December 12, 2001

  1. Liberals or Conservatives
    Two Sides of the Fascist Coin
  2. Ivy League Scholars Give Rulers Police State Blueprint
    Liberal Universities: Velvet Glove Hiding Profit System's Iron Fist
  3. Rulers Fight over When to Make War for Iraqi Oil
  4. Operation "Enduring Oil Profits": Kill, Kill, Kill
  5. Oppression of Women from Kabul to Washington
    1. The Road to Liberation Is Through Revolution
  6. False Prophets Profit from Murdered Workers
  7. `United We Stand' with LTV Turns the Screw on Steelworkers
  8. International Solidarity: the Missing Link in Sold-Out VW Strike
  9. Boston: PLP Leads Fight Against Racist Killer KKKops
  10. One Million Go Hungry in the Big Apple
  11. CHALLENGE: A Beacon For Workers Fighting Layoffs
  12. Can't Rely on State, Black Politicians:
    Roxbury Students Dump Corrupt President
  13. Capitalism Means Sweatshops
    in U.S., Too
  14. Racism and Anti-Communism
    Birds of a Feather
  15. Bosses Protect Congress from Anthrax, Terrorize Postal Workers
  16. Solidarity Emerges from Ambulance Workers' Struggle
    1. Force Apology from UFT Red-Baiter
    2. Church Activity Sparking Struggle
    3. And in Another Church
    4. Economics 101:
      A Fairy tale
    5. Mexico: PL'ers Fight U.S. Oil War
    6. Nazis Get Away
      With This One

Liberals or Conservatives
Two Sides of the Fascist Coin

The police state the rulers have rushed to impose since September 11 is basically not a response to the barbarous acts of that day. Those attacks gave U.S. bosses the excuse they had sought for several years to launch a new oil war abroad and to rule at home with an iron fist. Their strategy reflects the nature of the profit system, which makes imperialist war and police terror inevitable.

Bush's B.S. about punishing the "evil-doers" is growing more transparent daily. This is a war for the control of oil supplies and for world domination. It will widen far beyond Afghanistan and spill massive quantities of workers' blood. As the imperialists expand their slaughter for profit, they will justify their atrocities in the name of lofty and noble goals. Workers must never fall for the lie that bosses' wars have any purpose other than maximum profit and political power for themselves. Only a revolutionary communist analysis can expose the true class interests that hide behind the imperialists' flag-waving and fake humanitarianism. This is the Progressive Labor Party's job: to tell the truth and then organize workers to act in their own class interests, regardless of the obstacles.

The same principle that applies to the fight against imperialist war also applies to analyzing and combating the rulers' police state. Here, too, PLP must uncover the class reality beneath the layers of Big Lies and expose this to the workers. By now, many CHALLENGE readers have become familiar with the steps the rulers have taken to "fight terrorism" by laying the foundation for their own reign of terror. As usual, racism provides the cutting edge. This time Arab and Muslim workers and students are the initial targets. The rulers' strategic goal is to stifle all forms of class struggle against themselves. They don't trust the union honchos to maintain workers in their present state of passivity. In this period, capitalism needs the full power of its state apparatus to enforce fascism. Since September 11, the Bush White House has carried out the following outrages:

Over 1,000 arrests of mostly Arab and Muslim people, on secret charges unrelated to the events of 9/11;

*The justification of "racial profiling";

*The collection of "information" about Middle Eastern students on over 200 college campuses;

*Authorizing military tribunals to try suspected "terrorists," with secret verdicts and no right of appeal, even from a death sentence;

*Floating the idea that torture may be needed to obtain information from people detained in this way;

*Widening the snooping powers of the FBI, CIA and local police, including new wider power to wiretap private homes;

*Allowing the wiretap of lawyer-client conversations;

*A green light to develop "Magic Lantern" technology, which would permit the FBI to monitor the exact details of virtually anyone's home computer use.

For the time being, the bosses continue to enjoy significant mass backing for these measures. Many people still make the mistake of believing the ruling class's spin on events. This is understandable -- the rulers own all the mass media and can still influence popular opinion in their favor. However, as the war drags on and more workers feel the brunt of the latest economic recession, growing numbers of people are bound to question some of the government's motives and to doubt the reasons Bush & Co. give for their police state.

The direction in which these questions and doubts head will determine the extent to which our class can build its fighting forces in the teeth of war and oppression. As the rulers' vise tightens, we must avoid the fatal error of falling for "lesser-evil" fascism disguised in a liberal cloak. The trap is already being set. The liberals' main target is Bush's Attorney General, John Ashcroft. Ashcroft is an easy target, because he's basically a Bible-thumping klansman in a business suit, whom Bush had to appoint as a patronage payoff. His racist, anti-worker history is well known. Led by the New York Times, the Eastern Establishment's leading mouthpiece, the liberal press has been calling Ashcroft to task for the heavy-handed clumsiness with which he's enforcing the PATRIOT "anti-terrorism" bill.


Workers must smash the liberals' scheme to pose themselves as the solution to Ashcroft. Liberal Democrats provided key backing for the Hart-Rudman Commission, which laid the groundwork for every major provision of the PATRIOT Act. This terrorism bill arrived in Congress on September 19 and every Democratic legislator except one voted for it after very little debate. Most of the bill's provisions were already largely present in Clinton's Counter-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. With a few clucks about Ashcroft's nastiness, the liberal press gave a blank check to the new bill's most drastic provisions in the weeks before November 13, the date when it became law.

Now that Bush has signed it, the liberal politicians and scribblers have taken their hypocritically "indignant" stand. Ashcroft is too obvious for them. They far prefer the "community policing" style of mass terror to Ashcroft's flagrant dismantling of capitalist civil liberties. This is clear from the large number of police chiefs who have joined the anti-Ashcroft parade, protesting his betrayal of "due process." When top cops protest, you know something's rotten. The liberals want to fashion the noose themselves and con us into fitting it around our own necks.

The purpose of the police state is not to fight terrorism but rather to maintain it to strengthen capitalist dictatorship over the working class in a period when the rulers require increasing brutality. The liberal Big Lie consists in portraying this brutality as a painful but necessary medicine to protect "democracy" and "human rights" and then promising not to let things get out of hand. On occasion, even the most sophisticated liberals slip and let the cat out of the bag. One of Ashcroft's most skillful critics in the press has been the New York Times' Frank Rich, whose columns have cleverly exposed the Bush hangman's heavy-handedness. Rich's idea of a good attorney general (New York Times, 11/24) is none other than Rudy Giuliani, who until his political career was resurrected by the photo-ops of 9/11, had made a career as a champion of racist cop terror in New York City.

Rich's outrageous suggestion about Giuliani reveals the liberals' role of misdirecting workers away from the real solution to their oppression. The liberals' inability to hide the truth about capitalism stems from the fact that no matter who's in charge at any given moment, the profit system is always a brutal class dictatorship. The liberals merely want to put a smiling face on it. We can't fight police state terror and imperialist war unless we organize to destroy the system that requires such barbarism.

The recognition of this profound truth is the first step in the long, very difficult, but ultimately winnable struggle to lead the working class toward communism and a decent society. Our Party has shown that it can grow in this period. As the rulers' attacks against our class and our organization increase, we can learn to advance under them. The main danger isn't the rulers' terror -- bad as it may be -- but rather the self-inflicted deadly error of uniting with the class enemy and their allies and setting our sights short of communism, settling for reforming capitalism, which just continues our oppression. The Progressive Labor Party intends to keep holding the red flag high.

Ivy League Scholars Give Rulers Police State Blueprint
Liberal Universities: Velvet Glove Hiding Profit System's Iron Fist

The rulers were able to railroad their fascist PATRIOT Act into legislation because it had been essentially ready for months before 9/11. For the past year, CHALLENGE has extensively documented the antics of the Hart Rudman Commission, which recommended most of the PATRIOT provisions and came up with the "national security" angle.

But Hart-Rudman didn't fall from the sky. The commission got its strategy, tactics and rationale from two of the rulers' most important universities, Harvard and Stanford. In 1998, Harvard's Kennedy School released a report entitled "Catastrophic Terrorism: Elements of a National Policy," the brain-child of the Stanford-Harvard Preventive Defense Project. The final Hart Rudman document, released three years later, echoes this report's proposals and arguments. The authors of the report are former Clinton CIA head John Deutch, former Clinton Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, and former State Department and National Security Council hack Philip Zelikow -- all liberals.

In December 2000, shortly before Hart-Rudman's final recommendations began circulating, the Harvard Kennedy School published a paper by one Richard Falkenrath entitled, "The Problems of Preparedness: Challenges Facing the U.S. Domestic Preparedness Program." This little masterwork clearly reveals the Harvard brain trust knew, hoped or feared that something very big was up and could be used to justify drastic police-state measures. It focuses on bio-terrorism and states that a bio-attack would most effectively cause people to run to the government for safety. It produces a chilling list of powers that the government will require in order to "protect" the population. In addition to most of the PATRIOT Act's measures, these include:

"The authority to compel people to remain in one location or move to another, including temporary detention;

"The authority to use the military for domestic law enforcement, population control, and mass logistics;

"The authority to seize community or private property;

"The authority to censor and control the media;

"The authority to compel civilian public servants to work."

It concludes with a self-righteous comment about the regrettable need to sacrifice rights in order to save lives. In the spring of 2001, Bush promoted Falkenrath, the report's author, to the National Security Council.

As always, the so-called "Ivory Tower" has once again played a pivotal role in justifying and diagramming the profit system's bloodiest atrocities -- and in concealing the true reason for them.

Rulers Fight over When to Make War for Iraqi Oil

A battle royal is brewing within the Bush White House over how, where, and when to widen U.S. imperialism's oil war. The sharpest difference concerns Iraq. Bush is trying to appease both camps until a decision can be made. Workers should understand the true agenda of both sides, in order to avoid falling into another liberal-pacifist trap. Following either crew of bosses would be fatal for us.

One side in the Bush camp could be called "Whack Iraq now." Leading individuals in it include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and longtime Wolfowitz buddy Richard Perle. Institutional support for these "hawks" comes from the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century. These gangsters represent an alliance of arms manufacturers and domestic oil bosses (the Oil Patch) who have reasons of their own for insisting on an immediate war against Iraq. Arms merchants, closely tied to former CIA chief Stansfield Turner, want to make windfall profits from peddling their murderous toys. The domestic Oil Patch bosses are desperate to knock cheap Iraqi oil off the market. As CHALLENGE has frequently reported, Eastern Establishment oil firms Exxon Mobil and now Chevron Texaco are selling Iraqi crude in the U.S. market and effectively undercutting the domestic upstarts.

The liberals, on the other hand, recognize their need to establish a pro-Exxon Mobil government in Iraq. They know this task can't be accomplished without hundreds of thousands of ground troops and a very bloody war. Their main difference with the "hawks" is timing. The primary public mouthpiece for their "war later" line remains the New York Times, whose November 26 lead editorial warns that this is "The Wrong Time to Fight Iraq," adding: "The challenge of removing [Saddam Hussein] is best left for a day when the United States can count on the strong and effective support of opposition forces in Iraq." In other words, invade only after U.S. imperialism has a reliable puppet army and shadow government in place.

Within their own inner circle, the leading liberals are far more direct than the Times. In the November 15 issue of Blueprint Magazine, the voice of the Democratic Leadership Council, Senator Joe Lieberman says: "We should be unflinching in our determination to remove Saddam Hussein from power." Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, chimes in: "The United State should...orchestrate a more serious crackdown on rogue states," and cites Iraq as the first to go.

The liberals' champion within the Bush administration is Secretary of State Colin Powell, who earned his genocide stripes in Vietnam and then helped Bush Sr. murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqi workers during the 1991 Desert Storm for oil. Like the Times and Blueprint, Powell's main argument boils down to timing.

From Vietnam to the present oil war, the liberal rulers and their political hacks have been and remain the principal warmakers. Workers, soldiers and youth should never take sides in these tactical squabbles. The "hawks" have immediate profit needs. The "doves" want to delay escalation in order to launch a far wider, deadlier oil war later, when they hope to enjoy more favorable political conditions for it. Our task as a class and a Party is to grow until we can launch and win our own war to destroy all of them.

Operation "Enduring Oil Profits": Kill, Kill, Kill

The "peace" U.S. imperialism wants to impose in Afghanistan is guaranteed to produce more and more wars. One example is the massacre of POWs held by the Northern Alliance and their CIA leaders in a fort outside the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Although the U.S. government and its war media (CNN, Fox News, etc.) are calling it "a prisoners' revolt," it looks more like a calculated massacre. The Taleban and foreign fighters had surrendered to the Northern Alliance after their lives were "guaranteed." But following Rumsfeld's words that basically said no prisoners should be taken, as soon as the POWs were interned in the old fort, the Northern Alliance, under orders of CIA agents in the area, attacked the prisoners with heavy weapons, tanks and B-52s bombardments (more "efficient" than the Nazis' gas chambers). For three days, the unequal battle continued as the prisoners resisted.

Again U.S. imperialism is showing its true murderous character, no matter how much it disguises its oil war under euphemisms like "Enduring Freedom."

These massacres also guarantee there won't be peace in Afghanistan. This Northern Alliance massacre is as brutal as the ones they engineered when they ruled the country once the Soviet Army left and Yeltsin stopped helping the nationalist government in power in the early 1990s. The Northern Alliance President, Rabbani, who returned to Kabul last month, was responsible for the murder of 50,000 people during the few years he was in power.

The people of Afghanistan, who hoped for some relief from the reactionary Taleban regime, are learning that their imperialist "saviors" are worse. Without a communist party building a mass revolutionary struggle to wipe out all the imperialists and their local cutthroats, for them there is no relief.

Oppression of Women from Kabul to Washington

Laura Bush's Nov. 17 speech "championing" the rights of Afghan women exposes the bosses' hypocrisy. When it comes to oppressing women, U.S. rulers are number one at home and overseas. Mass cutbacks in health care, welfare, education, etc., in the last two decades under Reagan-Bush Sr., Clinton and now Bush Jr. have driven millions of U.S. women (particularly black and Latin) deeper into poverty. According to Amnesty International a woman is attacked every 15 seconds and 700,000 women are raped every year in the U.S. Laura didn't mention that the continuous bombing and embargo against Iraq have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, particularly the children of working-class women. And in Afghanistan, the U.S.'s new allies, the Northern Alliance, is no different from the Taliban in treating women as subhuman.

The Northen Alliance warlords are so hated that the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) wrote in Counterpunch (11/19): "Thousands of people who fled Kabul during the past two months were saying that they feared the coming to power of the NA in Kabul much more than being scared by the U.S. bombing." Novelist John Ringo wrote in the NY Post (11/20): "There are plenty of Pashtun women who would love to get their hands on a...{NA} soldier for a while. They have been sharpening their knives for 10 years...It is better (for these women) to wear a burqua than to be raped and murdered."

The Road to Liberation Is Through Revolution

Some groups, like RAWA, are demanding UN peacekeepers in the areas now controlled by the Northern Alliance as a way to avoid the mass rape and murder of women. That is no solution. After the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, the Red Army helped liberate many of the Central Asia republics bordering Afghanistan. Thousands of women burned their veils. The revolutionary gains won by the workers in the Soviet Union were brought to the masses of Central Asia.

The task of communists today is very similar to what Lenin said early in the last century: " It is necessary to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with the strengthening of the positions of the Khans, the landlords, the mullahs, etc."(Lenin's Selected Works, Vol. 10, p. 236, Int'l Publishers, 1938 edition).

False Prophets Profit from Murdered Workers

The "September 11 attacks have invigorated the apocalyptic brand of theology embraced by many Christian evangelists and fundamentalists who view the collapse of the World Trade Center towers as the latest harbinger of end times."

"God got America's attention and...the window's going to be brief."

"Pastors have taken to the pulpit to predict the second coming is near [and]...that they could be preaching their final sermons."

"Jesus could return within two or three years....There's no more prophecy to be fulfilled. It literally could be any day." (All quotes from the New York Times, 11/23)

It seems doomsday, the end of the world, is near only when Americans are killed. We guess God just ignores the 20 million Soviet people who gave their lives in the struggle to smash Hitler in World War II, the 15 million Congolese tortured and murdered by imperialist Belgium's King Leopold, the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis, the three million Vietnamese dead from U.S. imperialist war, the 200,000 Guatemalans killed by U.S.-installed dictators after a CIA-engineered coup and tens of thousand murdered by U.S.-trained death squads, the millions of African people whose lives ended prematurely at the hands of slave owners and slave traders, the 250,000 Japanese civilians incinerated by two U.S. atomic bombs....

None of this, it seems, warrants prophecies about the end of the world. Presumably these and thousands of other mass murders perpetrated by world capitalism and every previous class dictatorship are your "normal, run-of-the-mill" apocalypses. Not enough to get God's attention. It's only when 3,900 Americans are victimized (by CIA-trained terrorists, we might add) that God appears to sit up and take notice....

But another series of references from that same issue of the Times may reveal what's really behind all this doomsday stuff:

"Titles on biblical prophecy...have flown off the shelves in the last two months."

Sales of "non-fiction [?] books about prophecy...after Sept. 11 increased by 71%..."

"The leaders of the prophecy movement [are] beneficiaries of a multi-million dollar industry..."

Said the owner of Armageddon Books, a company that sells 600 prophecy-related items over the Web: "The worse the news was for America, the better our business was."

It seems in the U.S. God fits very neatly into the bottom line....

`United We Stand' with LTV Turns the Screw on Steelworkers

EAST CHICAGO, IN, Nov. 27 -- LTV, third largest steel producer in the U.S., is closing. More than 13,000 workers and 70,000 retirees will pay the price. LTV has been dying a slow death since filing for bankruptcy last December. Over the summer the union approved concessions to cut labor costs, but the company is still closing.

LTV has a December 4 court hearing to formally get out from under all contracts, and gain court approval to shut down. Workers' pensions will be cut in half, including those already retired. Workers with less than 30 years seniority won't be able to start collecting until age 62. This is especially painful since the average seniority in the mill is over 27 years. Fired and retired workers will lose their medical coverage.

This exposes the total hypocrisy of the bosses' "United We Stand" patriotic claptrap. They want to blind us with racism and flag-waving, with candlelight vigils and superstar concerts, to fight for their oil profits in the Mid-East and central Asia while they attack the working class from here to Afghanistan. It also exposes the bankruptcy of the union's "Stand Up for Steel" campaign, which defends U.S. steel makers against "foreign" competition. Union leaders are ready to fight Japanese and Russian steel workers, or bin Laden & Co., but they are unwilling and unable to take on the steel bosses here.

Thousands of these workers are Vietnam veterans. Tens of thousands of retirees are veterans of World War II and Korea. This is how the bosses treat those they have sent to kill and die for them. When it comes to bosses and workers, there can be no unity.

LTV is one of many US steel companies headed for the scrap heap. About two dozen have filed for bankruptcy in the past two years. American Steel shut down less than a year ago, and Bethlehem Steel is close behind. The destruction of Asian and Russian markets created a crisis of overcapacity. This intensified the inter-imperialist rivalry, as the U.S., Europe, and Asia fought for a bigger share of a shrinking market. The U.S. steel industry produces more tonnage today than 20 years ago, with 350,000 fewer workers!

U.S. B-52 bombers flying over Yugoslavia destroyed some of this "excess capacity." This is how imperialism ultimately does business. Trade wars become shooting wars. Markets are blasted opened and competition destroyed. War is inevitable as long as the capitalists hold power. Workers must smash imperialism with communist revolution. This means building internationalism and a mass PLP.

LTV workers are angry and scared, not knowing what the future holds. This has affected our members and friends as well. Some illusions are being smashed. Unemployed steelworker committees can build unity by fighting for medical coverage, keeping utilities from being turned off and halting evictions. We can involve steel workers from other mills, and those who will lose their jobs in the "ripple effect." We can replace "Look out for #1," with "Look out for each other." It ain't everything, but it's something.

*FLASH: USW Local 1011 has proposed $350 million in give-backs, including $150 million in wage and job cuts. No answer yet from LTV.

International Solidarity: the Missing Link in Sold-Out VW Strike

SAO BERNARDO, Brazil, Nov, 21--Sixteen thousand workers at the world's second largest VW plant ended their two-week strike accepting a 15% wage cut and less working hours. This was the ABC Metalworkers Union leadership's "solution" to VW's plans to get rid of 3,000 workers. Even though the company agreed not to lay off workers for five years (a capitalist promise not worth the paper it's printed on), 700 workers are expected to accept VW's "voluntary early retirement." These jobs won't be replaced.

This strike shows the limitations and possibilities of waging class struggle in this era of capitalist overproduction and recession. VW threatened to move production of the Golf model to its Puebla, Mexico plant if the strikers did not agree to concessions. The union leaders in Sao Bernardo and Puebla had no thought to organize an international struggle in both plants, which could have sparked a fight by VW workers and other autoworkers worldwide. Instead, they took wage cuts with a vague promise of no layoffs, which allows the VW bosses to pit workers in both countries against each other. In 1998, the union also accepted a 20% wage cut, but employment in Sao Bernardo has continued to fall, from 35,000 to less than 27,000 today.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis in Brazil and the Mercosur (the common market of Brazil and Argentina) has cut demand for cars. And the future offers no relief. So the auto bosses will continue to demand concessions from the workers. To get off this treadmill workers need a leadership, which helps them to understand why capitalism creates such a trap along with its periodic crises and wars. Workers especially require a society that does not produce for profits nor need any bosses. Production will be for need -- that's communism.

Boston: PLP Leads Fight Against Racist Killer KKKops

BOSTON, Oct. 27 -- Members and friends of the Progressive Labor Party marched to the police station in Roxbury, one of this city's poorest working-class neighborhoods in Boston, to protest the killing of five men over the last ten months, four of them minority and/or immigrants. None of the cops have been charged. These police killings grow from capitalism where the laws, courts and police protect the class interests of the rich.

We made a real effort to involve the families of the five victims. The mother of Ricky Bodden kept us strong. She led a press conference denouncing police brutality and attended all our meetings. PLP distributed hundreds of leaflets and made connections with many people in the community. Two Party members addressed a Sunday church mass and the pastor urged the entire congregation to attend the march. These efforts brought several friends closer to the Party's politics. We made several contacts before and during the march.

Most of the organizing occurred around the September 11 attacks. Some of us were concerned about speaking out against police terror and the war at a time when any dissent was considered "anti-American." Non-citizens worried they could be deported. Despite this, we knew it was a great opportunity to expose the real face of capitalism. In our leaflets and during our meetings, we showed how police terror, racism and racial profiling are part of daily life for millions of working class people, especially blacks, Latinos and immigrants. We linked police terror to the war and noted how they serve the same purpose: to frighten us and protect the bosses' profits.

We warned that supporting the cops and the war helps our real enemy, the bosses, to bring down our quality of life, cut jobs and build more racism. PLP says the real threat to workers' security is the ruling class which creates racism, poverty and wars. We need communism, a system that meets the needs of our class. Join us!

One Million Go Hungry in the Big Apple

While the rulers are raining down bombs in a war in Afghanistan costing billions, "MORE THAN A MILLION NEW YORKERS WERE RELYING ON SOUP KITCHENS, FOOD PANTRIES AND SHELTERS TO AVOID GOING HUNGRY." (New York Times, 11/26; our emphasis) That's more people going hungry than the entire population of virtually every city in the U.S.!

With Clinton having killed welfare and the Democrats and Republicans waving flags (and dropping bombs) all the way to Kabul, and debating when to invade Iraq to kill even more workers and children, more than one-eighth of the population of the largest city in the U.S. has no money for food! The bosses want us to unite behind their capitalist profit system causing this misery. United WHO stands?

CHALLENGE: A Beacon For Workers Fighting Layoffs

"This is great, amazing!" said a machinist who is helping distribute and produce another in a series of leaflets by concerned union members dealing with September 11 and the massive aerospace layoffs. It didn't seem like any big deal: just a picture of Brazilian VW workers striking against layoffs. "How do you come up with this s--t?"

"I look for it." Our friend wanted more, so our comrade continued. "Years of reading CHALLENGE has taught me to look for inspiration internationally."

"CHALLENGE is global." Our friend interrupted. "Why not? The bosses think globally."

"A global political paper," our comrade added.

After some more discussion our friend decided to take a few extra papers for her family. "Think globally, act locally," concluded another new CHALLENGE distributor.

A Small Victory...

Another worker distributing a few more papers is a small victory indeed, but the type of advance that can be crucial over the long haul. Even this small victory would have been impossible without intensified ideological struggle with close friends and aerospace workers in general -- even as the bosses cranked up their patriotic war machine.

Most workers hate the union leadership's passivity in the face of massive layoffs. The rank and file have little faith in the hacks' appeals to the Democratic Party. We know begging for a few crumbs of charity won't amount to much in the long run.

Even these pitiful calls for alms are couched in the rhetoric of sustaining patriotism. On the other hand, these past months the Party and its base have fought for the outlook that any significant fight-back requires rejecting unity with the bosses, relying on the power of the working class.

We stand ready to serve the working class. In fact, it was the Party and friends that first called for our union to set up job fairs and other means of helping the unemployed. Nonetheless, none of these good deeds should be a substitute for class struggle. Indeed, all these services could help build our fight-back if we had a working-class political outlook. Class struggle can help prepare us for even more significant battles ahead.

The Party and friends organized demonstrations at the plant gates during the last layoffs, calling for the laid-off and employed to unite. Even calling for such demonstrations in today's political climate will spark sharp political struggle. We can't escape the fact that the nationalist flag-waving whipped up by the bosses' propaganda machine has blunted our class-consciousness, disheartening many of our allies.

...A Huge Responsibility

"I admire your energy," said our new distributor. "Most people in this plant go the other way. Look around! The endless rows of machines, the oppressive atmosphere: It's bad karma. I see a lot of fear and depression."

"Once again look to CHALLENGE for your energy. It's a beacon. The more appropriate question is how does the Party and CHALLENGE survive given the bosses' huge oppressive machine?"

"The fact remains that capitalism can't serve the interests of workers. All this system has to offer is escalating oil wars, layoffs and a police state. This fact remains despite the bosses' huge patriotic war machine."

"This paper survives because its communist politics serve our needs. On the other hand, we would be fools not to see the many `challenges' to its continued survival."

The discussion passed quickly to the serious question of preserving CHALLENGE, while developing it into a practical beacon for all the world's workers under difficult circumstances. This is a huge responsibility to be secured by many small victories over a long period of time.

Can't Rely on State, Black Politicians:
Roxbury Students Dump Corrupt President

BOSTON, Nov. 23 -- The State Government forced Roxbury Community College's (RCC) President Brown to resign on Nov. 6. This followed months of student and faculty demonstrations and protests exposing her administration, the Board of Trustees and the State Government for allowing RCC to sink to new depths of corruption and mismanagement.

The resignation came one week after a militant demonstration of over 100 students outside the administration building demanded Brown's removal. It was sparked by the retaliatory firing of a popular science professor who had been organizing against the Brown administration. When Brown sent her flunky out to sabotage student militancy, angry students chanted "Too Late. Too Late" and then marched through the academic building. Out of this activity the students have organized themselves into Voices In Action, a club committed to build student activism. They're feeling the brunt of racism, recognizing that the power structure, black or white, will not protect their interests, but also feeling their own potential power once they organize.

Since Brown's resignation, state auditors have exposed unauditable financial aid records, $39,000 in undeposited student tuition checks and much more. Steven Tocco, of the State Board of Higher Education (BHE) has called it "an across-the-board management disaster." A battle is raging between the BHE and the black legislators and others from the black elite who comprise RCC's Board of Trustees over how quickly and with how much severance pay Brown will exit and who her successor will be.

Many black legislators continue to back Brown while negotiating a large severance package for her. They blame the State Government for treating RCC unequally, as a black institution. While this certainly is true, their defense of Brown is merely cronyism disguised as anti-racism. The central form racism takes here is that the State and the black politicians have enabled incompetence to run RCC into the ground for the last nine years. The black legislators have used the school as a source of patronage jobs (mainly bogus consulting contracts) and the State education bureaucracy has cynically allowed the scandals to continue and grow, ready to step in as "reformers" with a freer hand to implement their agenda.

That day is here. Students, Faculty, Staff and the Roxbury community must prepare to face a new and much more dangerous enemy in the BHE, an education bureaucracy determined to remake public higher education into a training program serving only the needs of Massachusetts corporations. This new development comes amid a growing recession, severe cutbacks, and harsh repression. In fact, the Massachusetts legislature has just cut the state budget by $30 million. And higher education is getting hit hard. We'll have to fight like hell to save our school, our jobs and our future.

The Progressive Labor Party has had some success in winning students and some faculty to understand that we need to build student-faculty-worker unity and militancy to fight the bigger battles ahead. We must not get suckered into participating in the selection of the next RCC president, or into relying on the BHE or the black legislative caucus. The Brown administration's corruption and incompetence and the cronyism of the black legislators gives the students and faculty a good opportunity to see the inner workings of capitalist-run governments and how readily black elites support the bosses in their racist schemes.

Capitalism Means Sweatshops
in U.S., Too

BINGHAMTON, Nov. 27 -- Kevin Danaher recently spoke at SUNY-Binghamton to about 60 students. He is the liberal head of Global Exchange (GEX), an organization which, among other things, campaigns against sweatshop labor abroad. GEX serves the interests of some U.S. capitalists by attacking the exploitative practices of their competitors elsewhere while basically ignoring those same practices in the U.S. GEX has "sued nearly two dozen clothing importers." The lawsuit, which ignores the brutal treatment of garment workers here (Los Angeles, New York. etc.), earned GEX a telling ally, the huge U.S. garment manufacturer Levi Strauss.

Danaher touched upon some important issues -- the horrible conditions in sweatshops, child labor, the huge profits made from oil in the Middle East and the effects of globalization. In the discussion a PLP'er said these problems must be analyzed relative to capitalism that needs to maximize profits and leads to imperialism and war. We can't just hold individual corporations accountable, we must hold capitalists and capitalism accountable and destroy both capitalism and imperialism (i.e., globalization). The PL'er also noted that the U.S. ruling class tries to control Mid-East oil not just for profits or cheap gas for SUVs, but because U.S. imperialists need to control their European and Japanese competitors' access to cheap oil. While Danaher agreed with much of this, he also said it was wrong to destroy capitalism; instead we must build for "revolutionary reform" (an obvious contradiction).

The contradictions in Danaher's politics are clear. Though he acknowledges some problems within the capitalist system, such as overseas sweatshops and globalization, he ignores others, such as sweatshops, prison labor and Workfare here. In fact, GEX receives money from the San Francisco and James Irvine Foundations, both tied to Levi-Strauss. The profit motive is what drives capitalists to exploit workers around the world. Corporations act according to the rules of capitalism; they must seek the cheapest resources and labor in order to compete better, thereby gaining a larger share of the market and increasing profits. This law is not unique to Nike or Gap; it's a goal of all capitalists. As long as capitalism exists, bosses will exploit workers and the environment. The PL'er said it's necessary to destroy capitalism in order to rid the world of the problems Danaher mentioned.

She put forward an alternative to capitalism, a communist system free of exploitation and racism, saying Progressive Labor Party works to unite workers internationally towards this goal. Danaher cynically asked if she wanted to be "two steps or five steps ahead of the masses" to do this. The PL'er replied, "I want to be with the masses."

In conversations with friends afterwards, there was talk about the need to build an international, multi-racial movement with workers and students, rather than an elitist, reformist, pro-capitalist movement. Ten CHALLENGES were distributed and ties were strengthened with other students.

Racism and Anti-Communism
Birds of a Feather

CHICAGO, IL, November 21 -- Racism is alive and well in high schools on the mostly black South Side. Students are yelled at, disrespected, metal-detected, suspended and assumed guilty until proven innocent. Most are denied a decent education and then blamed for it.

Recently a Chicago cop barged into a Geometry class and told one student, Keisha, to get up. When she said, "No," the cop cursed her and other students, saying she was "sick of the bull---t," and "Shut the f--k up." Then she grabbed Keisha by the arm and yanked her out of her desk, striking another student. Finally, she pushed Keisha out of the room, nearly knocking her down. The students and teacher were furious.

The principal refused to meet with the class and the assistant principal (AP) lectured them to do what they're told (her "crime" was not taking off her scarf). The students pointed out that Keisha got an immediate two-day suspension while the cop got an "investigation." They told the AP that she did nothing to justify what the cop did. They stood up for themselves and their teacher supported them.

The cop and administrators in this situation are all black, but that doesn't stop them from being racist. They would never act this way in a predominately white middle class school. Capitalism thrives on racist inequality. Principals and cops of every skin color help keep that system going.

As usual, the administration tried to blame the teacher instead of the cop, lying that the teacher "tried to incite a riot." This "charge" had an anti-communist ring to it, given that the teacher was a PLP member. But other teachers weren't buying it. These same teachers, amid all the patriotic war hysteria, had recently elected her to be their union delegate. Many teachers, black and white, are disgusted by the cop and support the students and teacher.

Parents are furious. Keisha's parents want the cop out of the school and off the force. Others have volunteered to write letters. One parent brought this to the Local School Council. This has opened up many opportunities to introduce parents and students to the Party's ideas. The students are angry, determined and feel good about taking action. They used what they've learned about writing and logical reasoning to fight a wrong.

Bosses Protect Congress from Anthrax, Terrorize Postal Workers

"...I have a tendency not to believe these people..."

NEW YORK CITY, Nov. 27 -- These were among the final words of Thomas Morris, Jr., one of two postal workers in the Wash., D.C. area who died from anthrax. He was referring to postal managers who had told him there was no problem with a suspicious powder-filled envelope found near his work area a week earlier.

Reactions by U.S. authorities to recent anthrax cases reflected a double standard: the safest response for the rich and powerful, the worst for workers.

When a suspicious letter was found in Senator Daschle's office, the entire U.S. Congress was shut down and thoroughly tested and decontaminated for anthrax; hundreds were tested and immediately given antibiotics. The postal facilities containing the contaminated letter continued to operate, exposing postal workers even longer to the dangerous anthrax spores. Thomas Morris, Jr. might be alive today if postal workers were treated the same as members of Congress. Later, worries about the Supreme Court building led to its closing and testing. (One bitter joke going around the post office is that the Congress was closed because what they do is unimportant, whereas post offices were kept open because moving the mail is very important.)

Here a contaminated letter at NBC studios had passed through the huge Morgan mail facility, potentially contaminating the tens of thousands of letters sorted hourly there. Then they are distributed to other post offices throughout the City, and beyond. Union pressure finally induced some testing at Morgan. At least five-high speed sorting machines tested positive for anthrax contamination. All but one part of the third floor continued to function, thereby endangering the lives of thousands of postal workers.

A union court attempt to force postal bosses to close the entire Morgan facility until tested and decontaminated was rejected by a federal judge. Most other post offices receiving mail from Morgan have not been tested at all.

This double standard is itself a form of terrorism against thousands of postal workers. It is only the fear of losing our jobs that has kept postal workers from walking out.

A double standard permeates every aspect of the USA (and all capitalist countries). It will exist as long as capitalism does. To eliminate the double standard we must get rid of capitalism.

(This has been the primary message put forth by PLP in the post office through discussions, speeches and the increased distribution of CHALLENGE.)

Solidarity Emerges from Ambulance Workers' Struggle

Workers at the largest ambulance company in the U.S. have been working with an expired contract since mid-September here in Southern California. The company has used terror tactics against the workers to stop our organizing. It has a patriotic "united we stand" image, but when it comes to workers' wages and conditions, "unity's" out the window.

First a one-day strike was called, fought for by the rank and file, to protest poverty-level wages and unfair labor practices. It involved about 150 workers. Three weeks later a two-day walk out was organized after the bosses harassed and manipulated workers and attacked the union in retaliation for the first strike. The company spent lots of money on their anti-union propaganda, including Federal Expressing letters to each worker. Now many workers have become passive, believing we can't win this fight. But others have been politicized and want to continue to fight. They understand that better wages are linked to better health care services for the community. The healthcare industry in the US is facing major cuts as money is poured into war and fascism.

The two strikes gained solidarity support from other workers, including bus drivers and even the local fire department. Neighborhood residents brought hamburgers and pizza to the strikers. Even at the height of the patriotic war fervor, and despite the media's torrent of "united-we-stand" (with the bosses) crap, workers are fighting back and open to seeing that we can't unite with our bosses. One of the more popular picket-line signs attacked the company for promoting slave labor.

Because of the camaraderie in these strikes, workers who feel patriotic are still willing to seriously discuss whether the war in Afghanistan is one for corporations, or for workers' interests. Many workers see that the bosses are only out to screw us. Workers have begun to take CHALLENGE, with more to come.

Patriotism won't feed our families, give us a job, decent working conditions or take care of our patients. Patriotism only benefits the bosses. We need to expand the working-class solidarity built in these strikes to more hospital workers and extend it all the way to workers in the Middle East. Putting profits ahead of the needs of the workers means attacking health care workers and patients while supporting war and fascism.


Force Apology from UFT Red-Baiter

Following up on the New York City United Federation of Teachers Delegate Assembly report (11/1): As we wrote, union president Randi Weingarten had called members of PLP "terrorists" when they held up a banner at the meeting opposing the war and demanding we fight against any cuts in school funding due to the war's costs. The whole meeting booed Weingarten, even hundreds of members of her own caucus.

Well, Weingarten apologized at the following special meeting, and repeated that apology at the last meeting on November 6. Why would she apologize? We would guess that even though Weingarten has support from many of the delegates -- out of a general loyalty to the union, and a certain self-interest-- she overstepped the bounds. Even those who disagree with PLP (some quite loudly) would never call us terrorists. It would appear that Weingarten has some work to do to consolidate the anti-communism in her caucus and to further consolidate her pro-fascist base.

A New York Comrade

Church Activity Sparking Struggle

Several weeks ago 200 people attended a teach-in organized by the Social Justice Commission at the large, urban church I attend. Six academics and a student spoke about the war in Afghanistan as a "just response" against terrorism, U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine, U.S. sanctions in Iraq and the development of Homeland Security since the Reagan years. The student said fighting terrorism is a criminal act, not an act of war. The moderator tried to steer the discussion in the direction of war as a just response.

Despite the fact that the six academics knew all about the role of oil in the region, not one mentioned it.

During the question period afterwards I asked the panelists: (1) What about U.S. goals going beyond a war on terrorism to protection of U. S. oil interests in the Middle East? and (2) Haven't U. S. military objectives in South Asia for a long time been to establish military bases in the area to cordon off the oil-producing countries and to warn Russia and China not to challenge U. S. control of Mid-East oil and oil supply routes in the region? The answer was brief: yes, oil is a part of the mix. Afterwards eight of my church friends (several of whom read CHALLENGE) approached me to comment on my questions, mainly to acknowledge their importance.

Meanwhile, a struggle is developing inside the church. Some members of the top church commission want us to support the war and the country without question or debate. They opposed the teach-in and warned the Social Justice director there will be no more events here. I call it Homeland Security in the church.

Several of us in Social Justice committees are preparing a letter to the commission asking for openness, so that the whole congregation can get information and participate in discussion. We're drafting a church-wide petition that, while acknowledging the horrific terrorist attack on innocents at the World Trade Center, will question U.S. government war policy and link the fight against terrorism to a fight for justice world-wide.

I'm working with a committee that's organizing a series of events at the church about: the relation of U.S. foreign policy, past and present, to the current situation; the war in Afghanistan and the central role of the conflict for oil; Homeland Security's roots in the Hart-Rudman Commission; the intensification of racism in the U.S. as a result of world events; the economy; and trauma, meditation, "healing" and women in Afghanistan.

Within this framework my friends and I will have many opportunities to talk and ask questions, such as: "Can there be `peace' under imperialism and can there be `justice' without revolution?" I've learned a lot from the red chuchmouse. Keep those letters coming!

Red Churchgoer

And in Another Church

As I wrote previously, volunteers in our church soup kitchen had several thorough discussions of the political issues surrounding the September 11th attack. Now we're trying to expand this kind of sharing and struggle. We planned an ecumenical conference involving Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists and humanists participating in the planning, and two imams advising us.

Five central questions were to be raised: What were the immediate, and the root causes of the attacks? What will happen as a result of the attacks? How can we lead our faith communities into becoming centers of activism for world justice and against the war? What should we struggle for? How can we grow spiritually in the process of giving this kind of leadership? (I explained to my friends that "spiritual" to me means what inspires me to make more unselfish efforts to win a communist world).

We advertised in several papers and journals, spoke at some organizations, leafleted a number of events and mailed hundreds of brochures. The work paid off. Scores of people participated in the three-day event. Several discussions focused on the need for the U.S. power elite to secure control of the cheapest supply of oil worldwide being the main factor motivating the war in Afghanistan. One of the two routes for piping the Caspian Sea region's oil lies through that country. More importantly some argued that the whole anti-terrorism "war" was a pretext for eventually moving on the ultimate target, Iraq.

The most interesting presentation was given by one of our new comrades who described the Book of Revelation in the Bible as a metaphor of revolutionary struggle to bring a rule of justice and sharing among working people here on earth. This effort shows an important development in dialectical materialist consciousness.

Some class struggle may emerge from this particular workshop as a participant invited us to join an action her community is leading against the economic sanctions, which are causing widespread sickness and death, primarily among Iraqi children.

Other projects that may emerge from the conference are an interfaith newsletter, a vigil for justice and against the war, more struggles on behalf of unemployed, underemployed and homeless and a summer camp for activists.

With greater hope in the working class.

Red Churchmouse

Economics 101:
A Fairy tale

I'm a student at the University of Washington and currently taking introductory economics. This class teaches me nothing. In fact, whenever I say how this economic system is no good, my teacher says he's only telling me "what it is" (positive economics), not "how it should be" (normative economics), which he says will be covered in the next class. So I'd like to see more on the economic situation in CHALLENGE, like the two articles In the last issue (11/28) which linked economics and politics.

Here in Seattle the biggest employer, Boeing, is laying off tens of thousands. People are told to "accept this for their country," and that the only way they can save "our" country and stop the recession is by spending all their money (not much now without a job). It's imperative that we show how this recession and these layoffs are all products of the crisis of overproduction and a whole lot of gambling done by the ruling class. They want us to believe it's our fault because we "stopped spending money,"-- but that's untrue.

We know Boeing is already losing to its competitors, especially Airbus, and that it was just waiting for an excuse to lay off without worrying about strikes. This is a general trend for many companies. Now they're hoping that after the U.S. war in Afghanistan, they'll have cheap access to the most important resource in production, oil, and that their international competitors won't. Then Boeing's profits would rise immensely, as would many U.S. companies. When they say they're fighting for "our" security, they really mean fighting to secure the bosses' profits. They couldn't care less about laid-off workers. Caring about workers is "un-American." Shopping and securing profits is "patriotic."

My economics teacher says competition is good for us (meaning consumers), because prices fall. But this competition is not only deadly for the working class on the battlefield, but also at home as our jobs are slashed. This is what communists must point out continuously in our classrooms and workplaces. We must also read and distribute our analysis in the form of CHALLENGE everywhere so a real solution can be spread.

Red Husky

Mexico: PL'ers Fight U.S. Oil War

The last stage of Bush's oil war may be the beginning of World War III. This means terror and death for millions of workers worldwide. Under such conditions, a mass communist party could lead the working class to revolution.

At one school in Mexico, 30 students and professors attended a conference the day after the Sept. 11 attacks. We explained that terrorism hurts the working class and that we need to join PLP to put an end to all capitalist terror.

On October 2, we distributed hundreds of CHALLENGE supplements during a march and demonstration against the war at the U.S. embassy. We called for an end to imperialist war by turning the guns around and for a civil war for communism. At the faculty of science we also posted a wall newspaper with the same slogan.

Section 22 of the CNTE (teachers union) in Oaxaca passed a resolution against the war, and a union coalition has been formed to oppose U.S. aggression. In the schools, factories and work centers we had many discussions with friends to explain why war for profits was inevitable under capitalism, and why we need a mass international communist party. The current period gives us the opportunity to build a mass base for communism. Join PLP!

PLPer, Mexico

Nazis Get Away
With This One

On Nov. 10, the neo-Nazi National Alliance marched here in Washington D.C. to the Israeli embassy to flaunt their anti-Semitism by expressing their "solidarity" with the killing of Jews during the attack on the World Trade Center. They had marched three months ago to protest the anti-Nazi laws in Germany. At that time PLP'ers attacked them and bloodied one of their leaders.

We were unable to mobilize to attack this march, but I went with my son anyway. When we arrived, there were about 40 people milling around waiting to start an anti-Nazi demonstration. They had been organized by the anarchists and the International Socialist Organization (ISO). Across the street I noticed several Nazis that I recognized from the previous march having a snack. The police had not yet arrived. I went back across the street and tried to get some of the demonstrators to attack. The ISO leadership said they didn't want to fight the Nazis and the anarchists were just afraid.

When the police finally arrived, the ISO started to verbally attack them for protecting the Nazis. One black cop asked why were we attacking him. He said the police gave us a chance to beat up the Nazis and we passed on it. I had no answer since I wasn't prepared to discuss revisionists (fake leftists) with the police, nor the history of the cops' pro-fascist protection of the Nazis.

The Nazis were successful because we didn't organize to take them down. By refusing to fight, the ISO openly allied themselves with the Nazis.

The Nazis had maybe 70 people. They'll have more next time. We must make sure that they get smashed then. We will need hundreds of workers from our mass organizations to take up the fight. Building for this must begin now.

Red Trade Unionist