CHALLENGE February 28, 2001

Red-Led Working Class Must Fight U.S.Rulers’ Blueprint for Fascism

Ecuador: Uprising Against 500 Years of Racism

Bogotá and Boeing: ‘Humanitarian’ Imperialism Won’t Work

Boeing Workers Back Bavaria Strikers

Bethlehem, American, LTV… Steel Bosses’ Profit Squeeze Kills!

British Steelworker Rebellion Brewing Over Huge Job Cuts

Overproduction, Corruption Slams Korean Autoworkers

LA Garment Workers Defiance of Bosses: Good Omen For May Day

SUNY PLP’ers Build Campus Worker-Student Alliance

‘Free Trade’—‘Internationalism’ For the Bosses

May Day and the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the International Working Class

The Real Drug ‘Traffic’-ers: The Bosses, Banks, & Gov’t


Black Woman Pilot Flies For May Day

Put Dialectics in the Classroom

Math—Is Being ‘Drilled’, Being ‘Screwed’?

Nationalism Fuels Auto Wars

Red-Led Working Class Must Fight U.S.Rulers’ Blueprint for Fascism

CHALLENGE has referred frequently in recent months to a ruling-class blueprint for the fascist reorganization of U.S. society, devised by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (also called the Hart-Rudman Commission). The third and final phase of this plan was published on January 31. It contains long-range strategic recommendations for maintaining U.S. imperialism’s world supremacy. This Commission contains high-ranking Republicans and Democrats. All major figures among the big bosses support its findings.

The report anticipates mass bloodshed on U.S. soil from "terrorist" attacks and calls for ruthless measures to prevent or counter them. The Commission says the rulers must prepare to launch ever-widening wars against rivals. It makes a series of suggestions for centralizing the state apparatus under one command and for militarizing society as a whole.

Workers must make a balanced, accurate assessment of this ruling-class plan. On the one hand, our class enemy has great tactical advantages and strengths, as well as a proven willingness to spill enormous amounts of working-class blood in defense of its profit interests. The rulers can probably carry out many aspects of the Hart-Rudman proposals. On the other hand they have a crucial weakness—they can no longer rule in the old way but must move increasingly to fascism to enforce their power. The growth of PLP and the spread of mass communist consciousness among workers and others can turn all the rulers’ power into its opposite. Fascism and war are inevitable. U.S. imperialism’s ability to rule the world forever is not. The crucial question remains: what will PLP do to grow under any and all circumstances?

The Commission’s key recommendations:

•Creating a National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) to supervise all "homeland security" under one government umbrella;

•Transferring the Customs Service, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard to NHSA;

•Converting the National Guard into a European-style internal security force;

•Putting under one roof the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Energy and Transportation, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency;

•Pushing math and science education for military purposes and target historically black colleges and universities as sources of recruitment;

Militarizing the economy by making the Secretary of the Treasury a member of the National Security Council;

Having every member of Congress participate in war games at least once every two years;

Streamlining the nomination process for Cabinet and other high-ranking posts to prevent partisan bickering.

This is obviously a very broad design to force discipline within the ruling class and support for the Eastern Establishment agenda of maintaining U.S. world domination. It’s also a scheme for terrorizing workers on the home front and stifling the inevitable class struggles sure to erupt as workers eventually rebel against economic oppression, racism and the horrors of bosses’ profit wars (see CHALLENGE, 2/14). As such, both "liberals" and "conservatives" have applauded the Commission’s recommendations. Democrat Lee Hamilton of Indiana, a Commissioner, urged Congress to support it. A key Bush ally, Texas Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, gushed: "I think every conclusion is exactly right, and I think every recommendation that they’ve made needs to happen" ("Defense News," 1/15).

Thornberry is a revealing case. In his support of Bush vs. Gore, he was as partisan as they come. But his deep loyalty lies with U.S. imperialism. In 1999, he attended a national security conference sponsored by the Tufts University Fletcher School. His classmates included Hart-Rudman Commission co-chair Republican Warren Rudman, Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, and liberal Republican William Cohen, Clinton’s last defense secretary.

The conference’s final report reflects the rulers’ desperate worry that the U.S. working class will not willingly die to keep U.S. imperialism in the driver’s seat: "The…conflicting requirements of U.S. global strategy and the persistence of a strategic culture that contains minimal tolerance for casualties will produce a growing dilemma for the United States as a twenty-first century super-power. It will therefore be especially important for policy-makers to muster broad public support for U.S. national security policy."

In other words, the "Vietnam Syndrome" continues to plague the rulers. In 1991, Bush, Sr. blinked at the prospect of taking mass casualties on the road to Baghdad and left Saddam Hussein in power rather than risk them. In 1993, Clinton left Somalia with his tail between his legs after a handful of U.S. troops had died there. In 1999, fear of the political reaction to ground casualties led Clinton to announce at the very beginning that the U.S./NATO slaughter for oil pipelines in the former Yugoslavia would be limited to an air war.

Mustering "broad public support" for the "sacrifice [of] blood and treasure" (as the Commission’s Phase I report puts it) that will be required to defend U.S. imperialism in the next 25 years is a very tall order. The bosses may well find a way to discipline their own ranks. Many of the Commission’s recommendations for reorganizing state power are likely to be adopted in one form or another. But winning the working class is another matter altogether.

As conditions sharpen, the gap between the rulers’ need for willing cannon-fodder and the workers’ desire for an alternative to war and fascism can only increase. Our Party’s main job, now and for the foreseeable future, is to widen that gap and build the PLP in the process. Millions of young workers remain open to communism. We must find the ways to lead them to it.

U.S. Rulers: Terror R’ Us

All three phases of the Hart-Rudman Commission report predict large loss of human life on U.S. soil from various terrorist attacks. Aside from the hypocrisy involved, any time the biggest terrorists in world history point the finger at someone else’s atrocities, this particular warning almost looks like a prayer that such attacks will happen. The rulers openly worry that they need to motivate workers inside and outside the military. Phase I of Hart-Rudman longs for a "Pearl Harbor" type of event to unite the country. Don’t put it past the bosses to orchestrate such an attack themselves. They’ve done it before, in Vietnam (in lying that the north Vietnamese attacked a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964) and in Cuba (the Hearst-orchestrated sinking of the battleship Maine in 1898). And the stage is being set to identify a villain. Leading candidates are Saddam Hussein, whom the U.S. press calls a threat to the entire world, and Osama bin Laden, who’s been portrayed as worse than Hitler and Saddam combined. If terrorist threats didn’t exist, the bosses would have to invent them. The crudeness with which they’re going about it reflects their deep strategic weakness.

Exxon Aims for Iraqi Oil

The Feb. 14th CHALLENGE described the failure of U.S. imperialism’s Iraq policy. The NEW YORK TIMES (2/11 editorial) admits this failure and orders the Bush Adminisration to reverse it: "Thwarting…Hussein’s ambition to rebuild his military forces must remain the central goal of American policy." But this order is more easily given than carried out. As we’ve often reported, U.S. bosses’ French and Russian rivals have huge contracts for Iraqi oil. Sanctions don’t work when they aren’t unanimously enforced. All they do is kill lots of workers and children. U.S. imperialism is doing this daily without winning its goals, which include preventing Iraqi oil from competing with Exxon-Mobil. So right now the best Bush and his Secy. of State Powell can do is tread water while continuing to murder Iraqi kids.

Ground war remains the only strategic option for controlling Iraqi energy reserves. This means taking a huge risk with a U.S. military showing no sign of wanting an all-out fight for Exxon’s oily wealth. However, it’s a risk the rulers will ultimately have to take. The leadership given by PLP in the coming period can greatly influence how this contradiction plays out when ground war for Persian Gulf oil actually starts.

Ecuador: Uprising Against 500 Years of Racism

QUITO, ECUADOR, Feb. 13 — This country is the most recent clear example that capitalism is a failure for the masses and that the only way out of this hell is to fight for communism.

A Century’s Loss of Social Gains in One Year

According to UNICEF (UN agency for children), in the last year Ecuador has fallen back a century in social progress. Over one million people have emigrated in the last few years, fleeing from the misery caused by the profit system and its crooked politicians (who have stolen the oil wealth produced by workers here). Inflation is the highest on the continent. Racism against the indigenous population is rampant. And now the city of Manta is the site of a U.S. air base used to help the fascist army of neighboring Colombia in its war against the guerrillas there.

But workers are fighting back. Under the slogan of, "We’ve had enough with 500 years of slavery and racism," tens of thousands of indigenous people marched from their communities to Quito. Thousands seized highways and other areas. For several weeks they confronted the cops and the army.

Several protesters were slain in the Napo region. Angry demonstrators retaliated by burning down the local airport control tower to prevent more soldiers from reaching the region. This militant mass reaction forced the soldiers to withdraw to their bases.

This new mass movement offer great lessons to all those wanting to fight capitalism. Firstly, the masses conpletely isolated the traditional union hacks, taking the movement out of their control. The hacks tried to cover their faces by calling for a general strike a week after the mass uprising began. But their past treacheries and accommodations with the local bosses and with the imperialists’ International Monetary Fund are not being forgotten by the most militant workers and their allies.

Secondly, the reformist leadership of the indigenous people has also exposed itself, though it still controls much of the movement. Rank-and-file workers and youth took militant actions in spite of the leadership’s pacifism. When the angry indigenous workers came to take over Quito, the traitorous leadership did its job by holding the demonstrators in the Salesian University, instead of sending them to the working-class neighborhoods. They feared a full-blown insurrection. Realizing this, the leaders and the government reached a deal, offering the angry masses some crumbs.

But this won’t solve any basic problems. The contradictions are bound to sharpen: "President Noboa signed an agreement …with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), ending a two-week national uprising by thousands of poor Indians…While Foreign Minister Heinz Moeller said the Noboa government barely had averted a civil war, implementing necessary economic reforms in the country will prove more difficult." (, 2/12)

PLP Spreads Its Communist Politics

The PLP members in Quito participated in this uprising, bringing our communist ideas with hundreds of flyers and DESAFIO-CHALLENGES. Workers applauded our activities raising food and medicine for the indigenous workers entering Quito. We also participated in militant confrontations of indigenous women fighting the tear-gassing cops. Our comrades steeled themselves in these struggles, inspiring us even more to build our movement. We’ve won new friends for our Party, particularly in the mass organizations we’ve joined.

This is the path to growing and overcoming our weaknesses and showing that a communist society, which will destroy all bosses and their racism, is the only solution for all workers and their allies.

Racism and the Indigenous Population

Racism and capitalism are birds of a feather worldwide. In Ecuador, nearly half the population is indigenous, living mostly in rural areas. They lack most basic services. Over 45% lack running water and 48% lack draining systems. The infant mortality rate is at 35% in some areas.

Until recently large landowners treated indigenous people like slaves. No wonder, these workers are so angry and militant and are leading the class struggle here.

The old communist movement played an important role in the past organizing among the indigenous people. The movement’s first militant mass leaders were communists. We in PLP will do our best to build on this tradition while trying to avoid past errors. The future of the entire working class depends on that.

Bogotá and Boeing: ‘Humanitarian’ Imperialism Won’t Work

SEATTLE, WA., Feb. 12—Boeing workers heard a tale of two cities at last week’s union meeting. The first was of Bogotá, Colombia and the striking Bavaria workers. Many sat transfixed as we described the death squad killings of union leaders. Plan Colombia—U.S. imperialism’s billion-dollar package in support of the Colombian military, the de facto protector of these very same death squads—was discussed for the first time at a Boeing union meeting.

The second city was Tukwila, Washington, the home of Boeing’s corporate headquarters. Effective January 21, Thomas R. Pickering, former U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs, joined the company’s Executive Council. We briefly described Pickering’s history: illegal gun-running to the Nicaraguan Contras; the cover-up of the killing of U.S. nuns by the fascist El Salvadoran regime; the murder of millions of Iraqis through sanctions; the off-loading of tooling work to cheaper Russian factories; his role as a chief architect of Plan Colombia. We concluded by asking our union brothers and sisters where we should stand: with our boss Pickering or with the Bavaria workers striking for a little job security?

The meeting answered by authorizing rank-and-file workers to draft a union solidarity letter, to be sent to the Bavaria strikers.(See letter on right)

Castles Made Of Sand Slip Into The Sea…Eventually

Some in the leadership signaled for the local president to cut short this discussion, but the top leadership didn’t want to bring the issue to a head right now. Today even the AFL-CIO is looking for a way to put a humanitarian face on U.S. imperialism. In fact, it sponsored a trade unionist from Colombia recently at the local Labor Temple, speaking against Plan Colombia.

During the Cold War, U.S. bosses’ main worry in Latin America was USSR-backed guerrilla movements whose goal was national liberation. Today, the Social Democracy of the European Union (EU) represents the bigger threat. While the U.S. is spending more than a billion arming the fascist Colombian military and eradicating the crops of peasants, the EU is providing $800 million worth of roads, schools, infrastructure and agricultural aid. Exactly who do you suppose is winning the hearts and minds of workers in Colombia with programs like these? Of course, we should not be fooled: both U.S. and EU imperialism will ultimately prove deadly to millions of our co-workers.

Even winning U. S. workers—and especially largely black and Latin soldiers—to support U.S. imperialism is a problem for the bosses without a better humanitarian cover. U.S. rulers have the task of building a nationalist movement in support of U.S. imperialism that has the appearance of supporting workers around the world — a huge contradiction! Hence, the hesitancy of the union leadership at last week’s meeting, even though a junior partner of U.S. imperialism.

Strategically, the U.S. bosses and their labor lieutenants are in a weak position because of all the contradictions in building an imperialist movement that appears to have the interests of workers at heart. This opens up an opportunity for our Party to build a movement that really serves the working class. Job insecurity is caused by worldwide capitalism and its recurring crisis of overproduction. By exposing the labor lieutenants’ "Castles Made of Sand" and pointing the finger at the real enemy — capitalism —we can lay the groundwork for building a bigger revolutionary movement.

Boeing Workers Back Bavaria Strikers

We Boeing workers send you greetings of solidarity and support.

We remember your letter of international support for our strike against Boeing in 1995.

International solidarity among workers is even more important today. Our CEO, Phil Condit, recently told his capitalist buddies at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he plans to pit worker against worker all around the world, to find the best way to exploit us. Thomas Pickering, the infamous architect of Plan Colombia at the U. S. State Department, has recently been appointed to Boeing’s Executive Council. Faced with enemies like this, we workers must forge strong international unity.

Our jobs are never secure under this system. Your demand to abolish short-term renewable contracts is aimed at this abuse. Here, too, Boeing threatens our jobs under a plan of "asset reduction."

All these huge conglomerates like Boeing and the Santo Domingo group offer workers are layoffs, racism, nationalism and war. Your strike offers us an opportunity to build the international solidarity the working class needs to answer these bosses. Your struggle is our struggle. Please let us know any way we can help.

In Struggle, Boeing Workers

[Editor’s note: Boeing workers are collecting donations on the shop floor to send to the Bavaria strikers.]

Bethlehem, American, LTV… Steel Bosses’ Profit Squeeze Kills!

GARY, IN February 13 — Dan Kado and Mike Davis were killed in an explosion at the Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor plant. Dan was a white worker with 32 years seniority, about to retire this spring. Mike was a black worker and the son of a Bethlehem worker. On February 2, a fireball engulfed the two workers and seriously injured Jose Claudio during repairs to a coke gas line at the 160-inch plate mill. It was the second explosion in two weeks. Maybe this is what steel union staff rep. Tom Conway meant when he said the current steel crisis "is going to be a bloodbath" for steelworkers.

Since January, LTV filed for bankruptcy, American Steel announced it’s closing, and Bethlehem incinerated two workers. Bethlehem president and CEO Duane Dunham says, "the worldwide oversupply of steel…[requires] bold actions…to compete." He’s "committed to…any and all…actions…for [the] stockholders" (HAMMOND TIMES, 2/6). Bethlehem lost over $300 million the last two years. Its stock dropped by two-thirds. To keep from going under, Bethlehem threw health and safety overboard, murdering Kado and Davis.

A hole used to be punched in the coke gas lines to purge them of dangerous gas before opening and cleaning them. None of this was done so the moment the line was opened, gas escaped forming an arc from the line to a nearby space heater. It ignited at the heater and the flame formed an arc back to the line and exploded.

The Burns Harbor "Safety Team" of 200 workers and 10 safety coordinators has been gutted over the past two years. Bethlehem made a decision to cut safety. The USWA decided to let them. The workers decided to not fight back. This leads to death. One surviving worker said, "We just let it slide. We tried to hide. I tried to hide. And this is what happens."

Meanwhile, American Steel will throw 250 workers on the street this spring. The bosses are closing the Harbor Works foundry and moving the work to Monroe, North Carolina, where workers make $9.00/hour (about half the East Chicago wage). LTV could close in six months, possibly more profitable than selling it because reducing capacity (forcing layoffs) means higher prices.

The bosses are making more steel than they can sell at a profit, causing a general crisis of overproduction Competing capitalists are in a life-and-death fight for cheap labor, resources, and markets. They then cut excess capacity. The industry must consolidate. Jobs must be destroyed.

Workers Of The World, Unite!

Our contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. These union leaders then "Stand Up for Steel," not for the workers. Pushing very dangerous nationalism, they want us to stand up for the steel bosses and the lying slogan, "fight imports." Meanwhile, USX is shifting 25% of its production capacity to a giant mill in Slovakia, where workers make $2.00/hour!

Steelworkers in Latin America, Europe, Russia and Asia live on poverty wages and face mass unemployment. We should strike across all borders, build international solidarity and point the way forward for all workers. This will never happen with the pro-capitalist union leaders, who spread the bosses’ nationalism, acting as their lieutenants in the working class.

Today the crisis of overproduction destroys the mills. Eventually it will lead to war that destroys the workers. By fighting back, we can build a fighting, revolutionary PLP, expand the circulation of CHALLENGE and bring more steelworkers and their families to May Day. That’s how we can turn a bad thing into its opposite.

British Steelworker Rebellion Brewing Over Huge Job Cuts

GREAT BRITAIN, February 4 — "This is just the beginning," declared Tony McCarthy, a Corus hot mill worker at Llanwern, which is losing 1,340 jobs. "In two years time the remainder of the plant will be closed," he continued. "People feel very angry. There is a feeling of aggression at the plant, and aggression is very difficult to manage." McCarthy said workers feel betrayed because they’ve delivered huge productivity improvements. His son Craig, who’s worked at the mill for nine years, added, "I don’t know about violence, but if they press ahead there will be walkouts." (The OBSERVER, 2/4)

Corus, the Anglo-Dutch steel giant, announced last week it would cut 6,050 jobs. Corus was formed in 1999 when British Steel merged with Dutch steelmaker Hoogovens.

Rising workers’ anger threatens to become open confrontation at plants across Britain. The Iron and Steel Trades Confederation leadership predicts cuts at plants in Wales and the North East will lead to further closures over the next two years. They’re working on a "rescue package" to cut wages (some "rescue"!) to keep plants open.

These cuts are occurring along with auto plant closings here, and steel cutbacks worldwide. Capitalism is a global monster, where more than one billion live on $1 a day and every worker faces a future of instability, terror and war. The best way to support Corus workers is to spread CHALLENGE in the mills, fight our bosses and build for a mass May Day march.

Overproduction, Corruption Slams Korean Autoworkers

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, Feb. 13 — The Daewoo automaker foiled a scheduled strike by 6,500 workers at its main plant at Bupyong, west of here, by permanently shutting some assembly lines. The workers were planning to strike against company plans to shed 5,500 jobs by February 16. Daewoo’s bosses need to improve terms of its possible sale to General Motors. GM is demanding 1,900 job cuts among Daewoo’s 12,844 employees. Yesterday Daewoo announced 127 job cuts at it West Sussex (England) technical center.

Daewoo’s plant closing here was not only directed against the planned strike but also reflects the overproduction problems facing automakers worldwide. As reported in CHALLENGE (Feb. 14), GM and DaimlerChrysler are also cutting production and laying off workers in Europe and the U.S. Daewoo annual sales declined from 945,000 in 1999 to 830,000 in 2000. January sales were 38,700 compared to 80,600 in January 2000.

Besides the crisis of overproduction blanketing the auto industry, Daewoo has been hit by corruption. A few weeks ago seven Daewoo CEOs were arrested for falsifying company books to exaggerate the net worth of Daewoo subsidiaries on order to obtain bank loans. Daewoo chief CEO Kin Woo-jopng has fled South Korea to avoid criminal punishment.

Daewoo workers have a long history of militancy, frequently striking against company attacks. Now they’ll face an even stronger and more oppressive enemy, GM, world’s biggest automaker. To fight such a warmaker during this capitalist crisis of overproduction, "Workers of the world, unite" must become the slogan guiding autoworkers from Seoul to Detroit to Sao Paulo. Joining the communist PLP is the best way to organize for this demand!

LA Garment Workers Defiance of Bosses: Good Omen For May Day

LOS ANGELES, CA. — In a garment factory, on a day like any other in the month of January, the following occurred. "What happened, Rosa? Why are you gathering your tools together?" asked Maria. "Because they fired me." "Why?" "Because some work came out wrong," answered Rosa, with tears in her eyes.

"We’re not going to let them fire you for something like that! Let’s talk to the manager" (the general supervisor), answered Maria.

When they confronted him, he said the decision was already made, her two checks were ready and she had to leave. "You’re not going to fire anybody," declared Maria. She explained to the rest of the workers that the reason Rosa was fired was NOT because of bad work but because the manager didn’t want to pay even the minimum wage to a worker who had been there for several years.

Other workers surrounded them, saying, "Don’t fire her." The owner arrived, exclaiming, "This is the manager’s decision; I won’t get involved."

"Clearly you’re involved," shot back Maria. "You’re the owner and you’re making this decision. But you’re not going to fire her," she declared. The owner yelled angrily, "Maybe you’re the owner of this factory."

Maria sensed the support of many workers around her. Her own class-consciousness told her an attack on one worker was an attack on all. She retorted, "We’re the ones who produce everything for a miserably tiny wage. And we say that this sister will not leave. I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but she won’t leave."

When the bosses saw the unity and strength of these workers, they were forced to give in. Rosa kept her job. After this confrontation, Dolores, who had helped greatly in the struggle, told Maria, "I was so angry at the bosses, it almost made me cry, but I held back. I’m really happy we won!"

This action, and many others like it, create the basis to organize garment workers to fight the racism and exploitation we suffer. We have a Committee of Struggle in this factory. We’re taking modest steps to increase the distribution of CHALLENGE here and in other garment factories, to be able to understand the connection between our problems and those of all workers.

Some of these workers have read CHALLENGE for several years. We will encourage them to become organizers for the West Coast May Day March here. Meanwhile, there’s a struggle to bring some of these workers into a larger campaign to fight exploitation in the garment industry overall, possibly including a fight for unionization.

The class struggle and CHALLENGE can form the rock solid basis to win many garment workers to understand that this capitalist system only offers us exploitation, layoffs, war and fascism. Our alternative is to develop the revolutionary communist movement, to fight for a society where there are no managers or bosses but only workers producing for the needs of one international working class.

SUNY PLP’ers Build Campus Worker-Student Alliance

BINGHAMTON, NY, Feb. 10 — PLP members at the State University of NY have been raising communist ideas on campus here, especially in the activities of the Political Action Coalition (PAC). Though most PAC members have many anti-capitalist ideas, they’re still very reformist with no unified political ideology. They’re interested in such issues as police brutality, political prisoners, the arming of university police and ending the bombing of Vieques. PAC’s major issues now are private prisons and the unionization of the campus dining hall workers.

A speaker from the Prison Moratorium Project (PMP) gave a presentation to PAC, including useful information on private prisons but ignored the more profound significance of public prisons and prison labor in general. PMP is building a campaign on college campuses narrowly aimed at attacking Sodexho Marriot (a multi-national food supplier) and its investments in Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company. PAC has wholeheartedly embraced PMP’s campaign. PMP has convinced PAC that replacing Sodexho Marriot with another corporation is somehow a victory.

We’ve attempted to advance a class analysis of the entire prison system. The Democrats, Republicans and the bosses they serve have jailed two million workers, 70% black or Latin, and used many thousands as slave laborers. It’s no coincidence that, as their competitors like Germany and China grow stronger, U.S. capitalists must seek ever cheaper labor and more ways to control unemployed and alienated workers. Fighting Sodexho or any other particular company will not alter the course towards fascism. Through months of work in PAC, we’ve raised these points and will continue doing so.

Concerning the unionization of campus dining hall workers, students uniting with campus workers in such a campaign provides the opportunity to build class-consciousness and raise revolutionary communist politics. Within this struggle we recognized the contradiction between forming a union and creating a pro-working class movement.

Using a CHALLENGE article about Party work at Boeing, we led a discussion in PAC about the anti-working class leadership of unions. The PAC leadership’s reaction to our suggestion to invite the campus workers to our meetings to discuss politics exposed its anti-working class elitism and pro-union reformism. They attacked us for "presuming that workers would have any interest in discussing politics." This inverted logic sought to disguise their lack of confidence in workers caring about or grasping revolutionary ideas.

We’ll take an active role in both building the new union and winning the workers to understanding how capitalism works so that we may destroy it, even as we learn from the workers’ own experiences in class struggle. We have a tough task in winning PAC to understand that neither a union nor any reform will reconcile the opposing interests of the rulers and the working class.

‘Free Trade’—‘Internationalism’ For the Bosses

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 13 — The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) would extend NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) to the whole hemisphere. U.S. bosses need FTAA to keep Latin America under U.S. domination, to fight the increasing penetration of European capital there. Now some of those pushing FTAA want to throw a bone to labor rights. Billionaire businessman George Soros told the world’s CEO’s at their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, that the anti-globalization movement is "right" in demanding more "guarantees" about environmental and workers’ rights in these trade deals.

Students groups and others are planning anti-FTAA demonstrations in April at the U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Canadian borders. They’re reaching out to student and worker groups in Mexico, stressing NAFTA as being bad for both U.S. and Mexico’s workers. Some call for defeating FTAA. Others like AFL-CIO President Sweeney want more rules about the environment and workers’ rights — a "new internationalism."

Workers’ internationalism declares that workers of the world have the same class interests — elimination of exploitation, racism and the profit system. The phony "internationalism" of Soros and Sweeney is just the opposite — helping U.S. imperialism to continue oppressing the world’s workers and to defeat their rival imperialists who are fighting to become the number one oppressor.

Many honest, angry students and workers from Mexico and the U.S. favor border demonstrations. Millions hate the border and the fascist terror it represents. Rather than strengthening it, it’s in their interest to see the border abolished.

Recently NAFTA ruled that Mexican truckers could enter the U.S. Some opposing this say that "unsafe Mexican trucks on U.S. roads" endangers Americans. This nationalism pits Mexican and U.S. truckers against each other. The problem isn’t just NAFTA, it’s the capitalist crisis of overproduction, sharpening competition and pitting workers against each other while the bosses compete for market share. Workers need unity as a class to fight to get rid of all bosses!

US bosses have two contradictory needs. One is the need to build nationalism here, to get U.S. workers and soldiers to blame bosses and workers in other countries for layoffs, rather than blaming U.S. bosses and capitalism. But the other need is to prevent European bosses from appearing as the "lesser evil" imperialists. Therefore, U.S. rulers must build a movement advocating "human rights," from Latin America to China. Meanwhile, they and all imperialists are attacking workers worldwide. However, their primary need is to build nationalism, to try to win U.S. workers to defend their bloody empire.

"Humanitarian" imperialism and nationalist "internationalism" are policies based on smoke and mirrors. They need activists to support this charade. But these contradictions create opportunities for our Party. Small gains today lead to bigger ones tomorrow. We have confidence that when workers and students understand the real cause of the current crisis, they will see that capitalism and imperialism have nothing humanitarian about them — that "smash all borders" is the road to follow, not "strengthen all borders." Our activity in this movement will build workers’ internationalism.

PLP’s May Day March calls on workers to unite to fight for our class, against our bosses, and to ally with workers throughout the world. May Day champions the workers’ fight to smash exploitation, fascism and war with communist revolution. That’s a long, hard but sure road, as opposed to "guaranteeing" workers’ rights by uniting with class enemies like Soros and Sweeney.

May Day and the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the International Working Class

May Day has always had two sides: the one that demands reforms and the other side that organizes for revolution to destroy capitalism. May Day commemorates a massive strike wave in the U.S. and the particular battle in Chicago’s Haymarket Square in 1886. The leaders of this movement demanded an 8-hour day reform but also advocated the "abolition of the wage system."

Then and now the capitalists feared this revolutionary side to May Day. In 1848, Marx and Engels wrote in the "Communist Manifesto," "A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of Communism." By 1886, the rulers of Chicago saw this specter. "The newspapers and industrialists were increasingly declaring that May 1, 1886 was in reality the date for a Communist working class insurrection modeled on the Paris Commune. According to Melville E Stone, Head of the Chicago Daily News…a ‘repetition of the Paris Communal riots was freely predicted’ for May 1, 1886." (P. 90, Labor’s Untold Story, by Boyer and Morais)

In December 1886, San Francisco transit workers joined this strike wave. They were working up to 15 hours a day, 7 days a week. They wanted a 3-hour daily reduction in hours and a daily pay increase from $2.25 to $2.50. "Strike-breakers were hired, and there was a great deal of violence. Cars were damaged, strike-breakers were beaten, and one person was killed." Newspapers blamed eight instances of the use of dynamite on the striking workers. No doubt feeling threatened by the union and the worldwide strength and militancy of May Day, the Governor signed a bill in March 1887 "limiting gripmen, drivers, and conductors to a 12-hour day." ("Transit In San Francisco," published by SF MUNI R.R. Communications Department.)

By the 1920’s the now pro-capitalist AFL union leadership, fearing the growth of communist ideas in the working class, reversed its support for May Day and the latter’s openly declared communist ideas. Since then the AFL has collaborated with the U.S. government to subvert May Day and the revolutionary trend of workers here and abroad. At the 1928 AFL Convention, the Executive Council supported a Congressional resolution to make May 1 Child Health day. "May 1 will no longer be known as either strike day or communist labor day."

The revolutionary side of May Day dominated when the communist movement was strong. During the peak of the communist organizing of the CIO unions, May Day was celebrated in the U.S. But business unionism and anti-communism soon triumphed after World War II, with organized labor only recognizing Labor Day in September.

From the Haymarket battle in 1886, revolutionary workers spread May Day around the globe. But history is written by the conquerors. Many workers born here know nothing of the contribution the U.S. working class made to the development of this revolutionary holiday. Today it is the official Labor Day in most countries, but the leadership of these marches demands only reforms, and stresses the common goals of labor and capital.

PLP has learned both from the triumphs of the communist movement in the USSR and China, and from their failure to fight directly for communism. We too advocate "Abolish the Wage System" as part of changing the relationship of workers and work in a new communist society.

The abolition of money, of production for sale or profit and of the wage system is absolutely necessary to establish communism. When, under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the international working class wins and holds control over all economic, political and cultural institutions of society, it will unleash a creative power that will propel the human race to its highest accomplishments in all fields of endeavor. Only a mass revolutionary communist party advocating and leading such a struggle can achieve this. Only such a party can defeat the fascism that capitalism will use to oppose it.

Long live the 1st of May, the revolutionary international working-class holiday! Fight for communism!

The Real Drug ‘Traffic’-ers: The Bosses, Banks, & Gov’t

RICHMOND, CA. January 24 — The movie "Traffic" completely blocks out the U.S. Government role in promoting the worldwide deadly drug trade. The modern drug trade began with the British East India Company selling opium to China. They were later joined by U.S. businessmen. However, by the mid-19th century the British government, an arm of that country’s ruling class, fought two successful wars to force the Chinese to accept opium imports. The modern drug trade relies on imperialist armies.

By 1900 China had some 13.5 million addicts who smoked 39,000 tons of opium every year. Misery and death to the Chinese people: profits to British and U.S. businessmen.

From Legal To Banned

In the U.S. in the early 1900s, opium, heroin and cocaine were legal. In one month in New York City, a single "dope" doctor wrote prescriptions for over 62,000 grains of heroin, 54,000 grains of morphine, and 30,000 grains of cocaine! By 1931, behind a movement to ban opium production, the League of Nations limited production strictly to medical needs. World output dropped by nearly 90%. World trade in drugs grows or shrinks depending on the needs of imperialist governments.

Gangsters And Governments

After 1931, the world drug trade was taken over by gangsters, with government cooperation. In the U.S. that cooperation was greatly expanded during and after World War II.

After liberating Sicily from the Nazis in 1943, the U.S. government had the power in Italy to push control of the country either to the Italian Communist Party, leader of the anti-Nazi resistance movement or to the pro-fascist Mafia. Surprise! It chose the Mafia.

In 1946, NY Govenor Dewey commuted the 30-year sentence of mafia mobster Lucky Luciano and "deported" him to Italy conveniently at the very moment the CIA was organizing against the growing Italian Communist Party. Luciano rebuilt a drug empire there and shipped heroin from the Mid-East via Marseilles, France, to New York City. Drug addiction grew in the USA and worldwide with the help of the U.S.-created capitalist governments, especially in France and Italy. The internal weaknesses of those country’s previously powerful Communist Parties—having become part of the bosses’ electoral systems—combined with attacks on them by the U.S.-directed AFL-CIA and Luciano’s Mafia, negated any opposition to these capitalist drug-runners.

After the communist revolution in China (which, incidently, wiped out drugs there), some pro-U.S. generals from the Nationalist Chinese Army seized land in the Burmese highlands. Supplied with weapons from the U.S., they began producing heroin in a region later named the "Golden Triangle," the source then of most of the world’s illegal heroin.

By the 1960s heroin production in the Highlands of Laos began to rival the Golden Triangle. Laotian troops organized by General Vang Pao fought the communists in North Vietnam while the general made huge profits from the heroin trade.

In the 1980s a group called the Mujaheddin began to fight the pro-Russian government in Afghanistan. They financed their operation by growing and exporting heroin to the U.S. and Europe.

Simultaneously, the US backed Contras, fighting the anti-U.S. Sandinistas in Nicaragua, made huge profits running cocaine from Colombia to the U.S.

Governments Are The Kingpins

The Mafia in Sicily; Nationalist Chinese generals in Burma; generals with private armies in Laos; the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan and the Contras in Central America—these are the main forces supplying the world with illegal narcotics since World War II. This dirty trade wrecks lives, kills people and disrupts whole communities. Not one of the drug-trading armies could exist without the support of the U.S. Government, through its CIA. It supplies these armies with guns, money and even aircraft to transport the heroin or cocaine. And the governments U.S. bosses help "elect" or install insure the continuation of the drug trade. In exchange, the drug-runners attack communist and left-wing movements.

Who Are The Real Gangsters?

In a ten-day period last month, three black teenagers were shot to death in their neighborhoods, but you’d hardly know it from the tame response of the local rulers. A local paper says none of these youths were involved in drugs but reported that, "Police and gang ‘experts’ suggest rival gangs in the area may be to blame for the surge in violence." Drug dealing lies behind most gangs and turf wars lie behind most drive-by shootings. Their solution? Send the cops’ anti-narcotics team into the area.

Yet the Richmond police won’t investigate the REAL drug dealers, those bringing the drugs into the country and into these communities. That’s a very elite group—top Government officials, airlines, bankers and the news media play a role.

The United Nations’ "World Drug Report" estimated that illegal drugs are now a $500-billion-a-year business. Most of that money is deposited in banks without being seized! And the news media turns a blind eye. When local reporter Gary Webb exposed the CIA’s role in the crack-cocaine epidemic, major papers like the NEW YORK TIMES attacked his articles and he lost his job.

David And Goliath

It’s easy to feel hopeless about the powerful forces behind drug dealing. But history is full of stories about "Davids" taking on and beating "Goliaths."

What kind of system puts greed and profits over the lives of so many innocent people like Richmond’s three black teenagers? A capitalist, imperialist one hell-bent on weakening, disrupting and pacifying potentially rebellious workers and youth worldwide. The history of the modern drug trade is another powerful argument for why we need communist revolution.

(Sources: The Politics of Heroin—CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade—Alfred McCoy; "The CIA/narcotics connection", Oakland Tribune, 4/3/89; The West County Times, December, 2000.


Black Woman Pilot Flies For May Day

On a recent visit to the Wright Brothers Museum in Kitty Hawk, NC, I saw a plaque on the wall telling the story of Bessie Coleman, a young black woman and daughter of a Texas sharecropper who wanted to become a pilot. Racism barred her from pilot schools. She went to France and received her international pilot’s license.

Returning to the U.S., she performed daredevil stunts on the barnstorming circuit. While practicing for an airshow for a May Day celebration in Jacksonville, Florida, she crashed and died, on April 30, 1926. The Negro Welfare League sponsored the May Day event. I’ve been unable to find any information on the Negro Welfare League or the demands of that May Day. Any clues would be appreciated.

West Coast Old-timer

Put Dialectics in the Classroom

The CHALLENGE article (Jan. 3) about the Modern Language Association (MLA) meeting shows we’re engaged in important struggles around exploitation of academic labor, racism and pro-capitalist ideology. I’d like to suggest a complementary but largely neglected struggle: a fight for explicit dialectical materialism in all academic disciplines.

Dialectical materialism is the fundamental communist science/philosophy of matter and motion. It’s the set of laws and categories that generally reflect how the objective world (and the human mind) works. It’s the science underlying the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the basic worldview of our Party. History, anthropology, linguistics, physical sciences, and math are all special sciences within the more general science of dialectics.

It’s troubling that the MLA article never mentions dialectical materialism except indirectly (by criticizing bosses’ ideas about nonexistent objective truth and fixed human differences). Shouldn’t we be making a conscious, explicit fight for incorporating dialectical materialism into all the humanities, social and natural sciences?

We need to think through how dialectics relates to a number of academic disciplines. We’re probably more familiar with introducing dialectics in history and social sciences, e.g., fundamental contradiction of classes, and revolution as the resolution of this contradiction.

What about language? What are the dialectical principles that underlie the development of language, historically and in early childhood? What about the dialectics underlying grammatical structure? What dialectical principles are involved in learning (and teaching) a foreign language? What is the primary and secondary contradiction in foreign language learning/teaching? How and where does quantitative learning turn into quality? How might negation of the negation reflect this process, etc.?

Literature? The dialectical category of particular and general—how broad social and philosophical currents are reflected in the lives and characters of a few individuals—is central to all literature and art. Clearly the category of form and content—particularly the interdependence of these two concepts—is important in any analysis of literature. How are the three laws of dialectics embodied in a given novel or play? Isn’t "tragedy" a reflection of contradiction, negation of negation and other dialectical ideas?

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive analysis. It’s simply a proposal that those of us involved in academia begin to make dialectical materialism an important part of our political activities. This means integrating dialectical principles in the classroom, perhaps introducing resolutions about dialectics in mass organizations. This would be something new for us. To neglect dialectical materialism in the academic arena is a grave mistake. I hope for comments on this proposal.


Math—Is Being ‘Drilled’, Being ‘Screwed’?

As a math teacher and a communist, I disagree strongly with the recent back-to-basics articles about a supposedly "communist" approach to math education. There is nothing communist about the approach, and the students won’t even learn much real mathematics from it. The author seems to think that learning math means acquiring mechanical skills, in particular, arithmetic and algebra. And he thinks the only way to get these skills is through lots of boring hard work.

I agree these skills are important. But the skills alone aren’t useful if the students don’t understand how they’re applied in practice. What’s the point of being able to add and multiply two numbers if you can’t figure out (in an actual situation) which numbers to combine, whether to add, multiply or divide, and what the result means in the context?

A simple example: suppose a truck driver travels 100 miles at 40 miles an hour, then 100 miles at 60 miles an hour. What was her average speed for the whole trip? Students can spend 18 hours a day memorizing arithmetic tables but it won’t help them see that adding 40 to 60 and dividing by 2 does not give the right answer!

Acquiring skills is not the same as learning mathematics. Students also need to be creative in finding solutions to problems, and to develop judgement (including intuition) in order to evaluate approaches and results. Furthermore, they need to be able to work in groups so they can share their creativity and their judgement, as well as their skills. In other words, math (in fact, all) education should be based on collective labor. As it was, for example, in the Soviet Union, when it was still communist.

Under capitalism, relatively few students manage to learn mathematics, and those who do are often self-taught. Apparently the bosses are worried that these few are now too few, and so once again they’re trying to "reform" math education. Nothing much will come of these reforms. The capitalist school system, organized like a giant factory, is incapable of treating most students as anything other than components on an assembly line.

For most students capitalist education will always be (in Marx’s words) "mere training to act as a machine." The back-to-basics author seems to accept this description as the defining principle of what mathematics education should be. Basically, he complains that the students are no longer being "machined" well enough, and that the answer is to "drill" them more thoroughly. He should remember that in the workshop, being drilled is usually preparation for being screwed!

E. Galois

Nationalism Fuels Auto Wars

Thanks for placing the two articles (2/14 issue) on auto cutbacks side by side. It made things very clear. Led by pro-capitalist union hacks, angry European workers protested cuts made by U.S. bosses (GM) while U.S. workers were being told by their union leaders to blame European bosses (Daimler) for the cutbacks here in the U.S.

Left unchallenged by a communist movement these union leaders will only build a dangerous nationalism ("U.S. jobs for U.S. workers"). Job cuts in the auto industry — whether GM cuts of European workers or Daimler-Chrysler cuts of U.S. workers—are attacks on auto workers internationally.

The cuts are not due to moves by individual U.S. or German capitalists, but by a worldwide crisis of overproduction. PLP has often written about this. Despite all the talk about a "new economy" solving its contradictions, overproduction still is inherent to capitalism. The bosses’ main way out of this crisis is to destroy the productive capacity of their rivals. Ultimately this always leads to war fueled by nationalism.

This does not mean war and depression will come tomorrow. It does mean communist leadership is desperately needed in the unions, not just to organize around internationalist slogans like "Workers of the World Unite," but to educate workers about the underlying nature of capitalism and the need to destroy it.

A comrade