CHALLENGE, January 31, 2001

To Our Readers:

Starting with this issue CHALLENGE will be published biweekly. We want to make this a a temporary situation. But, we need the help of our readers to change it as soon as possible (for more details see article in this issue).

Editorial: Whether Clinton Or Bush—Same Agenda, Racism And War

Fired Red Teacher Wins Round One

It’s Time to ‘Clock’ the Klan

Criminal Injustice System in Overdrive vs. Morristown Anti-Racists

Begin Millennium Organizing For Red May Day

Class War The Cure for Electoral Disease

Hospital Bosses Cut Jobs, Workers Bleed

The Bi-Weekly CHALLENGE: Spread Revolutionary Ideas In the Working Class

The 'New Economy': WWW.GONEBROKE.COM

Boeing’s New Boss: An Ambassador Of Death

Capitalism Turns Quake into Disaster for Workers

From Boom to Bloodbath

Reform and Revolution at the MLA


Ecuador to Spain: Same Enemy, Same Fight

Small Victory Over ‘Big Mac’



Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing! Thousands of workers and others planning to protest at the Bush-Cheney inauguration would do well to heed this ancient warning. The new Republican White House is obviously racist, anti-worker and pro-business to the core. Not so obvious is that the liberals leading the protests are just as bad as Bush & Co. We shouldn’t be misled by capitalist politicians parading as "lesser evils." The entire profit system is the evil we must destroy. Workers should march on Washington, but not to follow Democrats, who serve the same ruling class as the Republicans. We should march on May Day under the banners of the Progressive Labor Party for the goal of communist revolution.

The recent election exposed the bosses’ voting process as a hypocritical fraud. Gore won the popular vote and Bush stole Florida by preventing black workers from voting or refusing to count their votes. But suppose Gore had won. Would a Gore-Lieberman presidency have offered workers a better deal? Facts are stubborn things. The Clinton-Gore record proves that the struggle to control the executive branch is little more than a partisan brawl to decide which faction of rulers will get to reap the spoils of state power as they rule over and oppress us. A brief summary of Clinton-Gore’s "achievements" since 1993 shows an unbroken pattern of racist terror, social service cuts, fascist use of state power, environmental degradation and preparation for imperialist oil war:

•The Clinton-Gore welfare" reform" law threw millions of workers and children off public assistance and into a form of slave labor.

• The prison population doubled. Seventy percent of inmates are black and Latino, mostly jailed for non-violent crimes or framed outright.

•The so-called "Clinton boom" went primarily into the pockets of the wealthiest 5 %. One-fifth of all children live in poor households. This figure will mushroom now that the economy is slowing and tens of thousands more workers face layoffs.

•Clinton-Gore hired 100,000 new cops to brutalize workers and then made sure the "Justice" Department would obtain as few federal indictments as possible against police brutality (only 3 % of all cases referred to it by the FBI).

•As a result of Clinton-Gore IRS policy, taxpayers earning $25,000 or less now stand a better chance of facing an audit than people earning more than $100,000.

•Clinton-Gore paraded as champions of the environment. But their record was even worse than the Republican Reagan-Bush gang’s. Clinton-Gore’s pet North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a program for mass environmental pollution in Mexico and the Southern Hemisphere. On the home front, Clinton-Gore gave a virtual blank check for development to mining companies, real estate developers, the food and chemical industries and the pharmaceutical giants

•War, or preparation for it, was a daily menu item of all eight Clinton-Gore years. U.S. sanctions murdered over a million Iraqis—mostly children—without bringing Iraqi oil back under Exxon’s control. Under Clinton, U.S. imperialism played nuclear brinkmanship in North Korea, bombed Iraq regularly (and still does), carried out "humanitarian" aerial terror over the former Yugoslavia for the control of energy pipelines, and made "peace" moves that have once again turned the Middle East into a powderkeg.

A Democratic Gore presidency would clearly have pursued the same agenda. The Bush White House will not act in a fundamentally different way. Sure, there will be some differences. Bush owes the domestic Oil Patch bosses a favor. So he backs the pumping of Alaskan oil for commercial purposes. The Democrats oppose it, but not for the environmental reasons stated. They simply want the oil at the ready for emergency use if war disrupts the flow from the Persian Gulf.

Otherwise there won’t be much difference. In fact, Bush could hardly attack the working class more than Clinton-Gore. If racist John Ashcroft becomes Attorney General, he could hardly move the anti-working class policies already in place much further to the right. However, more severe fascist attacks are in the works such as the Hart-Rudman plan (see box).The only difference is that Ashcroft doesn’t bother to camouflage his racism. Bush’s main cabinet appointments—in State, Treasury, and Defense—all come from the same Establishment-friendly club that has always carried out a pro-ruling class agenda regardless of minor tactical differences.

Gore would have squeezed us economically, imprisoned us, terrorized us and tried eventually to march us off to a war in the desert for oil super-profits. Bush & Co. will do exactly the same.

We must break the vicious circle the liberals constantly put before us to chase after a "lesser evil." Even the more radical-sounding politicians from the so-called "left," like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, are completely controlled by the bosses. Jackson is a former Rockefeller Brothers "man of the year," and both he and Sharpton (an admitted FBI informer) fully backed the Clinton-Gore program, especially its focus on making Iraq safe for Exxon, which means war.

Our Party rejects choosing between the workers’ enemies. The capitalist system can’t be reformed. The bosses will always use their state power to guarantee maximum profits for the big financiers and industrialists. Accepting this dirty "choice" keeps us in the bosses’ control. Our class interest lies not in picking our own hangman but rather in fighting to build a Party that can lead one day to the seizure of power. Break away from liberal rulers and their politicians! Smash the Democratic and Republican bosses! Join with the Progressive Labor Party and march on May Day for communist revolution!

Hart-Rudman Plan: Open Blueprint For Fascism And War

Workers shouldn’t be fooled by all the partisan wrangling over Bush’s cabinet appointments. Genuine tactical differences divide the main rulers on certain questions, and the brawling may continue, perhaps throughout the Bush-Cheney presidency. But U.S. imperialism also faces mounting challenges over the next 20 years from European, Chinese and Russian rivals. To meet these threats, it will need internal unity. The bosses need self-discipline within their own ranks as well as against workers both at home and abroad.

The political form of the drive toward this discipline is the Hart-Rudman"U.S. Commission on National Security in the Twenty-First Century." It includes both liberal Democrats like Andrew Young and "conservative" Republicans like Newt Gingrich. Its chief goal is U.S. rulers’ survival as a superpower. One aim is to confront the growing strength of Russia and China. Another is to guarantee an "uninterrupted supply of oil from the Persian Gulf." This means war, sooner or later. But the Hart-Rudman panel understands that, in light of the "Vietnam Syndrome," the bosses will need a major effort to mobilize the working class inside and outside the military.

Hart-Rudman’s solution is to use the threat of a "hostile attack on our homeland," an assault "in which Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers." Then, the commission hopes, "the American people will be ready to sacrifice blood and treasure, and come together to do so."

This "National Security" panel also prescribes tightened control of the economy from the top down. Knowing that international economic rivalry eventually leads to armed conflict, Hart-Rudman wants an "integration of the Departments of State and Defense and the CIA with the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, Justice and Transportation."

Consolidating law enforcement plays a big role as well. The September 1999 installment of Hart-Rudman recommended "new organizational mechanisms to manage the increased blurring of lines among military, police, and legal jurisdictions, and among new forms of warfare." The Pentagon acted immediately by creating a joint task force to ensure military control of state and local police agencies in the event of an emergency.

The main implementation phase of the Hart-Rudman report will be published in February or March. This blueprint for fascism and war represents U.S. rulers’ plans for meeting their urgent class needs, regardless of the cost in workers’ lives. The Bush-Cheney White House will march to this tune. The Clinton-Gore team played the overture, and a Gore White House would have continued into the next act. The liberals are fully behind Hart-Rudman. Newly-elected New Jersey Democratic Senator John Corzine promised during his campaign to "hold off on any major new defense contracts…until the Hart Rudman Commission…finishes its report."

Our enemy is mobilizing to act as one class. We must do no less. Building the PLP as the working class’s general staff is the top strategic priority for workers. Nothing else can lead to victory.

Fired Red Teacher Wins Round One

CHICAGO, January 14 — Communist teacher Carol Caref is one step closer to winning her job back. On December 16, a hearing officer ruled that her firing was "without just or sufficient cause." The decision overwhelmingly favored Carol, rejecting every one of the Board’s arguments. The Board of Education can still overturn the finding at its February 27 meeting.

Carol was charged with "conduct unbecoming a teacher" because she encouraged students to attend an anti-KKK rally in 1997, and one of her students was arrested. In 1999, the Board, learning of this arrest, conducted a witchhunt "investigation" reminiscent of McCarthyism. Carol and another PLP teacher, Moises Bernal, were removed from their classrooms. Moises was later fired.

Students, parents and teachers supported PLP against racist schools’ CEO Paul Vallas. Many teachers contributed financial and moral support. Students and parents backed Carol at hearings, rallies and defense committee meetings. "Substance" newspaper—whose editor is himself a target of Mayor Daley’s School Board—published front-page accounts of Carol’s hearing and the recent decision.

Our forces presented a vigorous political defense against the Board’s attack with which the hearing officer agreed, stating, "Young people need to broaden their horizons by observing the world that they will soon be facing on their own. There is strong support for a white teacher who teaches in a primarily black school and protests racist activities. A teacher’s willingness to broaden their education by spending off-duty time is to be commended, not condemned."

However, to make this victory more meaningful, we must fight to win these supporters to become new members, CHALLENGE distributors and May Day organizers, and to advance our fight to serve the people.

The Board and Daley are committed to ideological control of the schools to serve the interests of their masters. They are still attacking all real and potential critics of their phony educational "miracle." This "miracle" has thrown thousands of students, mainly black and Latino, out of the high schools. It has used phony redesign plans to keep people in line and train a few for high-tech jobs in the military and their "new economy." The rest are tracked into prisons, cannon-fodder posts in the military and/or below-poverty wage jobs.

Communists fight to educate students, in and out of the classroom. Young people, in particular, need to learn as much about the world as possible, including math, science, history and language, so they can better lead the fight for communism. Our Party is committed to serving the needs of these working-class youth, in and out of school.

The Caref-Bernal Legal Defense Fund still needs contributions and donations to offset huge legal bills. Bernal’s case is being appealed. Send donations, and make checks or money orders payable, to the Caref-Bernal Legal Defense Fund, at 5431 South Harper, Chicago, IL 60615.

It’s Time to ‘Clock’ the Klan

GARY, IN, Jan. 17 — The racist Ku Klux Klan has announced plans to march in Gary. Mayor Scott King is putting on a publicity show about trying to "stop" them, but the racist system has been allowing this racist terror gang to spread its recruitment drive. Whatever may happen, we should organize thousands of people to oppose them and shut them down!

There can be no "free speech" for this murderous gang with a long history of brutalizing and killing thousands of black people. The same system that pretends to support "free speech" uses its cops to stop the free speech and "freedom of assembly" of young people in Gary and all over the U. S., harassing, beating, and jailing them often for the so-called crime of walking in public places. Workers on strike are ordered back to work. But when they want to protect the Klan, they chatter about "free speech."

Here in Northwest Indiana and throughout the U.S., the economy is starting to slide. The rich capitalists may pretend to oppose the violence of groups like the KKK, but they use these groups to try to get white working-class people to attack black workers, immigrants and anyone else who tries to unite the working class. It’s no accident that we are faced with more big layoffs in the steel industry and a decline in the economy while the capitalists simultaneously enable the KKK to try to create a war among black, Latino and white workers. Capitalism is killing millions of workers worldwide and the crisis is worsening. That’s why PLP fights for communism.

Anyone who thinks the KKK has the answers will have to answer to us! That means organizing on the job, in our unions, schools and communities to bring out thousands. The argument that, "They are only seeking attention and should be ignored." is dead wrong. They don’t want attention for the hell of it! They want to recruit to build a violently racist, anti-working class movement. That’s why we should shut them down and carry the anti-racist momentum into a broader, deeper effort to build a communist revolution to smash racist capitalism forever.

Criminal Injustice System in Overdrive vs. Morristown Anti-Racists

MORRISTOWN, NJ, January 12 — Recent developments in the cases of the eight anti-racists arrested here at an anti-fascist demonstration on July 4 show once again the importance of unity against a legal system where the cards are stacked against us. At a Jan. 10 court hearing, two judges, one for the adult case and one for the juvenile case, kicked the lawyer representing four of the adult defendants and one juvenile off the case completely. The judges completely disregarded the wishes of all five defendants and their so-called constitutional right to choose their own attorneys. They based their ruling on the elitist proposition that the legal system knows what is best for these defendants better than they do themselves!

Our legal defense committee fully expected that these judges would fire our lawyers. Our lawyer had been painstakingly fighting these cases, and had become a major thorn in the prosecutor’s side. The defendants have still not been charged by the grand jury, although that may change soon (see below). The prosecutor clearly wanted our lawyer off the case, and the judges were happy to cooperate. Far from demoralizing the anti-racists, however, this move has made them more determined to stick together and fight all the charges. Our defense team also has resolved to stay on the legal offensive against these attacks.

At the court hearing, the judge raised the spectre of the anti-racists facing up to five years in jail if convicted on more serious "third degree" riot charges. This was not part of the cops’ original charges. In his court papers, the prosecutor also raised the possibility of investigating a "conspiracy" among the defendants. In the latest development, the prosecutor is directly contacting witnesses for the anti-racists to persuade them to testify for the government. Grand jury subpoenas may follow soon. These threats show how seriously the local bosses take our July 4 actions. They also reflect the rapid growth of U.S. fascism.

From Seattle to Morristown, to the Republican and Democratic Conventions, the rulers’ police forces are increasingly being used to directly suppress mass demonstrations. A CNN report on the Washington, D.C. anti-Bush demonstration scheduled for this weekend’s inauguration reports that participants will go through TEN security check-points to reach the approved location. Clinton’s Hart-Rudman commission proposals will directly tie all federal government agencies to the military/national security apparatus (see page 2).

Communists do not underestimate the vicious lengths to which the ruling class will go to secure its power and profits. Imperialist war and fascism flow inevitably from the capitalist system. The entire legal system—laws, judges, prosecutors, grand juries, etc.—will be used to further these plans.

We in PLP must expose the latest Morristown developments. They are a "wake-up call" for the working class. They must lead to our building a large movement of workers and students to fight all the attacks on the anti-racists. In the long run, only a communist revolution can put an end to the bosses and their bought-and-paid-for legal system.

Fighting is Winning:

Begin Millennium Organizing For Red May Day

NEW YORK, January 16 — May Day is the most significant political activity of PLP. May Day 2001 will take place as inter-imperialist rivalry intensifies, amid a growing threat of war for control of Mid-East oil and increasingly fascist measures and layoffs as the bosses’ economy enters into another one of its periodic crisis. May Day will also take place as workers fight for their class interests, from strikes in Ecuador and Colombia to anti-racist protests in the U.S. and Southern Spain

Our Party continues the dogged fight for communism. We are digging deeper roots in the international working class and giving more leadership to the class struggle. There is every reason for revolutionary optimism, but no room for complacency. We can take nothing and no one for granted. Confidence is important. But we need more struggle, among our friends and against the enemy. Struggle among comrades and friends should be based on deep appreciation and respect for everyone’s potential to contribute to building the Party and serving the working class. Out of struggle grows real affection for and confidence in each other.

We must fight. Fight for mass numbers of May Day marchers. Fight to serve the working class. Fight for CHALLENGE distribution and fund-raising. Fight to organize May Day committees and activity, for recruitment to the Party, and the political development of our members and leaders. Fight to sharpen the class struggle. In short, fight to build a mass base for communist revolution and more quickly reverse the devastating impact of the defeat of the old communist movement. When we turn this around depends on many circumstances, both external and internal. But the goal is to wage this struggle.

We are in a continuous effort to increase the number of May Day marchers. But we understand that each new May Day marcher and organizer, each new CHALLENGE reader and distributor, every new committed sustainer, and each new member represents a qualitative change for that person and our Party clubs.

A long-time PLP member asked what could be done to re-gain his commitment for May Day organizing. A new leader concluded, "I think we need some kind of center where we can pursue our projects. We have an ESL class. We are beginning a new theater group for writing and performing political skits at various activities. Our factory workers project is a little slow at the moment, but we should re-vitalize it. And we’re more and more involved with parents and others in the struggle against racist studies and the use of drugs, like Ritalin, on our children."

Thinking about what we do, making plans and evaluations, are the nuts and bolts of our work. This is how we can understand and advance our political ideas. With a careful and planned struggle we can do better. We should review our plan for CHALLENGE distribution and fund-raising. Who do we know and what is the nature of our personal-political relationships? Who can we recruit to the Party? How can we improve Party education? What are our plans for work in the mass organizations, in mass struggles, for Party activities and for mass May Day organizing? In the fight to improve our work we welcome comradely criticism and self-criticism to overcome all obstacles.

Building May Day means being active in struggle on many fronts every day. Jump in. It is still true that the international working class has nothing to lose but its chains and a world to win.

Class War The Cure for Electoral Disease

NEW YORK CITY, Jan. 14 — The Local 1199 hospital workers union leadership in the Service Employees International Union is misleading health care and service workers in their struggles against the bosses. The union leaders, Andrew Stein and Dennis Rivera, concentrate on mobilizing the union to elect the bosses’ candidates who, at best, can give us a few crumbs.

One worker at a Brooklyn hospital told us, "I’ve been voting for the past 20 years. Hospital conditions for patient care have deteriorated. Before, I took care of six patients. Now I have 15. What have the politicians done for patient care?"

The union leaders say the class struggle is over, that electing Democrats ("our friends") and defeating Republicans ("our enemies") is the only future for health care and service workers. But another Brooklyn hospital worker told us, "Workers cannot depend on the bosses’ politicians to improve their living standards. Workers have always had to fight very hard to gain better conditions." Or keep what little benefits we have, we might add.

Both parties are funded by the bosses and push the same policies for workers—racist mayhem, slave labor Workfare, doubling the prison population (70% black and Latino, mostly non-violent offenders or framed outright) and a dramatic increase in police terror and anti-immigrant attacks. They want the working class passive, loyal and divided, supporting the bosses’ ideas—racism, war and fascism.

In the last election, the 1199 leadership mobilized thousands of workers to elect Democrats around the country, including voter registration, citizenship programs and going door-to-door to get out the vote. Millions in union funds were spent to elect politicians who serve the bosses’ interests. The union leaders are performing a valuable service for the rulers, misleading oppressed black, Latin and white workers to the polling booths instead of fighting back against the profit system.

Ironically the politicians are always criticizing the health care system in the media. Yet it is their capitalist system that’s responsible for the health care crisis, producing increased misery for both patients and health care workers. Currently there are 45 million workers nationwide without health insurance.

The N.Y. State Legislature "expanded" the Health Care Reform Act, but still left over 2,000,000 people without health insurance. The hospital bosses are still laying off workers (see box on Mt. Sinai) and closing their doors. Why? The nature of capitalism is cutthroat competition, which impels these cost-cutting, profit-making layoffs, closings, mergers and consolidations, and battles among hospitals, drug and insurance companies for profits.

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 cut $3 billion from Medicare for hospitals in NY State. The HMOs denied many hospital reimbursements, claiming services were "not medically necessary."

This is what we get from being misled into the polling booths. We must fight against a union leadership that defends the bosses’ system. Unite workers across all borders to wage war against capitalist exploitation.

Hospital Bosses Cut Jobs, Workers Bleed

NEW YORK CITY, Jan. 10 — Hundreds of Local 1199 members picketed Mt. Sinai Hospital today, protesting a cut of 70 housekeeping jobs, "to reduce costs." Many of these 70 have been working here for 10 years or more.

"They claim to have economic troubles, but we don’t believe them," said Maria Boutim, losing her job after 12 years, "They pay very high salaries to hospital officials who do nothing" The head of the hospital’s Board of Directors announced last month that the hospital just collected $10 million from donors. Workers should have such "economic troubles."

The hospital’s "promise" to find new jobs for those being cut is an empty one since they claim they haven’t found anywhere to place them. But a Mt. Sinai shop steward reported that the 16-floor medical school on Madison Avenue has "300 offices and 85 labs that will be cleaned by only 8 people working only 4 hours a day each. It is impossible to clean them adequately in such a short time and with so few staff."

Health care is obviously run like any other capitalist business. The bottom line is profits. The lives of these 70 workers are of no concern to these bosses. Indeed, capitalist health care is dangerous to workers’ health.

The Bi-Weekly CHALLENGE:

Spread Revolutionary Ideas In the Working Class

With this issue, CHALLENGE- will be published every two weeks, primarily to use the extra week to enlarge the regular readership of the paper. As layoffs, racist terror and war loom even more in the future, and workers fight back, we can win new readers to become regular distributors of CHALLENGE. Through this process, we would hope to return to a weekly by next January, if not sooner, and retain the increased regular readership, as well as increase the financial base of our paper and Party.

Lenin, the leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, declared, "Without revolutionary theory there is no revolution." In other words, to overthrow capitalism and build communism, the working class must understand why capitalism is its mortal enemy and why communism is the only solution. Otherwise, no matter how bad things get, workers will be sucked into following misleaders who claim they can reform capitalism. Ultimately these reformers inevitably lead workers into nationalism and wars against the workers of other countries.

Lenin’s party, the Bolsheviks, succeeded because, among other reasons, they brought their theory to workers, soldiers and sailors through their newspapers. They fought hard for years even though being caught with a copy of a communist newspaper could result in imprisonment or death. Bolshevik Party clubs made and consistently carried out detailed plans to bring their newspapers to workers. Often a single copy was passed around a factory and read by dozens of workers.

Largely because of the reversals of the workers’ revolutions in Russia and China, we are in a difficult historical period for building the communist movement. Many workers, students, and others are cynical about the chances of replacing capitalism—no matter how brutal it gets—with something better. Many have bought into the anti-communism constantly peddled by the bosses and their intellectual servants.


CHALLENGE is a big part of the answer to the cynicism and anti-communism that cripples our class. CHALLENGE links the horror we all experience to the profoundly rotten nature of capitalism and shows why the profit system can never meet the needs of the working class. Every issue of CHALLENGE shows how real workers, students and soldiers in a number of countries are building the Progressive Labor Party by leading class struggle and recruiting new members.

But the circulation of CHALLENGE is too low compared to the task before us. Given our forces, there is no way—yet—that we can compete in terms of numbers with the capitalist mass media. But, by applying ourselves, we could significantly increase the circulation of CHALLENGE between now and May Day, and continue to do so thereafter. This will make a difference! CHALLENGE is infinitely more powerful than the mass media, because it tells the truth about capitalism rather than covering up its crimes. Every additional reader of CHALLENGE is a nail in the coffin of the capitalist class.

What Must Be Done?

A CHALLENGE article (Jan. 3) from a Philadelphia PLP club shows the way. It analyzes why some members excel at getting the paper out to their friends, and how others could learn from them. The club made plans for everybody to increase their CHALLENGE circulation and how to get the paper "read" by workers who can’t or don’t read, including a fight for a union-sponsored literacy campaign.

Every PLP club should make detailed plans to distribute more copies of CHALLENGE. A critical element involves increasing the number of people who distribute the paper. As readers come to understand the paper’s importance to the working class, they should become distributors. Struggling with family members, friends and co-workers to read CHALLENGE is difficult. Experienced Party members must provide guidance and support on how to overcome cynicism, anti-communism and other obstacles. Otherwise, readers can draw the incorrect conclusion that others are not interested. But winning struggles to bring CHALLENGE to others builds confidence in PLP and its ideas, and is a crucial part of the recruitment process. People become communists by winning others to communism.

If you’re reading this but do not meet with a PLP club, you too can help. The Party and the working class need your help. Think about who could be enlightened, as you are, by reading CHALLENGE. Make a list. Ask the person who gives you the paper to give you extra copies, and take them to the people on your list. Explain to them why they should read it. Show them articles you think will interest them. Want help? Just ask your Party contact.

Finally, PLP clubs and other readers should send in articles and letters about their efforts to increase the circulation of the paper, similar to the Philadelphia article. CHALLENGE is the organizing tool of the communist revolution. Let’s use it to learn from each other how to make our newspaper a stronger weapon in the hands of the working class.

Help bring back a weekly CHALLENGE by:

• Buying and selling more subscriptions,

• Contributing monthly sustainers and asking friends for donations.

The 'New Economy': WWW.GONEBROKE.COM

During last year’s Super Bowl Sunday, scores of expensive commercials (the costliest spots on U.S. TV) advertised Dot Com companies. Most of them won’t be seen during this year’s Super Bowl. They’re gone. What happened?

A year ago all the pundits were praising the "New Economy." Supposedly there was no end in sight to all these Dot Coms and the millionaires they were creating. Never mind that they produced nothing of value and were actually money-losing ventures—their stocks were going up and up, throwing reality out the window.

Well, reality is stubborn. The high-tech companies are going down faster than the Vikings bowed to the Giants. Just last December, 10,000 Internet jobs were lost nation-wide, almost half in New York’s "Silicon Alley" and on Long Island. Even the powerful N.Y. TIMES began the new millennium by firing 75 workers in its digital division. Job growth in the giant of the high-tech world, California’s Silicon Valley, fell to 3% in 2000 (from 3.8% in 1999 and 3.9% in 1998).

The fact is the so-called Internet revolution wasn’t such a revolution after all, not even in terms of capitalist development. Sure, it is useful to send e-mail to a friend or relative thousands of miles away—if they have access to a computer—but in terms of its supporters’ claims, it was nothing compared to, "The technological changes between 1880 and 1940 [which] exceeded, in both scope and intensity, all that has happened since," editorialized the London Financial Times (1/13) "Those changes included new sources of energy (electricity and petroleum), new industries (motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals) and new products (cars, washing machines, telephones, radio, penicillin. These profoundly affected what was produced and how. They also transformed the way people lived."( Financial Times editorial, Jan. 13).

Better yet, these industries developed a proletariat, millions of workers who, with communist leadership, will become the gravediggers of capitalism. The mass production industries developed by capitalism forced workers to work collectively and feel first hand what capitalism is all about—exploiting workers to net maximum profits.

But the high-tech industries, with their myths of "new working relations," developed "associates" (not workers). Individualism was raised to an all-time high with the promise of "sharing the wealth." But only Bill Gates and the other moguls really "shared" the wealth—among themselves. Most workers, even the higher paid ones, can’t even afford to live near their jobs because of sky-high housing costs and the relative low pay of many. Reports the New York Times (1/15): "An increasing number of employees [in Silicon Valley] cannot afford to live near their jobs and must commute from more rural and less expensive communities that may be several hours away."

Even in job creation, high-tech has not shined. The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed 4.1 million jobs created in the last decade in the U.S., and only one high-tech area was among the top 10 more important job-creating professions, only one belongs to high-tech (system analyst). High-tech lagged behind jobs in the traditional old economy (nursing, retail, office workers, etc.).

Worse yet, many countries and areas invested in helping attract high-tech companies at the expense of more important infrastructural investments in health care for the masses, education. running water, etc.

The more "progress" capitalism brings, the more workers and their allies suffer. The industrial advancement of the first half ot the 20th century sharpened the dogfight among the imperialists, producing World Wars I and II and helped create the Great Depression of the 1930s. The imperialism of that first World War also produced the Bolshevik revolution, which liberated one-sixth of the world’s surface from capitalist exploitation and then, in WW II, crushed the Nazi army, the mightiest military machine capitalism had produced.

Let’s make sure the new millennium brings about the best of the 20th century, communist revolution, and delete once and for all the virus of capitalism.

Boeing’s New Boss: An Ambassador Of Death

SEATTLE, January 14 — Boeing CEO Phil Condit recently announced the appointment of Thomas R Pickering, U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs, to the newly-created position of Boeing Senior Vice- President of International Relations. Pickering’s job will be strengthening the company’s relations with foreign governments and well-placed "movers-and-shakers" worldwide. He’ll serve on Boeing’s Executive Council, with the company’s top bosses.

Pickering’s record? He’s the Ambassador of Death!

Pickering was Reagan’s Ambassador to El Salvador from 1983 to 1985, during the height of the civil war. His predecessor having been fired for speaking too often about human rights violations of the pro-U.S. El Salvadorian government, Pickering set about ensuring his office fully supported U.S. imperialism:

• He dutifully squashed evidence of the El Salvador military’s involvement with the 1980 abduction, rape and murder of three U.S. Roman Catholic nuns and a lay worker. Classified documents revealed that in 1985 El Salvador’s defense minister General Jose Garcia had told Pickering one of his high-ranking officers ordered the executions. Pickering covered this up, thereby preserving U.S. military aid to the government of El Salvador. ("Facts on File World News Digest," 6/24/98)

• Pickering arranged for a secret donation of $1 million in arms to the Nicaraguan Contras when the U.S. government was prohibited by law from aiding these reactionary butchers. Testifying before Congressional committees investigating the Iran-contra scandal, Pickering admitted he hand-carried this million-dollar wish list to Washington for delivery to the White House basement where Marine Lt.-Col. Oliver North ran his covert operation.

No Dirty Deed Goes Unrewarded

Pickering’s reward for being a merchant of death came when President Bush appointed him UN ambassador where he:

• Engineered the political fig leaf Bush needed to carry out the Persian Gulf War. Serving his Exxon Mobil bosses as a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, Old Money’s foreign policy think-tank, Pickering molded the UN coalition against Iraq, providing the political cover for U.S. bosses’ Desert Slaughter to defend their oil empire.

• Led the post-war call for sanctions which have killed nearly a million Iraqians, half of whom are children.

• Launched a national speaking tour last year to build support for continued sanctions, only to be booed off the stage in city after city. "How dare you kill the kids of Iraq?" an unidentified man shouted at Pickering during one such speech. "What kind of human being are you?" (Florida Time-Union 6/10/00) Apparently the kind that suits U.S. imperialism just fine.

Clinton appointed Pickering Ambassador to Russia, during the crucial Yeltsin years where he uncovered opportunities for U.S. exploitation of cheap, skilled Russian labor. Expanding Boeing’s tool subcontracting in Russian will doubtless be a priority under the company’s plan to shrink in-house tooling.

Pickering: Friend Of Psychotic Torturers

Last March, Peruvian intelligence agent Leonor La Rosa Bustamante switched sides and planned to testify against fellow agent and psychotic torturer Tomas Anderson Kohatsu and his penchant for electric shock, rape, and beatings. But Pickering intervened, stopping the prosecution in the U.S. and assuring Anderson safe passage home to Peru. Another "victory" for human rights! [The Nation, 5/8/00]

Similarly, when Panama refused asylum to Anderson’s Peruvian boss, Vladimiro Montesinos, another psychotic torturer with long ties to the CIA, Pickering applied pressure through his office and the Organization of American States. Panama quickly reversed course. (New York Times, 9/24/00)

Pickering’s latest project is Plan Colombia, Washington’s imperialist intervention there under the guise of anti-drug interdiction. Colombia’s military, one of the most fascist in Latin America, gets most of the billions in "aid." It has close ties to the right-wing militias, many of whom are deeply involved in the drug trade. Asked about concerns that the Colombian military was discredited, Pickering responded:

"First, you can take it that I don’t agree with [these] judgments about the Colombian military forces. Secondly, as we’ve explained many times, there is continued very strong support for the Colombian national police…" (State Department news Briefing Regarding Undersecretary Pickering’s Trip to Colombia, 11/27/00) Pickering never met a death squad or torturer he didn’t like!

Obviously abetting torture, mass murder and gunrunning to fascist criminals in serving U.S. imperialism rewards and qualifies one to be a top Boeing boss. With communist revolution, the working class will remember to give ambassadors of death like Pickering their just rewards!

Capitalism Turns Quake into Disaster for Workers

EL SALVADOR, Jan. 16 — Thousands of working-class people are dead or have disappeared. Dozens of towns and thousands of homes have been destroyed. This desolation caused by the recent earthquake follows another recent attack on the working class, the dollarization of the economy. It is also added to the 150,000 killed by the death squads run by U.S. imperialism and the Salvadoran bosses in the 1980’s.

Natural phenomena can’t be prevented, but capitalism turns it into a major human disaster. From El Salvador and Mexico to Turkey and Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, these catastrophes were worsened by the extreme exploitation and poverty created by the bosses’ drive for maximum profits.

A clear example of how these bloodsuckers put their profits before workers’ lives are the hundreds of dead and thousands of homeless in the Town of Las Colinas de Santa Tecla. "The city government tried to prevent the ‘Posada Magaņa’ construction company from building mansions on the top of the mountain, above the Colonia Las Colinas," declared Jose Torres, a worker in the Santa Tecla city hall. ( LA Times, 1/15) "The construction company took us to court and won a suit for $4.3 million dollars and now this is the result." That is, the deforestation and evacuations caused by this construction led directly to the mudslides and consequent deaths of hundreds of residents of this town located below the mansions. That’s why Salvadoran President Francisco Flores was booed by many residents when he went to the disaster site.

The world’s capitalist governments, especially the imperialists, are swooping in like vultures, offering "aid" to the homeless workers. These are the same bosses who have exploited and massacred these workers for centuries. This "aid" is conditional on keeping the chains of exploitation in place, whether controlled by the U.S. imperialists or the Europeans. Furthermore, this "aid" stays in the hands of the fascist rulers and their allies. These local bosses are rubbing their hands thinking of the millions of dollars ending up in their bank accounts.

In these moments of urgent need, the international working class should support our brothers and sisters in El Salvador. Los Angeles garment workers are collecting money to send directly to the workers. All workers should follow this example of solidarity. Dedicating our lives to destroying capitalism—the worst disaster and the root cause of the millions of deaths of workers worldwide—is the best help we can give.

From Boom to Bloodbath

GARY, IN, January 16 — Eighteen months ago everything seemed to be coming up roses for the steel bosses. Profits were rolling in. There were plans to expand production and buy up smaller companies. But like a two-by-four in the face, the realities of this insane, vicious capitalist system hit them and hit them hard. In the last two months, the U. S. steel industry has run into a brick wall of collapsing markets, higher energy prices and higher imports.

According to the HAMMOND TIMES, "Regional stalwart LTV Corp. could be gone. Others may follow. In the meantime, jobs are likely to be lost, and the local economy could buckle." United Steelworkers representative Tom Conway says, "It’s going to be a bloodbath."

LTV, the third largest steel producer in the U.S., has filed for bankruptcy and laid off everyone with two years service or less. They sold their tin division to USX, wiping out some 500 jobs in Aliquippa. Wheeling-Pitt and five other steel companies have gone bankrupt. Weirton Steel laid off thousands. Bethlehem Steel and USX have also cut production.

While the steel bosses and union leaders whine about foreign steel imports, it’s bigger than that. Energy costs are rising and steel prices are in a tailspin, cutting into profits. Worse yet, as fuel prices rise there is a cutback in auto production, mainly in steel-intensive light trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Steelworkers are facing a capitalist crisis of overproduction. In their lust for profits the bosses have increased production ten-fold and wiped out thousands of jobs. Remember when everyone’s Daddy, uncle or brother-in-law worked in one or another of the mills? Not anymore. Remember when everyone was buying new cars every couple years? Not anymore. The bosses have increased production and wiped out jobs to the extent that there are not enough people with the means to buy the stuff WE produce in THEIR mills. And the workers of Russia, Brazil, Korea, Taiwan or Slovakia make even less. Capitalism is a global monster.

The steel bosses and union leaders are always draping themselves in red-white-and-blue to get us to "Stand Up for Steel" and "fight imports." But USX just bought one of the largest steel mills in Europe, in the Slovak Republic. This mill will account for 25% of their global capacity. The steelworkers in this mill make about $2.00/hour. In their search for cheap steel and huge profits, the steel bosses will go anywhere and stoop to any hypocrisy.

However, this slump in steel presents a contradiction to U.S. rulers: while production here is being squeezed they must insure there is at least enough domestic supplies for war production. They can’t risk dependence on overseas steel which could be cut off by rivals abroad.

When the steel contract was signed 18 months ago, many workers thought things would be OK. Just cruise on to retirement, work a little OT and build up that nest egg. Many of us thought, "Everything will be all right." With so many people retiring, we thought there was no way there’d be layoffs. But capitalism is always in crisis somewhere.

Our answer must be more CHALLENGE readers and distributors, more May Day organizers and more struggles against the steel bosses. We must fight for international solidarity of all steelworkers. No cuts and no more sacrifices for the bosses. From Slovakia to Gary, Smash the Steel Bosses! Build a mass PLP!

Reform and Revolution at the MLA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Occasional calls for revolution could be heard above the din of reformist activity at last month’s convention here of the Modern Language Association (MLA), the professional organization of college- and university-level teachers of literature and language. Members and friends of PLP had both positive and negative experiences there.

On the plus side: the Radical Caucus (RC) has emerged as a respected, effective fighter for various reform demands. The RC meeting attracted 30 people, many committed to anti-capitalist class analysis through RC activities. The RC distributed 5,000 leaflets and worked with the Graduate Student Caucus (GSC) to win passage of all its initiatives in the Delegate Assembly (DA).

These included: (1) a call for the MLA to support unionization, from teaching assistants and adjuncts to professors; (2) a permanent MLA committee to consider incidents of campus bigotry, and undertake a critique of racism as systemic, not merely a matter of "prejudice"; (3) MLA support for open admissions and free tuition throughout public higher education; and (4) reduction of part-time super-exploited teachers earning $1,500-$3,000 per semester course, with no benefits and a corresponding increase in full timers; establishing a minimum wage; and noninterference of trustee boards in curriculum decisions, especially at the City University of New York where interference is routine.

Even such modest reform victories would have been inconceivable a few years ago, when there was a monumental struggle to get DA support for striking Yale teaching assistants. The above reflects increased pro-union militancy of graduate students and adjuncts throughout North America and occurred partly because the GSC elected left-of-center representatives to the DA. This year’s successes stemmed from several years of steady organizing by the RC and GSC.

There was also the positive reception given to attempts by PLP members and friends to shift discussions to the left. Our critiques of universities as capitalist ideology factories, helping to reproduce inequality and the division of mental from manual labor, were warmly received. Over 1,000 PLP leaflets—exposing capitalism’s inability to deliver true education to the working class, and calling for communism—were distributed, along with 60+ CHALLENGES. From our steady work in the RC, a few friends have come closer to the Party, now take CHALLENGE regularly and attend a Party study group.

However, the successes of reform activities may have buried some of the Party’s ideas and led to "tailing the masses."

Given the openness of many MLA’ers to the communist critique of universities as spreading ruling-class consciousness, too few of us spoke up boldly and consistently on this. During the DA meeting, we failed to link sexism and racism to capitalism and to reveal the dangers to unionization of a narrow, reformist approach. While RC’s "bottom line" has been anti-capitalism, Party members didn’t consistently focus on the critique of capitalism throughout the convention.

While the Party leaflet exposed capitalist higher education as perpetrating social inequality, and unionization’s role in accepting the capitalist wage system, the leaflet was weak in explaining how the RC and GSC reform program builds dangerous illusions—that barring trustees from decisions on curriculum will somehow produce "truth in education"; or that open admissions and free tuition—which advances the lucky few—represent a "way out" for the working class.

By concentrating on working in the DA we largely abandoned the ideological struggle over what it means to do literary study. Past papers have challenged how most college literature teaching reinforces racism, sexism and nationalism, and other capitalist ideology. Criticism of postmodernism’s attack on Marxism was also absent as well as the "red line" in literary history. We won’t win college teachers to the Party without contesting the way bourgeois ideology influences their work in the classroom. We need to examine how college teachers of language and literature can serve the working class.

Too much of the work in the RC was carried out by PLP members and friends. Being "the best reformists on the block" ultimately abandons revolution, an error of the old CPUSA. If not corrected, this tendency could lead us down the same slippery slope.

The hard work and immersion of PLP members and friends in the MLA has produced wide respect. We must now urgently build communist consciousness among literature and language teachers. This will help construct a society without divisions of mental and manual labor, in which culture promotes rather than inhibits the development of fully-realized human beings within the working class and its allies.


Ecuador to Spain: Same Enemy, Same Fight

The Jan. 17 CHALLENGE article on the death in Southern Spain of 12 immigrant workers from Ecuador reveals an important aspect of the class struggle nowadays—the "globalization" of the working class.

On January 9, 1,500 immigrant farmworkers from Ecuador, supported by other immigrant workers in Spain’s Murcia region, marched for 50 miles demanding the government legalize their status. The march lasted from Tuesday evening to mid-Wednesday. The workers were protesting both the murders of 12 fellow workers and the region’s bosses’ refusal to hire any workers because of the arrest of the subcontractor boss who had hired the 12 dead workers. That boss has a long history of violating labor laws and paying workers below the minimum wage.

This long march refuted the idea that these immigrant workers, particularly those from Ecuador, were "good workers" (who work hard and don’t complain about being super-exploited). The racist exploitation of these immigrant workers makes the year-round agribusiness in Southern Spain very profitable.

Following the march, 100 immigrant workers from Ecuador took over a church in the town of Lorca, demanding that the government legalize their status. These workers are afraid of the new immigration law to take effect in a few weeks, which could lead to the deportation of thousands of undocumented workers. The law requires these workers to return to Ecuador or their country of origin and then apply for legal papers in the Spanish consulates there.

While these workers were marching and protesting in Southern Spain, the police in several Ecuadorian cities were attacking students who were protesting against the latest round of price hikes and austerity measures taken by President Noboa. A general strike is now planned early in February to protest these attacks. Workers and youth are also protesting the growing use of Ecuador by the U.S. military for its Plan Colombia (war against the guerrillas in neighboring Colombia).

So the class struggle and the crisis of capitalism has united workers and youth internationally (several of the 12 dead workers were children, as were many of the Murcia demonstrators). The immigrant workers in Southern Spain and those in Ecuador are both victims of a capitalism trying to force workers to pay even more for the crisis of the bosses’ system.

This opens the door for a "globalization" the capitalists fear—an international working class movement. Join us in PLP and make that movement a reality.

A Comrade

Small Victory Over ‘Big Mac’

"Can I have a copy of that leaflet?" asked a woman who’d approached me while I was distributing CHALLENGE at the Martin Luther King parade here in L.A. "It says what I’ve been saying to my friends for a while now," she continued "and they’ve been telling me I’m crazy."

She was pleased with our leaflet explaining that Bush and Gore are equally bad for the working class. While this woman was especially outgoing and articulate, many people at the parade expressed similar sentiments. Black workers know this system is fundamentally racist even though the bosses work overtime to convince them that capitalism is good and communism is terrible. We distributed 50 papers, 50 Vietnam flyers and 500 leaflets at the march.

The day before the parade an incident occurred which demonstrated this system’s racism and the bosses’ fear of the potential of black-Latin-white unity. I had gone with two of my students, both black, to a McDonald’s near their homes because they’d applied for jobs there and hadn’t been hired. Although this McDonald’s is in an integrated neighborhood, the vast majority of its workers are Latino. My students told me they’d met a few other black people who’d applied to work there five times—unsuccessfully. We went in and confronted the manager. My students told him they didn’t understand why no black workers were employed there. The manager said some black people DID work there—on other shifts.

He was becoming increasingly nervous. Everyone in the whole place was listening. It was obvious his response was pretty lame. I chimed in by explaining how excellent these students’ social skills are and how quickly they learn. The manager suggested my students return the next day. Both were hired.

Whenever I’ve described this incident to my co-workers and students, I’ve explained that the bosses use these hiring practices to pit black and Latin workers against each other. Everyone’s agreed.

Even this very small victory shows that whenever workers take a step towards multi-racial unity, we come out ahead.

An L. A. Teacher