(This issue of Challenge has a special supplement on the war against Afghanistan and how the fight for oil profits is is main cause)
Front Page :Patriotism Protects Profits
War Fever, Not Anthrax Is The Real Epidemic
What is Anthrax?
Editorial 1: U.S. Bosses Terrorize the Unemployed
Low-Income Workers Left Out in Cold As Layoffs Mount
Editorial 2: Nissan Clobbers UAW . . . and Ford and GM, Too
Never Unite With Any Boss: Fight Massive Aerospace Layoffs
Rank-&-File Strike Solidarity Shafted by Liberal/Fascist Union Honchos
Excerpts from Union Machinists Open Letter To Boeing Workers:
Anti-War Movement Growing on Campuses
U.S. Is No Novice When It Comes To Terror Bombing
Bosses Sacrifice Crap Lays Off NYC Workers
Florida Comes To NYC Mayorality Election
AfghanistanLatest Chapter of New World Disorder
Letter From Israel
TerroristsBig and Small
Mobilize in Mexico Against Bush and Fox War
Michigan Workers Build Solidarity
NCOs Had Better Watch Their Back
Uniting With Arab Workers
9/11 has made me believe in what PLP fights for
Stands Up to Boss Attack Over WTC
CHALLENGE SUPPLEMENT, Oct. 31, 2001
U.S. Rulers Expand War For Oil To Central Asia
Afghanistan has always meant oil.
Bosses Bicker Over When To Invade Iraq
The 'Vietnam Syndrome'
U.S. Rulers Mask War Aims With Crusade Crock
It Is All About Oil, Stupid!
The present and future mass slaughters on all sides of a coming oil war should help the worlds workers learn the bitter lesson that "patriotically" uniting behind any capitalist means mayhem or death for us.
U.S. rulers are attempting to mobilize workers here to sacrifice our blood for the "national interest." It is clear that our class has nothing to gain from backing the terrorist atrocities that killed thousands on September 11. But we have even far more to lose by marching off to fight and die for Exxons super-profits.
The bosses are spouting one big lie after another to win our loyalty. The latest is their medias hero-worship of the racist police, whose main job is to serve as the profit systems first line of defense against workers in the class struggle. Suddenly the capitalist newspapers and television are idolizing the same blue-suited, armed Klansmen who have been gunning down black working-class youth for years under orders from above, and who will ruthlessly break strikes, as they always have. The U.S. "national" interest is the interest of the Exxon Mobil gang that holds state power. We mustnt allow ourselves to be suckered into confusing our class interest with the rulers flag-waving lies.
The same principle applies in evaluating the bosses now lining up to fight U.S. imperialism. The bin Laden terrorists and other factions in the Muslim world can wrap themselves in the justified hatred millions of oppressed workers everywhere feel toward the murderous U.S. ruling class. Many people worldwide, as well as some here who sincerely oppose U.S. imperialism, are rooting openly or secretly for the defeat of the U.S. Empire in the present struggle.
But this is a fight among bosses. No worker anywhere should choose sides when capitalists do battle to realign the pecking order among them. There is no "lesser evil" capitalist. The laws of the profit system have an iron logic, regardless of the nationality or religion of the capitalist who dominates at any given time. This the logic of maximum profit. Replacing the barbarous, brutal Saudi royal family with another group of exploiters wont reduce the misery of workers in the oil fields or diminish the inevitability of imperialist war. Replacing the pro-U.S. Shah of Iran with the present regime of holy roller nationalist mullahs hasnt improved the life of Iranian workers one bit and the threat of oil war involving Iran is as great as ever.
Workers who want to smash imperialism must not choose sides among imperialists or would-be imperialists. All-class unity behind any boss is a deadly loser. Our job is to build revolutionary unity among the workers of the world, across all borders and against all bosses.
Anthrax is making big headlines. While the news media would have us believe we were in the middle of an epidemic, as of October 15, a tabloid editor in Florida is still the only American to die from the disease. US workers are much more likely to die from injury on the job, a stroke, or a racist cops bullet, than see a case of anthrax.
An anthrax epidemic is impossible, since the disease cannot be passed from person to person (see box). But that doesnt stop the newsroom editors and TV news producers, with ever-increasing government direction, from playing on our fears to justify a police state and a major ground war.
More than 10,000 members of the American Public Health Association (APHA) will attend the annual meeting in Atlanta on October 22. This years theme is "Global Health," with a major focus on bio-terrorism. The ruling class will try to win public health workers to help spread the bio-terrorism hysteria. The struggle over ideas is likely to be intense. This must be resisted, exposing the hysteria based on lies, thereby calming exaggerated fears. This provides an atmosphere to fight against capitalism. At last years meeting, we saw a video of military jets flying in formation during the playing of the national anthem. This was followed by a keynote address by the U.S. Surgeon General in full military dress uniform. And that was before the current war.
Public health workers, students and professionals can truly promote "global health" by fighting for a world without racism and imperialist war. A communist society, run by the working class, would mobilize millions to provide desperately needed health services and build up health infrastructure, from Afghanistan and Iraq to lower Manhattan.
An imperialist oil war is not in the interests of the international working class. U.S. bombs will kill thousands of workers in Afghanistan. About 5,000 children die in Iraq every month, from US-imposed sanctions and the aftereffects of depleted uranium bombs dropped during the last Gulf war. Fighting the growing pressure to militarize public health, including the panic over biological and chemical warfare, is an important current struggle.
Anthrax is a disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, a germ that infects livestock and wild animals in many parts of the world. Human disease occurs after exposure to an infected animal or to the spores, microscopic seed-like particles. The spores typically infect the skin of agricultural workers or gardeners, since they can remain dormant but infectious for years in the soil where an infected animal has been.
How would anthrax be used in germ warfare?
Spores are the form of the bacterium which bio-terrorists including the US and British Armed Forces have developed for spreading the disease. In a dry form, spores can be ground into a fine powder, which if inhaled can infect the lungs, leading to death in a few days.
How do you get anthrax?
The disease is transmitted to humans by infectious forms of the bacterium, usually spores, entering the body through the lungs, skin or the intestinal tract.
How bad is the disease?
The respiratory form of the disease is fatal in 90 to 100% of cases, the intestinal form (from eating meat of infected animals) can kill 25% of those who develop symptoms during an outbreak, and the skin or cutaneous form, is not fatal unless untreated.
Is anthrax contagious?
There has never been a confirmed case of respiratory anthrax being passed from one person to another. Epidemics of this disease are unknown.
[Sources: Center for Disease Control website and Journal of American Medical Association, May 12, 1999.]
As the U.S. ruling class drops bombs on Afghan workers, U.S. workers are on the receiving end of another type of bomb from those same bosses mass unemployment.
During the year 2000, 18.5 million U.S. workers experienced joblessness at one time or another, according to the bosses governments own calculations. If that was the figure for a "prosperity" year, the amount of workers without a job for some period during 2001 when the bosses economy tumbled into a recession may very well reach somewhere between 20 and 30 million. (Note that if you work just ONE HOUR in the course of a month, you are NOT counted as unemployed!)
The latest government report, for September, reports a job loss of 200,000 as compared to the previous month. And this excludes the layoffs occurring in the hundreds of thousands after the Sept. 11 attacks. If you worked one hour before that date, youre counted as "employed" for the whole month.
Factory employment in September fell for the 14th consecutive month, reaching the lowest point in ten years, losing more than a million jobs since July 2000. Service jobs had the largest drop in a decade. "The unemployment numbers," reports the New York Times ((10/5) "were likely to become significantly worse" next month.
Such were the headlines over a report from Gannett News Services (Sept. 2) about how the budget was balanced during the Clinton years on the backs of the unemployed.
The $93.4 billion surplus in state and federal unemployment benefit trust funds at the end of 2000 was put into what the Democrats and Republicans call the "unified federal budget." This allows the bosses government to use this surplus to either balance the budget and/or pay for things like the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq. (Thats what they did with Social Security surpluses for 20 years, using hundreds of billions to pay for the "defense" budget.) Therefore, with less money available for unemployment benefits, they just cut out millions from qualifying:
A former welfare recipient in Ohio laid off from a minimum-wage job making $154.50 for 30 hours of work cant collect unemployment benefits because one needs a $169 weekly wage to qualify;
In ten states, a parent who cant work week-ends because of children at home cant collect benefits;
Thirty states disqualify workers from unemployment benefits if they didnt work "full-time" (more than 30 hours a week).
This Gannett News Services dispatch says the government reported only 38% of last years jobless 7 million workers qualified to receive jobless benefits. That means 62% of the jobless, another 11.5 million, couldnt collect unemployment checks, which adds up to a total of 18.5 million workers who were jobless at some time during 2000. And these are pre-recession figures!
Such are the fruits of U.S. capitalisms profit drive, grinding workers especially at the lowest end of the wage scale into the dust. The bosses will do anything to squeeze workers so they can spend billions for war, and kill workers children to boot. Talk about terrorists! No one beats the U.S. ruling class.
DETROIT, MI, October 5 The United Auto Workers suffered a stinging defeat when 4,500 Nissan workers in Smyra, Tennessee, voted 2-1 to remain non-union. This repeated the margin of defeat at a previous UAW effort in 1989, and comes after abandoning a campaign to organize Daimler workers in Alabama last spring. Another attempt to organize 9,000 Honda workers in Ohio is underway. In over 20 years, the union has failed to organize a single foreign-owned "transplant" assembly plant.
According to the Detroit Free Press (10/5), "Detroits auto makers may be lamenting the [UAWs] defeat as much as the union." The Free Press said, "Executives at GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler had been silently rooting for the UAW," and quoted the president of an engineering firm that consults automakers and suppliers as saying, "Nothing would make those executives happier than to see everyone unionized." Thats because U.S. auto bosses have higher labor costs than Nissan, placing the former at a big disadvantage. They want the competition to have to pay the same in pensions, healthcare and work rules. And if the UAW cant do it by organizing non-union plants, theyll have to do it through give-backs at unionized ones.
"Transplant" workers make comparable, but lower, wages compared to Ford, GM and Chrysler workers. Also, there are no pensions, grievance procedures or work rules. On-the-job injuries are more than double, and workers have no seniority or job assignment protection. The turnover rate is very high, with many more "new hires" than veterans. These are young workers on their first good paying jobs, in areas that are historically anti-union. A fat paycheck and a new SUV in the driveway, plus threats and intimidation from the company, are formidable obstacles to any organizing drive.
But the problems run much deeper than such obstacles, high-priced union busters, or what kind of campaign to run, which certainly are factors. With the sharpened rivalries and the worldwide crisis of overcapacity, the UAW leadership is absolutely loyal and committed to the U.S. auto bosses. Their patriotic, nationalist outlook plus fat paychecks have made their fates inseparable. This Nissan defeat is a reflection of the "second invasion" of Japanese and German automakers made possible by the fact that GM, Ford and Chrysler are getting a shrinking share of a dwindling domestic market.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks pushed an economy already rolling down hill into a full-blown recession. According to the Oct. 8 Business Week (BW), auto sales are expected to drop to 16.1 million this year, down from 17 million last year. For 2002, sales are projected at just 15.2 million. A Merrill Lynch analyst said, "The impact on the U.S. auto sector is devastating."
Ford is expected to lose $274 million in the third quarter and earn $604 million for the year, down from $3.5 billion last year. GM is expected to earn $2 billion for the year, down from $5 billion last year. Despite 26,000 firings in February, the Chrysler recovery is in deep trouble. To attempt to reverse this profit trend and get back to the previous years levels, the auto bosses will make deeper cuts and close plants here and internationally.
They are not alone. According to BW, Boeing is expected to see earnings fall 35% next year. The CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplane said, "Never in our wildest dreams did we believe wed be in this kind of situation." As for steel BW says the mood is "pitch-black." "This industry is devastated and there could be a lot of pain and agony ahead." Of course, no mention is made of the pain and agony inflicted on the workers by the bosses past massive profits or the increased exploitation that is coming as the bosses use the gloomier profit picture as an excuse to squeeze workers even more.
In its own way, the failed Nissan campaign is a reminder that the union leaders are indeed ruling class lieutenants in the labor movement. Either you serve the bosses, or you serve the international working class. In this time of heightened war and rapidly developing fascism, every worker must organize against their union leaders and stand with the workers of the world.
"I cant believe how passively we are accepting these layoffs," complained a machinist, who decided to help distribute an open letter on the subject to aerospace workers. "People are just rolling their tool boxes out the door."
Internationally between 500,000 and a million aerospace workers will lose their jobs in the coming months.
"Its because we lack class-consciousness," volunteered another union member at the meeting.
"Yeah, but that begs the question," responded the machinist, now clearly frustrated. "Why do we lack class-consciousness? I know a little history. It wasnt always like this."
"A big part of the answer is that our understanding of class has been poisoned by nationalism. All this flag-waving undermines our ability to organize as a class. The weakness of the communist movement on this has opened us up to bosses attacks," answered a comrade self-critically.
The meeting decided to write an open letter labeling the bosses nationalism, "the patriotism of profits." About two dozen workers reviewed the draft with the majority giving valuable suggestions sharpening it considerably. For two weeks we distributed the letter massively within the plants.
Amid this distribution, the bosses held mass crew meetings. They said it was like the Gulf War. The terrorist attack was an "external shock" they couldnt have predicted and couldnt be blamed for. The union followed suit with a headline blazoned across its papers front page, "Terrorism Impact Hits Home."
A number of workers boldly questioned the bosses pleas of innocence. In many ways, this crisis is completely different from the Gulf War. This "external shock" occurred when the industry was already in a capitalist crisis of overproduction. As the open letter said, the company had spent $6.7 billion over the last three years buying back its own stock in a desperate gamble to drive up the stock price. Much of this money was borrowed. The company was in hock. "Is the company going to end this speculation, or are they just going to continue to fire us to pay for more speculative adventures?" asked one worker. As expected, the bosses refused to answer.
The bosses may have inadvertently hit on one truth. This is like the Gulf War in that the "War on Terrorism" is, more than anything else, about controlling Mid-East oil. The horrendous murder of thousands of innocent workers has given the U.S. ruling class the excuse they need to build a fascist police state to pave the way for that oil war.
Nonetheless, capitalisms logic must assert itself. The union leaders, tied to the capitalist system, said we must first fight for government money to "save the airline industry." How far did this support for the airline companies get our class? The airline CEOs "thanked" us by introducing federal legislation to outlaw strikes! Capitalism, especially in crisis, intensifies exploitation, even as it builds for war. The continued attacks on aerospace workers have opened up more eyes than even a few weeks ago.
"Im so disgusted after the meeting with the boss that I took my flag down," said a bench mechanic. "I didnt believe you before, but I do now. Its about which empire controls the oil! Its time we started kicking some trash cans [a reference to the pre-strike tradition of "rolling thunder," the banging of metal on metal, hour after hour, throughout the factory].
Many other workers have not taken down their flags, even some who will soon be laid off. Nonetheless, the "United We Stand" banners throughout the plant must increasingly ring hollow, as the only "uniting" for many of us will be on the unemployment lines.
Two trends exist in the plants: nationalism and class-consciousness. These two trends are incompatible. "Workers of the world, unite" and "never unite with any boss" must be our guiding mottos as we broaden the fight against these layoffs.
SEATTLE, Oct. 15 "At a time when striking is being called unpatriotic, it is important to remember that you are fighting for your class brothers and sisters and that our fight is international."
This simple sentence in a support letter to be sent to the striking Minnesota state workers was enough to set off the biggest debate at my Union meeting in a long time.
When the Strike Committee of the University of Washington chapter of SEIU Local 925 met on campus a few weeks ago, one members proposal that such a letter be sent was agreed to. The member who proposed it volunteered to write it and present it at the Organizing Council (OC) meeting the following week.
This members draft letter saluted the actions of the state workers, mentioned our own strike earlier this year and included the above phrase. She sent it to all Strike Committee members, and showed it to some other union members in her office. Everyone except the union hack thought it was good. The hack wrote his own version, saying. "I referred to the world situation in a different manner." Yes, a very different manner there was no mention of international working class solidarity! He also said the letter must be approved by the Executive Council, a higher body that meets less often, further delaying this already late response.
A co-worker proposed a slightly different sentence: "Your strike being called unpatriotic by your local newspaper is the height of hypocrisy in an era when strong unions and international worker solidarity are needed more than ever." They agreed to present that version at the meeting.
I really hadnt believed Party members when they told me the SEIU, traditionally a "liberal" union, would be just as fascist about this oil war as the Machinists, whose president called for revenge following the Sept. 11 attack. Well, here was clear proof. The OCs right-wing all supported the hacks arguments. One said, "All of our members dont believe like we do. We dont want to offend anyone." Translation: we have orders from the International to push patriotism and help the bosses get these workers in line to maintain profits. However, rank-and-file support for mentioning internationalism moved the letter to the Executive Council with that sentence, for them to determine the final version.
That evening I discovered that 1199-SEIU, the union for most NY City healthcare workers, had published an ad in the New York Times jointly with the hospital bosses agreeing to extend their contract deadline from October 31 to March of 2002. Round one goes to the bosses, whose labor lieutenants have been charged with keeping workers in line.
The lessons? (1) Scratch a liberal union hack and youll find a fascist; and (2) Dont underestimate how serious the ruling class is in its push towards fascism.. They need all of their labor misleaders to control their union members. They dont say its unpatriotic when Boeing lays off 30,000 workers or 135,000 are dumped by the airline bosses. Its only when workers fight for themselves that the bosses push this fascist line.
Our appropriate response is: sell more CHALLENGES, helping workers realize that nationalism is deadly for all workers. Discuss with co-workers the role of the unions in the move toward fascism. Make sure you and your co-workers, classmates, shipmates fight this drive.
"Boeing Chief Executive Confident On Profits" screams the Financial Times (9/21) headline. Mulally calls an editorial critical of Boeings layoffs, "hurtful and sad."
Hurtful and sad! Imagine how hurtful and sad the next year will be for those 30,000 families of laid-off workers, not to mention the untold thousands that will be downgraded and shuffled from plant to plant. Many of these Boeing jobs will not likely reappear if management gets its way.
Five hundred thousand may be laid off in the travel industry alone. We should have no illusions that the layoffs, downgrades and benefit cuts will be limited to the travel industry. The economic attacks on our class will spread worldwide.
No doubt, some of the layoffs at Boeing were already planned. A systemic crisis of overproduction had already spread throughout the world. Boeing had spent $6.7 billion buying back its own stock nearly twice what management had invested in the company. Large parts of the company were put in hock to artificially jack up the stock price. [CEO] Condit referred to commercial production as the "cash cow" for all sorts of speculative adventures. As the crisis sharpened after September 11, the logic of the system necessitated intensified attacks on the companys workforce, lest this "cash cow" be threatened.
Where profits are concerned, "United We Stand" goes out the window. Thousands and, in this case, perhaps millions of our working-class brothers and sisters will be "united" on the unemployment lines. Meanwhile, the captains of industry are "united" defending their profits and perks.
The horrendous murders of thousands of innocent workers on September 11 has given the U.S. ruling class the excuse they need to pave the way for an oil war and a police state. In the same vein, CEOs in industry after industry have used this atrocity as a signal for layoffs and cutbacks. We can expect Boeing to attack our standard of living and working conditions in the next contract. History has shown the company will wrap these attacks in the flag.
We must prepare for the forthcoming contract battle now. First, we have to reject the passive outlook that accepts job cuts. We must advance a class conscious outlook. "You lay off my brother or sister and you attack me" must be our motto.
Crumbs in the name of retraining for non-existent jobs are not the answer. Lining up behind the bosses to "save the airline industry" is a loser. Weve already seen how that means protecting profits and bonuses of the CEOs and layoffs for us.
You can bet your last dollar and it might very well be your last dollar that management will work out a scheme to blame other workers for the bosses attacks on us. Make no mistake about it, dividing us along national or racist lines only weakens our ability to organize against the bosses attacks. The bosses nationalism is the patriotism of profits. Contrary to lining up behind airline industry bosses, we must understand that our interests and strength lie with the workers all around the world.
We are known as "the fighting machinists." In these difficult times, we must be sure who is on our side and who is not.
Concerned Union Members
BINGHAMPTON, NYPLPers at SUNY here have led two teach-ins exposing the imperialist and capitalist roots of terrorism and "retaliation." Twenty-five students came to the first teach-in, examining how inter-imperialist rivalry kills workers and what they could do about it. Those attending wanted more teach-ins, to discuss how to take an active stance against anti-Arab racism and U.S. rulers war plans.
Many of the same students, along with some new ones, returned to the second teach-in. We discussed the importance of oil and how capitalists are willing to use workers blood to secure oil profits. Connections were made between bin Laden and Exxon-Mobils goals for Saudi oil. We talked about how this supposed "war on terrorism" is really a war for control over the flow of oil and represents the U.S.s need to secure its power in the Middle East. Students expressed the need to choose anti-racism and workers rights rather than choosing bosses sides in an imperialist war.
During both teach-ins, many CHALLENGES and leaflets were distributed. The PLPers and others there seemed pumped to continue to organize against imperialism and war.
PLP students have also been actively involved in organizing a rally and speak-out against the war. Many graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and community groups are joining together to oppose the bombing of Afghanistan. Weve also been preparing a pamphlet on the history and politics of events in Afghanistan and the Middle East, as an alternative to patriotic, nationalist and distorted information spewed out in the mainstream media. We will use this pamphlet, along with leaflets and CHALLENGES at the event. Weve seen many opportunities to incorporate anti-imperialist, anti-nationalist and pro-communist ideas into the growing anti-war movement.
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 15 Students from several southern California schools gathered at the Univ. of Southern California on September 12 to protest a lecture by Clintons former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright. It was on Albrights watch that the U.S. ruling class committed numerous acts of terrorism the Iraqi sanctions (currently killing 5,000 children per month), the war in Kosovowhich terrorized working-class neighborhoods with daily bombing. Now Albright is on a national speaking tour spreading propaganda and lies hoping to gain support for the current oil war.
When PLPers arrived, they rallied the group and started picketing. Holding signs reading, "Capitalism terrorizes the working class," we chanted, "Albright, Albright, you cant hide, we charge you with genocide." We stopped picketing at key moments and invited open discussion. Students listened to our exposÚ of the office of Secretary of State as being one of the main arteries of the ruling classs imperialist foreign policy. We declared that Bin Laden and George Bush both represent competing ruling classes who are fighting for control of the worlds oil supply. They both will use terrorism, nationalism and racism to divide and exploit the working class and secure total imperialist control. We can end them only be destroying capitalism with working-class revolution.
When the protest ended, several people thanked us for our leadership and wanted more information. Although many students went inside and applauded this mass murderer, the PLP members saw that if were bold, take leadership, and offer a revolutionary class argument, people will listen.
Last week, our campus PLP study group participated in a student club activity setting up a table with PLP literature, a red flag and a giant banner behind us depicting workers fighting fascism. Students were interested in our placards reading, "Students Against Oil War" and "Capitalism is the Cause of all Terror." We had many conversations involving a communist analysis and how it differs completely from the medias.
A Middle Eastern woman was especially moved by our display. She sat down next to our table and quietly but very emotionally told us it was good to see what we were doing, that "we needed to talk about the present situation." We also distributed CHALLENGE and invited students to our study group, as well as to a PLP forum. Over 50 students signed our contact sheet for more information. This positive experience taught us that PLP can play a decisive role in the outcome of this crisis when so many are simply trying to understand whats going on.
BOSTON PLP members at Boston University (BU), Harvard and Roxbury Community College (RCC) have been active in the growing anti-war movement on campuses here. Weve been involved in the Boston Campus Anti-War Coalition (BCAWC) that led the student anti-war actions in Boston. Students at UMASS-Boston, Harvard, BU, Northeastern, Emerson and others have been a key factor in leading the anti-war protests. On Sept 20, the BCAWC organized a rally and march of about 800. On Oct 14, Boston students played an important role in a city-wide rally and march of over 2,000 (see letter).
PLPers are linking this current U.S. oil war to our university administrations support of U.S. imperialism by allowing and supporting military research on campus. We just won the BCAWC to unanimously endorse a call for protests against military research at all Boston colleges (e.g., at BU and MIT).
At a recent Harvard No War meeting, one PLPer said trying bin Laden in an international criminal court would be hypocritical because the biggest war criminals are those running the U.S. government bin Ladens war crimes pale compared with those of the U.S. ruling class. He urged the anti-war movement to make clear that a major cause of war and terrorism is U.S. imperialist policies. He also declared that the Harvard No War Group should definitely fight Harvards promotion of imperialism, past and present, including its support for the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, conducted by its former Professor and war criminal, Henry Kissinger, as well as the Kennedy School of Governments help in planning and supporting war in the Middle East and central Asia.
Since Sept 11, PLP college members have distributed over 1,000 leaflets and many CHALLENGES at BU, RCC. Harvard and others.
Many students are upset by this war and want "peace now." We must explain that as long as capitalism exists, well only have more war. Were planning study groups on imperialism and a teach-in on the Mid-East and oil.
I just returned from an anti-war rally of 2,000 in Boston, including old and young pacifists to anarchists and radicals to students and workers. PLP members passed out about 1,000 leaflets exposing the war in Afghanistan as an imperialist fight over oil, the worlds most important resource. We distributed CHALLENGES and 500 leaflets calling for our upcoming demonstration against police murders.
The rally assembled in downtown Boston and was followed by a short march to an integrated, working-class neighborhood. The response to our leaflets was amazing. Most people along the route took the anti-war leaflets with interest, only a few politely expressing disagreement. One Caribbean man gave $5 for a copy. We carried a banner saying, "Oppose U.S. Imperialist War for Oil." Many speakers and signs simply called for "peace" and "negotiations" with the terrorists. Our leaflet made the strongest argument about the importance to U.S. rulers of controlling Mid-East oil.
During the march we led chants such as "Arab, Latin, Black and White, Workers of the World Unite"; and "1, 2, 3, 4, We dont want your Racist War; 5, 6, 7, 8, We dont want your fascist state." We witnessed little pro-war patriotism.
On the subway home I was talking to some student peace activists when a working-class guy, seeing a peace sign, challenged us. The students said, "We want justice without violence," but I gave him a PLP leaflet, talked about oil and how Bin Laden is a smaller capitalist competing with the U.S. He agreed, but still loudly declared that we should "bomb them all." Others on the train became interested. I gave a copy of DESAFIO to a Latin couple who were listening. As they got off the train they and another woman whod been listening thanked me (for explaining things to the pro-war guy). A Latino man asked for a DESAFIO. I began to tell him it was a communist paper and he replied, "I know," pulling out a dollar for two copies.
When I left the train, I ran in to another marcher, gave him CHALLENGE and exchanged phone numbers and addresses. He invited me to an anti-war meeting in our neighborhood.
There were exactly five pro-war counter-demonstrators near the opening rally. I pointed this out to a Boston Globe reporter (the media loves to focus on these tiny counter-demonstrators, and lies about the size of the anti-war rallies). I said, "What are you going to report as the size of the march, 200?" We must realize that the media will mislead people about the anti-war movement. So get out there, march and sell CHALLENGE! People may even thank you for it. A Boston Comrade
After the September 11 terrorist bombings, students and faculty participated in teach-ins to raise awareness about U.S.-Arab relations and to give historical context to Middle East politics. PL members exposed the imperialist oil interests behind the plundering of the region now under attack by U.S. cruise missiles.
The audience, including many Mexican-Americans and others, expressed concern about the U.S. attack as a potential race war. Arabs have already been assaulted here. In one city, a Pakistani man was forcibly removed from a jetliner. In the same city, rock-throwing goons attacked a Middle Eastern restaurant.
The U.S.-Mexico border has been on a heightened state of alert, despite Mexicos President Vicente Foxs blessings for the U.S. war on Afghanistan. Bush and Fox represent the interests of bosses at the border where thousands of Mexican workers live and die working in maquiladoras or trying desperately to cross into the U.S. The bosses not only conspire against the international working class, but now are united to attack all foes of U.S. imperialism.
Many active duty soldiers and reservists have been called to fight the "war on terrorism." Some of these working-class youth see this for what it is: open season on any opposition to U.S. economic interests. We are organizing a film showing and discussion that will relate this war to the U.S. war in Vietnam. Comrades everywhere must stand and reveal the true nature of recent world events. Build a mass PLP that can take whatever the rulers dish out, and advance.
A Texas comrade
This term Im teaching a large first-year University technology course. The third lecture took place just after the WTC bombing so I began with a discussion of that.
I said like everyone else I found it hard to believe what had happened but only because it happened in the USA. Elsewhere its not unusual to see large numbers of civilians wiped out in wartime attacks on cities. I told of a French friend whose parents home town was completely destroyed by U.S. bombs the day after D-day. In fact, during World War II, 1,700 cities in Europe and Asia met the same fate.
I said many people wondered what could motivate the attackers to destroy thousands of innocent lives. Is it because, as the media says, theyre "madmen." Or, as Bush says, "they dont share our values"? Just the opposite. The attackers were driven by nationalism, the idea that people of ones own country are worth more than others. And by the principle that the citizens of another country are responsible for their rulers actions. That is exactly what U.S. rulers want us to believe.
I mentioned the bombing and blockade of Iraq, and the bombing of Belgrade. These attacks killed hundreds of thousands of civilians but were justified as punishment for the crimes of Saddam Hussein and Milosevic.
Today when it comes to terror bombing, the U.S. has no real competition. [During WWII they tried to match the Nazis and Japanese fascists when] they destroyed almost every major city in Germany, and every one in Japan.
In fact, the WTC was not the first 9-11 terror attack. On September 11, 1944, the British Bomber Command dropped 580 tons of incendiaries on Darmstadt, a small German town of little military or industrial importance. The firebombs created a firestorm (as planned) and more than 10,000 civilians were burned alive or suffocated in their shelters.
Yet the Darmstadt 9-11 was nothing compared to the March 10, 1945, firebombing of Tokyo, led by General Curtis LeMay. The Tokyo raid created a much bigger firestorm and killed ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND Japanese. After the Tokyo raid, LeMays commander sent him a telegram:
CONGRATULATIONS. THIS RAID SHOWS THAT YOUR CREWS HAVE THE GUTS TO DO ANYTHING. Bin Laden couldnt have said it better!
When I asked for the students own views, I was pleased to learn that for the most part, they agreed! A student with a Slavic accent spoke movingly of how little concern was shown for the people bombed in Belgrade. Another student said his fiancÚ was Japanese and that her family was very distressed by the jingoistic "Pearl Harbor" movie (in which Ben Affleck volunteers for a suicide bombing mission on Japan).
A few people said that, after all, the poor and downtrodden have no choice but to resort to terror. I said, not necessarily, and explained how the young Soviet Union beat off the invasion by 14 different nations from 1918 to 1925. Not by bombing and terrorizing the workers of the U.S., Canada or Britain, but by appealing to their international solidarity. Communism doesnt need nationalism and terror to win and put an end to these catastrophes forever.
Im sure I didnt convince everyone but they listened very carefully. In fact the reception was much more positive than that given similar talks during the Gulf War. This is good news for us and bad news indeed for the U.S. terror bosses.
NEW YORK CITY, October 14 - CHALLENGE was right on target when it pointed out (10/3) that "we should not be fooled by the bosses call for unity and shared sacrifice." We live under a class dictatorship where the bosses use every trick in the book to maintain their system of exploitation and find ways to profit from every tragic occurrence. NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani has already announced plans to slash most city agency budgets by 15% (except police, fire and Board of Education, cut by "only" [!] 2.5%.) This will mean major cuts in city services and jobs.
Contrast that with the massive bailouts promised to the airlines (but not the airline workers) and the insurance companies by the Bush administration and the incentives Giuliani has dangled before businesses promising to stay here. NOT ONE BOSS IS BEING ASKED TO SACRIFICE ONE DOLLAR OF PROFIT.
A recession, starting before September 11 and fiscal shocks after the attack on the World Trade Center combined to produce a deficit forecast of $1.6 billion in this current fiscal year and $4-$6 billion more for the next one.
Workers should not be fooled by calls to save "our" city like those made during New York Citys fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Back then, it was the working class that bailed out the city bosses financial mess. Union leaders like Gotbaum of AFSCME poured billions of city workers pension dollars into municipal bonds when city bankers wouldnt touch them. Tens of thousands of "permanent" city workers were laid off. There were drastic cuts in city services for working-class families.
A state-authorized Financial Control Board headed by Wall Street banker Felix Royatan actually ran the city via its power to void any contracts with unions or businesses. This board could be back in business whenever a deficit of $150 million exists. Quickly, trustees of the two biggest city worker pension funds jumped in to pour our money into Wall Street investments to shore up the shaky stock market. Then major city unions suspended negotiations on contracts that had already expired over a year ago.
Workers will be asked to be "patriotic" and sacrifice because of terrorism. We should refuse. Our only pledge should be to ally with workers of the world. When civic or union leaders call for cuts, we should fight back. When they speak of terrorists we should expose the terror capitalism causes every day worldwide and that U.S. capitalism has caused the lions share of it. If were to sacrifice, let it be in our class interests, in the fight for a communist future!
NEW YORK CITY, Oct. 15 "It looks like Florida again" was a common comment heard about this citys runoff election for the Democratic Partys mayoral candidate. The Board of Elections released a new vote total showing Mark Green leading with 392,492 votes to Fernando Ferrers 371,436. The previous figures were 417,329 for Green and 387,523 for Ferrer.
"Revisions in the vote totalthe result of accidental double counting by the police Thursday nighttriggered a firestorm of complaints yesterday from Ferrer and his supporters, who called into question the accuracy of either count."(Newsday, Oct. 15).
It seems that racism and fraud are increasingly becoming the norm in U.S. elections. Bush "won" with the help of his governor brother and the cops who prevented many black people from voting for Gore in Florida (without a peep from the Democratic Party). Now liberal Green is following the same road. First he waged a racist runoff, with his supporters telling white voters that a vote for Ferrer, who is Puerto Rican) would be a vote for Al Sharpton (who is black and backing Ferrer). Then, to make sure Green won, the cops (who hate Sharpton because for his own political ambitionshe has organized many protests against police brutality) double-counted votes.This demonstrates how racism is always part and parcel of capitalism and its electoral system.
CHALLENGE doesnt support either candidate. All of them represent capitalism. No matter whos the next Mayor, his job will be to ensure workers sacrifice for the war effort and for the "rebuilding" of the financial district, partially destroyed by the terrorists on Sept. 11.
Ferrer was attacked by Green and the New York Times for being "divisive" for saying there are two cities: the rich one and the poor onein this period when "national unity" is crucial for the rulers. Then Green and his supporters used the age-old divisive racist scare tactics against a Puerto Rican candidate and his black supporters while cheating to steal the election.
Capitalism never disappoints when it comes to topping its own racism, even against some of its own lackeys.
In the first week since Bush, Jr. began bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age, already the "smart" bombs have done their job of missing their targets and killing civilians. The question now is whither the Bush, Jr./Tony Blair war?
If they thought the Taliban would collapse after a few days of mass terror bombing, someone in the White House and 10 Downing Street needs to read history. In 1857 Frederick Engels wrote how the British/Indian invasion of Afghanistan was crushed of 16,000 troops only one made it back alive. The U.S.-British imperialists should have listened to the Soviet generals who warned them about Afghanistan being a trap. Their choices now are:
Reliance on the unstable Northern Alliance creates two problems: (1) This collection of warlords spent so much time fighting each other after taking power from the regime abandoned by Russia's Yeltsin that they could not hold it and were easily defeated by the Taliban. However, (2) if the Alliance did manage to take and hold power, Pakistani rulers won't accept it since the Alliance is supported by Pakistan's two main enemies, India and Iran, and armed by Russia.
Sending U.S. and British commandoes into Afghanistans caves and mountains to hunt down bin Laden and his Al Qaeda gang. Its not an easy task, some say almost impossible. If this fails, a ground invasion could suffer the same fate as past Soviet and British armies.
Even should the Taliban and bin Laden group be defeated, the big winner will be Russia. Already, Putin, helping the U.S. in its war against the Taliban/bin Laden, has won a lot of concessions in Russias war in Chechnya. Putin claims the Chechen holy warriors fighting Russia are trained by Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Also, Russia will become stronger in the oil-rich Caucasus, weakening the government of Georgia (a key U.S. ally). Many fundamentalist warriors in Chechnya come from the refugee camps in Georgia.
Whatever happens in Afghanistan, world disorder will increase, from Saudi Arabia to Central Asia, and more wars will follow. Workers and youth must not be fooled into siding with any bosses in this conflict. Our class interests dont lie with Bush, Blair, Putin or the holy warriors, but with organizing to fight for a society without any bosses communism.
September 11 was (unfortunately for the workers who lost their lives) a catalyst that sharpened inter-imperialist rivalries. We can see it in the Islamic world in countries like Pakistan where the masses have been led astray by bin Laden and the Taliban, but the rulers sided with U.S imperialism, which then lifted its embargo.
Something similar, though on a smaller scale, is happening in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. There the Arafat gang seized the opportunity to attack Hamas, which took to the streets in support of the Taliban and bin Laden. Thus, Arafat did the Zionists dirty work, the role intended for him when Israel brought him from Tunis to sign the notorious Oslo agreement. Arafat wants to put an end to the Intifada that went too far (from his point of view), and he got some promises from the Bush Administration. The latter needs him in the so-called "coalition against terror" to demonstrate the principle that the U.S. is not fighting Islam but terrorism. I think well seeing in many "Islamic" countries something similar to the above scenario.
Just one note on the U.S. press. It is totally mobilized to serve the interests of the U.S ruling class. The mask of democracy does not exist, and the "holy" principle of "innocent until proven guilty" is not seen anywhere as far as bin Laden goes. This can be seen in the negotiation with the Taliban, who were ready to hand over bin Laden if the U.S provided solid evidence (it seems that they did not have it), but they were so eager to attack they managed to convince the U.S. public bin Laden is the only party responsible for September 11. I guess they know hes not, and this is why they keep warning the public about possible attacks similar to September 11.
Another amazing thing is the vulnerability and the panic displayed by U.S imperialism on the day of the attack: closing all airports, closing the stock market for four days (a record), stopping major league baseball (things they did not even do after Pearl Harbor). On top of it all, they flew W. Bush to Nebraska !).
Not even one helicopter went up to try to save lives, to try to put out the fire in the towers, or to pick up people who went to the roof trying to save themselves. Instead they sent the poor fireman to their death in the burning building, even though every second-class engineer knows that 50 tons of burning petrol will easily melt the steel construction that holds the towers. This is why the second-hit tower went down first; it was hit lower, and the heat needed less time to travel to the bottom of the building. All these things are signs that imperialism, with all its missiles, police and technological know-how, is "human" after all and is very vulnerable.
Its a pity that PLP is not a mass party yet, and thus the U.S. working class succumbed to nationalism and patriotism. The ruling class has a field day as millions are willing so easily to give up their civil rights, thus putting their faith in the biggest terrorist of them all, U.S imperialism.
A long-time Party Comrade from Israel
In his press conference last week, President Bush said some people all over the world hate the U.S. The usual response from Bush and the U.S. media is that the U.S. "is a free democratic country" and those who dislike the U.S. "hate our freedom."
Well, in general the opposite is true. Millions see U.S. imperialism as a supporter of the worlds worst regimes, from the corrupt Saudi monarchy to the brutal Israeli rulers. The bin Laden group is taking advantage of this to build a case for itself in the Moslem world. They emphasize that the U.S. has tens of thousands of troops in the "holy land" of Saudi Arabia to protect the corrupt and reactionary Saudi king and his 20,000 princes.
There are many workers and youth worldwide who hate imperialism, particularly U.S. imperialism, but are confused about what happened on Sept. 11. Some see it as a "big blow against imperialism" and therefore as a "progressive action." They point particularly to the suicide attack against the Pentagon, the military center of U.S. imperialism.
As Marxists, we must condemn this idea. Firstly, theres nothing progressive about using hundreds of passengers in commercial jets as cannon fodder. The use of "collateral" damage is something the imperialists always use and justify. Second, there is nothing progressive about the bin Laden group or whoever did the suicide bombings. They are violently anti-communist, rich and reactionary; they will just impose a regime seeking a better deal for their faction of bosses from any or all imperialists.
But most important, individual acts of terrorism, isolated from the masses, just give the bosses an opportunity to do what Bush and the U.S. bosses are doing: wage war and impose a global police state. The Nazis burned their own Reichstag (parliament), trying to strengthen their fascist regime by blaming their strongest opponents. They arrested the Bulgarian communist leader Georgi Dimitrov, but he used his trial to expose the frame-up and denounce the Nazis before the world. Instead of killing workers in the name of some God or reactionary cause, we revolutionaries use the the 9/11 attack and the war in Afghanistan to win masses to our side . We expose the real motives of the bin Laden and U.S. bossesoil.
The thousands murdered on Sept. 11 were mostly working people, many from the Middle East, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, etc.. Once these and other workers grasp communist politics, they can be mobilized to fight for a world without Bushes, bin Ladens, Blairs, kings and gods.
MEXICO CITY The terrorist attacks of Sept 11 have opened a higher level of political discussion among students and workers. Many students celebrated and said U.S. bosses are "getting back what they have done to millions of people around the world." They describe the events as a "social consequence" of U.S. imperialism.
Unlike U.S. comrades, the Party here had to fight against nationalism disguised as "hatred" of the entire U.S. population. Weve explained that the attacks in New York and the bombings in Afghanistan are caused by inter-imperialist rivalry. Weve also explained that the main victims of this attack were class brothers and sisters, workers with families, many of whom were immigrants from dozens of countries as well as U.S. born workers.
The youth club has been having study groups. In the marches (one had 20,000 people), weve distributed leaflets containing the CHALLENGE editorial and have carried banners reading, "Capitalism only produces exploitation, poverty, racism, and war for the working class. LETS DESTROY IT!"; "Turn the Imperialist War into a Civil War for Communist Revolution"; and "Workers of the World, Unite!"
The day the bombing started in Afghanistan, there were mass protests in front of the U.S. Embassy. One Party banner said, "No Worker to the Imperialist War." We chanted, "Bush, Fascist, Imperialist Criminal" and "Bin Laden and the CIAbirds of a feather"; "First Yugoslavia, then Afghanistan, NATO is committing genocide." Our friends who arent in the Party, but who participate with us have been won to:
(1) This is a war among the imperialists; the working class has nothing to win and everything to lose by siding with any of them.
(2) Its reactionary simply to demand "peace" because in times of "peace" they kill and exploit the workers of the world.
In our study groups weve discussed the urgent need to build the Party. If we dont , the working class will be unable to destroy capitalism and its wars and exploitation.
Weve started to emphasize the following:
Wars and crises go with capitalism. Here, as everywhere, President Fox and all the capitalists are using the terrorist attacks to justify more layoffs, cutbacks and wage-cuts.
Its always been communists whove ended the bosses world wars.
Its a time of danger and opportunity. Now more than ever, capitalism shows its genocidal nature. Its time to fight to win masses of workers and students to communism.
Workers of the World, Write!
State of Michigan Mental Health workers took a stand against the war and sent relief aid to the victims of the NYC terrorist bombing. After September 11, everyone was discussing the attacks, the threat of war and areas of the world many of us had never thought about before. While there is overwhelming sympathy for the victims, and some degree of patriotism, support for the bosses and an oil war is very thin. For the most part, workers want to know what is really happening, and many are turning to PLP to find out.
We explained that Bush, Giuliani and the bosses were using this tragedy to whip up racism, nationalism and war fever. We talked about how capitalism and the U.S. ruling class murder thousands daily to secure their profits. We said that all these victims are our casualties, the workers of the world. While everyone doesnt agree with everything, workers are eager to talk.
We organized workers to attend our last union meeting where we passed a resolution unanimously to send $1,000 to the World Trade Center victims, based on a worker-to-worker solidarity, not patriotism. These activities, plus the very modest increase in the CHALLENGE readership, are sure signs that despite the massive, non-stop war propaganda, workers are open to PLP.
My sister's nephew is in the military. His unit was placed on high alert and sent overseas. Before that my sister talked with some soldiers in his unit and learned the following.
Right after September 11, the whole atmosphere at the base changed. Now every vehicle driven onto the base was being searched. Long lines of cars became common. All leaves were cancelled. Soldiers were told to be ready to leave on 24 hours notice. Rumors circulated about going to Afghanistan. A few soldiers ordered to leave immediately (probably to a point near the battle zone) were moved to a building fenced and patrolled by armed guards.
Tensions were high. My sister's nephew was among a small group of soldiers and some NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) training with gas masks in a simulated chemical weapons attack, using real but less toxic gas. Shortly after the gas was released, an NCO ordered one GI to take off his mask to see if the gas had dissipated. Some soldiers asked the NCOs why they didn't take their masks off first. One NCO replied that in a battle situation they had to follow orders or risk getting shot. The soldiers then told each other this wouldn't happen if the NCOs got shot first.
Before the September 11 WTC attack, the bosses were promoting the military as an "Army of One," where workers could learn a skill and receive college tuition. The "Army of One" is really an army of two classes: the working class represented by the rank-and-file soldiers and the ruling class represented by the brass and their lackeys.
As bombs rain on our Afghan brothers and sisters and workers here are fooled into waving the flag, it appears that the rulers are all-powerful. However, that is just appearance. The essence of imperialist war is workers dying for the bosses and their profits. With PLP's leadership, soldiers can be won to refuse to fight a racist, imperialist war for oil and to turn their guns around as a class. When that happens the days of the bosses and their horrific system will be numbered.
Monday night after soup kitchen we had a discussion of issues concerning the September 11th atrocity. At its peak 22 people were involved, by far our largest political meeting ever. There was gratitude that no one personally close to us had died, but the reality of over 6,000 deaths most of them working people is just beginning to sink in. Our priest a union activist calculated that at least 150,000 jobs are now lost because of the World Trade Center destruction. He is very angry that most of these workers will receive little or no long term support from any unemployment sources.
A colleague of mine from work had read the current CHALLENGE and did a superb job of fighting for our line, that what ultimately is at stake is the U.S. bosses desperation to control the oil of the Persian Gulf. An activist friend from a neighboring church suggested we reach out to other congregations, particularly mosques. So we planned to tour the largest one in town in a couple of weeks. We agreed to build ties with some members there, and a number of other Christian and Jewish groups in order to have an ongoing study of how U.S. imperialism has brought us to this crisis and how we can fight war and racism together at the grass roots level.
Most important, another volunteer at the kitchen agreed to take five CHALLENGES per issue to distribute.
Shaken but Unsubdued, Red Churchmouse
The three weeks since college started up again has been one of the most intense political times in my life. Early on I felt the political tension on campus. Several Arab students had been beaten between Sept. 11 and the semesters opening on September 25.
Several groups had posted leaflets reading, "Islam is not the Enemy, and War is not the Answer." A march for "Peace and Justice" had the biggest turnout of any political event in four years here. My work had to take advantage of the growing contradictions around us.
I distributed CHALLENGES at the Peace and Justice rally and made several contacts. From this group and from some close friends we started a PL study group of eight people. We planned to read CHALLENGE every week, post signs and pass out leaflets to combat the campus Republicans fascist signs. In the campus plaza next to signs which read "Love it or leave it" and "Support our troops" we placed posters reading, "No blood for oil" and "Oil imperialists, you cant hide, We charge you with genocide."
Overall this time has made me believe in what PLP fights for. For the last three years Ive been telling friends that an oil war was coming; they thought I was paranoid. Now they see it was true and it has brought them closer to our ideas. Building ties and struggling with friends really does work.
We are organizing a November concert to benefit "Victims of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East" and hope to get some well-known acts to perform. We wrote a letter to our school paper citing September 11 as a step in the war between rival imperialists over oil. It was attacked by fascists on campus but also received a lot of favorable responses. Were trying to win these people to our group.
Since Sept. 11, Ive learned some hard lessons. Following the attacks, individuals and our agency encouraged patriotic/nationalistic propaganda. Our department was giving free "united we stand" flag posters. We were receiving patriotic e-mails. Signs appeared saying, "They will pay." I finally had it, and hastily e-mailed a PLP flyer, encouraging everyone to "keep an open mind." In retrospect, I acted too quickly.
I had a great lunch with some friends, discussing imperialism, communism and capitalism. Later that evening I had a great dinner with one of these friends and her husband because he was the one "interested in politics." We debated while she listened.
A few days later, a co-worker told me some workers were angry. She said their arguments were based on ignorance, and confided in me that she was not very patriotic either. She thanked me for showing her Party literature.
I was beginning to feel like I would not get any response from my supervisor. Again out of frustration, I responded to another patriotic e-mail. A friend told me some workers were talking behind my back. I was called in by one of the managers. My friend and I decided that if management wanted to do something about my "politics," then they would need to do something about all the nationalist "politics" too. Another close friend was very supportive and suggested I call the union before meeting with management. The union rep told me to go it alone unless the meeting was for disciplinary action.
The manager claimed he simply wanted to provide me with some "words of advice." He warned me that my e-mail had evoked a lot of anger in my co-workers and that he had received a "flood of complaints." My PLP study group discussed my situation at work and was very supportive.
The following week I received a phone call from someone claiming to be an investigator with the District Attorneys Office. Then I received a "memorandum of concern" from my supervisor, who had already told me if I didnt like this country, I should leave. I felt overwhelmed, but a friend helped me organize an "emergency meeting" with seven other friends.
The next day I sent out an explanation to diffuse the situation. I explained that I was in mourning like my co-workers, but had a different view as to what should come next. I was called into the managers office for the third time, but this time I didnt go alone. He admitted that out of a building of 1,300 workers, he had received only 8 to 10 complaints. He was no longer trying to intimidate me, but rather to cover his ass. He knew that I was not going to keep quiet, and that I was gaining support. I continue to receive backing from co-workers and friends I never knew I had. They have come by my desk, sent e-mails, and called.
Ive learned some valuable lessons. Dont get too comfortable because "freedom of speech" is only an illusion. Learn to plan with others rather than react impulsively. One last thing: ALWAYS have confidence in your friends and the work you do. Dont ever let the bosses isolate and scare you.
Bushs "war on terrorism" is for control of the worlds cheapest oil supplies in the Persian Gulf which allows the U.S. to keep its super-power status. Loss of this control means the end of U.S. world supremacy. Therefore, the political and military conquest of Central Asia with its vast future reserves is indispensable to Rockefeller/ExxonMobils goal of world oil domination (see map above).
According to military expert Michael Klare, the danger to U.S. oil rule is "most acute in a vast triangular region stretching from the Persian Gulf in the west to the Caspian Sea in the north and the China Sea in the east. Within this Strategic Triangle can be found some of the worlds largest concentrations of petroleum, along with numerous territorial disputes of powerful states." (Resource Wars, The New Landscape of Global Conflict, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2001, p.49).
The demise of the old communist movement has left U.S. imperialism dominant but increasingly threatened. These include nationalist-religious challenges, such as bin Laden and others who want the Persian Gulfs energy resources for their own class interests. Also there is the potential emergence of Russia, China and the European Union as super-power competitors. Clintons 1999 air war against the former Yugoslavia was part of this process. The Balkans form the western flank of the Middle East and provide a vital link in the energy transportation system.
In the current war U.S. rulers are already committing atrocities. Hundreds of thousands of desperately poor Afghani workers are joining the two million refugees forced into exile by more than 20 years of bosses wars for control of that ravaged country. Bush & Co. are bombing cities and causing so many civilian casualties that they no longer bother to pretend otherwise.
Bush openly states that Afghanistan is only the beginning. The U.S. wants the huge Baghram air base in Afghanistan, now under control of the Northern Alliance. They also intend to gain control of airports and areas in Turkmenistan (Pravda, Sept. 20). The New York Times (10/13) reported on U.S. plans to use Uzbekistan as a military base in return for "guaranteeing" that countrys security (from Islamic or Russian bosses). The hunt for bin Laden will lead into Kyrgystan, which by next spring should "emerge as a hotspot in the anti-terrorism campaign" (Stratfor.com, 10/10). These three countries are former Soviet republics.
According to Stratfor, the rulers tactical goal is "a conventional military cordon around Central Asia." If the September 11 atrocities had not occurred, U.S. imperialists would have found another excuse to do what theyre doing internationally and at home. In fact, they rehearsed the operation under the Clinton presidency.
On September 15, 1997, 500 U.S. paratroopers from the armys 82nd Airborne Division landed in Kazakhstan for war games. The mission was "to link up with friendly forces from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, and Uzbekistan and engage in simulated combat against renegade forces opposed to a regional peace agreement" (Klare, p.1). Now Bush has the 10th Mountain Division in Uzbekistan.
This war has long been in the planning. As early as 1993, former Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced that the Clinton White House would "advance Americas economic security with the same energy and resourcefulness we devoted to waging the Cold War" (Klare, p.8). War games in 1997 and 1998, coupled with the1999 Clinton/NATO air war over the former Yugoslavia for Balkan energy pipelines, exposed U.S. imperialist strategy for the period ahead. Bushs expanding war in Central Asia, establishing U.S. military bases in parts of the former Soviet Union, is a logical extension of the Christopher "doctrine."
Currently the Bush White House seems somewhat divided over attacking Iraq (see article on next page). This is an important, but secondary tactical disagreement. However, on fundamental strategic questions, the rulers are absolutely united. This includes maintaining U.S. super-power status, holding on to Persian Gulf oil, guaranteeing that Russia cant use Caspian oil to threaten the U.S. energy monopoly and using military force and their state apparatus to crush threats from rival bosses or revolutionary workers.
As Klare says, "This is not a Democratic strategy or a Republican strategy. It is a strategy that enjoys near-unanimous support from both sides in Washington From this perspective, it mattered little who won the presidential election in November 2000 the same strategy would prevail under George W. Bush or Albert Gore." ("Permanent Preeminence: U.S. Strategic Policy for the 21st Century," NACLA Newsletter, Nov.-Dec. 2000).
This war will continue for many years. It will grow and eventually pit the U.S. against other great-power rivals like Russia and China. The ultimate death toll in this imperialist butchery will far surpass the casualties of World War II. The rulers will exploit or concoct terrorist incidents as provocations to justify their own genocidal military adventures. They will further militarize society on the home front and do their utmost to stifle mass rebellion. All in the name of "humanitarianism, freedom and democracy."
The profit system can hide behind many disguises. But its essence remains instability, war, oppression and mass carnage for workers everywhere.
Communist revolution remains the only hope for humanity. Our Party is committed to keeping the flame of that hope alive and burning brightly, in the face of all obstacles the rulers throw in our way.
From Peter Schweizers Victory (1994):
As one member of the Saudi royal family told the New York Times [02/08/80]: "The Soviet military presence in Cuba is not nearly so serious a threat to western military as the Russians in the Gulf and in the Horn of Africa."
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was also widely interpreted in Saudi ruling circles as a move toward the Persian Gulf, with the end hope of capturing rich oil fields on the Arab peninsula. The head of Saudi Arabian intelligence put Soviet objectives in the region in very clear terms: "The answer is simple: our oil .At this moment we do not expect an invasion, but we do expect the Soviets to use their power to maneuver themselves into a position to make arrangements for a guaranteed oil supply." [same NYT edition]
Immediately after the terrorist atrocities of Sept. 11, a debate arose among U.S. rulers concerning Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz, a deputy secretary of defense, said the U.S. should seize the opportunity to invade Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein. Secretary of State Colin Powell, on the other hand, called for more long-term coalition-building against the U.S.s many enemies, not just Iraq. On one level, the spat reflects maneuvering among groups of U.S. capitalists competing for profits. But, more profoundly, it reveals the "worlds only superpowers" growing dilemma, in the face of its abiding need to control the Middle Easts oil. Forces beyond Washingtons control dictate both the Powell and the Wolfowitz scenarios.
For decades now, the "Vietnam Syndrome" (see box) has haunted U.S. rulers. This, combined with an unraveling of the 1991 Desert Storm coalition, has frustrated the fondest dream of the main Rockefeller wing of U.S. capitalism: seizing Iraqs oil fields. The best U.S. rulers can manage in Iraq is a haphazard bombardment campaign, which, though it kills many workers, flops militarily. Powell aims at gradually building popular support within the U.S. for invading Iraq with a massive force that will also include many allies. Vice-President Cheney and the New York Times side with Powell, the latter labeling an invasion as "premature now but necessary in the long-run, a step that the nation is not yet prepared to take"(our emphasis, ed.).
But an event such as the collapse of Saudi Arabias revoltingly corrupt royal family could force the Pentagon to go it alone in Iraq, and soon. So the Eastern Establishment also has Wolfowitzs Plan B up its sleeve. His "invade now" proposal issues directly from a meeting of the Defense Policy Board he and Defense Secretary Rumsfield attended on Sept. 19 and 20. Exxon Mobil loyalists Henry Kissinger and Harold Brown, both members of the Trilateral Commission, headlined the meeting, which recommended "the occupation of southern Iraq with American ground troops to install an Iraqi opposition group based in London at the helm of a new government" (New York Times, 10/12). "American troops would also seize the oil fields around Basra in southeastern Iraq."
The shakiness of the U.S.-backed oil monarchies also compels the main wing to retain policy rivals Scott Ritter and Richard Butler as potential advocates for whichever direction it has to pursue. Both took part in UN arms inspections in Iraq in the late 1990s. Ritter has appeared on Exxon Mobil-funded PBS and at the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) proclaiming that Hussein poses no immediate threat. Butler, the CFRs "resident diplomat," calls Hussein the most dangerous tyrant since Hitler.
Another side of the debate involves opportunistic bosses pushing for an Iraqi war to boost their bottom lines. On Sept. 20, conservative scribbler William Kristol published an open letter urging Bush to carry the fight to Baghdad. One co-signer was Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy, a think tank that lobbies for arms merchants like Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop. Christian Coalition honcho Gary Bauer also endorsed the "Whack Iraq" letter. In his ill-starred run for the White House in 2000, Bauer received major funding from the Independent Petroleum Producers Association. Exxon Mobils recent large-scale imports to the U.S. of Iraqi crude, which sharply undercut the prices of the domestic product, have turned the traditionally isolationist Oil Patch into sworn enemies of Saddam Hussein.
At the heart of all this bickering is a tactical spat over the allocation of oil profits among big bosses and the timing and details of their oil war. They are not arguing over whether or not imperialism needs war. All these bosses are enemies of the working class. We have no choice among them. Our only alternative is the patient, steadfast commitment to communism and to the eventual destruction of the bosses as a class.
Although U.S. rulers murdered three million Vietnamese, they couldnt win the war. The Vietnam Syndrome developed when large sections of the U.S. public became convinced the war was not in their interest, especially as tens of thousands of GIs were being killed, and millions began protesting at home against the war. U.S. soldiers and sailors also rebelled, shooting their officers, sabotaging aircraft carriers and deserting in the hundreds of thousands. PLP played a central role in influencing the anti-war movement in an anti-imperialist direction, until the ruling class, through its liberal wing, took it over to turn it away from revolutionary politics.
U.S. rulers continue to disguise their imperialist war as a crusade against terrorism. The atrocities of September 11 gave them the excuse they needed to begin the first phase of this war.
The media hysteria about anthrax and other real or imagined threats helps them to:
Expand their war from Afghanistan through Central Asia as a prelude to securing the oil fields of the Persian Gulf;
Warn anti-U.S. Saudi bosses, including those outside the bin Laden gang, that U.S. imperialism will stop at nothing to keep the Saudi oil prize;
Create a ring of military bases to prevent the emergence of alliances involving Russia and/or China that would threaten U.S. imperialisms super-power status;
Implement the strategic goal of a police state at home, in order to stifle class struggle that could eventually give rise to a mass revolutionary communist movement led by PLP;
Fool U.S. workers into relying on the murderous state apparatus to guarantee our security.
For the time being, the rulers enjoy significant mass support. However, it is far less solid than what they will need for the working class to accept mass casualties. It appears strong but stands on shaky ground. Many workers and others can learn over time to see through the rulers Big Lies and act in our deepest class interest.
Imperialist war and the bosses police state will provide the raw materials. The imperialists will soak their hands in our blood as never before. The key to defeating them lies in our Partys collective hands. We must act resolutely, defiantly and resourcefully to teach the truth about this war and provide the leadership necessary for turning imperialist slaughter into working class internationalism and communist revolution to overthrow imperialism and the profit system everywhere.
(The following is excerpted from an article in the Oct. 16 New York Times by Mark Danner, a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of "The Massacre at El Mozote.")
The Spectacular of Sept. 11 prepared the battlefield; the blows that are sure to come will strike more effectively at the true target: Americans commitment to the countrys role in the world, and particularly the Persian Gulf .
The "evildoers" who gave their lives on Sept. 11 and those who sent them .want to bring about a new order of purity and righteousness in the Islamic world and particularly in the moderate states of the gulf, where they see only wealth and corruption and autocracy, all of it held in place by the power of America, the inheritor of the old colonial order. They see American planes and ships not as symbols of freedom but as the mainstay of the corrupt order they seek to replace .
President Bush calls on Americans to battle a vast, worldwide enemy an enemy of apocalyptic proportions that hates "our freedoms" by appealing to them as representatives of an indispensable nation . Unfortunately, as we know from the last quarter-century or more, political support thus purchased tends to be brittle and weak, having been built on emotion. In the days and hours following the next terrorist Spectacular, or the next, Americans may well begin to ask themselves why exactly they are being targeted and what exactly it is they are risking their lives for. Crusading against evildoers is likely by then to seem a less satisfying answer.
The American troops and warships in the gulf, the unpopularity of our presence there, the fragility of the regimes we support these facts are not secrets, but among Americans they are not widely known. In the gulf, as in other places and at other times, America stands not for freedom . Its interest is in the unfettered flow of oil from the gulf to the industrialized world. Now, as in 1991, American policy makers will struggle to achieve this interest within the bounds of the forbearance of the American public. We should be aware that it is precisely that forbearance that the terrorists have begun to attack. That they have chosen a point of vulnerability is incontestable; that our leaders are prepared to defend against that political vulnerability rooted in a longstanding refusal to speak honestly about the countrys interests even now is less clear.