Behind the religious struggle for shrines and the nationalist battle for turf lies the deadly rivalry among the world's biggest bosses to control Middle Eastern oil wealth. The fate of the USS Cole furnishes a case in point. The Cole was bombed in the Yemen port of Aden. Aden is one of the deepest natural ports in the world. Yemen itself is "the center of a vigorous competition between some of the world's major powers" (Stratfor, 10/13). At issue is domination of the world's major shipping lanes. The U.S., as the "world's only remaining superpower," is seeing its rule over these lanes challenged by the Chinese and Russian navies. For example, a powerful Chinese company with close ties to that country's military recently signed a deal to develop facilities in the Suez Canal. And Russian capitalists have inked a pact to co-operate with Yemen's military.
There's more. Many oil tankers carrying Middle Eastern crude float by Socotra, an island off the Yemeni coast. Socotra itself is strategically placed for monitoring sea lanes in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the increasingly important Indian Ocean.
So the USS Cole wasn't exactly on a "humanitarian" mission when it was bombed. Now Clinton has launched an interplanetary search to find the bombers. The bosses' media are having their usual field day at guessing the perpetrators' identity. Obviously, we have no idea who did it. But one thing is quite clear. The main wing of U.S. bosses is using this event as an excuse to mobilize public opinion in favor of the rulers' plans for a new oil war in the Persian Gulf, most probably against Iraq. CHALLENGE has regularly warned about this.
The BOSTON GLOBE, owned by the NEW YORK TIMES, was quick to accuse Saddam Hussein: "Since the USS Cole had come through the Suez Canal on its way to the Persian Gulf to help enforce the United Nations embargo on (the) regime in Iraq, the tyrant in Baghdad had a reason of state for commanding the crime as well as the characteristic motive for revenge" (editorial, 10/13).
The GLOBE'S owner is a leading ruling-class mouthpiece. This is another example of U.S. rulers concocting an excuse for war. This follows a long line of U.S. provocations, from the sinking of the battleship Maine in 1898, which "justified" the Spanish-American War, to the outright lying by then President Johnson to create the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin "incident," providing the pretext for U.S. escalation of the Vietnam War. U.S. imperialists will stop at nothing to keep a stranglehold on Persian Gulf oil and the waterways that transport it. It would be no surprise if the next U.S. president uses the attack against the Cole as a reason to discipline Saddam Hussein, once the results of the "investigation" are in. But if the Cole bombing can't be pinned on the Iraqis, U.S. rulers will come up with something else.
Another oil war is looming. Only the details remain in doubt. The outcome of the presidential election won't alter U.S. imperialism's need to rule the world's oil supplies and markets. Both Bush and Gore will heed their masters' voice.
The Cole bombing also once again reveals U.S. rulers' key strategic weakness, the political reliability of their armed forces. Why this outpouring of hypocritical "condolences" and "sympathy" for the dead U.S. sailors? The rulers worry that workers in the U.S. military won't enthusiastically bleed and spill other workers' blood for Exxon. They're right to worry! As the situation continues to sharpen, our Party can act boldly to win many workers and others to embrace revolutionary communism as the one road away from capitalism's inevitable wars.
The history of Clinton's "peace" deal for Israel and the Palestinians is being written in workers' blood. The whole point of last summer's Camp David attempted deal was to give U.S. bosses a peacefully secure western flank in the Middle East, to be able to wage oil war in the Persian Gulf. But this imperialist meddling has led only to more armed struggle, with no end in sight.
The Clinton-ordered emergency "summit" meeting in Egypt between Barak and Arafat has agreed to a temporary, shaky cease-fire, but a new, possibly much wider round of fighting may very well erupt soon. When U.S. rulers organized the Camp David summit last summer, they were gambling they could make Israeli and Palestinian bosses knuckle under to U.S. interests. But the gamble has boomeranged, since no amount of diplomatic arm-twisting or sabre-rattling by Clinton & Co. can resolve the sharp internal contradictions of this situation:
* Significant forces within the Israeli ruling class oppose any deal creating a Palestinian state. They feel a standing Palestinian army would threaten Israeli dominance in the region. The Barak government, which acted as Clinton's agent during the Camp David meetings of last summer, has a decreasing internal authority.
* Many Palestinian bosses also oppose a formal settlement, because they reason that a U.S.-brokered arrangement would turn them into an Israeli puppet and hamper their own regional profit ambitions.
* Within Israel itself more than a million Israeli Arabs, who live in dire poverty and under fascist repression, pose a constant threat to the status quo of Israeli bosses' domination. A major internal uprising would make it difficult if not impossible for Israel to defend itself against outside attack.
* The only way such an attack could materialize would be for the Egyptian military to lead it. Right now, Egypt and Israel have a peace treaty. But peace treaties between capitalists are made to be broken. Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president who agreed to terms with Israel, was assassinated by opponents within his own class. And Sadat's heir, current Egyptian president Mubarak, is on shaky ground himself. He faces armed opposition from a coalition of Islamic fundamentalist forces who want Egyptian capitalism to develop independent of U.S. control. So Mubarak might void the treaty. Otherwise he might not survive politically (or even personally).
By forcing the issue last summer, Clinton appears only to have sharpened every major conflict within the Middle East. This doesn't stem from Clinton's drive for his own historical legacy, or his own ineptness. The deeper truth lies in the nature of imperialism. The drive for maximum profits impels all the major powers to fight for supremacy over their rivals and to turn the second-raters into vassals or clients. Capitalism itself is inevitably unstable. It determines its pecking order, settles its major disputes and "solves" its severe unemployment problems all through war. It brokers "peace" deals only to make war. Communists must never tire of advancing this profound lesson to workers. We must act upon it by fighting constantly to build our forces and our Party.
Currently U.S. rulers prefer to deal with a group inside Israel seeking accomodations with the Arafat bunch. The Likud faction led by right-winger Ariel Sharon opposes any deal with Arafat. It was Sharon's presence in the Dome of the Rock (a Moslem holy place) protected by 1,000 Israeli soldiers, that sparked the current violence in the area, in alliance with right-wing religious groups. As we go to press, Sharon--opposing the Barak-Arafat cease-fire brokered by Clinton--has broken off negotiations for a "national unity" government with Barak.
Cutting 4,000 jobs immediately is one part of Chevron Texaco's plan to boost its profit rate. Another part is greater clout against Russian oil bosses in the Caspian region. The combined company's grandest scheme, however, is to expand its already extensive access to Saudi Arabia's unparalleled oil wealth. Today Chevron Texaco and its ally Exxon Mobil buy up the lion's share of Saudi crude exports at below-market prices. An entire U.S. Navy fleet stationed in the Persian Gulf--costing $50 billion a year of U.S. workers' taxes--ensures this sweetheart deal. Saudi rulers, seeking modernization, are now considering reopening their oil fields to direct ownership by the major firms.
The Saudis want only the biggest companies, those that can guarantee maximum exploration, production, refining and sales. By acquiring Texaco, Chevron has leapfrogged ahead of France's Total Fina Elf in line for the Saudi bonanza. But Iraq, with growing Russian, French and Chinese support, threatens to derail the U.S.-Saudi gravy train. Both Bush and Gore have vowed to eliminate the Hussein regime by armed force.
The Chevron-Texaco union reflects a tightening of economic control by the Eastern Establishment. In 1996, Texaco came close to forming an alliance with Chevron's and Exxon's rival British Petroleum (now BP Amoco) to sell its Alaskan crude in Asia. Rockefeller stooge Jesse Jackson helped bring Texaco back in line by exposing racism at the firm. Texaco will not stray again. As they prepare for Desert Genocide II, the most powerful U.S. bosses cannot tolerate such deviations.
As the strike of 4,300 transit workers entered its second month, local bosses were refusing to budge in their drive for hundreds of new part-time drivers at $10/hr. with no medical benefits. The LA Federation of Labor invited Jackson to twist the arms of the MTA. He said he was here "to save middle class jobs" (and the union leaders' asses), in transit and the troubled negotiations of 46,000 County workers.
Jackson is the U.S. government's unofficial troubleshooter with an office on Wall St. His main role is to put out the fires of class struggle, especially when black workers are involved, and steer it back into the Democratic Party. He goes where U.S. imperialism needs him, from Africa to Yugoslavia, from LA to Gary, Indiana, pulling the bosses' bacon out of the fire.
The AFL- CIO and the liberal establishment have a big problem. If they cannot preserve a few thousand higher-paying jobs it will be more difficult to win workers to a movement they view as weak. If the unions are to survive and organize for the Democrats, they have to grow. The AFL-CIO has targeted the huge pool of Latin and immigrant workers, and recently organized 75,000 California home health care workers. They are behind the amnesty movement. They are spending millions to elect Gore, and will try to line up workers to support the next oil war.
At Pasadena's liberal All Saints Episcopal Church Jackson said, "Workers deserve the dignity of [their] jobs. We've got to pay those bus drivers," and "Poor people have to get to work." What he didn't say is that the work they "get to" makes Los Angeles the sweatshop capital of the USA.
The rulers, and the unions are playing both sides of the street. They rely on terror to keep wages down and productivity high. But they also need a "labor aristocracy" of better paid, loyal workers that can be used as examples of Jackson's tired slogan, "Keep hope alive." But a communist-led working class will unite black, Latin, Asian and white, men and women, higher-paid and lower-paid, to break the nationalist grip of Jackson & Co. and march the road to revolution. Our efforts to lead actions and provide political leadership in the transit strike has moved us a little further down that long road.
A leaflet written by a striker who just joined PLP appealed "To garment and all workers.... We are workers...Supposedly slavery ended many years ago. But the truth is that we work like slaves."
Many garment workers viewing the rally welcomed the drivers and mechanics as class brothers, gladly taking their leaflets. Many in cars honked their horns in support. Others entered into lively discussions.
At first some of the drivers were somewhat reserved, fearing insults or attacks from garment workers, especially since many have been scrambling to find alternate transportation to get to work. But unity as one class prevailed.
A week ago, a group of garment workers and three strikers met to organize this rally. They discussed recent CHALLENGE articles entitled, "Are the union leaders friends of the workers?" and "The role of the LA Times." This led to an exchange of views about oil, war and the need for communist revolution. Then we discussed how we could help the strikers and also raise demands of garment workers, most of whom ride the bus to work.
One garment worker said, "We should collect money and food for the strikers." Another commented, "This is tough. Many garment workers, although supporting the strikers, are very much affected by the strike. What's more, what the drivers' union gives them as strike benefits is just about the full wage of many garment workers. But if that's what we need to do, we'll do it."
"I think that at this point," added a striking mechanic, "the best support is political and moral."
"Then why don't we have a protest in the middle of the garment center and invite other strikers to come," declared a garment worker. The new PLP member and transit striker, participating in such a meeting for the first time, said, "I want to write a leaflet explaining the struggle to garment workers." That was how the rally came about.
Many of these strikers have been friends of the Party for years. Some have been reading CHALLENGE, having political discussions and participating in social activities. All these actions can propel discussions in the factories and the bus divisions about the need to build a revolutionary communist movement uniting all workers.
As the strikers streamed into the hall, the group met them with garment-worker leaflets supporting the strikers and blaming city and garment bosses for the conditions that created the strike. Workers grabbed the leaflets out of our hands. They especially liked our picket signs demanding all slave labor out of transit--part-timing, prison labor and workfare wages. When one driver saw the sign, he high-fived a mechanic so hard he almost knocked him over.
After passing out all our leaflets, we walked inside with our signs held high. One driver hugged us as we came up the escalator. Drivers gave us copies of the contract that was eventually rejected. During the meeting, union president Williams, knowing the workers' strong feelings against the contract, called on them to put their faith in sellouts Jesse Jackson and AFL-CIO hack Miguel Contreras to win the battle, rather them having faith in their class struggle instincts.
The 31-month wage progression slashed labor costs by $8 million a year. The money "saved" from the mainly minority workers is an example of the institutional racism that has reduced their wages for 20 years. Racist wage differentials add up to an extra $250 billion in profits off black and Latin workers in the USA.
In our 5-month contract fight, we met management's attacks on absenteeism with demands for full staffing and more flexibility for operators to schedule time off. To achieve full staffing, this contract allows all part-timers to become full-time. New hires will come in full-time.
We have set a precedent for reversing wage progression in the transit industry and we will make damn sure our comrades and co-workers in transit districts around the country know about it. PLP and CHALLENGE are the key links in this chain of developing unity and solidarity.
We owe a debt of thanks to our transit brothers and sisters in LA. Their month-long strike put fear in the hearts of the local bosses and pushed Mayor Willie Brown to force MUNI to make concessions.
But these reform victories are fleeting at best. The U.S. "peace plan" between
Israel and the Palestinians has been shattered. Chevron (based in SF) has
swallowed Texaco, to better compete for control of oil in Africa, the Caspian
and the Middle East. And Exxon-Mobil is pushing for war to control Iraq's cheap
oil reserves. The raises and improvement in wage progression will be more than
wiped out when gas prices go to $3 a gallon and pale compared to the threat of
another oil war.
Mass transit is part of the capitalist infrastructure needed for global competition. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998) provided $215 billion for mass transit over the next six years, to advance "America's economic growth and competitiveness domestically and internationally through efficient and flexible transportation." (U.S. Dept. Of Transportation).
This is behind MUNI demands to expand rush hour service to commercial districts with no increase in the workforce. It fuels demands for "efficiency," wage progression and company changes in discipline, penalties for accidents and use of sick leave. As a leading economic force in SF, Chevron will continue attacking transit workers and grind down the whole working class.
A war economy demands patriotism, sacrifice and efficient production. So while we fight for a better contract, we must look at the bigger picture. Our children will be mobilized to fight an oil war to keep Exxon-Mobil and Chevron-Texaco rich and in control. We need a working class armed with CHALLENGE'S communist analysis. It's the profit system and inter-imperialist rivalry that is driving our quality of life into the dust. MUNI bosses merely carry out that agenda.
With war clouds hanging over the Middle East, the biggest victory has been the growth of PLP. More workers are reading and distributing CHALLENGE, and the Party is stronger due to the increased leadership of black workers. Many drivers fought the boss, built working-class unity, united with communists and rejected the union leadership's appeals to racism and nationalism. AC Transit and MUNI drivers are meeting together and have planned some joint actions. Change marches on.
Marcos let the cat out of the bag when he denied HHC was intending to use more subcontractors, saying that "last time we did it with [union] consent, contracting out 50% of the laundry load HHC hospitals have, saving $50,000 a week."
So what's up with that? The AFSCME leadership organizes protests against using the very subcontractors it agreed to in the past. These sellouts have taken the labor movement to the garbage dump, allowing the bosses to get away with cutbacks, Workfare and everything else.
HHC workers have been without a contract since April. Local 420 president Butler, recently re-elected international vice-president, is very much in bed with the AFSCME leadership that has made no effort to fight for a contract meeting workers' needs. PLP has had a long history in exposing this "marriage," pointing out that these union hacks, in defending the bosses' system, must--be definition--attack the workers.
While PLP has begun to plant the seeds of a new international communist movement, we know we must be patient and have a long-range outlook. Entering mass organizations has enabled us to raise communist ideas in many different ways and from different vantage points. It also makes it harder for the bosses and their servants in these groups to isolate us.
But working in these organizations also carries a danger. We can't be "patient" in the face of greater opportunities to raise the political level of the workers and recruit to the Party. Otherwise, we risk bowing to the politics of the reform struggles which we are part of. With the crisis in the Mid-East, and the threat of oil war against Iraq, we must immediately relate the political nature of the crisis to the class struggles where we are.
To sum up, let's have a long-term approach, but let's fight extra hard for our ideas and for recruitment when the bosses' actions give us greater opportunities to grow.
One positive feature, which some march organizers considered bad, was the absence of politicians national or local. Also, many realize the AFL-CIO is not a trusted ally. The union hacks are supporting a "partial" amnesty which will exclude 5.5 million undocumented immigrants!
Many chanted pro-working class internationalist chants like "Workers' Struggles Have No Borders." One speaker even said there is one working class worldwide and we should all unite and fight for our interests. Another speaker, a Brazilian immigrant, advocated not only fighting to get immigration documents, but also against imperialists like the International Monetary Fund, whose austerity programs attack workers throughout the world. He said that bosses open borders only for investment purposes. He added that the militant struggles of landless peasants in Brazil are very similar to those waged by undocumented workers here in the U.S., saying workers' struggles are the same worldwide.
PLP participated in the march, distributing a leaflet linking the recent racist attacks against immigrants in Farmingville, NY (where two Mexican laborers were brutally beaten by racists) to the situation in the Middle East--racist terror and imperialist war are part and parcel of capitalism. CHALLENGE and our red flags, as well as our chants, were well-received during the march.
Anti-immigrant racism is becoming increasingly bolder. The same day of the march, Sachem Quality of Life, a racist group near Farmingville invited a speaker from the ultra-racist California-based Voices of Citizens Together (VCT). On July 4, anti-racists, including PLP, attacked a VCT rally in Los Angeles.
The rulers are in a bind. On one hand, they will use immigrants as cannon fodder to wage their imperialist wars, but they also need to keep them working for peanuts. So they need racist terror to keep them in line. They cannot solve this contradiction.
PLP members made several promising contacts during the march. Joining the Party is the best response to the bosses' racism.
Come to think of it, there were a lot of firsts this month for my friend. The first time he had participated in a union election campaign; the first time he distributed leaflets at work calling for class struggle, anti-racist, multi-racial unity and international working-class solidarity to answer the bosses attacks; the first time he contributed to a collective discussion about our responsibility to the our class as workers in a "defense" industry; the first time he voted in a union election. This pattern was repeated a dozen times as we recruited new readers and new activists in the plant.
Many hundreds of rank-and-filers voted for us in this recent union election, not enough to overcome the scores of full-time organizers and many thousands of dollars available to the hacks, but enough to put us in the "top tier" of the opposition.
The campaign went beyond the sometimes legal, sometimes illegal, distribution of 5,000 class-struggle flyers throughout the company plants--not to mention the hundreds of additional leaflets distributed in other unions at the plant and among non-union workers in subcontractors throughout the country. Dozens of workers organized van pools and carloads to take rank-and-filers to the union halls, many for the first time. Multi-racial groups of workers jammed our union hall during the lunch hour. Workers reported seeing the union Business Agent almost choke on his cigarette when he saw the carloads emptying into the hall.
Some present union officials, who had fallen out of favor with the "machine", approached us about forming a full slate for the next election. "You guys are great leaders, but you've got to let us edit your leaflets. They are too radical," they warned. As it turned out, our "radical" candidate did better than they did.
More importantly, the activists around the Party immediately began to make plans the day after the election. Encouraged by the good showing, workers estimated how many more organizers we will need and how we are going to raise the thousands necessary to continue to challenge the present "leadership."
But, nobody's waiting around for the next election. One woman asked how our political history affected our work in the union. It was great she came to us instead of succumbing to the anti-communist rumor-mongering of the hacks. After talking with us, she decided the Party and its base were just the people her area needs to carry on the class struggle against the erosion of work rules and jobs. We aim to show her she's right!
Our base has grown and our influence has spread during the last month. More workers in the plant are reading the paper. The bosses--who declared us "illegal" for a while--and their labor lieutenants in the union leadership have also noted this development. We can expect more attacks. In order to sustain this growth, we will need more political and organizational leadership. We can succeed only if more of these new activists join the Party. For starters, we need to recruit more sellers so we can reach all our new readers. Dozens have experienced political "firsts" this last month. Selling CHALLENGE and joining the Progressive Labor Party are two more "firsts" to add to your list!
Mid-West Union Campaigner
PLP'ers Organize Against Oil Inside City Unions
NEW YORK CITY, Oct. 16 -- " CHALLENGE is a beacon for the international working class," reported a worker at a recent PLP leadership meeting. "Articles about the conflicts between capitalists for control of oil production and markets and the absolute need of the Old Money section of U.S. imperialists to intervene militarily in the Middle East are visionary."
CHALLENGE reports that the U.S. rulers' weakest link is their difficulty in winning U.S. workers and youth to fight and massively support an oil war. Therein lies the Party's opportunity and task. How we prepare workers and youth now to go on the offensive against oil war will establish the conditions to build a much larger PLP capable of leading the working class. CHALLENGE is an integral part of this process.
The Party here has a significant concentration among teachers, students and parents. With the classroom as our base, teachers plan to stimulate student discussions and debates about the poison of racism and nationalism dividing the working class in occupied Palestinian areas and Israel. Youth can and must take the lead in the fight against the bosses' oil wars. High school student governments and youth clubs can call for school-wide forums and actions. Plans have been made in several high schools to show a documentary about U.S.-enforced sanctions in Iraq.
As young people prepare to march against police brutality on Oct. 22, we can link youth uniting multi-racially to fight racist police terror in the U.S. with the need for multi-racial unity against terror among workers and youth in the Middle East. Students and teachers can write for CHALLENGE about their impressions and activities. In turn, more youth will read and discuss CHALLENGE, learn about what's going on in the world, what communism is and how to join and build the PLP. The door is wide open.
A PLP hospital worker belongs to the largest union local in NY State, SEIU-1199. It is pulling out all stops to get its members to vote in next month's elections. Our comrade can call for a vote against a war for oil profits in the Mid-East and against an austerity war contract when the current one expires next year. CHALLENGE readers in his hospital can form discussion groups in the hospital cafeteria. More workers can be asked to set up CHALLENGE network distributions and to join PLP. With a determined plan, these goals are realizable. Our other PLP workers can follow these comrades' lead.
Our area leadership is making similar plans with other PLP members who are working in student groups on college campuses, in immigrant workers' organizations, women's and community groups and churches. Look for these reports in CHALLENGE.
In December our area will have its annual CHALLENGE support evening. The themes will be: CHALLENGE leads -- read and distribute CHALLENGE; PLP prepares workers and youth to fight imperialist oil war in the Middle East; Join PLP -- fight for communism, power to the workers.
The struggle is not easy. It requires courage, commitment to task and patience. But the Party has the opportunity to move on several fronts: to expand the limits and move forward in this period of crisis in the Middle East.
Kucek, a VFW member, had rented the VFW hall without the vets realizing he would be holding an openly racist meeting. When the VFW members, mostly white workers (some of whom had fought Hitler in World War II), learned their hall was being used for a racist ceremony they decided to cancel the event and block any racists from entering the hall.
When the racists did turn up, they were confronted by a small band of anti- racists. Kucek, feeling pressure from the anti-racists, questioning reporters and VFW members, claimed he had "chest pains" and was taken away in an ambulance.
The intensification of inter-imperialist rivalry and the worsening conditions of the working class will make the racist, fascist ideas of groups like the Nationalist Movement attractive to sectors of our class. Workers and students must always confront and expose these nazis when they march, meet or rally. We must win workers to fight against racism and for workers power. We applaud the workers and youth who drove these racists back into their hole in the ground.
As usual the campaign has been saturated with lies, mutual accusations, mutual absolving from responsibilities among government officials and a lack of political education for the people. Most people I talk to are dissatisfied with these officials. Despite this, some are very anti-communist due to the atrocious lies about our comrades in the past. Without communism, they fall back on colonial government and/or religion.
On October 1, there was a large protest in Vieques against the U.S. Navy training base, where a resident was killed last year. The protest was designed to revive the momentum of last year's movement.
Many of us had anticipated this march and planned to be there. The Navy and the colonial government knew about it also and prepared accordingly. Only two vessels were at the Fajardo Port, to go to Vieques. One could carry only a limited amount of people; the other was "unserviceable." Many locals denounced this customary government tactic to minimize the people's ability to demonstrate.
We were not allowed to go to Vieques despite several "negotiating committees" going back and forth between the people and the Port Authorities. The crowd was much more militant than these negotiators. In fact, many of these "leaders" are part of the pacifist trend that permeates the movement for removal of the Navy from Vieques.
After the Port Authorities refused to provide transportation for us, we picketed inside the Port Authority facility, extending out to the street. Up to 100 of us picketed for half an hour, chanting, "U.S. Navy Out of Vieques." Meanwhile, demonstrators were being arrested in Vieques. Then many decided to go to another U.S. base, Roosevelt Roads, to which the arrested protesters were being transported. A person I brought, new to the struggle, was impressed.
Many fake-radical political groups have been campaigning about Vieques. For example, the International Socialist Organization had the only newsletter that didn't endorse the electoral process, fasting, or pacifism. They called for organizing, but said nothing about what happens after the organizing starts and the repression begins. Further, these fakes pointed to Ralph Nader as a friend of the workers, and called him the lesser evil.
Many of the protesters do not understand the real causes of the U.S. Navy presence in Vieques: U.S. imperialism's need to train for oil war and for the suppression of popular movements in Latin America.
The marriage of the church and the state is shameful. At the Department of Motor Vehicles a huge sign quotes from the Bible, intending to offer "support" for the driving test.
We need communist revolution, not pacifism and religion.
The facts are what the facts are. Comrades, if you listen closely, you can hear the return of the thunderous winds of war and the drums that play the death march for Iraq's victimized people. The realization of another Persian Gulf War orchestrated by imperialist warmongers and the continued and racist persecution of the people of Iraq are inevitable. The outcome of the forthcoming November elections will not change this disturbing tide of events. Be the winner George W. Bush or Al Gore, the U.S. government and the Presidency itself are nothing more than fascist tools of the dominant capitalist of the hour.
Nationalism vs. Communism. Recently, as tens of millions of people watched the Olympic Games in Australia, several overzealous and/or misled Gold medallist Olympians shamefully draped themselves in the U.S. imperialist banner of the red, white and blue, which monumentally symbolizes racism and oppression. In my opinion, the disgraceful Olympians paraded either unknowingly or unwittingly and desperately prostituted themselves in hopes of receiving the endorsement of a mega contract from the capitalist bosses. This they did on television in front of the masses of the entire world.
I am a black transit worker who recently joined the PLP. Far be it from me to put down the development of a black cultural identity. Without a doubt it is sorely needed. However on the one hand, no wise man in possession of the facts would buy into the propagandist tomfoolery of a known, sinister and unscrupulous FBI snitch, i. e., Al Sharpton. On the other hand, black nationalist Jessie Jackson's recent publication, "It's All About The Money"--which, by the way, features a picture of Mr. Jackson and his son on the cover--dispels all false "truths" and just where his loyalty lies, exposing him for the fascist puppet of the U. S. imperialist machine that he truly is.
In conclusion, the Revolution will not be black, it will not be white, it is and will be a Revolution of the Workers. Workers of the World Unite.
The 1917 Russian Revolution had scared the hell out of capitalists worldwide. Millions stood on bread lines in the West. However, in the Soviet Union there was no unemployment and workers' lives improved dramatically. To prevent workers from embracing revolutionary ideas, politicians in the U.S. and Western Europe instituted "the modern welfare state."
Now the Russians and Chinese are not even pretending to be socialist. The old communist movement is dead, and all those reforms in capitalist countries are fast disappearing. Longer hours for less pay, abolishing welfare, closing public hospitals, privatizing public services, and so forth, the welfare state, no longer needed to prevent revolution, is being torn down.
Workers are well aware of these deteriorating conditions. Here's what one hospital worker had to say about conditions in Chicago's Cook County Hospital:
"Water floods the Material Management department. Walk in the storeroom: water. You might as well get a sailboat to move around there. Something falls on the floor and it just floats on down till it can't move anymore. This is not Lake Michigan!
"There's too much work in Material Management. Workers are stretched out because too much work is put on us. It's crazy, crazy. Hire more people and stop giving us three or four different jobs!"And what's up with the elevators? Always down every time you turn around. One elevator broke down and we have to go to the other, whichever is working. The freight elevator is broken for a long, long, long time. And the R3 elevator works once, then down again. We have work to do, too!"
This makes our lives as hospital workers more difficult and adds to the intense suffering of workers who come here as patients. But as the illusions are stripped away, each of us is confronted by the stark reality of this murderous, racist system. The need to get rid of capitalism becomes clearer by the minute. Rebuilding the international communist movement will not be easy, but we have no other choice. Let's get to work!
Mad as Hell at County
The "socialist" government is now pushing a "new" concept for those of us here in the Southern Cone: "diversity." They tell us we are a "diverse" population with different ethnic groups and we must learn to live with each other. We all "have our own problems, our own ideas and to each his or her own" they tell us--this "diversity" is what "makes us stronger."
What's the purpose of all this? To help fight the racist oppression suffered by the Mapuche indigenous people here? No! On the contrary, this diversity" only divides us and builds more racism. They say a "united" Chile can become a developed capitalist country. Well, racism and oppression of workers are CAUSED by capitalism. The most developed capitalist countries like the USA or Germany are the biggest racists and oppressors of all.
The "socialist" government of President Lagos has also proven to be as rotten and corrupt as any previous government. Recently, some top government officials stand accused of corruption, appropriating public funds for their personal use. Their defense? "It was much worse in previous administrations!"
Next time these politicians tell us to vote for them, we should reject them all. There are no `lesser evils." All capitalists and their politicians are enemies of all workers.
A comrade, Chile
However, sometimes "appearance" is put forward in a one-sided way, as merely an illusion, saying we should look beyond appearance solely to the inner "essence." People say, "You can't tell a book by its cover." That's good advice, but it's important not to be one-sided the other way as well.
There is no "essence" separated from the physical make-up of a thing, a person, a movement or a struggle. In dialectics, the key to understanding "unity of opposites" is that BOTH sides of the contradiction must be considered, although one side may be more dominant than the other. In fact, the two sides of the contradiction help define each other. Understanding how they affect each other helps us see how the situation will develop. If we say that the "outer" is totally unimportant, and the "inner" is all-important, we risk making an idealist error that creates a kind of "spirit" separate from the material world. In other words, you can often tell something about a book from its cover, although of course the inner must also be investigated.
Here's another example: we all know people who act in selfish, anti-working class ways and hurt other people. Yet sometimes they say, "The person who is doing those bad things isn't the `real me.' The `real me' is actually a pretty nice person deep down inside." That is an example of someone trying to pretend to be looking deeper into a him/herself but is actually dodging the truth which is right in front of our eyes. If a person repeatedly hurts other working-class people, then at a certain point that bad behavior does describe that person.
As we learn to analyze situations more scientifically/dialectically, we should struggle both to avoid the one-sidedness of only focusing on the outer appearance, as well as also avoiding the one-sidedness of ignoring facts right in front of us while we imagine some kind of separate, spiritual inner "essence." The inner dynamics shape the outer, but the outer can also shape the inner, just as life experiences and struggle can help shape someone's consciousness.
To figure things out better we must be collective, ask others for their ideas and listen carefully. That's the best way to avoid being one-sided.
I'm a CHALLENGE seller who regularly distributes about 30-35 papers an issue, but could sell a lot more. Sometimes I'm amazed at the way other Party members sell many papers. I would hope they'd share more of their experiences on the letters page. Some questions I've heard from CHALLENGE distributors:
I showed it to some friends, but they didn't like it. What now?
When I asked friends what they thought of the paper, they didn't say much, or said they didn't read it yet. Now what do I do?
I distribute CHALLENGE but I don't really know if people read it. What do I do?
I know people who would take the paper, but I can't get to all of them in one week. What do I do?
If we want people to sell more papers, it's not enough to tell them to do it; we need to TRAIN people. Letters from experienced sellers would be a great help. Also, could we have some lead articles about the importance of CHALLENGE? One comrade said today that CHALLENGE is a visionary paper of the working class. We have editorials about other important issues, Why not about the importance of our own newspaper?
For my part, I just began making a plan to expand my sales. I've mapped out my present readers, what day of the week I can get them the paper and begun a list of prospective readers I will approach. I'll also ask some present readers to take some papers for others. I also plan to call readers to whom I mail the paper and ask them to contribute money for the paper. I've been really bad about that!
I hope people in the Party share their experiences. This newspaper is the lifeblood of the international working class!
A CHALLENGE Reader
We discussed how to use writing to win people to the Party and to write for CHALLENGE. The capitalist class keeps workers down through illiteracy. For the working class to change the world, workers must read and write.
A classmate and I were supposed to write a CHALLENGE article about our first class and submit it before the next class. Our assignment is late. We weren't able to get together to write this article--a possible "F" for effort. My writing partner co-led the first class and provided us with information on how to write with precision. His last words were, "Don't procrastinate. A sense of urgency gets lost when we do this. Write while the issue is hot and fresh on our minds."
I did take some notes to refresh my memory but writing has never been my strong suit. I definitely procrastinate when it comes to writing, for the paper or personally. My work schedule will cause me to miss the second class. Maybe my article can be used for discussion on the do's and don'ts of writing, and on how not to procrastinate!