TO OUR WEB READERS: This issue of CHALLENGE includes another special supplement, on the film "Scottsboro" and how it deliberately hides the role of communists in that anti-racist struggle. 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.
Communism lives! March on May Day!
Rebellion Rocks Racist Rulers!
Listen to the Youth: Fight Back!
Continue Struggle Vs. Police Terror!
Strike Against LTV, Union Bosses Gang-Up!
SSEU Protests Cincy Cop Murderer
Quebec Militants Must Be Won to PLP
The Hands That Labor No Longer Want to Serve Any Boss
PLP Leads Resistance To Horowitzs Racist Roadshow
Worker-Student Unity Hits Liberal Harvard Hypocrites
IN MEMORIAM: Grandell "Tony" Pollard
Cabbies Rip Taxi Cops Brutal Beating of Driver
Young Rebels of Ethiopia Need Red Leadership
CIA Bay of Pigs Fiasco Hatched Generation of Terrorists
"Whither Cuba?" from a friend in Cuba
Doctors Prized for Profits
Dialectics of May Day
Cincy Rebels, PLP Need Each Other
Capitalism Breeds Prostitution
CHALLENGE SUPPLEMENT: Film Distorts Communist Action In Freeing Scottsboro Boys
KKKA Racist Beast Unleashed By Steel Bosses of Birmingham
Another Racist Cross Burning in Indiana
Thousands of May Day marchers, under the Progressive Labor Partys banners will prove it on April 28, in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, CA, and on May 1st in Mexico City, San Salvador, Dominican Republic, Bogota, Quito and Calcutta.
The bosses love to boast that communism has died. They are wrong. The specter of communism will haunt them for as long as it takes to drive the last capitalist from the face of the earth. True, our class has endured a terrible defeat. The old communist movement, which carried out great revolutions in the Soviet Union and China, destroyed itself with its own internal political weaknesses. Capitalism now rules over every country in the world. But the rulers who gloat over this setback wont have the upper hand forever. Every day their system exposes its disgraceful inability to solve the atrocities it creates. Here, in part, is the sorry record the capitalist world and its "only remaining super-power" can boast of in the ten years since the Soviet Unions collapse:
Todays "peace" has dozens of wars all over the globe, forcing workers to become cannon fodder for the profit interests of old and newly-made billionaires. U.S. rulers are gearing for their next oil war in the Persian Gulf. Their "peace process" has turned the Middle East into a bloody tinderbox. Chinese, Russian and European rulers are trying to overtake the U.S. in a rivalry that must ultimately lead to another world war;
Racism and police terror have become the order of the day in most countries. U.S. rulers are intensifying their preparations for strong-arm fascist rule. Their slave labor-style "Welfare reform" is a sign of things to come.
The profit system will never produce anything better than this! But even worse than the horror of daily life under capitalist dictatorship is the illusion that things cant change. This Big Lie, more than any law or act of state terror, keeps the bosses in power and ruling over us.
Our Partys marches and actions this May Day should be viewed in light of their potential for growth. Our present numbers fall far short of the millions needed for revolution.
However, we can grow, perhaps slowly for now, but always planting the seeds for dramatic growth in the future.
Already the signs are pointing to a period of increasing class struggle. Thousands of workers in Cincinnati rose up against racist police murders of unarmed black men. Tens of thousands of students and others have been conducting militant struggle in Quebec against "globalization," the bosses name for imperialism. Campus movements are gaining steam against the exploitation of workers by university bosses and by certain U.S. companies. Workers are striking from garment workers in Los Angeles to Domino refinery workers in Brooklyn to brewery workers in Bogota to mass transit workers in LA to Seattle newspaper workers to healthcare workers in El Salvador and on and on. In some of these strikes and in several other struggles, PLP has played a leading role.
These struggles, and others sure to erupt as the contradictions of capitalism sharpen, are fertile ground for our Partys growth. Participating in them and putting forth our revolutionary communist politics will influence many. Our activities in Cincinnati prove this again. A handful of Party comrades who brought our ideas to thousands of rebellious workers there, created the possibility of winning some and establishing a continuing presence. Our daily participation on the job, in unions, on campuses, at schools, in the bosses military and in various mass organizations teaches us how to learn from our mistakes and earn the right to call ourselves the leadership of the working class.
If we dont do this, the bosses will continue to use these movements to mislead the working class into supporting them and their plans for war.
The spreading of our ideas through the mass sale of CHALLENGE can give the working class the tools of revolution.
Capitalists talk about the "bottom line"profit vs. loss. They think only in terms of money. We communists have a bottom line toothe growth of the Progressive Labor Party. We think in terms of peoplethe international working class and its needs. We must not be deterred by the defeats of the past, from which we can learn many lessons. But especially, we must never give the bosses the victory of conceding the future to them. The future belongs to our class and will be communist! The future begins now, with the decision to join and build the PLP.
Let every May Day marcher not yet in the Party, as well as many others who didnt or couldnt march, consider this. Becoming and remaining a communist is the most profound and best choice one can make in life. We invite you to make it. Join PLP!
CINCINNATI, OH, April 13 "To see the fear in the faces of those cops for those few minutes was good. Ill always remember that," declared a black youth describing hundreds of workers and youth chasing the cops out of the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood. They were rebelling against the racist murder of 19-year old Timothy Thomas. The rebellion, and the warm response to PLP, is a sure sign that the racist rulers will have a tough time building a loyal, committed army willing to kill and die for their oil profits.
Timothy was unarmed, with a three-month-old son, starting a new job and planning to be married. He was killed over outstanding traffic warrants, many of them for "not wearing seatbelts." The cops have killed fifteen black men here in the last five years, five since November.
The average annual income in Cincinnati is $14,420 per person, but in Over-the-Rhine it's just $5,359. Some 48% of area residents are on public assistance. Over the past five years, the unemployment rate for the greater Cincinnati region has averaged 3.8%. But the jobless rate among black workers in Over-the-Rhine is nearly 30%.
Militant workers and youth surrounded and took over the City Council for three hours. They shattered the glass entrance to the police station, and ripped down the American flag. They repeatedly stood up to the cops use of rubber bullets, beanbag shotguns, police horses and live ammunition. "If they keep killing us, it aint gonna be peaceful," declared one protester.
After four days the mayor admitted, "Despite the best efforts the [rebellion] is uncontrolled." He imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, called in State Police reinforcements and threatened to call out the National Guard. Workers had to get passes to leave their homes to go to work.
PLP members from Chicago went to support the rebellion and build the revolutionary communist movement. We distributed 2000 fliers and 200 CHALLENGES. Forty people gave us their names to be contacted.
Cops serve the racist rulers. They are strikebreakers and terrorists, protecting the factory owners and slumlords, bankers and politicians. Integrating the police force, "sensitivity" classes and black police chiefs will not change this basic fact. Detroit has a black mayor, city council and police chief, and the highest ratio of police murders in the country. The bosses have unleashed their killer cops to terrorize black and Latin workers and youth into accepting a future of poverty and war.
The rebels who attacked police headquarters and City Hall, the centers of capitalist power, have the right idea. Racist police terror will never end as long as we are wage slaves under the dictatorship of the billionaires. Only a mass armed movement for communist revolution can put our class in power, and end this racist system.
CINCINNATI, OH April 14 There were tons of riot police at Timothy Thomass funeral today. The scene outside the church was one of quiet anger. Another racist cop killing; the tip of the iceberg of all those destroyed by unemployment, prison, drugs, wars and poverty life under capitalism.
But there was another side. Many workers and youth had said, "Enough!" They marched on City Hall and fought the police. They started thinking about what it would take to bring about permanent change. One man had been part of a group who encouraged the youth to stop fighting, to protect them from the police. He said he knew he was wrong when a youth told him, "We die for drugs, we die for clothes, now well die for freedom." They didnt need protection. They needed support.
A woman brought poster boards and encouraged everyone to make signs. "Were tired of crooked cops killing blacks. Fuck the police." "Shoot back." "Listen to the Youth." "Time for Our Curfew to end, Time for the Pigs Curfew to start." "Bush is part of this too, he belongs with the cops."
At the end of the block, some drummers attracted a big crowd. A PLP leader started chanting on the bullhorn, to the beat of the drums, "Racist Cops, You Cant Hide, We Charge You With Genocide!" More and more people gathered around her. She passed around the bullhorn. One woman spoke about breaking the curfew. Another spoke eloquently about the need to stop the police from killing our sons. We chanted, "Were Ready, Were Ready, Were Ready, " and "Racist Cops, You Cant Hide !"
There was not a "black leader" in sight. They were all in the church and in front of the TV cameras. But there was plenty of black working-class leadership.
The PLP leader gave an impassioned speech about the need to bring an end to the whole racist capitalist system and to march on May Day. Applause, more chanting, more speeches. Someone suggested we march. A guy from the NAACP was soundly booed when he said a march would be "too provocative." P. started the rally off. MJ stepped forward, spoke on the bullhorn and we were marching. Everyone on the street followed. As we marched, we picked up more people. Cars honked in support. We had a taste of power. For a short time, the streets belonged to workers and youth.
Then reality hit us in the form of dozens of police, rifles pointed at us, blocking us from going further. We continued the rally in Washington Park. Many said what they had to say. There were disagreements and passion. Some favored violence, others didnt. Some saw white people as the enemy, others as allies. Some wanted to "civilize" the police, others said that would never happen. This was a day none of us will ever forget. Sometimes change happens slowly, and sometimes quickly. This week was one of the fast ones.
The only riot that took place in Cincinnati was a police riot against the mostly black anti-racist rebels. Police repeatedly shot rubber bullets and beanbag shotguns into unarmed groups at point blank range. Men and women were shot with their hands in the air. Tear gas and pepper spray were used totally indiscriminately. At Timothy Thomass funeral, a carload of cops used beanbag shotguns in a drive-by shooting of unarmed mourners. They have been given time off for a "stress leave."
Thousands of workers and youth were arrested. As we go to press, about 65 felony indictments have been issued, and the city prosecutor says he will seek the maximum penalty. Over 600 remain in jail.
PLP members returned to Cincinnati and met with more rebels who want to continue the struggle against racist police terror and free all those arrested. Most are interested in our Party and were invited to May Day. We urge all members and friends to raise resolutions of support for the rebellion in your unions, schools, churches and other mass organizations. Send copies to PLP, PO Box A3156, Chicago, IL 60690. Well make sure they get delivered.
GARY, IN, April 24 The bankrupt LTV steel bosses have given us an ultimatum: give up concessions in retirees health care and pensions, health care costs, vacations, work rules and however many jobs they see fit, or they will close the doors by the end of the month. These industrial terrorists want us to pay a huge ransom to save their ass.
LTV is trying to survive the crisis of overproduction. The worldwide steel industry has 300 million tons of excess capacity. The collapse of the Russian and Japanese markets, and the slowing of the U.S. economy has left the capitalists with too many steel mills. They are fighting tooth and nail for markets, resources and especially cheap labor.
Eventually this imperialist rivalry must lead to war. This has not been lost on the union leaders and politicians who say that without the steel industry, U.S. bosses wont be able to "defend the national interest." Only communist revolution can end the cycle of crises and wars that is the very fiber of capitalism. Production for profit must be replaced with production for need.
In the face of this emergency, the union leadership is like a deer caught in the headlights. No union meetings have been called; no plans have been made to fight back. Rumor has it that the union has agreed to cut our benefits in return for a seat on the Board of Directors. "Stand Up for Steel" has become "Bend Over for the Steel Bosses!"
Today was a "Steel Forum" day at Indiana University Northwest (IUN). A rogues gallery of bankers, businessmen, politicians, academics and union hacks whined about stopping cheap imports, blamed the crisis on bad trade policies, and repeated the chorus, "Were all in the same boat!" Right just like the slaves and the slave traders!
About 25 LTV workers crashed the party looking for answers, but didnt get any. A retired Inland worker took the floor and asked the experts, "What about our pensions? Why are you attacking us?" An IUN professor of economics arrogantly replied, "What are you so angry about?"
The union leaders, bosses and politicians all want to blame foreign steel. But it wasnt Japanese steel that killed two Bethlehem workers, or Russian steel that killed two Inland workers in deadly explosions last winter. Where was their "restraint" when the bosses imported the technology to wipe out tens of thousands of jobs and increase worker productivity by 174%? Where were they when USX bought a mill in Slovakia to pay workers $2.00 an hour?
We must prepare to strike for our jobs, pensions and health care. Begging for mercy and throwing retirees to the wolves will only make matters worse. We should take a page from the workers and youth in Cincinnati who took to the streets to fight racist police terror. The industrial terrorists deserve no less.
NEW YORK, NY, April 18 Tonight, the delegates assembly of Social Services Employees Union (SSEU) Local 371 overwhelmingly passed a resolution introduced by a PLP member instructing the Local to send a message of "sympathy and outrage" to the family of Timothy Thomas, a victim of racist police murder in Cincinnati, Ohio. This occurred during a discussion of how to organize against the latest sellout contract facing city workers. As aspects of fascism grow increased racism, intensified attacks on and disciplining of the working class and mass organizations PLP must attempt to answer them.
Five years ago the corrupt and pro boss union leadership of the District Council 37, who bargain for most non-uniformed city worker unions here, used massive vote fraud to force through a terrible five-year contract. Scores of corrupt union officials and staffers have been convicted of this fraud and others await trial.
That contract: (1) allowed the city bosses to use workers in the slave labor Workfare program as replacements for salaried unionized city workers; (2) Froze wages for two years; (3) Instituted a two-year below-entry wage rate for newly-hired workers; and, (4) Instituted give-backs in fringe benefits and work rules.
During this same period, racist NYC cops had tortured Abner Louima and murdered Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond and others. Countless more had suffered the indignity of being stopped by the police for the crime of BWBB, "Breathing While Being Black.
SSEU members are angry! We dont want to accept another rotten contract. We dont want to see union rate jobs replaced with Workfare. We dont want to see ourselves, our children or someone elses child become the next victim of racist police murder! We must weave the seeming separate fibers of class oppression into a fabric of class-conscious understanding which can turn righteous anger into class struggle for communist revolution!
QUEBEC CITY, CANADA April 21 PLP members from Boston University (BU) and St. Lawrence University (SLU) joined thousands of workers and students protesting the Free Trade Area of Americas plan (FTAA) at the Summit of Americas. This city was a war zone as a highly militarized, fascist police force protected the capitalist leaders of 34 Western Hemisphere nations. The U.S. hopes to use the FTAA as a weapon against the penetration of European and Asian imperialists in Latin America.
Fridays meeting was overshadowed by fierce street battles between protestors and heavily armed police. Hundreds of youth tore down a section of the several-mile-long security fence surrounding the summit. Everyone cheered. Then we toppled the inner fence. Protestors grabbed metal barriers and used them to battle the cops. Cries of "Revolution!" were everywhere. The police used tear gas and pepper gas, but protesters hurled the gas canisters back at them.
When the cops finally began forcing people back, we began smashing the sidewalk and hurling small pieces at them. They answered with concussion grenades and small explosive devices. Molotov cocktails were thrown at the cops, but were pretty harmless. Amid this battle, a small group of "peaceful protesters" formed a line in front of the police, to keep us from throwing rocks, but the rock throwing continued.
Before and after the many battles, we passed out a PLP leaflet in English and French titled, "Whether Free or Fair Trade, Capitalism is about Exploitation and War." It called for worker/student unity to eliminate global capitalism and march on May Day. This is in stark contrast to the pro-capitalist leadership of the anti-globalization movement, including the Global Exchange, whose agent Danaher we exposed the week before when he spoke at SLU. As a result, several SLU students are building for May Day.
While driving to Quebec City on Saturday, BU students were searched by Canadian Customs police. We had to get rid of all literature, including PLP anti-globalization pamphlets. We had to show ID as they ran background checks on us. Each van was searched for 35 minutes. All bags and jacket pockets were opened and searched. All notebooks and loose papers were read for protest information. After this fascist search and seizure, it was on to Quebec City.
We joined thousands of students from Laval University in Quebec and the Canadian Federation for Students. Laval is one of Canadas major public universities. FTAA will threaten public education (just as NAFTA sparked the 18-month UNAM student strike in Mexico City in 1999). We marched to the Plains of Abraham (the site of Fridays street fighting), and joined the Operation Quebec Printemps march, dominated by the Quebec separatist movement.
We talked with many marchers about internationalism and the need to fight all bosses, including those in Quebec. We pointed out the need to destroy capitalism, not just the FTAA. Many agreed that capitalism doesnt work, and liked the sign in French calling for a worker-student alliance and "No to the FTAA and to capitalism." "National liberation" only plays into the hands of European imperialists and will not end capitalism.
The march then joined over 30,000 Canadian and U.S. workers in the union march, while others left to take direct action against the police. Many workers wanted to participate in this action, but the union leaders would not support anything "illegal." A PLP member urged workers to support the students and called for a worker-student alliance.
On Saturday evening, we joined with the other BU students. The cops fired tear gas, quickly engulfing us. Hundreds of students formed a solidarity ring and chanted, "The Cops, The Courts, The Ku Klux Klan, All a Part of the Bosses Plan," and "This is what democracy looks like! That is what fascism looks like!" while pointing to the wall, and the cloud of gas. We spoke with many fighters about the rise of fascism in the U.S., Canada and throughout the hemisphere, and how those in power break their own laws whenever theyre threatened.
The mass militancy was inspiring. But many of the protesters identify with anarchism because they dont believe communism can work. Anarchism will never lead to the end of capitalism. We must win these fighters to a long-term perspective of building a mass communist PLP with the deepest ties to the working class. We have to oppose the growth of prison labor and smash racism, the main tool the bosses use to attack all workers. Communist revolution is the only real, long-term solution to eradicating oppression and exploitation.
LOS ANGELES, CA, April 24 The following letters are part of a discussion with a group of workers whove been striking Hollander Home Fashions for nearly 50 days.
Ive been working for Hollander Home Fashion for over 25 years. The struggles against these bosses havent been easy. In 1979 when we unionized into the ILGWU [now UNITE] the bosses called the Migra [Immigration Service] and deported many workers. But despite this, the union won.
Workers like myself, slaving away here for many years, have left part of our lives in these dangerous machines that produce thousands of pillows a day. Even though my bosses are rich with money, theyre poor in their hearts. They lack intelligence because with what theyve lost in this strike, they could have paid us a pension plan or a 401K.
Bernard Hollander began by selling pillows door to door. Hes the son of Jewish immigrants who fled Nazi persecution in Europe during World War II. Now, thanks to the sweat and blood of thousands of workers, Hollander has a U.S. empire of eight plants, with over 1,000 workers and annual profits topping $200 million.
I want to express through CHALLENGE that I feel proud of all my striking co-workers, especially the women whove shown courage and anger against the bosses and their injustices.
We hope all workers and students who read this article help and support us however they can. Thank you,
Ive worked at Hollander for 20 years. Ive left my whole youth in this factory. Ever since I started Ive seen so many injustices that, for me, this strike answers all of them. Theyve always made us work overtime. The speed-up is unbearable. The minimum wage is our average pay. Our struggle for a pension plan or 401K is just.
The bosses say theyre offering a "good contract": 15¢ an hour for the first year; 25¢ the second; and zero the third year nothing!
But I dont understand why the boss, who has so much money to buy new machines, refuses to give us a retirement plan or a wage increase. And worsethe new machines enabled him to cut our pay 50% at the beginning of the year. Fifteen years ago three workers operated one of these machines and we earned more. Then they lowered it to two workers per machine. Now only one worker operates it and we make less money. What is this?
CHALLENGE brings news of the struggle, the idea of uniting workers. Were on strike to fight for our rights. As long as the oppressor exists, well be ready to defend our struggle with our fists and make it worthwhile.
"Let the drums of struggle sound, and with them the beat of our hearts. Its the song of the hands that labor, and that no longer want to serve any boss."
Were going to the May Day March to let thousands of other workers and students know about our struggle.
The bosses exist to make maximum profits by exploiting workers to the fullest. All the bosses are thieves who rob the value we produce. It doesnt matter if theyre Mexicans, Salvadorans, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Chinese or Anglo-Saxon U.S bosses.
Bosses buy new machines to reduce costs and make more profits, not to benefit workers. They must increase production, reduce wages and sell more products to pay for the machines. In essence, the workers are paying for these new machines.
Under capitalism, this robbery is legal. If workers rebel, as in this strike, the bosses try to smash it using their state apparatus the courts, the police and their laws, including anti-union restrictions.
Thats why Progressive Labor Party is building a mass revolutionary communist movement out of the workers daily struggles, to smash exploitation and the whole capitalist system. As we support this and other strikes, were fighting to build a new communist society in which workers produce for the benefit of our entire international working class, not for the bosses profits. No matter what the outcome of this strike, we call on Hollander workers to continue fighting for a secure future for their families by joining PLP and the long-range fight for a communist society.µ
DAVIS, CA, April 16 Anti-racists, led by PLPers, blasted racist journalist David Horowitz when he appeared here today to again spew his fascist filth at the Univ. of California/Davis campus. Horowitz had taken out advertisements in college newspapers across the country claiming that black people "should be thankful" for what this country has done for them (yeah, racist terror and living conditions); that "White Christians" organized the anti-slavery movement and that poverty and unemployment were due to "defects" in black peoples character, not because of the bosses profit drive.
When Horowitz recently appeared at the Univ. of California/Berkeley, we only protested outside. But today at UC/Davis we learned from that. Here it was a different story.
The entire front section of the room where Horowitz was speaking was dressed in black, organized by "100 Black Scholars" to protest Horowitzs racism. While a majority were black, it was truly a multi-racial group.
We got into the room and when Horowitz took the mike, we began to chant loudly, "Horowitz, Cops, and the Ku Klux Klan, All a part of the bosses plan!" Although some of us were very nervous, we overcame it. When we let up, Horowitz tried again, but we started chanting once more. Many anti-racist students gave Horowitz the finger.
We also raised the banner that our East Coast comrades had sent us: "Horowitz Is The Racist Of The Year." Though forced to leave, we kept chanting. The majority of the audience cheered us loudly.
Later, all the other protesting students walked out in the middle of Horowitzs speech. We had plenty of CHALLENGES. Many people asked us, "Could I get one of those?" "What newspaper is that? " We said it was PLPs communist paper. We distributed 80 CHALLENGES. More than 75% of the protesters got the paper. About 15 people signed up to find out more about May Day and PLP.
Outside the hall, students gave spontaneous speeches exposing Horowitz as a racist and a liar. One speaker, who signed up for May Day, blamed the capitalist system for racism. A PLP speaker said Horowitz was only a little racist; the big ones were those who paid for Horowitzs cross-country "tour." The PLPer invited everyone to march on May Day against racism and capitalism.
Later we discovered that Horowitz has received $3.5 million since 1988 for advancing his fascist views. (The Nation, 7/3/00). Being a racist pays millions in capitalist society. Under communism, racists like Horowitz will pay and be wiped out.
This anti-Horowitz protest showed anti-racists in action. As the song goes, "Black and Brown and White Unite on May Day." Thats the road to communism.
CAMBRIDGE, MA, April 23 Recently the struggle against poverty wages at Harvard University has reached new heights. About 50 Harvard students have occupied Massachusetts Hall since April 18 demanding a $10.25 minimum wage plus benefits for all Harvard workers. They have courageously exposed "liberal" Harvards hypocrisy as a corporation enriching itself from oppressing its own workers. Theyve also exposed how the boom of the 90s was achieved by cutting workers standard of living. Dining workers and custodians have walked the sit-in picket line shoulder to shoulder with students. The potential for unity is far-reaching.
Harvard is outsourcing (subcontracting) jobs to non-union companies, cutting workers wages and benefits. Outsourcing also helps maintain sub-minimum, no-benefit jobs. It attacks all workers. Harvard uses outsourcing to threaten all workers with firing unless they accept a contract with lower wages and benefits. The dining workers contract comes up for re-negotiation this June, the custodial workers in 2002. We need to shut down Harvard to get it to stop all outsourcing now.
Harvard has always been a bastion of racism, capitalism and imperialism. It serves the interests of the dominant Eastern Establishment wing of the U.S. ruling class. Harvards Board has Directors from Exxon-Mobil, Chase Manhattan Bank, Enron and leading ruling class think-tanks the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution.
Another important way Harvard serves the ruling class is by producing academic scholarships used to justify racist attacks against workers. Former Harvard professor Richard Herrnstein wrote many racist tracts, including The Bell Curve (1994), advancing the racist lie that black workers (and workers generally) were genetically less intelligent than their bosses, and thus "deserved" to live in poverty. This racist trash justified Clintons repeal of welfare with slave labor Workfare. Another Harvard professor, E.O. Wilson, has spewed forth his "Sociobiology now called "Consilience," the main form of fascist biodeterminism, a Nazi-style theory of society that influences everything from university science departments to TV programs like Survivor.
PLP members and friends have participated in this struggle. One has been meeting with the Harvard Living Wage campaign the group conducting the sit-in for two years. Other comrades have been picketing and distributing leaflets exposing Harvards racist role, calling on everyone to march on May Day and linking attacks against workers to increasing inter-imperialist rivalry. We organized a discussion on the 1969 Harvard student strike and how to build a worker-student alliance. A few workers have expressed a desire to go to May Day. Several students want to learn more about communism and PLP.
We have sharpened the class struggle here by encouraging worker/student unity, fighting students illusions about liberals like Clinton Secy. of Labor Robert Reich, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney and Ted Kennedy (who have "supported" the sit-in). We exposed their loyalty to the ruling class as they preach "support" for workers rights in order to win students and workers to support U.S. imperialisms next war in Iraq or elsewhere.
The Harvard bosses are not budging on workers demands for a living wage. We must hit Harvard where it hurts. We are struggling with Harvard workers and students to understand that Harvard is our enemy. Moral persuasion or "shaming" Harvard wont do. We need to fight the enemy, not try to convince them. Instead of destructive hunger strikes, or bringing in millionaire, ruling-class politicians like Kennedy, we must stop Harvard from functioning as much as possible, if not shut it down completely.
The students have begun this by taking over Mass Hall and hindering administration functioning and occupying a growing section of the Harvard yard with a tent-city. However, workers are not being fully mobilized. On April 21, while students protested Harvard President Rudenstines speech to incoming freshman, they did not call on students and workers at the general rally to join in. Such a force could have silenced Rudenstine and won a victory for the Harvard Living Wage campaign.
All Harvard workers need to support the students and build the budding worker-student alliance to bolster worker/student unity in the fight of the dining hall workers and the next one involving custodial and building service workers. We are calling for a general Harvard strike if the cops smash the sit-in. Bringing our communist ideas into this struggle can produce the kind of victory the rulers fear the most, the building of the revoutionary movement that can destroy them.
Grandell "Tony" Pollard died on April 22nd, losing his battle against lung cancer. He was 49 years old and is mourned by a large extended family and friends. Tony had a hard life, suffering many of the horrors of racist capitalist society. He loved May Day and respected fighters for a better world. We will miss him.
NEW YORK CITY, April 23Three weeks ago some 300 medallion taxi drivers (yellow cabs) demonstrated at the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), protesting the beating up of cab driver Hisham Amer, an Egyptian immigrant, by two TLC inspectors. Amer nearly died. They also demanded the resignation of TLC Chairperson Diane McKechine.
A PLP driver, one of many speakers at the protest, urged all workers to continue fighting this brutality and to unite multi-racially and internationally against the system which creates these rotten conditions, and uses brutality to try to control us. Many others expressed similar sentiments about the abuses suffered by drivers.
Cabbies are fed up with the TLC because it has refused to suspend or fire the inspectors who beat up Amer. The TLC has even refused to talk to the media about the case. Now there are rumors that the TLC Chair may be forced to resign. When workers unite and fight back, temporary gains may be made.
For years, taxi drivers have been fighting these types of attacks by city officials, including constant police harassment. The attacks increased after a successful taxi strike last year. That action followed mass protests in the last few years by construction and transportation workers.
When this rally ended, a driver congratulated the PLPer for his speech. We want this driver to come to the May Day march in Washington, D.C.
A few days later, the PLP driver called on the taxi driver group which organized the TLC protest to celebrate May Day in NYC. He was told that a group has invited them to a celebration on May 1, and asked our comrade to represent it at the planning of this event. This opens the door to bring PLPs communist politics to this group, and to show that May Day shouldnt simply call for some reforms, but should fight for the only solution to the hell of capitalismcommunism.
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, April 24 Thousands of students shut down Addis Ababa University last week, protesting the TPLF governments fascist policies. The TPLF is a former guerrilla group from Tigray province, then allied with U.S. bosses, which is now in power. Forty youth were killed by police, several hundred injured and over 2,000 jailed. The rebellion spread to the city itself, where hundreds of youth joined the students.
Hunger and disease ravage Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa. In addition to hundreds of thousands of deaths from malaria and AIDS, 40,000 children will die of measles this year. These are preventable diseases, but capitalism is unconcerned with solving such problems. The news media barely mentions these things, while they chatter about so-called human rights abuses elsewhere.
The old ruling group (the Dergue) led by Col. Mengistu, allied with the former USSR and established a corrupt dictatorship. The TPLF overthrew them, made and broke alliances and split people along ethnic lines, enabling it to stay in power.
They jailed tens of thousands, including labor leaders and journalists, and killed many opponents. Then they went to war with former "friends" in Eritrea and also warred among themselves. Meanwhile, they kicked thousands of students out of the university, replacing them with students loyal to the regime. Now even these students are rebelling!
Russian and U.S. capitalists are trying to buy allies, with the Russians sending them arms and U.S. bosses wanting to use Ethiopia against the Sudan. Simultaneously there are uprisings by ethnic nationalists in the south and in the east near Somalia.
These uprisings show the limits of U.S. influence, which seems unable to stabilize many areas of the world. Ethiopia influences central Africa as well as the Middle East and is important militarily. The uprisings also show the limits of rebellion without communist leadership. Lacking that, all these movements will either be used by the big imperialist powers, and/or will remain narrow, nationalist movements that only benefit a few ethnic bosses.
We need to build strong ties with workers and youth from Ethiopia and all over the world as the first steps towards building an international movement that can destroy capitalism worldwide.
It was 40 years ago, April 17, 1961, when 1,500 Cuban exiles of the so-called National Liberation Army 2506 Brigade landed at the Bay of Pigs, Cuba to "free the island from communism." They aimed to establish a beachhead, form a "Provisional government" and call for direct U.S. military intervention to topple the Castro regime,
Two days earlier, several B-29 bombers piloted by U.S. and Cuban CIA agents bombed Cuba from a Nicaraguan base, destroying several of the few planes Cuba had available.
When the invasion began, the Cuban government mobilized the National Revolutionary Militia forces near the Bay of Pigs. Soon 15 light infantry battalions from the Militias, forces from the Rebel Army (the regular army) and the National Revolutionary Police were sent to attack. The Castro government knew it needed a quick victory over the enemy to avoid direct U.S. intervention. The Revolutionary Air Force only had 10 ancient planes and seven pilots who had never seen action. But these pilots were able to down five CIA planes piloted by exiles, sink four ships, stop two invading battalions from reaching land and sink most of the invaders supplies.
Meanwhile, the militias, outgunned by the invaders, advanced inch by inch even though they suffered huge casualties. The invaders were disoriented by the bravery of these ill-armed militias who just kept on advancing chanting "Palante" (Forward). And young gunners, 14 to 20 years old, dueled with the invaders planes, shooting down several.
Two days later the invaders were on the verge of defeat. Two U.S. Navy destroyers, which had escorted the invading force, sent small rescue boats, mainly to save the invasion leaders. The Militias batteries were aimed at those boats, thinking it was another invasion force. The U.S. Navy rescue operation failed.
At that point the invading force surrendered. Many fled into a nearby marsh. When captured most of this mercenary force claimed they "were deceived" by the CIA.
It was the biggest CIA failure ever. From the beginning, the invaders, trained and armed by the CIA in Guatemala, were doomed. U.S. President Kennedys promise of air cover never came. The so-called uprising which the CIA said the invasion would spark never materialized. The fiasco just consolidated the Castro government, which allied itself with the Soviet Union.
Sometime later the 2506 Brigade invaders were exchanged for tractors and food supplies. Many then became terrorists and right-wing extremists in the U.S. One of them, Jorge Mas Canosa, founded the Cuban American National Foundation, which financed the kidnappers of Elián González.
The CIA put dozens of other Brigade members to work in "Operation Mongoose" to kill Fidel Castro and topple his regime. They created groups like Omega 7 and Alpha 66, involved in hundreds of bomb attacks on pro-Castro targets in the U.S. and Latin America. Cuban exiles provided the explosives used by agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet that blew up Chilean exile socialist Orlando Leteliers car in Washington, D.C. in 1976. That was the worst case of terrorism involving a foreign government in the U.S. capital. Two former Brigade members are in jail for that murder.
Two weeks after Leteliers murder, a Cubana Airlines plane was blown up taking off from Barbados, killing all 73 passengers. These included 19 members of Cubas national junior fencing team, mostly teenagers, returning from Venezuela. Two Cuban exiles were jailed in Venezuela for that explosion. One was Orlando Bosch, who had left the U.S. after being paroled from a 10-year sentence for firing a rocket at a Polish ship in Miamis harbor. The other was Luis Posada Carriles, a CIA agent trained as a demolition expert for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. He escaped a Venezuela jail disguised as a priest and later surfaced in El Salvador where he became part of the Reagan-Ollie North covert operation to supply the mercenaries fighting Nicaraguas Sandinista government. Posadas boss at the Ilopango Salvadoran air force base was Felix Rodríguez, the notorious CIA operator who was working inside Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion. He was later sent to chase Che Guevaras small guerrilla group in Bolivia.
Posada was arrested in Panama last November trying to kill Castro at an international summit meeting. During a 1998 New York Times interview, he admitted masterminding a 1997 wave of bombings of Havana tourist areas from his El Salvador base, killing one Italian tourist. He conceded that Mas Canosa and the Cuban American National Cuba Foundation financed these bombings as well as his escape from Venezuela.
U.S. rulers like to point the finger at "terrorists" and "rogue states." But just look at the long trail of blood left behind by the Cuban exiles or the Osama bin Laden gang (trained by the CIA to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan in the 1980s). When it comes to terrorism, the U.S. is number one.
On June 19, 1971, PLP organized marches all across the U.S. to protest racist cutbacks and unemployment. The NYC march in Upper Manhattan condemned the racist care and layoffs at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, the areas biggest employer. The neighborhood was in transition. For many years it was known as "Little Escambray," because of the many right-wing Cuban exiles living there. (A group of anti-Castro guerrillas financed by the CIA had operated a few years back in the hills of Escambray, Cuba.) Alpha 66, the CIA-funded Cuban exile terrorist group (led by mercenaries from the Bay of Pigs invasion) had an office on 181st St, 13 blocks north of the hospital.
As immigrants from the Dominican Republic moved into Upper Manhattan, the Cuban "gusanos" (worms, as they were called) began leaving for Miami or New Jersey. The new Dominican immigrants arrived with an anti-imperialist tradition. A few years before, right-wing Cubans had viciously attacked a demonstration by Dominican leftists protesting the U.S. Marines invasion of that country.
Alpha 66 organized to stop the PLP communist march. When the PLP sound truck parked at 138th St. and Broadway, about two dozen gusanos gathered on rooftops across Broadway and began hurling eggs at our truck. Most of the eggs fell on the helmeted cops supposedly sent to "keep order." When that failed, the gusanos tried to storm the trucks. They were beaten badly. One exile was hit so hard by a muscular Dominican comrade that he fell down the steps from the street to a basement. Not even the cops, sent to protect the exiles, could save them.
Our march of 600 workers and youth proceeded to Columbia Presbyterian. The few right-wing Cuban exiles who dared to follow us did so from a very safe distance. It was the last time Alpha 66 tried any terrorist attacks against us or any other anti-racist and anti-imperialist gathering in that neighborhood.
As the march approached the hospital, the cops tried to prevent us from getting too close. CHALLENGE reported on the cops attempt to stop the march: "They feared the workers and patients would hear a program that would combat the lousy conditions there, [but] the demonstrators defied their edict. One PLPer leaped to the hood of a truck to make that point and others. When he was arrested, the cry of asesinos [murderers] was leveled at the cops-flunkeys."
The following is part of a letter sent to a young PLP member by a friend in Cuba.
Unfortunately I believe my country, Cuba, is moving more towards capitalism than towards communism or even socialism. There is a trend towards private corporations even if they work with state-owned companies. This ties us more to the world economic market. Also, the younger generations of Cubans, of which Im a part (although I dont think that way) forgets what weve fought for and want the cars and houses they believe young Americans have. For this theyre willing to become puppets of the U.S.
As far as Im concerned Id rather starve to death than accept the U.S. morality (or lack of it). When Im feeling optimistic I believe were working towards socialism, and will get there some day. When Im pessimistic Im afraid its just a matter of time before were invaded by the rest of the world and must surrender. Of course, if this happens those of us who believe in the revolution will just have to begin again.
About 20% of the population belongs to the Communist Party of Cuba. No other party is allowed. Being a Party member is a privilege. We must maintain a standard as a political guide to other Cubans. A member must have an impeccable record of serving the country. I am very proud of being a member. To become a member one must be recommended by another Party member.
Well, this is for now. I will try to talk about China and the former Soviet Union in other correspondence with you.
A Friend, somewhere in Cuba
BROOKLYN, NY The March 27th New York Times reported, "Doctors Punished By State, but Prized At Hospitals." At one hospital here, workers were surprised to learn it has more doctors whove been disciplined or investigated for negligence than any other in the city.
The article stated that hospitals employing doctors with such records are among the top 20% revenue-generators of all hospitals. These doctors bring in millions of dollars to the hospital industry. One worker pointed out that capitalism is responsible, in its drive for maximum profits.
In a 1999 report, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences concluded that such negligence kill 44,000 to 98,000 patients each year. NYC hospitals are among the worst in the state at reporting medical mistakes.
The people killed by mistakes are doomed by the capitalist-run healthcare system, although these reports try to shift the blame to healthcare workers. This system puts profits ahead of patient care. Most of these mistakes happen to uninsured black and Latin workers. Some examples:
A 38-year-old woman complained to her doctor of pain in her side and lumps in her abdomen. Without consulting the radiologist who had taken a chest X-ray, the doctor performed a hysterectomy. But afterwards the X-ray revealed a problem with the patients lungs.
In another case, a doctor performed a hysterectomy and terminated a womans pregnancy a pregnancy she was unaware of without conducting proper tests to determine why she was bleeding.
In still another report, a baby suffered brain damage after a doctor tried unsuccessfully to deliver the infant using forceps.
Most patients rarely know about a doctors past problems. Hospitals will not discuss doctors records. The rulers blame the doctors and the hospital industry for the inefficiencies but the root of the crisis is the many consolidations and competition for worker-patients. Patients and hospital workers are like commodities, being bought and sold, with needed facilities often closing because of lack of profits.
While in China from 1954 to 1969, Dr. Joshua S. Horn wrote, "A doctors attitude to mistakes should be: prevent them, admit them and learn from them."
Under capitalism, hospital interns work very long hours for low wages. The hospitals make millions from their labor. By the time the interns complete their residency, most have profits on their minds, not uniting with workers to fight the capitalist healthcare system.
Under a communist society, our vision for health care is to improve the quality of life, not to make profits. This means we, the working class, will make healthcare decisions based on our needs.
We tried to apply dialectical materialism to bringing people to the May Day march. Potentially, many people have expressed an interest in marching but the actual will emerge with the unfolding of the process; i.e., how many folks actually get on the bus.
A certain quantitative amount of work will produce a certain quantitative and qualitative result. Many will actually march. Some will join PLP. Others will become more committed.
About 75 people attended a May Day jazz fundraiser at a local church where we have a modest base. Nine people from the church attended, including Wilma, a black woman who expressed anti-communist ideas about us being members of the church. But she said she decided to support our efforts because we are dedicated church members, not just mechanically using the church to pick off a few recruits. We raised almost $1,000, had a great time, and demonstrated PLPs multi-racial unity. Wilma was "impressed by the number of black folks you have around your group."
Next was the May Day dinner, with plenty of food and drinks and a political program. About 70 people showed up at a community center in a Latin neighborhood where were involved in immigration issues. This event reflected the developed leadership of one of our key women leaders, Anita.
First came a skit about the amnesty issue. Then Rosa, another PLP leader, reviewed the international scene, especially related to Latin America. Then we presented a pageant celebrating three great May Days in our Partys history: our first, in 1971; the march that took on the Nazis and cops in Marquette Park in 1979; and the 100th anniversary of May Day in 1986.
English and Spanish speakers, side by side, narrated using short bursts of information, first in English, and then in Spanish. Simultaneously we projected a movie about the Marquette Park march on a back wall.
The high point of the evening was a great speech by Dolores, renewing her commitment to the Party after having dealt with many personal/political problems. Then a young white worker joined the Party. We concluded by singing that great hymn of the communist movement, the Internationale. All in all, we saw quantity turning into quality, and the potential into the actual. Now well see how many seats are filled when the May Day busses start to roll. On to Washington!
I drove with the Chicago PLP members to Cincinnati to pay our last respects to Timothy Thomas and join and support the rebellion against racism. The workers received us very well. We had many good conversations about the rebellion and the need for revolution. The workers were definitely not toeing the NAACPs line. They had their own ideas and were expressing them in their practice. When the rally started, they called for more action, marches and for breaking the curfew. When the NAACP sent someone to "calm" them down, they listened but didnt stop the rally.
There was a mix of black nationalism/anti-racism, anger at the police and the mayor and a desire for fairness. There was much anti-capitalist feeling, though thats not what they called it. There was an acknowledgement that the system has never served the black masses. There was a sense that without militant rebellion, the mayor and the rulers would not change. They knew their housing needs were being submerged by gentrification. They cheered our call for revolution. They were inspiring as they marched in defiance of marshal law.
As we approached the riot cops blocking downtown, the rebels calmly and thoughtfully struggled with themselves against adventurism. They decided to turn back and rally at the park. They correctly predicted that the cops were waiting for a provocation. They estimated the forces at play. We did not then have the numbers or the organization to take on the cops.
To sustain the rebellion workers need PLPs revolutionary program. In order to sustain the revolutionary PLP we need these anti-racist rebels to join and lead our movement. Capitalism will never serve the workers. Its endless crises will impel workers to rebel. The rulers use of racism to divide us will become increasingly evident and workers will fight back. We must dig deep roots among the workers to lead even larger numbers.
Our potential is incredible. We invite the anti-racist rebels to lead our May Day march in Washington. We invite them all to join PLP and develop the long-range outlook to eradicate this murderous system.
Recently the Dominican Republic press reported that thousands of young women from that Caribbean country are emigrating to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and becoming prostitutes. Such news is no longer so shocking. Lately theres been a tremendous upsurge of women (including children) leaving countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the formerly socialist countries of Eastern Europe, induced by offers of phony jobs and then forced into prostitution. Many do it knowingly because its the only way to survive.
A correspondent from the Ultima Hora daily of Santo Domingo writing from Buenos Aires reported that: "It seems like a coincidence that just as in Santo Domingo the Dominican women in Buenos Aires who work in the worlds oldest profession do it near the Congressional building where senators and other politicians work. Our Porteño (as Buenos Aires residents are called) taxi driver, a very enlightened man, told us jokingly hold onto your wallet as we passed by the Congressional building."
An article in another Dominican daily explains why so many young women had to sell their bodies to survive: "Recession in the USA causes mass firings; 10,000 jobs in the Corporation of the Industrial Free Zone of the city of Santiago will cease to exist because of the drastic reduction in the sales of their products in the U.S. market .The job losses in these duty-free garment shops will affect all free trade zones in the country, although Santiago will be hardest hit."(Listini Diario, 4/9).
Last year, Hipólito Mejía was elected President of the Dominican Republic, promising "improvements" in workers lives and an end to the rampant official corruption of the previous government. But things have just grown worse. The world crisis of capitalism has made life a living hell for workers from Santiago to Buenos Aires.
Organizing for a new society, without any bosses and politicians, is the only solution. Join the communist PLP and make that happen!
In 1931, nine black young men were falsely accused of raping two white women on a freight train in Alabama. The poor youths, ages 13 to 19, were riding the rails looking for work. They were quickly convicted by an all-white jury. Eight were sentenced to death, another cruel episode in a long history of lynchings and frame-ups. However, the U.S. Communist Party (CP) initiated and led a world-wide struggle involving millions to free the "Scottsboro boys."
This struggle was the subject of a documentary, Scottsboro, An American Tragedy," nominated for an Academy Award and broadcast recently on Public Television. It contains fascinating film footage of the trials and the mass demonstrations in support of the Scottsboro boys. The best sections are interviews with communists active in the case, such as Mary Licht, the CP organizer who met with the parents of the nine jailed youth and explained that the International Labor Defense (ILD), established by the CP, would not just conduct a legal defense, but would organize mass support for their sons release. The parents appreciated the way Party members treated them with respect and equality, in contrast to the NAACP, which tried to take over the case and called the parents "ignorant" when they rejected their anti-communist pleas. The parents spoke at dozens of CP-organized rallies in a worldwide campaign to win freedom for their children.
Despite these interviews, the documentary echoes the anti-communism of the NAACP, which accused the CP of excluding it from the defense in order to "exploit" the case for its own "revolutionary agenda." The documentary ignores the fact that the NAACP initially refused to support the young men and never had plans to wage a mass campaign. The NAACPs leaders only became interested when the ILD took the case. However, neither the ILD nor the NAACP lawyers could win the case in Alabamas courts, where the verdicts were predetermined. Only a mass movement in the streets could ever free the young men.
A week after CP organizers in the South learned of the arrests, the CP newspaper, the Daily Worker, editorialized that the Scottsboro frame-up was "part of a campaign of terror against the Negro workers and impoverished farmers and sharecroppers of the South, to teach the n- his place, lest he join with his natural comrades, the white workers and poor farmers of America in their struggle against starvation and boss rule."
The international communist movement organized hundreds of rallies and marches, in scores of U.S. cities, as well as Europe, Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. The Scottsboro case became known to hundreds of millions worldwide. One Baltimore minister summed up the opinion of many blacks when he said that "the Communists go out and fight for Negro rights. The International Labor Defense is communism in action for Negro rights and Scottsboro is the supreme example." Blacks and whites united in hundreds of fundraising events and demonstrations under the banner of "Black and White, Unite and Fight!"
This was the "agenda" that the film attacks, but to its credit, the CP did use the case to expose the system of racist oppression in both the South and the North, including the racist "justice" system. It also used the case to advance black-white unity in the fight against a capitalist system that had thrown millions onto the unemployment lines and into dire poverty. The CP pointed out that capitalism had created and benefited from the racist hell suffered by millions of black workers and that the fight to free the Scottsboro boys was just one battle in the war to end capitalism and build a society without racism.
The CP explained to white workers that class solidarity was absolutely necessary to fight capitalist exploitation, and that the first step in forging this solidarity was to fight against the special oppression of black workers. Every Party member was responsible for raising the Scottsboro case in whatever union, neighborhood group, or unemployed council he or she belonged to. Hundreds of these organizations passed resolutions and donated money in support of the struggle. The CPs focus on the case was indicated during a confrontation between a CP-led Unemployed Council and a Bronx, NY landlord who exclaimed, "Ill fix the plumbing and paint the halls, but I cant free the Scottsboro boys!"
The CPs expert legal team ripped apart the shabby prosecution case. The medical evidence showed conclusively that the women had not been raped. Ruby Bates, one of the two accusers, became a defense witness, admitting that she and Victoria Price had lied. The lawyers took the case twice to the Supreme Court which, in response to the mass movement, overturned the convictions and ordered new trials, but new all-white juries again returned guilty verdicts.
The CP did make mistakes, including hiring Samuel Leibowitz as defense counsel for the retrial. Although Leibowitz was a famous trial lawyer, he was an anti-communist and close to the Democratic Party, the party of Southern segregation. Before the case was finished, Leibowitz would attack the CP. In 1937 and 1938, the CP, in its "popular front" period, abandoned radical mass protest and relied on liberals to negotiate a pardon for the remaining defendants (four were released in 37) with the Governor of Alabama. The last defendant, Haywood Patterson, escaped to freedom in 1948.
Since it was virtually impossible for the film to ignore the presence of the CP, it is presented in a way that feeds anti-communism. The "tragedy," the film says, is that no one was really concerned about these nine young black men as human beings. Yet had it not been for the mass campaign organized by the CP, the Scottsboro boys would most certainly have been executed. That is the "agenda" the film avoids like the plague.
Birmingham was "founded after the Civil War, the heavy manufacturing mecca of the South built by post-Emancipation slaves. Under a system popular all around the Old Confederacy known as the convict lease, the state of Alabama hired out half its prisoners to the tuberculosis-breeding coal mines of Birminghams founding industrialists. The crimes of these mine slavesthe vast majority of them blackwere often nothing more than gambling, indebtedness or idleness .The system had all the evils of slavery without one of its ameliorating features, as one critic noted, like the slaveholders vested interest in keeping their property alive. Slackers were hung on crosses with ropes .Fugitives were mauled by bloodhounds and then whipped with leather straps until they begged for death. Those who got their wish were dumped in a common hole in the woods, saving the superintendent the nuisance of a funeral appearance. The [convict] lease provided the industrialists a cheap, strike-proof workforce." (From Carry Me Home, Birmingham, Alabama, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, by Diane McWhorter, Simon & Schuster, 2001; all quotations are from this book.)
Birmingham was a classic example of U.S. fascism, built on racism, segregation and the ruling class using and building the Ku Klux Klan to divide and rule black and white workers. The fortunes of U.S. Steel and J. P. Morgan were extracted from the enslavement, torture and murder of tens of thousands of mainly black people, working untold numbers to death. For them, Birmingham was Auschwitz.
"Birminghams saloons the most per capita in the country had been safeguarded by the industrialists anti-Prohibition crusades as an essential ingredient of the three Ds of labor tranquility: Depress em, disperse em and drug em. The first two were fulfilled simultaneously by the isolated company villages, with their communal outhouses hunched over open typhoid-hatching ditches. Epidemic disease was the leading cause of death in Birmingham..."
The citys reputation of such horror was so widespread that it inspired popular stories: a black man in Chicago tells his wife that Jesus came to him in his dream and said he should go to Birmingham. She objects: "Did Jesus say Hed go with you?" Her husband replies, "He said Hed go as far as Memphis."
Every aspect of life in Birmingham was controlled by the owners of a few large corporations, led by Tennessee Coal & Iron (TCI), a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. These barons were known as the "Big Mules." And black workers "were the cornerstone of their success. Segregationwith its life force, racismhad kept their workers divided, wages depressed. The industrialists had honed [segregation] into the ultimate money-making instrument."
Their "worst fear was that their labor force might organize into a union. In their exertions to prevent that forbidding workers to grow corn in their gardens, lest the tall stalks serve as a cover for union-organizing meetingsthey had built a stunning example of the latent fascism of the American South."
These corporations used every feature of their state apparatus. "U.S. Steel had virtually invented industrys union-beating game plan during the great, failed national steel strike of 1919, when its private detectives infiltrated the workforce and supplied the propaganda that fueled that years Red Scare," the infamous Palmer Raids on radicals. "The point of the propaganda was to equate organized labor with bolshevism and organized money with Americanism."
Texas Congressman Martin Dies, their "point man against the CIO," followed the lead of these corporations by creating the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the late 1930s. One example of their extreme anti-communism emerged when, during an investigation of the Federal Theatre Projects production of 17th century playwright Christopher Marlowe, Alabamas representative on the committee, Joe Starnes, "asked if Marlowe was a Communist." (HUAC recieved its deathblow in the late 1960s when PLP defied its witch-hunt of the anti-Vietnam war movement and sent it six feet under.)
In 1907, when J.P. Morgans U.S. Steelthen the worlds largest corporationbought Birminghams TCI mills, it became the centerpiece of "The elite establishment of the city [that] nurtured the Ku Klux Klan." In the 1920s, the Klan claimed four million members. McWhorter reports that in the 1940s the Alabama attorney-general wrote to Alabama Senator Lister Hill, "The Alabama Klan IS unquestionably and undoubtedly directed from one certain tall building." And McWhorter says that was "U.S. Steels corporate offices on First Avenue, which issued the paycheck to E.E. Campbell [the head of Klan], a skilled worker in TCIs Fairfield plant."
These Mules counted on the Klan: "As long as their native-born laborers were fighting the large Catholic-immigrant portion of the workforce, there was no danger of union solidarity even among the whites, let alone across color lines."
In the 1930s and 40s, the Klans leadership directed its members to disrupt the CIO .Between the Klans boring from within work and the employers race-baiting the CIOs flagship union at TCI, the United Steelworkers of America, was essentially an arm of management."
When in 1944, during World War II, the Klan was forced to disband nationally because it could not pay its back taxes, "U.S. Steel set up a League to Maintain White Supremacy to spread the white supremacy gospel among its workforce." But two years later, "One of the Big Mules old Christian American tabloids called for the revival of the Klan." They had their man in City Hall, the infamous police chief Bull Conner, later the leader of violent attacks on the Civil Rights movement. And "The vigilantes to whom the industrialists would now assign the hands-on anti-union fightunder cloak and hood .would answer to the man the Big Mules had put there, Bull Conner." Conner, the Klans "patron saint," had already remade the police force into "his personal militia."
The corporate barons and Connors political battle against the Communist Party and civil rights activists to maintain racist segregation in Birmingham in the following two decades, and the struggles of black and white miners to unite against the coal barons there, would require another lengthy article. Suffice it to say here that the Klans role is not that of "crackpots" acting on their own. They have been organized, financed and protected by sections of the ruling class to spread the rulers racist ideology among the working class. In many areas they function right in the plants. It is the duty of all anti-racists and communists to smash them as best we can and expose their links to the ruling class that oppresses us all.
GARY, IN April 12 Another family has been victimized by a cross burning here. Debra Dominguez found a partially burned wooden cross in her front yard in the Chesterton area. This latest racist attack comes just two weeks after a cross was burned in a black familys backyard in Valparaiso, and is the second in four weeks since 300 riot cops protected a KKK rally.
Debra said the cross burning may stem from a problem between her daughter and other students at Chesterton High School. She said the school has not responded to her calls, and the schools director of security said theres no connection between the school and the cross burning. The Dominguez home has been vandalized for weeks, with shaving cream, eggs and toilet paper put on or around the house.
These cross burnings are a direct result of the Klan rally held here. This is why PLP says, "No Free Speech for Fascists!" The Klan has applied for a permit to rally in downtown Gary on May 19. Mayor King says they can have the permit for $5,000. The ACLU has come to the aid of the fascists, saying there is no connection between racist speech and racist action.
There are plenty of angry steel workers here, the victims of plant closings and threatened shutdowns. There are also plenty of angry young people here, fed up with racist police harassment. Most of all, there is a growing PLP here. And workers and youth have taken note of the anti-racist rebellion in Cincinnati. If the Klan gets their permit, well have something for them.