To our readers: This is a three week issue of CHALLENGE. Well return to publication the first week of January.
3500 Civilians Killed So Far in U.S. Afghan War
Editorial: Sharon Apes Bush Terror To Widen Mid-East War
U.S. Imperialisms Israeli Junior partners Use Religion to Create Their Own Frankenstein
Rulers War Against Terror Comes to Fascist Homeland: BossesCourts Jail Striking Teachers
NYC Welfare Workers Back N.J. Teachers
U.S. Bosses Use 9/11 to Wage Murderous War
Brooklyn Neighborhood Forum Hits War For Oil
Anti-Racists Blast Homeland Defenders
Support Chicago Arabs vs. Racist Arson Terror
Protestors Attack Boston University Backers of Oil War
Racist Cop Gets 10 Years But Will She Do The Time?
Enron Collapse sign of rulers Dogfight, while . . .
Mexico: Ford Fears Fired Workers Fight vs. Layoffs
237 Women Raped, MurderedKabul? No Juarez!!
P.O. Union Anthrax Protest Too Little, Too Late
Teach-In On War Raps Attack on Postal Workers
Bring Anti-Imperialism to the MLA!
Its the Oil!
United We StandExcept for Wage Hikes
Fascists Attack on the Internet
Feasting on Anti-Racism
Battle Over the Flag
The New York Times Holiday Season
The number of innocent civilians slaughtered by U.S. bombs in Afghanistan has already surpassed the death toll in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. According to a detailed report assembled by Marc W. Herold, Professor of Economics, International Relations at the University of New Hampshire, more than 3,500 Afghan civilians are dead and "the number is climbing toward 4,000." Professor Herold cross-checked dispatches from British, Canadian, Australian, Pakistani and Indian newspapers and news agencies from at least eight countries.
The report exposes the Pentagons and U.S. medias lies about casualties that "could not be independently confirmed." Once again, U.S. rulers prove theyre the biggest terrorists of all.
The Middle East "peace process" is once again turning into a bloodbath for workers. Competition among rival groups of Israeli and Palestinian bosses, as well as internal dogfights within each set of these gangsters, is responsible. As always, the main murderers are the leading U.S. imperialists, who want to pacify the region as a prelude to widening their current oil war from Afghanistan into Iraq.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon represents that faction of Israeli rulers who dont want to give junior-partner status to the Palestinian capitalist crew led by Arafat. The Sharon group thinks it can rule most efficiently if it turns Palestinian territories into a modern Israeli version of South African bantustan concentration camps. Sharon relies for his political support on the racist "settler" movement.
The Sharon gang viewed September 11 as an opportunity to justify a murderous new offensive in the name of "fighting terrorism." They figured the U.S. would need Israeli muscle more than ever in the Middle East, and that circumstances favored a renewed attempt to smash U.S. plans to enforce a deal between Israel and the Arafat crew. But just as U.S. imperialists needed the events of 9/11 as an excuse to launch their oil war in Afghanistan, Sharon also required a cover to launch a new round of military repression against Arafat & Co. The latest horrific suicide terror bombings inside Israel by Hamas (Arafats main competitor among Palestinian nationalists) gave it to him.
In all probability, Sharon provoked Hamas into launching the new wave of suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. The Israeli rulers have been killing leading Palestinian figures. After they killed a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, this group assassinated a fascist Israeli cabinet minister allied with Sharon. Later Hamas agreed to stop mass terror attacks inside Israels pre-1967 borders, figuring they would provide a pretext for Israeli mass attacks on Palestinians. But the Israeli rulers continued the assassinations and on November 23, Abu Hunid, an important Hamas leader was assassinated, Two days later, on November 25, an influential columnist in Israels most widely-read newspaper wrote: "Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation [Abu Hunids murder Ed.] knew [that] under the gentlemans agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line [Israels pre-1967 borders Ed.] Rather, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas came to the understanding that it would be better not to play into Israels hands by mass attacks on its population centers" (quoted by Alexander Cockburn in CounterPunch, 12/6).
In other words, Hamas had cancelled the suicide bombings because they play directly into the hands of Sharon & Co., who needed an excuse to unleash the Israeli military. So the Israeli assassination of Hamas Abu Hunid must be viewed as a typical provocation.
However, Sharon is playing a dangerous game, because most of his masters in Washington oppose his "no deals" approach. In the wake of 9/11 and the most recent Hamas suicide bombings, the Bush White House has had to make a tactical retreat and refrain from criticizing Sharons use of military terror against Palestinian workers. But most liberal U.S. bosses still want a deal that will give the Arafat gang some crumbs. Their main agenda for the Middle East calls for creating the political conditions that will allow the U.S. to widen the present oil war into Iraq, where they have unfinished business with Saddam Hussein. The dominant section of U.S. capitalists fears the consequences in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Arab world of attacking an Arab country without a Middle East settlement that partially satisfies at least one faction of Palestinian bosses.
Not all U.S. rulers mouthpieces agree with this estimate. As CHALLENGE has noted recently, the "hawks" in the Bush White House, led by Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, want to attack Iraq now, ignoring the consequences in other Arab countries. They figure U.S. imperialism is strong enough to impose its will by purely military means. This approach is tightly allied with the Sharon wing of Israeli rulers.
Bushs Secretary of State, Colin Powell, represents the U.S. rulers who see a Middle East settlement as crucial to their plans for conquering Iraq. Their primary theoretical voices include former Carter National Security head Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Brookings Institution. In a November 2 Washington Post op-ed piece, Brzezinski calls U.S. super-power status the "only practical alternative to global anarchy" and names Iraq as the main threat for state-sponsored terrorism, but then cautions: "A more energetic effort to induce an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is a necessary [part] of any effort to cope with the danger of state-sponsored terrorism."
In a position paper published this month, two Brookings "scholars" say "not now" to "a large ground operation to overthrow Saddam Hussein," but add that as soon as the U.S. decides to "prove" that Saddam has links to Al Qaeda, "we have little doubt that the American people would support a campaign to overthrow Saddam in such circumstances despite the likely casualties" (Philip H. Gordon and Michael OHanlon: "Should the War on Terrorism Target Iraq?").
Wider war now or wider war later: thats the only choice the "hawks" and "doves" in Israel and the U.S. can offer workers. The harsh truth is that the profit system can never bring peace. All its wars have only one purpose: to decide the pecking order and priorities among local and international bosses. Capitalism, religion and nationalism in all forms are deadly for our class. Regardless of the flag being waved or the "divinity" being invoked, capitalisms god and country stop at the bottom line. The only way for workers to break away from this vise is to join a revolutionary communist party. Thats PLP.
U.S. rulers arent the only ones who help construct a monster only to have it turn against them. Their Israeli pals play the same murderous game. CHALLENGE has described the U.S. plan to use Islamic fundamentalism in the 1980s as a tool to destroy the former Soviet Union. This strategy promoted both bin Laden and the holy rollers in Afghanistan who later became the Taliban. Now Islamic fumdamentalist bosses everywhere have become the enemies of U.S. imperialism.
Israeli rulers dropped a similar rock on their own feet with Hamas, the terrorist organization currently launching suicide bombings inside Israeli territory. In the years when Arafat was the Israeli rulers main political and military enemy, they secretly supported Hamas as a counterweight to his forces. They reasoned that Hamass religious fundamentalism could serve as a useful antidote to Arafats secular nationalism. But the bosses behind Hamas had designs of their own. They want to oust Arafat, defeat Israel and rule Palestine for themselves. The law of maximum profit turns yesterdays ally into todays bitter rival. Workers should learn the lesson that no boss can ever be our friend.
MIDDLETOWN, NJ, Dec. 8 Fascism has reared its head in a strike by 1,000 teachers and secretaries here. The workers struck after working five months without a contract. Theyre being labeled "un-American" and "uncaring and greedy in a time like this" for fighting the Board of Educations demand to increase the maximum amount teachers pay for health insurance to $860 a year, up from $250 in the first year of a new contract, and then by 7% more in the next two years.
The reaction of the school board, the politicians and the courts reflects the growth of fascism. The day the strike began the Board was in court demanding an injunction. The judge then ordered the teachers back to work or face fines and jail time. The 225 teachers and secretaries who defied the order to return without a contract were then jailed. Joseph Azzolina, the districts State Assemblyman, himself a supermarket boss, attacked the workers as "un-American." Facing firings next week, the teachers were forced back.
The Middletown parents were split. About 100 parents and students rallied in support of the jailed teachers last week. However, local bosses are using the upsurge of flag-waving nationalism against the workers. Some parents have been won to view the teachers as "uncaring" and "greedy," especially "during a time like this." The bosses are also using the fact that many Middletown residents died in the World Trade Center attack. Superintendent of schools Jack DeTalvo "likened the strike and jailings to a war, saying community sentiment was overwhelmingly against the teachers." (New York Times, 12/6)
With the economy plummeting and U.S. rulers planning more oil wars, workers worldwide face increasing unemployment and fascist attacks. Since September 11, well over 100,000 airline workers have been laid off. Eighty thousands jobs were wiped out in New York City during October alone. In Buffalo, 550 teachers will be laid off this month. Neither capitalism nor its bought-and-paid-for unions can meet the demands of workers for a better way of life, free of exploitation and violence.
Soon after 9/11 U.S. rulers used the terrorist attacks to institute "Homeland Security." They passed the fascist "Patriot Act," which is being used to round up thousands of Arab and Muslim workers. However, PLP says these measures will be used to crush all workers struggles. In New York City, Giuliani has attacked the 80,000 school teachers for being "selfish" because they didnt lower their wage demands. Many union hacks say the war in Afghanistan has made them more reluctant to strike "for fear of being accused of undermining the fight against terrorism." (New York Times, 12/9)
PLP is building working-class solidarity. In one New Jersey school, were circulating a petition to show support for the Middletown teachers and demanding our union back them. Organizing under these fascist conditions will be harder, but we must continue to lead struggles to win workers to communist politics wherever we are. Workers need the Party and our leadership more than ever. At the same time, our most important job is widening and strengthening the base of the Party.
NEW YORK CITY, Dec 5 Tonight the Executive Committee of Social Service Employees Union Local 371 voted unanimously to send a statement of support to the striking teachers in Middletown, N.J., along with a check to financially help the strikers.
A long-time union delegate asked to speak to raise this issue of class solidarity. He urged support for this strike in which over 200 teachers, social workers and school secretaries were jailed, adding that State, County and City workers here in New York face similar anti-strike penalties under the fascist state Taylor Law.
Oil is the most important resource in the modern industrial world. The central fact behind the war in Afghanistan is U.S. oil company and therefore U.S. government designs on Central Asias oil and gas reserves, potentially the largest in the world. U.S. control over, and "protection" of, Saudi Arabia, currently the worlds largest oil producer, combined with domination of Central Asia, are the keys to the U.S. ruling class maintaining its position as the worlds only super-power.
Control of Central Asian energy sources and a conduit through Afghanistan would enable U.S oil barons, led by Rockefellers Exxon Mobil, to reap tremendous profits off marketing that oil and gas to India, Pakistan, China and South and East Asia. It would also act as a hedge against possible trouble in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Persian Gulf.
Former President Jimmy Carters National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski laid out the plan for U.S. supremacy in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives. Brzezinski is a key figure in the U.S. ruling classs machinations, having been a founder of Rockefellers Tri-lateral Commission, a member of his Council on Foreign Relations and a central advisor to the Reagan and Bush Administrations foreign policy task forces. Brzezinski maintains Eurasia is the center of world power, and the key to controlling Eurasia lies in Central Asia which contain these vast energy resources.
Many people, particularly overseas, are suspicious about who is really behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Some suggest it was all planned by some U.S. spy agency. Foreign media have reported many questionable incidents. But even assuming gross ineptness in failing to foresee these attacks, the rulers certainly were preparing for a war in Afghanistan as part of a plan to secure Central Asian oil and gas.
Whoever may have funded, trained and aided the September 11 attackers, the attacks themselves played right into U.S. bosses hands. They conveniently presented U.S. rulers with the opportunity to carry out some of their plans, in both Central Asia abroad and through the "Patriot" Law at home, gaining popular support for both in the U.S.. Although the liberals have protested that the Bush administration is moving too far too fast and certainly too nakedly on the domestic front, as well as too fast and too nakedly abroad with its go-it-alone drive for an immediate invasion of Iraq, these are only tactical differences which probably reflect other fights within the ruling class.
The fact that U.S. rulers are slaughtering thousands of Afghanis in pursuit of these imperialist goals simply follows the brutal invasions of the last 40 years, from Vietnam to the Dominican Republic to Panama to Somalia to Yugoslavia, not to mention the "proxy invasions" and government overthrows in Guatemala, the Congo, Chile, Nicaragua and El Salvador. As a terrorist, no one comes close to the U.S. ruling class.
BROOKLYN, NY, Dec. 9 Over 50 enthusiastic people participated in a forum tonight to discuss the war in Afghanistan and the Homeland Security Law. Most came because of ties to organizers of this event, others from leaflets in their mailboxes, posted in stores or on lamp posts or passed out on the street or at subway stops. Three invited speakers detailed events leading to and following September 11.
One speaker said the war had its roots in the Israeli/Arab conflict around Palestine and described the medias one sided presentation of news about the war and Islam. Two others cited attacks on South Asian and Arabic people by both governmental agencies and/or individuals or groups.
An immigration lawyer in the audience explained how Arab and Muslim immigrants are currently the main target of the Homeland Security Law but how it may be used against others in the future. Some pointed out that this very meeting could be labeled a "terrorist-support" event.
PLP members declared that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is an imperialist war for control of oil and that "Homeland Security" is another step in developing U.S. fascism. Later speakers centered condemned capitalism and the fight over oil as the cause for this war. Copies of CHALLENGE and PLPs "Oil War" pamphlet were added to the literature table and quickly grabbed up.
Tonights enthusiasm inspired a follow-up organizing meeting with a now larger group of neighbors planning to participate. As one person said, "It would have been good if only seven people showed up. Its about time there was a community meeting that discussed more than the repair of area sidewalks."
ANAHEIM, CA, Dec. 8 Racists who rallied for "Homeland Defense" were bloodied when they attacked anti-racist counter-demonstrators here today.
Several racist organizations the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), Voices of Citizens Together (VCT) and American Patrol demonstrated for "Homeland Defense" at Anaheims City Hall. In response, several anti-racist groups held a counter-demonstration to express strong opposition to these racists who are part of the rapid growth of fascism following Sept. 11.
PLP pointed out that the round-up of Middle Eastern immigrants has now led the way to a larger attack on all immigrants, and all workers.
CCIR and VCT organized this racist rally to oppose Anaheims validating Mexican-issued ID cards. Wrapped in American flags, the racists gave speeches and held signs accusing all "illegal" immigrants of being terrorists. They called for groups of citizens to arm themselves to protect the U.S.-Mexico border. They criticized authorities for not taking more action to "defend" U.S. borders and "protect" us from the "danger" illegal immigrants pose to this country.
One racist speaker praised the governments new measures to put in the FBIs database all immigrants who have overstayed their visas or who have other immigration problems. Then local, state and Federal agencies can use the data to find the estimated 314,000 people in this category. These measures are whole-heartedly supported by liberals as well as by these open racists.
When the first group of counter-demonstrators arrived, they drew hostile stares and comments by the racists who outnumbered them. Still, they began a picket line and started chanting "Asian, Latin, Black, and White, to Smash Racism We Must Unite," encouraging newcomers to join.
The face-off quickly escalated. After one of the racists tried to snatch a red flag and attack its holder, a fight erupted. Unfortunately for the racists, they underestimated the hatred for racism. The racists were smacked in the face and retreated bleeding. As the anti-racists stood their ground, more people arrived to join the counter-demonstration. A group led by the local Democratic Party picketed across the street. Despite the fact that their leaders kept them from joining the more militant demonstration, many gladly took leaflets which attacked the "Little racists and the Big racists."
Some leaders of the racist organizations singled out PLP, the communists, for trying to stop them from exercising their right to free speech. Well, they got that "right." Chants such as "Hitler Rose, Hitler Fell, Nazi Scum Go To Hell" interrupted the racists. Some demonstrators explained the connection between these racists and the ones who hold state power, like Bush & Co., and the Democrats who also supported the Patriot Act.
The racist rally represents one of the more extreme manifestations of those who have allied themselves with the ruling class behind the American flag. It was easy to see the similarity between the racists who called for defending "our" country with armed citizens with Bush who says citizens should report anything "unusual" to the authorities.
Some of the Democratic Party supporters carried U.S. flags that said "no racism." In the name of this flag, thousands of Middle Eastern immigrants are being rounded up and jailed indefinitely here in the U.S. and thousands more have been killed in Afghanistan. All immigrants are now subject to greater attacks. Its an illusion to think relying on the Democrats can eliminate racism. Only a communist movement that rejects nationalism represents the interests of the working class. The way to end attacks on immigrants and all workers is to build the long-term fight to destroy capitalism with workers power, communism.
CHICAGO, IL, Dec. 11 In the dark of night on December 3, racist terrorists set fire to the offices of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Marquette Park. For the last 20 years, the network has offered classes in citizenship, English, culture and health care. According to the Chicago Tribune (12/5), "The fire comes after a string of harassing phone calls and e-mails that the center has received since September 11."
A generation ago, these same fascist thugs were attacking and beating black people. Marquette Park housed a local Nazi Party headquarters until PLP drove them out with anti-racist attacks on their rallies and office. Now the neighborhood is very integrated, with black, Latin, white and Mid-East workers all living and working here. Yet the threat of war and fascism are much greater than they were then.
The Chicago police, who wrote the book on racist terror, are "looking for those responsible." They should start with the White House, Congress and the Attorney Generals office. Their calls for Homeland Defense and military tribunals are whipping up racist hysteria. More than 1,000 Middle East immigrants remain in custody and 5,000 more are being rounded up for questioning. The "war on terror" is being used to build a fascist police state; anti-immigrant racism is the cutting edge.
PLP is answering this attack. On December 8 we sold about 100 CHALLENGES at the AAAN office. We also discussed this racist attack at a neighborhood block club meeting. A lively discussion debated whether or not to send a letter of support and a small donation to help them rebuild. Some anti-Arab racism surfaced at the meeting. Many black workers have been won to this racism. Their own experiences with racism at the hands of local Arab store owners has left them open to accepting the bosses racist lies about Arab workers. U.S. rulers are using anti-Arab racism to win us to their next Middle Eastern oil war. If we fall for it, we are putting our own heads in the noose.
This is not a quick or easy struggle. The discussion went on for over an hour and everyone wasnt convinced. However, we did agree to send a letter of support. It helped that in the past few months, we have had political discussions about the war, about raising our children collectively and not relying on the police to make our neighborhood safe.
At Chicago State University (CSU), a professor got a resolution passed at his union meeting condemning this racist attack and donating $100 to the AAAN. We were unable to get an AAAN member to speak at the school before classes ended, but weve invited him to a social event at one of our homes to meet CSU staff and students, fight anti-Arab racism and learn about PLP.
Under the fascist PATRIOT Act, if the AAAN gave money to a hospital run by Hamas, the union could be shut down and the professor locked up for aiding terrorism! Racism against Arab and Asian immigrants is setting us all up for fascism and war. We should carry this struggle to all our mass organizations, especially on the college campuses.
BOSTON, MA, Nov. 29 A group of Boston University (BU) students, including two PLP members, participated in an anti-war rally here, which the PLers helped organize and lead. PLP signs at the rally read, "No War for Oil" and "Arab, Asian, Latin, Black, White, Workers of the World Unite." One PLer described the September 11 terrorist attack and the current war in Afghanistan as part of the fight between U.S. imperialists and a section of the Saudi ruling class (which includes bin Laden) over control of Mid-East and Caspian Sea oil. He explained bin Ladens role in the threat to U.S. control of Saudi oil, the importance of Afghanistan, of oil under imperialism and the need to eliminate capitalism to end terrorism and war.
The PLer called for a one-day student strike at BU to protest the war and BUs support of U.S. imperialism through its support of military research on campus such as at the Photonics center. A petition was read condemning this research, financed by $2.2 million of government funds for cutting-edge military projects, most going to a BU professor developing better missile guidance systems for the U.S. Air Force.
Another BU student indicted military tribunals, the PATRIOT Act, and the additional attacks on civil liberties and immigrants rights.
During the rally up to 30 students stopped to listen while PLP leaflets on the war were distributed to passers-by. The rally was a forward step in spreading opposition to the war and building a campaign to stop military research at BU. PLP students need to take the lead in sharpening the struggle on their campus against BUs role in supporting imperialism and racism.
GREENBELT, MD, Dec. 10 Today 70 protestors chanted "Give Mohr the Max" as convicted, brutal, racist cop Stephanie Mohr received the maximum sentence 10 years for using her police dog to attack two homeless Latino men who had surrendered and were confined. But the judge, fearing such a brutal, racist cop might face retribution in prison from other inmates, freed her on bail pending appeal, which could easily take another year. The Peoples Coalition for Police Accountability, which organized the protest with CASA, an immigrants rights group, condemned this special treatment.
At the rally, the Coalition launched its Dirty Dozen campaign. It is focusing on 12 cops in Prince Georges County who have killed with impunity or carried out other racist, heinous acts against community members. This includes Carlton Jones, the cop who killed Howard University student Prince Jones over a year ago and is still unpunished.
The Coalition is also pushing for changes in the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, which shields brutal cops from scrutiny and prosecution. Rally speakers included representatives of Amnesty International, the labor movement, public health and immigrants rights organizations and even a cop turned crusader against police abuses. Significantly, 20 Latino immigrant workers, a group of high school students and a contingent of students from the Howard University chapter of Amnesty International participated.
PLP will continue to expose capitalism as needing racist and repressive police to maintain the profit system through intensifying racism, intimidating opponents and strengthening corporate oppression of workers. Legal changes and even the jailing of a few cops will not change this fundamental role of the police force under capitalism. The New York Serpico investigations decades ago prosecuted lots of cops but the police continued as a racist and repressive force. However, a mass movement of workers and students against the cops and their capitalist masters can help build a revolutionary movement in the Washington, D.C. area.
The collapse of the Enron company reflects a significant disciplining within the ranks of the ruling class. And, naturally, who pays in the end? The workers (see article below).
Tightening their grip on the crucial energy industry, the more powerful U.S. capitalists have taken a sledgehammer to renegade Enron. It sinned against the Establishment by moving away from its original focus of supplying gas and electricity to cities and factories into speculative commodities trading that often harms the capitalist class as a whole. Then Enrons crippling of Californias power generating firms by cornering the electricity market early this year was the ultimate outrage to the big bosses.
But Enron had friends in high places its CEO Ken Lay was one of the Bush 2000 campaigns biggest donors and went unpunished. September 11, however, put the White House on a war footing. After that, Bush began to forsake his Texas pals in favor of the Eastern Establishment, to which he belongs by birthright. As an Enron executive recently complained, "The company has become a pariah. The Bush administration doesnt want to have anything to do with us." (New York Times, 12/2) Enron is now experiencing bankruptcy and a huge stock devaluation and faces a host of federal investigations, including possible criminal charges.
In the Eastern Establisments first big effort to seize Enrons strategic assets, Dynegy, controlled by Chevron (an old-line Rockefeller company, launched a hostile takeover bid in early November. Dynegy CEO Chuck Watson vowed to root out commodities gambling and concentrate on infrastructure: "Our strategy would have been to sell off all those commodities except the core gas and power businesses and keep all the pipelines" (Time Magazine, 12/4). Dynegy in fact demanded that Enron give its key Northern pipeline to Dynegy, even if the deal went bad as it did. The two companies are now suing each other over the pipeline. But forces greater than both may prevail.
When Dynegy broke off the merger, forcing Enron to file for bankruptcy, the ruling classs biggest banks leapt in for the kill. J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup are pumping $1.5 billion into Enron to keep the gas flowing but have made the firms entire pipeline network security for the loan. "If Enron keeps the pipeline but goes belly-up, the pipeline becomes the banks property" (Reuters, 12/5). Bankruptcy forced Enron to hire the Blackstone Group to oversee its reorganization. Blackstone is headed by Pete Peterson who is chairman both of the Rockefeller-run Council on Foreign Relations and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Although Enrons executives stole millions through backdoor dealing, both its workers and those forced to pay outrageous utility costs took the beating.
Less publicized than the Enron saga, Phillips Petroleums impending merger with Conoco signals the same increasing consolidation of the energy sector by the main Rockefeller interests. In the mid-1990s, Conoco, then owned by DuPont, signed contracts with Irans oil bosses to help exploit their oil fields. Clinton swatted the deals down with sanctions. Now Conoco is being taken over by Phillips, a company that has grown only by yielding its independence to the Rockefeller wing.
To become even a minor player in Kazakhstan, Phillips had to make Lawrence Eagleburger of Kissinger Associates a director in 1993. Buying ARCOs Alaska holdings in 1998 meant agreeing to Exxon Mobils "prior rights" to undeveloped ARCO fields there. Expanding into chemicals required Phillips to form a joint venture with Chevron (an Exxon ally). When in February it acquired more than 2,000 gas stations that Tosco franchised from Exxon Mobil, Phillips became a junior partner of Exxon Mobils in Saudi Arabias vast privatization of its gas industry.
Along with aligning formerly independent U.S. oil bosses with Exxon Mobils strategic outlook, a related goal of the Phillips-Conoco union is fending off foreign competitors. "European sources said French oil company TotalFinaElf had previously been eyeing Conoco before Phillips made its move, but was unlikely to enter a bidding war now" (Reuters, 11/19).
If one were looking for a reason to get rid of capitalism and replace it with communism, you need to look no further than the financial atrocity perpetrated by the bosses of the Enron energy corporation on their workers. While two of the top executives of this formerly 7th largest U.S. company were raking in nearly half a billion dollars from stock sales, they were wiping out the life savings of more than half of their 21,000 workers whom they had seduced into investing in those same stocks.
Enron had been touted by the business world as "the most innovative corporation" (Fortune Magazine), "the most successful Internet venture of any company in any industry anywhere" (the London Economist), the pillar of the so-called "new economy" based on the no-holds-barred "free market." Now its the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. So much for the "dot.com" outfits sweeping away the boom-bust cycles of capitalism.
While it appeared that Enron was amassing huge profits over the last decade, the top bosses were actually falsifying the figures to send the stock zooming. Then they cashed in over 17 million shares of their own stock during this misstatement of earnings, a stock that had reached a "value" of nearly $85 a share. CEO Kenneth Lay raked in $101 million; Lou Pai, chairman of an Enron subsidiary sold over five million shares for a whopping $353 million.
So why couldnt their workers who had been seduced into putting their life savings into this supposedly sky-high stock do the same? Because while the bosses were selling off huge chunks, they put a "lockdown" on their employees: that is, "purely by coincidence, say executives, new rules forced employees to remain invested in the companys stock just as the firm began its death spiral." (Paul Krugman, New York Times, 12/4) But now employees can "sell" their $85 stock at its latest price 87¢! In addition, Enron has laid off nearly 5,000 workers on three continents and put another 3,500 on "temporary leave.
So the main "innovation" these merciless robber barons seemed adept at was their ability to make a killing on the backs of their workers. What else is new?
Enron had benefited from the deregulation of energy markets begun by Reagan and continued by Clinton which enabled them to capture 20% of energy trading in Europe and the U.S. They had been a major fund-raiser for Bush, Sr., in the 1980s. Wendy Gramm, wife of Texas Senator Phil Gramm, was the commodities regulator in the first Bush administration and joined the Enron Board in 1993, just five weeks after the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, which she had headed, ruled that energy contracts would be exempt from regulation. (Surprise?) CEO Lay had donated $2 million to the Bush campaign and another million in the 2000 elections. And three top current Bush advisors involved in drafting his energy strategies held stock in, or earned fees from, Enron. Talk about "one hand washing the other"!
Behind all this outright stealing is the change in retirement systems. Formerly workers were in "defined benefit" plans they were promised a fixed pension. Today "workers across the country have been cajoled or coerced into holding a high proportion of their retirement assets in their employers own stock." (Krugman) So when the bull market ends and stocks take a dive, these workers pensions are wiped out overnight. This is the direction the big banks and investment houses would like to take Social Security.
Such is one house of cards on which the profit system is built. Enron was lauded by capitalisms apologists as the quintessential 21st-century corporation. "One wonders," says Krugman, "if it is the tip of the iceberg."
MEXICO, Dec. 12 A leaflet calling for seizure of a Ford plant here has struck fear in the hearts of the bosses.
Ford is losing markets and profits to its competitors so its cutting its workforce. In one factory, hundreds have been laid off and hundreds more will be replaced by a cheaper and less politicized labor force. Capitalism ruins workers lives.
Recently company security surrounded one Ford plant and called the police. There was an unusually intense inspection of workers entering the factory. Some were interrogated about "a secret plan to take over the plant." Dozens of vigilantes, lawyers and union hacks went up and down the assembly lines threatening the workers. All this happened after a leaflet called for seizing the factory to stop layoffs. It exposed how nervous the bosses are about not having everything under control.
A group of four fired workers continue to agitate outside the factory but have shifted their speeches from union issues to denouncing U.S. imperialist war in Afghanistan and the capitalist crisis of overproduction. This also made the bosses nervous so they forcefully ousted them from the factory area. But now these fired workers have moved to Fords central office, raising a giant banner saying, "Ford exchanges quality for cheap labor! Dont risk buying a Ford."
Leaflets are increasing. Some call for communism. Others denounce contract and labor law violations, imperialist war for markets and terrorism against the workers, Bush-Bin Laden style. Even so, weve been unable to take actions that previously paralyzed the whole plant. Most workers feel powerless to stop the advance of fascism and the effects of the bosses sharpening competition for markets. We need to expand communist understanding among all the workers in order to take the offensive.
At company-organized work meetings, many workers switch the discussion to one of stopping the layoffs and refusing to collaborate with the company. Ford has had to temporarily suspend the meetings.
Workers resistance has led the bosses to use the mass of unemployed to replace its whole workforce. Initially these new workers will accept the company goon attacks.
"How long will the stability of their new workforce last?" asked a leaflet. Not very long! Only until the new workers become conscious of their-super exploitation and then decide to fight.
In this battle against layoffs, workers are discussing how the profit system is profoundly against their class interests. Some see the need for a mass communist party to destroy capitalism. If more workers join PLP, the firings will not be in vain since we will be advancing on the road to the solution communist revolution.
The bosses dream of stopping the class struggle but cannot. We cant predict the results of this battle. But we do know the Party will continue giving leadership to the struggle in this plant and in the surrounding area and will continue to expose and fight the bosses until the workers destroy them and their system.
CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO, December 4 U.S. bosses and their media suddenly have become "champions" of womens rights, attacking the horrendous treatment of women by the Taliban in Afghanistan. They did it as one of several justifications to wage war against the Taliban. But closer to home, right across from El Paso, Texas, the most horrendous crimes against women in recent history have occurred, without as much as a peep of protest from the White House or the U.S. media.
Last week the raped and murdered bodies of eight women were found here. According to NGOs (Non-Government Groups) in Juarez, at least 237 young women, all of them from poor working-class neighborhoods, have been murdered that way in the last eight years here,. Most of these bodies have been found in empty lots in the downtown area.
Even though the police presented two men as the killers of the last eight victims, people dont believe the cops. They probably tortured the two men into confessing. Many suspect cops are involved in all this and that these two "arrests" wont stop the serial killings.
Just like elsewhere, police corruption is rampant here. The local police are deeply involved in the drug business. Recently, a federal cop was indicted here for selling drugs. The El Cerezo prison warden was also arrested for allowing the escape of several inmates involved in drugs. The police chief was recently arrested for being the leader of an auto theft gang.
Many of the women victimized by these murders and corruption work in the heavy concentrations of "maquilas," the border plants which produce for export to the U.S. market and are owned by the big multi-national corporations GM, Nissan, GE, Gap, Nike, Motorola, etc. The women are subjected to several levels of oppression, on the job and as sexual objects. It is believed that some of the murdered women had been kidnapped by gangs and sold to rich perverts as virtual sexual slaves. Some of these perverts are probably maquilas bosses who super-exploit hundreds of thousands of young women workers.
These women workers come from all over Mexico. Their working and living conditions are horrendous. Industrial accidents are rampant. And now, as the bosses economic crisis deepens, and millions of workers lose their jobs on both sides of the border, those still working must produce still more, so the bosses can maintain maximum profits.
When it comes to oppressing women, capitalism is at the top. Communism offer a complete opposite life to all workers. We will do everything possible to fight all forms of special oppression suffered by women workers. We will also wage sharp struggles with men to fight the male supremacist thinking developed under capitalism and previous class societies. The abolition of wage slavery and profits for a few bosses will be the first big step in this long struggle.
NEW YORK CITY, Dec. 7 A few hundred postal workers rallied today in front of Manhattans main post office to protest their bosses refusal to thoroughly test all but a few postal facilities for deadly anthrax contamination. They were also angry about working for over a year without a new contract.
Had the union leaders called this demonstration six weeks ago, when management first refused to deal adequately with the anthrax threat, thousands of postal workers likely would have joined the protest. The strength of thousands of vocal, active workers, along with public sympathy, might have been enough to force postal bosses to order thorough testing of all facilities. However, for nearly two months the national union leaders did next to nothing, and the NYC local president misled workers by focusing (unsuccessfully) on petitioning the Court to shut one contaminated facility. As in this case, when push comes to shove, the courts almost always protect bosses, not workers.
Consequently, postal workers keep working, not knowing if dormant anthrax spores exist in their workplaces, waiting to be spread through the air and possibly causing more victims. Meanwhile, Congressional offices in Washington were shut, tested and finally decontaminated before re-opening. Bushs slogan "United We Stand" rings hollow for postal workers, as it does for all workers,
Meanwhile, the American Postal Workers Union contract expired in November 2000 and has been in arbitration for months. A binding decision is expected soon. A meager demonstration now for a good contract is just too little, too late.
However, the double standard (one for the rich and their flunkies, another for workers) is still a hallmark of capitalism. Postal bosses project a billion-dollar deficit, whining they cant afford to give workers a raise. Yet, these same postal bosses are about to give themselves and lower managers and supervisors bonuses totaling about $125 million! Isnt capitalism wonderful?
CHICAGO, IL, Nov. 28 About 300 students and faculty participated in an all day teach-in on the current "war on terror," sponsored by the Chicago State University (CSU) College of Arts & Science. Seventy-five participants bought CHALLENGES. Panels discussed topics from biological terrorism to the history of U.S. foreign policy.
One highlight was the panel, "Postal Workers Speak Out." A postal worker and his locals vice-president described the rotten working conditions in the post office before and after 9/11. While many businesses evacuated and sent workers home, the P.O. forced workers to stay on the job. "Theyre kicking our butts!" one said. Both detailed the total disregard for workers safety during the anthrax scare. "They shut down the Congress and tested everyone. Even the police dogs got tested before postal workers."
One professor took offense at the unpatriotic tone of the discussion. He said, "You are government employees. What if soldiers in the military decided they didnt want to fight in Afghanistan? Where would the U.S. be?"[You got that right! Ed.]
A group of high school students, brought by a PLP teacher, could hardly contain themselves. They defended the postal workers right to not work under these deadly conditions. Then a PLP student leader said that when he was in the service, he and his friends had frequent discussions about the world and why the U.S. will go to war for control of Mid-East oil. He said that soldiers should not blindly follow orders and talked about growing war and fascism (the topic for the next teach-in).
The high school students were so impressed they decided to organize a day of discussion at their school. We are planning to get together with students and professors over the holiday break to prepare to take on the fascist Criminal Justice Department here at CSU.
The Radical Caucus in the Modern Language Association (MLA) will bring four emergency resolutions before the MLAs annual convention in New Orleans on Dec. 27-30.
One urges condemnation of FBI profiling and harassment of international students, especially of Arab and/or Muslim background. Another targets cutbacks in public higher education (for example, a 15% slash in NYs community colleges). Previous struggles waged by the Radical Caucus and the Graduate Students caucus to retain access for working-class students, oppose cuts in affirmative action and resist the super-exploitation of adjunct and graduate student teachers must be joined with resistance to the belt-tightening "justified" by the "war against terrorism."
A third resolution urges the MLA to reject the McCarthyite witch-hunt led by seasoned right-wing culture warrior Lynne Cheney (wife of VP Dick Cheney) and Democratic Leadership Council Chair (and former VP candidate) Joe Lieberman. Theyre using a recent report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) labeling college campuses centers of anti-Americanism. It goes after 117 faculty members opposed to the war. ACTA wants support for the Cheney/Lieberman college curriculum plan that will celebrate rather than critically analyze U.S. History and Western Civilization.
A fourth resolution condemns the language used to justify the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan (The MLA Constitution prevents it from taking a position directly against the war itself.) The "war against terrorism" is framed as a struggle of "good versus evil," a "clash of civilizations." Repressive government policies like the PATRIOT Act" are painted with jingoistic rhetoric that prevents analysis and chills dissent.
PLP members and friends will raise politics that are not simply "anti-war" but are anti-capitalist/imperialist and anti-fascist, explaining that the current war which may well expand into Iraq represents the geopolitical interest of U.S. capitalism. The recent repressive government measures were spawned by Clintons Counter-Terrorism Bill; community policing; and Clintons addition of 100,000 police to "special street crimes units" since the mid-1990s. The "war against terrorism" provides the "legal" framework for fascism.
Higher education part of what Marx called the "superstructure" has always served primarily to further the interests technological and ideological of capitalism. Liberals are trying to sanitize this years campus anti-war activism, divorcing it from the "taint" of imperialism.
Communists and their allies must advocate a mass anti-war movement based upon an understanding of imperialism and fascism as outgrowths of capitalism to avoid the liberal pitfall of viewing the war as "irrational" or "mistaken." This will contribute, ultimately, to the revolutionary overthrow of the existing oppressive order.
After 9/11, some people in my church formed a "support group." Early on 25-40 people attended to share their feelings. After a month, 10-15 were still meeting-- and arguing! Some supported the war, some opposed it and many were confused. It looked like the group might break up. But since we knew we would be working with each other in different church activities, we had to see this as a long-term struggle. Most of the anti-war contingent stayed with the group.
A subcommittee working with other groups in the church planned a forum on "Religion, Politics, and War." Two speakers were from the local Muslim community and the third was a Marxist sociology professor. About 120 people attended and it was a big success.
One Muslim speaker corrected some popular misconceptions about Islam. The sociologist answered, "Why do they hate us?" and "How did we get into Afghanistan?" with a lively history of imperialism in Central Asia and the Gulf region. There was some friendly discussion among the panelists and some very thoughtful audience reactions.
I knew we were doing well when a young man said, "I've been listening to what you say, and reading the handouts. Do you remember the Clinton campaign slogan, 'It's the economy, stupid?' It occurred to me that now, 'It's the oil, stupid!'"
The church is still very divided. Our pacifist minister overcame some of his personal fears and started to criticize the bombing of Afghanistan and the attacks on immigrants. Many support him. Others say, "We were attacked. We must stop terrorism."
We discussed the difficulties of getting people involved. Many are confused, some don't want to argue, and others don't even want to think about it. Some are intimidated and others feel helpless.
Conversations will continue as we plan more activities; from e-mail campaigns against Ashcroft's police state, to joint social events with Muslim organizations, to broader involvement with an anti-war coalition of churches and community groups. Half a dozen church members saw CHALLENGE for the first time. About ten read it fairly regularly. Some call it "too Left," but like to see what it says. Others like it a lot. It's helpful to read about the struggles going on in other churches.
Like the rest of the U.S., American flags are flying and "United We Stand" signs are flooding San Luis Obispo Transit (SLO-TRANS). But when a bus turned up with some minor scratches (and no one "confessed"), we found out what the jerks that run this company mean by "standing together." Management ran around investigating and threatening to fire whoever had damaged the bus even though they had no idea whether it was a driver, a service attendant, a yard mechanic or one of the bosses themselves.
At the same time a Laborer II worker, overdue for his upgrade to Laborer I wages two months ago, still cant get a straight answer about his promotion from the same damn bosses who spent a whole week doing their lousy "Sherlock Holmes" imitation. When a flyer mysteriously appeared attacking these management jerks, the boss flipped and sent a couple of his supervisors to rip them down.
One driver laughed, "They tore them down because they cant stand for us to read the truth about them."
Another worker, referring to a mechanic waiting a month for his promotion said, "Jimmys name should be on that flyer too." His friend responded, "75¢ an hour more is nice but its not going to change Jimmys or any other workers life. We need a revolution to get rid of a system where bosses pull out all the stops to write up or fire us but when it comes to paying a worker a little more, they forget how to dial the telephone."
Tearing down the flyers only roused the curiosity of workers who hadnt yet seen them. By the time you print this letter, another round of flyers will be up, challenging the patriotic crap-trap of these useless transit bosses.
S.L.O. Transit Worker
As editor of The Internet Anti-Fascist Newsletter Ive recently been intensely cyberstalked by neo-Nazis around the U.S.-based National Alliance. The fascists then backed up their attack with a barrage of complaints to my ISP RoadRunner that I was engaged in "improper behavior." Then RoadRunner mechanically pulled my service.
This tactic now seems to be internationalized. The mega-site antifa.net wrote, "Anonymous complaints by the Belgian Commision for the Protection of Personal Life is the new weapon from Belgian neo-nazis against antifa webpages and magazines. We are one of the victims."
Ive described this process with an introduction entitled,
"Cyberstalking New York After September 11" and is available via <http://www.anti-fascism.org/page-special.htlm.
The "Letter to RoadRunner Security" is available via <http://www.anti-fascism.org/special/cyberstalking/letter-rr-security.html.
It is vitally important that we educate the broad anti-fascist and progressive movement about how the fascists operate today. Your story would be of enormous help here. It would also assist groups like The Internet Anti-Fascist and antifa.net.
With anti-fascist greetings,
For 15 years my family has hosted a "Thanks for Fighting Racism" Feast here in Washington to answer the bosses "Thanksgiving" which celebrates the genocide of Native Americans from European colonization of the "new" world. Its been my husbands idea, as a way to celebrate anti-racist struggles with good food and friends and co-workers.
A qualitative step occurred this year. The Howard University chapter of Amnesty International co-sponsored the anti-racist Feast, creating a more collective approach. Many Howard students helped set up and cook. About 60 people attended. The $300+ raised from a 50-50 raffle went to the Prince Georges County Peoples Coalition for Police Accountability. This group has organized numerous demonstrations and press conferences against police murders, and has been holding forums to obtain testimony from victims of police brutality for forwarding to the Justice Department. The Coalition developed a list of the "Dirty Dozen" cops (now several dozen) in Prince Georges County, MD.
Speakers at the Feast addressed many aspects of the fight against racism. A leader of the Howard University Chapter of Amnesty International described their struggles against the death penalty and to indict the racist cops. The Coalition announced its upcoming retreat to make long-term plans against police brutality as well as organize the courthouse rally at the sentencing of the one racist County cop who was actually convicted of civil rights violations.
Several members of the American Public Health Association (APHA) related their activities at the Associations annual meeting in Atlanta, where two resolutions were passed. One protested the war in Afghanistan, exposing its link to oil. The other condemned the group C.R.A.C.K. (Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity) which offers drug addicted women $200 bribes to become sterilized or get long-term birth control, but with no treatment for addiction.
A member of the Progressive Labor Party analyzed the pretenses of "Democracy," Bush being installed without being elected, the loss of civil liberties in the name of "fighting terrorism" and the step-up in racial profiling and hate crimes. Also noted were the numbers of students across the country building an anti-war movement, and how all this leads to the need to rid workers of this racist capitalist system and to fight for communism.
A Metro transit worker and PL member continued the theme, explaining how his winning a union election and becoming a union leader was only a start. As long as capitalism exists, reforms will not bring workers relief from racism. Whatever the bosses give as crumbs in the "good economic times," they take away during recessions. To defeat racism, he argued, its necessary to destroy capitalism and erect a system where workers collectively control their lives communism.
Many new folks came and mixed with others who have attended the Feast for years. Lively discussions ensued at the different tables over reform versus revolution; what is actually meant by communism; is it possible?
The next step is continuing discussion with those who attended and bringing them closer to our ideas and into activities.
I work in an office. Right after the September 11th attack, I gave my officemate a flyer, telling her the war was for oil, not really against terrorism. (We share a doorway into the hall.) She seemed to accept that idea. We discussed that one of her brothers might be called up.
In early October, I found an American flag taped to the office door when I came to work. My co-worker and I have shared a 200 sq. ft. office space for the last eight years. I could not work if we didnt get along. I approached her about the flag. She said her son-in-law had stopped by the house and dropped some off. I told her I was uncomfortable with the flag because it was being used as a symbol of war fever. (This was before the U.S. started bombing.) I asked her if she would agree to a statement being posted next to the flag. She said she was not interested because her friends knew she was not promoting war and some of them had asked her how they could get a flag. She said I could post a statement with my name on it.
I talked to many friends at work. I drew up a statement we both could live with. No names were attached. It reads: "Now is the time for workers to unite against hate crimes, racial profiling and racism in all of its forms."
Several co-workers said they appreciated the sign being posted. One of the stewards who is ex-Navy and not fond of flag-wavers, said it best we had both a flag and a disclaimer!
One of my friends said she could not have stood for a flag on the door. I told her I had to work with and get along with this person. I found a way to have more of a political discussion and to display this statement where hundreds of workers pass every day.
Every year the New York Times runs a multi-million dollar campaign to "aid" what it calls "The 100 Neediest Cases." For months, day after day, it runs tear-jerking stories about families really up against it during the "holiday" season. Of course, the Times never asks the question WHY there is even one "neediest" case, much less 100 or tens of millions.
Every single tale of woe it prints can be traced directly to some brutal feature of capitalisms profit system mass unemployment, racism, budget cuts, drug addiction, slumlords and so on. But, of course, since the Times is the chief mouthpiece for this horror system, and helps create these neediest cases, dont hold your breath reading that rulers rag for the truth. The capitalist creation of needy workers is one piece of news the Times finds "not fit to print."