Workers need to understand all aspects of this situation. Ignoring these differences would be a mistake. Both sides in this bosses' dogfight are vying for mass support. Workers' class interests lie with neither one. Our Party's key interest remains and will remain building a revolutionary communist party--the PLP--that can overthrow the entire profit system and replace it with a society based not on the profit motive but rather on meeting workers' needs.
The current Bush-Gore stalemate reflects the profit system's inability to solve many of the contradictions it creates. The rulers are one class with certain identical interests. When they were threatened with a major enemy, a superpower like the former Soviet Union, the big bosses tried to submerge their differences or put them on hold and unite in an anti-communist crusade. Often when workers conduct militant--sometimes armed--struggle at home, even for reform demands, when the latter greatly threaten profits, the rulers put aside their disagreements and ruthlessly unleash the full force of their state power to smash strikes and rebellions. And then they sometimes disagree on how to smash the workers. But they recognize that the contradiction between capitalists and workers is sharper than any internal division within the capitalist class
In the absence of such revolutionary upsurge or class struggle, the same rulers can enjoy the luxury of competing among themselves. We shouldn't forget that their present ability to squabble internally is based on the working class's momentary weakness and passivity--and we should draw the correct conclusions.
The presidency controls hundreds of billions of dollars in federal money and can award juicy contracts to competing firms in every area from military equipment to environmental protection. The forces behind Clinton didn't completely resolve many disputes with their opponents after defeating them tactically in the impeachment brawl.
One large unsettled matter concerns the future of domestic oil production. Like his father, Bush represents a shaky coalition that includes oil barons in the Eastern Establishment, the domestic oil companies and BP Amoco--Exxon Mobil's main energy rival within the oil "family"--as well as international oil equipment giant Halliburton. Permanently satisfying both sides is an impossible job. Whoever controls the U.S. presidency can use it to weaken their rivals.
For example, a big bone of contention is the potential energy windfall in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). Despite Clinton's recent release of some Alaskan crude as a tactical bone to domestic oil interests, the Rockefeller/Exxon Mobil forces, which generally backed Gore, want to maintain ANWR oil as a strategic reserve in case of war. The BP Amoco-Halliburton gang want to pump this oil for their own commercial gain. When Bush picked former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheyney as his running mate, he raised BP Amoco's hopes by promising to open the ANWR. However, by late September, the Bush camp had toned down this pledge and was calling for opening only 8% of ANWR to "environmentally responsible exploration." Evidently, this compromise satisfies neither BP Amoco-Halliburton nor the Exxon Mobil crew.
An even bigger bone of contention is U.S. imperialism's approach towards Russia's growing influence in the Caspian and Balkan regions (see article, "Dogfight over Russia Policy,"). And the partisan rivalry between the two camps also has an important cultural and ideological aspect which goes beyond even oil politics and the spoils system (see article, "Culture Wars,").
The universal laws of dialectics are at work in this process, as in every other. Opposites are locked in both unity and conflict. The secondary has temporarily become primary. The positions will once again reverse themselves. Quantity has led to quality: the tiny number of votes separating the two candidates led directly to the current fighting. The fighting will be negated--new unity, with some persistent conflict--as Clinton's Hart-Rudman Commission's hidden agenda becomes increasingly public and U.S. imperialism carries out the deadly policies it must implement to square off with its international rivals.
But dialectics isn't limited to internal struggle among bosses. It also governs the growth of our Party and the working class movement. In the class struggle, we are clearly the secondary aspect--for the time being. But we can keep our eye on the ball. We can keep exposing the class enemy and use the knowledge we gain as a weapon to sharpen the struggle against all bosses and build the PLP. We can make quantity turn into quality. As war spreads and fascism intensifies, we can win growing numbers to communism. This will remain our job, regardless of who wins the Bush-Gore wrestling match. And our Party will do its job.
Bush and the Republicans are flagrant racists, who appeal to--and try to expand--a base of bigotry. It's no accident that the racist lynching of James Byrd occurred in Bush's Texas. Bush & Co. put a fig leaf on their racism by giving the limelight to black advisors like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice. This is a thin cover for the truth.
The liberal Democrats sing the same tune in a less easily recognizable key. Gore & Co. pose as the "protector" of black and Latin workers but have consciously enacted a succession of brutally racist policies. In the last eight years, the Clinton-Gore White House has led, and collaborated with, Republicans to:
When the Hart-Rudman Commission's recommendations begin to take effect, the Clinton-Gore years may come to be known as the "good old days." But the groundwork for U.S.-style fascism has been laid by a liberal Democratic presidency. Between one boss and another, there is no "lesser evil." Workers should never rely on capitalist politicians. With "friends" like these, who needs enemies...
There are 4.2 million current prisoners or ex-offenders who can't vote. Of that total, 1.8 million are black. Thirteen percent of all black men over 18 have been disenfranchised.
In Florida, one of three black men can't vote because of "criminal records." They are part of the 800,000 increase in prisoners in the U.S. occurring during the past eight years of Clinton-Gore and their "tough-on-crime" law that has put hundreds of thousands of black men behind bars. They have been imprisoned in far greater proportions than whites because of racist sentencing, for possession of minute amounts of crack-cocaine or because of defective legal defense or because of outright frame-ups by racist big-city police forces. (The current LAPD scandal is just the latest example.)
Black people voted overwhelmingly Democratic. So the tens of thousands of black men in Florida that might have voted for Gore couldn't because Clinton-Gore crime policies jailed them.
It is the liberal Democrats who have enforced this fascist criminal INjustice system. It is ironic that the very black people who have been their principal victims vote for them as the "lesser evil." However, the rulers' use of racism and racist terror (including the prison system), may have boomeranged, to possibly cost Gore the White House.
In partnership with Russian companies, Chevron is building a pipeline to export oil from Kazakhstan through Russian territory. The buyout of Texaco increases Chevron's Caspian stake. When Clinton's Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, traveled to Kazakhstan to bless this deal, the trip reflected "a subtle change in American policy. The United States no longer cares how Kazakh and Russian oil gets to market. American interest in the region has shifted from thwarting Russian hegemony to ensuring the oil makes it to market soon and American firms don't get trampled in the process" (Stratfor, 8/26/00).
This shift, spearheaded by the Bush camp but somewhat supported as well by the Clinton White House, can't sit too well with Eastern Establishment forces who view Russia as a long-term enemy and who, like Cold War guru George Kennan, warn against "trading with the enemy."
Cheney and Bush advisor James Baker, who was Papa Bush's Secretary of State during the 1991 Gulf War, both represent interests that stand to profit from an accommodation with Russian bosses. Halliburton has been serving Russian oil companies since 1991. Last year it formed an alliance with Moscow-based Tyumen Oil. Although Baker is an heir to Exxon and Chase Manhattan millions, he's got a foot in two camps. Like the Bushes, he tries to promote the impossible feat of promoting all U.S. oil firms. Baker's Houston law firm, Baker & Botts, represents a partnership known as the Azerbaidzhan International Operating Company (AIOC). Dominated by BP Amoco, Unocal and Russian oil firms, with Exxon holding a minor stake, AIOC pumps hundreds of thousands of barrels a day in formerly Soviet Azerbaidzhan.
So although both a Gore and a Bush White House would want to keep the guns focused on protecting access to Middle Eastern oil and agree on getting rid of Saddam Hussein, they differ sharply on major related aspects of foreign policy. Ultimately, the rulers will have to resolve this difference one way or another. Russian bosses, also significantly involved, can't indefinitely collaborate with U.S. energy barons in the Caspian and at the same time compete with them over the control of Iraqi oil. Eventually that conflict will also have to be resolved.
Gore agent in Florida, Warren Christopher, a former Secretary of State, has his feet more firmly in the Exxon Mobil camp than Bush agent Baker. Christopher's Los Angeles law firm, O'Melveny & Meyers, is Exxon's chief West Coast mouthpiece. Christopher was also on the original Rockefeller-established Trilateral Commission and served as vice-chair of Rockefeller's Council on Foreign Relations.
So the conflict over policy towards Russia can lead to further fights until one side wins out or temporary compromises are worked out.
Most important are this commission's findings. It warns: "Americans are less secure than they believe themselves to be." It predicts that U.S. soil will become "increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack" and that "large numbers" of U.S. citizens may die at the hand of unnamed "terrorists." It says that such an attack--and only such an attack--is likely to encourage the "American people to be ready to sacrifice blood and treasure." It worries about the military's inability to recruit and retain adequate personnel and also about the "growing distance between America and its military." It estimates that the United States "will be called upon frequently to intervene militarily in a time of uncertain alliances." It makes clear that the defense of Persian Gulf oil is crucial to U.S. imperialist interests.
The commission's findings are wide ranging and complex. Future issues of CHALLENGE will try to analyze all of them. One thing is absolutely clear, however, from the points cited above. Leading U.S. ruling class forces on both sides of the present Bush-Gore spectacle understand they must come together to prepare U.S. society for a long series of wars. They go further, by implying that the only way to mobilize the population to make the necessary sacrifices is to endure--perhaps even to provoke--a major catastrophe on U.S. soil that can be blamed on U.S. enemies.
The plot thickens when the Hart-Rudman crowd reveal the first elements of their plan for preparing this scenario. It is nothing short of full-scale fascism. Here is the blueprint: "Traditional national security agencies (State, Defense, CIA, NSC staff) will need to work together in new ways, and economic agencies (Treasury, Commerce, U.S. Trade Representative) will need to work more closely with the national security community. In addition, Justice and Transportation will need to be integrated more fully into national security processes" (italics ours--Ed).
The quotations above come from the Hart-Rudman's "Phase II" document. "Phase III" is due for release in March 2001, when presumably the new president will have had time to digest it. But the outlines confirm what CHALLENGE has been saying: all the major bosses are deadly serious about militarizing society, disciplining their own ranks, subduing the working class by all available means and preparing for several kinds of war. Gingrich's presence on the commission shows that the BP Amoco-Halliburton gang basically endorses this agenda. The Eastern Establishment backs it to the hilt. Jon Corzine, the Democrat stockbroker billionaire who just paid $65 million to buy himself a New Jersey Senate seat, said early in the campaign: "I would hold off on any major new defense contracts until the Hart-Rudman Commission...finishes its report and makes its recommendations" (public policy address, Feb. 22, 2000).
Despite all differences, U.S. rulers are "bi-partisan" when it comes to preparing for fascism and war.
In 1960 Kennedy's Illinois electoral machine stole votes in Cook County by registering a large number of corpses. The head of that operation was the late Chicago Mayor Daley, who just happens to have been the father of Gore's present campaign manager.
Electoral fraud and intimidation at the polls are as old as the U.S. electoral process itself. We shouldn't be surprised. The fact is that when the bosses fight, they fight dirty, even kill each other (Lincoln, McKinley, Kennedy). The current Gore-Bush recount exposes the U.S. "human rights" act abroad as a stinking exercise in hypocrisy.
Mike is a 25-year veteran of union battles and was a leader of the dramatic 1978 wildcat strike. He has presented a clear program of struggle for the union, not empty promises. The fight over wage progression tops the list. Recently in San Francisco, MUNI transit workers with PLP's communist leadership, cut wage progression from 36 to 18 months. What's more, workers rejected nationalism and anti-communism, and became more involved in the revolutionary movement.
The fight to reduce or abolish wage progression is part of reversing the attack on younger workers, who do the same job as veteran drivers, but for $11.59/hour instead of $22.66. It takes eight years to reach the top rate. Years ago, when the older workers were mainly white and the younger ones mainly black, the fight against wage progression was an anti-racist struggle. Now almost all of the senior workers are black so the bosses divide us by age. They continue to use racist divisions by hiring mostly white technicians in the rail divisions versus black drivers in the bus division.
Mike is bringing national and global issues to the union's agenda, like police brutality, racist sterilization, the battle against sexism and the threat of imperialist war. These issues are every bit as critical--and even more critical--to the lives of union members than the usual "bread and butter" issues on the job.
The anti-communist candidate running against Mike claims that the Landrum-Griffith Act makes it illegal for communists to hold union office. Workers are turning a deaf ear to this red-baiting. Hundreds of Local 689 members have read CHALLENGE many times over the years and support Mike as an incorruptible representative of their interests.
A campaign committee of regular CHALLENGE readers and distributors is holding meetings throughout the Metro transit system. The real challenge, however, is winning workers to embrace the goal of communist revolution. Any gains made in day-to-day struggle can be reversed in an instant as long as the bosses hold power, and organize society for their profits instead of the needs of the working class. As young drivers get active in the campaign, the future will be bright for PLP and the revolutionary movement.
Recently at a club meeting we discussed mobilizing students to join with teachers at the UFT November 16 City Hall demonstration. One student friend of the Party led the SC meeting last week.
She proposed that students join with the teachers to argue for contract demands that are pro-student and parent as well as good for teachers. These include smaller class sizes, more teachers, more schools, better salaries for newer teachers, no increase in the length of the school day and a shorter time to reach top salaries. Several students pledged to come to City Hall.
In October a parent meeting agreed to a resolution supporting these demands and earlier last week the School Leadership Team agreed also. The UFT leadership has often rejected making the fight for smaller classes and more space, or better salaries for new teachers part of this contract fight. On top of this, an increase in School Security was met by a growing SC insistence that the new Principal keep Security out of school corridors.
The school occupies one floor of a junior high school building. Until recently, school security guards maintained a very low profile. Now they're in the hall all the time. Teachers already told the Principal at a School Leadership meeting that we want less, not more security in the school. The parents at the meeting readily agreed.
This school recently became a training center for guards but many students, parents and teachers want no part of this. One student reminded the Principal and an Assistant Principal that "young African-American men are constantly harassed by the racist NYPD." The School Security Agents have recently been using whistles in the halls to signify period change. The students at the meeting rejected the Principal's explanations. Students are also angry at Security's attempts to move them away from the street in front of the building.
As a result, the Principal has called a meeting with the students, staff and the security force to iron out the problem. But students and teachers are not likely to back down from their opposition to security forces on the school's floors. For the next few months, Party members and friends plan to focus on racism and the UFT leadership's collusion with the Board of Education bosses. While doing this we hope to clarify the need for people to join the Progressive Labor Party and make the struggle against capitalism the center of our work.
The teachers' union (UFT) leadership has made its anti-student outlook clear. Contract demands focus on more money for teachers and more school security, creating divisions between teachers and students. Their "Contract Goals" include creating streamlined procedures for removing students from class and suspending them.
PLP see things differently. By simply demanding money for themselves and attacking students, teachers can never win the support of parents and other workers that could win substantial improvements in wages and learning conditions. We have to fight for demands that large numbers of students and parents will rally around.
We want to use the teachers' contract to fight for student needs. We propose meeting with student, parent and teacher groups to put forward pro-student demands around the following issues:
1. CURRICULUM: Our goal is for students to understand and change their world. We can teach and argue for a scientific view of the world and teach dialectical materialism in a popular way. We can argue for science, for deeper study, for interrelationship among disciplines, for tackling controversial issues, for high-level skills. In this age of globalization, we need to teach about the nature of imperialism and the coming oil wars for profit. We can fight against racism and for internationalism. We can attack the one-sided, pro-imperialist nature of the curriculum, find specific examples and teach based on simple formulas.
2. MORE TEACHERS, REDUCE CLASS SIZE, IMPROVE CONDITIONS: Class sizes are too big for meaningful instruction. Black and Latin students often- fail because they are crammed into overcrowded classes. Instead of fighting for more teachers, the union is ready to accept a longer workday. We need more building space, well-maintained schools and access to books and technology.
3. RACISM: NYC students are the targets of racism, from their inferior education to the fascist rules in the schools. The ruling class is content if many students learn very little, since the bosses have no future for them except unemployment, prison or low-wage jobs. Some are needed to work in a factory, hospital or city agency. We should expose the racism inherent in the schools: fascist security, lack of access to technology, crumbling buildings, poorly trained teachers and especially the inadequate curriculum.
4. COPS OUT OF SCHOOLS: We demand schools, not jails. Racist police brutality is a feature of daily life for students, both in school and in the community. Black and Latin students are "racially profiled" and harassed. Students are arrested or "written up" by the police for mouthing off, or less! This racist terror is part of the climate of rising fascism, and military discipline in preparation for war. We say NO WAY!
5. DON'T BLAME STUDENTS FOR SOCIAL PROBLEMS: Literally millions of our students--and many adults, including teachers--are on anti-psychotic/behavioral drugs. Capitalist health care has an anti-working class outlook that says, "These students are damaged; there's nothing you can do." This has spawned mass drugging to physiologically "teach" students to be passive. The ruling class pushes drugs to blunt the class struggle. Instead of more drugs, we need more pro-student social workers and counselors to help students experiencing social problems.
6. BUILD STUDENT/TEACHER/PARENT UNITY: The best way for students, teachers and parents to get results and respect is to organize together and fight back. We should expose the dead-end, self-defeating narrow trade union outlook that ends up blaming students and parents for the problems caused by capitalism.
We are organizing groups of students and parents to advance these pro-student demands. This is how we can all "Fight to Learn-Learn to Fight!" We can recruit these working-class fighters to our Party and to see these demands as part of building the revolutionary movement. To change the world, we need to learn to read and write, compute and analyze. By teaching basic skills and the truth about capitalist oppression, we are fighting for the future of our class.
Our union chapter has just voted to remove the principal. Over 120 teachers signed a telegram stating our outrage at the miserable conditions our students must face. At the same time, parents are beginning to organize in the PTA. PLP is also organizing in the student government and other school clubs to fight back.
This parent-teacher-student unity is the key to fighting racist school conditions.
In a carefully staged presentation (the audience had to pass written questions to a panel), Lee explained how "difficult" it would be for the Justice Department to make such a case against killer cop Carlton Jones. He said first that excessive force had to be proven, and then "intention" had to be shown. In other words, if the cop "panicked" and killed Prince unjustifiably, he still could not be prosecuted for civil rights violations.Finally, Lee noted that in all the successful prosecutions of cops by the Justice Department, only the fellow cops' testimony against the suspected cop led to convictions. Lee said this was rare. He also told the students not to expect a speedy federal investigation. Indeed, since Lee will probably be replaced shortly by a new administration, the case could easily end up on hold.
Students were impatient with Lee's legal mumbo-jumbo. They understood that he was telling them little, if anything, would be done through the system. One question put to Lee concerned an earlier case in the same County. Archie Elliot, a man stripped to his shorts, hands cuffed behind his back and in a police car, was gunned down by the cops with the excuse that he "had a gun secreted in his undershorts"!
Why had the Justice Department failed to prosecute that case? Lee said they had created a simulation/reenactment and discovered it was "possible" for Elliot to have had a gun as the cop had said. (No gun was found.) Lee also noted that no police officer had offered any testimony against the murdering cop, who, incidentally, has gone on to shoot other "suspects." One angry student declared that if the Justice Department didn't deliver an indictment and conviction of the murdering cop in the Prince Jones case in a timely way, there would be "big trouble." The student, referring to the rebellions following the Rodney King case, said, "I'm from LA, and we know how to riot." After this provocative comment, Lee scurried off to a press conference while students remained to discuss the next steps in the struggle.PL members at the event continued to circulate communist leaflets showing how this murder is an example of why capitalism inevitably creates racism and produces racist police attacks on the working class--in order to maximize profits for boss es. It urged students to continue to build a mass movement on campus and in Prince George's County. CHALLENGE readers are urged to assist the petition campaign. For more information and a copy of the petition, go to the Justice for Prince Jones website:http://members.nbci.com/eawilli/Prince.htm.
Brashear finds the vicious racism of 1950s Jim Crow in the "desegregated" Navy. He's relegated to a cook's position and punished for diving into the water during a "white" swim. After numerous thwarted attempts, he's finally allowed to report to a Navy diving school in Bayonne, New Jersey. Billy Sunday (Robert DeNiro), the nasty racist who trains the divers, is also from a sharecropping family. He, and all the diver candidates except one, let Brashear know right away he's not welcome in the school and will not survive its rigors. In the face of all the obstacles Sunday throws at him, and the other sailors' cowardly and openly racist acts, Brashear gains the grudging respect of some white sailors when he saves the life of a drowning white diver who is deserted by a particularly racist teammate; and later beats Sunday in a breath-holding contest in an all-white bar.
The school commander orders Sunday to flunk Brashear on the final diving test. Sunday sabotages Brashear, but Brashear spends nine hours in freezing cold water and completes the test. Sunday, despite his own racism, passes him but is immediately demoted and transferred by the school commander. The rest of the movie relates how Sunday returns to help Brashear fight his forced retirement from the Navy. Brashear has become a hero and has lost one of his legs while in action.
"Men of Honor" pushes the idea that the best way for a person victimized by racism to fight back is to grit your teeth and show you're a "better" person. Brashear "sucks up" all the abuse he gets. The idea of uniting with others to fight for class interests is nowhere to be found. Thus, the movie promotes the false idea that racism has been overcome in the past through "hard work," not sharp struggle.
Starting with the 1980s movie "Glory," and continuing in the 1990s with movies like "The Siege," the image of the heroic black cop or soldier who is loyal to the U.S. government has been a recurring theme. "Men of Honor" takes this to the next logical level--if Brashear could stay loyal to the military (and U.S. imperialism) despite all the intense racism, why shouldn't today's soldiers do the same?
As CHALLENGE has pointed out many times, U.S. bosses worry about just how loyal black and Latin soldiers/sailors will be when the next oil war comes. The families of many of those in the military have experienced racist unemployment, the racist imprisoning of millions of youth and racist welfare and other cutbacks. The rulers remember the militant anti-racist role played by many black and Latin soldiers in Vietnam. A major effort is being made in media and other cultural forms to admit some past racism in the military, while portraying "Today's Military" as having overcome past discrimination and segregation. The exposé of the 1943 Port Chicago mutiny and the racist attacks made by the Navy on black sailors is part of this pattern.
Despite serious weaknesses, seeing the movie with friends can spark a sharp political discussion. When soldiers, sailors and others grasp PLP's communist ideas, they will not only unite black, Latin, and white, men and women against the racism and sexism of the brass. They can be moved to refuse to fight for Exxon-Mobil's Mideast oil interests and turn their guns around for a class war on the warmakers to create a communist world.
Recently we began discussing the school system's "mis-labeling" children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and psychiatrists prescribing harmful doses of medication for this diagnosis. Two couples shared what happened to their own children taking various kinds of hyperactive medication. One couple explained, "They said our daughter needed Ritalin and gave her a dose that was too severe. She was urinating on herself and had the shakes. We took her off the medicine and will never put her on it again."
Another couple said their son was given a dose of medication that caused him to sleep for an entire day. They took their son off the drug and he improved drastically over the next 18 months. When the psychiatrist discovered what the parents had done, he called ACS (Child Services) and filed a charge of "neglect." At a recent hearing the charges were dropped. The psychiatrist later apologized but the mother told him she wouldn't accept his apology.
We know there are many such cases. Our study group began to discuss why children are being "drugged up" during this period of growing war and fascism. "They want everyone to be passive. They want a `quick fix' and they want to control these kids," one parent commented.
At our next study group, we will make a plan to deal with this attack on our children and talk about how imperialist war, police brutality and the entire capitalist system--not our children--are the real threats to society, not our children.
Bronx Parents and Teachers
The ruling class has targeted the same groups of workers that we as communists are trying to win. Many black workers and industrial workers were somewhat brought back into the bosses' electoral process this year. Most workers I am involved with, on and off the job, voted. Many passionately felt their future was at stake.
We have to fight harder to win our neighbors and co-workers to see that no bosses are on our side. I believe this time around many workers saw the Republicans as the ruling class and the Democrats as our allies. We must deepen our ties with our co-workers and engage them in more consistent ideological struggle, while fighting to lead them in class struggle against the bosses. This is how we can overcome these deadly illusions.
The one line that went over well was, "No matter who wins, the postal bosses will try to screw us in our new contract." I'm trying to build more of a fight around the contract while increasing the number of CHALLENGE readers and distributors.
One more point. I voted this time, to experience first-hand the process by which the bosses keep power out of the hands of the working class. You go in a booth and stick a pin through the names of the politicians who will rule over you for the next four years. I explained to my workmates that this is the opposite of how communism will work. Building a communist world to meet the needs of the working class will require the active participation of millions of workers in decision-making, all the time.
Many people think it's funny that these two professors, with a long history of berating, humiliating and attacking students publicly, became such crybabies as soon as they were criticized at all. After all, one of them urged students to circulate a petition last year asking that three other professors be fired! The other says that the only way (presumably black) students from Gary can get into good colleges is through sports and that the new driveway on campus will make it easier for "drug dealers from Gary" to drop off their girl friends.
In addition, the school newspaper ran a letter from an ex-student and wannabe cop defending one of the professors and blaming all the protests on communists! Well, communists ARE in the forefront of many struggles against racism, but the hundreds of black, Latin and white students fighting racism are not being "used" by anyone! They understand how racism works and how it must be fought.
This struggle is about a lot more than a couple of professors. The university has many other policies forcing out minority and other working-class students. The Presidential election fiasco is presenting more opportunities to expose how corrupt capitalism is. Our next step is to increase CHALLENGE circulation and build a network of students who will consistently distribute the paper every week!
However, a combination of lots of problems and many enthusiastic new teachers enabled us to push our chapter leader into calling a meeting in October for teachers to talk and plan without the principal. Despite the chapter leader's belief that there was little interest in a meeting, 30 teachers attended.
The discussion boiled down to one main contradiction: fighting for our students to learn or fighting against them to keep them "in line." Many teachers have been won to bad ideas about students. Some argued that we need metal detectors, that we need to follow even bad Board of Education rules, and that the school's problems would be solved by recruiting "better" students. This last idea is particularly dangerous. It says some students just can't learn, and teachers should give up on them and find the students who will "let us teach them."
The pro-student teachers argued vigorously against this position. We must see all of our students as members of our class who CAN learn and are worth fighting for. We must fight against the fascist conditions our students experience every day and teach them that they can lead the way for a new and better society that serves us all.
This meeting only touched the tip of the iceberg. We have a long way to go and a lot of plans to make to build a strong pro-student teachers' group at our school, but we have taken our first steps.
A Brooklyn, N.Y. Teacher
It was great that about forty soldiers participated in an open debate on the Party's ideas. The Israeli soldier who refused to fight impressed them. It forced them to face the fact that every soldier can choose whether or not to follow orders. It dispelled some of the cynicism that people won't risk their own necks to stand up for what they believe.
Afterwards, various soldiers approached me and said, "You really broke it down." They said they enjoyed talking with me because "we can disagree and we're still cool." Even the next day a soldier asked me to explain exactly what's happening between Israel and Palestine. With four other soldiers standing there we had another discussion. It was great.
I learned that in order to put forward the Party's ideas on a complex international event, a combination of reading CHALLENGE and struggling over the ideas in a collective is absolutely necessary. The CHALLENGE editorial was excellent preparation for my discussion. If we take the lead, soldiers will discuss more than just sex.
From all this, I identified two more soldiers to show CHALLENGE. Three soldiers in my unit are regular readers. Four of us eat dinner at a different person's house each month. Everyone looks forward to it and helps organize it. I am learning to use my small collective to organize and lead struggles. I need to do more then just have political debates. I must see myself as an organizer for communism.
Part-Time Soldier, Full-Time Red
The relationships between men and women largely reflect the political and economic relations in society. The ruling class owns and controls the means of production and extracts profits by exploiting our labor. This entails pushing racism and sexism to keep workers divided and weak. Women and minorities are paid less and generally treated as inferiors. Women are portrayed and treated as sex objects, domestic servants and the physically and emotionally weaker gender in popular capitalist culture.
Nurturing and loving relationships exist despite all the trash heaped on us by capitalism. As communists, we struggle to promote healthy relationships. The contradictions between women and men, as well as labor and capital, will be resolved when communism rules the earth. Therefore, nothing is more satisfying and fulfilling in life than to involve ourselves in this revolutionary process to change the world.
I've been part of the union's Strike committee, hoping I could influence a leftward movement to support the Grad students in their strike and also prepare our SEIU members for our next contract battle. The Organizing Council (stewards, other active leaders and anyone the Executive Council invites) met on November 8. One agenda item was the leaflet the Strike Committee proposed sending to its members.
Our contract says we can support other strikes by respecting picket lines only if we feel our personal safety is threatened. The union lawyer strongly cautioned against this, saying it would be hard to prove one's personal safety was threatened, especially since these Grad students are having a "porous" picket line (letting people through). The line of the leaflet in dispute was a paragraph quoting the contract language.
I suggested that, after that quote, we say that the union would fully support anyone who made the "independent" decision not to cross the line. The dispute was whether or not the union would support these people. The lawyer said, "What if 3,000 people refused to cross the picket line. We would go bankrupt defending them!"
I could contain myself no longer and yelled, "Here, here!" I said it would be a GREAT thing if 3000 of our members refused to cross the line. Well, the union staff and leadership smacked me down. They not only are unwilling to support members who refuse to cross the line, but don't even think we should use this form of support. There will be nothing in the leaflet about any union support for members who refuse to cross the line.
This clarified for me once and for all the purpose of our union. I was wondering why the University had agreed to let them organize more employees (a big drive is occurring right now). Obviously, they can keep the workers quite passive/fearful and still maintain a vague façade of militancy. They are doing the bosses' work for them! I know CHALLENGE has said this in the past, but now I have seen it for myself.
At first I just wanted to leave the union altogether but I did a little internal struggling and convinced myself this would only be a victory for them. I plan to take some CHALLENGES to sell and use them to start conversations about the union's role and the need for a communist party to make a revolution so the workers are no longer misled by these fake leaders.
Red with anger and getting Redder
Yet despite the emerging disillusionment, nowhere is it guaranteed that working people will automatically condemn capitalism--much less move towards communism. The election deadlock, the bureaucratic delay and the absurdity of the entire election coming down to a few votes in Florida is adding fuel to the alienation working people experience daily. Many of those who voted are certainly angry and want results, but many more, whether they voted or not, are accepting cynicism as an "answer" to their frustrations.
Without PLP's leadership, the working class will only become more vulnerable and susceptible to fascism, the only "solution" capitalism in crisis can provide. Fascism lives off of cynicism and political desperation. It's the responsibility of every communist to fight against this trend. The controversy over the presidential election provides us with a tremendous opportunity to move the tarnished hopes of the masses toward a communist revolution and the realization of our class interests.
The ruling class knows mass disappointment and distrust can lead to protest and rebellion. We must cast away all our illusions and prepare for the struggle awaiting us. As CHALLENGE has said, both Gore and Bush are preparing for war in the Middle East. Remember when President George Bush, Sr. bombed Iraq in 1991, his popularity ratings went through the roof. Without a mandate for either Bush or Gore, we can assume that the ruling class might take advantage of the political void and rally people behind a drive for imperialist oil war.