Editorial: Salt Lake City Snow Job: War, Patriotism Cut Workers Throat
Editorial 2: Its No Accident that Oil Drives Afghan Slaughter
U.S. Rulers War FOR Terror in The Philippines
D.C. Transit Workers Reject Reform Leaders Contract
Red GI Swaying Soldiers Not to Side with Bosses
Chicago Teachers Open To Anti-War, Anti-Racist Ideas
Building PLP Within Anti-War Movement
Students Take Offensive vs. Racism, Anti-Semitism
WEF Protestors Told Humane Capitalism Impossible
Practice Makes Progress
Patriotism Is the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel
Workers See Need of International Unity to Fight Bosses Wars
Workers of the World, Write!
NYCs Finest Kill Again
Distinguishing Friends from Enemies
Need More Concrete Analysis
C-D Needs Special Delivery
Anti-Arab Terror Recalls WW 2 Internment Camps
The Hitler oops the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics are underway. This is one of the most segregated cities in the country, an armed camp, with more U.S. troops than in Afghanistan. The orgy of nationalism, patriotism and money-grabbing would make the Fuhrer (Hitler) envious.
The 1936 Olympics in Nazi Berlin was a showcase for the racism, nationalism and growing power of Hitlers Germany. Within three years, Hitler had invaded Poland, and the Soviet Union two years later. World War II was underway. With these Olympics, the world is already at war.
Bushs "War on Terrorism" is widening. With no serious military challenge, and no worldwide revolutionary communist movement, U.S. rulers are trying to run the table against any potential threat to their control of oil and oil pipelines, and their position as "the worlds only superpower." Under Bush I, the rulers called for a "new world order." Bush II is trying to ram it home. The Olympic mascot should be a 20,000-pound "Daisy Cutter" bomb.
The Hitler games celebrated the racism and anti-Semitism that would end in death camps and genocide. But the Nazis had nothing on Herr Ashcroft. These Olympics are being held in the country with the largest prison population in the world, two million, most of it black and Latin. In the "Land of the Free," racist police terror rules and 25% of young black men are in the criminal "justice" system. More black men are in prison than in college. Under "Homeland Defense," thousands of Arab and Muslim men are being rounded up and held without charges. The Justice Department and Immigration Service are treating over 600,000 immigrants on student visas as suspects. And the general population cant travel without being asked to show their ID, or "assume the position" at hundreds of airports.
All the flag-waving and chants of "USA, USA" will not provide jobs for the 14 million unemployed. It will not provide healthcare for the 43 million without health insurance, and the hundreds of thousands who will join them, from LTV Steel to Enron. Bush is seeking $48 billion more for war, and $38 billion more to build a fascist police state.
U.S. imperialism rules a world that grows more unstable every day. Wars, mass disease and economic crisis comprise the "victory" of U.S. imperialism and the free market. The Middle East "peace process" has unraveled. In Africa, tens of millions are dieing in a holocaust of wars, civil wars, famines and HIV infections. Asia and Latin America are wracked by economic crises and more than two billion workers around the world live on less than $2 a day.
Less than a decade after the Nazi Olympics, and over 100 million lost lives, the Soviet Red Army rolled into Berlin and the Fuhrer killed himself in his rat hole. The destruction of the "invincible" Nazis was due to the then-socialist Soviet Union, led by Josef Stalin. The ultimate and inevitable defeat of Socialism and the old communist movement which thought Socialism was the path to communism but did not build the latter has been a devastating setback for the international working class.
We cannot yet fill the shoes of those revolutionary communists who preceded us. But we stand on the shoulders of these giants. By meeting the challenges of today, we will steel our Party and pave the long road to communist revolution. Given U.S. imperialisms current launching of global war, there must be an urgency to our immediate task, but patience over the long run. Confidence in the working class will come from persistent fighting for the political leadership of the mass movement. As our confidence in the workers grows, such persistence will bear fruit, enabling us to overcome the dangers of the rulers superior weapons and the terror of their brutal dictatorship. Building mass May Day activities this year will keep workers, soldiers, and youth from being blinded by the Salt Lake City snow job.
Who do the U.S. bosses look to for enlightenment on how to conduct imperialist war? None other than Hitlers Nazis. Witness this February 4 exchange between Public Television commentator Jim Lehrer and Bushs Secretary of War, Donald Rumsfeld, about the proposed $48 billion increase in the military budget:
"LEHRER: But if somebody were to look at this budget does it buy anything that different than what we already have?
"RUMSFELD: When the Germans transformed their armed forces into the Blitzkreig, they transformed only about 5 or 10 percent of their force .But they transformed the way they used it, the connectivity between aircraft and forces on the ground, the concentration of it in a specific portion of the line .You only need to transform a portion."
Wonderful! How come they lost? Rumsfeld should remember how the communist Soviet Union "transformed" the Nazis when the Red Army, led by Stalin, pushed Hitler and his 3rd Reich down the toilet .
Lately the liberal media, led by the New York Times, has begun to analyze "possible" civilian casualties in the U.S. war on Afghanistan. They quote "humanitarian" organizations as saying there "might" be as many as 1,000 civilian deaths, but "its hard to prove" since they "lack independent evidence." Their latest editorial (Feb. 13) reduces even that figure: "No reliable overall casualty numbers exist, although some estimates say that hundreds of Afghan civilians have perished in misdirected strikes." Its all an "accident" says this leading liberal mouthpiece. They give short shrift to the most detailed reports compiled by Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, drawn and cross-checked from dozens of newspaper reporters from Britain, France, India, Canada, Pakistan, Australia and even the U.S. (although the latter are few and far between). Herold proved a minimum of 3,767 deaths just from Oct. 7 to Dec. 6, but this warranted merely a half sentence in the Times "analysis," the latter preferring to fall back on the "hard-to-prove" defense.
Herold declares that, "The absolute need to avoid U.S. military casualties means flying high up in the sky, increasing the probability of killing civilians ."
" .Better stand clear and fire away," reports the Toronto Globe & Mail (10/31/01) "Given this implicit decision, the slaughter of innocent people, as a statistical eventuality is not an accident but a priority in which Afghan casualties are substituted for American military casualties."
Thus, in the U.S. imperialists war, where "The sacrificed Afghan civilians are not white [and] the overwhelming number of U.S. pilots and elite ground troops are white .the scale of violence used by the U.S government knows no limits." (Herold) For U.S. rulers, racism knows no bounds.
The bombing has "progressed from medium-sized missiles to Tomahawk and cruise missiles, to bunker-busting 2,000 lb. bombs to [B-52] carpet-bombing using cluster bombs and now the devastating daisy cutter bombs that annihilate everything in a 600-meter radius." ("The Evils of Bombing," London Guardian, 11/08/01)
"A U.S. officer aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson described the use of 2,000 lb. cluster bombs dropped by B-52 bombers: A 2,000 lb. bomb, no matter where you drop it, is a significant emotional [!] event for anyone within a square mile." (London Guardian, 11/2/01)
The liberals go as far as justifying the bombing saying "in the long run" without the Taliban "more lives will be saved." They ignore the fact that the U.S. under the liberal Democrat Carter organized the fundamentalists attack on Afghanistan 23 years ago before the Soviet invasion which continued under Reagan/Bush, using $3 billion of CIA-directed funds. It was out of this terrorist movement that the Taliban was born.
But the thousands of deaths from carpet bombing are only a small part of the story. "In the long run," tens of thousands will die from the disease-creating depleted uranium (DU) used in all U.S. bombs which makes them more deadly; from the starvation caused by the destruction of Afghan society and the withdrawal of previous emergency aid missions fearing these bombings; from the unexploded bombs remaining throughout the country (virtual land mines); and the looting, banditry, warlord fighting and drug trafficking resurrected by his war.
Finally, since the 26 million population of Afghanistan is one-tenth that of the U.S., Herold says the proven minimum figure of 3,767 Afghan civilian deaths (up until Dec 6) would become "roughly equivalent to about 38,000 U.S. deaths or . . . eleven World Trade Center attacks." The current civilian death total is well over 5,000..
All this slaughter stems from the U.S. bosses drive to control the worlds oil supplies, shipping routes and pipelines. Afghanistan stands between the massive oil and gas reserves of Central Asia and the Arabian Sea, a gateway to the energy needs of India, China and Southeast Asia. It is only a small taste of what the mass murderers in Wall Street and the White House have planned for the worlds working class, with Iraq next on the war agenda. The absence of a world communist movement permits these butchers to run rampant in their pursuit of profit. It is our task to re-build such a movement and turn these imperialist wars into class war for communism. Building red May Day marches is a crucial step in this direction, part of the working classs answer to the ravages of world capitalism.
"They bomb anything that moves "
"When U.S. warplanes strafed [with AC-130 gunships] the farming village of Chowkar-Karez, 25 miles north of Kandahar on Oct. 22-23, killing at least 93 civilians, a Pentagon official said, The people are dead because we wanted them dead The reason? They sympathized with the Taliban." (BBC, 11/1/01) "When asked about the Chowkar incident, [Secy. of War] Rumsfeld replied, I cannot deal with that particular village." (Toronto Globe & Mail, 11/3/01)
On Oct. 10, 2001, the Sultanpur Mosque in Jalalabad was hit by a bomb during prayers, killing 17 people. As neighbors rushed into the rubble to pull out the injured, a second bomb was dropped reportedly killing another 120 people. (BBC News Online, 10/11/01)
In an article entitled, "Living With War: Dying a Way of Life for Civilians in Afghanistan," the Los Angeles Times reported (11/19/01) that bomb strikes on Nov. 17 killed two entire families one of 16 members and the other of 14 together in the same house. On the same day, massive carpet bombing of Khanabad near Kundez killed over 150 civilians. (the London Independent, 11/19/01) A refugee, Mohammed Rasul, recounts himself burying 11 people, pulled out of the ruins.
On Oct. 19, U.S. planes circled over Tarin Kot in Uruzgan early in the evening, then returned after everyone went to bed and dropped their bombs on the residential area, instead of on the Taliban base two miles away. Mud houses were flattened and families destroyed. An initial bombing killed 20 and as some of the villagers were pulling their neighbors out of the rubble, more bombs fell and ten more people died. ("Families Blown Apart, Infants Dying. The Terrible Truth of this Just War," the London Independent, 10/25/01)
A villager explained, "We pulled the baby out, the others were buried in the rubble. Children were decapitated. There were bodies with no legs. We could do nothing. We just fled." (John Nicol in the London Guardian, "The Myth of Precision," 10/20/01)
"A US bomb flattened a flimsy mud-brick home in Kabul blowing apart seven children as they ate breakfast with their father. The blast shattered a neighbors house, killing another two children." (Times of India, citing Reuters, 10/29/01)
Fleeing refugees have become the Pentagons "new targets of opportunity." U.S. aircraft have fired missiles and dropped bombs on fleeing taxis, trucks and buses. (Sydney Morning Herald, 12/8/01) A 39-year-old refugee, Rukia, who lost her five children on Dec. 3 when a U.S. bomb hit her neighborhood in Kandahar, fled before she could bury her children, her left arm shattered and wounded in the stomach, and just escaped another bombing while being driven to a Quetta hospital. She told the Herald: "Theyre bombing anything that moves. Its not true that they bomb civilians by accident. Theyre targeting the innocent people instead of Osama bin Laden."
U.S. bosses have sent 600 troops to the Philippines to open up their "second front" in their "war on terror." They claim bin Ladens Al Qaeda has training camps there. But who are the terrorists? The following is from a report (Feb. 12) by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof datelined Isabela, Philippines:
"Elnie Angulo, a 25-year-old peasant was walking along a jungle path [to market to buy burlap sacks] when he was accosted by three terrorists here on the island of Basilan .
"What happened can be deduced from the autopsy. The body had several broken ribs, three broken vertebrae, slice marks on both hands and cuts on the neck .Mr. Angulos tongue had been cut off and genitals severed.
"The men who tortured Mr. Angulo to death were .Philippine troops, our new partners in the war on terrorism.
"[The U.S. is] about to join a dirty war in Basilan, siding with murderers and torturers .
"Local people whisper about the white ambulance .Each time it stops at a house at night someone from that house will turn up shot to death in the morning."
Using the bin Laden pretext, this first wave of U.S. troops are re-establishing U.S. bases in the Philippines, to replace Clark Air Force Base and Subic Bay from which U.S. rulers were ousted some years ago, particularly in an area crucial to Pacific maritime oil routes. U.S. bosses maintain their position as the worlds number one terrorists.
Again, the Bush administration has shown in deeds that its "war against terrorism," means supporting mass terror against workers and youth. Bush is expanding Clintons Plan Colombia (billions for mainly enhancing the Colombian Armys military capability) to pursue its real aim: protect the oil interests of the U.S. Occidental Petroleum company and support the paramilitary death squads. The latter are responsible for thousands of murders occurring there annually.
The White House wants $98 million more for training and arming Colombian troops to protect the EI Limon pipeline, which runs for hundreds of miles from the Arauca oil fields in northeast Colombia to a port on the Caribbean coast. This Occidental pipeline was closed for 266 days last year because of guerrilla attacks. Although Colombia provides only 2% of the total crude consumed in the U.S., the new measures "will mean a qualitative change...crossing the fine line between a war against drugs to fighting the insurgency. Washington seems to want to extend its war against terrorism to Latin America." (El País, Feb. 7). Colombia also borders on oil-rich Venezuela.
The same week the White House was demanding these billions, Amnesty International reported that the massacres of civilians and human rights abuses have doubled in Colombia and blamed the Colombian army for "organizing, coordinating and sharing information with the paramilitary groups which it tolerates." (El País).
As CHALLENGE has repeatedly said, when it comes to mass terror, U.S. bosses and their lackeys worldwide are number one.
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 9 To the dismay of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1089 president and the ATU international rep, transit workers recently rejected a tentative contract by a vote of 1288 to 543. They failed to realize that union members are unwilling to accept the crumbs offered by management and are ready to fight for a decent contract.
The president, in office for only one year, let down many of his supporters. He was elected on a platform of moving the union forward and fighting wage progression. Having now been "educated" to the bosses ways, he is pushing the sellout as "the best that we can do." Many workers want to know what happened.
This local president is not much different from many other reform-minded union officers. They get elected on a program of making the job better for the workers and then discover the bosses arent awed by their arguments. Initially they put up some resistance, but most soon surrender. A few continue on and win some concessions, but the workers never receive what they deserve. In fact, the workers create all value, but the bosses keep most of it the source of profits.
How do workers get off this treadmill? Only communists can provide the leadership to break this cycle. Communists understand that as long as the bosses hold power, they will continue to exploit the working class. Communists are constantly figuring out how to fight the bosses.
The bosses have many avenues of attack: they use September 11 to build patriotism and plan for war; they push racism and nationalism to divide workers; they talk about downturns in the economy; they push lower wages and a longer progressionmulti-tier wage systemas a strategy to "fight" privatization. All these are excuses for not meeting the needs of the workers, who are the backbone of the Metro system.
Out of each battle, whether workers win or lose, comes a better understanding of the enemy and a few more communists to lead the next battle. This process, which is not always straightforward, will eventually become a communist-led workers movement powerful enough to overthrow the bosses and establish a workers society where workers get what we need.
Every day on my way to work I pass a billboard the bosses have posted around town, showing a military tank in the background and a sign reading, "Without employees like you, it might not move an inch."
My first reaction was to laugh, since its displayed for workers. Soldiers in my unit have also seen it and weve discussed how the effort to gain support for the war in Afghanistan has increased. Many soldiers are unclear about the role of oil interests in that region. So were circulating a leaflet to inform soldiers not to take sides with the bosses in that war.
I gave the leaflet to a trusted friend and it sparked some discussion, showing how we can put our politics into practice. Later another interested soldier joined in.
Others are planning to use the leaflet. Were gaining experience. The above example shows how even with a small base, political discussions can spread to others. We must make it clear to soldiers that we can criticize the actions in Afghanistan, that what society needs now is workers power, not imperialist war.
The bosses billboard is a sure sign theres more war ahead. They have unleashed a massive effort to gain support for imperialist war and to attract soldiers nationwide to fight and die for Exxon Mobil profits. As far as Im concerned, the billboard should read, "With soldiers like me, this tank will be used for workers power."
CHICAGO, Feb. 11 Members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) House of Delegates passed a resolution calling on the union to "encourage all its members to engage in educational activities involving union members, students, and parents on topics such as racial profiling and racist attacks, the war in Afghanistan, the potential for war around the world, options for peaceful solutions, and the changes in attitude toward civil liberties. The CTU Quest Center will gather resources, lesson ideas, names of potential speakers and other relevant materials."
A communist teacher spoke in favor of the motion. She said, "we should not be so quick to jump unthinkingly on the patriotic bandwagon. It is very likely the U.S. will become involved in a war not only in Afghanistan but in Iraq or Iran as well. I for one, do not want to see my students sent off to fight and die for the oil companies." Several people applauded.
Many union members were involved in organizing for the resolution. It originated from a discussion among activist teachers at a September anti-war rally. It was debated at a meeting of the union caucus PACT, as well as at the unions Education Committee, which added the paragraph about the Quest Center. It was also discussed, and changed, at the unions Executive Board meeting and then brought up again in the House of Delegates. Three of the originators of the motion spoke for it and a fourth woman moved to amend it to include gender apartheid and discrimination in Afghanistan.
The passage of this motion shows openness on the part of teachers and staff to the idea that the bosses war is not in our interests. It will be up to us to guarantee that we continue this struggle.
I am a member of a large institution. Generally people have supported the war in Afghanistan as a "just war." Some have tried to stifle discussions and dissent here. Others have been uneasy. A minority is openly against the war.
At the urging of myself and others, the committee Im on initiated a petition to the leading council. We demanded an "open discussion," expressed our concern about the "loss of civil liberties" and reminded people of the institutions "tradition" of being "anti-war, for peace." Eighty people signed the petition and demanded it be read and discussed at the next leadership council meeting.
Meanwhile, our committee established a planning group which Im leading to organize a series of forums about the war, the Patriot Act, anti-Arab profiling and detentions, war and the economy.
Sixty people came to the first forum. The first speaker reviewed the history of geopolitics and oil during the Cold War and post-Cold War. He especially drew lessons linking oil and the current and expanding war. When he finished, hands went up: "Why is Mid East oil so important?" "Whats happening with Saudi Arabia?" "Whats the relation of oil to the India/Pakistan conflict?" "To the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?" "What about Enron?"
After the forum a participant told me, "Ive heard a lot about oil, but not an analysis like that. Theres information on the Internet, but when you get it you feel alone and frustrated." The second speaker said the first one had been very "convincing."
During the question period a man challenged us, "Its good to get information, but arent we angry about the war. Im a veteran, but I want to know if anyone here is in that 83% they say supports the war? If were in the 17%, what are we going to do?"
After the discussion we concluded that we need an "anti-war movement" built by "rank-and-file" people that is "international" in scope and organization. An anti-war movement that can "link the struggle around international and domestic issues" and that can challenge the U.S. as the "worlds superpower." We made some specific plans in this direction to suggest at our groups next meeting.
The forum ended with an invitation to everyone to sign our petition and return to the next forum about the Hart-Rudman Commission, the Patriot Act and anti-Arab, anti-Muslim profiling and detentions.
The day after the forum the leadership council read and discussed our petition. After expressing anger that they had been "attacked," they grudgingly accepted the petition (felt pressured) and the leadership of our committee.
It is important to note that a few of my close friends who know the Party and our literature have been very instrumental in our efforts. I am also making a few new friends in the process. All of them have political questions about the Party: Is imperialism the same as globalization? Its still a capitalist class society, but hasnt communism failed? Cant we have a new "paradigm" [model]? But what would that be, I ask them.
Ill invite these friends to May Day, to study Lenins "Imperialism" and the Partys "Political Economy." Meanwhile Ill continue to encourage them to help propel the ideological struggle and "anti-war" activism forward in this institution, and beyond.
CANTON, NY Students at St. Lawrence University (SLU) have taken the offensive against anti-Semitism and racism. The December 14, 2001 issue of the school newspaper, The Hill News, printed a viciously anti-Semitic letter, referring to Jews as a "cancer corrupting the genetic heritage" of Americans who "created such a superior civilization." This was a call to action against Jews. Recently, a member of the fascist National Alliance was expelled for spreading racist, hate propaganda. These incidents have upset many students.
The St. Lawrence University Anti-Capitalist Collective (SLUACC), led by an SLU student member of PLP, organized a response to this fascist filth. We first removed all copies of The Hill News from their distribution points, stamped swastikas over the university seals on the heading and stuffed leaflets into the newspapers. One side was an open letter to the newspaper staff. The other side explained "How to Fight Racism," describing how capitalism breeds and maintains racism. SLUACC then organized a student/faculty sit-in at Vilas hall, which houses the office of university president Dan Sullivan. We demanded the administration denounce anti-Semitism, investigate whether The Hill News staff violated the discriminatory harassment policy by publishing the letter and that the university act to prevent other racist incidents here.
The next day, during exam week, we had a rally attended by 30 students and 8-10 faculty. We invited the president and other administration figures, but only the Head of Multicultural affairs and one dean came. The president apparently had a "meeting" a tennis match. At the rally, two professors detailed racism at SLU and the universitys complicity by not opposing or condemning such racist incidents. A PLP student explained how racists become bolder when not confronted and how Hitler and the Nazis came to power. The professors and the administration apologists argued afterwards.
Before leaving, we presented our demands to the presidents secretary. Then, students removed all the flower pots from Vilas hall and formed a large Star of David on the buildings steps as a statement against anti-Semitism and racism.
The president sent out a rude, condescending e-mail, referring to the hate speech in the newspaper as merely "silly" and offensive. He ignored our demands and absolved The Hill News for their actions. His trivializing this incident only encourages racism and anti-Semitism at SLU. Students wrote back, saying his response was unacceptable.
Universities are capitalisms ideological factories which justify and spread racism, sexism, anti-communism, imperialism and identity politics, and help the ruling class divide and maintain control over and exploit, students and workers. SLU, like many universities, tolerates (and thus supports) racism. All students must fight their university administrations racism. SLUACCs newspaper, Sabot will be publishing articles on anti-Semitism, the university and the connection between racism and capitalism in its newspaper as well as CHALLENGE articles. An SLUACC study group on PLPs analysis of racism and fascism is planned. The fight against racism will continue.
NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 2 The World Economic Forum (WEF) was hastily moved from the posh ski-resort in Davos, Switzerland to the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel here, supposedly as support for the U.S. bosses after 9/11. The WEF is a routine meeting of the worlds top CEOs and politicians to discuss the fate of their global economy. Fearing mass violent protests like those at previous international ruling class gatherings, the NYPD turned the area around the meeting into an armed camp. The bosses relied not only on open terror but also used pro-war patriotism as a weapon to make sure many people stayed away from the protests. For example, contrary to Seattle, the AFL-CIO made sure not to mobilize en masse, sticking to a relatively small picket line in front of a GAP store to protest "sweatshops."
PLP did bring its anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist war and communist politics to all the protests throughout the WEF, distributing over 4,000 communist flyers and CHALLENGES.
The rulers erected metal barricades to herd those who did protest into carefully-designed block-length pens, surrounded by 4,000 cops. More cops were strategically placed citywide, defending corporate property. The ruling class spares no expense to protect its own through fascist measures. They even resurrected an 1845 law making it illegal for a group of three or more people to conceal their faces.
The anti-globalization movement is based on the popular idea of coalitions, where "movement" groups join together in common cause. These coalitions tend to align themselves around the lowest common denominator, in this case "corporate greed." But singling out "corporate greed" doesnt reveal the nature of capitalist exploitation and the need to destroy capitalism and build communism. Protesting "corporate greed" is a call to reform capitalism.
In fact, the spirit of the WEF protest wanted a return to a non-existent "Golden Age" of democracy and capitalism. On Sat. Feb. 2, when the biggest protest took place, many marchers wore Statue of Liberty headdresses chanting, "This is what democracy looks like!" Slogans included, "Jobs with Justice," "Global Economic Justice," and "People Before Profits." Such ideas would support capitalism so long as it acts "humanely." But capitalism can never be just or put people before profits because capitalism is fundamentally exploitative.
"Capitalist democracy" is a dictatorship of the bosses designed to exploit the working class. Bosses who act "humanely" go out of business. The absence of class-consciousness among the many anti-globalization activists prevents them from getting to the source of exploitation production for private profit.
Only destroying capitalism and building communism can eliminate poverty, racism, sexism, war and eco-disasters. WEF protesters show a willingness to fight the destructive effects of capitalism. PLP must harness this energy and channel it into class struggle. Millions of angry protestors need communist leadership in these desperate times of super-exploitation and imperialist war.
Ive been in PLP for over five years and sometimes it seems like I have nothing to show for it. This frustration is the major reason I dont write to CHALLENGE more often. But lately some experiences have given me more hope.
Several weeks ago, I sat down with a friend to just chat because I dont see her very much anymore. The subject turned towards the war and eventually to communism. I was surprised she wanted to know more and agreed we need a communist society. We decided to organize a forum in our dorm to discuss the war, which might educate people a little more about it. I wasnt sure about speaking as a member of PLP or not, but my friend had no doubts she wanted me to speak as a communist.
The forum went exceptionally well. Afterwards I spoke with a Hawaiian woman about how the war was affecting her home. The constant allusions to Pearl Harbor and the need for patriotism and vengeance in the air over there disgusted her.
This was a good conversation, but the real victory was organizing this forum with my friend. Mostly Ive been doing this work by myself so having this helping hand was great. This whole experience reminded me how bases are built. They dont come out of the blue, but rather out of years of struggle and friendships. Having just one more person join the Party enables the work to grow many-fold. Im confident now that just one person joining with me will help others join more quickly. This is the way communists base-build.
Recently, the bosses newspaper reporter asked to interview me. I had written a resolution to the Student Senate opposing the war and he wanted to write a story about it. I was tempted, but previous experiences with the press werent very good, so I refused. The bosses media always uses what you say to advance their own agenda.
Sure enough, the article praised the college Republicans and their resolution supporting the war. They were a joke on campus and in the Senate, but the article made them seem like defenseless do-gooders being picked on by hateful leftists and minorities. (These same college Republicans sponsored the notorious racist Horowitzs campus talk last year.) When the t.v. show The OReilly Factor interviewed the president of the college republicans, it was obvious the bosses media was campaigning to push these guys to the forefront on college campuses.
This shows (1): we wont be able to get on TV and say we need a communist revolution so we shouldnt try (thats not the way communists base-build); and (2) we cant rely on the bosses media. We must rely on our own. This kind of maneuvering by the media demonstrates why CHALLENGE is so important.
[We invite our readers to comment on the questions raised by this comrade. Editor]
How long the bosses can milk 9/11 to screw workers depends on how long workers are willing to take it, and how much our Party can influence masses of workers.
Early in February, several dozen cleaning workers at Rockefeller Center were told they no longer had jobs; they were being "replaced" by cleaning workers who lost their jobs at the World Trade Center (WTC). The angry workers protested and denounced their union leaders (Local 32B-J/SEIU) for siding with ABM the new cleaning contractor at Rockefeller Center instead of backing the union members. Workers werent even notified until the day they were told they no longer had a job.
A Latin women, having worked three years at Rockefeller Center, told El Diario-La Prensa (Feb.6): "All I want is my job back They threw us out like dogs without caring that we have families to support and responsibilities."
ABM and the union leaders are trying to cover this back-stabbing with "patriotism," saying theyre "helping" the victims of 9/11. The union hacks also say they are "bound by the seniority rules", and workers with more years on the job can bump workers with less time. But the fired workers report that ABM is paying the WTC workers $6 an hour less than they were making.
After the workers protested in front of the union offices and got front page coverage in El Diario, the union leaders said they will "soon find jobs" for the displaced workers. But this empty promise comes during a very weak job situation. Even if they get hired, it will be at a much lower hourly wage.
As Samuel Johnson said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." This is something these workers, and many others, are realizing fast.
Not a Patriot
The bosses at our company push patriotism in their "Team Concepts "we are all one big family" distributing American flag lapel pins and putting flag stickers on our equipment.
At the union convention our union officials outdid management, demanding total support for Bush and the "war on terrorism," hoping for government help.
A younger worker told friends not to wear the flag pin, saying it means, "You support the war. Dont be fooled into thinking it shows youre supporting the victims of 9/11," he continued. "This country never did anything for you." Although he was supposed to distribute the pins, he convinced some not to wear them, right under the nose of the supervisors.
Various contradictions arose in discussing Muhammad Ali being part of a film to justify the war. Someone thought he was showing that all Muslims are not the same. Another younger worker said, "Ali knows better .That would be like me wearing an American flag. I wont and he shouldnt, because racism means that this is not my country."
A group of us at work were watching CNN. It showed the yellow food packets and then pinpointed the daily bombings on a map. An older worker said, "Listen to this BS. First we bomb them. Then, if they survive, lunch is on us!" Although wearing an American flag, he had nothing good to say about the war.
We outlined why international capitalist competition impels U.S. rulers into military action to control oil and gas. U.S. oil companies must ensure they dominate both Saudi oil and Caspian Sea region energy sources. This gives the U.S. major influence in setting prices and determining who gets how much oil, a distinct competitive advantage over Europe, Japan and China, whose economies depend on Middle East oil.
We concluded that the burden of this U.S. bosses Empire is paid by the international working class, including U.S. workers, particularly those in the public sector as budget deficits replace surpluses. Some interesting debates ensued:
"I dont like this war. I wouldnt fight in it. But I need cheap gas to get to work. Isnt it better that U.S. oil companies control the oil than some other capitalists? I could be paying $5 a gallon like in other countries." This from the same worker who commented about Ali.
But you are paying $5 a gallon, or more," responded a young woman. "You just dont see it at the pump. Think of all the money spent on Desert Storm, or on keeping U.S. bases in the Middle East and now in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan who knows whats next? Our tax dollars are really subsidizing Exxon Mobil and Chevron-Texaco by providing them with their own private army."
But at what price do we get this gas," asked another co-worker. "Its our kids and grandkids who fight this war. Even some of our co-workers are mobilized in the National Guard. People come back with all kinds of diseases and the government denies everything. Another guy told me he served in the Gulf War and thought it was laughable that the military was doing extra health check-ups before soldiers go to Afghanistan and when they return to look for any health problems from being over there. The military just wants to cover its ass, so if people do get sick they can say it was caused by something else."
A worker from South America broke in: "We always should think about whats happening in other countries. Theyre our brothers and sisters. The U.S. is killing people in Afghanistan. This is just wrong. Dont think the companies will treat you any better just because you live here."
This last comment made us realize that, to counter the barrage of patriotism, we often stress how the war is not in the self-interest of workers here but dont talk enough about international unity. The experiences and views of workers around the world remind us of the potential of international workers unity.
We discovered that many of our co-workers are against the war. We need to plan increasing this opposition in our local.
Workers of the World, Write!
On Feb. 2, my spouse and I participated in the mass funeral for Georgy Louisgene, a 23-year-old Haitian man murdered in cold blood by two of New York Citys "finest" racist cops. Georgy lived with his family in Brooklyns Vandeveer housing project. He apparently had a history of mental illness and had emerged from his building calling for help, having been beaten by some thugs. Although carrying a knife, eyewitnesses agree he was not threatening, just hurt and scared. The two cops showed up and pumped eight bullets into Georgys skinny body. The bullets impact must have spun him around because he was hit front, back and sideways.
Those racist killer cops thought they could dehumanize Georgy and the many other young black and Latin workers and youth theyve murdered in the past by gunning him down like a dog. But the hundreds of family, friends, neighbors and supporters who packed the church, and the 200 who marched militantly alongside the hearse winding its way to the spot where Georgy had lay dead would not let him pass unmourned and forgotten. Many of the marchers carried photos and names of other young men mowed down by the racist cops. The family especially showed its courage by allowing this to be a political funeral. They led the chants, "No justice, No peace!"; "Whose streets? Our streets!"; and "Nou wè" ("We see," a Creole phrase meaning we bear witness and remember).
This single (though often repeated) act of racist violence reminds us of our brothers and sisters in the Occupied Palestinian territories who also face horrific acts of attempted dehumanization at the hands of the Israeli army: assassination, collective punishment, destruction of homes, armed checkpoints, etc.
We offer our condolences to the Louisgene family and promise we wont forget a single act of exploitation and violence committed against our class! The working class will never see justice under this stinking, rotting capitalist system, and the streets will not be ours until the working class unites as one single force to smash this system.
"Nou wè!" as we fight to build a multi-racial, revolutionary communist movement in the U.S. and around the world to seize power for our class and rid the world of the parasites once and for all.
I recently attended a church-sponsored conference about the "war on terrorism." In my workshop, in an exchange about pacifism, one guy said he wasnt a pacifist. His example was armed struggle to end slavery. He thought we needed to talk more about what the "war on terrorism" is really about, and why its wrong. We could bring in more people that way than just by preaching pacifism.
Then a woman said pacifism was very important to her. The group leader asked both of them if they thought they had any common ground. The first guy mentioned that a long-time pacifist friend had told him a story about someone in Nazi Germany who had shot and killed a Nazi officer in order to protect Jews hiding in her house. This friend said she didnt know what shed do in such a situation. The first guy added that he couldnt imagine any war fought by any government in the world today that he would support.
The pacifist woman then said she really wasnt sure she could adhere to her pacifist principles in all situations. She was okay with trying to broaden the appeal of the anti-war movement the way the first guy had suggested.
I was impressed by this. I am not a pacifist either, and sometimes Im very uncomfortable around these people who use very "churchy" language to express their anti-war sentiments. There are so many "leaders" in the "peace movement" who seem more concerned with keeping the masses of people peaceful than they are with stopping the bosses wars. To me, those misleaders are part of the problem, not part of the solution. But these church friends are clearly not like them.
This experience has shown me people can change. It has made me less timid about raising left ideas amongst my church friends.
Learning to struggle
Forget all the stomach-turning patriotism and the commercial feeding frenzy. The Super Bowl (which is getting impossible to watch) was won by the defense. The much talked about "high-powered" Rams offense, with "too many weapons." favored by two touchdowns, couldnt outscore New Englands well-planned and perfectly executed defense. Last years game was won by the Ravens defense. Theres a lesson here.
"Offense and defense" should not be confused with "advance and retreat." On defense, you can keep the other side from scoring. In fact, on defense you can score. The Nazis were on the "offense" as they "advanced" on Stalingrad, Moscow and Leningrad. The Red Army was on defense, and we know how that turned out.
Millions of workers around the world are engaged in all types of class struggle, defending their jobs and livelihoods from the bosses offensive. Even though the fighting is often fierce, it is defensive in nature, aimed at stopping the billionaires attacks. As long as the bosses dictatorship is not challenged, every struggle is defensive.
From the widening "War on Terrorism" to "Homeland Defense," U.S. imperialism is on offense. This may be the case for some time to come. This means we must get much better at playing defense. We have to learn how to stop them from scoring, attack their weak spots and occasionally score. Their weak spots are their inability to serve the needs of the masses, and the superficial allegiance of the working class. Building the PLP, deepening our ties to the masses and earning their confidence, and increasing our influence in the mass movement is how we score.
When a mass PLP emerges, leading millions of workers, soldiers and youth, we will get the ball. When we challenge the rulers for power, we will be on the offense, and even then, we will have to defend every advance we make.
Knows the Score
The article entitled "Mexico: Workers Take Offensive, Seize Steel Mills" in the Jan. 30 CHALLENGE does an exciting and inspiring job of summarizing the details of this struggle; including the repeated failures of the company, the union leaders and the Labor Department to recognize the steelworkers elected leaders.
It explains that the attacks on the workers are related to capitalisms crisis of overproduction, that "the profit system cannot satisfy our needs," that Mexican President Vicente Foxs promises of jobs were lies and that "the only leadership capable of defeating capitalism will come when workers join the PLP."
These conclusions are true, but are generalities that could be attached to any article. These general truths need to be stated, but not to the exclusion of particular truths related to particular evens.
We must teach communism through the "constant concrete analysis of the concrete situation," to use Lenins phrase. This story is rich in such lessons. The illegal action of 2,000 workers seizing the means of production can pave the way to revolution, not just legal recognition by the capitalist government. We should explain in detail that unions were originally illegal and that Labor Departments and their "Arbitration and Conciliation Boards" exist to trap workers into peaceful, legal, reformist dead-ends. Workers should operate in many ways, without always having to go through the union and government bureaucracies (while utilizing these forms when tactically appropriate). No matter how massive and militant the seizure of property, the bosses will use their state apparatus to retake it. Therefore, workers must use these lessons to learn how to smash the rulers state apparatus and erect a working-class dictatorship.
Mass struggles such as this can be "schools of communism," another of Lenin phrases, but only if communists use them for that purpose. Based just on the lessons offered by the article, one could conclude that you should drop out of reformist organizations and join PLP. But our strategy calls for participating in the mass movement to win blocs of workers to join our Party and fight for communism.
CHALLENGE articles should consistently provide "constant concrete analysis" based on PLPs overall line. Many articles do; many dont. One reason workers need a centralized communist party is to fight for such analyses.
This is in response to the letter about postal workers from "A Comrade" in the Jan. 16 CHALLENGE.
Im a member of PLP and you should become more active. Then we can work together to change the world for the better. Look at page 2 of this newspaper for a hint of what communism is about. Ive talked to a number of postal workers (not enough) about communism. One person said, "You have to get this paper into more peoples hands. You cant just leave it around the building. Thats only a start."
Another worker said, "Thanks for the papers. I know you need a donation. Heres five bucks. Somebodys got to get the word out. The system is taking us down."
These workers are right. The financial support and distribution of CHALLENGE are key to building the PLP. Lets make a deal. Ill get out more papers and you help me. Theres a great many things going on with the USPS [U.S. Postal Service] that require communist leadership and analysis. Keep looking to this paper. Write for it. Discuss it with a friend.
Later, USPS (Unknown Seditious Postal Survivor)
The Arts Council of a small town sponsored a "book reading" and discussion. Participants were to read Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston and sign up for discussion groups all over the town. its about the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II and details circumstances of the Japanese-Americans being terrorized, yanked from their homes and given hours to prepare for shipment to the camps. At my meeting there were about five or six elderly workers who had experienced the camps.
One recalled stories in the press about "Japanese cells" throughout California that "could supply information and material to the enemy" in submarines off shore. There was no evidence of this ever happening. He said it reminded him of stories in the press today about the Al-Qaeda "sleepers" everywhere, and the attacks against Arabs and Muslims.
When a moderator asked if we thought it could happen again, he was reminded of the Dec. 11 arrest of 69 undocumented airport workers at the Salt Lake City airport. Mayor Anderson pledged to make it the safest airport in the country for the Olympic Games, unless you happened to work there. Mothers were put in jail without regard for the care of their children. None of those arrested had any ties to terrorism.
There were comparisons between WWII and the war in Afghanistan and the homeland security.
I said I didnt think the war there had anything to do with fighting terrorism, but had everything to do with the oil and pipeline profits of Exxon-Mobil or other capitalist enterprises. I said the tragic events of 9/11 provided the warmakers with the excuse they wanted to wage this war for oil profits.
More events are scheduled and more opportunities to be bolder in the fight for communism.