see, 10/9; EL PAIS, 10/7; and DER SPIEGEL, week of Oct. 9).

The in-fighting over Balkan oil routes among major U.S., European, and Russian energy companies is more intense than ever. Russia’s giant LUKoil has expressed an interest in buying up Serbia’s presently state-owned firm, NIS. When we reported the 1999 air war, we noted that Russian oil bosses were using Greek energy companies as an intermediary for the Balkan deal. No longer.

LUKoil is also making deals to rebuild the oil refineries at Novi Sad and Pancevo that NATO’s bombs destroyed. These plants form part of Milosevic’s grand scheme to become an oil baron—build a pipeline northward into Serbia from Skopje in Macedonia, which stands to be a hub for Caspian export pipelines. The oil, mainly Russian, would then flow westward through existing pipelines to the Adriatic and the western European market.

Another planned route, from Bulgaria through Skopje to Albania, has become the focus of intensified conflict since the air war. This line, known as the AMBO project (Albania-Macedonia-Bulgaria Oil) was originally the brainchild of Exxon rival BP Amoco and the oil industry equipment giant, Halliburton. Now it’s become an open-season prize. Texaco, French giant Total Fina and LUKoil, have all entered the contest. Much more significantly, so have Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Both the U.S. government and the European Union (EU) rulers are competing fiercely to finance it. The EU, in blessing Kostunica, offered billions to rebuild Serbia. Clinton & Co. are planning similar "gifts."

The failure of the NATO bombing raids to settle the situation has forced the main wing of U.S. rulers to change its tactical line in the Balkans. Two years ago, former Bush Secretary of State James Baker said the U.S. had no interest in the struggles there. Baker happens to be an Exxon heir and leading mouthpiece. The U.S. rulers’ position remains that the Middle East holds the grand prize in the struggle to control world oil markets. But LUKoil’s Balkan moves show the Russian rulers still intend to use Balkan pipelines as a springboard to restore Russian imperialism to super-power status. The turning point in U.S. rulers’ thinking came when Russian troops spat in NATO’s face by seizing the Pristina airport just after the bombing had ended in June 1999. Now the influential Exxon-funded Brookings Institute says that the U.S. must maintain a permanent military presence in the Balkans.

U.S. rulers may have helped engineer Milosevic’s downfall and Kostunica’s rise to power. But they haven’t settled anything. Kostunica himself isn’t going to be a patsy for U.S. interests. He represents a faction of Serbian bosses who remain determined to get a big piece of the oil pipeline action. One indication showing that Kostunica has no intention of letting either Kosovo or Macedonia slip from Serbian control. "Further bloodshed over the issue, with NATO soldiers in the middle, can’t be ruled out." (Wall Street Journal, 10/9)

Imperialism makes further bloodshed inevitable. Russian and U.S. bosses have diametrically opposed interests in the Balkans. German and other European rulers have already created their own independent-of-NATO military top priority in the wake of the 1999 air war. Another armed conflict over Balkan oil routes is only a matter of time.

Turn Strikes Into School for Communism

After a long drought, there is a modest increase in the number of strikes. A tremendous revolutionary potential exists in this outburst of anger. Our Party is more seriously involved in strikes and contract battles, fighting for the political leadership of the workers.

These experiences bear out our strategy of being active in mass organizations. From inside the unions we are in class struggle against our bosses, the politicians and the law. New comrades have joined the Party as a result of our using communist politics to fight the bosses. Our communist analysis, leadership and long-term personal relations have made it clearer that we have to eliminate capitalism and build a mass PLP that fights for revolution and a communist society.

As pressure builds for another Middle East confrontation, the political stakes are very high. We’re in a life-and-death battle for the hearts and minds of the working class! The rising discontent among the workers and growing number of strikes is occurring during increasing tensions over oil in general, and Iraq in particular. The dominant wing of the ruling class is consolidating its political position while trying to win the masses to support a Mid-East ground war.

For nearly a month, workers waged a bitter strike against Raytheon, the country’s third largest war contractor that NETTED over $400 million in profits last year. Strikers were arrested on the picket lines. There were 10,000 Raytheon workers in 1990. There are 2,700 now. Jobs are moving to low-wage, non-union areas.

Bath Iron Works workers struck against the IAM union leadership. The workers rejected the contract twice because the proposed High Performance Work Organization would eliminate 500 jobs. In both strikes, the union leadership has wrapped itself in the bosses’ flag.

The rulers need to win the very workers they are attacking, to support their war plans. Auto, steel and aerospace workers and those in related industries produce the weapons used by the rulers to enforce poverty-level wages around the world and kill millions on behalf of Exxon’s oil empire. BUSINESS WEEK warns the bosses they must share some of their immense wealth with the workers if the bosses want them to support the "national interest" (i.e., the coming wars). Yet the rulers must continue their attacks to accumulate more profits than their competitors and the additional billions needed to keep capitalism in power. At the same time they are trying to win us to sacrifice our class’s sons and daughters in their wars.

We should respond to these strikes and potential strikes more vigorously. We must reject the trade union approach. We put the needs of the working class first. We build strike support and working class unity, nationally and internationally. We must win workers to see that any strike will "lose" if we aren’t prepared to break the law. After all, communist revolution is the ultimate breaking of the law.

We fight to make strikes "schools for communism." This means seizing this opportunity to train a new generation of communist leaders. Invaluable lessons will be learned by attempting to bring revolutionary communist ideas into the heat of class war.

LA Times: Workers’ Ally Or Eastern Establishment Mouthpiece?

Why is the LA TIMES giving favorable publicity to strikers, from janitors to actors to transit and County workers? Why has it continually attacked Mayor Riordan and the members of the County Board of Supervisors?

In every field, the Eastern Establishment/Rockefeller wing of the U.S. ruling class is attacking the old LA rulers. The LA TIMES has become a key weapon since the CHICAGO TRIBUNE bought it. The old TIMES favored increased U.S. military involvement in Colombia and ground troops in Kosovo and was critical of Clinton’s foreign policy in the Middle East. The new one exposes the mayor and police chief for hiding police corruption and the Board of Education for building a huge new high school for poor Latino youth on a toxic dump. Six years ago during the bus strike, the old TIMES condemned bus mechanics as "greedy." Now it says they’re not and deserve public support, along with the County workers. It appears the Federal government, the AFL-CIO and the LA TIMES are the "good guys" and the LA city government is the bad one.

In reality the dominant wing of the ruling class is engaged in a long-term fight to take control of the country’s second largest city. It has two aspects: either destroy—or bring into line—the politicians who do not toe the line, and win the working class to patriotism and allegiance to this main wing of rulers through the Democratic Party and the unions.

Big Bosses On the Offensive Against Competition

This fight has sharpened. The Eastern Establishment is on the offensive nationally to consolidate its power. It faces imperialist rivals increasingly asserting independence. It also must prepare for a coming oil-inspired ground invasion of Iraq. It needs a loyal working class willing to send its sons and daughters to war to defend these bosses’ oily profits, a working class that thinks capitalism is the best system.

The bosses remember the 1992 LA rebellion in which black and Latin workers, joined by white youth, rose against this racist system. These same workers ride the buses, go to County Hospitals and to the LA public schools. The LA TIMES wants to convince them that capitalism is "considerate" of the working class.

The coming city-wide elections will see Rockefeller puppet and pro-AFL-CIO Antonio Villaraigosa running for mayor of LA, with the TIMES playing its role. In light of this, how much more important is CHALLENGE to the cause of workers’ liberation?

Union Leaders—Friends or Foes?

LOS ANGELES, October 10 — The AFL-CIO is being touted as the workers’ "savior." But when transit union leader Neil Silver told transit mechanics to cross the drivers’ picket lines, workers said, "Kill the bastard!"

Transit unions, by stopping anti-worker transit zones and maintaining union wages, appear to be on the workers’ side. In reality, they’ve accepted prison labor to clean buses, replacing union workers making $12 hourly. They’ve allowed introduction of 2- and 3-tier wage levels. LA County will be forcing thousands of welfare recipients into transit and County jobs at the lowest wage tier. The union leaders are silent about this racist assault. PLP members and friends have attacked it.

Transit workers responded positively to PLP’s leadership during the current walkout, some asking to join PLP. Workers can and will fight for our own class interests and for workers’ power when given the opportunity.

• The mechanics who refused to cross the drivers’ picket lines and led their co-workers to march against their own leadership’s strike-breaking orders demonstrate this potential, as do those picketing with County workers, defying divisive union hacks to unite our whole class against racist 2-, 3- and 4-tier wage schemes.

• The drivers and mechanics meeting to plan further actions prove workers will act as a class.

• The youth and workers bringing food and money to transit picket lines see that the working class must rely on itself and its revolutionary communist party, not on any group of bosses.

• Striking workers, friends and members of PLP, have gone to college campuses to discuss the strike and the fight for worker-student unity and revolution. Similar discussions are occurring among janitors and garment workers. More is needed and possible—in factories, schools and barracks!

The unions’ main slogan is, "Give us our fair share." They don’t want workers to think as a class and fight racist, fascist Workfare, welfare cuts or racist attacks on students, much less on Iraqi or Palestinian workers! They want workers thinking, "Give me mine and Rockefeller can have his." That can lead to supporting wars to protect the big bosses’ empire.

Workers cannot fight for our "fair share"—leaving the bosses with their "share," super-profits! Workers produce all value; the bosses steal most of it. The only "fair share" for workers is the whole ball of wax.

Workers Stand Up for Class Struggle Union Candidate

"Do they really work here?" asked a skeptical candidate in the opposition when he saw the endorsements. A dozen workers came out in print endorsing our opposition candidate with comments like, "…One with an intrinsic knowledge of the power possessed by the working class," and "…addresses problems that worker face around the world and how they relate to us."

The political, class-conscious nature of these comments continued in testimonials of class struggle on the shop floor and in union meetings. A group of workers from a subcontractor added their voice: "May your fight and our fight grow in strength and unity!" they wrote, exposing poverty wages paid by this subcontractor to a mostly "minority" workforce.

"…It is refreshing to see a candidate still concerned about the effects of racism so rampant in the workplace," added a veteran with over 20 years seniority.

A shop steward from another union at the plant and a long-time activist from another local at the same company in a different state rounded out the picture. "There are only two sides," said the shop steward "workers’ power or bosses’ power." We "stand for working-class power."

"It’s kind of radical," protested still another candidate in the opposition. " I could never get anybody in my building to say things like that. I don’t think it’ll win you any votes. Of course, I believe it."

"Well, they say things like that in my building," answered our candidate.

"…And people are starting to think like that in my building, too," interrupted yet another member of the opposition.

"Give me a couple of hundred to pass out in my plant," added a fourth candidate, ending the debate.

Workers are listening to what we say. They are discussing it amongst themselves. Carrying on a principled, class-conscious, anti-racist, internationalist campaign is not only possible, but also means something. Our challenge now is to place this campaign in the context of the potential "strike-wave," and increasing preparations for war to take Baghdad for Exxon-Mobil.

We can bust the limits imposed by narrow, trade union politics. The same bosses willing to sacrifice our sons and daughters in the Mid-East eliminate our jobs and speed us up. Our campaign has taken dead aim at these twin attacks. Our battle cry must be, neither oil wars nor economic attacks at the point of production. As one of our shop floor organizers said, with some pride, "They’ve never seen a campaign like this before!"

Mid-West Union Campaigner:

Nader Has Nada for Workers and Youth

BOSTON, MASS, Oct. 3 — Thousands of students and workers protested the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush here today. Many were appalled by the exclusion of Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader. PLP members distributed CHALLENGES and over 1,500 leaflets entitled: "No Matter Who’s Elected, Organize to Fight Next Oil War"; and, "Nader: Not a Real Alternative."

Thousands of people, mostly students, have turned to Nader as a leader because they’re fed up with mainstream political parties and the illusion of U.S. democracy. Nader says he represents the working class men and women of this country and wants to take the power out of the few who run the corporations and put it "back into the hands of the masses."

The previous Saturday, PLP members from Boston Univ. and Harvard attended a student-power conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where we raised the likelihood of war in Iraq and struggled against those who urged students to vote. Following one teacher’s statement on ROTC targeting working-class high school youth for recruitment, we made the call for soldiers to turn the guns around on their officers. During the day we met several students interested in PLP’s views. The next day we distributed over 1,000 leaflets at a Nader rally, exposing him as a servant of the biggest bosses.

The bosses’ main use for Nader is to try to encourage the disaffected and cynical youth to participate in the capitalist system. At the same time the rulers have to keep him somewhat isolated, so that masses of workers won’t be swayed from their main henchman, Al Gore. At some of the rallies supporting Nader, the AFL-CIO organized pro-Gore thugs to intimidate and sometimes physically attack Nader supporters at the rally. (Are they enemies? See box.) The AFL-CIO leadership clearly encouraged disunity among the protestors and divisions between workers and students instead of worker-student unity against the bosses and the cops.

During this week, we learned that many workers and students who support Nader are open to, and even support, PLP’s analysis of the failure of capitalism to meet the needs of workers and students. We also obtained a number of contacts interested in PLP’s organizing to oppose the next Mid-East oil war. Relying on the electoral system to choose between one oppressor over another oppressor is not the solution to the racist, sexist system of capitalism. We must try to win these workers and student to building a communist revolution.

The U.S. ruling class knows many workers and students are disenchanted with the two-party system, many realizing that the capitalist class controls both parties. Enter Nader. Rather than weaken the Gore candidacy or tilt the election one way or another, Nader’s job is to mobilize these disenchanted who might not vote at all and draw them back into the electoral system.

Instead of joining the presidential debate protestors, Nader tried to attend the debate itself, but was barred, only reinforcing the idea that Nader is "outside" the capitalist electoral process. Many on the left see him as a true pro-worker/student alternative to the Democrats/Republicans. Many "socialist" parties even endorse his candidacy. However, the liberal bosses know Nader is part of the "responsible" (read: loyal) opposition. Despite any tactical differences with Gore/Bush, Nader is building a pro-U.S. nationalist/patriotic movement. Nader doesn’t want to destroy capitalism. He only wants to reform it. (For more information on Nader’s links to the ruling class, see CHALLENGE, Sept. 20, page 4.)

This past spring, Nader and the AFL-CIO were united in opposing China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, waging a pro-U.S. imperialist campaign. Today, Nader is attacking Gore as a corporate stooge while the AFL-CIO supports Gore as pro-worker. Are they now enemies? Far from it!

Nader and the AFL-CIO continue to condemn super-exploited and forced labor in China, Latin America, Saipan and Southeast Asia but hypocritically do not expose and condemn these same atrocities here in the U.S. Nader’s Public Citizen Global Trade Watch (GTW) says on its website: "…China continues to ignore its 1992 Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. prohibiting trade in prison labor products." Yet, nothing is said about products made with prison labor in the U.S., both for export and domestic use! The U.S. has jailed more people (2/3 black and Latin) than any other nation, a half million more than China (which has nearly FIVE times the population of the U.S.).

The AFL-CIO even defends U.S. prison labor: "The AFL-CIO backs the idea of inmates working but wants it done ‘carefully.’" (Wall Street Journal, 6/29/99)

By ignoring racist prison labor in the U.S., the AFL-CIO and Nader’s GTW help support it. By not tracing the source of exploitation in the U.S. and in other countries to the capitalist system, they set us up to unite with U.S. capitalists in a patriotic nationalist movement, against workers abroad. The leadership of the organizations involved in anti-globalization, anti-Democrat/Republican protests—from the national unions to non-governmental organizations like Nader’s—are trying to channel the anger of honest, principled workers and students opposed to exploitation and oppression into supporting U.S. imperialism. The AFL-CIO has been the "point man" for U.S. imperialism for 50 years, working hand-in-glove with the CIA to crush rank-and-file worker rebellions worldwide. If trade wars turn into shooting wars, a patriotic nationalist movement will suck their followers into supporting such wars.


Why I Was Won to PLP

During the 1999 UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) strike there were a lot of difficult times, but the biggest struggle was with myself. To be apathetic is not very difficult in this country. "I have enough problems of my own without worrying about others" is something heard a lot. We become invididualistic and fall for stupid phrases like, "Even if I wanted to, there’s nothing I can do"; or, "Be happy with what you got," as if we had anything.

Today, I understand a lot I didn’t know before. The long student strike at UNAM not only taught me to hear people but to listen carefully to what they say. I saw how a worker, peasant or housewife can teach many more things than can be learned from a book. They might not know statistics, dates or who Lenin or Marx were, but they know what being exploited means. They know what it is to try to have a better life but cannot because it doesn’t depend on them. To them, a university is something they will never see from the inside.

I was not the only one to see things that way. Many other brothers and sisters did also. A fuse needed to be lit. Our Party tried to reach many of these people, although not enough. But through our study groups and personal conversations we helped light this fuse.

How did the Party do during the strike? Well, I was one of those won to the Party, which leads to an even more important question: WHY was I won? After knowing the Party for several months I realized the only way to change things was to fight for communism, for a society where racism and "races," religions and classes are things of the past.

We must forge ourselves to become red soldiers in the fight for a better world, and help light even more fuses. I know it’s not that easy but once that fuse is lit, your mind becomes free and nothing can change that. Once we unite with those communist ideas, there’s no government, no matter how fascist, capable of stopping us.

Red General Strike Council Activist, UNAM, Mexico

PLP Has Answer for UNITE Organizers

A series of collective struggles inside our Party group have helped us advance our political work. We can overcome many difficulties if we rely on the working class.

I carried these ideas to two friends who are organizers for UNITE, the garment workers union. They are always talking to me about the problems in unionizing. I pointed out to them that workers have always organized themselves, under the most difficult conditions, if they are given correct leadership. It’s difficult to do that with a sellout union—many UNITE members’ earnings barely reach the minimum wage and they have very little job security. So it’s important not to limit our talks with them to simply joining the union. Rather we should broaden our organizing to include fighting exploitation, wage differentials, racism, sexism and all the other divisions the bosses create among us. We must rely on workers, while helping them in on-the-job struggles.

Based on this, we win workers to understand what PLP advocates: that the only solution is to fight for a society where workers rule—communism.

A NYC Garment worker

More on ‘White’ Skin Privilege’

The LA comrade’s letter (9/27) says it seems ludicrous to say that some group of workers is privileged for having less surplus value stolen from them than the rest of working class because of the "white skin privilege" since they, too, need to work in factories and are endangered with layoffs also. But in capitalist society, this privilege is a fact of life. I think the majority of workers agree with the main liberals who say that white workers benefit from racism, since many people are saturated with ruling class ideology. Marx, Engels and Lenin expounded throughout their lives that communist theory cannot be learned from just working in factories, but only from a lifetime of practice and theory in the Party.

The fact is that most workers may know generally what profit is but are not aware of what surplus value is nor do they consider it stolen. In fact, most bosses and certainly their theorists don’t know what surplus value is either. They think it comes from the circulation process as well as the production process. As Marx discovered, "Surplus value and the rate of surplus value are, relatively, the invisible and unknown essence that needs investigating." Workers may feel "cheated" but that’s a far cry from knowing that they are not paid for most of their work—as a class—that value has been stolen from them, as the LA comrade puts it.

It may be "stolen" but they won’t know this until they understand the Marxist theory that explains it. It is not stolen in the sense that someone mugs you on the street. To understand that is not only to be a worker but to be immersed in Marxism-Leninism, within a communist party like the PLP.

NY comrade

In the Party, but Never Alone

I am a communist and a freshman student on a State University of NY campus. I’ve been in the Party for almost two years and very committed to the struggle against capitalism. At times, it has been hard to push the Party’s ideas and still be considered "cool" with my non-communist friends. However, I’ve always had my club’s support and still do. Nevertheless, due to distance it’s impossible for me to attend club meetings or speak to a Party member on a daily basis.

In the past I’ve attended Dialectical Materialism classes, joined in protests, helped organize a walkout and been active in many things, but was never alone. I always functioned in a collective. Now I’m the only Party member on my campus. It is difficult (but possible) to advance the Party’s ideas alone. I’ve met other college Party members who prepared me for this, telling me how to "be in it, to win it," how to form study groups—basically how to spread the Party’s ideas and build a base.

Knowing I have the support of my club and my Party has kept me focused. I feel more committed to PLP than ever before. I thank my comrades for mailing me CHALLENGE, for calling me to see how I’m doing, for sending me e-mails, for writing letters, helping me with school papers and visiting me. I truly appreciate it. As I tell my friend Neo, communism is not a figment of our imagination, it’s a way of life. It is possible. Keep selling CHALLENGES, recruiting members, spreading the Party’s ideas.

Red tig turned college Red

What Che Stood For

This past October 8 marked the 33rd anniversary of the murder of Ernesto "Che" Guevara by CIA-led commandos in Bolivia. Che was indeed one of the most interesting human beings in the revolutionary upsurge during the ’60s. A CHALLENGE supplement on Che, published at the time of the 20th anniversary of his murder, detailed his political error of relying on the "guerrilla foco." He believed that "a few good guerrillas"—not a mass-based revolutionary communist movement—could make a revolution.

That supplement also mentioned Che’s criticisms of Soviet-style socialism which are very close to those made by PLP. He saw the Soviet economy using capitalist methods and laws and said that no matter how small, these capitalist influences will overturn socialism. Che championed political—not material—incentives as the motivation for building a workers’ society.

Although Che is a national hero in Cuba, his criticisms could apply there today where the influence of capitalism is rampant.

We in PLP say that socialism itself carried too many remnants of capitalism (like the wage system). We believe that the road to workers’ liberation is to fight for the abolition of wage slavery and build a society where production corresponds to the needs of the entire working class: communism.

A NYC Reader

AIDS Not a Killer?

Although the article "King Leopold's legacy: Imperialism and the Origin of AIDS" (9/13) makes many good points, here is a counterpoint to the mainstream HIV/AIDS theory.

AIDS in Africa is diagnosed by four clinical symptoms: diarrhea, fever, persistent cough and weight loss of greater than 10% in two months. HIV antibodies are not required (World Health Organization-WHO-definition established 1985). Despite this loose definition, 99.95% of Africans do not have AIDS; 97% of HIV-positive Africans do not have AIDS. TB, malaria and measles far outnumber AIDS in Africa. AIDS is not the leading cause of illness or death in any African nation (WHO, November 1999 Weekly Epidemiological Record; Harvard University Global Burden of Disease Study, 1996; WHO, Geneva 1996 Fighting Disease, Fostering Development).

The article states, "HIV/AIDS will kill 67% of today's teenagers in some African countries." This seems to refer to a report by Robert Gallo that 67% of blood specimens collected in 1972/73 from 75 Ugandan children were HIV positive (Saxinger et al., 1985). Why, 22 years later, isn't Uganda depopulated?

UCSF researcher Tom Coates in Washington, D.C. on 7/28/99 revealed three AZT clinical trial studies being conducted on pregnant women in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria. AZT is known to cause birth defects in pregnant women and was shelved in the late '60s as a possible cancer drug because it was found to be too toxic for human consumption. Now Glaxo-Wellcome, the pharmaceutical giant, has every intention of dumping AZT on the people of Africa.

For anyone who wants more information on AIDS dissent, e-mail for an information packet which will give you many sources from the Perth group in Australia to retrovirologist, Peter Duesberg, at Berkeley, etc.


AIDS Denial Is a Killer

Since the AIDS epidemic began, a handful of "AIDS dissidents," led by the University of California-Berkeley's Peter Duesberg, have denied that HIV causes AIDS. Though scientifically discredited, Duesberg's monstrous hoax received new lifeblood when President Mbeki invited him to join a South African AIDS panel. However, evidence linking HIV and AIDS is as compelling in Africa as in the U.S. For instance, among Ugandans aged 25-34, HIV-positive people were 27 times more likely to die than HIV-negative people. Projections of the impact of AIDS on Africa's youth are not Gallo's, but were reported by UNAIDS in June 2000.

Currently, infection rates are based on many clinical studies, using highly accurate antibody and PCR tests. Early on, African doctors noted the alarming rise of ailments as exotic in Uganda as in Iowa: severe wasting in well-nourished young patients; cryptococcal meningitis, PCP, AIDS dementia. It is racist for Duesberg to suggest that African doctors can't distinguish between these and endemic diseases.

(Note: Reuters reported on Oct. 3 that South African doctors urged an end to a raging debate over President Thabo Mbeki's controversial AIDS views, saying it was confusing people who should be focusing on fighting the spread of the AIDS virus. The South African Medical Association (SAMA) said it was concerned at the growing number of people who were now questioning the existence of the AIDS precursor, the HIV virus, after Mbeki questioned the causal link between the two. "The point we want to raise is that at this point in time there shouldn't really be discussion about whether HIV causes AIDS," said SAMA chairman Zolile Mlisana. "Whether HIV causes AIDS or not is not a matter of speculation, it's a question of scientific fact.")

At present, malaria and TB kill more Africans than AIDS. But HIV has an 8-10 year incubation period, and has only recently arrived. Another decade will pass before millions of infected people die, during which countless others will be infected. Malaria and TB mainly kill the very young and old. AIDS will have a greater impact because it kills the young and middle-aged, those of child-bearing, family-supporting and teaching age.

Mbeki has said that the real cause of AIDS is poverty. He's right! Without imperialism's crimes, the pandemic would have never happened. But coming from the president, in bed with the International Monetary Fund and national bosses, this expresses the utmost cynicism. Picture an inner city high-rise in flames, while children jump from windows. On the sidelines stands the fire chief, shaking his head: "They're dying because they are poor, what can we do?"

Unlike harmless crackpot theories, AIDS denial has lethal consequences. It's as bad as holocaust denial, because it disarms the international working class from fighting against this holocaust.

[Sources: Nunn et al. (1997) BMJ 315:767; Durban declaration (2000), Nature 406: Cherry (2000) Nature 406:113; UNAIDS report, Geneva, 6/2000; Schwartzlander et al (2000) Science 289:64; Ackah et al. (1995) Lancet 345: 607. Evidence that HIV causes AIDS is convincingly summarized at]

Red Scientist

Capitalism Can’t Conquer AIDS

The debate about the origins of AIDS in Africa seems to be missing a key element. Neither the scientific or political forces organized around Mbeke nor those organized by the UN and the imperialist AIDS establishment will never permanently conquer the disease. Some of the medical triumphs of the now failed revolution in China are very pertinent here.

A British surgeon, Dr. Joshua Horn, who practiced in revolutionary China, recorded his experiences in a fascinating book, "Away With All Pests." Chapter 9, The Conquest of Syphilis, should be read by anyone involved in the fight against AIDS.

As the communists saw it, the solution to abolishing any disease is not simply toi reduce it to its medical components. Medical treatment was not primarily a battle to find the right combination of drugs. The primary causes of syphilis were political. They were found in the invading and indigenous armies fighting in the service of exploiters; in poverty, drug addiction and sexism. In short in feudalism, capitalism and imperialism.

Magic bullets like Salvarsan, or later penicillin, while clinically effective, could not halt syphilis from spreading worldwide. But communist-led revolution did. In 1966, when there were less than 20 cases per hundred million in China, there were 46,561 NEW cases among U.S. troops alone in Vietnam!

Currently a vicious round of wars, all fought in the service of exploiters, are devastating Africa. There are now 12 million refugees shuttling from country to country and countless millions of internal refugees. All the imperialists, especially the French and the U.S., are up to their necks supporting one or another faction in these wars. Infrastructure or costs of drugs (as the AIDS Conference implied) are not the main problem under these circumstances.

I salute all those active in the fight against AIDS and believe that communists who launch an unremitting attack on the liberal-led AIDS establishment will be able to win many honest forces from both camps of the virus/no virus reform debate.

An Anti-imperialist