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These air raids are nothing new. U.S. and British warplanes have been terrorizing Iraqi civilians for years. But Bush's latest round represents an enlargement in both frequency and intensity. It coincides with growing U.S. isolation in the face of tactical victories by Saddam Hussein and U.S. oil rivals Russia and France.
Another irony leaves U.S. bosses with egg on their faces. According to the London Times (2/21), Iraq's oil barons are smuggling their cheap oil in tankers into Turkey, tankers which the U.S. could easily bomb because they're breaking the sanctions. But since the U.S. is using the Turkish air base at Incirlik as a launching pad for U.S. and British war planes patrolling the northern no-fly zone over Iraq, they're allowing Turkish rulers to break the sanctions in exchange for use of that base. Thus Iraq is reaping oil profits growing out of the very bombing campaign that's aimed at weakening Saddam Hussein. Profits drive all capitalists, whether U.S., Iraqi or Turkish.
Bush's bombing occurs in a setting that reveals significant gains by Saddam Hussein. Despite U.S. threats, contact between Iraq and the outside world is increasing. Technicians and businessmen fly into Baghdad regularly from Western Europe and Russia, thumbing their noses at U.S. policy. Their visits aim at launching the multi-billion dollar deals for Iraqi oil and gas that await only the formal lifting of sanctions. Only days after Bush had taken office, Iraqi rulers signed free trade pacts with Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
In 1991, French oil bosses came on board, however reluctantly. Now, with dreams of using Iraqi oil as leverage in the race against Exxon Mobil for maximum profit, they have a huge stake in opposing U.S. policy. And the Iraqi trade deals with former Arab enemies could spell further big trouble for the U.S., which so far has also failed to impose a "peace" deal between Israeli and Palestinian bosses on the crucial western flank of the Middle East.
So the stakes are climbing. Arab rulers will have to choose between the U.S. and Iraq. As usual, oil lies at the heart of the struggle. The big Persian Gulf producers, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, face a profit squeeze related to the current worldwide economic slump, a regular feature of the capitalist system. Growing amounts of Iraqi oil on a depressed market will lower prices. If Bush can convince these bosses that military force and sanctions against Iraq can stabilize the price of oil, then U.S. influence in the Persian Gulf may make a comeback. That was undoubtedly a key goal of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent Mid-East jaunt.
However, relying on the profit greed of wobbly oil princes isn't a recipe for long-term stability, peace or unchallenged U.S. supremacy. Nor is a failed policy of unenforceable sanctions or a military strategy that relies on bombing to resolve a situation that can be settled only on the ground.
Although U.S. imperialism continues to sit on the horns of a dilemma, we must not make the deadly error of believing that because launching war for Iraqi oil is difficult, the rulers won't do it. This is the isolation of a caged, untamed tiger. They must try everything to control and profit from the oil. Sooner or later this competition will lead to ever-widening armed struggle. We can't predict the timetable, but we must prepare our Party and our class for this inevitability. Imperialism and war are inseparable. Our job now and for the future remains mustering the determination and skill to build our revolutionary movement under all conditions.
Internally, as CHALLENGE has often pointed out, the rulers have little confidence in the political will of the working-class soldiers and sailors in their military machine. Ground war means many casualties. Since Vietnam, no U.S. government has managed to convince workers to die in droves for the profits and power of the U.S. ruling class. This situation is unlikely to change.
Externally, the sanctions and bombing raids against Iraq generate sharper international contradictions with every passing day. Bush blamed and threatened the Chinese for giving Saddam Hussein improved radar defenses. In Russia, the February 16 raids--with no prior U.S. notification--will strengthen the rulers who "argue that the only way for Russia to avoid being ignored, marginalized and eventually dismembered is to win respect through strength." (Stratfor Global Intelligence Update, 02/21.)
As analysts at Stratfor point out (2/21), "For the past decade, Russia has been led by a cadre of Western-oriented politicians, who, to various degrees, have been willing to sacrifice Russian strategic interests for economic and political integration with Europe and the West. They have been challenged by a much larger faction in the government, the military and the populace that argues Russia must re-establish itself as a superpower to avoid complete dominance by the United States." While they have a long way to go, Putin & Co. have done all they can, from Iraq to the Caspian to the Balkans, to build Russian political, military and economic influence at Washington's expense.
U.S. rulers, however, are planning to take drastic measures at home and abroad to ensure their survival as the "world's sole superpower." CHALLENGE has reported on the efforts of the Hart-Rudman commission to restructure the government into a police state in liberal clothing. One Hart-Rudman provision is to rein in the FBI by restricting its ability to block presidential appointments. The ruling class has a problem with the FBI. Since its inception led by J. Edgar Hoover, the bureau has largely recruited conservative Catholics, who don't necessarily share the liberal ideology of the ruling class's main wing. These super-obedient followers of rules are useful for enforcing the bosses' laws but not reliable in setting overall policy. Hanssen's purging can be seen as a tightening of the chain of command.
Hanssen belongs to Opus Dei, an overtly fascist Catholic sect. Louis Freeh used to belong but had to quit before he became FBI director (London Telegraph, 6/17/96). Hanssen once gave a talk at the bureau in which he equated "communism" as it was practiced in the last days of the Soviet Union with his own ultra-right religion (Boston Globe, 2/24). He was right; both are basically anti-communist attacks on workers. Thus, he justified his and the U.S. rulers' open door policy to Moscow at that time. But bosses on both sides have slammed the door. Furthermore, the main wing of U.S. rulers is not betting on religious conservatism as the primary means for rallying the masses, or its own cadre, for war. Exit Hanssen.
The bosses' media are using the Hanssen drama to pump up anti-Russian patriotism. We can use it to discuss what genuine communism is.
Parton's right, the only light at the end of the tunnel, is the headlights of Usinor, the giant French steel manufacturer, which just merged with Arbed of Luxembourg and Aceralia Corporación Siderúrgica of Spain, to create the world's largest steel maker.
The new European steel giant will produce 46 million metric tons of steel a year, almost double the biggest Asian steel makers -- Nippon Steel of Japan and Pohang Iron and Steel of South Korea -- which combined produce about 52 million metric tons annually. Usinor will control 30% of European steel production and over 5% percent worldwide. It will make half of Europe's flat steel, used in autos and appliances.
The steel industry must consolidate to destroy excess capacity and combat falling prices. Klaus Soer, an analyst with Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt said, "The process of consolidation is in full steam in the steel sector." Usinor recently acquired Cockerill Sambre S.A. of Belgium, for $1.1 billion in 1999. Thyssen Krupp, Germany's biggest steel maker and Nazi war criminal, was formed by a merger the same year. Corus, created by merging British Steel and Royal Hoogovens of the Netherlands in 1999, just announced it will cut its work-force by 20%, or 6,050 jobs, to keep pace with the competition.
To make a profit, the U.S. steel industry must run at 85% to 90% of capacity. Most have been running under 80%. The industry as a whole fell to 65% in the final week of 2000.
During the crises of the 1980s, the USWA leadership gave up 350,000 jobs and billions of dollars in wage and benefit concessions, so the bosses could compete and profit. Despite the massive cutbacks, the steel bosses are facing a new crisis of low prices, high energy costs and the ever-sharpening battle with European and Asian steel bosses, with a lot less room to maneuver.
The union leaders are again rushing to the aid of the bosses. After the super-nationalist "Stand Up for Steel" campaign, District Director Parton now says he would suspend the job security clause of the current contract if the bosses eliminate overtime, lay off all contract workers and "prove the cuts will help."
In fact, the union leaders support their billionaire masters' war plans. Parton wants Bush to tour the steel mills accompanied by Pentagon officials. "Having a good steel industry is vital to our national defense," he said.
The life-and-death struggle among the bosses for markets, resources and cheap labor will inevitably lead to war. That's the nature of imperialism. Steel workers have no stake in bailing out the bosses, competing with our brothers and sisters around the world or following our worse-than-useless union leaders to war. While we fight for every job, we must build an international PLP to destroy the war-makers and lead the international working class to power.
But in an article entitled "Behind Layoffs, Reality is Often Less Severe in US"(New York Times, 2/19), we're told things aren't as bad as they seem. "More than half of the 7,000 cuts planned at Sara Lee...will occur in other countries." "...The 12,000 hourly Chrysler workers subject to layoff in the United States will continue to receive 95 percent of their pay..." "At least a third of the 16,000 jobs to be eliminated at Lucent will still exist--as parts of other companies."
The Times speaks for the bosses, not workers. Reality is less severe when the stock market is soaring and record profits result from increased productivity. "As the economy's growth has slowed, investors...cheer the announcement of major cost cuts and layoffs." True. "A single corporate layoff of a few thousand workers, likely to be spread over a few weeks or many months, has a minimal effect..."
You get a much different perspective from the streets of Detroit or Gary, Indiana, not to mention Ciudad Juarez or Bupyong, South Korea. In the U.S. during the 1980's, over 500,000 jobs were lost in auto, 350,000 in steel. More than 1.5 million industrial jobs vanished. The massive cuts were accompanied by a wave of strike-breaking and union-busting that continues to this day.
This may have had "a minimal effect" on the Times editors, but it took a terrible toll on the lives of the workers. About 75% of the displaced workers ended up working for two-thirds of their previous pay. Some turned to drugs, alcohol or petty crime. Many ended up homeless, in jail or dead. From western Pennsylvania to Logan, West Virginia, from East Chicago, IN to Flint, MI, whole communities were destroyed and never recovered.
Today, one-third of the auto industry and two-thirds of the coalmines are non-union. Auto production is at an all-time high, with 500,000 fewer workers. Thousands of young workers in Gary and Detroit are working in gambling casinos instead of the factories and mills. Health and safety standards and work rules have been gutted, reflected in the series of explosions at Rouge and Bethlehem Steel.
LTV, the third largest U.S. steel maker, has declared bankruptcy. American Steel is closing, moving the work to Monroe, NC, cutting wages in half. One difference between this crisis and the last is that welfare has been wiped out, along with many other health and welfare programs. Contrary to what the Times says, for many workers this wave of cuts will be more severe. And with the widespread use of multi-tiered wage systems and wage progressions, getting hired can be as severe as being laid off.
Dr. Harvey Brenner of Johns Hopkins University told the Committee that, "The national rate of suicide in the United States can be viewed as an economic indicator," so close is the link between joblessness and workers' violent deaths. How conveniently the Times "forgets"....
PLP forces have emerged stronger from this struggle. We have made many new friends and recruited several. Workers from various Bavaria plants around the country who didn't know our Party and our paper CHALLENGE do now. Bavaria strikers also learned what PLP means by "one working class, one flag, one international communist party."
Workers feel betrayed by the local and national union leaders. They had told workers the strike would continue until the demands were won. This is exactly what PLP had warned about: union hacks are not on the workers' side; they serve the bosses one way or another.
Despite the hacks, thousands of workers showed solidarity with the Bavaria strikers. PLP members in the U.S. and other countries also built support. Bavaria workers will long remember this moral and monetary backing fellow workers gave them during the struggle. This international solidarity showed in practice the validity of the slogan "Workers of the world, unite!"
But although we've been forced to return to work, the struggle will continue. We will be vigilant against any threatened firing of rank-and-file strike leaders. We will also continue to fight for the strike demands, to stop the company from taking away what we have fought for and won in recent decades. Mainly, we will continue to fight to win workers to PLP's communist politics. The strike became a school for communism for those many workers who became conscious of the need to fight for a new society, without bosses, without death squads and drug cartels. Communism has gained a foothold among these workers.
A demonstration was planned to protest several stores that used sweatshop labor, especially the sneaker manufacturer NIKE. Nike uses slave-like conditions and wages in countries like Indonesia to super-exploit workers .
Five busloads carrying 120 students and two older leaders converged on a small town outside NYC. Two lawyers were present just in case people were "carried away." We were told repeatedly there would be no civil disobedience.
We marched to a large Nike store, chanting: "Down with sweatshops, shame on Nike!"; "No justice, no peace." It was a beautiful sight, a mass of young adults fighting for a cause. Hundreds of shoppers stood still, mouths open, while we marched and chanted.
As soon as we hit the Nike shop, security ordered us out. Although I wanted to stay, our strict leaders said to leave as soon as we were told, peacefully. We left chanting, "We'll be back."
Later, we went to a Mall, the biggest in the state. Divided into groups, each with a "tour guide," some dressed in Dresden shorts, long socks, straw hats and Hawaiian shirts, we were to walk through the mall pretending to be tourists. We followed our tour leaders from store to store, saying these clothes were made in sweatshops and describing the slave-like conditions those workers faced.
Mall shoppers, employers and employees watched. Some even followed us, laughing. They appeared not to know what to think. The five groups met in the center of the mall chanting our slogans. Security finally "escorted" us out.
I was excited and felt powerful but "accepted." I didn't believe the people watching us felt threatened as I think they sometimes do. The two lawyers present gave me a (false) sense of security. That's the danger of joining other groups -- one can get lost in that group and their fight.
On the bus returning to school the person next to me said he was a socialist. I felt this was a good opportunity to become friends. When I said I was in PLP, he said he used to buy CHALLENGE at his local grocery store. Some people overheard our conversation and declared they were communists, socialists and Marxists also. It was amazing. We started discussing politics and why we considered ourselves communist, socialists and Marxists.
Before I went to college I felt I would be isolated at school because I would be the only Party member at my university. I realized the importance of being in a mass organization, about the potential in every worker to become a member of PLP.
However, there's a contradiction: in mass organizations, you're fighting for reforms that maintain capitalism instead of abolishing it. These groups have good people who want a better world and we need to win them. Like CHALLENGE says, capitalism has really got to go. So, how do you tell your friends you're a communist, how do you introduce CHALLENGE, how do you explain all that complicated stuff about communism? And what will your friends think?
All too often we sell our communist ideas short. Communism is the greatest thing since the wheel. Many workers and students will grasp some aspect of that. When my fellow students first discovered I was a communist, their main reaction was a very friendly curiosity.
I remember struggling repeatedly with some young comrades about distributing CHALLENGE to their friends and relatives. One was a newly-arrived cousin from Africa. I was told he wouldn't be interested in politics or communism. One day, I asked him what he thought about communism. Without hesitation he said, "I think it's the greatest thing in the world." I'll never forget that.
As the semester progresses, many students on my campus may want a communist explanation of various events. When I participate in reform activities, they know I'm for more than some small change in the system. For me, there's nothing better than being known as a communist by friend and foe alike. It makes life worthwhile.
Workers and students want to understand the world. They want the truth. CHALLENGE and communism are what they're looking for. We're responsible to get it out there.
Travis was 5'6" and weighed 260 pounds. He had asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes. A history of drug abuse had damaged his enlarged heart. But for all his ailments, it was racism that killed him. Racism where ten more dollars in Kroger's cash register is worth more than a man's life.
Security guards confronted Shelton. Within minutes he was face down on the floor gasping, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe," as 260 pound guard Jason Clover sat on his back. When the police arrived, they handcuffed Shelton and rolled him over only to find they had handcuffed a dead man.
An off-duty firefighter tried to assist the guards and held Shelton's arm. "I can't help but feel responsible," he said. "If I hadn't helped the guards, [he] would have had an arm free and still be alive."
On February 14, the Medical Examiner who preformed the autopsy ruled the death a homicide. The police response was, "Not every homicide is murder."
Shelton was the second black man in eight months to be killed by store security guards. Last June, Lord & Taylor security guards killed Frederick Finley when his barely teenage daughter was suspected of shoplifting a $10 bracelet.
Whether its police murders on the street, mass expulsions from school, strip searches at airports, or just driving in your car, racist terror infects all of society. The bosses have turned every black and Latin person into a suspect. With one in four young black men in the criminal justice system, and more than a million in prison, whole sections of the population are already living under full-blown fascism.
But more to the point is the question raised by the firefighter. Yes, he is responsible. We are all responsible for each other to fight the bosses' dictatorship. We can't be "Good Nazis" and claim, "We didn't know about the concentration camps." Building a fighting PLP that serves the working class can help develop a sense of responsibility for our class. This is a requirement for becoming a more serious force for revolution.
The racist ideology of the Democratic/Republican Clinton/Gingrich gang insists that people on welfare "don't want to work." However, among the adults facing cutoff, nearly 28% are wage earners who work an average of 30 hours per week. Another 15% have disabilities that prevent them from working. Welfare bosses point to decreased welfare rolls as "proof" that the so-called reform is working. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters however report overwhelming increases in people seeking help. Welfare advocates report that large numbers of eligible applicants for welfare, food stamps and medicaid benefits either are wrongfully turned away or discouraged from applying in the first place.
NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has plans for six-month jobs for those reaching their five-year limits, followed by slave labor Workfare for those unable to make ends meet. As "payment" for this slave labor, families will receive a greatly-reduced cash benefit and vouchers to be used towards food and rent. The absolute terror of starvation of men, women and children will be a club used to lower the wages of, and divide, the entire working class, a clear indication of increasing fascism in the U.S.! We will continue and intensify our campaign opposing Workfare, both on the job and in the unions.
Brian Catlett is the first cop ever tried for killing someone in this county. He murdered a 19 year old unarmed black man, Gary Hopkins, Jr., in November 1999 during a fracas after a dance. The evidence of the cop's guilt was so overwhelming that Jack Johnson, the County's chief prosecutor, felt compelled to indict the cop for "involuntary" manslaughter and reckless endangerment. He was under pressure to make this gesture, given that 17 people have been shot -- some fatally -- by the County's cops in the last 18 months. (Howard University student Prince Jones was the latest fatality of the PG cops' rampage; see CHALLENGE over the last six months).
The trial was rigged from the start. The judge was a veteran conservative. The cop rejected a jury trial, choosing to be tried by the judge. Gary's mother described the judge-cop connection as part of an "old boy" network. Moreover, the prosecution was so inept that, for such a high profile case, can only be described as deliberate incompetence. For instance, the prosecution raised in an improper manner the fact that the cop and Hopkins had had previous run-ins, which was critical history behind the murder in November 1999; so this evidence was ruled inadmissible. Had a young black man killed a cop, no gross prosecution mistakes like this would have been made!
The anti-police brutality movement has really advanced. The Prince George's County People's Coalition for Police Accountability organized a prayer vigil of 150 people on the eve of the trial to back the family. The family's supporters packed the courtroom all week (along with the fascist cops and their "union" leader Rodney Bartlett). Dozens rallied outside the courthouse calling for the conviction of cop Catlett. Demonstrators included many county residents and Howard University workers. Speakers attacked the prosecution's malpractice and called for a broader movement against police brutality and racial profiling. One speaker called for a determined fight against the capitalist system and all its politicians, since capitalism spawns police brutality as a bosses' tool to better control and intimidate the working class, especially black workers.
During this campaign many important political issues have arisen. Who are our friends and who are our enemies? A cadre of black politicians have emerged over the last 15 years and, to a great extent, lead Prince George's County. They include County Executive Wayne Curry, State's Attorney Jack Johnson and local congressman Al Wynn. Yet these politicians have said virtually nothing about the fascist police force, merely suggesting a few minor reforms in police procedures (mounting video cameras on police cars, modest changes in the Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights).
Nevertheless, some Coalition members believe the best political strategy for fighting police brutality is to work through the electoral system -- "which politicians are on our side." Other members, including PLP'ers, declare that, since the cause of the problem is capitalism, a mass revolutionary movement against capitalism is needed, which relies on the masses of workers and students to join the fight. The PLP identifies the media, politicians and legislative initiatives as all part of the enemy's apparatus, and will at best lead us to waste our time and energy and wind up demoralized.
Nevertheless, the Coalition has gotten several bills introduced in the state legislature to reduce the cops' protection against investigation and prosecution. Meanwhile, a major mass conference is being planned for mid-March at St. Paul's Baptist Church where the struggle over political direction will continue.
The PLP continues to urge the Coalition to fight racist police brutality and the system which generates it and to rely on the workers and students in the struggle. More will then see that reliance on the media, the politicians and the official political process does not produce the desired change.
The fact that hundreds of PLP leaflets about this case have been distributed in the County and at Howard University, and that most Coalition members have read CHALLENGE occasionally, makes this more possible. The PLP will continue to bring more workers and students into this movement, bolstering its mass character and its potential for militant action. They can be won to joining the revolutionary struggle and PLP.
Carol was suspended without pay over a year ago for taking a student to an anti-KKK rally. In December, a hearing officer ruled that Carol should be sent back to work and "commended, not condemned." The Board can overrule the hearing officer, and that decision was supposed to have been made at the Board's last meeting. However, her case wasn't even on the agenda. They said they would poll the Board within two weeks and then issue a decision.
In the meantime, Carol's students at Chicago Vocational School (CVS) have been without a math teacher since the end of January. After Carol was removed from school last year, they were denied a teacher for several weeks. At a recent Local School Council meeting, the principal said Carol would be coming back, but that the Board will build another case against her. They're "out to get her."
About 75 supporters attended a victory party last month celebrating the hearing officer's favorable ruling. They are fighters against the repressive, anti-student regime of Schools boss Paul Vallas. Each one will be asked to be a May Day organizer and CHALLENGE distributor. The Caref-Bernal Defense Committee also plans to visit CVS parents and students. Fighting to carry out this struggle with each and every person in this way will help give communist political leadership to the fights against racist " intervention," high stakes tests, teacher layoffs (at a time of shortages!), and fascist "zero tolerance" policies.
The Board serves its capitalist masters, running the schools like factories designed to produce patriotic, individualistic, pro-capitalist soldiers and workers. Our Party fights for just the opposite. PLP serves the working class. We believe that all students are capable of learning, and becoming organizers and leaders of the revolutionary communist movement. Build a fighting Party in the schools! March on May Day!
The "Stanford 9" standardized test, was attacked as racist, culturally biased and anti-working class. An Academic Performance Index (API) is based on the test's results. Each school is awarded money for improved API scores. Most of it has gone to the wealthier schools while the poorer ones get poorer. In addition, the curriculum is being geared to passing the test at the expense of critical educational development.
A group of students and teachers distributed a PLP leaflet attacking the U.S. bombing of Iraq. They told conference participants that the same rulers responsible for racist education are bombing Iraqi workers for oil profits. They said we need to build an international struggle against them.
These students want to fight back against racist education and conditions. We need to win them to understand that U.S. rulers are in trouble. They must defend their empire against imperialist rivals worldwide. They must change the schools to serve this goal. This includes building a national curriculum that justifies U.S. imperialism; pushes cultural nationalism and restricts students to learning only English; and obscures inter-imperialist rivalry leading to war. They want to build patriotism and win youth ideologically to fight and die for U.S. imperialism. Such tests as the Stanford 9 reflects this (see box).
All students can learn the real nature of the world and how to change it. Our fight is against capitalism because capitalism will never serve the educational interests of working-class students. The bosses' schools exist to reproduce their racist system. Only by destroying capitalism with a communist revolution will education ever meet the needs of the entire working class.
We need to deepen this fight and help prepare students today for the future by fighting to learn and learning to fight. A crucial part of this process is winning many of these angry students to march on May Day. This got a good push when one of the conference-goers called PLP applauding the leaflet and wanting to get together.
Sample questions reveal how the Stanford 9 exam obscures class relations and justifies U.S. imperialism in the attempt to win youth to defend and die for it:
What factor most strongly binds people together in a culture
a. Having simiilar economic problems
b. Living in similar neighborhoods
c. Sharing a common language
d. Joining the same political party
Their answer--c. Real answer--Which class one belongs to.
Events in Bosnia-Herzogovina both in 1914 and in the 1990's indicate the
continuing influence of
a. international organizations
b. economic interdependence
c. economic self-interest
d. ethnic rivalries
Their answer--d. Real answer--Inter-imperialist rivalry.
The U.S. had numerous commitments around the world during the 1960's because it
a. the richest country in the world at that time
b. the only superpower in the world at that time
c. leading the struggle against communist aggression
d. attempting to acquire a global empire
Their answer--c. Real answer--d.
One example is the group PULSAR, a huge transnational company led by Alfonso Romo, which sells genetically engineered seeds. It wants to plant thousands of acres of eucalyptus trees to produce cellulose in the forests of Chimalapas and Lancondona. Then there's the ambitious project to build the super trans-isthmus Tehuantepec highway to connect the Gulf of Mexico with the Pacific Ocean.
Today the bourgeois intellectuals want to solve the Chiapas situation by accepting some of the demands of the rebellious indigenous. They figure this can counter the influence of European non governmental organizations (NGO's) who have been organizing sympathy with the Zapatista movement by implementing assistance programs. The Fox regime must settle the Chiapas conflict in order to start constructing the trans-isthmus superhighway. It aims to negotiate directly with the rebels, offering them trinkets while continuing their poverty. The U.S. media and its NGO's are even "supporting" the Zapatistas to counter EU influence. This is all part of the U.S. bosses' strategic plan for control of all resources from the Texas border south to Panama. All the bosses use the people's needs as fodder for their own class interests.
Many progressive people see Zapatismo as a solution to at least the immediate evils of capitalism. But the fight for tiny reforms only changes the mask of the exploiters. Amending the Constitution will not change people's lives. The Constitution is an arm of the bosses who use their laws to maintain their class oppression. We need to get rid of it, not reform it. Getting the indigenous people to vote still leaves power in the bosses' hands. We have to fight for power for the working people.
That's why today more than ever we must fight for communist revolution, for a society where our class will reap the full value of all we produce.
The indigenous people have valuable experiences to draw on in building a communist society.
They still practice features of primitive communism -- mutual aid, collectivity, preserving the earth as the source of needed resources, not as a component of capitalist production, serving the people without receiving any wages for it. Their tradition doesn't conceive of imposing control on another group. They make their important decisions in general assemblies of the collective, not in back door meetings.
Workers and students shouldn't follow the U.S. or the EU imperialists. Our class can gain tremendously by the integration of more indigenous workers in the fight for communist revolution!
CHICAGO, Feb. 25 -- The viciously racist incident in the ER (see box) was the last straw. It moved a group of black and white doctors to meet and struggle to come up with a plan to oppose the "racial profiling" in the Cook County Hospital (CCH) newborn nursery. They want to fight the drug testing of newborns without the mother's knowledge or consent. This practice, long-standing at CCH, would not be tolerated for a second by private patients at a predominantly white suburban hospital. The doctors decided they must stand up for the working-class families using CCH. Most were emphatic that treating their patients as "suspects" is not why they became doctors.
This issue is complicated. Some feel mothers "cannot be trusted" because they may conceal their drug addiction and harm their infants. But reporting her addiction risks losing custody of her baby.
Are we serving the people or the police? How "concerned" could the bosses be about helping people with drug problems when they fail to provide enough rehab facilities for low-income patients? Why did they cut the number of social workers in the newborn unit from three to one?
Once a woman is reported for drug use in pregnancy -- especially if she is black -- her infant may be taken away. No wonder women are tempted to conceal their problem! Many experiences in the life of a black or Latin working class woman would lead her to mistrust healthcare providers. Secretly testing a baby's urine for drugs will not likely restore any trust. And it makes the doctors and nurses into cops.
As fascism develops, there is a struggle for the hearts and minds of hospital workers and professionals. The bosses want us to side with them, against our working-class patients and become auxiliary police, not healthcare providers. Despite ever-increasing numbers of armed police and threats of job loss, hospital workers must resist. Our interests and those of our patients are the same.
At a recent meeting, the new chairman of pediatrics, recently arrived from one of the country's most elite historically black medical schools, delivered the bad news: while as of January, only 591 of the hospital's 1,200 beds remained open, by next July, it will fall to 464. Unity of all CCH workers and professionals is essential to fight these layoffs.
Some feel the administration has intentionally created the atmosphere of intimidation over recent years, to ward off expected resistance to worsening conditions. However, staff members have protested each new regulation, like the lock-down of the stairwells, the requirement of multiple pass checks or the strict limits on family members allowed to visit. As the countdown proceeds, the situation deteriorates.
The rulers and their police and CIA are responsible for the drug epidemics in the large cities. Clinton's buddies get pardons, while low-level dealers and users are locked up. Oppression breeds resistance, so the rulers ratchet up the police state. Part of that process is winning workers and professionals ideologically to the side of the police, and against the workers, especially black and Latin workers. Resisting this tendency is more than being a "nice person" or a good healthcare professional. It's being an anti-fascist and an ally of the working class.
Many come to work at CCH because they believe in providing care with concern, regardless of ability to pay. The main way to serve the people is to fight to win them to become revolutionary communist organizers and members of PLP. We value and respect black working-class infants and their mothers for what they are: future fighters and leaders of the working class. As this fight unfolds, we can build a contingent of CCH patients, workers and professionals to march on May Day. Now that's the best thing we can do with our lives.
Then he explained how the Muni workers had finally elected an honest shop steward, John Murray, who was kicking out the sellout union misleaders. He told the group of passengers around him that Murray was a communist who really fought for better conditions for the workers. He said he hadn't understood the importance of communists before but now he has gone to the communist bookstore to buy a book about the history of his union. Then he told everyone listening how he explained to the union's young workers that kicking the crooks out of union leadership took a long time. It couldn't be done overnight and John Murray had stuck with it over the long haul.
I said, "Well, I hope you keep John Murray honest." He told all of us that wouldn't be a problem. If we had stayed on for one more stop, there might have been a group discussion of workers' revolution right on the cable car.
San Francisco visitor
A number of new organizations have emerged here, opposing the actions of the Israeli ruling class. The most militant is Jews Against The Occupation (JATO). It is composed mostly of young people, many of whom took part in the anti-police brutality demonstrations around the Diallo murder in which the group Jews For Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) participated.
JATO's program calls for complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from all territory occupied after the 1967 Israeli-Arab war and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to areas from which they've been expelled since 1948, in both Israel and the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza. This is a specifically anti-nationalist demand; carrying it out would dramatically change the demographics of the entire Israel-Palestine region.
JATO has organized or participated in actions against the Israeli ruling class, including picketing the Israeli Consulate; demonstrating against an Israeli Cabinet member appearing at a New York YM-YWHA; entering, and demonstrating against the Israel Discount Bank in New York (where "blood money" was tossed inside the bank); and participating in an informational picket line at Zabars, a large UpperWest Side delicatessen patronized by many Jewish people.
In some of these actions JATO worked together with Not In Our Name, another youth organization, and with Jews For Peace Through Justice, primarily older women who are also members of JFREJ. JATO has also linked up with a group of young people of predominantly Palestinian ethnicity called Al-Awda.
The anti-nationalist, anti-occupation movement is growing in other areas as well. A group named Jews Against the Occupation is active in England. In Montreal, The Jewish Alliance Against the Occupation and a Palestinian and Jewish Unity group hold demonstrations every Friday at noon outside the Israeli Consulate there.
Many people in this growing movement hold anti-imperialist views and recognize and oppose the role of the U.S. ruling class in developing Israel as an anchor for its push to control Middle East oil. They should be given CHALLENGE and urged to march on May Day. They need to be won to the view that there will be no permanent peace in the region until a united Arab-Jewish working class carries out a communist revolution and workers power is in control.
New York comrade
I said I'd been holding back from distributing more CHALLENGES in my ESL (English as a Second Language) class. One of those students, also in the dialectics class, noticed that. She offered to help distribute more papers there.
My union-sponsored ESL class is for home attendants. I've been selecting articles in each issue while my student distributes the paper. We discuss them, like the story in the last issue about the LA garment workers who stood up to the bosses to stop the layoff of a co-worker. It was inspiring. Most of my students had been factory workers until their plants closed or moved. They then became home attendants.
I also picked out the story from Ecuador and the one about Boeing workers supporting strikers in Colombia. My students eagerly marked down the pages of these stories. I plan to use the article on the drugging of children in the last issue in a class project called Problem-Based Learning. The class is small, but so far almost all the students have begun reading CHALLENGE.
In March I'm having a May Day dinner for my students. Usually many march with their families. Reading the paper will show the meaning of May Day and help motivate them.
What are other comrades' experiences with CHALLENGE? Do we realize what a good paper we have, how much it means to workers and how it can help change their perspectives and lives? How did LA garment workers receive the excellent article about their struggle? I bet it would enable us to introduce CHALLENGE to many more garment workers, janitors, their families and others as well as to their children who go to schools where our comrade teachers work.
A PLP member
The Johnstown, PA police department's racism is overtly and shamelessly displayed by its fascist enforcers. According to the local media, three cops are being investigated for allegedly accosting a black tourist, Sherman Fauntleroy, two weeks ago as he pulled into a Wendy's restaurant on Broad Street for lunch. The cops stopped him without cause, searched his car and "reviewed" his driver's license, registration and other information without charging him. He then drove back to the Holiday Inn where he was staying with his wife, Diane (a National Drug Intelligence Center employee who was in the city on business at the agency's Johnstown offices).
Shortly thereafter, another cop confronted Mr. Fauntleroy as he walked from the Holiday Inn to a nearby store. According to Johnstown NAACP president Clea Hollis, all stops made by the police are to be documented and the "race" of the person(s) stopped recorded. This policy was adopted because of racial profiling occurring for more than a year in the area. Hollis contends that Police Chief Huntly should also be held accountable for his officers' behavior.
City councilman Ron Stevens said, "(The officers) know what the policy is. It's their problem. Not the chief's...not the city's." No, it's everyone's problem as long as capitalism continues to foster ignorance and racism.
Recently the Moxham section of Johnstown was leafleted with racist Klan literature. Shortly afterwards a letter appeared from a Lisa Penrod defending the leaflet as "free speech." Penrod is a local Klan sympathizer living in nearby Somerset County. A year ago she offered her farm for the Klan to hold a cross-burning.
Especially troubling is the fact that both black and white youth in this area are turning to drugs and violence. Since our children are our future, I don't like what I see in the crystal ball for Johnstown, this country or the world.
But I do hope and dream. I dream of a society where people are not stopped by the police for Driving While Black. I dream of a large bonfire using white sheets for fuel, (topped with a confederate flag for good measure). And I dream of a society where our children understand and practice communist principles.
As people become more oppressed, harassed and poorer, the opportunity to educate them about communism grows. Let the fire in our bellies burn hot and let our actions reflect what is true and honorable.
First, several city, state and federal agencies (including the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the NYPD and the National Guard) raided several bodegas (grocery stores) in Washington Heights, "looking for drugs." The bodegas apparently were being used by local drug dealers. In the past, there have been many raids in that community, but I don't remember such an onslaught of agencies. It seems like a preview of the proposals by the bipartisan Hart-Rudman Commission to impose a wider police state in the U.S. (see CHALLENGE editorial, Feb. 28).
Then, a few days after that raid, Mayor Giuliani and all his top aides held a "town meeting" in a local West Harlem school. Many neighborhood people who attended demanded more action against the local drug dealers, refuting the cops' and Mayor's claims that they've "cleaned the streets" of these vermin. Unfortunately, many honest people see more cops and more arrests as the only solution to this problem. There are already two million in jail in the U.S., two-thirds of them for non-violent crimes (usually involving drugs). Drugs are big business. A new UN report stated that the use of new drugs like ecstasy and old ones like marihuana are growing, particularly among U.S. youth (the highest consumers of these drugs worldwide). Some people at the meeting did demand better and increased treatment for drug users as the solution.
Finally, that same week a racist leaflet appeared in English in certain sections of Washington Heights -- where the population is more affluent and white -- labeling all Dominican residents of the area as drug-dealers. This leaflet reflects the racist nature of the war on drugs. Indeed, while there are many young Dominican workers who sell drugs there, 99.99% of all Dominican residents of Washington Heights are hard-working people trying to make ends meets.
When I grew up in the Dominican Republic in the '50s and early '60s, drugs were unknown (alcohol has always been the big problem there, particularly among males). When I arrived in New York City in 1962, drugs were still unknown among my generation of Dominican immigrants. But in 1965 U.S. bosses invaded the Dominican Republic, intervening to back a right-wing junta deposed by a popular rebellion. They sent as many troops there (38,000) as there were in Vietnam at that time. It was only then that drugs became popular in the inner cities all over the country. Why? Because during that period millions were protesting the war in Vietnam and racism in the U.S. Rebellions were erupting against racist cops in all major cities.
That was why the CHALLENGE article on drugs was on the mark in explaining that the bosses and their cops, CIA, etc. began dumping drugs into the inner cities to dull the drive for rebellion. Knowledge is indeed subversive if it is used to fight the real drug dealers.
The term "U.S. ruling class" is a broad term referring to the biggest capitalists who own the main industries and banks, plus their servants in government, like presidents, generals, leading underlings and the governors and mayors of the larger states and cities. Over the past 35 years, one of the leading lights of this class has been Henry Kissinger, the Rockefellers' chief foreign policy advisor and an appointee/advisor of numerous presidents. If anyone deserves to be strung up by the international working class for crimes against our class, it is Henry the Monster.
Kissinger has been a designer and director of policies that have directly killed millions of people in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Chile, the Middle East, South Africa, Angola and Central America. He was also the protector of the murderous Shah of Iran. While destruction of this entire ruling class by communist revolution is a necessary goal, many individuals must be held most accountable for the oppression and deaths of tens of millions of workers. Few can top Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger's Hitlerian crimes against the working class speak volumes. This article is drawn mainly from "The Case Against Henry Kissinger" by Christopher Hitchens in the February 2001 HARPER'S magazine. Here we will deal only with his genocidal actions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Kissinger's "career" took off during the 1968 Paris negotiations to end the war in Vietnam. This war involved five U.S. presidents -- Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. After the Viet Minh's People's War defeated the French colonialists, U.S. rulers decided to "save Vietnam from communism" (more accurately, for imperialist exploitation). They, too, were run aground by the organized might of the workers and peasants. Unfortunately the Vietnamese leadership was abandoning the goal of a workers' dictatorship over the bosses and began negotiating with the losing U.S. invaders. This has led to the welcoming of U.S. corporations and presidents back to Vietnam, ushering in capitalism in the name of "socialism."
In the fall of 1968, the Johnson Administration was about to end the massive bombing of north Vietnam and sign a peace deal with the Vietnamese. This -- given the ever-growing opposition to the war in the U.S. -- would have probably won the '68 election for Humphrey and the Democrats. Kissinger (a trusted "advisor" of that Administration) leaked this information to the Nixon-for-President campaign. Nixon then told the south Vietnamese, puppets of the U.S. (and necessary participants in a deal), that if they pulled out of the negotiations they would get a better deal from the Republicans, assuming that he (Nixon) would then win the Presidency.
On October 31st, Johnson ordered a halt to the bombing. Two days later the south Vietnamese fascists fulfilled Kissinger's double-cross and pulled out of the peace talks, virtually ending them. The result? Nixon beat Humphrey -- barely. His first appointee was none other than Kissinger as National Security Advisor. (Had Humphrey won, Kissinger was a certainty for a high position in his Administration as well since he had written in the Rockefeller House organ Foreign Affairs that he fully agreed with the Johnson Administration Vietnam policy.)
But the larger result was that the war was to continue for another four years, killing 600,000 more Vietnamese soldiers, at least two to three million more Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian civilians and 20,000 more U.S. GI's. This didn't include the effects of the massive sprayings of defoliants and pesticides, effects which continue to this day. Moreover, the 1973 settlement was virtually the same as the one agreed upon in 1968.
Kissinger was the architect of these barbarous four years, all of which promoted him from a "mediocre academic to an international potentate." In just those "extra" four years of war, there was such massive "carpet bombing" of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia -- more than twice the tonnage dropped during the ENTIRE World War II -- that Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton exclaimed, "We seem to be proceeding on the assumption that the way to eradicate the Vietcong is to destroy all the village structures, defoliate all the jungles and cover the entire surface of South Vietnam with asphalt."
Kissinger's first operation, "Speedy Express," designed under Johnson/Humphrey and carried forward under Nixon, was the "pacification" of the province of Kien Hoa in the Mekong Delta, to take political control away from the National Liberation Front. Knowing full well that there were no north Vietnamese troops in the area, 8,000 infantrymen and 3,381 tactical air strikes murdered 11,000 civilians in pursuit of "pacification."
Newsweek Saigon bureau chief Kevin Buckley was told by a U.S. official (June 19, 1972) that, "The...inflicting [of] civilian casualties...was worse than My Lai....sanctioned by the command's insistence on high body-counts...."
"There were 5,000 people in our village before 1969, but there were none in 1970. The Americans destroyed every house with artillery, air strikes, or by burning them down with cigarette lighters....Many children [were] killed by concussion from the bombs which their small bodies could not withstand, even if they were hiding underground."
General Creighton Abrams announced Operation Speedy Express a huge success. Kissinger's memoirs reveal that he micromanaged the war in such detail that nothing like this could take place without his knowledge or permission. It is no wonder that the slogan painted on one helicopter's quarters read, "Death is our business and business is good."
Such were some of the results of Kissinger's four extra years of genocidal war.
Still another atrocity carried out under Kissinger's direction was the massive bombing and then invasion of Laos and Cambodia. The initial bombing was performed secretly, knowing the effect on civilians. The revolting code names were: "Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner and Dessert." From March 1969 to May 1970, 3,630 such raids were flown over Cambodia. The official death toll from bombing was 350,000 civilians in Laos and 600,000 in Cambodia (not the highest estimates). "In addition, the widespread use of toxic chemical defoliants created a massive health crisis that fell most heavily on children, nursing mothers, the aged and the already infirm. That crisis persists to this day." (HARPERS, 2/01)
Kissinger's reaction to this slaughter appeared in Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman's "Diaries" for March 17, 1969:
Historic day. K[issinger]'s "Operation Breakfast" a great success. He came beaming in with report, very productive.
(Then, on April 22, 1970, Haldeman reports that Nixon, following Kissinger to a National Security Council meeting on Cambodia) "Turned back to me with a big smile and said `K[issinger]'s really having fun today, he's playing Bismarck."
Kissinger's joy over the murder of at least a million innocent people recalls Adolph Hitler's dancing a jig in the streets of Paris after the fall of France in World War II. Kissinger was not just issuing general directives. According to Colonel Sitton, by late 1969 his office was regularly being overruled in target selection: "Not only was Henry carefully screening the raids, he was reading the raw intelligence" and fiddling with the mission patterns and bombing runs.
Kissinger's manipulation of the war and the increasing genocide is reflected in another conversation recounted by Haldeman that occurred on December 15, 1970. Nixon had told both of them that he had this big "peace plan" set for the following year. Haldeman reports Kissinger opposed it. "He thinks that any pullout next year would be a serious mistake because the adverse reaction to it could set in well before the '72 elections. He favors a continued winding down and then a pullout right at the fall of '72 so that if any bad results follow they will be too late to affect the election." So the war went on as Kissinger planned.
These millions of deaths of workers and peasants could easily be defined by working-class historians as "Kissinger's Holocaust." While the five presidents, their underlings like McNamara, the heads of the CIA, the generals and admirals, and their real bosses -- the Rockefellers and their ilk -- are all as guilty of this mass murder as Kissinger, no capitalist court or "war crimes tribunal" will ever try them. Only a successful communist revolution will mete out working-class justice, like the communist-led Italian partisans "sentencing" of fascist dictator Mussolini -- death by immediate hanging.
In December 1998, Iceland's Parliament passed a bill which gives a single, Delaware-based start-up company exclusive rights to Iceland's medical database and genetic profiles. Despite international outcry, at one point the bill was supposedly favored by a majority of adult Icelanders.
As people realized the scary implications, protest grew, led by the new organization Mannvernd ("Human Protection"). By now hundreds of Icelandic physicians are defying the new law and boycotting the registry, and over 10% of adults have opted out of the program. As the Icelandic model is being copied in other countries, notably Estonia, it bears close watching.
The database law was the brainchild of Kari Stefannson, Icelandic-born Harvard neurologist. Claiming that Iceland's genepool was a unique resource, Stefansson founded deCODE in 1996, with $12 million in venture capital, and began operating in Iceland. In 1998, deCODE signed a $200 million deal with Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant Hoffman La Roche.
The selling point was: common diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer and arthritis have both a genetic component and an environmental one. Knowing the genes involved helps drug companies design better, more profitable drugs. But it's difficult to discover disease-influencing genes in typical human populations. Alzheimers, for instance, is influenced by variants (alleles) of many different genes in different families.
According to deCODE, the small Icelandic population (270,000) is less genetically diverse than most. Iceland was settled in the ninth century by a small number of Viking pirates and remained relatively isolated until recently. It suffered population bottlenecks when many people died of epidemics, volcanic eruptions and famine. Surviving families would be expected to carry only a few kinds of Alzheimer's-influencing alleles, making these genes easier to hunt.
Other advantages for studying Icelanders were a national health care system and detailed genealogies (family records), some hundreds of years old. deCODE would establish a centralized database linking the entire country's medical records to individual genetic information, including tissue samples, and to family records. In exchange for paying $100 million for the database, deCODE gets a monopoly license to sell information to customers and other big biotech companies. Icelanders have been promised a few biotech jobs and free research-based drugs, if these ever materialize.
It's a sweetheart deal for deCODE, Roche and a few Icelandic bosses, but most Icelanders will gain nothing and have much to lose in privacy. Although identities are encoded, security experts say that it would be child's play to break the code in a small country where "born on April 8, 1970, has two great-uncles and four children" might be a unique ID. That would make everyone's medical records--complete with alcohol abuse, psychiatric history or genetic risk factors--open to snooping. "A nation of Trumans," wrote one critic, referring to the movie "The Truman Show," in which a man's life is watched by a TV audience of millions.
In contrast to the standard of "informed consent" to human research, deCODE has invented "presumed consent," meaning that a person's records are added to the database unless he or she opts out. Outrage grew with the scandalous revelation that Parliament members had received a hefty bribe from deCODE just before voting. Many Icelanders resent the racist claim that they are "pure-bred" or carry "superior" Nordic genes. Icelandic geneticists point out that Vikings brought Irish slaves with them from Ireland. Over half of Iceland's relatively diverse genepool is probably of Celtic origin.
deCODE had counted on Iceland's pro-science public to be swept off their feet by high-tech promises. Like Nazi "race hygiene," the new science of genomics offered unprecedented social power to professionals. This is what 21st century fascism will look like--slick, high-tech and benevolent. Now it has encountered unexpected roadblocks, doctors and patients who inspiringly refuse to cooperate.
As one Icelander wrote, "On the eve of World War II, Adolf Hitler's emissary in Iceland, Werner Gerlach, [was]...sorely disappointed at not finding the Fuhrer's master race in our country, where the Nazis imagined it had been preserved in isolation for centuries. No such luck. What he encountered was a tribe of tall, gray-eyed, auburn-haired and red-bearded storytellers, insolently lacking in respect for Teutonic self-delusions of grandeur."
Opposing `Big Brother'
It is my pleasant duty to announce that I shall not send information about patients to the Health Sector Database operating according to Act nr. 139/1998, except with a written request of the patient....
Best regards, Haraldur Briem, Chief of Infectious Disease"