At the moment Bush and the ruling class as a whole enjoy significant popular support. However, the war's imperialist character will become clear over time. Workers who allow themselves to be fooled into supporting the new mass slaughter for Middle Eastern energy supplies can come to recognize their error. Millions will eventually learn the hard way -on the battlefield and in the tightening vise of the rulers' police state -that our class's only rational choice is to turn the guns around and fight for communist revolution.
Our Party has a decisive role to play in this process. What we do to guarantee the survival and growth of the communist movement in the years ahead will determine the course of class struggle and, to a great extent, the future of humanity. The period that has just begun is the most serious challenge to the working class since the start of World War II. It is fraught with grave danger. It offers great opportunity. Our organization must steel itself to meet a communist party's responsibilities. Despite appearances and many enormous obstacles, our class can train itself to seize power and rid the world of the profit system.
Oil is the lifeblood of imperialism. The imperialist who controls the largest amounts of the cheapest oil supplies can rule the world. At present, and for the foreseeable future, these supplies lie in the Middle East. U.S. "superpower" status has been based for decades on calling the shots about how Middle Eastern oil would be pumped, shipped and refined -- and about how much it would cost. No Middle Eastern oil nation's government has been too corrupt, criminal or brutal against its working class for U.S. tastes-as long as the billion dollar profits keep flowing to the coffers of Exxon Mobil et al. The big prize is Saudi Arabia (see page 2), with the world's largest oil reserves. "The oil of eastern Saudi Arabia...is present in huge quantities and located at shallow depths in flat lands with no vegetation...and very near the water for transportation. It...remains the cheapest oil in the whole world." (Saïd Aburish, The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud)
Neither the U.S. ruling class nor the anti-Exxon Saudi capitalists such as bin Laden -- who use religion to cover their own oil dreams -- will hesitate to turn the Persian Gulf red with workers' blood in order to control this wealth. The next war has already started. When bosses fight among themselves, workers must never choose sides among them. We have only one side, the international working class. We have only one banner, the Red Flag. We have only one Party, the PLP. And we have only one goal: communist revolution. In the difficult days that lie ahead, we must never lose sight of it.
The workers had accepted numerous past contracts with wage "increases" far below inflation levels. Now they want to catch up, but Gov. Jesse Ventura wants to balance the budget on the workers' backs.
But despite their seriousness, these problems pale before the nightmare brewing for U.S. imperialism in Saudi Arabia. The Persian Gulf holds the world's biggest oil reserves and Saudi Arabia's are bigger than any other Gulf nation's and also the easiest to extract. Only Iraq comes close. Exxon Mobil, already the biggest customer for Saudi crude, has a deal in the works to get the lion's share of Saudi natural gas riches.
The Saudi royals are known for their love of mass terror, as well as their degeneracy, self-indulgence, corruption, extravagance and support for fascists around the world. What saves them is their continued alliance with U.S. oil companies and their willing manipulation of supply to keep prices low, in accord with U.S. oil companies' wishes.
But this sweetheart arrangement is on very thin ice. Three things have kept the House of Saud in power: U.S. support, a reign of terror against workers in general, particularly foreign-born oil workers, and an ability to create a welfare state for the benefit of a large labor aristocracy of Saudi citizens. However, the economic "good times" are over. Per capita income is plummeting. Many Saudi-born university graduates can't find work. The government is in deep debt, worsened by U.S. imperialism's arm-twisting, which forced the Saudi rulers to fork over $65 billion for Desert Storm in1991. By maximizing its profits in Saudi Arabia, U.S. Big Oil has created a scenario for another Iran.
U.S. bosses have chosen Osama bin Laden as their main target in the "war against terror." Bin Laden is indeed a terrorist and an enemy of all workers. As the last issue of CHALLENGE indicated, he was a terrorist the U.S. was only too happy to fund and train back in the 1980s, when he fought against the U.S.'s Soviet rivals in Afghanistan. He joins many other Frankensteins made in the U.S.A.
But bin Laden and his horrible tactics represent much more than one ruthless individual with wealth and political ambition. Bin Laden reflects the growing threat to the Saudi royal family and, therefore, the continued U.S. control of Saudi oil and gas. The worsening economic conditions in the country, the Saudi government's many internal contradictions, general social decay, as well as periodic strikes by foreign workers in the oil fields in Saudi Arabia "have shaken the kingdom to its foundations," wrote a serious London-based Palestinian journalist in 1997. "The only thing keeping Saudi Arabia from disintegrating or falling to an Islamic group is the absence of a cohesive force capable of replacing the royal family...But [such groups] are gaining strength at a rapid rate" (Saïd Aburish, The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud, St. Martin's Press, 1996, p. xvi).
Aburish wrote those lines five years ago, when anti-U.S. fundamentalist terrorists had already attacked U.S. troops on Saudi soil and the Clinton White House was "desperately trying to stop Saudi Arabia's decline into chaos." (ibid, p. xvi.)
From the U.S. imperialist viewpoint, "chaos" means loss of the Saudi oil fields. Bin Laden admits that they are the ultimate prize he hopes to win for his faction of bosses. In a 1998 interview, he "claimed that the United States has carried out `the biggest theft in history' by buying oil from Persian Gulf countries at low prices. According to bin Laden, a barrel of oil today should cost $144. Based on that calculation, he said, the Americans have stolen $36 trillion from Muslims..." (Associated Press, 9/28).
For U.S. imperialism, led by Rockefeller's Exxon Mobil, the stakes are in the trillions. War is their only option to maintain their grip on the cheapest supply of the world's most crucial resource. For the international working class, the only option is to overthrow these exploiters and establish a society without profits or imperialist bosses.
* A contemporary 17,500-member U.S. Army armored division uses twice as much oil every day as an entire 200,000-man field army did during World War II.
*. The needs of each soldier require 800% more oil today than during World War II.
* The Department of Defense accounts for nearly 80% of all U.S. government energy use. Of that total, nearly 75% is consumed in the use of jet fuel. During the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. and its puppet "allies" were able to fly about 10,000 air sorties against Iraq only because Saudi Arabia suspended all its civilian jet fuel sales and redirected jet fuel production to military uses.
* The huge expenditure of energy required to transport U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf in 1991 could be "far exceeded in some future conflict."
* For each additional barrel of oil required for direct military use in wartime, civilian use will rise by 150%.
* Oil accounts for 96.4% of all U.S. transportation energy use. Without petroleum, no goods or materials could be transported and workers couldn't get to work.
* U.S. oil imports now account for 56% of total domestic use.
Business Week, September 26: "The horrific Sept. 11 attacks...are opening a new blood-soaked chapter in the difficult history of the U.S. in the Middle East...world dependence on Gulf oil supplies has been growing..."
New York Times, Sept. 26: Apparently, the greatest single motivating factor for the terrorists...was the continuing presence of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia...[Energy conservation would only minimally reduce] the strategic importance of the Persian Gulf. The reason is that even if the U.S. became self-sufficient, our allies in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere would still be highly dependent on imported oil...(Paul Krugman).
CHALLENGE comment: The author means that the U.S. rulers must keep European, Japanese and Chinese bosses dependent on Exxon Mobil et al.
Fortune, Oct.1: "The Middle East is now Bush's crucible." (Bill Powell)
"The old Cold War veterans surrounding President George W. Bush are undoubtedly not too unhappy with the turn of events. Perhaps they even consider it a lucky break. The September 11 attacks have given them a major strategic element which the collapse of the Soviet Union had denied them for ten years: an opponent. At last! Everyone has figured out that the designated opponent -- under the cover of terrorism -- is henceforth Islamic fundamentalism. The most dreadful consequences are now likely, including a modern version of McCarthyism, which would target the opponents of globalism [i.e. U.S. imperialism's continuing superpower status -- Ed.]. If you liked anti-communism, you'll love anti-Islamism!" (Ignacio Ramonet, Le Monde Diplomatique, 10/2)
But they won't admit that the logic of capitalism and imperialism always impels the bosses to create even more enemies for themselves than they had at the start. Funding the "holy warriors" in Afghanistan, using bin Laden and the Saudi monarchy as moneybags and the Pakistani army and intelligence services as supervisors, was justified by Carter-Reagan-Bush Sr. as the way to topple the Soviet Union. But like most CIA adventures since its creation after World War II, it has "blown back" in the U.S. bosses' faces.
*In 1965, the CIA organized general Suharto to topple the nationalist regime of Sukarno in Indonesia and to wipe out the powerful Communist Party there. Suharto and the CIA used Moslem fanaticism to justify the murder of one million communists and others. Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron hand, making it "safe" for Exxon-Mobil and investors like Henry Kissinger and family. Today, a few years after Suharto was overthrown, Indonesia is a hotbed of Moslem fundamentalists who now threaten U.S. interests there and are siding with bin Laden.
*In the early 1980s, after the overthrow of the pro-U.S. Shah of Iran by equally fascist (but anti-U.S.) Shiite Islamic fundamentalists, the CIA supported and pushed Saddam Hussein to wage war against Iran. For eight years over a million Iraqi and Iranian workers and soldiers died in this reactionary war. Now bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are running 1 and 2 on the U.S. enemies list. They are all on the world's workers' hit list since Hussein, the Iranian Mullahs, bin Laden and the CIA have murdered millions of of workers and youth (including tens of thousands of leftists) in the Middle East and Central Asia.
* Panama's General Manuel Noriega was another CIA "asset," used against the nationalist ruler General Torrijos, who negotiated the nationalization of the Panama Canal. In 1989, Bush, Sr. (a godfather to one of Noriega's children) ordered an invasion of Panama and Noriega became another CIA "blowblack." Several thousand Panamanian civilians died when Stealth planes bombed Chorillo, a working-class neighborhood, during the invasion. The U.S. Army buried them in mass graves.
*Now a possible invasion of Afghanistan could turn into a major long-range disaster for U.S. bosses. Even if bin Laden is captured and many hundreds of thousands are massacred, the anti-U.S. tide in the region will flood the Middle East, particularly oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden has big support among local bosses who don't want to share the oil bonanza with Exxon-Mobil.
*Another war against Iraq, as a by-product of the attack against bin Laden, will isolate the U.S. even more. French, Chinese and Russian oil companies, which have heavy investments in Iraq, won't be pleased, and eventually the "war against terrorism" could turn into a major world war.
Workers from New York City to Kabul pay with their lives for these "blowbacks." It's time we stop supporting "our rulers" and become the only blowback the bosses' system can't survive -- fight for a society without Exxon-Mobil, holy warriors and big and bigger terrorists -- communism. Join PLP!
They encouraged students to reject the liberals' pacifism and provoked thought about the necessity for communist revolution as the only way to end terrorism. U.S. bosses, fearful of campus opposition that marked the anti-Vietnam War movement, are trying to steer students in the direction of a "humanitarian imperialism," or "vengeance with justice" (Colin Powell), dropping a few bags of food and then bombs on Afghanistan. But millions of honest students can be won away from this ruling class line.
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 1--PLP'ers at Santa Monica College here used the heightened contradictions between reactionary and revolutionary ideas to point out that the World Trade Center attack resulted from sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry, while denouncing anti-Arab racism. They ran out of CHALLENGES at a Sept. 26 teach-in and distributed many more in their classrooms, sparking discussions among entire classes about communism.
Answering student fears about the argument that "you're-either-for-us-or-against-us" (on the side of the terrorists), they explained that terrorism is a tool of the ruling class, whether state-sponsored like the sanctions on Iraq killing hundreds of thousands of innocent working class families and the actions of the racist LAPD, or the terrorism in New York.
Refused permission by a school dean to hold an anti-war rally on campus (she said the school's rules were "more important" than allowing students to voice their thoughts on a coming war in which they might do the dying), they turned a musicians' concert into a speak-out against racism and imperialist war, with the musicians' approval. Now they're planning a teach-in with an anti-imperialist, anti-racist theme, while beginning to work in groups where students are thinking about a coming oil war.
On Sept. 29, they joined with school friends as part of a PLP contingent in a march of 2,000 against a Middle East war. Many eagerly took PLP leaflets, bought CHALLENGE and joined chants against a racist oil war and for workers of the world to unite.
NORTHEASTERN, USA September 26 --Over 400 students and faculty on a multi-ethnic, working-class campus in the Northeast attended a teach-in organized by members of the Student Government, the Islamic Student Organization (ISO) and PLP. Some professors urged their students to participate.
Many students had friends or family members who died in the Sept. 11 attack. Many Muslim students have experienced severe harassment. One professor had gone "ballistic" after the disaster, calling for bombing Afghanistan and declaring the U.S. a "Judeo-Christian" nation. Feelings were running high.
While the politics of liberal multiculturalism and patriotism was espoused, it was also counteracted by a clear presentation of anti-racism and anti-imperialism. One professor laid out the genocidal nature of U.S. foreign policy. A member of a South Asian women's organization called for multi-ethnic solidarity in the face of xenophobic attempts to divide "model Asians" from "bad Asians." A high school teacher spoke eloquently from the floor about the geopolitics of oil and was applauded when she called Bush "the biggest terrorist of all."
These views contradicted those of an Afghanistan "expert" largely uncritical of U.S. foreign policy, embracing many of its anti-communist premises. A journalism professor said that "true" media reporting should rise above political bias (an impossibility in a class society). But the overall impact of the teach-in was overwhelmingly positive. Over 100 students took PLP flyers.
The ISO is planning another teach-in and there is the beginning of an anti-war movement on campus. Members and friends of PLP are at the center of present and future organizing efforts.
BERKELEY, Ca., Oct. 2 -- On the night of Sept. 11, 2,000 students attended a candlelight vigil at the University of California-Berkeley. A PLP member charged that the terrorists in the White House and on Wall Street had created this situation. He asked how long we would eat the bitter fruit of the capitalist tree, and merely try to trim its leaves, rather than cut the whole thing out at the root once and for all.
PLP'ers will be attending meetings of an anti-war coalition and aim to hold a teach-in on campus while expanding CHALLENGE circulation.
SOUTHWESTERN, USA--About 800 students attended an all-day teach-in organized by a campus group at a community college in the Southwest about the terrorist attacks and the war build-up in the Middle East. Speakers said we should identify as a class with others in our class internationally, rather than with U.S. rulers. A student attacked the growing racism against Arabs and called on her fellow students to unite to stand up to it. Another quoted a Latin American author who said if you want to get at terrorism, start with Henry Kissinger, strategist for the Vietnam War and the CIA coup in Chile.
When a student asked if Middle East people had "different values" than those in the U.S., a speaker commented that bin Laden, U.S. bosses and all capitalists want to control and profit from Middle East oil. Bin Laden uses religion as a cover while U.S. bosses use "democracy."
A PLP member in the audience was well received when he said capitalism and imperialism means a rich man's war but a poor man's fight and called for revolution. Many students took PLP flyers and bought CHALLENGE.
CHICAGO, September 22--In the nights after the World Trade Center
bombing racist flag-waving mobs gathered on South Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview harassing motorist thought to be Muslim or Arab. Today
twenty-three students and friends from Chicago State University gathered at a middle eastern restaurant in this area to express friendship and opposition to anti-Arab racism.
Some people mistakenly chanted support for the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center as a "progressive act." But this mass terrorism killed mostly workers (including many low-paid Salvadoran workers and others from all over the world employed at the WTC). To really fight imperialism one must oppose all the imperialists, (both those from the U.S. as well as the equally fascist local bosses opposing them (like the gang of billionaire bin Laden) who want the oil bonanza for themselves.
Meanwhile the hypocritical Salvadoran President "deplored terrorism," conveniently forgetting that his Arena Party was founded by CIA agent Colonel "Blowtorch" D'Abuisson, the head of the death squads responsible for most of the 100,000 workers and youth murdered during the 1970-80s civil war here.
All this makes the work of the PLP even more important, particularly in bringing DESAFIO-CHALLENGE to many more workers and youth, explaining how workers must never side with any bosses, big and not so big. That's cutting our own throats. Building the communist PLP is the only way workers can free themselves from the mass terrorism of capitalism.
Before Sept. 11, I had distributed a leaflet in my shop exposing how our bosses had become rich freezing our wages and that rotten working conditions had killed one worker. So I felt very confident giving out a PLP leaflet about the attacks.
Workers didn't reject it but neither were there the favorable comments that accompanied the previous leaflet. There was an eerie silence in the shop, which I didn't quite understand. I showed my indignation towards the media's nationalist drive to win workers to support war, talking about oil as the big reason behind it all. Again, some workers kept quiet but others nodded their heads in agreement.
Then one day I saw a big U.S. flag in the window near the eating area and a sign saying "united we stand." Angry, and seeing this as a call for war, I took the flag down. The worker who had put up the flag complained, demanding it be put back up. I said loudly that it was pro-war propaganda which would lead to more deaths. "Isn't it enough with all the people murdered at the WTC?" Another worker asked me in a conciliatory tone, "Why are you doing this?" A fellow worker from India seemed to agree with my actions. The few others in the cafeteria kept silent. Two hours later the flag was back up.
This time I took it down more calmly, explaining that since the company had forbidden me from distributing literature on their private property, the ban should also apply to pro-boss literature. This time no one said anything but after I left, a worker (who is a little nutty) announced over the PA system, "[my name] took down the U.S. flag."
This sharpened the ideological struggle. Many workers came to me. Some were curious. Others tried to calm things. One woman angrily told me, "You have no right to do that. There's a lot of pain for all those dead people. Don't believe that everyone is in agreement with you." She left before I responded.
Another worker fairly pleaded with me, "Why don't you show respect towards the flag of our country?" I drew him a map of the U.S., put in factories, hotels, fields, buildings, etc. and asked him, "What belongs to you?" He responded "nothing," understanding that the country is owned by the rich bosses, not by workers.
Then he said, "But it's the flag of our government." "Our government?" I asked him. "Yes, we elected it," he replied. I asked him who he voted for? "Al Gore," he answered, "because he was more favorable towards Latin people." "How do you know that?" I asked "That's what the TV news showed," he said. "Who owns the TV stations?"
He finally admitted he was beginning to understand how the flag, the government, the news media were all on the bosses' side. However, then he said, "But the government must protect our lives, right?" I responded: "Does the boss here care about your life? He doesn't, so why should the bosses' government care about our lives?"
He said, "Why so much propaganda in the media about how the government cares about all the people buried alive at the WTC?" I replied, "Don't be confused by that; think about what our boss here really cares about -- profits. And so does the bosses' government."
"Now I see why oil is so important," he said, "since it plays a big role in the profits of the big bosses."
Another worker told us the boss's son had put the flag back up and that a worker tore down one of my communist newspapers to show how much he loves the company. She begged me not to get into more trouble. I didn't take down the flag.
Now I'm more patient in winning workers to view nationalism and patriotism as bosses' tools for war and a police state. Some are beginning to see that supporting patriotism means uniting with their torturers and exploiters, the bosses. Understanding that, they'll also see that the red flag is the only one representing the international working class.
He had been the 15th black male shot by the cops in six years, and the workers rebelled. At that time liberal Democrat mayor Lukens and Republican governor Taft sent in the state police and alerted the National Guard to enforce a racist dusk to dawn curfew. The rebels warmly embraced PLP. Hundreds bought CHALLENGE and dozens gave their addresses and phone numbers.
Now Judge Winkler went on the most reactionary radio station in the city and claimed that Thomas was responsible for his own death! Some young outraged workers took to the streets and the mayor imposed another curfew amid reports of fires and broken windows. In the midst of a pro-war patriotic orgy the last thing the bosses need is another anti-racist anti-cop rebellion on the "home front."
At the same time, GE's Aircraft Engine division GE plans to cut costs by half a billion dollars due to the downturn in the airline industry. They announced possible massive layoffs, including some of the 8,000 workers at its nearby Evendale plant. This will only add fuel to the fire. Unemployment in the mostly black Over-The-Rhine neighborhood is over 40%. This is the "freedom" and "democracy" the racist bosses want us to go to war for.
We will maintain our contacts with the workers who welcomed us last spring. Capitalism and its racist cops cannot be reformed. Communist revolution will allow the working class to mete out justice to the war makers and racist police terrorists.
Before the meeting there was also a sharp e-mail exchange. One worker's message said terrorism has been used primarily by governments (Palestine and Israel, Nazi Germany, the U.S. in Vietnam, Russia in Chechnya) and should not be seen as an ideology supported primarily by Islamic extremists, and that bombing Afghanistan would not end these attacks. A few workers said they would be willing to fight for America against its enemies, but the majority responded that military retaliation against a whole population would only involve U.S. workers in another Vietnam. A common thread among almost all of the e-mail was solidarity with the victims and support for their families.
Discussion of the resolution and the political questions surrounding it brought people closer to the Party's ideas. In winning workers to circulate it, we built their confidence in being able to organize and in understanding the strength of our class. That's all part of our efforts to recruit several new members in the coming year -- our most important goal.
To protect Arab workers from attack, we got the idea of an "escort service" from the last CHALLENGE. Now more than ever it is important to read CHALLENGE as soon as it arrives, to circulate it as widely as possible and to share our experiences through the paper. Organizing to protect Arab workers will enable us to win people away from nationalism and patriotism and to an international working-class outlook. We're digging in for a long struggle in which we will use many creative approaches to building the Party.
No one at the executive board or the local meeting said this attack and the response to it was "not union business." The times really are changing.
It's been obvious that the union bosses were already delaying their plans amid the downturn in the capitalist-run economy since they didn't negotiate all summer.
The meeting room was filled to capacity. Many workers came forward to address the crisis, all condemning the terrorism. One noted that the working class had responded heroically to the needs of the victims and their families. Many others were very angry about the overall situation (an anger that should be directed against the capitalist system, the real cause of the instability worldwide).
Some expressed patriotic feelings, "ready to go to war, if necessary." One quoted the Bible, saying "money is the root of all evil," that we must "rely on god." Others opposed any contract delay, especially since it's already been extended from July to October. Many workers are feeling the economic pressure of feeding their families and paying high rents. One said her hospital had already voted to call for a strike if no agreement was reached.
The hospital bosses will surely welcome the contract delay. It will give them enough time to use this crisis to lay off workers, especially since the bosses stated two months ago they "had no money." But over the past five years, the healthcare industry has been very profitable. The HMO's and hospitals made billions in profits; the money did not go to healthcare workers.
We should unite all workers against layoffs, no matter when the contract expires. There are many Arab workers in the hospitals. We must guard against those expressing hatred towards our Arab working class brothers and sisters. As fascist terrorism from all bosses increases, exploitation of workers will intensify, driving down wages and benefits. We cannot rely on bosses' politicians, their union flunkeys and contracts to improve living conditions. Healthcare workers and the working class overall must mount a struggle against capitalism, a system which breeds nationalism, racism, sexism, poverty and imperialist war.
But contrary to the capitalist class and its lackeys like Kissinger, who helped murder millions in Southeast Asia and then thousands in Chile, revolutionary communists oppose all forms of terrorism against workers and their allies. The thousands murdered on Sept. 11 died at the hands of those who copy the big bosses that kill workers and their families day after day.
So following the latest tragedy, our PLP group in Chile distributed hundreds of leaflets attacking this terrorist act and the big bosses as the worst terrorists of the world. They were read by thousands and passed around all over Santiago. They spread the truth about the tragedy, countering the misinformation spewed out by the local and international mass media.
While the government of President Lagos and the local press showed their support for Bush's plan for war and called for "more democracy" (where workers have the "freedom" to be exploited by bosses), our leaflet exposed how violent capitalism is every day of every year: 1.2 billion people worldwide try to survive on less than a dollar a day. Tens of thousands of children die DAILY because of hunger, malnutrition and preventable diseases.
Our leaflet offered the only answer to this mass terror: build an international revolutionary movement of millions of workers to fight for a society without starvation, unemployment and terrorism against workers -- that's communism.
The big corporations are pressuring Swift and the Board of Higher Education (BHE) to get public education in Massachusetts to serve business, such as providing a larger pool of trained workers to stay competitive. Last year MassInc, an influential think tank sponsored by Fleet, Fidelity, State Street Bank and other financial giants, called for integrating public colleges into a "state-wide economic development strategy" designed to "meet the workforce, research, and other needs of businesses."(see www.massinc.com)
For them, community colleges are an untapped resource. State receivership will give them a free hand to downsize or reshape RCC. It's no coincidence that the one college serving an explicitly minority population is being attacked first.
Wilkerson's and St. Fleur's cries of racism to defend Grace Brown are merely cronyism in disguise. If they cared any more than Swift about the education of RCC students, they would not have defended the corrupt and vindictive Brown administration all these years, or rescued her from a similar crisis in 1996. They would have responded to the many student protests against the failure of Brown's administration. Wilkerson and St. Fleur want to use RCC as a patronage in "their community." The Governor's "retreat" helps keep the black bosses happy so they'll continue trying to keep black workers in line.
Eliminating the Brown administration is no solution, although it's necessary. Students, faculty and staff must see the bigger picture: Brown is a small time despicable agent of Swift and the BHE. The latter pair, in turn, are the paid stooges of the big capitalists, who have no commitment to educating working-class people, black, Latin or white. The bosses want a large pool of docile and minimally trained workers. Once Brown & Co. are removed (or possibly just disciplined), we will be confronting the capitalist class directly, determined to transform first RCC and then all community colleges into vocational training centers.
The RCC take-over mirrors every sector of the U.S. The rulers are asserting control over our lives more directly and violently. The entire social "safety net" -- welfare, health care, free education -- is in tatters, either eliminated or incorporated into the capitalist system (workfare, privatized social security). Workers who don't fit in to this new system of control are ruthlessly suppressed. Witness the bosses' reign of terror against black and Latin youth under the drug laws and so-called zero-tolerance policing as well as the continuing demonization of black and Latin women on welfare. It all adds up to fascism, aimed first at non-white workers and then at the rest of the working class.
The Progressive Labor Party is advancing this class analysis inside the RCC faculty union, among students, and inside the RCC Reform Task Force, an organization of mostly adjunct professors who are trying to oust the Brown Administration. We're fighting hard against the narrow perspective that eliminating Brown is a solution. Reliance on the bosses' media or black caucus to save us is a diversion and illusion . Stopping the rush towards fascism led by these capitalist politicians can only be defeated by a revolutionary communist movement.
On Sept. 11, work virtually stopped as ears were glued to the radio. Condemning all forms of terrorism, I tried to explain how our anger at the terrorists resembled the deep-rooted anger felt by millions worldwide toward the U.S. government for its long history of terrorist attacks waged through the CIA and the military. I described several examples, including the CIA's training of Bin Laden and links to Saddam Hussein and Panama's Manuel Noriega. Most workers listened. Several agreed. Some didn't comment. Only one shouted, "I don't want to hear your shit."
Three hours later our building was evacuated. As we looked south, we could see a plume of dark smoke rising into the sunny blue sky. With most public transportation shut, some of us walked across the 59th Street Bridge to Queens with tens of thousands of others. We escorted a Muslim co-worker most of the way home. A lengthy political discussion with two friends, including a regular CHALLENGE reader, ensued while walking through bumper-to-bumper traffic, climbing over fences and concrete barriers, etc. We noted how the U.S. flag and patriotism are used to hide the distinction between the bosses who make wars for corporate profits (from oil in the Middle East) versus workers forced to do the fighting and dying.
Later, two PLP members stopped by, and we agreed to have a club meeting and speak to as many people as we could.
Returning to work Thursday morning, I spoke to individuals and to groups of workers in the lunchroom. As a veteran shop steward, I spoke mostly about the terrorist attack and the possible carnage from a major war if the biggest terrorist of all, the U.S. government, attacked innocent civilians. Again, most workers listened. Several agreed including some wearing flag-pins and red, white and blue ribbons. Most said nothing. One angry worker said, "I don't want to talk to you."
After lunch, a top manager said that one worker complained that I talked about communism and the WTC disaster during my union meetings. He warned me to speak only about "union business."
That afternoon and the next morning I spoke to workers about the anonymous rat-fink who went to management to get me in trouble. I had run for shop steward on the basis of fighting grievances AND on sharing my communist ideas. I said if I couldn't continue to include my political opinions in my reports then I might quit as shop steward. I asked the workers for their opinions, which would weigh heavily in my decision. Over the next several days, many co-workers told me they wanted me to continue as their steward, communist ideas and all.
On Sept.15 and 16, a leadership meeting and a well-attended club meeting helped deepen our understanding of this political crisis. We agreed to hold a dinner/discussion the following Saturday. One member invited my wife and I to her home to talk with friends and relatives. Another discussion, with Spanish-English translation, occurred among eight people. Plans were made to meet with their social club in two weeks. On September 22, an excellent discussion took place among club members and seven co-workers and friends. Everyone took one or more CHALLENGES. The next three days at work over 45 CHALLENGES with penetrating analysis about the current crisis were distributed, 50% more than usual. The struggle continues.
Based on a long history of struggle and trust among the workers, many came to us to get our analysis and seek help. A number of workers and doctors of Central Asian origin, including U.S. citizens, were "investigated" by the FBI after the September 11 attack. Some computers were seized. Co-workers were taken into a room, one at a time, and interrogated by the FBI. They were asked if they "felt safe" around those being investigated, and were warned to keep quiet about their interrogations. Some of these workers did not give in to the atmosphere of intimidation and racism being pushed by the FBI and County bosses. The Party is fighting this racist backlash legally and in our unions.
Meanwhile, we held two dinner/discussions in a comrade's home, involving about 25 people from half a dozen countries and various ethnic groups. Workers got a better understanding of the imperialist oil war that really lies beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center. PLP members drew confidence from the reactions of our friends and political base.
There are many weaknesses in our work. Times like these make our shortcomings painfully clear. But we have built a solid base among the workers in this hospital and their response to the Party and its ideas in the crisis gives us every reason for optimism.
Our family has a child in the military. My son is trapped by the wages he's paid and by the supposed opportunity for "adventure and personal growth," together with the idea of proving you're "brave." Also, there's a constant barrage of propaganda that the U.S. has the world's most powerful military.
He and the family openly discuss our positions about the war and the terrorist attacks. We both know the bosses are manipulating us to win our support for an oil war. We understand that in these bosses' wars, our youth, especially black and Latin youth, are used as cannon fodder to attack other working-class youth who belong to other armies manipulated by other bosses and their interests, also using patriotism.
It's a difficult situation for my son, knowing all this and being in the military. To clear up his confusion I go between hugs, tears and communist ideas. I told him if he's in the military, he should be more active in advancing ideas he knows are true: that workers are victims on every level when the bosses fight. And that the world needs an army that fights for workers' power, not for the power of the bosses - an army that fights against capitalism.
For my part, as a mother, besides condemning terrorism and putting forward these ideas to my co-workers, also victims of this manipulation, I suffer from the pain of being separated from my son. So I sought psychological help for myself and my daughter who also misses her brother. We've found false information and "advice" from "professionals" who tell us to "be proud" because my son "will defend America." I say to them, "Hell no! Neither the bosses, nor their flag, nor their oil nor their patriotism is worth the life of one worker!" That's why I'm writing to CHALLENGE - to show I'm against this war. That's why I participate in political discussions. My best therapy is to have more comrades and more friends open to discuss these events from a dialectical, communist point of view.
The working class, the majority of those who worked in the WTC and the Pentagon, as well as those passengers on the four highjacked airliners, did not deserve to lose their lives in the bosses' fight for control of Middle East oil. The reactions to this attack seem to be to against all persons (and even those who appear to be) of Arab descent.
An incident on Sept. 11 at Cal State University at Long Beach involved a student of apparent Middle Eastern heritage who parked his car in a handicapped zone of a school employee lot and ran to class. Because of a severe shortage of student parking many use any available spaces. This occurs countless times on campus, but this time an employee immediately assumed him to be a potential "bomb threat" and the campus was evacuated very chaotically. A police bomb squad was called. The student returned to find his van disassembled and its windows shattered. He was severely interrogated and harassed. There was no bomb. Some people at the school have now decided to look out for the safety of the large number of Middle Eastern students there.
Another incident involved a local fast food restaurant, "Taste of India." On the Sunday following the WTC blast, a barrage of cops were quite disappointed when this restaurant they had intended to investigate was closed. When a cop realized the doors were locked and employees were nowhere to be found, he shouted, "He's not here!" Four officers remained, presumably awaiting a confrontation.
The media is feeding fear and building U.S. patriotism for the bosses. It's very important to fight the racist terror now mounting against Middle Easterners and win co-workers, students and neighbors to fight it.
Americans are experiencing what millions in other countries have faced for years when the U.S. government attacked them. The ongoing fight for control of oil is between the bosses of different nations. The working class is cannon fodder to use and promote their causes. To quote an African proverb, "When elephants stampede and wrestle, it is the savanna that suffers."
An anti-racist, anti-imperialist fighter
On Sunday, September 23, over 150 members and friends of a number of Jewish groups formed a Days of Awe coalition to hold a traditional service, which, in this case, had a strong political content. The Days of Awe, the period between the holidays of Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur, is when observant Jews attempt to cast off their sins.
This coalition group gathered at the Hudson River to throw bread on the water while speakers denounced U.S. government and business policies that exploit the people and resources of the Middle East. They also condemned the U.S. government's war drive, anti-Arab racism and Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
These groups have also been supporting the anti-war demonstrations in Brooklyn and in Manhattan's Union Square and Times Square. They are currently organizing to build the October 7 demonstration and march from Union Square to Times Square.
This was not the only terrorist act committed on workers and their families that day.The World Health Organization says an average of 30,000 children die daily worldwide from famine, disease and war. The capitalist system, embodied by U.S. imperialism, multi-national corporations and their lackeys worldwide cause these massacres.
The bosses and their capitalist system will use this killing of workers by terrorists as an excuse to push their fascist agenda on the working class. We can expect more anti-communist propaganda mixed with racism, nationalism and patriotism. Bush has declared a "war on terrorism." But it's actually a war between big terrorists like Bush and little terrorists like Osama Bin Laden. Workers must not take sides. We must unite Asian, Latin, black and white and smash capitalism worldwide.
These are dangerous times for the working class internationally. It's also a great opportunity for us to advance communist ideas through PLP and CHALLENGE.
A CHALLENGE reader
Over lunch some workers said this was the work of some crazies, that the Islamic religion makes them commit terrorist acts. But the majority of workers at my table understood it's for the control of profits. The conversation turned to how rising unemployment and poverty would affect us. These problems were becoming very serious in the garment industry even before this terrorist attack. Many of these workers have read CHALLENGE and Party leaflets for years.
We discussed how the Spanish language media has launched a nationalist, patriotic pro-U.S. campaign calling for war, saying that this country has "opened its doors" to us and fed us. But many workers know that the majority of us immigrant workers are here because the bosses' and U.S. government's imperialist economic and military policies have sown terror, death and poverty for decades in our countries of origin. As the back-to-work bell rang, a humble worker said, "You're right. In one hand they offer amnesty to some and in the other they'll give us a rifle to fight for them."
LA Garment Worker
Despite the mass jingoistic, nationalist patriotic propaganda campaign, some co-workers and some old and new friends of the Party had a lively discussion about the government's moves. Everyone participated. People expressed fear of terrorist attacks and government police state tactics. We agreed that war and fascism are part of the capitalist system. Anti-Arab racism has included shootings and physical assaults against "Middle Eastern looking" people. An anti-Islam demonstration at a mosque in a Chicago suburb included a large confederate flag, like a Klan rally.
The bosses will pass laws to attack communists and others opposed to imperialist war. Our response must be to organize in mass organizations, build strong ties with friends and co-workers and increase the circulation of CHALLENGE. These events have helped me see beyond the patriotic circus the bosses are orchestrating. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
My first kidney failure occurred 20 years ago, just after I arrived here as an undocumented refugee from El Salvador's civil war. Like many others who left then because of persecution by the army and death squads, I applied for political asylum but was repeatedly denied. Then I learnt I needed dialysis as a matter of life and death. My job insurance only covered me for a month. I could not get Medicare because I was undocumented.
I entered a public hospital where the health care workers bent and broke rules to treat me, even though I was undocumented. After receiving dialysis in the pelvis prevented me from walking for the next six hours, the staff would do the impossible and find transportation to take me home. Sometimes a willing ambulance driver would piggyback me onto someone else's ride. Despite the fact that bosses use borders to divide workers I felt they would never report me to Immigration. I saw workers reaching out to each other in need.
I recall 1981 was one of the most violent years of El Salvador's bloody 12 year war. Massacres, heavy bombardment of villages and killings by death squads left beheaded and mutilated bodies on roadsides everywhere. I knew this was all financed by the U.S. Government who spent $1 million a day in military supplies for over 12 years. The U.S. trained the Salvadoran army and death squads. Meanwhile, I saw from my experiences in public hospitals U.S. bosses would not provide decent health care for workers at home. Today, the situation is being repeated in Colombia; the U.S. government is funding the killing of civilians to protect its corporations.
Years later I obtained a green card and a job with health coverage and had received a kidney transplant. What a relief, I thought. Then I lost my insurance and discovered the medication cost $500 a month! As a legal resident I was eligible for Medicare but it did not cover post-transplant treatment, and harassment from hospitals and collection agencies were tormenting me. I felt the same insecurity as when I was undocumented and had no security.
My transplant rejected recently; now I'm back in dialysis. My Medicare covers 70% of my bills; supplementary insurance picks up the rest. You'd think that finally I don't have to bother with hospital bills. Wrong. Insurance companies make mistakes and don't pay bills and co-payments are high. Medicare requires a monthly premium.
Undocumented or citizen, I've concluded that under capitalism workers cannot have decent health care. Workers may fight to improve conditions but drug and insurance corporations run health care for their profits. This PLP conference was important because it strengthened the Party's commitment to spread our ideas of organizing for communism, where heath care strictly benefits the working class, as healthcare workers and patients. A Comrade