January 17, 2001

  1. Editorial:
  2. Bosses' `Boom' Fizzling
    Time for Workers to Bust Back
    March on May Day, 2001!
    1. Profits Come Fom Exploiting Workers, Not from Dot.Coms
    2. Clinton-Gore Lowered Boom On Workers' Heads
    3. Under Capitalism Future Not Bright for World's Workers
    4. Fight for Society Without Bosses: On to May Day 2001
  5. U.S. Bio-Warfare Poisons U.S.-European Imperialist `Alliance'
  6. Russian Bosses Re-Enter the Imperialist `Big Game'
  7. PLP Schools Conference: Education for Class Struggle
    1. Send Delegates to NEA Convention
  8. Strike Needed Against Postal Bosses/Union Scheme
  9. LA Transit Strike: Disagreement Can Be A Plus
  10. While California Energy Bosses Fight-- Turn the Lights Out On Profit System
  11. CHALLENGE Sparks Garment Workers' Debate
  12. Ecuador: Can't Escape Capitalism, Gotta Kill It,
  13. Why Is the NY TIMES Dancing with the Grey Wolves?
  14. PL'ers Bring Class Savvy to Women's Rights Group
    1. They Shall Not Pass!
    2. Zionists Rode British Coattails
    3. Don't Shop Capitalism--STOP It!
    4. Evicted by Profit System
    5. The Real Racist Fraud
  16. Movie Review

Bosses' `Boom' Fizzling
Time for Workers to Bust Back
March on May Day, 2001!

The long U.S. economic boom has stopped--for now, at least. The bosses' economic gurus aren't debating whether or not the party's over, only what to call it: a "correction," a "slowdown" or a recession in the making.

While the "experts" haggle over words, the working class is paying the heaviest price for the profit system's downturn. Last month, employment in manufacturing went down by 62,000 jobs, for a total yearly loss of 178,000. These job cuts are just the beginning. In December alone U.S. companies announced future plans to chop another 134,000 workers, the largest monthly number since these figures have been compiled (1993). Big outfits are involved: General Motors, Whirlpool, Office Depot, not to mention LTV Steel, which has just gone bankrupt.

The slowdown has exploded the myth that the boom represented a so-called "new economy," based on the Internet and information technology. Since the NASDAQ (the technology-heavy sector of the stock market) tanked last spring, Internet company layoffs have mushroomed: 10,459 in December and 41,515 for the year 2000, with "more pain to come," says the head of a major job placement company.

Profits Come Fom Exploiting Workers, Not from Dot.Coms

There's no "new economy." The laws of capitalism still apply. The capitalists' profits come from their exploitation of workers' labor power. The capitalists have to seek maximum, not just average, profit. The scramble to beat out the other guy fuels a race to overproduce everything from pharmaceuticals and DVD players to cars. A speculative frenzy overtakes the stock markets until prices of shares insanely outpace the real value of companies. At a certain moment, the overproduction leads to factory closings and layoffs, and the speculative bubble bursts. All this is happening now.

Depending on their tactical point of view, the bosses offer various schemes for wriggling out of the slowdown. Federal Reserve head Greenspan just lowered interest rates. The Bush Republicans want a tax cut. Typically, the Democrats advocate government spending. None of these maneuvers alters the fundamental nature of capitalism: the anarchy of production for profit, or the instability of the boom-bust cycle.

Clinton-Gore Lowered Boom On Workers' Heads

But even the so-called booms are bad news for workers. During the Clinton years, the rulers loved to brag about the "longest economic expansion in history." It was--for them.

However, it was possible only because a succession of presidential administrations, beginning with Democratic President Carter, began wiping out or eroding every significant reform workers had won since the 1930s.

The Clinton Democrats delivered the crushing blow. Workers who voted for Gore as a "lesser evil" should review the Clinton-Gore White House's economic record: the racist mass imprisonment of unemployed workers and their use as slave labor, the elimination of welfare, and over 45 million people without health insurance. The U.S. ranks last among major western industrial countries in social services and basic labor protection. U.S. rulers' European rivals envy this "American model" and are trying to imitate it.

The rulers occasionally confess that capitalism requires these periodic downturns. Clinton's Labor Secretary calls this a "healthy slowdown." She's not about to file for unemployment insurance. George Friedman, head of, a news-gathering service, praises the down market's opportunities to "wash out the amateurs and set the stage for wise guys [i.e., big money forces--Ed.] picking up bargains." However, the rulers may get more than they bargained for. They can find ways to take advantage of a slowdown, but they can't necessarily turn it off at will. In any event, the working class bears the brunt of these recurrent economic blood-lettings. The millions devastated during the bosses' "Clinton boom" will be ground down further as the full effect of recent and future layoffs materializes.

Under Capitalism Future Not Bright for World's Workers

Some of the rulers' pundits promise the present downturn will reverse itself soon. We can't predict that. Nor can we predict the opposite. The present crunch may become a full-fledged recession/depression. On the other hand, the rulers may find a gimmick to limit it. But sooner or later, the profit system always enters a period of crisis. War is eventually a universal aspect of that crisis. Even if this downturn ends before long, it will sharpen a number of important conflicts between the U.S. and its key competitors. The wounded U.S. market won't indefinitely absorb Asian products, and trade wars loom with China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. The U.S. has a huge trade deficit. Europe has an enormous surplus. The dollar probably can't survive indefinitely as the world's major currency under these conditions. Over the long haul, the new Euro could challenge it. The U.S. economic slowdown can only intensify the struggle for control of cheap energy and increase the likelihood of new oil war in the Persian Gulf. As we've said, both Democrats and Republicans are working together despite their differences to broaden and sharpen fascist terror against the working class here and reduce resistance to the rulers' plans.

Fight for Society Without Bosses: On to May Day 2001

The profit system can never bring workers anything other than its cycle of boom, bust and war. We shouldn't cling to illusions about capitalism's ability to reform itself or to create "new economy."

Capitalism will survive any crisis as long as it holds state power. The overthrow of the profit system is the only crisis bosses will not survive. The Progressive Labor Party's primary purpose is to organize the working class to destroy the profit system.

The first May Day of the new millennium, May Day 2001, represents an important challenge for workers and their allies, and for our Party, to take a big step forward for the long, hard fight ahead. We must bring the message to workers--in the unions, factories, churches, hospitals, neighborhoods-- to fight for communism, a society in which workers produce for the needs of our class, not for the profits of a few bloodsuckers.

(Information from NEW YORK TIMES, 1/6,7/01; Associate Press, 12/27/00;, 1/5/01).


The new wave of economic attacks against workers should stimulate class struggle and provide fresh opportunity to build the PLP on the job. Recent CHALLENGE articles show that the process of sharpening fights against the boss is moving forward in key U.S. workplaces such as transit, aerospace, and health care, as well as in important industries throughout Latin America. This is all to the good and should continue!

But even when workers are not yet won to engage in militant confrontation with the boss, we can still build the Party and sow the seeds for future struggle. Under all conditions--whether the workers are anxious for a fight or temporarily passive--we can carry out aspects of our line. We should keep in the forefront the idea that communists stand for serving the working class. This approach enables us to function in all political environments.

Our comrades in the public schools have given good leadership by carrying out to some extent the slogan "Fight to Learn, Learn to Fight; Fight to Teach, Teach to Fight." We can do much more here, but our experiences so far should encourage other workers in PLP to follow suit.

We aren't missionaries. We aspire to become "tribunes of the people," in Lenin's phrase. When we teach a worker we know to read, when we help a friend of the Party obtain medical care for a sick child, when we find legal assistance for a worker with family problems, we are creating the basis for deepened personal-political relations that can lead to Party growth and sharper conflict with the enemy. We should absorb this lesson as the May Day effort kicks into high gear.


The current downturn started with the collapse of the NASDAQ technology stock market last spring. In part, the NASDAQ swoon was an inevitable result of wild speculation. In part, it represented a conscious attempt by the main rulers to cut small fry billionaires down to size. The most notable case is that of Bill Gates, the Microsoft mogul.

The Clinton Justice Department's monopoly suit against Microsoft is just one element of a three-prong attack. The NASDAQ collapse has slashed Gates's capital holdings by a third. So he no longer wields the financial clout he had a year ago. Even more importantly, the Eastern Establishment has begun twisting his arm to force important chunks of Microsoft money into key war-related heavy industries.

Last February, just as the dump-tech flood broke, Gates was "persuaded" to acquire a controlling 8% share in Newport News Shipbuilding, the U.S. Navy's only aircraft carrier builder and one of only two U.S. companies capable of building nuclear subs. In November, Gates bought a 5.15% share in Canadian National Railway Co., which owns the strategic Illinois Central and is trying to merge with Burlington North Santa Fe to become the U.S.'s largest railroad.

The war uses of Newport News Shipbuilding are obvious. Railroads continue to play a crucial role in the military-related domestic infrastructure. The bill for the boom in computer chips and software will sooner or later be paid in workers' blood.

(Information from "Canadian News Wire," 11/3/00; "Hoovers Online," Feb. 2000)

U.S. Bio-Warfare Poisons U.S.-European Imperialist `Alliance'

The 1999 NATO/U.S. air war against the former Yugoslavia has, 18 months later, widened the contradictions between the U.S. and its European "allies." The latest rift involves demands by several European countries that NATO investigate the effects of depleted-uranium bombs during the slaughter.

Fifty soldiers from Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland developed leukemia. Eighteen have died of leukemia since the war, eight Italians and five Belgians. Beta, a Yugoslavian news agency, reported 400 Serbian soldiers dying from the "Balkan Syndrome" (as the disease is now being called) since the 1995 NATO bombing of Bosnia. Thousands have died in Iraq since the 1991 Desert Storm war from such bombs and missiles which contain depleted uranium..

This ammunition, first tested by the Pentagon in the 1980s over Vieques, the Navy training island in Puerto Rico, is used especially in weapons designed to destroy tanks. Some 31,000 of such uranium weapons were dropped during the 1999 NATO/U.S. air war. Interestingly enough, very few hit their targets. The Yugoslavian army left Kosovo basically intact.

Imperialist war is hell for soldiers and workers. Thousands of people in "liberated" Kosovo are now exposed to leukemia. But are the European countries accusing NATO (particularly the U.S., the main user of such weapons) of doing this because they care about the well-being of the masses? We don't think so. "With the background of a serious fight between Europe and the U.S., the European Union and NATO are meeting in Brussels today to study the known cases of the Balkan Syndrome." ("PAGINA12," Buenos Aires daily, Jan. 8)

What is this fight all about? The Balkan war was not about "freeing Kosovo from Satan Milosevic"; it was fought over control of oil pipelines and routes from the Caspian Sea to Western Europe. And the "unity" between the European and U.S. imperialists was very thin. As soon as the war ended, European bosses decided to form their own Rapid Deployment Force, to avoid relying on the U.S. to fight for their profits. They apparently learned from the 1999 air war, which revealed their weaknesses relative to the U.S. high-tech weapons monopoly, and are now taking counter-measures.

Russian Bosses Re-Enter the Imperialist `Big Game'

The Russians also saw the 1999 air war as a major wake-up call and ended the "good relationship" Yeltsin had developed with the U.S. after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Putin came to power to try to rebuild Russia's military might. On Jan. 3, Russian Chief of Staff General Anatoly Kyashin announced he will meet with the Yugoslav Defense Minister to renew old ties, prepare for future arms sales and discuss an expanded role for Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo. (Stratfor, Jan. 4) Stratfor also reports the U.S. is worried about burgeoning Europe-Russian relations and is taking measures to counter it.

War is the continuation of politics by other means. So the political games the big imperialists play against each other amount to preparations for future wars. We workers and soldiers should also organize our own preparations. Building a mass communist movement to smash all the warmakers must be our aim.

PLP Schools Conference: Education for Class Struggle

NEW YORK CITY, January 6 -- About 50 parents, teachers and students--members and friends of PLP-- gathered in a one-day conference called by the Party to review our situation in the schools and make plans to improve it. One immediate improvement emerged --six students and parents joined the Party. This significant advance will promptly increase the number of comrades committed to organizing class struggle in the schools, and--over the long haul--will add to the Party's influence in those areas where these new comrades can function: on their jobs (current and future) and in the military.

The day opened with words to inspire struggle: "The current period in which we live will bring more exploitation and oppression for the working class. We, as teachers and communists, must fight for our students to learn math, science, English and history based on class struggle. Capitalist education cannot and will not provide education for the working class. We must be involved in, and build class struggle in order to ensure that this happens. Only communism can guarantee this."

A veteran comrade sang and performed a rap about the class struggle which unites workers from many different parts of the world. A Wingate H.S. student described the triumph of removing a wretched principal and the need for an on-going fight for learning at that school.

Three workshops produced lively debates about the class nature of the schools, concluding that students, teachers and parents must unite against the rulers' Board of Education.

One group concentrated on the role of special education, learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyper-active Disorder (ADHD)--a so-called mental illness based on racist biological determinist "science" to discipline students with drugs. It's part of a ruling-class drive to gear the schools for their plans for fascism and war. This group concluded that special education was a capitalist creation bent on casting off groups of students. They agreed that everyone develops unevenly, learning in different ways and at different times.

A Bronx parent said her son was "classified" and discarded by the system. She's been told her child cannot learn and function in a "normal" setting. But what's "normal" about capitalism? She joined the Party and made a commitment to keep fighting. She, with other comrades in the Bronx, are building a campaign around special education, literacy and ADHD. They agreed to write a report of this discussion and planned to mount struggles in PTAs and community school boards to fight for services these students should be receiving.

Another group examined the work of parents and teachers together and planned social activities and political work in mass organizations. That workshop debated the role of discipline, its class nature, the role of class in determining the character of the schools, our students' anger and the role of the teachers union in destroying the students.

A third group considered the work of students and teachers in the classroom and made concrete plans for building upcoming events such as the protest against the Bush inauguration and a camping trip/cadre school. This workshop dealt with two main points: the importance of class consciousness among students and the role of schools under capitalism. They felt increased class consciousness would lead to fewer gangs, less superficial fashion pressure, more struggle and improved conditions in the schools.

One student participant who joined the Party said the function of the schools was to keep the working class distracted while the rich go about the business of ruling. The group then discussed how to spread class consciousness in the schools. One relatively new comrade agreed to build a debate team in order to become more involved in students' lives.

Two students described the fight in their school for repairs, against the lack of books and the sense that only because the students are black and working class is the school in such disrepair. On the other hand, many disagreed with the two students' apparent blaming of other students for their own failures.

Although we had worried about insufficient preparation, we learned an important lesson: the working class is starving for the ideas of communist revolution. The more effort we put into bringing these ideas to our class, the greater the response. What we do DOES count. What we have to offer is valuable to workers. When they hear it, they grasp our ideas, add to them and are willing to move forward around them.

(A future article will deal with vital questions confronting teachers, students and parents: the role of class relations in school and its effect on the ruling class ideologies taught there and how to deal with them, including especially racism and sexism as well as anti-communism, patriotism and individualism.)

Send Delegates to NEA Convention

This is a call to all PLP teachers and friends in elementary and secondary schools, higher education, educational support personnel (teacher's aides, bus drivers, clerks, etc.), and retired teachers.

Is your union local a National Education Association (NEA) affiliate? Are you an NEA member? If so, you should consider running for delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly (RA), to be held June 30 - July 7, 2001 in Los Angeles.

The RA is the NEA national convention. Up to 10,000 elected delegates attend from every state in the U.S. We should be at this mass convention of teachers raising our anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist, internationalist, revolutionary ideas related to the many issues that will emerge: high-stakes testing, school reform, violence in the schools and possible merger with the AFT, among others. In fact, all kinds of issues arise in "new business" items and resolutions. We can participate in their state delegations as well as various caucuses: Hispanic Caucus, Women's Caucus, Men's Caucus, Black Caucus, Peace and Justice Caucus, etc.

Check with your local affiliate and read your state association magazine about the deadlines for submitting your application to run for RA delegate. Several Party teachers in California will run. Let's organize a PLP presence at the Convention. Contact CHALLENGE for more information.

Bay Area Comrade/Teacher

Strike Needed Against Postal Bosses/Union Scheme

New York City -- Last month, contract negotiations broke down between the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). The contract now goes to binding arbitration, the APWU leaderships' strategy all along. They did nothing to organize the potential strength of 300,000 clerks, maintenance and motor vehicle craft workers. Their "threat to go to arbitration" is obviously fine with the bosses.

In stark contrast, almost 600,000 postal workers struck in India, demanding pension benefits for 310,000 part-timers, wage increases for 60,000 lower-tier workers and promotions. The Army "replaced" striking workers. The workers then massed in front of parliament.

Here, the APWU asked for a meager 13.5% wage increase over three years. USPS offered no wage increase, elimination of the Cost Of Living Adjustment, reduction in health benefits and night differential and an end to job protection for all workers with under six years service.

The Board of Governors is crying "broke," but the USPS netted over $5-billion in profits during the past 5_ years. Postal workers' wage increases averaged less than 2% annually during the past decade. This past year managers got millions in bonuses (over $3.5 million in the NY Division alone).

A few years ago the bosses contracted out thousands of jobs to non-union Emery Air Freight. Now they're negotiating with FedEx and UPS to contract out more jobs. They aim to privatize USPS and increase use of prison labor. This will wipe out thousands of jobs. Hundreds of thousands of workers will be forced to do more for less. Furthermore, it appears many postal workers in the military reserves will again be sent to war in Iraq to protect Exxon-Mobil profits. That's what capitalism "offers."

We must organize militant struggles, from work-rule slowdowns to strikes. Such actions will build our unity and strength. As long as the bosses hold power, they will never surrender a penny without a struggle. Nor will they give up power voluntarily. We must use every struggle to learn how to fight the enemy, and to build a mass PLP. The fights we wage today can pave the road to communist revolution.

LA Transit Strike: Disagreement Can Be A Plus

LOS ANGELES -- During the recent transit strike here, our PLP club organized to bring people to the picket lines to support the strikers. In reviewing the results, one member said he had asked fellow workers to go with him, and that while they supported the strikers' goals, they saw no reason to make time for picketing. His co-workers make about $7 an hour. A few said the bus drivers made a lot more, "so why go to a lot of trouble to help them?"

Our comrade explained the need for unity against the bosses, but his fellow workers were not convinced enough to join the picket line. Our comrade was discouraged. We asked whether it was good or bad that his fellow workers disagreed? "Bad," he replied.
"Because they didn't go to the picket line."
"Do you think these workers understood the need to unite against the capitalist class before you asked them?"
"No, of course not."
"So it wasn't your asking them that caused them to disagree with our ideas? They already disagreed."
"In fact, the transit strike became an opportunity to bring this disagreement to the surface so you could struggle with them over it."
"That's true."
"So if bringing out that disagreement is a step toward winning them closer to the Party, why are you feeling down about it?"
Our study of dialectical materialism taught us that contradictions are resolved only by intensification. This means attacking one pole of the contradiction, in this case the bosses' idea that we don't need to fight for the interests of the entire working class.
"I wasn't looking at it that way," he said. "I just wanted them to go to the picket line."
In fact, in an attempt to get quick results our comrade had relied mainly on liberal, trade unionist arguments for workers' unity--"If they don't win their strike, things will be harder for us." Possibly true, but not the main point. Unless workers seize every opportunity to unite as a class, we will be unable to make a revolution and overthrow capitalism. Seen this way, the transit strike was an opportunity for our comrade to talk to his fellow workers about the need to get rid of a system that pays people, most of whom are black and Hispanic, $7 an hour.

`Friends don't disagree....'

Another point emerged. Capitalist culture teaches that disagreeing with someone means attacking them; therefore disagreement should be avoided. Often people say, "Everyone's entitled to their opinion," regardless of whether the facts support that opinion. Or, "I never talk politics or religion because I don't want to lose friends."

If contradictions are resolved by intensification, anti-communist ideas must be attacked through ideological struggle. This doesn't mean attacking the person who believes those ideas. If "friends don't let friends drive drunk," why should friends allow their friends' anti-communist ideas go unchallenged? Workers who believe and act on pro-capitalist ideas hurt themselves and their class. They are basing their actions on false premises, and need communist ideas to understand and act on reality. Sure there are tactics--and tact--in carrying on that struggle, but the biggest and most common mistake is NOT carrying on the struggle at all.

Communist leadership is the opposite of papering over differences to create an impression of false unity. We have to build real unity, strong enough to take on the capitalist class. That can only be done by consistent ideological struggle, which means bringing disagreements to the surface rather than burying them.

Our comrade said next time he will welcome, rather than be discouraged by disagreement. It's up to our club to consistently encourage him and all of us in that direction.

While California Energy Bosses Fight-- Turn the Lights Out On Profit System

LOS ANGELES, January 9 -- Four years ago the California legislature voted unanimously to de-regulate electricity. The law lifted caps on wholesale energy prices and led to private utilities selling their power plants. Supposedly this would break up the monopolies of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and California Edison, making electricity delivery more competitive, better and cheaper. As one might expect under a capitalist profit system, the opposite happened.

Many workers' gas and electric bills have doubled or tripled. At a time when Silicon Valley and all other California industry are using more electricity, de-regulation has allowed utility companies to take their older, less profitable plants off line. One-third of the California plants are now unused. Enter power shortages and blackouts from Silicon Valley to Southern California. It has also enabled companies like Enron and others (many from Texas) to charge exhorbitant rates to the California market.

Now the NEW YORK TIMES and the LA TIMES are crying for re-instituting government regulation. The NY TIMES (1/5/01) says New York could face similar shortages this summer. Computers use lots of power and manufacturers now rely on electricity and natural gas, not coal, to power their factories, so electricity rates and availability are important to them. But without national regulation, they can't control utility profits. Government regulation would aim to get more reliable, manageable electricity and natural gas rates to manufacturers.

Utility profits would continue but not in such huge amounts, which cut into profits of outfits like Boeing, etc. Of course, Enron & Co. don't want regulation! However, California Governor Grey Davis is calling for State and Federal regulation of the power companies, government oversight in the construction of more power plants in California, and bailing out the near-bankrupt Edison and PG&E. He's also calling on consumers to cut electricity use by 10%. He says the state government would seize control of electricity producers during blackouts. A proposal for State of California bond issues to finance more power plants would make bondholders even richer and pass the cost on to consumers.

Groups such as the Greens and the Democrats push the idea that State (government) power is up for grabs, that with more government regulation "the people" will have a voice and protection from price-gouging corporations. While we don't know all the details of the California utility situation or Enron's exact role (Enron was a big Bush supporter), the fact remains that the biggest bosses control the State and use it to guarantee their class rule. The temporary "solution" to this crisis will mean from 7% to 15% higher rates for consumers over and above the recent increases, along with more state control of the production and distribution of electricity and gas.

Politicians will tell us the state is "on our side" against price-gouging, inefficient utility companies. Eastern Establishment think-tanks, as well as Clinton's Hart-Rudman Commission report, call for more government intervention and co-ordination of all aspects of the economy--from transportation to all security functions.

Government utility regulation will increase attacks on the working class, while guaranteeing more efficient delivery of power to industry. This is part of a national energy policy that includes war in the Middle East to control Iraq's cheap oil. Government control of industry strengthens state capitalism and helps it prepare for such wars.

There's a long history of government regulation and even take-over of key industries. During World War I the federal government actually seized the railroads to insure movement of goods for the war effort. A federal agency managed the railroad, kept the books and turned over the profits to the owners. When the war ended the railroads were returned to the owners. In the 1930's the federal government itself became a generator of electricity ( the Tennessee Valley Authority). During the Korean War, President Truman actually seized steel plants during a labor dispute. The dominant wing of the ruling class has always operated the State against individual capitalists in order to guarantee the overall interests of the capitalists' war efforts, one major element of fascism.

"Private" or "public," capitalism always secures profits for the biggest bosses at the expense of their competitors and of the workers. We can't cheer for any bosses. We must expose them all and fight to put State power in the hands of the working class which, under communism, will practice central planning to meet its needs.

CHALLENGE Sparks Garment Workers' Debate

LOS ANGELES, Ca.--I'm a PLP member working in the garment industry. Almost every day at lunchtime we talk politics among a group of workers. Generally the discussions occur after they've read a CHALLENGE or when someone raises a question or an idea. A recent one concerned the past presidential election.

Pedro said, "These are the most democratic elections I've seen since being in the U.S. I voted for Gore because he's the best choice for us Latinos."

Roberto, listening attentively, interrupted saying, "It's always the same b.s....even though I think we need someone to govern us. If not, there wouldn't be any control and everybody would do whatever they felt like."

I (Mario) commented, "Roberto's right in some respects. Both candidates represent the interests of the ruling class. At the same time each candidate also represents a sector of bosses fighting for control of the government, to be better able to exploit resources and labor of the working class, which means us."

Rodrigo, who always thinks Mario's too negative, said, "For you everything is bad. You only talk against whatever someone else says. If this doesn't work, how do YOU think we should elect our rulers?"

"Listen," Mario replied, "the thing that's wrong with all this is the capitalist system. It's based on the robbery of our labor, on racism, murders, wars, and so on. No matter who wins, the new president will continue to function under the capitalist laws of maximum exploitation of the workers. On the other hand, in a communist society, the leaders won't need elections because leaders will be determined by who is the most committed to serve the interests of our class. This society is divided into two classes--the workers and the bosses. Under communism, there will only be the working class."

Then Pedro said, "The problem will be the same because we'll always have somebody's boot over us."

I gave an example. "You know when there are natural catastrophes, some very dedicated people come forward to help do what's needed. The commitment of these people isn't based on looking for economic gain, but because they feel and see the need to help the other workers."

Replied Roberto, "Look, little brother, your ideas are good, but convincing so many people isn't easy and I don't think you'll achieve it. It's better to think about yourself and your children and stop going around talking about politics, because the bosses will mess with you and no one will thank you...."

"I admire your persistence," interrupted Pedro, "but you'd be better off using your intelligence for your own benefit, to progress."

When it was almost time to return to our machines. I said, "You all are tough. The way you are thinking now--that's how the bosses want us to think, divided, each one looking out for himself, not like one strong fist. When we think about resolving our problems together, in class terms, then the bosses will have serious problems. Because a working class with communist ideas means the end of this system of exploitation...Don't forget CHALLENGE. Don't leave it at your machines. Take it home to read and tomorrow we'll talk again."

Ecuador: Can't Escape Capitalism, Gotta Kill It,

QUITO, ECUADOR -- This country is an example of how nothing that capitalism does can help workers. A year ago the rulers "dollarized" the economy (the U.S. dollar became the national currency). This, along with the then rising price of oil (Ecuador is an OPEC member) was supposed to reverse the endless years of rampant inflation, mass unemployment, etc. Since then, 500,000 workers and their families have left the country (two million in the last few years). The unemployment rate is 75%. Inflation marches on. Racism against the Indigenous people continues unchecked.

On top of that, the Colombian civil war is now spilling across the border to Ecuador. The U.S. military has an air base in Manta,Ecuador, to carry out operations against the Colombian guerrillas.

Many jobless workers have emigrated to Europe, particularly Spain, seeking a better life. But it's hard to escape capitalism. In the first week of the new millenium, 12 Ecuadorian farmworkers (some of them children) were killed in Spain when a train hit a van transporting them to work for a contractor in the Murcia region. This area contains a year-round agribusiness based on greenhouses. This industry profits from the use of semi-slave workers, like the 12 dead immigrants, and child labor. They receive less than the minimum wage, with no benefits. Immigrant farm workers are also victims of racist cops and thugs in the region.

The contractor who hired the 12 dead workers had been accused of many labor law violations. But even if he's arrested, there are many more like him willing to make a buck at the expense of these immigrant workers.

The workers killed in Murcia come from the Oro province of Ecuador, one of the country's poorest. So many workers have left their families behind, that a poll among children about what they wanted for Christmas drew the response that "my dad and mom returns from Spain." One of five children in Ecuador are without their parents.

In Ecuador, Workers and youth are beginning to fight back in a mass way. Another round of protests and mass strikes have been called for the coming weeks. But as in the past, the usual gang of union hacks, sellout politicians and fake leftists are "demanding" some reforms. This rotten, murderous system can't be reformed. We in PLP are also involved in several of the struggles here, but our aim is to fight for a new society, one where workers produce to satisfy their needs, without wage slavery. That's communism.

Why Is the NY TIMES Dancing with the Grey Wolves?

On Dec. 19, Turkish cops attacked over 1,000 leftist prisoners on a hunger strike in 28 jails. They were protesting plans to move them to smaller cells and other jails where they could be easily tortured by the notorious Turkish prison guards. Scores were killed in the vicious attack. The cops claimed many prisoners burned themselves.

The Turkish rulers and their cops are among the most brutal in the world. Many cops belong to the fascist Grey Wolves, a paramilitary group linked to the ruling Nationalist Action Party. Thousands defied the fascist repression, protesting throughout Turkey against the murder of the prisoners.

But the NY TIMES, trying to clean up the image of the Turkish bosses (a key U.S. ally in the oil-rich Middle East), has gone all-out to justify the Dec. 19 massacre. The January 9th TIMES headlined an article, "Anxiety Is Rising in Turkey Over a Surge of Left-Wing Violence." It labeled as "terrorist" one leftist group whose members were murdered in the prison. But you can't blame these "terrorists" for the Turkish bosses having murdered tens of thousands of Turkish and Kurdish workers and youth in the last few years, all in the name of protecting U.S. Big Oil profits in the Middle East!

PL'ers Bring Class Savvy to Women's Rights Group

The recent Mid-west state conference of a major women's rights organization, focused on the theme of "The Many Faces of Violence and Racism," shows that communist theory and practice, joined with long-term base-building, can significantly impact upon the outlook of anti-sexist and anti-racist activists.

The organization is led by forces in the hip pocket of the Democratic Party. These misleaders channel much of the anger and frustration of working- and middle-class women into electoral politics, into calls for equal treatment of the sexes in the military and "glass ceiling" issues affecting wealthy and professional--mainly white--women. But several so-called "women's issues" are working-class issues--abortion rights and welfare "reform". And many working-class issues--police brutality, racist profiling, AIDS--vitally affect women, especially non-white women.

This conference showed that ten years of organizing by PLP members and friends, both in a state-wide anti-racist task force and in a local urban chapter, have had a strong anti-capitalist influence in our state's branch. A social worker and PLP member gave an eloquent and hard-hitting commentary on the brutality of welfare sanctions. His relating the welfare cuts to a larger analysis of the ruling-class assault upon the social wage was warmly received. Other PLP members and friends, speaking from the floor, raised a number of communist ideas, such as:

* Women's unpaid work in the home is a bonanza for the capitalists, providing them with free labor power to exploit now and in the future. Only in a society based upon meeting human need rather than generating profit can domestic labor be recognized and valued as the productive and socially necessary activity that it is;

* Racism has been used to stereotype welfare recipients, facilitating the removal of the welfare safety net, and is against the interest of the entire working class, employed and unemployed, white and non-white;

* Welfare "reform" and increased police racial profiling and brutality have occurred under the Clinton-Gore administrations, whose liberal facade has enabled them to pave the way for fascism more effectively than overt conservatives ever could have done.

The PLP forces and other activists in the organization have some sharp differences. Most of its members are fighting hard to reform capitalism, not abolish it. Many believe passionately in voting. But because the PLP'ers have shared many aspects of their communist politics with several of the long-time activists, and because we have a long history of principled opposition to racism, these debates are friendly, even humorous and teasing. It is widely acknowledged that it is the work of PLP'ers that has made our task force/chapter one of only two such multi-racial units nationally.

Without the Party's work, there would have been no multi-racial presence at the Conference, which drew together a loose coalition of some 50 additional protestors to an anti-fascist rally last summer at which several PLP members--not part of the organization's protest--were arrested. Seeing our comrades in action greatly increased some of the organization's members' respect for the Party.

The temptation to opportunism--that is, not raising communist perspectives, uniting with people on a merely reformist basis--continually faces the Party forces here. We often fall prey to this temptation. Only a few activists read CHALLENGE regularly. This must be changed. We also need to struggle harder to win certain fence-sitters to join the Party. Only one person has been recruited directly from these activities. But above all we need to be patient, recognizing that our ideas and actions are like seeds being dropped on the ground. The fertility of the soil and the amount of precipitation vary, but sooner or later there will be a large and rich harvest.


They Shall Not Pass!

Once again the collectivity of the Red Army defeats the "supermen" of the

Third Reich. The KKK rally in Skokie was an affront to the whole working class. Skokie is 40% Jewish with many holocaust survivors. While we couldn't directly attack the scum on the courthouse steps, the anti-racist crowd pummeled many supporters.

After the rally a small group of Party members and friends were walking back to our cars when we were confronted by a group of about eight young well-built and conditioned skinhead Nazis. Opposing them were about ten Reds, ranging from age 16-60. Our conditioning ranged from poor to not so poor.

At first glance it didn't look too good for the Red Army, but essence is primary over appearance. We had committed comrades with much experience in smashing Nazis. A 42-year old comrade took the lead and asked the lead Nazi, "Where do you think you're going?" He arrogantly replied, "To join our white brothers." His German accent suggested these were not the run-of-the-mill gutter scum who attend Klan gatherings.

They tried to pass our lines and for the next forty seconds, the Battle of Stalingrad was reenacted in microcosm. We were committed that these Nazis would not pass! Many hard blows were struck. Young and old comrades fought with ferocity. Individually we were no match for them. But collectively we gave them the whipping they deserved. The "master race" fled to their car like sheep from a pack of wolves, and were pummeled getting in. The windows of the car would need to be replaced when they returned to the cesspool from whence they came.

They had inflicted injuries on several comrades and they received injuries in kind. We can't expect to stop fascism without taking some losses, but with communist collectivity and commitment we can smash racism and all of its' vestiges. We must continue to build class-consciousness among our friends. All workers can understand the need to physically smash racism and build communist equality. We must teach the Party's history in smashing racism to our youth so they can take the lead.

Red Fighter

Zionists Rode British Coattails

I just eagerly read your analysis (CHALLENGE, Jan. 3)) of the current situation in Palestine/Israel and found it excellent and fully informed. I have always believed that the British used the divide-and-conquer strategy in order to destroy many civilizations around the world. As you stated, they instigated animosities between many different cultures and religious groups by playing to both sides' nationalism. They acted two-faced.

The Zionists rode the coat tails of the British in order to establish their state. These "communists" willingly disregarded the rights of the indigenous population, the Palestinian Arabs, in order to build a nation-state. I'm pretty sure Karl Marx disapproved of nation-state building. Sure, these Zionists built their farming collectives with a spirit of communist ideology, but they were inherently based in Jewish nationalism. Therefore, I wouldn't consider them "communists" or even "socialists."

Today, Israel remains a virtual theocracy. Much of its social policy is created and enforced by the Orthodox rabbinate. The very purpose of Israel's existence is to act as a "homeland" for the world's Jewish population. Their "right of return" states any Jew can immigrate to Israel and be granted immediate citizenship. If you're not Jewish, you must wait several years. That's like saying that only white émigrés to the U.S. can get immediate citizenship, but black émigrés must wait five years or more! It's purely and inherently racist! As a Jew, I am especially ashamed of this practice.

Secondly, obtaining a good job in Israel is largely based on service in the Israeli army. In fact, I was told that those who did not serve are stigmatized as being "emotionally insecure." And can't get a good job. Of course, Israeli Arabs are not allowed to serve in the army, thus automatically placing them in this second-class status along with dissenters or conscientious objectors. They won't get good jobs.

"Blame" should be placed on both the British AND the Zionists, since it was the Zionists who lobbied to obtain (via British imperialism) a nation-state of their own. Today, I would blame both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I don't condone or applaud violence and would hope that both sides stop their respective outbursts. Thanks again,

Reader from Philly

Don't Shop Capitalism--STOP It!

A radio news broadcast dramatized just how strange and sick capitalism is getting. It reported a psychiatric study among people who supposedly had a "shopping addiction." They can't control themselves when shopping! The study said 75% were better able to control their shopping urges after given a tranquilizer-type drug.

Communists would say there are real physical addictions--drugs, alcohol, etc. Then there are deeply-ingrained habits which the bosses call "psychological addictions." Capitalism creates intense feelings of alienation and powerlessness. Alienation can be defeated by destroying its root--class society. Fighting capitalist exploitation and especially building a communist movement is the best way to do this! The capitalists can't stomach that so they offer us various escapes so we'll think we have power over our lives. It can be a combination of physical and psychological addictions, such as drugs and alcohol. Or it can be compulsive gambling, eating, exercise, fighting, promiscuity or even compulsive shopping. One can feel they're not exploited and alienated by pretending to be masters of their own world.

So here it is. Capitalism exploits and alienates the working class (and even some capitalists!) Then it offers us escapism, encouraging compulsive shopping by telling us that our worth as human beings is measured by how many things we can buy. (We are taught to think of ourselves as consumers, not workers.) Then, if people get too extreme about shopping, the bosses will drug us if they're worried about not being paid because of the high rate of bankruptcies!

Communism is more than just economics or politics. It's a way of life. Understanding how capitalism affects all aspects of our lives, including psychological ones, will help us to become better communists and better able to explain communism to others.

Red Observer

Evicted by Profit System

A guy I used to work with recently moved to Brooklyn's Williamsburg section. He called me, sounding very upset. The city published a list of 100 buildings deemed "fire hazards," and his apartment house was on the list. All his friends were calling to ask what he was going to do. Naturally, I expressed sympathy for him, and suggested he call a friend of mine in Brooklyn and ask if he knew of any places to move, if this guy actually was evicted. He was very angry with fascist mayor Giuliani, and I agreed, but said if the buildings actually were dangerous, what else could be done?

But after I hung up, I thought more about it. When I was a kid in Brooklyn through my twenties over twenty years ago, Williamsburg was considered one of the most dangerous and dirty sections of New York. Probably some of that view was a racist one, but it did have some of the worst poverty in the country.

Then in the eighties, the Yuppie movement was in full swing, so working-class areas like the Upper West Side, the Lower East Side, and many parts of Harlem were viewed as potentially desirable neighborhoods. The landlords, through their government, started evicting people from these areas. (This situation was predicted in CHALLENGE as long ago as the late '60s.) People who had lived under terrible conditions in these neighborhoods now had to jam themselves into ever more crowded areas of the city. And the explosive growth continued, so places like Williamsburg also became "prime real estate."

I have another friend who shares an apartment on 123rd Street in Harlem costing $1,600 a month. That's when the roommate situation became pretty much manditory, and people even started renting their apartments out during the day for psychologists' offices, thereby kicking in toward the almost impossible-to-maintain rents, even with roommates.

After they squeezed long-time tenants out, landlords then fixed up the houses and charged ridiculous rents--controls by then were virtually non-existent. Or maybe they didn't quite "fix" the buildings up. Maybe the electric systems weren't really safe and people might die? But what does that matter, compared with making money? Now, it seems, capitalist chickens are coming home to roost--but as usual the rich don't pay a dime for their crimes.

As with so much of the profit system, people who think they're protected from the worst ravages of capitalist greed simply are a little further down the list. So now my friend, who has a good-paying job as a cook, may well find himself and his few belongings out on the street. He said, "What the hell's going on? How can this happen to me?"

The answer is, so long as capitalism rules the world, "it" can happen to anyone. An old Brooklynite

The Real Racist Fraud

The article "200 Years of Racist Elections Marches On" did a very good job exposing the racist nature of the capitalist system in the electoral arena. The article also correctly tied the 2000 presidential election to the racist history of the electoral college and the voting system. Prior to the bourgeois revolution in the American colonies, only adult white male property owners could vote. Historically, after extended struggles, the right to vote was only extended to others grudgingly by the rulers and the politicians representing their class.

However, the article could state more clearly the main frauds in capitalist elections. Massive vote theft and the "rising from the dead" of voters are a very small piece of the puzzle. They don't describe how the voting system covers up the bosses' class dictatorship. Before the election, a CNBC business show host said: "At least you'll get a capitalist whether you vote for Bush or Gore."

Beyond that, voting once every four years only gives workers the illusion they're "participating" in the government. In fact, con men, liars and big talkers dominate the political process for the billionaires they serve. Basically, workers are told to vote, shut up and go back to work. Beyond window dressing, there's no attempt to involve workers.

One reason PLP advocates democratic centralism as society's governing principle is to ensure the involvement of masses of workers in the process of building communism. Generally, the more workers and others involved in a meaningful and scientific way in this process, the better. The capitalists' vicious lies that "every vote counts" and that their democracy represents the "rule of the people" mask the reality of their absolute control of the political process.

Remember, the most far-sighted bosses are upset because fewer and fewer people vote each year. These bosses would love to have black workers rely on the voting system as their savior. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, et. al., represent this aim for the liberal wing of the ruling class and are organizing a large anti-Bush demonstration in Washington on January 20 for this purpose. The revisionists (fake leftists) are tailing this rotten leadership. As we go to Washington with our mass organizations and friends, let's put forward the real solution while we expose the racism and bankruptcy of the capitalist electoral system.

NJ Comrade

Movie Review

"Traffic" was praised by critics and will probably be nominated for Oscars. The director, Steven Soderburgh, also did "Erin Brockovich" so I thought it might be interesting. Save your money. This is one rotten flick.

Supposedly it's an exposé of the War On Drugs. In reality it's a disgustingly racist melodrama, stupid and cynical even by Hollywood standards.

"Traffic" takes place on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, with lots of pretentious cinema verité tricks and subtitles. All the good guys are narcs or Republican politicians, mostly on the U.S. side. The Mexicans (mostly bad guys) include a crooked general, various crooked soldiers, coke smugglers and cops. Benicio del Toro plays a crooked Tijuana cop who reforms only after betraying his best friend and getting him killed. There are some rich crooks in San Diego but they are all Latino, work for Latinos or are mysteriously ethnic, like Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The story centers (of course) on an honest but troubled rich white family in the burbs. Dad (Michael Douglas) is the U.S. drug czar. In a major suspension of disbelief he actually wants to find out the facts. Mom is the stereotypical baby boomer ditz (How ditzy? She's aware her honor student daughter is freebasing for six months without worrying about it or taking any action). Daughter, meanwhile, is afflicted with the usual movie teenage angst, a terminal case because she doesn't produce a coherent word in the movie. She and her rich friends all freebase, in the only scenes that really could have benefited from subtitles. They get coke by cruising the inner city.

As Daughter gets hooked, she has sex with dealers to get her fix, and we get Gone With the Wind images that I thought were banned even from today's Hollywood--"pure white Southern womanhood" sullied by ultimate degradation: sex with black drug dealer in crack hotel, etc. Finally Dad rescues her in a scene too bizarrely Freudian to describe, family is reunited, goes to rehab together, Dad quits job because war on drugs is a war on our families, audience OD's on syrup, etc.

This. film attempts to absolve the U.S. of any wrong-doing in the drug trade. The Michael Douglas character is the embodiment of this lie.

Meanwhile the U.S. narcs learn that the Mexican general they've been working with is actually part of a rival drug gang, and massive cynicism invades this bunch, which has evidently just landed from Neptune.

The point of all this trash seems to be that the war on drugs is pointless because people will always want drugs and money, but these guys, especially cops, are American heroes anyway. War is hell. (Not incidentally, the movie makes drugs look so goddamn attractive that it might as well be sponsored by a cartel.) And Don Cheadle, my favorite movie actor, is wasted in another stinker!