But appearances never tell the whole story. In fact, although the situation remains very complicated, certain developments suggest that U.S. imperialism may not be winning at all strategically in this war against the al Qaeda oil upstarts:
* Despite Bush's arrogant promises to "smoke out the evildoers," bin Laden has managed to stay alive. This is a major embarrassment for the bosses. Even if they succeed in killing him, "[al Qaeda]...can carry on. The head might be cut off, but the body is already too extensive to die with it." (London Financial Times, 2/20) The defeated Taliban may have the potential to regroup and conduct guerrilla war in an Afghanistan that the U.S. hasn't come close to pacifying.
* The al Qaeda strategy depends on provoking the U.S. into a bloody war of retaliation that would lead to massive anti-U.S. uprisings throughout the Muslim world. Al Qaeda's key goal remains driving the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia and ending Exxon Mobil's chokehold on Saudi oil profits. This strategy hasn't succeeded so far. However, it can't yet be called a failure either. Bush & Co.'s murderous actions since September 11 have intensified anti-U.S. hatred throughout Muslim countries. From Indonesia and the Philippines to Saudi Arabia, religious and nationalist resentment against U.S. imperialism is building, particularly among youth.
* The rulers of Saudi Arabia are tilting towards a demand that the U.S. end its military occupation of their country and hand over the key Prince Sultan air base there. Bin Laden represents a faction of Saudi bosses that wants to end U.S. control over Saudi oil wealth. The presence of 5,000 U.S. troops in the nation that has Islam's holiest sites -- helping to keep alive anti-U.S. sentiment -- is a tremendous political liability for the Saudi royal family and an organizing tool for the bin Laden upstarts. U.S. rulers are damned if they do and damned if they don't. They remember how nationalism and religion drove them from Iran in 1979 and understand that a similar uprising in the Saudi oilfields could lead to a defeat of even greater magnitude. Yet U.S. supremacy throughout the Persian Gulf may well depend on keeping its military in Saudi Arabia. According to Anthony Cordesman, a veteran U.S. imperialist policy-maker: ""We need [Prince Sultan Air Base] if we go to war with Iran or Iraq. You don't deter from `over the horizon' the way you can from the ground." (Washington Post, 1/18)
* Saddam Hussein remains a terrible problem for the imperialists, who haven't yet figured out how to get rid of him, much less how to replace him and with whom.
* Every major imperialist power, including a goodly section of British bosses, opposes a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Most of these rulers also have widening differences with the U.S.'s unilateral conduct of the "war against terrorism."
* The Middle East remains a key strategic weak spot for U.S. rulers. Every U.S.-backed "peace" plan since the Carter Administration has boomeranged into a bloody fiasco. For all of its military might, U.S. imperialism can neither quell the latest uprising by Palestinian nationalists nor tone down the brutality of its Israeli junior partners. Continuing U.S. support for Israel "is breeding greater resentment" throughout the Arab world (Financial Times). This resentment can only intensify if the U.S. attacks a major oil-producing country in the Persian Gulf. Here again, the al Qaeda strategy could still triumph. Sustained anti-U.S. uprisings in several major Muslim countries -- for example, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq -- would dwarf the military and political problems U.S. imperialism failed to solve in its Vietnam debacle.
U.S. rulers' technological and military superiority are undeniable, for the time being. But technology and military hardware don't determine the ultimate course of history. History is made by human beings and by their participation in class struggle. Massive battles between U.S. imperialism and its many oil rivals are brewing constantly. This is the long-term political reality behind today's seeming U.S. cakewalks in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Imperialism and the struggle for world supremacy and maximum profit always lead to war. At the moment, events are being determined primarily by inter-imperialist rivalry, rather than class struggle between bosses and communist-led workers.
We're still paying a heavy price for collapse of the old communist movement. The road ahead will be uphill for a long time to come. But our side can win. Keeping the spark of communism alive is the most important job in the world today. Progressive Labor Party has taken on this responsibility. We believe workers everywhere can learn to reject nationalism and religion and to replace them with a revolutionary communist outlook.
To prop up their sagging economy, the main wing of Saudi bosses decided in 1998 to "globalize" their oil industry by giving non-Saudi companies access to the exploration and development of both existing and new gas and oil. Since 1975, the Saudi oil industry has been nationalized; foreign investors have been allowed to participate only in so-called "downstream" operations, such as refining.
Under a new law, which includes a major tax break, foreign corporations will now have the right to own land, sponsor their own employees and benefit from sweetheart loans previously available only to Saudi companies.
Last May, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell and eight other non-Saudi companies took on a $25 billion natural gas project in Saudi Arabia. The money involved is relatively small, but this deal "is part of a long-term ploy of the oil companies, [which] ultimately want to get access to Saudi crude" (L.A. Times, 5/19/01).
Granting these concessions to foreign oil bosses represents a big gamble for Saudi rulers. The House of Saud had based its security on the ability to create cushy jobs and incomes for the majority of Saudi citizens while relying on very cheap imported slave labor to run the country and its energy industry. However, the declining Saudi economy has upset all this. Unemployment is growing. Gross National Product is plummeting. Disaffection from the ruling clique is spreading, both among the bosses themselves and among the population at large. The bin Laden/al Qaeda phenomenon reflects these developments.
The Saudi rulers are betting that a new dose of foreign investment will prop up their economy and enable them to buy off the growing anger of the population once again. But granting property rights to foreigners and importing a large number of European and U.S. expatriates to live in Saudi Arabia will also create conditions that the bin Laden gang can exploit.
In view of the new Saudi legislation, the 9/11 attacks appear more closely connected than ever to the dogfight over control of Saudi oil riches. The working class should always bear in mind that it has nothing to gain by supporting any faction of capitalists. Our class interest remains in destroying them all.
Meanwhile, in the northern cities of Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz, forces of Rashid Dostum, the Uzbekian warlord, have had many armed confrontations with those of Atta Mohammed, a Tadjik warlord. U.S. aircraft bombed the outskirts of Khost, in the South, to squash a conflict among different tribal groups.
Several provinces have governors who are not recognized by President Karzai. Other provinces have self-imposed governors hated by the local population.
Simultaneously, banditry, drug-dealing and warlords seizing young boys as lovers are rampant. Selling Arab prisoners -- not wanted by the U.S. because they're not linked to Al Qaeda -- is becoming a booming business. Ransoms vary, asking up to $50,000 for an imprisoned Saudi Arabian.
"Bordering countries, in spite of their official line," reports the Mexican newspaper La Jorneda (2/22) "have their own plans for the future of Afghanistan, a country crucial to future oil pipelines across the region. These countries are doing everything possible to promote their interests, or at least, to counter arrangements advanced by the U.S. They say they support Karzai, but in deeds...these countries finance and arm their protégés....All this has turned Karzai into a hostage of foreign troops. They are his only supporters. This is a dangerous trap since the bigger the foreign military presence, the bigger the discontent among the local population, who, influenced by the local mullahs, have never accepted domination by `infidels'....
"Meanwhile, what about the Taliban? It's still an enigma why they abandoned the main cities in November. Very few Afghans have surrendered their weapons. Several days ago, former Taliban Interior Minister, mullah Abdul Razzak, spoke from his refuge in the mountains of Spin Boldak: `Soon the people will ask for our return to power. For now, we are following the situation very closely.'"
Now along come the Israelis using the Nazis as models in dealing with the Palestinian Intifada uprising. Columnist Robert Fisk reports the following in the British Independent (2/24): "An Israeli officer tells his colleagues, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz, that they must `study how the German Army operated in the Warsaw Ghetto.' Needless to say, the latter report is not published in the U.S." [Until now -- Ed.]
And how did the Nazis "operate" in the left-led Warsaw Ghetto insurrection? By slaughtering the 20,000 to 30,000 still there -- every man, woman and child.
In World War II, the Nazis created their "final solution" for six million Jews -- extermination. Fascism is a product of capitalism. It is a ruling class attack on the working class. While hiding behind religion or nationality, as always class is the determining factor.
Ironically, Israeli rulers may very well be adopting the Nazis' "final solution" for the Palestinians. Another case of Nazis "studying" Nazis....
Early this month the Ford workers united with hundreds of tire workers who lost their jobs when the German-owned Continental Tire Co. closed its Euskadi plant, demonstrating along with machete-wielding residents of the town of Atenco. For three months, the latter have resisted eviction from their homes which Mexico's President wants to replace with a new airport. These residents have seized and maintained control of the City Hall and dug ditches and erected barricades throughout the town to fight the evictions.
During the rally, a fired Ford worker explained that Euskadi, Ford and all Mexican bosses, including those behind the evictions, represent the essence of capitalism and imperialism, which bleed the whole working class through poverty, unemployment and wars for profits. Other speakers called for unity of all workers.
The next day community residents carrying their machetes joined the protest of the fired Ford workers at the company offices. The building was painted with slogans demanding the fired workers' rehiring. The terrorized bosses called their cops. Speakers condemned the firings and the factory closings by the profit-hungry bosses.
This was followed on Feb. 6 by a march of over 3,000 protesters through downtown Mexico City to the main plaza in the center of the city, including workers from a dozen unions either on strike or resisting factory closings. "Ford, fascist, imperialist criminal," shouted the workers, with the same chant against Fox and Euskadi. "Luchar, vencer, obreros al poder" ("Fight, win, workers to power") rang throughout the massive rally.
The Euzkadi workers were concluding a five-day, cross-country march from Jalisco, joining together with the Ford, DINA truck manufacturing and National Casting foundry workers. TheNewsMexico.com reported that workers "spoke bitterly of a government that allowed factories to close `without regard for workers.'"
"Today is just the match that lights the fuse," exclaimed a Euskadi trade unionist to the news agency.
Ford is continuing its attacks. They've limited use of water fountains, affecting the workers' health; cut the workers' transportation and are trying to impose 10-hour shifts. Their announcement barring new projects for the factory marks an uncertain future for Ford's workers. "We won't allow the bosses to continue to decide for us," declared a leaflet circulated hand-to-hand along every assembly line. "We'll defend our future and that of our families!"
Ford is submerged in a crisis of overproduction, losing market share and profits. To avoid a debacle, they're closing four plants in the U.S. and one in Canada, laying off 35,000 workers in the next three years, in addition to the thousands let go this year. The war for auto markets is sharpening, causing unemployment for millions. Eventually this war for markets will be transformed into another imperialist war for control of the world. "Workers of the World, Unite!" is a powerful slogan that can put the working class on the offensive. Join the communist PLP to organize an end to this capitalist nightmare.
The big boss was forced to quote from a line boss and regular workers who actually knew the deceased. Sandwiched between company propaganda about customer satisfaction and other lean/team jargon offered by the line boss, was a revealing, heart-felt testimonial from a fellow worker. This co-worker simply remembered our friend as the "salt of the earth."
"Salt Of The Earth" was the title of a famous movie made during the 1950's McCarthy anti-communist witch-hunts. In one scene, after a miner is killed in a preventable accident, the boss tells the rest to get back to work. "Yes," says the union leader, confronting his oppressor, "the job of the company is to get the ore out of the ground. The job of the union is get the miner out of the ground!" The workers struck.
We all agreed the divisional boss would never have relayed these simple words of respect had he been aware of their significance.
At one of these meetings, involving hundreds of workers, a third were shouting back at the boss, another third were snoring and the rest walked out -- not something you see every day at mandatory meetings. The floodgates were opened when one worker asked a seemingly ridiculous question: "Do we have to report leaving work after an accident even if we're unconscious?" You see, the last person any of us had seen unconscious was our recently killed co-worker.
The company's accident report said our friend was a skilled worker. It then dished out some mumbo-jumbo about making sure we're familiar with safety procedures. The bosses say their only responsibility is to certify we know what we're doing.
"It's a whitewash," screamed a Lead worker at the union meeting. "The company says [our friend's] death was his own fault!"
He knew the real story. For three years he had been pressing the company to adequately train us in new job combinations, the company's latest scheme to increase profits. When they combine jobs, we're forced to handle unfamiliar machinery. For years, nothing was done even though the Lead had filed safety incident reports and protests to management and union Business Representatives. Three workers had already died since this latest scheme to increase profits was introduced. Our friend was working on just such a combined task when he was killed.
"Some of these machines can take out a whole building," the Lead warned.
The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall
"I have to wonder why these bosses are so arrogant. They even have the nerve to spout their company propaganda at the funeral. What is going through their minds? Are they just stupid?" asked a friend of the Party.
These bosses are big and powerful. They've been able to get away with this kind of industrial murder for years. Big and powerful leads to arrogance. You can even confuse power with intelligence and righteousness.
"Just look at what the bosses are doing around the world." continued our comrade. "They are prosecuting their imperialist oil war to the far corners of the globe, spreading chaos and death, all the while shouting to the skies how righteous they are."
Yet the fact remains, the bosses kill us by the thousands to secure their profits -- be it in imperialist wars or industrial "accidents." We can and should use their own arrogance to further expose their system.
A few of us met after the funeral. We knew we were facing an uphill battle against an increasingly fascistic system. One worker said it all when he pledged us to the struggle, "We're going to have to be in this for the long haul. No matter what it takes we can no longer let them get away with this -- and we're the ones that have the experience to organize to end it."
As the magnitude of the government sweeps emerged, demonstrations were held outside detention centers and INS offices. Initially our numbers were small but grew gradually. On Feb. 20, around 800 people participated in a National Day of Solidarity with Arabs, Muslims and South Asians, initiating a multi-racial fight-back. Groups previously separated by religious, language and nationality "differences" are uniting, recognizing our common enemy. Students facing increased tuition fees -- higher for resident immigrants than citizens -- are getting involved.
Right now the focus is on the detainees, probably exceeding 1,200. The demands are mild: to know who and where they are, not to free them. So far, the movement hasn't linked the attacks to the racist nature of capitalism, nor to the growing war and fascism. But it is a beginning and many in the movement are open to our ideas. It's up to us to find them.
When the boss ran to see about the commotion, another worker lashed out at her: "It's your fault; your greediness has no limit. In 20 years you haven't raised the piecework prices. When the minimum wage goes up we have to work faster for our tickets to add up to the new minimum wage."
"You don't understand," replied the boss, "We're in a crisis. I have no money."
"With the profits from our labor you bought this building," the worker shot back. "It's worth millions. You can sell it and you'll be rich. But what can we sell?"
This attack on workers is a small example of the havoc the worldwide capitalist crisis is wreaking on the working class. Last year a million U.S. workers lost their jobs. This year's forecast is for another 1.6 million layoffs. Thousands of working families, many being evicted in the dead of winter, are joining the ranks of millions of homeless nationally.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government is planning huge cuts in education, health and welfare to pay for the bosses' imperialist oil war in Afghanistan and its expansion elsewhere. In preparation, they're proposing mandatory 6-month military training for all men 18 to 22.
The rulers blame the 9/11 events instead of their capitalist system for the present economic downturn. Eventually, who controls the market is decided on the battlefield. While 9/11 contributed to the economic decline, such events are inevitable products of bosses fighting each other. The profit system has always produced these boom-bust cycles in which millions of workers lose their livelihoods. Only a system without profits, run by workers, can end these cycles and free the working class from the ravages of capitalist exploitation.
It is clear EO 665 is a racist attack on the working class. Even with the dedicated effort of many good teachers, black, Latino and many white students don't receive even a basic education in high school. Now the ruling class will deny it to them in college. Currently, over 50% of incoming CSU freshman fail the Math and English proficiency exams. In urban areas, it jumps to 86%. High schools in urban areas are predominantly black and Latino. Such schools suffer from racist mismanagement, under-funding and apartheid segregation; 81% of Latino freshmen and 69% of black freshmen entering Cal State Los Angeles require reading and math remediation (http://www.asd.calstate.edu/).
These students have the potential to learn everything, contrary to what the bosses want us to believe. Urban students suffer from an apartheid educational system created by the bosses to eliminate any chance of a decent education. The bosses use racism to split the class solidarity among exploited workers. Only the bosses benefit from racism. Similarly, only the bosses gain from cutting remedial education. A poor education hurts the working class's ability to read, especially communist ideas in CHALLENGE, write articles, make speeches and discuss politics with their fellow workers. It also robs the working class of the scientific knowledge of dialectical materialism and the history of class struggle. This hurts (but obviously doesn't destroy) the working class's ability to lead such struggle.
The bosses use and exploit part-time and graduate student labor who teach remedial courses, paying them a fraction of a full-time professor's salary, denying them benefits, pensions, job security and an office to meet their students and offer extra help. This forces many part timers to teach at several campuses. Many say they're so busy just trying to earn enough money to live on, they feel they can't give their students the attention needed to overcome a racist high school education. The bosses pit part-time exploited workers against full-time exploited workers to divide and frustrate class struggle.
It's important for all workers to view the current attack on remedial education as an attack on the entire working class. Many high school and college PLP members are fighting to not only save but to improve remedial education. We have attended forums and distributed CHALLENGE, joined mass organizations and raised revolutionary ideas while struggling with students in our classrooms and in PLP study groups. We're also exposing the capitalist lies used to defend this racist, murderous profit system.
The bosses' attack on remedial education resembles their other attacks on the working class -- Welfare "Reform," the fascist Patriot Act, mass layoffs, the racist round-up of Middle Eastern and Muslim workers and the racist bombing of Afghanistan. During imperialist war, under-funding urban high schools and cutting college remedial education helps the bosses build their imperialist army. They give urban students two choices: take a miserable super-exploitative job or join the army and become cannon fodder to secure the bosses' oil profits.
This will end only with a communist society where we cut the bosses out. Join PLP and fight for workers' needs, not for profit.
It was the liberal Boston Globe's continuing "Spotlight" exposé that spurred the unprecedented conviction of Father John Geoghan. The Globe also showed that Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law routinely reassigned Geoghan and other predators without punishment. Along with demands for Law's resignation, the Globe and, its parent, the New York Times, have called on the church to reform its all-male power structure and to ease up on abortion. The church's abortion stance can seriously undermine the main wing's war making. In 1995, the Christian Coalition, led by anti-Rockefeller forces in the domestic oil industry, set up the Catholic Alliance. Focusing on Boston, it organized millions of Catholics to vote for "pro-life" politicians, who also opposed U.S. military action in the Middle East.
Without mentioning war, a Globe editorial (2/21) stated that the main issue was winning hearts and minds to the liberal cause: "...the widening scandal of child sex abuse is a concern not only for Boston-area Catholics but also for the civic and political leaders who work closely with Law to advance important matters of public policy." The church must show an "activist commitment to social justice," the Globe demanded. So, it's no surprise that Boston's ruling elite have dispatched a team of prominent Catholics to advise Law on handling the fiasco. Its leaders serve the heavyweights of U.S. imperialism. Banker John Hamill is a director of the Fletcher School at Tufts, which, since 1991, has been demanding the U.S. invade Iraq. Tom O'Neill, son of JFK lackey Tip, lobbies for Raytheon and Bechtel. Jack Connors owns a big slice of Interpublic Group, Exxon Mobil's top PR firm.
The main wing's drive to consolidate public opinion is progressing quickly. Before the New York Times bought it from the aristocratic but provincial Taylor family in 1993, the Globe never uttered an unkind word about Boston's Holy Trinity: the church, Harvard University, and the Kennedy family. Today, the main wing needs to win workers to its war aims, so if any one of these three tarnishes the "knight-in-shining-armor" image, the Globe rakes it over hot coals. Rapes and murders committed by the Kennedy clan no longer get swept under the Globe's rug, nor does the president of Harvard's openly racist treatment of some professors. Now the church faces the "get-with-the-program" treatment. All this liberal muckraking serves the U.S. military's genocide.
Unconcerned about the children it damages, the Vatican currently enforces celibacy for priests, which contributes to pedophilia, as a loyalty test. But when Christianity began as an egalitarian rebellion against the slave system of ancient Rome, celibacy was not an issue.
Christianity soon turned into its opposite, however, as self-serving bishops, literally "overseers," arose and sided with Roman emperors, class enemies of the poor. Then the church formally forbade priests from marrying in the 12th century in order to protect its vast and growing wealth. Celibacy ensured that there would be no children of clergy around to inherit church property. The greed of popes almost a millennium ago has led to centuries of perversity.
In criticizing the church, liberals like the Globe must walk a fine line. They don't want an exodus from organized religions. "The Catholic Church is central to many lives and should remain so" (Globe editorial, 2/21). One of the rulers' worst fears is that workers will seek a more rational way of viewing the world, one that can some day change it.
Cardinal Bernard Law, the maximum leader of the Catholic Church in the U.S., chief of the 300 U.S. bishops and the person responsible for recommending candidates to bishops and canonization to the Pope, is now the center of probably the biggest scandal facing the church in this country. Even though he's accused of tolerating and covering up the sexual abuse of many children by 80 priests, Cardinal Law refuses to quit his post.
Most of the child-molestor priests are retired or no longer active in the church. One, John Geogham, is accused of having sexually molested 130 children in 30 years. Another priest is suspected of molesting 100 children. Cardinal Law tried to cover up these cases, even when some of the victims sued and were indemnified. Worst of all, Law let some of these accused priests remain in their posts.
Recently the New Hampshire diocese published the names of 14 priests accused of molesting children. One is still active, Six are either sick or retired but still provide religious services.
This is not isolated behavior. It's believed the church has spent over a billion dollars settling sexual abuse cases in the last few years. In 1997, a Dallas court ordered the church to pay $119 million to 10 men who accused a priest of molesting them for 15 years when they were altar boys. In 1996, the Florida church had to pay $13 million to settle a similar case. Cardinal Law and the Boston diocese face a similar legal suit.
There are already several support groups and organizations to help victims of such abuses. One group, Suvivors of Abuses by the Clergy, believe 3% to 10% of all clergy are involved in different kind of abuses, including sexual ones.
Many trace the causes of such abuses to the church celibacy rule which bans marriage and sexual intercourse for priests and nuns. Maybe so, but the fact is there's rampant sexual abuse in all branches of organized religion. Churches, mosques, temples, etc., are powerful forces in society, and they don't escape the sins of capitalism which treats sex and all forms of personal relations like commodities. This facilitates such behavior among the clergy. How can one preach equality among men and women and the brotherhood of humanity when capitalism's rulers do the opposite: wars, class exploitation, racist and sexist discrimination, etc.
That's a contradiction inducing many religious people who see their centers of prayer as contrary to the outside world join the fight for a better world. That's the route I've chosen.
Former (Not Sexually Abused) Altar Boy
The premise of John Q (the hero's name and middle initial, suggesting the term "John Q. Public," meaning the average person) is that a black factory worker--whose work-week has been cut from 40 to 20 hours -- has a pre-teen son who needs a heart transplant right away or he will die. A hospital medical worker says the boy's problem had been missed because of the very casual exams demanded by HMOs. A hospital administrator coldly advises the family to take the boy home and make his few remaining days comfortable. But the head cardiologist acknowledges that if it were his child, he would go for the heart transplant. As John, Denzel Washington says that's what he and his wife choose to do.
But without John's knowledge, his employer has switched to a cheaper HMO, which will approve only a fraction of the $250,000 needed for the procedure.
One of the movie's strengths is that the desperate family has an integrated group of friends, and their church is multi-racial too. (This implicit anti-racism infuriates the "politically incorrect" crowd, who don't give a damn about the troubles of the poor.) Friends and neighbors donate money while John sells the family's meager possessions: a color TV for a few bucks; his truck, which leaves the couple without transportation to and from work. (His wife's car had earlier been repossessed.) Even though he pays the hospital tens of thousands, they inform the family they must take the boy home, to die a certain death.
The wife angrily -- and reasonably -- demands that John "do something." Desperate, he promises to pay every cent if the cardiologist will operate. Refused, he pulls a gun, shuts the emergency ward with locks and chains and demands his son be "put on the list" for a transplant.
The police immediately label his acts "terrorist." Certainly this is no revolutionary action. It's an individualistic reaction, though certainly understandable. But it's hardly a "solution" for the countless problems inflicted upon the working class, which can only be resolved with unified, revolutionary, mass action.
Still, the people in the integrated working class audience were yelling at the screen, deeply involved in the story, angered by the family's horrible problem. The crowds that surround the hospital in the movie clearly support and identify with John's anger. But one relatively positive review I read still called the movie "rabble-rousing," a nasty term which, as here, can refer to people who understand that their class interests are being discussed. Almost all movies want us to identify with the rich, or the military, the cops and the courts -- all protectors and reflections of the bosses' interests, not ours.
John Q's act reflects the anger and desperation of a nation where almost half the people have no health insurance whatsoever, and those who have any are frequently and routinely denied benefits by HMOs. Millions of workers now are denied many heart and cancer procedures which used to be regular and mandatory, not just for the wealthy.
The movie's focus on the HMOs is a lie. The "bad guys" of the movie (including the cops who try to kill John) come to recognize they are wrong. When John's wife attacks the hospital administrator for her decision to throw the boy out of the hospital, thus forcing John's rebellion, the administrator suddenly becomes a good guy. In fact she was previously "only following orders," as do the cops, the courts, foremen and others who control so much of our lives...though of course they choose to.
Focussing on the letters "HMO" as the force to fight, is misleading, especially here, where many people see the legitimacy of John's anger.
Being Hollywood, don't expect John Q to indict the whole rotten capitalist system which keeps most of the world impoverished, underfed, unhealthy, uneducated, homeless. Paraphrasing President Eisenhower's attack on socialism: The essence of capitalism is to keep us in a state of "cradle to the grave insecurity."
Terrorism, joining gangs, individual acts of rebellion, by definition can never change the system. Only when industrial workers like John join hospital, service and millions of other workers to build a mass revolutionary communist Party, can we then build a world without Enrons, HMOs or imperialist wars. That's the goal of PLP. Join us!
The war in the Pacific ended on August 14, 1945. The GI's who helped defeat Japanese fascism had done their job and were ready to return to their families and resume normal lives. But the rulers had other plans.
In 1942, a ruling-class strategy meeting sponsored by the National Industrial Conference Board began mapping plans for the post-war world. U.S. rulers wanted to establish themselves as the dominant force in Asia and exploit the colonies of the former Dutch and French imperialists, from Indonesia to Indo-China, with all their cheap labor, oil, rubber and other valuable resources.
China, led by Mao Tse-Tung's Chinese Communist Party, was the major challenge to U.S. hegemony and inspired billions of oppressed workers and peasants throughout Asia. The bosses plotted to encircle China by controlling Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines (a U.S. colony since 1898) down to Vietnam. Many of these areas contained potential nationalist and/or communist challenges.
In the Philippines, the People's Anti-Japanese Army (a communist-led peasant guerrilla army known as the "Huks"), had cleared central Luzon (the largest of the Philippine islands) of the Japanese invaders and threatened to become the dominant force in the country. U.S. GI's were grateful to the Huks. Their defeat of the Japanese occupiers saved thousands of GIs' lives, leaving U.S. soldiers very little to do militarily.
With the war over and U.S. soldiers ready to go home, they were told there "weren't enough boats" to transport them, as if boats could only sail in one direction. Pressured by the GI's about being forced to remain after the defeat of the enemy, an Army Colonel blurted out that they were staying to put down the Huks!
A GI on the U.S. Armed Forces newspaper managed to get this story past the censors and into the paper. In early January 1946, United Press International (UPI) published the story worldwide. At that very time, Truman's Secy. of War Porter, holding an unrelated press conference, was asked if the story was true. Unprepared for such a question, Porter spilled the beans -- the troops would stay according to the point system established for them during the war. (Only by acquiring enough points could soldiers be sent home.)
When that news reached the Philippine capital of Manila, "democracy's army" filled the bars, dejected at being forced to stay long after the war's end. The following morning thousands entered Manila carrying their weapons. Their mood was ugly. The MPs disappeared and the brass vanished. The GI's formed two huge columns and snaked their way through the city. That evening some soldiers met and published a leaflet, exposing the government and sending friendly greetings to the Huks. The next morning, 15,000 met in a big field in the city and selected a leadership committee. They then called up General Stier, the Commanding Officer in the Western Pacific, who quickly agreed to meet with a committee of five.
The 15,000 GI's formed a column led by the five-soldier committee, and crossed the Pasay River, moving towards military headquarters. The committee was ushered into a room full of generals, who urged them to call off the scheduled evening meeting. The committee made it clear that could not happen.
That evening 35,000 GI's showed up for a mass "go home" demonstration. The soldiers applauded when an enlisted lieutenant read greetings to the Huk guerrilla force.
By the end of the week, GI delegates came from all over the Philippines to an abandoned theatre on the outskirts of Manila and formed a committee of about 100. They represented tens of thousands of GI's whose backgrounds cut across all lines, from cities all over the U.S., with but one goal in mind: to go home.
The next day the brass flew the five-man committee back to the U.S. and gave them immediate honorable discharges. Soon the needed transport ships were "found" and the troops were sent home.
The "go-home" movement spread throughout Asia and Europe. The GIs' refusal to obey orders was a major blow and set-back to U.S. imperialism's timetable. It demonstrated once again that if the rulers cannot maintain the loyalty of the troops, they can't wage their imperialist wars.
But while Pastrana was talking peace, his government and U.S. imperialism were preparing for more war. Clinton's Plan Colombia granted $1.6 billion to the Pastrana government, mainly for military purposes. Hundreds of U.S. military "advisers" were sent to Colombia to train the Army and strengthen its paramilitary death squads, which were committing most of the mass murders.
Then came Bush and his "war against world terrorism." He asked for another $100 million for training Colombian soldiers to protect an Occidental Petroleum pipeline, bombed 170 times and out of commission for 266 days last year. Now instead of Occidental paying $1 per barrel of oil produced here to the Colombian army to protect its pipeline, the U.S. government will start to pay for it.
Right after Bush asked for this money, President Pastrana ordered the Colombian army to attack the FARC-controlled area, using Black Hawk helicopters and other U.S. weapons, intelligence satellites, planes and U.S. "advisers." Soon after the invasion began, and the FARC guerrillas' retreat from a town they'd held for several years, Pastrana was flown there in a U.S. embassy plane accompanied by uniformed U.S. military personnel.
The escalated war in Colombia is occurring alongside a stepped-up campaign to overthrow President Chavez of neighboring Venezuela. The corrupt, old-line bourgeoisie of Venezuela had shared power until Chavez became President in the late 1990s. They had stolen billions from the oil bonanza while the masses of people sank deeper into poverty. Chavez, like the FARC, represents the nationalist bosses of South America, who are tired of allowing U.S. imperialism to dominate the wealth and exploitation of the working class. These nationalist forces are allying with European imperialism against U.S. bosses.
The working class is caught in the middle of this intensifying inter-capitalist war. Some workers believe one group is better than another. Some believe Chavez or the FARC are the solution. Others actually believe a return to the old corrupt bosses and their U.S. masters (in Venezuela) or U.S. intervention (in Colombia) will end their misery and/or the civil war. All these ideas are deadly mistakes, basically due to the lack of a mass revolutionary communist movement pointing to the only solution: a fight against all bosses and establishment of a society without any exploiters: communism.
I've given CHALLENGE and discussed communist ideas with several of them. When I first showed the paper to a classmate from Russia, he told me his father was a Bolshevik, and that despite the break-up of the old Soviet Union, his father felt proud to still be a communist. Another friend, from China, said she wasn't born yet when Mao Tze-Tung was alive, but that if there were more people like him, the world would be a much better place. Other classmates from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico have also welcomed CHALLENGE.
Some of us have formed close friendships. With that has come more profound political discussions. Recently we had a party at a friend's home. It looked like an international meeting -- students from Colombia, Mexico, Japan, El Salvador, Turkey and Armenia. A discussion started about communism. Everyone generally agreed that communism sounds good, that it would be great to live in such a society, but at the same time many said it was an impossible dream. The discussion also revealed passivity and fear among many of the students. The bosses' fascism, their laws attacking immigrants and the rabidly patriotic atmosphere has been having an effect.
In this area, there is much potential to build PLP and a broad base among the students. It's not easy since many take classes for a short time and then leave. But others stay much longer. I will concentrate on some and together participate in community organizations and study groups to build long-term ties with them. I feel very happy to be building the Party step by step, and to see positive responses from my friends. These experiences have made me confident that we're on the right road, that in the long run the working class will destroy this capitalist profit system and its imperialist wars.
According to the World Health Organization, 18 million people have died worldwide because of the AIDS virus. Four million are children. There are 16 countries where 10% of the adult population 15-49 years of age are infected by the HIV virus. In five of those countries, in the southern part of Africa, one of five adults has the virus. In Botswana, 35% of all adults are infected. The 4,000,000 with HIV in South Africa comprise the largest group of any nation in the world.
Before the AIDS epidemic, 2% of all children in the world's poorest countries were orphans. At the 12th World Aids Congress, in Durban, South Africa, two years ago, the U.S. Agency for International Development estimated that in 10 years Africa would have 28 million children orphaned by AIDS. According to UNICEF (the UN's children's organization), these AIDS orphans are exposed to higher risks of malnutrition, sexual and other forms of exploitation and all types of diseases.
What can be done about this AIDS epidemic? To handle its most urgent aspects, Africa will need $3 billion (a fraction -- 1/16th -- of the military budget hike Bush is demanding "to fight terrorism"). The multi-national drug companies could be pressed to lower their extremely expensive prices for the AIDS treatment drugs. Cultural aspects can be fought: the sexual abuse of children, the belief among men in Africa that intercourse with a virgin can cure AIDS, or that the use of detergents, herbs or cotton before intercourse can prevent the virus. Then there's the Catholic Church's opposition to the use of condoms.
But the main problem is rooted in a society based on the exploitation of human beings as commodities, a society where a few imperialist companies super-exploit the entire world. A society where wars for profits are murdering millions worldwide. The solution is to fight for a world free of the most deadly disease humanity has ever known: capitalism and its many derivatives -- like nationalism, racism, sexism, etc.
In many cases, a tiny amount of marijuana found in a car or a home has "justified" taking away the house or car--to be sold for the benefit of the local police!--a practice that feeds on itself and constantly grows. The "impartial" Supreme Court has approved these fascistic tactics.
But now, with possibly the most openly fascistic presidency in history, we're suddenly hearing sanctimonious weeping about "reforming" these awful laws and releasing prisoners who were so harshly treated. A lot of liberals are ecstatic over this talk. The Nation magazine, for one, welcomes this "thawing" of icy, inflexible laws.
But politics doesn't happen in a vacuum, and liberals tend not to dig too deep for answers.
These critics have described the U.S. as nation of new and expanding prisons to house all these people who committed trivial crimes.
Why this sudden apparently "lenient" tone for people who even a year ago were called the source of most of the crime problems in the country? (This is an honor that more justly should be given to police departments, who protect the flow of all illegal drugs.)
It seems obvious that a by-product of any change in the marijuana and three-strikes laws will be empty cells, useless jails.
With all the anti-terrorist, "homeland-security" bullshit, is it unreasonable to wonder what politician will ask, "Gee, what will we do with all these empty cells? Wouldn't it be terrible to lay off all those guards and prison personnel?"
This great idea of releasing minor league potheads will leave plenty of room to imprison protesters. Especially since, as Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft and gang insist -- who needs proof? The odds are that behind any such change there will be a coalition of liberals and conservatives, if there is still any real distinction to be found among them.
Four private trucks have already been hired from ACAPSA, in which the mayor and some council members have investments. These politician/bosses rely on our union leader to win us to this privatization scheme. Full privatization will kill all our jobs.
This is a political lesson for those who voted for these politicians to "serve the people." The case of the union leader is even worse. During the civil war when he was a mid-level leader in the FMLN (the former guerrilla organization, now the second major electoral party here), he used to say he was "fighting for the poor."
We workers must understand we don't need these "leaders." We must take control of our unions while fighting for our immediate interests. But above all, we must use participation in this immediate struggle to win workers to the idea that abolition of the wage slavery system of capitalism is the only solution to our problems.
Comrade in El Salvador