TO OUR WEB READERS: This issue of CHALLENGE includes a special supplement on the racist sociobiology "science." How it has spread to all areas of the academic world and its effects on our daily lives. Again, we ask our web readers to help us keep both versions of our newspaper (the digital one and the printed one) spreading communist politics as an antidote to the poisong of capitalism and all its different ideologies. You can help subscribing to the printed version of the paper or sending a contribution. One year sub to CHALLENGE cost 15 dollars. You can send a check or MO made out to Challenge periodicals and mail it to PLP: GPO Box 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202, USA.
Spy Plane Deal Cant Hide Sharpening Imperialist Rivalry
Anti-Oil War GI Shakes Brass
KKKops Protect KKKross-Burners
Union Leaders, Bosses Push Fascist Solutions
Rebellion Against Racist MurderousKKKops
Students Indict Horowitz: Racist of the Year
Salute Brown U. Students For Anti-Racist Action
Free Trade=Battle for Profits From Workers Blood
Anti-Globalization Protests in Quebec and Tijuana-San Diego
Viva Democracy Cry Wont End Racism In Mexico
Jobless Benefits: An Endangered Species
Wanted For MurderLitton Bosses
Worker-Student Alliance Backs Garment Strike
Fight Fascist Slavery In NY Welfare
LA Janitors Fight Corrupt Union, Plan for May Day
Salvadoran Workers Headed for May Day
Dinner Boosts N.J. May Day
A Seattle Mother Fights Racist Justice
Psychiatric Rx For Kids Problems: Just Say Yes!
John Brown Play Gets it Right
Census Spawns Racist Divisions
Bosses Blow Fuse; Workers Get Shock
The deal made by the U.S. and Chinese bosses over the recent collision between a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet will not end the sharpening of a rivalry that will ultimately lead to a war for world domination between these imperialist gangsters.
Workers must focus on the long-range nature of this contradiction. We mustnt place our classs future in the hands of imperialists, whose only peace is the "peace" of the grave. As our Party prepares for May Day 2001, we must win every marcher to understand that a world without profit wars is impossible under the profit system. The spy plane incident should heighten our awareness of the need for communist revolution and our commitment to fight for it.
The Bush White House is telling the rest of the world to behave or else. Chinese, Russian and Iraqi rulers are Bushs main targets. Barely a month after becoming President, Bush launched a particularly heavy bombing raid on Iraq and threatened the Chinese for helping upgrade Iraqi air defenses. Then came the flap over Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent arrested for peddling U.S. security information to the Russians. Bush retaliated by expelling 51 Russian "diplomats" and by telling the Russians the U.S. would no longer finance Russias missile destruction program.
Now comes the latest incident with China. Bush, Powell and Cheney are hypocritically pretending to be shocked that the Chinese take a dim view of U.S. spying over their borders. What they really mean is that the U.S. ruling class wants to keep China from behaving as though it has the potential to become a key rival to U.S. control of international markets, energy resources and shipping lanes. Clinton had already tried to deliver this message in 1999, when he ordered a bomb dropped "accidentally" on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the U.S./NATO air war in the former Yugoslavia. Chinese rulers couldnt counter that provocation with more than verbal protest.
They arent ready to go to war with the U.S. over the spy plane incident either. However, they are deepening their resolve to include Taiwan as part of their empire by extending their deployment of missiles across the Taiwan Strait. Simultaneously, Bush has threatened to increase arms sales to U.S. buddies in Taiwan. This conflict has the potential to sharpen seriously in the coming period.
Some of the bosses media, including the liberal New York Times, believe that the current U.S.-China "mix of tensions and mutual dependence" will continue indefinitely without leading to war (April 8).
True, U.S. rulers have extensive economic ties to China. Chinese bosses export billions worth of merchandise to the U.S. market. Important U.S. companies like Motorola, General Motors, Boeing and the AIG insurance group have huge investments in China. The restoration of capitalism in China has encouraged some U.S. companies to dream of super-profits there. But investment doesnt preclude eventual war. U.S. firms had enormous positions in Germany in the 1930s, and the U.S. still fought World War II. Furthermore, the U.S. ruling class sharply disagrees over doing business in China. The companies involved want to protect their investments and bottom lines. The more strategically-minded bosses, particularly those around Exxon Mobil, who intend to rule the world by maintaining control of energy supplies and shipping routes, see these deals as self-destructive "trading with the enemy." The Clinton White House reflected this struggle. The Bush White House has yet to resolve it.
The Chinese are drawing their own conclusions. As the usually accurate Stratfor intelligence report says (April 4): "Beijing will continue to refrain from direct confrontation, as it is not yet ready politically, economically or militarily challenge the United States in Asia. China will, however, plan for that day."
Theres an immediate objective element as well. As thousands of workers know from the harsh truth of daily layoffs, the long 1990s U.S. boom is over, for the time being at least. This downturn may well set the tone for the rest of the world in the period ahead. The U.S. economy accounts for 30 percent of global output and 15 percent of global trade. As U.S. companies try to solve their overcapacity crisis by liquidating inventories, the U.S. market is likely to absorb fewer imports than in the past. This wont help Chinese bosses export strategy.
The U.S. economy may not recover in a hurry. If it continues to tank, it will drag down the rest of the worlds main economies. Global capitalist profit crises dont lead to love-fests among the big capitalists but to the opposite: "As economic hardship reduces incentives for political cooperation and raises competition for money and markets, international politico-military crises will become more frequent and intense" (Stratfor, 4/4).
World war is not necessarily around the corner. The U.S. rulers remain in command, if not in full control. However, the current deal between U.S. and Chinese bosses should not encourage illusions about a future of peace and stability. Imperialism always leads to war. We must prepare now, in every possible way, for the day when our class can smash imperialist war with communist revolution. A successful May Day 2001, with new recruits to the PLP, will advance that goal.
When a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane flying 32 miles off the Chinese mainland provoked a confrontation with Chinese fighter pilots on August 23, 1956 and crashed into the East China Sea, killing all 16 aboard, President Dwight Eisenhower told the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
"We seem to be conducting something that we cannot control very well. If planes were flying 20 to 50 miles from our shores, we would be very likely to shoot them down if they came in closer, whether through error or not." (New York Times, April 5)
Recently I enjoyed a visit with friends in the military. I didnt realize how much I missed the place until this week-end visit, which was very productive.
These friends are the closest to the Party. They went to May Day last year and are enthusiastic about coming this year. We watched a great documentary, "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq," exposing the horrific consequences of sanctions against Iraqi workers.
A friend said hed been reading CHALLENGE and decided to show it to one of his closest friends, who likes to discuss politics. This is exactly what the Party needs, having the courage to introduce the paper to another soldier. Building political relationships in the military is vital for Party members and friends. We need more Party members in the military and to talk about politics there.
Inter-imperialist rivalry is sharpening. The Army blots out world politics; they fear the truth will come out, a problem for their war campaigns.
An example of the latter occurred in a discussion at a recent National Guard week-end drill on the quality of food being served. Then a soldier switched things, wanting to know our company commanders opinion on the spy plane in China. His reply sparked a wider conversation. He said there was no way the U.S. would go to war with China, but that U.S.-China relations are unstable. He then questioned the publics response to U.S. casualties. He said currently its harder to gain public support for sending troops into battle abroad, as in Kuwait and Kosovo.
Soldiers were eager to discuss all this. Then something extraordinary happened. A soldier spoke up exposing the interests of major oil companies in the regions mentioned above. He said, "People dont want to go to war for the oil companies." This comment startled the company commander. The discussion was getting heated. He quickly put an end to it. He had gotten a taste of working-class consciousness. Then, in a shaky voice, the commander asked, "Well, do we want to sit around and talk about world politics or go home?" The soldiers, there for the weekend, were ready to go.
This is a good lesson for all of us in the military. The brass will never tell the truth about politics, but our Partys politics are in the interest of all soldiers, especially those involving the militarys goals. Organizing in the military is critical. The kind of discussion my friend started with his buddy can spark great political discussions among soldiers.
This is why its important to take May Day seriously. Marchers should not only be enthusiastic about celebrating May Day, but should also consider joining the Party and making a concrete commitment to PLP. We invite soldiers to join PLP and discuss politics, in the barracks, in the fields and with our closest friends.
A Red soldier
GARY, IN, March 27 Two weeks after an army of riot cops protected a KKK rally, a black family in Valparaiso (about 15 miles from here) had a cross burned in their back yard. This racist attack came after a group of swastika-adorned racist skinheads menaced a 15-year-old black youth at a bowling alley.
Police arrested three youths for the cross burning, but claim it was not racially motivated! The cops dont only protect Klan rallies but also cross burnings, labeling them "kids stuff."
Black residents walked to City Hall to meet with the mayor and police chief. They used the racist cross burning to take aim at racism in general and the cops in particular. They complained that the police follow them or visitors from out of town. Mrs. Alexander, whose home was the scene of the cross burning, said a majority of the police treat blacks as "less than human."
Its no coincidence that the Klan is more active, and the cops are more protective, as the economy slides deeper into the dumpster. For decades, U.S. Steel in Birmingham, Alabama, financed and directed the KKK. (See CHALLENGE [4/11] and Carry Me Home, by Diane McWhorter.)
Now Bethlehem Steel could go under, while Republic and LTV (steel) have filed for bankruptcy. Thousands of LTV workers will lose their jobs and tens of thousands more will lose pensions and medical coverage. Over a dozen steel workers have been killed in recent years by murderous cost-cutting policies. American Steel is closing down, and U.S. Steel is moving 25% of its global production to Slovakia where wages are $2.00 an hour.
What choices does the system offer? One union leader said that war production could produce more jobs! They push nationalism against workers from other countries. Gary bosses want to build a $20 million minor league sports stadium to complement their gambling casinos and beauty pageants. Cops work with the drug dealers to keep workers stoned. This follows the Nazi pattern when they were coming to power in Germany!
The Gary Klan rally failed to get its message out, so now they want to rally in downtown Gary on May 19. If they do, there will be an even larger group to oppose them. But our overall strategy is to smash capitalism completely.
The Indiana PLP has grown modestly, and we expect a good turnout for May Day. The cross-burning KKK and the economic crisis are sure signs that the bosses are on the road to increased fascism and war. This May Day can be an important step in building a stronger Party and a more powerful revolutionary movement!
CINCINNATI, OHIO, April 11 "If they keep killing us, it aint gonna be peaceful," declared Hosea Thomas, 27, outside police headquarters here during two days of rebellion by hundreds protesting the racist murder of a fourth black man in the last five months. Timothy Thomas, 19, unarmed, was shot by a racist cop chasing him, allegedly because of warrants for traffic violations and misdemeanors.
The cops were forced to cordon off police headquarters and City Hall after protestors including Mrs. Thomas surrounded and took over the City Council for three hours, rallied and threw bottles, and rocks at the police station, shattering the stations glass entrance and ripped down an American flag. The cops fired rubber bullets and rounds of beanbag shotguns and mounted police rode their horses into the crowd. The demonstrators then marched through downtown streets shouting anti-police slogans.
This latest racist murder follows a long line of similar police actions in cities throughout the country in an attempt to terrorize black and Latino workers and youth who refuse to accept the racist conditions imposed on them by the bosses profit system.
BOSTON, MA, April 2 PLP students and friends from Boston University (BU), Harvard and MIT and Boston area workers demonstrated today outside the lecture at BU by fascist journalist David Horowitz to protest his racist ad in college newspapers around the country. Horowitz angered thousands of students with his ad entitled, "10 Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea And Racist Too!" He claims that black people should be "thankful" for what the U.S. has "given" them; that black poverty is "the result of failures of individual character rather than...of racial discrimination and a slave system"; and that "there never was an anti-slavery movement until white Christians Englishmen and Americans created one." (!) He uses the "reparations debate" as a cover for his racist lies.
We worked for a mass protest against Horowitz at BU, raising the idea with members of Students Together Against Racism, and Unite, a progressive coalition of BU student groups. Their leaders said students should peacefully question Horowitzs views.
PLP was the only group at BU to publicly protest Horowitz. It began shortly before his "lecture." We distributed CHALLENGE, handed out about 400 PLP leaflets and carried signs, all of which proclaimed, "No Free Speech for Racists/Reparations for the Whole Working Class = Communist Revolution," calling on people to march on May Day. We chanted, "Brown students lead the way, Shut this racist down today!" (See box.) We raised a large banner naming, "David Horowitz, Racist of the Year." We explained why Horowitz is dangerous, and talked about the intensifying racism in the U.S. and on campuses, in particular. We also pointed out how racists like Horowitz help spread fascism in the U.S. today.
We were unable to get inside the hall to raise our banner and shout him down as we had planned something we should always try to do, no matter how small we are. But many BU student friends and supporters also unable to get in stayed outside, took our leaflets and CHALLENGE, watched our demonstration and debated the issues. While some were afraid to publicly condemn him, they agreed he was a racist and should be opposed, but many still believed he has a "right to free speech."
Ironically, everyone entering the hall was searched to prevent any public display of signs or banners protesting Horowitzs racist filth. Meanwhile, dozens of cops guarded him just like they do for the KKK so he could spread his garbage. So much for "free speech."
The next day we continued to pass out the same leaflet. Some students approved our protest and one took 20 leaflets to show to friends. We clearly had a positive, anti-racist impact at BU. We remain in contact with the Brown U. students and will go back soon to help them fight racism. We will raise the importance of marching on May Day as the best immediate way to help smash racism and capitalism, the system which breeds it.
BOSTON, April 7 The Brown University students who last month trashed the Brown Herald containing the racist filth in the ad paid for by fascist David Horowitz have become a beacon in the fight against racism on all campuses.
The Brown students invited Boston PLP students to yesterdays Brown student/community meeting on fighting racism. It was the most inspiring and intense mass meeting of recent memory. We met black and white students with great courage and commitment to fight back against racism. In accepting their invitation, we had told them, "We look forward to meeting fellow anti-racist students and applaud the work of all Brown students who participated in the protesting of the Brown Herald placing Horowitzs racist ad against reparations by removing the Brown Daily Herald press run."
However, while many want to fight racism, they have limited experience on how to wage a long-term fight against it. A racist climate of fear has developed at Brown since the Horowitz ad. Some black students have been threatened physically by racists. We are supporting them in fighting back against this racist terror. We will try to win some of them to join the May Day March in Washington on April 28.
BUENOS AIRES, April 6Chanting "No ALCApitalismo, No ALCAos y ALCArajo" "No to Capitalism, No to ALCA Chaos, ALCA go to hell (ALCA are the Spanish initials for FTAA or the Free Trade Area of the Americas) 15,000 workers and anti-globalization activists marched today past the Sheraton Hotel. Trade ministers from 34 countries of the entire hemisphere (except Cuba) were meeting here to discuss if, when and how to establish this FTAA by January 2005. Many see it as just another NAFTA deal, favoring the U.S. bosses.
The demonstrators included trade unionists from neighboring Brazil and Uruguay, even though the border was closed at the last minute and 20 busloads were barred entry into Argentina.
There are sharp disagreements over FTAA. U.S. bosses wanted FTAA to begin in 2003, but Brazil led the opposition to push the date to 2005. The Brazilian bosses also want other big changes in the FTAA, to prevent it from becoming just another tool for U.S. imperialist control over Latin America. Said BBC News (4/8): "Brazil said it wants the FTAA to be an option, not destiny. It wants to hold parallel talks with the European union, with whom it trades more than the U. S .Latin-American countries want sharp reductions in U.S. agricultural subsidies as a condition for a free trade pactsomething which is expected to get a rough ride in the U.S. Congress. U.S. farmers oppose negotiations on domestic subsidies of the FTAA, because it would not require other developed countries like the European Union and Japan to make similar cuts."
FTAA has become an important battleground among the worlds imperialist bosses. It represents a market of 783 million people from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, 40% of the worlds Gross Domestic Product and 20% of world trade. As the U.S. stock market tumbles and the Japanese economy stagnates, many investors are looking towards Latin America as a "young emerging market." Brazils public trading, for example, grew from $40 billion to $700 billion in the last decade (Prudential Insurance investment report).
As CHALLENGE reported (April 11), European bosses are make inroads into a region the U.S. has considered its "backyard." The U.S. Plan Colombia (equipping Colombias death squad army to war on anti-U.S. guerrillas) and a U.S.-controlled FTAA are part of the U.S. fight to keep the European imperialists at bay in the region.
Brazil, the hemispheres second largest country after the U.S., is now a leading recipient of Germanys exports and capital and therefore leads the opposition to the U.S. version of the FTAA. The trade union leadership of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, along with other anti-globalization forces demonstrating here, believe that the European imperialists are "better" than the U.S. They declare that free trade á la U.S. imperialism has meant more exploitation for workers. But the European bosses dont want to end that exploitation. Rather they want to control it.
On April 19-22, the rulers of these same 34 countries will meet in Quebec, Canada, to continue discussing the FTAA. Thousands of anti-globalization forces and trade unionists will demonstrate "in the sprit of Seattle 1999, D.C. and Prague 2000." The rulers are preparing for these protests with measures unseen in Quebec since the War Measures of Act of the early 1970s, when the army occupied Montreal after the Quebec Liberation Front kidnapped several officials. Protests in solidarity with the Quebec demonstrations are also planned along the San Diego-Tijuana border, with the demand to "Stop the FTAA." But even some who call themselves anti-capitalist tend to push the idea that without FTAA or NAFTA, "things would be better." Others just see U.S. imperialism as the only enemy.
The fact is that all these trade agreements are part of the sharpening rivalry among the different capitalist and imperialist forces seeking better deals for their particular group as they all scheme to make workers pay even more for the deepening crisis of capitalism. This rivalry lays the basis for another world war. The only alternative to FTAA, NAFTA, etc. for workers and their allies is to fight to destroy capitalism and build a society without any bosses: communism.
MEXICO CITY, APRIL 5 Esther, an Indigenous woman commander of the Zapatista movement, spoke late last month before Congress here exposing the racism ten million Indigenous people suffer in Mexico. This dramatic event ended the trek by the Zapatista leadership from the jungles of Chiapas. To speak to Congress, the Zapatistas had to overcome the opposition of right-wing PAN (ruling Party) politicians like Senator Diego F. De Cevallos. But the massive anti-racist feeling sparked by the Zapatista presence here finally forced Parliament to let them speak.
Esthers anti-racism developed from fighting the oppression of Indigenous people. She revealed how malnutrition and lack of essential services kill tens of thousands of children every year. In extreme cases some parents sell their daughters like commodites and marry them to whomever the father chooses. These conditions have led to many rebellions among Indigenous people. (In addition, alchoholism affects 4.6% of all Mexicans between 18 and 65, overwhemingly males.) The Zapatistas were here demanding a law to end this racist and sexist oppression. They also want to maintain the collective ownership of land in the Indigenous communities.
Commander Esther trusts a law enacted by the capitalist Parliament to liberate the Indigenous people. To rely on the oppressors never solves oppression and reflects a lack of communist understanding of the racist and criminal nature of capitalism. The bosses invent "races" to divide workers and oppressed people, and to make maximum profits. The enemy is not only the PAN and other right-wing bosses, but the whole racist system. Our struggle should not be to give it a humanitarian mask but to destroy it.
It is good to take up arms as Indigenous communities did in Chiapas, but the real solution lies in winning the entire working class to an armed revolution to eradicate capitalism and build a new system communism that eliminates the basis of racism, profits.
Collectivizing the land and work is an advanced demand of the Indigenous movement, opposing capitalist private property. Thats why many politicians disapprove of or at least want to modify the law proposed by the Zapatistas. But we have no illusion that a ruling class law will allow the collectivization of land to survive in the Indigenous communities.
Currently a fierce struggle exists among local bosses and U.S. and European imperialists over control of the rich resources and low labor costs in Southern Mexico and its Central American neighbors. No matter who wins, this fight will only increase racism and exploitation in the region.
The lack of a class analysis by commander Esther and the entire leadership of the EZLN (Zapatista movement), their denial of class struggle as the engine behind all social changes and their reliance on bosses laws, condemn the very people they seek to protect to a life of more racist oppression. The EZLN then becomes an ally of one or another of the various bosses factions fighting to enslave Indigenous people and control the oil wealth of the region. Our goal should be communism, not a mask for capitalist democracy.
U.S. bosses and their apologists are always boasting that their capitalist system is "depression-proof" because of the "social safety net" in place. Well, that "net" now has more holes than net.
Official figures are showing the largest one-month job loss in ten years. But a combination of changes in the unemployment insurance (UI) laws, a massive shift in the workforce towards part-time, temporary and low-paid workers and the gutting of welfare means that the vast majority of these workers will get no benefits when they lose their jobs. Four decades ago half the unemployed were eligible for UI and millions more for welfare. Now less than one-third receive UI (the lowest of all the industrialized countries) and virtually no one who had been forced off welfare and managed to get a job will be able to get back on welfare.
For these millions of workers its not a recession but an absolute DEPRESSION.
The "millions of new jobs created" in the 1990s, about which Clinton was always boasting, are the very ones that have created this vast pool of 34 million workers virtually unprotected by unemployment or welfare benefits the low-paid, the part-timers and the "temps." Of all of Clintons "new jobs," over 40% pay less than half of a livable wage. In fact, with temporary jobs at a record level, it has created a $72 billion industry. The largest employer in the country is a temporary job agency!
A new feature involving these unprotected workers is the "independent consultant" category, exempt from UI, largely the "dot.com" group that plunged into the 90s looking to become instant millionaires in what they thought was a permanently expanding "new" economy. Now tens of thousands are out on the street with no UI as the dot.coms downsize and fold altogether. Such is capitalisms current version of "pie in the sky."
The changes in the UI laws under Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Gore have made it more difficult for all workers to qualify for benefits, especially for the low-wage/temporary/part-time sector. Unless laid-off part-time workers are ready to take new full-time jobs, they are automatically ineligible for UI in most states. Part-timers comprise 20% of the total workforce, 70% of whom are women. These jobless women, most with children, have particular child-care problems which make full-time jobs (outside the home) impossible. And given the racist nature of unemployment the jobless rate for black and Latin workers is more than double that of white workers the impact on such workers is especially hard.
Most workers forced off welfare wont qualify for UI because they wont have earned enough or worked long enough. Even if they do qualify, they will net a pittance. In Georgia, a worker on a minimum-wage job for half of the year prior to being laid off, would receive a total of $672 over 13-weeks. In Florida, such a worker gets zero. In Texas under the new standards, only one in five workers overall is eligible for UI, and only one in ten within the low-wage/part-time/temporary category.
The bosses have a vested interest in keeping workers ineligible. The fewer eligible for UI, the lower the tax rate for the boss paying into the UI fund. Georgia has already cut this rate 73% and established a moratorium on any payments for the year 2000, saving the bosses $700 million. Then, when unemployment rises as is happening now there is less money in the UI fund to pay workers. Aint capitalism just grand!
Even this "social safety net" of which the bosses so proudly boast and which they are now destroying was never handed to workers on a silver platter. It resulted from mass struggle in the 1930s, led by communists. But this is just one more example how limiting the fight to reforming capitalism will always see the bosses taking back these reforms one way or another. They have state power and use it to enforce their drive for maximum profits, especially in times of crisis, like now. The working classs only answer is to build the communist PLP to lead a revolution that will destroy this unemployment-driven system with one that banishes profits and therefore joblessness forever.
NEW ORLEANS, LA, MARCH 24 The bosses are getting away with murder in their race for oil profits while building the Navy to protect them. Litton Avondale Industries paid a meager $80,000 in fines for the deaths of three shipbuilders last summer. The toothless Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Avondale for damaged electrical cables, improperly grounded high-voltage power boxes and failure to ensure safety procedures. In 1999, OSHA fined Avondale $717,000 for 63 safety violations.
On May 24, Clarence Rhyans was killed when his neck was pinned against an overhead beam. He was working on the deck of the USNS Mendonca, a ship under construction for the Navy. On June 27, Faustino Mendoza died of head injuries when he fell 60 feet from a scaffold. He was working without fall-protection equipment. In 1999, Avondale was cited for unsafe guardrails on scaffolds. On July 18, "E.J." Bourgeois was electrocuted while checking a power panel. He was working on a double-hulled oil tanker being built for Polar Tankers Inc. The panel had not been disconnected from its electricity source, and there were damaged power cables and faulty grounds. He had no protective gloves.
OSHA initially fined the company $89,950 for this killing spree (with no criminal charges), but lowered even that paltry sum after Avondale "promised to make the shipyard safe." Prior to this, hard hats, safety glasses and steel-toed boots were not required.
Avondale is the Gulf Coasts second-biggest shipyard, with 4,500 workers. Seventy percent are black. Average pay is about $9.00/hour. Many young workers and single mothers make less than $7.00/hour and work two jobs to support a family.
In 1993 the workers voted to join the Metal Trades Union. Twenty-five workers were fired for pro-union activity. The bosses used Pentagon contracts to finance a six-year fight in the courts and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Of all the black workers who were observers in the 1993 union election, only one remains.
When Litton bought Avondale, they made a deal to grant recognition to the gangster union in return for keeping out the fired workers, even though they won their NLRB cases. Last December, the company and the union saddled the workers with a four-year "partial contract" that excludes pension and health care benefits. Whats more, the racist New Orleans Metal Trades Council dispersed the workers into twelve separate local unions, rather than have them be the largest and potentially strongest local.
The struggle for one local union, and against the racism of the company and the Metal Trades Council has the potential to rally the support of the whole working class. Against all odds, and the whole capitalist system, the embers of working class rebellion continue to burn among Avondale workers. CHALLENGE can fan those flames.
Big Warmaker Becomes Bigger
On April 4, Northrop Grumman Corp. completed a $3.8 billion merger with Litton Industries, creating what it calls, "a $15 billion, top-tier global defense industry enterprise." This new global aerospace and defense giant is now the largest supplier of non-nuclear surface ships for the Navy. Litton also bought the Avondale shipyard for $529 million in 1999, joining it with its former competitor, Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.
Northrop Grumman expects revenues to double to $15 billion in 2001 and reach $18 billion in 2003.
LOS ANGELES, April 3 Last week at Santa Monica College (SMC), PLP students in the SMC Progressive Alliance helped organize a labor forum to inform students about current workers struggles and why and how students can and should play a role in them. Students participating with workers fight-backs exposes them to the reality of workers resistance to bosses abuse and exploitation, the essential role cops play, etc. that is, to class struggle.
The forum, attended by nearly 50 students, was moderated by a PLP student who began by speaking about the importance of building an alliance between students and workers. Next, a garment worker representing a committee of fellow workers described the conditions they face here and in their struggle to build a workers organization within the garment industry. Then a garment worker with the union UNITE reported on a strike of nearly 500 workers at her factory, Hollander Home Fashions. She stressed the importance of students joining the picket line to show support.
A hotel worker outlined the fight to organize a union at local hotels. She described the support received from the community and asked the students to get involved. Finally, a transit union bus mechanic explained how the capitalist system causes the exploitation workers face and criticized the unions leadership and politicians for defending capitalism instead of the working class. He emphasized the importance of fighting for workers power within the union and building a revolutionary working class movement. He concluded by inviting students to march on MAY DAY.
Following that another garment worker in UNITE came to the front and voiced his agreement. Pointing to the bus mechanic, he said the real union is the one between workers marching side by side on the strike picket line.
Students signed up to support the strike. Several expressed interest in coming to May Day. We have confidence that many of these friends will march.
Strikers have applauded high school and college students joining the picket lines. When theyve announced over their bullhorn, "Here come the students," cheers go up.
Scabs continue getting in. Strikers have been arrested trying to stop them, or just for being on the picket line. The union leaders advise workers to be cautious and obey the law. But workers challenged the cops, "Why dont you arrest the owners for exploitation?"
The strikers and their student supporters see the cops defending Hollanders huge profits and attacking the workers. Marching on May Day to fight for a system that outlaws exploitation is the best way to quickly answer these attacks.
NEW YORK CITY, April 9 As CHALLENGE has said for several years, the ending of welfare benefits for millions of the poorest workers over 70% women and children and the building of mass slave labor Workfare programs are parts of the development of fascism. Exaggerationor a reality millions face every day?
A 1997 Citizens Budget Commission study, "The State of Municipal Services in the 1990s," found that new welfare applications procedures caused "otherwise eligible indigent New Yorkers to be denied cash benefits." Data showed in 80% of all contested cases (98% where families had some legal representation), case closings were reversed.
The study "Who Feeds The Hungry?" (www.food for survival.org) shows that between 1995 and 1998 Emergency Feeding Programs (EFPs) grew from 735 to 971; meals served monthly increased from 2.7 million to 5.2 million; people served per month increased from 309,280 to 615,858. Over half of those eating at EFPs are children or the elderly. During 1998 one-third of EFPs report they were forced to turn people away.
By 1999, 40,000 Workfare workers were working for the city of New York. According to "Workfare: The Real Deal II" (July 1997) by the Community Food Resource Center, eight times as many workers are now jobless, without welfare, as there are workers whove obtained real jobs.
The next step towards ending "welfare as we know it" is taking place here. Offices that used to be called Welfare Centers, then "Income Support Centers," are being changed into "Job Centers." Programs that used to offer public aid as a last resort to individuals and families with no other income are now subject to rigid time limits and slave labor Workfare requirements. As stated by NYCs Human Resources Commissioner Jason Turners October 2000 proposal to create the Job Centers, the focus is "on self-sufficiency." This new "focus" translates into a new center for "disruptive clients" due to open in East Harlem. Anyone who fights back against wrongful closing of their case, assignment to slave labor Workfare or any of the many demeaning events occurring in a center daily can be kicked out of their neighborhood center and forced to travel (up to two hours) to the East Harlem Center.
At the March membership meeting of AFSCME Local 371, representing many workers in the welfare industry, there was a heated discussion of the Job Center proposal and the new civil service title of workers employed in these centers. On the one hand there was the narrow trade unionist view of which of three unions would represent the new title. The leadership of each union wants the dues of the workers in the Job Centers. Such workers were concerned with their safety.
A veteran PLPer rose to declare that if he was the head of a family being wrongfully denied assistance, he would certainly fight back. It was wrong, he said, to ignore the content of what the Job Center workers would be doing. The PLer pointed out that during strikes of this local in the 1960s, welfare clients had mobilized to support the strikers by demanding that the city provide needed services at once. Worker/client unity had also been built by workers supporting client demands in the welfare rights movements. In fact the first contract of this local, in 1965, contained clauses guaranteeing the issuance of school and camp clothing for children when receiving welfare. Safety for workers, he concluded, was in building worker/client unity, not in calling for cops. This talk shifted the discussion away from "safety" and towards a broader analysis of where welfare reform is leading and the role of welfare workers within this.
In this period, we in PLP must struggle to win our co-workers to critically evaluate what theyre being asked to do and not blindly cooperate with these fascist developments. Rather we must organize against them.
LOS ANGELES A year ago the janitors made history here with a mass, militant strike. The union leaders, Democratic and Republican politicians, liberal organizations and churches praised capitalist democracy and the change to "a new Los Angeles unionism." The unions slogan was, "A penny to rise up out of poverty." On the outside, everything looked rosy, but on the inside this whole process was corrupted. Strike donations were lost; strikers never received food collected for them that was later sold at the 99¢ stores. Traps and tricks punished the most militant strikers. The following is an interview with one of the rank-and-file strike organizers.
PLP: Whats new at work?
Janitor: Local 1877 has a new plan of "dues for self improvement" which is really another trap. They want to charge every member an extra $4.30 a month for five months, about a million dollars extra per year. They say theyll use the money for classes in computers and English, and for child care during marches.
PLP: What do most workers think of this plan?
Janitor: Theyre mad and have every reason to be. Look, people who make $7.50 an hour are paying $27.50 a month to be members and a dollar extra for strike funds. Now with a small wage increase, well have to pay $1.80 more to the union. Altogether well be paying $34 a month in dues. Apart from this, they wanted us to pay $3 a month for three years to help the bosses politicians. They filled us with propaganda from all the politicians who had their pictures taken with us during the strike, and now tell us, "These are your friends; now they need us to pay them something back for what they did for us. "Many people told them "NO!" Some said, "You are Democrats. Were not Democrats or Republicans."
PLP: Do you and your friends have a plan to struggle inside the union?
Janitor: Certainly. These "dues for self improvement" have been imposed on us. Once they take the money out of our checks well demonstrate in front of the Local to expose them as corrupt. They made a mistake with all these charges. They think they can fool the workers with this "self improvement." Instead theyve got an angry membership.
PLP: How can we win the workers to be more political, to fight these attacks, and to turn more to revolutionary politics?
Janitor: With more leaflets and struggles in the work centers, with CHALLENGE and with political marches.
PLP: Last year, many janitors made revolutionary history by marching on May Day in San Francisco. How can we bring a large group this year here in Los Angeles?
Janitor: May Day is the workers day. I think they must come. Well invite them and explain the importance of the march, and show why the fight for workers power is the alternative to the bosses and unions corruption.
PLP sent a May Day March invitation to all the janitors who read CHALLENGE. Many responded enthusiastically. A worker called to say, "I want to become a May Day organizer." Weve been visiting and calling many janitors, to win them to participate in the march. Also, a motion was put before an opposition group in the union to endorse the march. Theyll decide at their next meeting whether theyll come as a group or only call on the workers to march. There is great potential for a big group of janitors at the May Day March. We must sharpen the struggle to make this potential a reality.
EL SALVADOR May Day 2001 is being celebrated here amid growing misery and pain for a working class devastated by earthquakes and rotten conditions caused by capitalism. Thousands of workers from the cities and rural areas will be joining the official union May Day marches. Workers will not only honor the Martyrs of the 1886 Chicago General Strike where May Day was born but also will protest the current governments anti-working class policies. Unlike previous May Days, intellectuals and professionals now seeing they are not exempt from the bosses attacks will march this year.
We in PLP are also preparing for May Day. Comrades will be travelling long distances from mountains and distant towns, passing through police check-points, to come to the capital city for a PLP May Day planning meeting. "It is important that each Party comrade understand why we march on May Day, to bring to the marchers our communist politics and to make newer comrades more aware of the meaning of our ideas," said a comrade teacher.
CHALLENGES and our communist leaflets, red flags and banners will be present at the march in San Salvador. Fight for communism on May Day!
ORANGE, NJ, March 24 Fifty-five people attended the annual May Day Dinner and Cultural Evening here tonight, boosting our May Day organizing. The multi-racial crowd of workers and students included many who had never been to one of our events. Nearly $400 was contributed for May Day tickets and for lots of literature.
Our cultural presentations included poetry and prose, some of it original, forceful speeches and songs, both rehearsed and ad-libbed. The May Day presentation reviewed the executions of the Haymarket radicals in 1886 following the Chicago general strike for the 8-hour day which gave birth to May Day. The decision to kill these revolutionary heroes reminded us of how the legal system has always served the bosses. But as August Spies declared on the gallows: "The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices that you strangle today."
The Morristown case here continues that criminal injustice system. Like those who came before us, we will answer the rulers attacks by building our revolutionary movement. But we will not be content with a "reformed" capitalism. Our goal is the seizure of power, the destruction of capitalist wage slavery and racist oppression, and the creation of a communist world where our working-class culture will flower.
The event was organized and led by some of the newer PLP comrades, a step forward for the Party here. Although we needed more participation from younger comrades and friends in the cultural part of the program, still the dinner set a good tone for the following five weeks.
Our increased turnout was due in no small part to an increased commitment of Party comrades. The struggle to increase literature distribution has sharpened the question of whether we are serious about our revolutionary goals. Nothing less will do in the face of growing fascism. Two eight-year-olds from a grade school in Irvington were recently arrested, questioned for five hours and then charged with making "terroristic threats." All this for playing "cops and robbers" with paper guns! The Newark school superintendent wants video cameras in every high school. We are building the fight against fascism in mass organizations while explaining to our friends there about a communist view of the police and legal system.
[A letter in our April 11 issue reported the brutal racist murder by two Seattle cops of Michael Randall Ealy, a 35-year-old African American. Neither an inquest nor a civil suit brought by Michaels mother produced any justice for Michael. The following is an interview with Mrs. Ealy.]
Challenge: What do you think of this system?
Mrs. E.: You could be innocent, or you could be guilty, but theres no justice. The judicial system shows that more every day. People think they are safe, but they arent. If there arent poor people or people of color, then the cops get whoever else is around. The person who is more powerful always gets off. Even if its proven that the cops are guilty, they are still found innocent.
Challenge: Why is it this way?
Mrs. E.: In most of the cases in Seattle and other cities around the country, the police have been found innocent, but we know thats not true. We hope these cases will be reopened, as where DNA has shown that the people are innocent, even though they have spent many years in prison. I am hoping that someday it will be fashionable for a jury to say that when anyone committed a crime, they will be accountable for their actions; this includes the police.
Challenge: What are you planning to do next?
Mrs. E.: We are hoping for a retrial/appeal, but that is very expensive. It will cost nearly $10,000 to get the trial transcripts. Still, we are determined to continue the fight. I want to get the families of the people who have been murdered in the Seattle area together, because we are stronger with greater numbers.
What I have to ask: Is there such a word as justice?! That word should be stricken, because we know there is no justice for people of color, poor people and other "undesirable" people,
Challenge: There is no justice for workers as long as we are bound by capitalism. That is why we organize for a revolution. We are hoping Mrs. E. will join us on May Day, to tell us about the continuing fight against cop murders and to make our numbers stronger.
NEW YORK CITY, April 6 Last Sunday a half-day conference at a local church here explored the question: Are too many children being diagnosed as "mentally ill" and treated with psychotropic drugs? The conference was timely because the psychiatric profession, pediatricians and government health agencies are spreading the notion that, within any given year, 20% of children are mentally ill and that these "illnesses" are nearly all biologically-based and therefore best treated with medication. The most common diagnoses are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, anxiety and depression. Over five million children are on psychiatric drugs in the U.S., primarily Ritalin. Now a multi-site study is underway to evaluate the effect of Ritalin on 3-year-olds!
A well-known psychiatrist and former department head at the National Institutes of Mental Health described the massive drug-company influence over psychiatry. He noted that the drug companies spend twice as much money on marketing as on research; that they sponsor over half of the countrys medical research and influence what gets published. Consequently, psychiatry has turned completely away from "talk therapy" and interaction with patients to treatment with medications only. The speaker was disturbed enough by these trends to resign from the American Psychiatric Association.
The second speaker, a child psychiatrist, pointed out that drugs like Ritalin are often sought by middle class parents as a way to improve their childrens "performance," without really dealing with their problems or accepting their abilities. He did indicate that for some children, Ritalin combined with school and family adjustments may be helpful for a short time.
The third speaker was a psychologist who works with the NYC public schools. She pointed out differences in how Ritalin is used. Among the well-to-do, mostly white suburbanites, it is viewed as a short-term agent to "enhance performance." Meanwhile it is pushed on poor working-class parents, both urban (often black and Latino) and rural, as a means of controlling children. In both cases there is no analysis of the many factors influencing behavior. Parents may not even be informed that their child is being evaluated. Often if they object to medication they are threatened with charges of "neglect" and removal of their children.
Although presenting a factual picture about current child psychiatric practices, the speakers mostly failed to place this emphasis on controlling childrens behavior into a social context. During the discussion period several PLPers pointed out that the need to pacify children rather than improve schools or attack poverty is part of the current move towards fascism and war. Intellectually, biodeterminism is infecting all areas of academic life (see CHALLENGE supplement, April 11). It claims that our genes and body chemistry rather than the social system in which we live determine our happiness, abilities and success in life. Not only are children being held responsible for alleged behavioral or academic "deficiencies," but theyre being chemically controlled to make them passive and malleable.
This conference can be a stepping-stone to intensify the fight-back among teachers, parents and social workers in several organizations and unions also alarmed about this trend. Another demonstration against the drugging of toddlers is planned at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. PLPers will continue to give political and organizational leadership in this struggle.
CHALLENGE readers and friends should see a new play on John Brown if and when it comes to their area. It allows for audience discussion after the show. John Brown played a major role in the fight against slavery. He was one of the few white abolitionists who was not merely against slavery but actually believed in racial equality. Besides participating in the Underground Railroad, he lived with free blacks in Ohio and New York State. Anti-racists in Internaitional Commitee Against Racism and communists in PLP in the Washington, D.C. area have organized trips for many years to Harpers Ferry to draw modern-day lessons from John Browns raid. The trips emphasized several aspects of his life: (1) the multi-racial unity he exhibited; (2) the support of many workers around the country; and (3) the necessity of violence to overthrow slavery.
Some friends and I in attended the two-person play, "Sword of the Spirit," by Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, based on letters John and Mary Brown wrote while he awaited execution for leading the Harpers Ferry insurrection against slavery. Their words lift the veil of lies written about John Brown. Most history books, if they mention John Brown at all, call him insane. As one woman who attended the play declared, "My father told me of course they thought John Brown was insane. Here was a white man fighting to free the slaves!"
The play depicts the passion and courage of his convictions, and reveals the depth of devotion both his wife and their children had for the cause. Their marriage was strengthened by their political commitment. The play will be touring all the places where John and Mary Brown went.
Much discussion ensued about John Brown and the role violence plays in social change both during audience participation after the play and in inviting our friends to attend. Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks was mentioned as a book NOT to read because of its false portrayal of John Brown. It says he was an authoritarian father whose belief was "spare the rod and spoil the child." In fact, the two actors who researched letters for this play said this was untrue. An older son commented on how John Brown was very devoted to his children. His wife mentioned how he would nurse them through their various illnesses.
The 2000 Census figures show that Latinos are becoming the largest minority in the U.S. Instead of building unity among black and Latino workers and youth, some forces are playing the old-fashioned racist game of divide and conquer. The Daily Challenge, a black newspaper in Brooklyn, NY (absolutely no relation to this paper), ran an incredible KKK-type article entitled, "Blacks Have Reservations About Influx of Hispanic Immigrants" (April 5). It quotes a computer engineer from Charlotte, NC (where the Latino population is only one-fourth that of blacks) as saying: "Hispanics come over here, start businesses and multiply like rabbits. It is no surprise they outnumber us because they have a baby every year." [!] The article repeats distortions and lies which could have been taken right from a KKK rag. This paper claims to fight racism.
Not to be outdone, many Latino politicians are trying to use the growth of the Latino population to build themselves up. They push similar lies like, "blacks got theirs; now its our turn." They, of course, mean black politicians and Latino politicians.
Meanwhile, racism is increasingly rampant. Low wages and rotten working conditions and jobs affect black and Latino workers as much as ever. While a small number of politicians, artists, athletes and a very tiny number of business owners have snatched some crumbs from the racist system, building illusions among many black and Latino workers and youth that the system works, the reality is quite the opposite. One telling example: there are two million in jail, two-thirds of them black and Latino males.
The best antidote for this racist crap is the unity of black, Latino, white and Asian workers and youth marching with PLP on May!
The deregulation of power in California helps us to somewhat understand how capitalism works and why it can never serve the interests of the working class.
The California State government declared that prices the California utilities pay for power (to companies outside the state) be subject to supply and demand. Meanwhile, ostensibly to protect consumers (mainly California's working class) from higher bills, the State put a cap on the prices the in-state utilities could charge.
So this was the set-up: the State government allowed (or couldn't prevent) prices the in-state utilities pay to rise without limit. At the same time, the State prevented the in-state utilities from raising their prices higher than they were charged for the wholesale power. On the surface that sounds like a way to protect the consumer, but that's only if the in-state utilities could stay in business.
The State government has not given itself the legal authority to force the utilities to stay in business, and even if it did, it can't get blood from a stone. If the utilities are operating at a loss, they cannot pay their workers. Nor will the banks lend them the money with which to buy more power, because the utilities would be unable to re-pay the loans. In other words, this set-up, with its built-in losses, forces the utilities out of business.
Neither has the State given itself the authority to prevent the utilities from shifting money between itself and its parent companies, outside of California. But even that would not save the utilities from going bankrupt. And if the utilities do go out of business, that wouldn't help the working class either. If prices were forced down, that only helps if the power is available.
Since the State doesn't give itself the authority to keep these utilities in business, its only alternative is to become the supplier of energy itself, buying power at the outrageous prices charged by the out-of-state wholesalers. Where would the State get the money to buy the power? Through its authority to tax the citizens, mainly workers. But then the workers would be paying for the higher prices charged by the wholesale power companies. These out-of-state power companies are beyond California's jurisdiction, so the State government could not control the prices it would have to pay.
No matter how you slice it, workers could get the needed energy at reasonable cost only by owning the State and giving themselves the authority to take over the energy companies, right through to the sources of the energy. That's the only way workers could maintain the supply at a cost low enough so they're not forced to choose between heat and food. But if the workers owned the state they would not need to charge themselves any price. Rather they could simply provide everything they need for themselves. But that's not capitalism, that's communism, and to get there will take a revolution.
An energy user
Response From California Comrade:
Thanks for the letter. But one point to be considered (even though so far the Bush administration has opposed it) is possible Federal regulation of California energy prices. If that happens, it won't be because workers need it but because the bosses do. A New York Times article (3/23) reports a fight over regulating prices energy companies can charge California and New England utility companies.