At the same time, two billion workers worldwide live in dire poverty. About 830 million live on less than 1,800 calories a day. In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 17 million have died in a racist AIDS holocaust created by the rulers. In Colombia thousands of workers have been kidnapped and murdered by fascist death squads trained by U.S. imperialism. In the Middle East, a growing Israeli-Palestinian war increases the threat of a broader conflict. Racism and sexism are rampant throughout the world. Beyond the billions who are superexploited, many millions, including children, are enslaved.
U.S. bosses are riding high but capitalism still stinks. In the heartland of liberal "democracy," slave-labor/Workfare is spreading. More than two million prisoners comprise the largest prison population in the world. Two-thirds are black and Latin. Hundreds of thousands of them are forced into prison labor. Racist police terror has murdered thousands of black and Latin workers and youth.
Only two years ago, Lucent Technologies, the largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, was considered a shining example of the vast profits to be made in that area. But one way or another, Lucent will have cut more than half of its 123,000 workers between January and December of this year.
Just a month ago Nortel, the world's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, reported a $19.2 billion loss and the layoff of 10,000 workers, a total job-cut of 30,000 since January. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of layoffs were announced throughout the slumping international telecom industry, including France's Alcatel, which eliminated 10,000 jobs on top of the 5,800 cuts earlier this year.
The present economic downturn presents ever-increasing possibilities to promote communist ideas and build a bigger and tougher Party.
Despite serious indictments brought by local authorities, PLP -- while undergoing a court battle -- returned to Morristown, New Jersey on July 4, having organized to lead hundreds of anti-racists to fight the fascists there. New young comrades stepped forward and took leadership. Old and new members were bold and spirited. We made some progress in building for this action in our mass organizations. This was the result of a sharp internal struggle against fear and cynicism.
In New York City teachers have been without a contract for a year. State politicians are planning a racist budget that will rip off education. This is an opportunity for the Party to expose capitalist schooling and to organize parents, teachers and students around aspects of our line. Slowly but surely, we are becoming a more serious force in the schools and colleges.
In every campaign and struggle a major goal must be to increase the number of workers, soldiers and youth reading, writing for, and distributing CHALLENGE. This struggle is pivotal in winning large numbers of workers and youth to act on and advance communist ideas. It is from these dozens and hundreds who become CHALLENGE distributors that we will reap the next wave of new recruits.
Every struggle teaches us over and over again to have confidence in the working class to take communist leadership. During the anti-racist rebellion against police terror in Cincinnati last April, the rebels warmly embraced our Party. Rebuilding the communist movement is a monumental task. PLP is the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. The road ahead will be difficult. Now more than ever, we are focused on a bright communist future.
More than 700 workers will be permanently laid off August 3. By the end of the year, Ford plans to toss 75% of the current workforce onto the street, more than 2,000 workers in all. They are not planning to close the factory. In fact, there is talk of building a luxury car here (imagine the rate of profit when workers making $4.00 an hour build a Lincoln!). They want to replace the workers. This is an older, high-seniority workforce that is more political and battle-tested. There have been many fights here, including the one over the company's inability to impose the "Ford Plan" for lean production.
Ford figures workers who are politically active must go -- four months ago the local Union Committee was fired. Workers who are 55 and older must go -- workers are being fired 10 years before retirement. The company will keep temporary workers who will be super-exploited and discarded when they are no longer needed. After the new year, Ford will try to hire a younger, less combative workforce.
This is a clear violation of the labor laws. The Secretary of Labor supported Ford's firing of the Union Committee and applauded the re-election of a committee loyal to the company. President Fox's government is trying to crush the class struggle to make Mexico a more productive industrial country at workers' expense, attractive to more imperialist investment.
The company is trying to provoke job actions that can be used to attack the workers. A few weeks ago, some reformers tried to stop production for a day. The company did nothing to stop them. But no one followed the job action; the reformers were fired. Some were charged with "sabotage" and face criminal charges. Many workers are intimidated.
The reformers are trying to legally challenge the CTM union leaders in the next election. This is more than six months away and won't bring back one fired worker. Others want a Defense Committee to fight the firings and save jobs through mass action and a legal challenge. Ford workers need to reach out to VW workers in Puebla, to the UNAM students who shut the university down in a ten-month strike and autoworkers throughout the region and the world.
More workers are realizing that what is good for the boss is bad for them. In a very difficult situation, PLP is spreading our revolutionary communist politics among the workers. Let's turn Ford's war against the workers into a war to put the working class on the road to communist revolution.
Many more people should hear the reports from this meeting. One focused on some episodes from "Away With All Pests," and how capitalist medicine emphasizes technology and technique as the main way to fight illness and disease. But the experiences of the Chinese communists demonstrated that politics and relying on the masses are primary. One way to "Serve the People" is to bring communist politics into the mass organizations and the class struggle.
In Chicago, the old Cook County Hospital had 1,400 beds and was supposed to guarantee health care for all. PLP members organized many fights against the bosses' failure to do that. The shiny, new Cook County has only 400 beds, and no intention of providing health care for all. We discussed organizing a mass campaign against this attack on the working class. Doctors proposed bringing this issue to their professional organizations like the American Public Health Association. Cook County workers vowed to make this a mass issue in the upcoming SEIU contract negotiations.
Contracts will also expire for 100,000 members of the Local 1199 Hospital Workers Union in New York City. PLP members are involved in this fight. We discussed how we could "Serve the People" in this contract struggle. The union leaders serve the bosses by imprisoning workers in a narrow, selfish, trade union outlook. A few pennies more and phony no-layoff clauses don't meet the needs of the working class. We must use these negotiations to fight racist attacks in health care which can help develop a mass base for PLP.
PLP is also fighting the bosses' "Anti-Violence Initiative." Our members described how the rulers use racist ideas to experiment on and drug working-class children, especially black and Latin children, and then take them from their parents. This "campaign against violence" is a cover for the real source of violence: capitalism's failure to meet the needs of the working class.
Some comrades are leaders with great organizing potential. Fighting for political leadership in the class struggle and in mass organizations means making CHALLENGE more of a mass organizer. We can involve many more healthcare workers and professionals in producing, distributing and reading our paper, including writing more articles about health care as well as about struggles we're waging worldwide. A mass base for CHALLENGE will produce the next wave of new recruits to the Party. The enthusiastic and determined comrades expressed confidence that we can "Serve the People."
Communism offers the working class the promise of life. Experiences of the last 150 years show that the promise is real. The Russian and Chinese revolutions ushered in the most dramatic improvements in health ever documented in human history. Even though these revolutions were later reversed, the fact remains that working-class power, under communist leadership, led to a great leap forward in the quality of workers' lives. Rapid and dramatic progress in nutrition, housing and education developed alongside sharp attacks on racism, sexism and other capitalist ideas and practices. Universal medical care was free for all.
Workers on every continent have benefited from "the specter of communism" Marx and Engels talked about in the Communist Manifesto. In Europe and the U.S., over 80% of the decrease in deaths from pneumonia and infectious diarrhea occurred before the discovery of penicillin in the mid-20th century. This happened through bitter struggle, which forced the bosses to concede reforms that lengthened workers' lives while reducing the threat of revolution.
But socialism -- which the Soviet and Chinese communists felt had to be built first -- did not lead to communism. Wages and money were never eliminated by these early revolutions. The effect of that not only maintained features of capitalist relations but insured the growth of capitalist class divisions inside the Soviet Union and China. Eventually workers lost power.
Leaving "a little bit of capitalism" after the revolution is like leaving a little piece of the cancer after surgery. It completely changes the long-term outcome. A recent headline in the New York Times read, "China's Leader Urges Acceptance Of Capitalists in Communist Party." (PL Magazine ran this story in 1971.)
Today's world is all about the market, buying and selling; it's not a pretty picture. Life expectancy in Africa has fallen to 42 years. Africa has 10% of the world's population and 75% of the people that are infected with HIV and AIDS. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, 224 million workers live in poverty in that part of the world. In the streets of Brazil, orphaned and homeless children are hunted down and killed by the police. In the U.S., over 50 million lack health insurance and two million languish in prison, 70% of whom are black and Latin workers. For the working class life remains poor, nasty, brutish and short.
People all around us have their own stories of how the system is killing them and their loved ones. As workers fight against their increasingly brutal exploitation, liberals will blame the conservatives, and vice versa. Communists must reveal the truth. Communist revolution is the medicine to cure the disease of capitalism.
The Chinese communists advanced the slogan "Serve the People." We must serve the working class by dressing the wounds inflicted by the system. At the same time we must be active in the class struggle to strengthen the revolutionary movement and build a mass PLP. We must give the penicillin, change the sheets and recruit to the Party.
"A former United Nations weapons inspector has accused the U.S. of deliberately provoking confrontations with Iraq, which, he says, was fully disarmed by 1995. Scott Ritter says the U.S. undermined the work of UNSCOM, the United Nations weapons inspection team in Iraq, and used the issue to push Iraq towards conflict with the West....
"Ritter says his team was satisfied Iraq had destroyed 98% of its weapons by 1995. But, he says, the U.S. government deliberately set new standards of disarmament criteria to maintain UN sanctions against Baghdad and justify bombing raids....Ritter said UNSCOM chief Richard Butler told his inspectors: `You have to provoke a confrontation...so the U.S. can start bombing' before March `15, a Muslim holy period....
"Ritter, an ex-U.S. marine intelligence officer, said Iraq `did cooperate to a very significant degree with the UN inspection process' and he blamed the United States for the breakdown. `The U.S. orchestrated the events that led to the demise of inspections,' he said. Ritter called for an end to sanctions...saying he did not feel the country posed a danger any longer....
"During his time with UNSCOM, Iraq accused Ritter of carrying out espionage for America and Israel....Ritter claimed Washington used UNSCOM to spy on Iraq almost from the time inspections began."
Ritter and Butler play for the same team, despite their war of words. Their difference is tactical. Butler calls for a U.S.-British strike against Iraq now, on somewhat flimsy grounds. Ritter has a longer view that involves rounding up far more allies in a "humanitarian" cause under UN cover. In 1999, Ritter spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations (a Rockefeller think-tank), which employs Butler as "resident diplomat." With Plan A failing, the main, Rockefeller wing of the ruling class must come up with an alternative.
Ritter is closely allied with Ramsey Clark, the Attorney-General-turned-peacenik who forms a "blue ribbon commission of inquiry" whenever the rulers commit a particularly heinous atrocity. On April 27, 1999, PBS devoted its "Frontline" program to Ritter and his criticisms of the U.S. inspection/sanctions/bombing policy against Iraq. PBS now features this segment in its "PBS for Teachers" series, which it provides to schools at low cost. Colin Campbell, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is chairman of PBS. Sharon Percy Rockefeller serves as a PBS director. PBS lists Exxon Mobil and J.P. Morgan Chase in its highest category of supporters. Ritter serves a two-fold purpose: 1) help formulate a broader, more viable war plan for the main wing that embraces "humanitarianism" and more allies under the UN banner; and 2) help the Ramsey Clarks divert popular anger into an ineffective anti-war movement that relies on the rulers' courts and commissions.
Ritter also aids the main wing's campaign to discipline the FBI. He claims the Bureau got him fired from the inspections team on false suspicion of "spying for Israel." The bosses are attacking the FBI because it put its view of law enforcement ahead of the rulers' broader needs.
LTV filed for bankruptcy in December and must cut $800 million a year for five years. After months of haggling, LTV and the USWA union reached a tentative settlement. The union agreed to defer the August 1st pay increase until Jan. 1, 2003. The settlement also "gives" union members 20% "ownership" of LTV, two seats on the Board of Directors and a profit-sharing plan! Want to buy a bridge in Brooklyn?
The USWA leadership is cooperating with the bosses so as not to scare off potential buyers. France's Usinor, Japan's Nippon and Britain's Ispat all toured the mill during last week's "Open House." Union negotiators told LTV to cut 1,300 jobs, instead of the 500 they proposed. They want workers to participate in joint productivity committees to cut even more jobs. The logical conclusion of "Stand Up for Steel," is "Save LTV's Ass." There's a good chance that whoever buys the mill will shut down steel-making and buy slabs from Brazil, where a slab mill is being built just for export to the U.S.
Many workers feel our only choice is to accept a plan that will make the bosses richer, cost jobs and probably won't work anyway. We totally reject "Stand up for Steel." Foreign steel and "foreign steelworkers" are not our problem. The steel bosses and union leaders wrap themselves in red, white and blue to get us to support a trade war today, and a shooting war down the road. Meanwhile, US Steel buys a steel mill in Slovakia for $250 million and the steel bosses are the biggest importers of semi-finished steel.
Bethlehem Steel will cut 300 white-collar jobs by Aug. 31, more than double the 140 they announced in May. They will also cut 340 jobs by closing a coke plant in New York.
Last year they slashed 500 salaried jobs, and eliminated another 100 jobs by closing the Burns Harbor slab mill in November. All together, Bethlehem has slashed more than 1,400 jobs since the beginning of the year. National Steel Corp.'s second-quarter earnings fell $110 million, despite $54 million in layoffs, overtime reductions and other cuts.
Bethlehem Steel and USX have already asked for "wage deferrals," and a line of steel bosses is forming to the right. We're in a race to the bottom. An international, industry-wide general strike would be a giant step in the right direction. For us, the fight is here and now. VOTE NO ON THE CONTRACT!
PLP'ers have been trying to organize visits with and meetings of LTV workers around rejection of the sellout contract. We've distributed "Vote No!" leaflets, as we did to oppose the 1999 contract. We joined a Committee on the Steel Crisis to advocate our ideas. We also organized a committee to fight a racist firing of a black worker and won his job back, as well as winning some steelworkers to join an anti-KKK rally here.
We need the unity of steelworkers around the world to fight for communist revolution. As long as the capitalists maintain their class dictatorship, the only guarantees are booms and busts, racist terror, poverty and speed-up, wars and famine, and a constant fight for survival. Production for profit must be replaced by production for the needs of the international working class.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the world's biggest tire maker, is running most of its factories around the clock, seven days a week. The whole tire industry is on this schedule. Goodyear, like an estimated 90% of the companies adopting nonstop schedules, is moving to 12-hour shifts. Industries such as steel and chemicals always run continuously since it is costly and hazardous to stop and restart them. But over the last ten years, there has been a massive conversion to "24/7," from plastics to toothpaste to paper mills.
Many workers have resisted continuous operations. Some have struck. Eventually, most have given in. The longer workday is far more grueling, Workers lose premium and overtime pay when Saturday and Sunday become regular workdays. The company holds out the "carrot" of more days off and more weekends. The "stick" is the real threat of plant closings and shipping the work elsewhere.
New, more automated plants are often designed to run nonstop. They are air-conditioned and climate-controlled. In the 1970's, when auto workers demanded air conditioning to counter the stifling heat, the bosses and union leaders said they were nuts. But when machines are involved, it's a different story. The new Delphi Automotive parts plant in Cortland, Ohio, maintains a temperature and humidity level that allows plastic injection-molding machines to work more smoothly, produce better parts and last longer between repairs.
However, longer shifts undermine workers' safety. In stating the obvious, Alertness Solutions, a consulting firm in Cupertino, Calif., found that, "Fatigue undermines every aspect of human capability -- from decision-making abilities to alertness," with the most dangerous period from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. They estimate that 15% to 20% of all accidents in transportation operations are related to fatigue. Any safety expert or physician worth a dime has found a link between worker fatigue and accidents. A 1998 German study found that accidents rise rapidly after nine hours on a job.
Production for profit -- wage slavery -- will never meet the needs of the workers. To the bosses we're an extension of the machines we operate. Under capitalism, new developments to increase productivity or quality never serve the working class They will only increase the bosses' profits. It's only when the working class runs society that everyone can share the increased production. And then, workers' safety and health will still come before production.
The rulers are now threatening the "piqueteros" (the name given to unemployed workers who block roads) with massive repression if they continue their militant actions. A few weeks ago the jobless had a shootout with the cops in the Salta province.
The situation here shows how capitalism in all its forms (free market is the latest one) is incapable of meeting workers needs. The latest round of attacks against workers began under the populist Peronista President Menem (now under house arrest for some crooked arms deals). It is continuing under President de la Rua. The best lesson workers can draw from their struggles is to turn them into battles for communism, for workers' power.
The Strike Committee of SEIU Local 925 decided to fight the disciplinary letters and build on the enthusiasm generated by the job action. The Committee planned to file a mass grievance, e-mail the entire membership, circulate a petition and have a large group of workers present them to the personnel boss.
The union leaders barred this mass action. They decided we shouldn't e-mail the members because the information might scare them! Weeks later, after much arguing, they agreed to a plan similar to the Committee's initial proposal, but the momentum was lost; many workers were demoralized by the lack of a rapid response.
One worker's e-mail said, "Several hundred members took...action almost three weeks ago and paid for it with a day's salary. Now we'll pay again with these letters of reprimand. Justice isn't free, I know. What isn't clear is how CSA/SEIU is leveraging the investment members made in the state budget battle...I haven't heard a word...from my union since..."
Another wrote, "The University is counting on the inability or unwillingness of the union leadership to act decisively...But WITHOUT MEMBERSHIP ACTION THE UNION IS A PAPER TIGER. The administration knows this. They have assessed our weaknesses and decided they may be able to...take some ground."
The union leaders are not just holding us back. By supporting the Democratic Party and accepting Workfare, prison labor and wars around the world, they are a force for fascism. We need to serve the people. In hospitals and clinics, our demands must center not only on wages and working conditions, but put in the forefront the fight for better medical care for patients.
We're boosting CHALLENGE distribution to help workers learn that decent healthcare will never be ours as long as it's based on profit. Communism is the only answer to the bosses, union hacks and the lousy system they support.
The Nazis included members of the National Alliance, a long-standing West Virginia-based Nazi organization which has tried to popularize the fascist Turner Diaries; Matthew Hale's World Church of the Creator, one of whose members conducted a racist murder rampage in Chicago a year ago; and the British National Front, which has recently provoked racist confrontations in several English cities.
Protesters chanted loudly, "Immigrants yes, Nazis no"; and "Death to the Nazis," drowning out the fascists. The Nazis had chosen a posh neighborhood far removed from the city's working class to hold their rally. In the past, when the fascists appeared near working-class communities, PLP has led thousands to smash them.
Their alleged purpose was to call for the release of Hendrik Möbus, a Nazi recently deported to Germany to serve a prison term for Nazi activity. But by creating a beachhead for their activity in a major city, the Nazis have made a significant advance. They will use it to strengthen their public movement, attacking immigrant and black and Latin workers as the "cause"of the current economic downturn.
Today's experience demonstrates that PLP's militant and revolutionary approach is needed to crush such emerging fascist movements. All the more reason to convince family, friends and co-workers to join our Party.
Meanwhile, two actions against police brutality were taken here in the last few days. Members of the Prince George's People's Coalition for Police Accountability and Amnesty International joined with PLP members in a protest rally against the murder by cop Stacey Davis of Tomas Flamenco. We also rallied at the federal courthouse on the opening day of the trial of cop Stephanie Mohr, who used her police dog to maim a homeless Latino man in Prince George's County. More on these struggles in coming issues.
PLP members active in Bay Area unions and PUEBLO (People United for a Better Oakland), a community-based organization, brought people to the demonstration and distributed CHALLENGE and a leaflet. The latter urged joint protest actions by SF unions as a step in the development of class consciousness needed to get this vicious capitalist system that murders workers like Stelley off our backs.
Following the July 11th protest, participants entered the Hall of Justice to speak at a SF Police Commission meeting. They demanded that a police report about the shooting be given to the Stelley family and an independent criminal investigation be conducted. Another protest around these demands and for mandatory crisis intervention training for SFPD officers has been called for the August 8th SF Police Commission meeting.
Workers should have no illusion about police commissions and civilian review boards. They're composed of political appointees, have no subpoena power, can only make "recommendations" about firing, suspension or removal of officers involved in police brutality cases, and have no means of disciplining the cops.
There should be no illusions about the cops. They're the special body of armed enforcers of the rule of the capitalist class. Their job is to smash any working-class struggles against that rule. The ruling class always uses violence against workers in order to maintain its power; the police and the entire capitalist state apparatus are their agents. The necessity for revolutionary violence is glaringly apparent and absolutely necessary to get rid of that system.
Bay Area PLP members are active in mass organizations to build revolutionary class consciousness. We engage in discussions and struggles around these ideas while participating in the ongoing protests like this one about the Stelley murder. We are continuing to call for joint union protests against this racist killing.
A friend was visibly upset over the crackdown at the Genoa G8 meeting. (We both had been Union Marshals at a World Trade Organization meeting.) "This can't go on," he predicted. "Something big has to happen if this continues."
"It can go on for quite a while," I cautioned. "After all, the bosses have already murdered dozens of demonstrators against `globalization' in India, Africa and Latin America." Without being too arrogant I tried to make the point that what really matters is what kind of ideology the demonstrators -- and, by extension, the whole working class -- come away with.
This led to a longer discussion about obfuscation (smokescreens) by the bosses. (CHALLENGE also inspires us to broaden our vocabulary!) We talked about the new book Empire, which the New York Times wants to make the bible of the anti-globalization movement. Empire says there is no more imperialism, just global corporations that need to be taught about democracy by the demonstrators.
I contrasted that with the line coming out of Europe, which is much more likely to talk about imperialism, but only U.S. imperialism. So we saw that despite the best of intentions of the rank-and-file, the imperialists are working overtime to win us to support one or another side of the sharpening imperialist rivalry. My friend didn't consider any of this to be "out of left field"; by reading our paper he was already skilled in looking beneath the surface. We ran out of time so I invited him to our next Party club meeting to help us work out how our union figures in all this.
I thought I had done my political work for the day, but no such luck. Soon afterwards, another worker approached me, saying He was reviewing some of our literature during the last union election campaign -- particularly the part about fighting racism at Boeing.
"Racism really isn't a big issue at Boeing," he goaded me. Then a big grin broke across this white worker's face. "Like hell it isn't. It's more an issue now than ever!"
I agreed, but then he got to his real question. "How much does this racism really affect the big picture though?" he mused.
"It affects everything," I assured him. "You were in the army during the Vietnam War, right? When the bosses decide they are going to fight it out for markets and profits, don't they turn to us to do their killing and dying? How do they get us to kill and die for their imperialism? They use racism. Didn't they teach you to think of the Vietnamese as g--ks, as subhuman? They always use racism to get us to do the bosses' dirty work."
"I know exactly what you're getting at!" he reassured me.
I know these two discussions don't make a revolution. Nevertheless, I do think we sometimes underestimate the value of a network of CHALLENGE readers. Linking the fight against racism to the fight against imperialism is nothing to sneer at.
An industrial comrade
Japan, North America and the European Union make up 81% of world trade. Add coastal China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia and it's 94%. Far from "globalizing," this trend has intensified the competition between the U.S., Europe and Japan. These imperialists will spill the blood of millions to control markets, resources and cheap labor! It was just across the Adriatic Sea that NATO planes bombed Yugoslav factories, bridges, schools and the Chinese embassy to control oil pipelines going through Yugoslavia to the markets of Europe.
Last April in Cincinnati, black, Latin and white workers and youth erupted in mass rebellion after Timothy Thomas was murdered by a racist cop. Cops rioted against demonstrators in Barcelona just a month ago. When it comes to deadly violence and mayhem, capitalism is number one. Capitalist production for profit creates mass poverty. Imperialism makes war inevitable. The only solution is communist revolution.
When we reject the anarchists' anctics (infiltrated by the cops in Genoa and Barcelona), we also state that they, the union leaders and the liberal politicians are incapable of smashing imperialism. Demands for "democracy" and "sovereignty" build nationalism, which only serves the imperialists. But 60 years ago in cities like Genoa, the working class built a mass Communist Party that was decisive in helping to defeat the Hitler and Mussolini forces in Italy, eventually hanging the latter. The world communist movement, led by the Soviet Red Army, crushed the Nazi war machine.
However, the old communist movement failed because it maintained powerful capitalist conditions like wages, money and production for profit. Seeing this, we can overcome those errors and build on the strengths of a movement that, even with its weaknesses then, changed the course of human history. But PLP organizing and winning the working class is crucial to rebuilding the international communist movement. This is a long-term fight. In Russia, in China and in Vietnam, the communist movement proved that the imperialists could be defeated. Now it is our responsibility to finish the job and build a communist world, where we will plan and produce for the needs and health of the working class, not the profits and wars of the imperialists.
During a short visit there recently, forms of class struggle were evident. The local news broadcast demonstrations against the closing of a neighborhood women's clinic and one against the sentencing of some residents for possession of miniscule amounts of marijuana. Just a few days before gun battle erupted between police and residents of Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston.
Heavily armed police backed by helicopters moved in on July 7 to search for guns in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood, a stronghold of the opposition right-wing Jamaica Labor Party (JLP). The JLP, with ties to the wealthiest "old money" in Jamaica, financed the construction of housing in that area in exchange for political loyalty. In fact, it seemed clear that the JLP had provoked the street fighting and then sent former Prime Minister Edward Seaga (Ronald Reagan buddy) to the area to appear to "quell the violence." The police action set off days of street fighting involving civilians. Four more people were killed last week in the Kingston neighborhood of Denham Town, bringing total casualties to 69 since May.
Political violence is not new to Jamaica, More than 500 people were killed before the 1980 elections and dozens more died before national votes in 1993 and 1997. The change in recent years appears to be increased involvement in the drug trade. Some speculate Jamaica may even become another Colombia.
Along with drug trafficking, tourism is one of the major industries, mainly on the North Coast. As in the rest of the Caribbean, it has brought with it revenue and jobs while putting the country "up for sale." Jamaicans are treated as second class citizens when entering hotels and tourist sites. Although law states that all beaches are public property, many Jamaicans are waited on last or totally ignored while others are being served. In fact, some have used the term "apartheid Jamaica" to describe the disparities between the tourist world and the rest of Jamaica.
More than ever, Jamaica needs a revolutionary movement that will expropriate all the wealth that belongs to the people and replace gang violence with class struggle to end exploitation.
(Future issue: A review of Jamaica: Life & Debt, a film about the tourist industry)
Emil Augsburg, who planned the Final Solution to exterminate all Jews and was wanted in Poland as a war criminal, was employed by the CIA in the late 1940s as an expert on Soviet affairs. Reinhard Gehlen, who oversaw Hitler's military intelligence in Eastern Europe and the USSR during World War II, was quickly spirited away by the CIA to Fort Hunt, Virginia, to organize sabotage in Eastern Europe and the USSR with his nest of spies.
Based near Munich, Gehlen enlisted thousands of former members of the Gestapo and the SS to work in the CIA operation, linking up with all the fascist scum that went underground in Eastern Europe after WW II. This included the above-mentioned Augsburg as well as the senior "administrators" of the Holocaust -- Adolf Eichmann's chief deputy Alois Brunner and Gestapo captain Klaus Barbie, the "Butcher of Lyon." Barbie was among many who the CIA helped to later escape to Latin America where, as "security advisors," became some of the architects of the death squads. Barbie assisted a succession of military dictatorships in Bolivia, teaching soldiers Nazi torture techniques and helping to protect the flourishing cocaine trade in the late 1970s and early '80s.
This CIA wholesale recruiting of Nazi war criminals was a continuation of the U.S. and Western anti-Soviet campaign to crush the Bolshevik revolution begun in 1917. The Soviet working class defeated an initial 8-year invasion of the USSR by the U.S. and 16 other capitalist countries. Then the U.S., Britain and France helped build up Hitler and his ruling-class backers, expecting he would move East to destroy the world's first Socialist state.
This anti-Soviet campaign endured in various forms right through WW II, when the U.S. and the USSR were allies, and intensified in the post-war era when U.S. rulers launched the Cold War, using these thousands of Nazi war criminals. One of its architects was Allen Dulles who headed the CIA after WW II. Dulles had been an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis before the war and had been identified as "an economic booster of the Axis" (the Germany-Italy-Japan alliance) by Time magazine in 1939.
"Never again"? Only by destroying capitalism,
Why the titanic fight at Stalingrad?
Hitler needed Stalingrad because it barred the fascists from seizing: (1) Soviet Black Sea naval bases to transport their military beyond the reach of Soviet attack; (2) the entire Caucuses region with its food, labor and resources; (3) most important of all, the Baku oil fields; and (4) Iranian oil. The Caucuses, bordering on Iran (with Iraq close by) had enough oil to fuel Germany's war machine for as long as needed. One reason the U.S. and Britain were able to defeat Hitler in the West was the Germans' lack of fuel for their tanks and new rocket planes. (But primarily, the Red Army tied up 80% of the entire German military.)
Incessant German bombing of Stalingrad destroyed virtually every building. The Soviets made what was left the war front itself, fighting for every floor, stairway, room and corner. Hand-to-hand fighting became the "normal" method of living or dying. Town hills and houses changed hands up to five times a day, yet 20 Soviet soldiers held one building for almost two months. The whole city was defended this way. Whatever factories existed continued to produce and repair all weapons. If one was attacked, the workers would fight alongside the soldiers to hold it. The women workers were full partners in this and in practically all phases of the war.
Such close-in fighting seriously weakened the power of Nazi tank superiority and provided much less protection for German troops. German aircraft became useless since they would kill their own soldiers. Such fighting killed, crippled or injured up to tens of thousands of soldiers, on both sides, every week!
General Von Paulus, commander of the 6th German Army, concentrated on providing all the reinforcements needed to capture Stalingrad; this was just what the Soviets intended (see below). The Soviets sent minimum reinforcements and only under the most desperate conditions. Ironically, this tactic eventually contributed greatly to the Soviet victory.
By the end of November 1942, the Germans had captured most of Stalingrad but could not dislodge even the minimum amount of Russian troops still holding a small area. During these battles, Stalin rejected advice to retreat, saying in part, "The most important thing is not to panic...have faith in our victory."
Then came the incredible turning point, the reason for fighting to the death for over five months for every yard, cellar, hallway and house, using dangerously meager Soviet reinforcements. From north and south of Stalingrad came the massive hidden Soviet armies, almost one million strong, hundreds of tanks and over 1,000 planes. Cannons, 15,000 stromg, opened fire, starting the trap.
The Germans were so concentrated into Stalingrad itself that they never thought the Soviets would or could mount such an attack. The Soviets surrounded the entire Germany army -- over 300,000 soldiers and seven armored divisions. For two months, the Germans could not break out. In January 1943, they surrendered. The five-month battle for Stalingrad became the acknowledged turning point of WW II.
But military might is not necessarily the most crucial factor for victory. Nikita Khrushchev was the political commissar at Stalingrad and second-in-command of one of the three major Soviet armies fighting the fascists. He contributed toward victory and Stalin thought highly of him. Yet in 1953, ten years after Stalingrad, only eight years after WW II ended and less than a year after Stalin's death, Khrushchev became prime minister and denounced Stalin -- the man he often praised -- rejecting communist revolution as the way for communists to win power. He consciously steered the world communist movement towards revisionism, but remember, this trend started earlier under the incorrect goal of "Socialism first, then communism."
Politics, then, is always primary, no matter what the battle of the moment, in insuring communist victory. The enemy -- capitalism -- is still breaking through the gates and remains to be defeated.
One of the major founders of modern racism was Arthur de Gobineau who wrote The Inequality of the Races. He proclaimed a white Aryan superior race, entitled to rule over blacks, Asians and Semites, with blacks at the bottom. His ideology was the basis of the De Gobineau Society, founded by Richard Wagner to promulgate racism in 19th century Germany.
Wagner expanded on the Semitic references, helping to change the question of Judaism from a religious one to a racial one. Prior to the rise of anti-Jewish racism, a Jew could convert to Christianity or simply declare him or herself an atheist and cease to be a Jew. But Wagner's De Gobineau society argued that Jews constituted a "race," one worse than black or yellow people because they looked white. Indeed, the most "dangerous" were the children of Christian converts like Mendelssohn.
In his viciously racist book, The Jew in Music (available at all of his Bayreuth performances), Wagner blames the Jew, and "his control of gold," for all the evils of society. In all his major operas, the evil characters are aspects of the "Jewish Menace," especially Albrecht the Dwarf in the Ring cycle.
The ideology of the De Gobineau Society directly influenced Nazis like Houston Stewart Chamberlain (Wagner's son-in-law and most devoted disciple), Alfred Rosenberg (a disciple of Chamberlain), and Adolf Hitler (a disciple of Rosenberg). Wagner's racist ideas were a major influence on SS leaders like Himmler, Heydrich and Karltenbrunner; they created the Nuremberg laws, which defined anyone with Jewish ancestry as worthy of persecution and extermination. Wagner was Hitler's favorite composer, for his corrupt music but mainly for his evil ideology, which German rulers would make the basis not only of the Holocaust but also of World War II, killing tens of millions, Jew and non-Jew alike. Had it not been for the courage, commitment and heroism of the Soviet Red Army, we now might be suffering under Wagner's ideology and music.
Fight for communist art! Down with fascist art, no matter how "beyootiful!"
The reception we received was nothing short of terrific! Just about everyone we spoke with said they hated the Klan and wanted to do something to stop them. About 30 people gave us their names and telephone numbers and asked us to call them back. Only a few people were put off by our call for communism as the only way to get rid of groups like the KKK. No one objected to the leaflet's headlines: "Smash the Klan" and "Death to the Klan." We intend to follow up with the people we met and return to Lancaster weekly.
This was the first time one of our comrades had done anything like this. She sells a great many CHALLENGES on her job but is often hesitant to do new things. But she's changing. At the May Day march, she overcame her fear and spoke from the sound truck. Now she learned that talking to people you don't even know about so-called "controversial issues" is something she can do and do well.
However, we had no Spanish-speaking comrade, no Spanish version of the leaflet and no DESAFIOS. Also, we didn't ask enough questions by listening to the people we met, spending too much time telling them our ideas. We will correct these errors when we return.
The letter suggests that attack from church leaders and city politicians is likely, and that they intend to grow in the face of attack. When attacked they will have an opportunity to make communism the question throughout the city and their religious denomination. They'd be smart to take the offensive and spread their ideas and actions now.
Inspired by the Churchmice
In fact, PLP's analysis is very different from Hardt and Negri. All kinds of bad political groups, from anarchists to liberals to conservatives to fascists, sometimes say the system's in trouble. If PLP quotes them, we should be very clear we don't agree with their analysis. Empire basically asserts the old capitalist line that "globalization" will bring modernization to the world and while increasing the power of the super-rich across nations, it will actually make the world more democratic. It pretends to be pro-Marxist by appearing to be based on a one-sided aspect of Marx's theory -- that capitalism has contradictions, and that it does modernize parts of the world in ways that create new problems for the capitalists.
We in PLP do believe the increasing internationalization of investments will create new problems for the capitalists and that the flow of workers across borders will open up new possibilities for international unity of workers. But we believe that the primary outcome of this internationalization will be increased competition and eventually major war. While there are certain "laws" (really processes) of capitalist development, specific capitalists will utilize politics, including war, when those processes put them at a disadvantage! They are not going to say: "Gee, I guess I lost out fair and square to the other capitalists."
Capitalists still need armies, and the nation-state with its political unity, is the main basis for those armies. PLP does support internationalism and does not give political support to the ideology of so-called "revolutionary nationalism," but PLP very strongly supports and participates in movements against imperialist exploitation. Unlike Hardt and Negri, we do not see "democracy" as the result of a so-called multi-national capitalist class. We see war, including increased nationalism as the backlash. We see it as a revolutionary responsibility to participate in and turn so-called national liberation struggles into, struggles for communist revolution.We also want to engage in other reform struggles for the same purpose.
Serious radical anti-capitalists worldwide are attacking Empire for its anti-revolutionary, pro-capitalist develop- ment theory. We don't want anyone to conclude that PLP agrees with its basic reactionary analysis.
Secondly, and more important, the article then leaves a misimpression:
"Since workers are not paid the full value of what they produce, they cannot buy all the goods flooding the market. This insatiable and anarchic drive to reap maximum profits causes periodic crises -- depressions."
But since many "finished products" are not produced for individual workers to buy back, the cause of crises cannot be that workers are not paid enough; this leads to the revisionist argument that if workers were given higher wages, crises of overproduction could be avoided. Crises are caused by overproduction, which leads to decreased profits. They are caused by under- consumption. The source of overproduction lies in the inevitable planlessness -- anarchy -- of production which is based on a race for higher profits and not on producing what people and society need.
As capitalism matures, a larger and larger proportion of investment capital is poured into machinery and less is apportioned to workers' wages, since production becomes less and less labor intensive. But only workers' labor can produce the surplus value from which profits are taken, so this change of where each portion of capital goes tends to force the rate of profit down. Additional investment brings in less, not more profits and new investment slows and then ceases. Stocks and bonds are then dumped for sale. This ushers in a crisis.
While authors of children's literature have become very skillful in making sophisticated political ideas accessible to children, they do not often write about revolution. Not often is a children's book passed eagerly from hand to hand by marchers going to May Day. However, Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury is such a book.
Written for children of pre-school age and up, it tells the story of a fat, lazy farmer who lounges in bed all day eating chocolates while his exhausted duck does all the work. He not only serves the farmer, but also cares for all the animals and maintains the farm. The cows, sheep and hens, who love the duck, become enraged at the farmer's oppression of their friend and care-giver. They organize to throw the farmer out of his bed and off the farm. The book ends with everyone happily working together to run the farm.
While picture books are written for young children, they can serve a wider audience. Young primary school students can read the books independently
and to their parents.
Certainly teachers of young children can read it aloud and discuss it in class. The illustrations in Farmer Duck are hilarious, making it interesting to older students. A book that introduces young children to revolution is rare but essential -- a must read.
Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell, Candlewick Press, 1996, 1-56402-569=9, $4.99, is available in bookstores in children's sections/picture books. It can be ordered as well.