While patting his dogs at his Texas ranch over Christmas, Bush promised: "Next year will be a war year" (Washington Post, 12/27). Our Party must make and keep its own promise to the international working class. In 2002 and beyond, we will struggle to meet our immense responsibility as communists. We will carry out our revolutionary line to the extent the objective situation permits and will learn to grow as a force in the class struggle. We will train ourselves to do whatever is necessary to work under the tightening vise of the bosses' police state. We will never lose confidence in the workers' need to understand that only the overthrow of the profit system can end imperialist war and racist terror. We will not be cowed by the appearance of the rulers' temporary strength. We will stay the course, however long it takes.
Bush and his White House thugs haven't yet identified their next target, but they won't wait long. They've already taken steps to ensure that more U.S. ground troops will soon be killing and dying for Exxon Mobil, Chevron, etc. On December 11, the Pentagon announced the transfer of U.S. Third Army headquarters from Fort McPherson, GA, to Kuwait. The Third Army doubles as Armed Forces Central Command and oversees all U.S. military operations from Central Asia to the Horn of Africa. This move virtually guarantees wider military adventures very soon. The excuse, once again, will be to destroy the al Qaeda Islamic terrorist network, which now seems to have more international bases than there are countries in the world. And the most important bases "just happen" to be in countries that U.S. imperialism deems vital to its geostrategic oil interests. Any action by the U.S. will set in motion a series of events that will lead to far deadlier war, eventually involving Russian, Chinese and European imperialists.
This Third Army move poses a number of possibilities:
*U.S. bosses may decide to launch a partial invasion of Pakistan. Pakistani rulers were valuable U.S. allies during the Cold War. Now they're unreliable and just marginally useful. Important sections of Pakistani bosses and the Pakistani government support the Taliban and al Qaeda and oppose the new U.S-backed puppet regime in Afghanistan. Many Taliban and al Qaeda leaders appear to have found refuge in Pakistan. December 11 attack on India's parliament by gunmen based in Pakistan further complicates the situation. India is Pakistan's primary rival for local domination in southern Asia. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons. U.S. rulers may decide they must pursue al Qaeda into Pakistan. Such an action would impel India's involvement and would drastically sharpen the antagonism between U.S. and Chinese rulers, who view Pakistan as an ally and India as a threat to their own plans for regional rule.
* New U.S. military action somewhere in the Middle East is a foregone conclusion. Only the target remains undecided. The hunt for al Qaeda fighters -- real or contrived -- remains Bush's cover for demanding "co-operation" from Middle Eastern countries. On December 19, the U.S. Navy intercepted an Iranian oil tanker, blowing open one of its doors. U.S. bosses are playing a carrot and stick game with Iran, on the one hand trying to use it as a counterweight to Iraq and on the other hand threatening to punish it for sponsoring anti-U.S. terrorist acts like the 1996 bombing of U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia. U.S. sabre-rattling against Iraq is far more pointed. The Third Army operation includes bolstering U.S. troop concentrations along the Kuwait-Iraq border. Hardly a day goes by without some leak in the bosses' press about plans to invade Iraq and/or to unseat Saddam Hussein. The imperialists don't seem to have settled their internal dispute over the best way to fight a new oil war in Iraq, but they're headed in that direction. According to the usually accurate Stratfor report (12/26): "...the build-up is intended as a warning to Baghdad that the United States would invade at the slightest hint the Iraqi government was harboring al Qaeda fighters."
* Other imminent possibilities include Yemen and Somalia. Bush also warned North Korea that its weapons could be considered as contributing to "international terrorism."
Regardless of the tactical decisions U.S. imperialism makes in the immediate future, the strategic direction is clear. Bush promised that 2002 will be a "war year." Of course, the history of capitalism has been one of incessant wars, killing increasing millions of workers with each succeeding century. The only "difference" in the 21st century will be that it probably will top them all, until workers and soldiers realize that the only way out of this horror is to organize themselves to smash all these war criminals and their system with a communist revolution.
U.S. imperialism is attempting to enforce the military and political conditions that will ensure its "super-power" status and prevent the rise of a major challenger for decades to come. Our Party must help workers learn the hard but necessary truth that the profit system offers our class nothing but war, misery and death. Only communism is worth fighting for. That is the war we must learn to wage and win.
Hundreds of thousands more Afghani workers and children are at risk for starvation over the winter because of U.S. military action. And millions have fled their homes to refugee camps for fear of death from U.S. bombs. But of course, the racist murderers in Washington don't consider poor Asian workers as human beings whose lives have any value. However, these figures are just a start. The depleted uranium (DU) used in the thousands of tons of U.S. bombs that have hit Afghanistan will create an enormous future epidemic of cancer and other plagues. The deaths don't stop with the bombing.
Iraq is a case in point. In the last ten years, it has seen an "unprecedented plague of cancers and birth defects." Many Iraqi women in their 20s are developing breast cancer. Other cancer increases include colon, thyroid, leukemia and lymphoma. DU is central to this development. As a waste product of nuclear bomb production, it has a half-life of four billion years, with very high radioactivity. Its density makes it militarily useful as an armor-piercing element. But the side-effects devastate the environment and anyone who lives in it. The dust DU forms on impact rises in the air and contaminates the surrounding area.
Because of DU, malignancies and leukemias among Iraqi children have more than tripled since 1990. Fifty-six percent of all cancer in Iraq occurs in children younger than five. Parents exposed to DU dust pass on the damage to their offspring. (Information from CounterPunch, 12/28)
DU will remain a crucial component of U.S. military hardware. It was used during Clinton's 1999 "humanitarian" war for oil pipelines in the former Yugoslavia, with similar horrific consequences.
This is only a fraction of the price the world's workers have begun to pay for the privilege of seeing U.S. imperialism protect its top-dog status into the 21st century.
Adulterers will still be stoned to death said Judge Ahamat Ullha Zarif, "But we will use only small stones." This allows them to escape: "If they are able to run away, they are free," but only if they confess. "Those who refuse to confess...will have their hands and feet bound so they cannot run away. They will certainly be stoned to death."
Zarif also noted "changes" from the Taliban. "The Taliban used to hang the victim's body in public for four days, "We will only hang the body for...15 minutes." And not in Kabul's stadium. "The stadium is for sports," declared Zarif. "We will find a new place for public executions."
The new government's Justice Minister Karimi said things would be "different" now. "How can you cut off the hand of a man who has nothing to eat? We must first feed the people."[And then...?]
(All information from the Sydney, Australia Morning Herald, 12/28)
This uprising has been building for several years as mass unemployment hit the working class, and -- for the first time in recent history -- hunger actually affected many families. For months "piqueteros" (flying pickets) blocked roads and fought the cops, demanding jobs and food. A few months ago a mass insurrection occurred in some areas like the city of General Mosconi.
The Insurrection Begins
On December 14, a massive general strike -- the biggest in recent history -- shut down the country. It was organized by the main union federations (all controlled by hacks loyal to different sections of the Peronista Party). They had ample support from all sections of the population, mostly workers, the unemployed and the impoverished middle class. The demands advanced from economic concerns to calling for the ouster of President de la Rua and his hated economic Minister, Cavallo.
The general strike led to the insurrection of Dec. 19-20, affecting the whole country. People raided supermarkets and stores to feed their families. There were huge clashes with the cops, who murdered 30 people. Mass marches to the Presidential Palace and to Congress demanded that President de la Rua get out. Many mass organizations were involved. When the masses defied de la Rua's state of siege and kept on fighting, the Peronistas used this to take control of the Presidency. They refused to join a last-minute call by de la Rua to form a "national unity" government. Then the union hacks (who did nothing during the height of the rebellion) called for a general strike on Dec. 21. They canceled it after de la Rua quit and left the presidential palace (á la Saigon, in a helicopter), while thousands of demonstrators cheered.
Why didn't this insurrection lead to workers' power?
Two of the elements mentioned by Lenin as keys to a revolution were met: the working class did not want to live in the old way (the middle class joined them), and the ruling class was divided and unable to rule in the old way. But the most crucial factor was missing: a mass revolutionary communist party.
Now the different factions of the Peronista bosses are jockeying to see which group of capitalists and imperialists will get the upper hand. Provisional President Saá was forced to quit because he lacked support among his fellow Peronistas after he called for a half-hearted default on Argentina's $132 billion foreign debt (almost triple the largest previous default, Russia in 1998). As we go to press, Eduardo Duhalde has been selected President by all factions. He was the Vice-president under the Peronista administration of Menem during the 1990s, Menem privatized most of the state-owned enterprises at bargain prices, was a buddy of Papa Bush and Clinton and recently was under house arrest for corruption.
Duhalde as the new provisional President will be pushed to return to the fascist-style repression of the Isabel Peron government. She became President in the early 1970s after her husband, Juan Peron, the populist-fascist general and founder of the Peronista movement, died. Under Isabel Peron, the AAA (Argentinean Anti-communist Alliance) organized death squads to murder militant workers and youth.
Meanwhile, the generals are waiting in the wings. Even though they're discredited for the way they lost the Falkland/Malvinas war against Thatcher's Britain, they could be brought back as a desperate measure by some section of the bourgeoisie. The last time the military ruled (after they overthrew Isabel Perón), tens of thousands were killed and "disappeared."
Workers need to learn the lessons from the recent insurrection, break with all bosses and their imperialist allies, and build a mass revolutionary Party to win the final battle: the fight for a society without any bosses, imperialist banks or crooked politicians, a society where production is based on need: communism.
This angered people in the area. They went to the local police station and tried to destroy it. A big battle broke out as demonstrators shouted to the cops, "You killed three youth, now we're going to kill all you cops sons of b------." The crowd called out, "Aren't we all Argentinians? Come out and fight." Although this reflects nationalist feelings, it does show a belief among the masses that not everyone is equal here.
It was another day of struggle. There were mass protests demanding the resignation of the same old corrupt politicians who are part of the new Peronista government, but it was also a day of sadness because the cops, the bosses' killers ended three young lives. This system doesn't deserve to exist.
Greetings to the PLP comrades. Keep on fighting!, A friend in Argentina
The so-called free market (neo-liberal) policies so popular among capitalists in the last decade were a bonanza for foreign investors and their Argentine buddies. Key state-owned enterprises (oil, telephone, airlines, etc.) were sold at bargain prices. Imperialist banks and investors made a bundle, while basically refusing to pay any taxes.
Simultaneously workers paid dearly with massive job cuts since 3,000 enterprises shut down in the last two years; unemployment rose to 28%; and five million people live in extreme poverty. In many provinces, government employees were paid in local bonds, worth less than the national currency.
Now, when things turn sour, the Bush administration says, in effect, "Tough, buddy; it's your problem." In part, the U.S. bosses disliked the fact that the de la Rua government was also pegging the peso to the euro as it had already done to the dollar. Also, U.S. bosses' competitors, the Spanish and French capitalists, who snatched most of the privatized state enterprises, are losing big now. (Insignia.com, 12/27). Finally. Argentina leads the Mercosur trade agreement with Brazil, which the U.S. sees as a major roadblock to its Free Trade Area of the Americas (a "NAFTA" for the whole region).
But the rock the U.S. bosses throw may land on their own feet. Other Latin American bosses might see it differently. It doesn't pay to follow the U.S.-IMF free market policies, because when push comes to shove they're left out in the cold (á la the chaos in Argentina) by the U.S. bosses for the latter's own imperialist interests. That's why some of the rulers' liberal mouthpieces like the New York Times are demanding Bush bail out Argentina, to avoid losing influence in Latin America.
A decade ago the Bush, Sr. administration demanded Argentina take the path of fiscal discipline and reduced inflation -- tying the peso to the dollar on a one-to-one basis -- which "eventually led to the current crisis." (New York Times, 12/25) Said a spokesman for BCP Securities, a brokerage firm focusing on Latin America: "It was very clearly the [U.S.] Department of the Treasury that pushed Argentina over the edge and allowed it to collapse."
Besides fiscal austerity U.S. bosses also imposed high tariffs on Argentina's exports and refused to ease those barriers. Now Bush Treasury-Secretary O'Neill arrogantly tells the British magazine The Economist, "Nobody forced them to be what they are."
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), "taking its cue from the Bush administration," (Times, 12/25/01) "raised the bar," demanding "increasingly harsh austerity measures," and then denying it monies already promised. The IMF followed this with a Dec. 18 declaration of no confidence in Argentina's policies, hastening its downfall.
This U.S./IMF abandonment of Argentina will have a strategic effect, confirming to all of Latin America that the U.S. is a "fickle and undependable ally." It comes despite Argentina's support of U.S. foreign policy (the most in Latin America), the only country in the region to actively participate in the Persian Gulf War and now offers to send 600 troops to Afghanistan, spending $20 million it could use to create jobs for the unemployed.
Declared Peter Hakim, president of a Washington-based conference of hemisphere leaders, all this "bodes very badly for building a long-term economic community in the hemisphere. If this is what `community' means, it doesn't really mean much."
All bosses, whether from the U.S., Spain, France or Argentina, cause the capitalist hell suffered by the workers here. Indeed, a system that creates such horrors for millions of workers must be destroyed. We must build a mass communist movement to make this possible.
On December 1, they reached the end of their time-limited welfare benefits and don't know how they will feed, clothe and house their families. One terror is the swift death of war to control oil. The other is the lifelong death from hunger, cold insult, cruelty and heartbreak faced by workers made marginal under capitalism. "...Even before Sept. 11, an estimated 1.5 million people in New York City were relying on emergency food programs -- food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters -- to put food on the table for their families. More than half were children and the elderly." (New York Daily News, 12/20)
Since the Clinton/Gingrich Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 -- the so-called welfare reform law -- was enacted, assistance rolls have dropped from a nationwide peak of about 14 million people to under six million last June. (NYT, 12/9) This has coincided with a massive ideological effort to declare poverty a "personal problem" and not an inherent evil of capitalism. Signs in what are now called "Jobs First" Centers proclaim: "Your clock is ticking"; "Make an Effort, Not an Excuse"; and, "Winners Make the Grade; Whiners Make Excuses."
While NYC's Welfare Commissioner Jason Turner and Mayor Giuliani crow about moving people from welfare to work, facts show another reality. "Of 9,509 people sent to the subways on Workfare since December 1999, the [transit] authority said 301 have been hired. That's a "success" rate of about 3%. The "success" rate among the 4,400 who were actually able to comply with the restrictive workfare rules was still less than 10%. (For one example of this "success" story, see article below.)
"Currently, there are about 30,000 homeless adults and children in the city's shelters, and tens of thousands of city families are facing financial uncertainty with the end of welfare and the loss of more than 80,000 jobs in the midst of this economic downturn." (Daily News, 12/20) For the New Year we can each resolve to unite with the millions of workers fighting to meet their immediate needs of life under capitalism while forging an army that understands the need to end the worldwide terror of capitalism with communist revolution.
Now Gabriella B. receives $200 every two weeks in child support from the father of one of her children. If the City then deducted that $200 from her $300 cash grant, the grant would now be only $100 every two weeks. That figure divided by the $5 minimum wage would mean she would be required to work only 20 hours every two weeks or 10 hours a week to "work off" her cash grant. BUT, capitalism is a little more diabolical than that.
Welfare Department rules call for the father to pay the $200 child support directly to the City. That means Gabriella B. still must work the 60 hours every two weeks, since her cash grant remains at $300. But since the Welfare Department gets this $200 from the father, Gabriella B. is costing the City only $100 while still working the 60 hours. That means she's costing the city only $1.66 an hour! Talk about slave labor!
Meanwhile, for every person assigned to Workfare programs, a union wage-job is lost to those looking for work. yet another overall cost to the working class.
Capitalism's inevitable boom-bust business cycle is the main cause of this mass unemployment. Sept. 11 just gave it an extra push. And the bosses and their government used it to lay off over 100,000 airline workers, 30,000 Boeing workers, 80,000 hotel workers and lots more, while handing out billions to the airlines and refusing to give any measurable relief to the jobless.
Given the fact that only 38% of the unemployed are eligible for unemployment benefits, probably at least 20 million workers will experience some joblessness this year. Last year the figure was 18 million.
So what are the labor "leaders" concerned about? The loss of dues-payers! "If we're confronted with heavier layoffs [never mind the ones that have occurred already -- Ed.], we'll just have to...organize new members," says AFL-CIO chief honcho John Sweeney (Business Week, 12/17) They haven't been too good at that recently -- 42 of the Federation's 66 unions have not grown in the past two years, despite Sweeney's "crusade."
The fact remains that these labor leaders are mainly in bed with the bosses. They accept and defend the attacks of capitalism as the normal functioning of the profit system. While outfits like Enron steal us blind, the labor hacks not only support the U.S. imperialist war for oil in Afghanistan but refuse to organize a fight against the mass unemployment caused by the bosses' system. Only by increasing the leadership from communists in PLP among the working class, leadership that, unlike the Sweeneys, doesn't defend but challenges the profit system, will workers have any chance of battling the onslaught the bosses have launched against us.
Workers who are forced to depend on capitalism's stock markets for their "security" inevitably will lose this bosses' shell game. The only sure bet is to destroy capitalism altogether by fighting for communism. Then the "shares" will be in a system which the workers control and put their "stock" in the principle of "from each according to their commitment, to each according to their needs."
Parochial school teachers are paid far less than public school teachers -- and even public school teachers deserve more money for the work they do. The parochial school teachers are demanding higher wages and a second pension. Even after many years on the job, these teachers receive ridiculous pensions. Upon retiring after more than 20 years, a veteran teacher receives $13,000/year. On striker described that amount as an "allowance," not a pension.
The Catholic Church is often praised for the quality of its schools. Public schools are often compared unfavorably to parochial schools. However, nuns and priests -- who worked for free -- traditionally staffed parochial schools, and the lay (non-clerical) staff hasn't been paid a whole lot more. Yet the Catholic Church is a multi-billion-dollar institution, one of the richest in the world. To a certain extent it lives off the rest of the population since it's tax exempt. The church hierarchy lives well. They rely on the loyalty and devotion of its members to keep people from asking for more money. But workers need to pay their bills.
The public school teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has encouraged members to walk the picket lines with the Catholic school teachers. It passed a resolution at the monthly Delegate Assembly (DA) to support the striking teachers (as well as those in Middletown, NJ who were also striking then). However, an angry chapter leader (school representative) rose at the DA to attack the hypocrisy of the union leadership. He pointed out that the only real support was to join the striking teachers by striking ourselves, since the UFT has been without a contract for over a year, and that, in fact, the union leadership won't even allow a discussion of a strike!
The NYC labor leadership needed to organize more support for these striking teachers so they could have stayed out until they'd won a decent contract. Self-critically, NYC rank-and-file teachers, led by the Party, should have organized support on our jobs, too.
While it benefits from a tax-free, low interest, $6.1 million industrial development bond from the State of California, it manages to pay some of its workers an hourly wage as low as $7.85. Average wages range from $10 to $12 an hour. Supposedly this merits a Continuous Cost Improvement Award from Boeing for the year 2000. Apparently "continuous cost improvement" includes hiring scabs to bust strikes.
(See next issue on Boeing workers' efforts to build support for their brothers and sisters at this subcontractor while exposing the bosses' patriotic propaganda about "United We Stand.")
Gustavo Soler led the union at Drummond, Ltd., a U.S. multi-national company with operations in the remote Cesar province in northern Colombia. Soler's predecessor had been murdered three months before Soler took over the union. On October 6, a gang of armed men seized Soler; the next day he and other workers were found shot to death. The union was demanding better working conditions and accused Drummond of violating Colombian labor laws.
Last June 21, Oscar Darío Soto Polo, union head at the Coca Cola bottling plant in Montería, was murdered upon leaving his job there. The union was then demanding 17% to 20% wage increases; Coca Cola was offering only 6.5%. Two weeks after de Soto was murdered, the union settled for just 8.5%, half what they originally demanded.
There are many similar companies operating in areas where the guerrillas and death squads are fighting. They publicly link some of the trade unionists to the guerrillas -- a death sentence for these workers.
After Soto was murdered, the International Labor Rights Fund and the United Steel Workers sued Coca Cola and its Colombia bottling plants in a Miami court. They accused Coca Cola of using the death squads against its workers. The suit presented a long list of the horrors carried out by Coca Cola since 1996. Naturally, the company denies any wrongdoing.
But suits like these, basically demanding that the bosses protect their workers and union activists, is like asking the fox to guard the chicken coop. In these days of capitalist recession/depression and war, bourgeois democracy operates increasingly like in Colombia, based on death squad terrorism and super-exploitation of workers.
PLP calls on all workers who want a better life to join us in building a mass communist movement to end this capitalist hell created by Coca Cola and all bosses.
When the first fatalities from the anthrax bacteria occurred, the government and media immediately spread "reports" of "terrorists" planting or mailing the deadly spores ("Sept. 11 II"), trying to link it to some "foreign nationals." They "speculated" that Saddam Hussein was working on such bioterrorism. They said it couldn't have come from the U.S. since all stocks produced in Ames, Iowa had been destroyed years ago.
Now it turns out that:
* Since 1980 the U.S. Army has stockpiled anthrax whose spores are identical to the ones found in the letter mailed to Senator Tom Daschle. (Washington Post, 12/16)
* "The army said its researchers...had worked with anthrax since 1992." (London Financial Times, 12/14)
* "The army had been silent on the matter, even as it led the biological and chemical analysis of anthrax-laced letters for FBI investigations."(Financial Times,; our emphasis, Ed.)
* "The evidence is increasingly looking like it was a domestic source," said Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, referring to the anthrax spores that killed five U.S. citizens.
With all the anthrax hoopla going on for several months, it's interesting that the Army didn't immediately admit it had produced, was currently researching and currently possessed spores identical to the ones mailed to Daschle. This admission could have immediately contradicted the rulers' attempt to drum up popular support for spreading their terror war to Iraq, using the pretext that Saddam Hussein is producing biological weapons of mass destruction. Cowboy George W. Bush had demanded Iraq allow inspections of, among others, biological weapons or they will "find out" what happens "if they don't." But consider the following:
* Scott Ritter, ex-UN weapons inspector from the U.S. said such weapons had "been destroyed or rendered harmless by 1998." (Counterpunch, 12/21)
* Last summer the Bush administration killed the inspection enforcement provision of the 1975 Biological Weapons Convention, saying it might expose industrial secrets of U.S. companies.
* In early December, the White House rejected "international efforts in Geneva to strengthen the biological weapons convention." (Financial Times)
So it's the U.S. terrorists, not Iraq, who fear and reject inspections and are producing biological weapons of mass destruction.
Furthermore, with much evidence pointing to U.S. neo-Nazis as the source of some of these anthrax mailings (see CHALLENGE 11/14), the "massive" FBI investigation seems to be avoiding any connection to such domestic terrorists. When the lone suspect that was arrested -- a right-wing, anti-abortion, Christian fundamentalist -- the reports were buried on inside news pages and then dropped like a hot potato. But naturally, with the rulers' manipulation of all the news, intensified since Sept. 11, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they're trying as much as possible to keep under wraps any information that doesn't fit their plans for fascism at home and war abroad.
Another explanation for the event was offered: since it is widely known that Aristide never sleeps in the Palace, he and his forces could have easily staged the attempted coup as a diversion. (Haitian history is full of episodes where presidents on their last political legs try to kill off the opposition.)
But more importantly, does what went down in the Palace really matter to the millions of Haitian workers and students who are being crushed daily by the dual sword of capitalism and racism? What can workers and their allies gain from this bosses' dogfight. Nothing! Haiti's workers are still the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with an average annual income of $250; a life expectancy of 57; an adult illiteracy rate over 80%; and an infant mortality rate of 72 per 1,000. Hundreds of thousands of Haitian workers have been forced to leave for the U.S., France and even neighboring Dominican Republic (just a little less poor) to be super-exploited by racist bosses.
Centuries of slavery in the New World built European capitalism. Although Haitians' bloody battles ended outright slavery in 1804, the wage slavery imposed by both European and U.S. imperialists continue to enrich the local ruling class and their imperialist partners, particularly U.S. bosses. How does supporting one group of pro-capitalist politicians over another help the strikers at the Cointreau plantation, who've been locked out of their jobs extracting orange essence for one of the world's luxury liqueurs for demanding higher wages? They make less than $1.40 a day!
After a spontaneous uprising in 1986 ended a 29-year U.S.-supported Duvalier dictatorship, Haitian workers endured another five years of military juntas. Aristide, the poor parish priest rode into power in 1991 on the backs of masses of students and urban and rural workers. Soon he was overthrown by Duvalier officers. Several years later he returned to power with the help of his friend Clinton, who invaded Haiti with thousands of soldiers.
Like the consequences of all U.S. "humanitarian" efforts, things have gone from bad to worse for the masses. Now Aristide is reported to be the richest man in Haiti. The bureaucrats of his Lavalas Party and his government have become rich as well and have been accused of killing off the opposition. (Many similarities with Duvalier here!) None of the so-called progressive opposition has anything better to offer--they're all tied to capitalism and imperialism.
Unemployment, underemployment, devastation of all the productive forces in agriculture and industry, skyrocketing food and gasoline prices through conditions imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund--these plus AIDS and the lack of even the most rudimentary health care system for most are the costs the Haitian working class will continue to pay as long as they follow Aristide or any other capitalist fakers. They must reject calls from pseudo-leftists for a (capitalist) "bourgeois democratic revolution."
Just as the slaves overthrew the French and later Napoleon's army almost 200 years ago, let the Haitian masses usher in 2002 by building a revolutionary communist movement. That's the goal of PLP: fight for a society without capitalism and imperialism -- communism.
Another passenger asked him to be quiet. At that point the young man jumped up and declared he had earned his right to speak freely by fighting in the Gulf War's Desert Storm. He said he saw with his own eyes the reason why the U.S. was fighting in Iraq and Kuwait -- it was the oil fields. He warned that he and the rest of the brothers were "fighting in a war so that rich men could get richer" and that we should open our eyes and see what's really going on.
New York Reader
The theme was "union solidarity" and "We deserve more." The atmosphere was a little too festive. I got drafted into speaking, which self-critically I had been trying to avoid.
I spoke for less than two minutes but the response was striking. I said that given the war in Afghanistan and the homeland security rise of fascism, this action carried more significance. The chatter began to die down. I said that this exposes the bosses' big lie, "United We Stand," that the university bosses don't believe it, or the students wouldn't have to be picketing. Between bosses and workers there is no "we."
By now most conversations had stopped. I talked about the current plight of tens of thousands of steel workers losing their jobs, pensions and health care after working all their lives and making billions for the bosses. Now there was silence.
I said that if you sell your labor, you're a worker, and that means you have to fight for everything, and as soon as you stop they'll try to take it away. "So keep fighting." Total silence. People looked like, "Who invited him?" Then someone clapped and then a few more. The union hacks wouldn't even look at me.
Finally a teacher came up to me and said, "That was very good. It was totally different from what everyone else said, and the students needed to hear it." Then a student came up and shook hands and thanked me for what I'd said. The point is, we must bring the war, fascism and class struggle to every reform struggle, even if it might be unpopular.
On September 11, our plant manager used this tragic event to direct racist insults towards the workers. She said that "additional security measures" would be taken because of what happened there. I.D. pictures would be checked and "vehicles will be randomly searched so if you have a `40-ounce' in your car make sure you take it out." A "40-ounce" refers to a 40-ounce bottle of beer or malt liquor. In capitalist culture (and especially in some rap "entertainment") the 40-ounce is portrayed as the drink of choice for black alcoholics. The plant manager, a black woman, stated this to a group of workers who were 90% black. Even when workers' lives are lost the capitalist class lackeys are still their vile racist selves.
I raised the issue with some co-workers. Reactions varied but most workers were outraged. Even those who didn't perceive the racism in the remark found it demeaning. "What, are we all alcoholics now?" they said.
All this inspired more talk with more workers about PLP's ideas and led to more literature being distributed, because it's the first way we can fight back.
My building wasn't even evacuated. After all, the airports were shut down. People who wanted to go home were threatened with disciplinary action.
The bosses think our lives are worth nothing. We must show our value to one another by battling for communism however and whenever we can.
A Red Worker
Once again this shows we need to start NOW, working harder to build a militant, pro-communist base in our area. The flag-waving hysteria pushed by the bosses has given these Nazis a new lease on life. But with PLP the leading force, we can accomplish a lot more than occurred this time, physically stopping these monsters. Then the ISO can watch, if they want to, while PL discredits their phony "left" politics.
One positive aspect to this event was the several contacts we made, which could expand our work.
Red College Student
One criticism and note of caution is offered here, specifically about the article from Anaheim, Ca. (Jan. 2 issue). Currently, when open fascists, emboldened by the rulers' actions, appear to spew their racist filth, the better, more effective way to confront them is for groups from unions, schools, churches and community organizations to organize members to protest these racists. That's also the best way for members of these groups to see that the rhetoric of the small and big fascists is very similar, with the same roots. However long and whatever it takes, the fight against fascism must become the property of masses of workers and students, and lead to a more serious fight to get rid of the fascists and the capitalist system that requires more and more fascist terror against the working class.
An L.A. reader
The letters on activities in churches were very enlightening. They were clear on how the Party's ideas can be put forward in a mass way, showing readers what is possible.
However, the postal article on page 5 was a let-down, given the anthrax scare and the size of the postal service. Postal workers who are sympathetic to the Party can use some ideas on how we can do things similar to "Red Churchmouse."
The article said "postal workers are afraid." That isn't helpful. Where is the analysis of the fact that the APWU, the largest postal union, has gone to arbitration with the contract. This settles the terms of exploitation in part based on postal management's testimony attacking the worth of postal workers. Just as bad, the APWU merely talked about how many crumbs workers should get from the pie.
Where is the confidence in the working class ability to understand the connection between general economic conditions and the particulars in the post office? What about the post office as a large employer of black workers in urban areas? What is the strategic outlook for postal workers?
There are no knockout punches to be thrown in the short term, but it seems there's a dearth of "stiff jabs" in the postal work? What gives?
Things have changed, but only for the worse. Two years ago we lost three rooms. This year a teacher, sitting down with a student in crisis, was faced with security guards while trying to use the library during an emergency.
The talk at the district office is of an impending big budget cut. Students and teachers may find themselves with even fewer supplies, equipment, teachers and classroom space.
"They cut the budget and then complain we don't know anything" said one Student Council member. "That's because the children of the rich don't come to schools like ours," said another. "People with money and power don't care about people like us," most agreed. Someone suggested students contact other school Student Councils and organize a picket line at the next NYC Board of Education meeting: "The people who run things need to hear our voices." Everyone agreed.
Bush refused to sign it this past summer and talks on the protocol collapsed in November when once again the U.S. refused endorsement. The student debate took on special significance this term as the words "anthrax and smallpox" began to appear both on the nightly news and in the local papers.
When the war in Afghanistan began, an anti-imperialist teacher in the Debate League suggested students debate that. Everyone thought it was a great idea. Many students eagerly signed up.
But there was one problem: it was hard to find many students who supported the war. By the time of the debate, only one student was able to advance the affirmative from the heart. The rest of the team taking the side of supporting the war were themselves personally against it and made sure to undercut their own arguments, readily agreeing that the bombing of civilians and the destruction of the remaining infrastructure of Afghanistan was racist!
This is a dangerous illusion. The government's new Patriot Act allows it to spy on everybody, and it has the technology to find out who is sending what on the internet. Encrypted messages can be read, too. A year and a half ago, well before 9/11 and the Patriot Act, a group of young anarchists were swept away by the NYPD when they openly announced in their e-mail messages they were going to thrash some buildings in the business section of downtown Manhattan.
It's true that the internet can be a tool to organize but it's not a substitute, as many in the movement claim. If used as a substitute, it isolates the user from the people he/she wants to organize.
This reminds me of a story about a Communist Party organizer who worked in a big industrial plant in upstate New York during the McCarthy repression. The CP told the organizer not to reveal his politics to the workers. Unfortunately, as it turned out, only the workers he was trying to organize didn't know his communist politics. The boss and the FBI knew exactly who he was.
Use the internet, but be careful.
"The low-wage union cut a deal with then gubernatorial candidate Gray Davis: the union would help Davis get elected as Governor, which they did; then Governor Davis and the California State Legislature ordered the home health workers to join the union." (Gregory A. Butler, Carpenters' Local 608). These workers are legally "self employed" (they work for the disabled person they take care of), but the state pays a subsidy to the sick or disabled person who then pays the attendant about $6 an hour. These workers were signed over to the union. They received no raise, no medical benefits, no social security, unemployment or disability payments because they have a "self-employed" status. But now they have to pay union dues!
The SEIU has no plans to change this. Nevertheless, they and AFL-CIO president Sweeney have used this swindle to hype their "huge organizing success" in order to give themselves credibility with workers. They want to look like our friends while they support the rulers' war in Afghanistan and passively accept fascist attacks on workers here. This includes the huge assault on workers' wages and jobs, a direct result of the bosses' economic crisis and war. They fundamentally agree with Bush that "we" need to "unite the nation" to stop terrorism. This makes them incapable of fighting the terrorism against workers. We must work in the unions to show there is a fighting, revolutionary alternative to these lieutenants of the fascist rulers.
Los Angeles Comrade