CHALLENGE March 27, 2002

Editorial: From the Middle East to Afghanistan, Workers Must Organize Against Rulers’ Oil Wars

Pentagon Targets the Whole World with Nuclear Weapons

All Not Going Well for U.S. Hi Tech War

Machinists Strike Lockheed War Plant

Queens NY Bus Drivers Must Rely on Workers, Not on Politicians

Colombia: Don’t Let Union Hacks Do Bavaria Bosses’ Dirty Work

The Gestapo Would Have Been Jealous…

Bush Expands Clinton’s Slave Labor Workfare Program

Judge O.K. Cops’ Torture of Black Workers

Billions for War, Nothing for Steelworkers

Labor Hacks’ Role in Developing Fascism

Anti-War Conference Avoids Real Cause of War

In Memoriam: Comrade Philip Williams

Workers of the World, Write!

Night School Students Lead the Way for Struggle

Money for Cover-ups, Not For Schools

What Next: Sainthood for Hitler?

Hare Hell for Krishna Kids

Guess Who’s Using Bio-Tech Warfare? The U.S.

Lessons Learned Trying to Build the Party

Editorial: From the Middle East to Afghanistan, Workers Must Organize Against Rulers’ Oil Wars

It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

—Bertolt Brecht, German Communist Poet

U.S. rulers’ failure so far to stop the escalating violence in the Middle East has become a serious threat to their plans for a broadened oil war in the Persian Gulf. The imperialists took a big gamble by launching their Afghanistan adventure amid sharpened Israeli-Palestinian fighting. The Bush White House bet that young Arab workers’ hatred of Israeli fascism wouldn’t turn into mass uprisings throughout the Arab world directly confronting U.S. interests. With each passing day, that bet is beginning to look like a loser.

When the rulers used 9/11 as an excuse to launch the first round of their new oil war in Afghanistan, they figured their main military problems would be the Taliban and, eventually, the potential willingness of the Iraqi army to put up a better fight than it had in Bush Sr.’s 1991 Desert Storm. They miscalculated the potentially explosive political effect of combining the U.S. military’s slaughter of Muslim civilians in Afghanistan with Israeli military butchery of Palestinian workers, men, women, and children.

Thomas Friedman, the liberal New York Times’ main foreign policy analyst, understands this threat to the big bosses’ most vital interests: "…the most heated anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiments that I’ve ever felt [are] dangerous. The notion is taking hold that with a combination of…a baby boom and terrorism, the Arabs can actually destroy Israel. Some…even fantasize that they can undermine America." (Times, 3/10)

This was precisely the bin Laden-al Qaeda strategy: organize acts of terrorist provocation that would force the U.S. and Israeli bosses into retaliating with military atrocities that would in turn stimulate anti-U.S. rebellion throughout Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Such rebellion is far from unthinkable. It could help precipitate the fall of the present pro-U.S. Saudi regime and its replacement by a gang of rulers who would try to kick out U.S. oil companies. This is bin Laden & Co.’s primary goal.

The forces loyal to bin Laden represent a significant wing of Saudi capitalists, who want to capture the lion’s share of oil wealth for themselves. These bosses use religion and nationalism to fan the anti-U.S., anti-Israel hatred of millions of oppressed Arab and Muslim workers. They are allied with local capitalists with comparable aspirations in every country where the U.S. has extended its "war against terrorism" — Indonesia, the Philippines, Georgia, etc. But the eye of the storm remains the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

One nightmare scenario for U.S. imperialists would be a mass-based alliance against them among the bin Laden-supported Saudi bosses, the Egyptian ruling class and Iraqi rulers. Other combinations are possible. The Syrians and/or Iranians could get into the act as well, together or separately. We can’t predict whether or how such events might materialize. But the longer the fighting continues in the Middle East and the more widespread it becomes, the more such liabilities increase for U.S. imperialism.

Furthermore, U.S. rulers are playing a very dangerous game in Iraq. They all agree that the Saddam Hussein regime must be replaced with a pro-U.S. puppet government. But getting the job done won’t be a pushover. Some "experts" in the Bush camp (led by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz) push for immediate action, believing that any show of force by a small U.S. contingent would "immediately trigger a revolt against Saddam within Iraq, and that it would quickly expand." (Seymour Hersh, "The Debate Within," New Yorker, 3/11) Liberals in the State Department and the military, led by Colin Powell, know this is a pipe-dream. Hersh quotes a top retired officer who contemptuously dismisses the Perle-Wolfowitz scenario and warns of the potential for mass revolt: "We’ve got a bunch of people who think it’s going to be easy. We’re set up for a big surprise." Another former U.S. ambassador to the Middle East told Hersh: "If we have to have three months of bombing, with civilian casualties, we’ll have real problems with the Arab world."

The liberals know that any serious effort to dislodge Saddam Hussein would need between 200,000 and 300,000 troops, plus supporting units and 700 to 1,000 aircraft, as well as one to five carrier battle groups (Hersh). And that’s just for Iraq alone. The military intervention required to stem uprisings in, say, Saudi Arabia — particularly if they were supported materially by al Qaeda-type troops from other countries — could rapidly produce a scenario that might dwarf even the immense, long, and bloody U.S. intervention in Vietnam.

People, Not Technology, Determine the Outcome of Warfare

Perhaps this scenario won’t unfold at all. Perhaps it will, but not for a long time. Yet it cannot be excluded as a possibility. That alone should give workers reason to think about what our class should fight for during these bosses’ oil wars. We can draw three important lessons from these rapidly sharpening contradictions:

First, imperialism always leads to war, because it is a system based on the ruthless scramble for maximum profit. Competition among bosses inevitably ends with armed struggle. They cannot resolve such major differences by any other method.

Second, despite appearances, the best-equipped, most technologically advanced army doesn’t necessarily always win. People, not technology, decide the outcome of warfare. As the Vietnam War glaringly proved, armies win or lose based on the political and ideological commitment of their troops and the populations involved. The present battles in Afghanistan and the Middle East confirm this. The religiously and nationalistically motivated forces opposing U.S. and Israeli imperialism are putting up an impressive fight despite the enormous disparity in hardware. And the fight has just begun.

Bad ideas can inspire people to act heroically. This is the case in the Middle East and on the other fronts of the present war. The German fascist army fought to the bitter end against the Soviet Red Army. Workers and youth armed with little more than rifles and stones are giving the U.S. and Israeli military machines a run for their money. But religion and nationalism are deadly, self-defeating traps. Even if al Qaeda’s forces win, Arab and Muslim workers would continue to suffer the horrors of life under capitalism. Changing from one capitalist oppressor to another won’t help. Military heroism isn’t sufficient by itself. It must be wedded to the goal of communist revolution. No other political ideology will serve the needs of the international working class.

In the past, workers have fought gallantly for aspects of communism, against terrible odds. They will do so again and can avoid the mistakes that finished off the old communist movement. The job is hard and long — but the goal can be achieved. Learning to achieve it is our Party’s mission and commitment. A successful May Day 2002 will serve as an important positive step in this vital process.

Pentagon Targets the Whole World with Nuclear Weapons

The Bush Administration’s "new" nuclear proposals would nuke anyone who they decide is their enemy. Previously they alleged they would use nuclear bombs only against a country that used them against the U.S. (Of course, that didn’t include Japan, where they slaughtered 250,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — equal to the deaths of 80 World Trade Centers — when Japan was about to surrender.) They allegedly opposed proliferation of atomic weapons, as long as they could maintain their own stockpile.

Initially "only" Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya are targeted. Then it was extended to include "potential adversaries," Russia and China. But it doesn’t end there. They finally say that the U.S. must be prepared for any contingency. "Contingencies can be categorized as immediate, potential or unexpected." "Unexpected" covers the whole world!

This latest pronouncement has liberals and their leading mouthpiece, The New York Times, furious. The Times (editorial, 3/12) said such a policy would make the U.S. "a rogue state," breaking nuclear treaties (non-proliferation and test-bans), excluding "allies," and ignoring the uproar such a policy would provoke internationally, especially in the Muslim world. These liberals, and the main wing of the ruling class they represent, see the Wolfowitz/Perle group putting this forward as blowing the U.S.’s cover in its drive for world domination. These are the same forces who think they can go it alone in seizing Iraq using hi-tech weapons and very few U.S. troops. (See adjoining editorial.) The liberals don’t oppose U.S. nuclear supremacy or nuclear blackmail but maintain it must be employed without, if possible, provoking more problems than U.S. rulers can handle.

The proposed policy coincides with the intention to conduct a "war on terrorism" in 40 countries for 50 years or as long as it takes. The USA Patriot Law is the fascist corollary of this imperialist policy — to squash any rising domestic resistance to this mass murder of the international working class.

This intention to prepare to pulverize any opponent of U.S. imperialism demonstrates the futility of "persuading" the rulers to agree not to use nuclear bombs. For years groups like SANE campaigned for a ban on testing atomic weapons. The "test-ban" treaty was hailed as the answer to nuclear war. Now the desperate U.S. ruling class has shown how much such treaties among imperialists are worth. Imperialism means war. It always has and always will.

The rulers would have us believe that atomic war means "the end of the world." They figure that threat can scare anyone opposed to them to knuckle under to their demands. But remember, World War I produced the Russian Revolution. World War II brought the Chinese Revolution. Nuclear blackmail is just as likely to lead to the beginning of the end for world imperialism.

Yes, the world’s bosses can very well kill millions, even hundreds of millions of workers (nearly 200 million in 20th century wars alone). U.S. bosses have been the vanguard killer for two centuries, from Native Americans to enslavement of black people to Hiroshima to Vietnam to Afghanistan. But they cannot kill the international working class, nor the ideas of communism that will lead our class to turn their imperialist atomic blackmail into class war for workers power, no matter how long it takes or what the obstacles. All the more reason to build for May Day and build a communist movement to lead the working class to crush these mass murders and their capitalist system.

All Not Going Well for U.S. Hi Tech War

The U.S. military is touting its latest battle with Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s Paktia province as a huge victory and has announced withdrawal of its attacking soldiers. However, as is true with much of the Pentagon’s "disinformation" campaign, there is appearance and essence.

A March 8 analysis from the intelligence newsletter summarizes Operation Anaconda as "a new phase" of the U.S. intervention, showing that, "The U.S. has yet to find an effective response on the ground to guerrilla warfare. Dominant air power…might not be enough to win the war." Its analysis reveals that "only a few dozen militants have been killed…and U.S. losses have been significantly higher than the eight dead and 40 wounded officials have acknowledged."

"Stratfor says this battle "signals the beginning of a protracted guerrilla war that will allow Afghanistan to continue to serve as sanctuary for al Qaeda."

The U.S. found that, "Enemy forces in the area were actually much larger" than they estimated….Most…were Taliban forces….fighters… with several years of guerrilla experience and intimate familiarity with the region, [that] launched surprise attacks….The first [was an] ambush of about 100 U.S. troops" and another one that killed six U.S. soldiers.

With Afghan "allies" retreating, 1,000 U.S. troops were deployed,

"But this option has not worked well:…ground forces have come under heavy fire and suffered losses and helicopters also proved vulnerable." That’s when they began using high-altitude B-52 bombers to escape the Taliban’s small arms fire.

The Taliban is using "a classic guerrilla tactic: Dozens of militants draw the attention of U.S. units while guerrilla groups in the rear of the attackers stage hit-and-run operations….Taliban forces have…outwitt[ed] allied forces [before]," abandoning Afghanistan’s cities with almost no losses only to regroup in the countryside and prepare for future battles. These weathered warriors are too skillful to simply lie still and wait for U.S. air power to destroy their main forces."

Last year the U.S. claimed "hundreds of enemies were killed during the bombing of Tora Bora…but fewer than 10 prisoners were taken and few corpses were found."

In their quest to control the oil routes from Central Asia, U.S. imperialism has allied itself with dope-smuggling warlords and massacred thousands of innocent civilians. This has turned the masses against the U.S. and its puppets, the same masses they claimed to have come to save from the Taliban. Again, this proves the old adage that "it’s easy to start an imperialist war but not so easy to know how it will end." (See front-editorial for analysis of how U.S. oil wars aren’t going according to plan).

Machinists Strike Lockheed War Plant

MARIETTA, GA, March 12 — "I can stay out the rest of the year if I have to," said Sid Parker, 57, an F-22 jet technician who began working at Lockheed in 1963. "Four weeks or four months don’t matter to me."

Lockheed Martin workers, members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 709, rejected the company’s contract offer by nearly 4-1 March 10, sparking the first strike at the plant in 25 years. Lockheed is the world’s largest war contractor, building the F-22 fighter jet and the C-130 transport plane. They recently won the largest war contract in history, $200 billion to build F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Workers at two California Lockheed plants ratified new contracts.

Lockheed said it would "implement contingency plans to support our business commitments," and called the rejected contract their "best and final offer." The strike involves about 2,700 of the plant’s 7,000 workers, the rest being white-collar workers.

Objectively, a strike against a major war-maker, in time of war, in a period of rising unemployment, after decades of consolidations and concessions, has immense potential for showing international solidarity and building class-consciousness. But the cynical, patriotic union leaders are fighting for the outlook that war is good business for aerospace workers. They have led workers to give concessions in the past, to save Lockheed. Now they want to share some of the billion-dollar contracts being signed.

Lockheed’s Marietta IAM workforce is 53.5 years old on average, with 21 years at the plant. They have valuable skills, and many jobs require special security clearances. Most workers are near the top of their pay scales, making the plant’s operating costs relatively high.

The main strike issues are job security, pensions and retirement benefits. "Each year, they want to take away, take away and take away," said Mike Turner, an aircraft mechanic on the C-130J, F-10 and F-22 fighter jets. "It’s all about take-aways." He has kids and aging parents to look after, and his wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Sharon and her husband Bob have 37 years at Lockheed Martin between them. Sharon has been laid off nine times in her 16 years there. Every time, she’s had to dip into her savings to meet family expenses."I’m sitting up on a bubble right now," she said."Bob planned to retire this year, but can’t afford to now."

This strike shows the hypocrisy of the bosses’ war cry, "United We Stand." Between bosses and workers, there is no "we." The fact is, without these workers, U.S. imperialism would not have the weapons to make war. With all the touting of high-tech, the support — or at least the passivity — of industrial workers is crucial to the existence of capitalism. All the more reason to win these workers to rebel on behalf of their international class interests.

The strikers must reject the union leaders’ outlook of "sharing" in the billion dollar war contracts. We have a larger obligation to strike against the bosses’ wars and to build international solidarity. Communist leadership among the workers is needed to make this a reality.

Queens NY Bus Drivers Must Rely on Workers, Not on Politicians

QUEENS, NEW YORK, March 1 — Here in the land of "ground zero," the class struggle is raging. About 1,400 drivers and mechanics struck three privately owned commuter bus lines here as part of a series of two-day walkouts for a new contract. The bosses’ war hype of "United We Stand," doesn’t include these drivers and mechanics.

The "reform" leadership of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 is trying to "force local politicians to take a stand." (NY Daily News, 2/28). The newly elected "militant" president Toussaint told the 1,400 workers that a "long strike" would turn the "public" against them.

The latest action followed a one-day strike on January 7. One driver challenged Toussaint by saying, "Now that we’re out [this time], we should stay out till we get what we want." (News)

He was told to "have patience," but the driver shot back, "Patient? I’ve been working for this company for 15 months and we haven’t got a contract since I got here."

The city and state subsidize these private bus lines with workers’ tax money. Former-mayor Giuliani proposed competitive bidding for current and future private bus routes (rubber-stamped by current mayor Bloomberg), as a direct attack on the 32,000 Local 100 members who work for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). This gives private bus operators the incentive to offer low bids with the expectation of hiring non-union, low-wage drivers (they pay $2.50 an hour less in wages than MTA, not counting benefits). The word is out that the workers’ main concern is job security, and all TWU jobs are at stake.

But the "militant reform" New Directions leadership is not organizing support among the MTA transit workers. In Dec. 1999, Giuliani threatened MTA workers with jail and fines, while his cops chased them off street corners to prevent them from even talking about a strike. As long as the "public" and "private" transit workers fight separately, they will drag each other down, forced to accept cuts to keep their respective bosses "competitive."

The rulers are spending over $400 billion at home and abroad for the "War on Terrorism," a war supported by most union hacks, including the TWU International leadership. The bosses want the working class to pay for their wars, plus carry them through this latest recession, a permanent feature of capitalism. All this helps create budget "deficits" running into the billions. So "everyone" must tighten their belts — except the profiteering bosses.

The first payoff made from the city treasury (out of workers’ taxes) is the $4 billion given to the Wall Street bankers as their profit from interest on loans to the city (no wonder there’s a "deficit"). Mass transit is a vital social service, bringing millions of workers to their jobs daily and to shop in the big department stores. Furthermore, the buses and subways raise the value of real estate because of its access to mass transit. This enables the bosses and the landlords to reap huge profits. Why shouldn’t they pay for a decent contract? Why should profits be made on the backs of transit workers, without whose labor the city, business and the banks couldn’t function?

The millions of workers who use mass transit can be won to support the drivers in an all-out strike against the bankers and bosses. The question is, will the union rely on these millions of workers or on bosses’ politicians? Will they take aim at all mass transit or play by the bosses’ rules of "public" and "private?"

This struggle can show how capitalism functions solely to make profits for bosses. As the struggle sharpens, more and more workers will see that the pro-war patriotic and "united-we-stand" propaganda pushed by the bosses and their media don’t apply to workers fighting for their class interests. The ideas of PLP will then be grasped by blocs of workers who will see that a new society is possible where transit workers and those they serve function together for the greater good of the entire working class. That’s communism.

Colombia: Don’t Let Union Hacks Do Bavaria Bosses’ Dirty Work

COLOMBIA, March 4 — Last year, the 72-day strike by Bavarian brewery workers shook the powerful Santodomingo capitalist group, Colombia’s leading monopoly and its first real multi-national corporation. The striking workers were united, militant and class conscious, and supported by many other workers and their families. They not only confronted the company but also the state repression by the bosses’ henchmen, the cops. This was particularly heroic in a country where paramilitary death squads kill militant trade unionists by the thousands. So why do these same workers feel so demoralized a year later?

Besides the company’s post-strike attacks lies the role of the Bavarian workers’ union leadership. They’ve done little to fight the many bosses’ attacks, which include disciplining workers for "infractions" like talking on the job. Aiming to slash the workforce and avoid another strike, the bosses want to divide workers and attack us group by group.

Instead of building on the militancy, unity and consciousness developed during the strike, the union hacks spread passivity, relying on the bosses’ laws to "answer" these attacks (as if these laws didn’t serve the company). They are also pushing the upcoming national elections as another "solution." But the recent attacks by the Colombian army against the guerrilla-controlled region of Caguán, backed by U.S. military aid, advisers and intelligence, expose these elections as a dead-end for workers.

The union has demoralized workers. Some have accepted the company’s "early retirement" plan and joined the ranks of Colombia’s 10 million unemployed. Others have left the union altogether. But abandoning the struggle is not the answer.

The solution is to intensify the ideological struggle with our fellow workers, and confront the bosses and the treacherous union hacks. We must trace these attacks back to the capitalist system’s drive for maximum profits. The strike’s most militant workers must be reactivated to re-join the fight. These militant workers can provide leadership for the rest of the Bavarian workers.

PLP calls on these workers to learn from both the victories and setbacks of this struggle. Capitalism will never satisfy the needs of the working class. The only answer is to build a Party that fights for communism, where production satisfies the needs of our class, not the bosses’ profits.

The Gestapo Would Have Been Jealous…

In Nazi Germany, the Gestapo relied on a vast network of informers whose job was to rat on suspected enemies of the Reich. The U.S. Patriot Act — a joint Republican-Democrat effort — has given birth to a Gestapo clone called TIPS (Terrorism Information Prevention System). Under TIPS, run by the Justice Department, people in jobs that allow them easy access to homes, businesses and mass transit, will be recruited to spy on terrorists. Mail and package deliverers will be among the potential spies.

A pilot program is planned for August in ten cities with a population of 24 million. In its first phase, the goal is to recruit one million stoolpigeons, or 4% of that 24 million.

Reports from this nest of spies will be entered into a police database. The spied-on person might never know he/she is being watched. Already the Patriot Act allows for installing listening and other devices in someone’s house without much evidence of the person being a "terrorist." This is a more vast and fascistic version of the FBI’s old Cointelpro program, which spied on, and kept secret files of, millions involved in the anti-war and anti-racist civil rights movement of the 1960s-’70s.

TIPS will be coordinated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), created under Reagan to carry out a mass invasion of Nicaragua in the 1980s when the Sandinistas ran that country. FEMA had the cover of coordinating actions taken during natural disasters, but it also has the same responsibilities during rebellions and "terrorist acts." It now has an additional job of confining in concentration camps anyone considered to be a "danger to national security."

Just like FEMA, Bush’s recently announced Shadow Government was a creature of the Reagan administration. It will have powers to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law and give the President and FEMA control of the country, by-passing Congress.

These fascist spy programs are aimed at the entire working class. If workers in any industry, for instance auto or steel, struck "against the national interest," these fascist measures could be used to stop, jail and even kill them.

But Hitler’s Nazi regime and its murderous concentration camps, spy agencies, torture chambers and invasions ended 988 years short of its planned 1,000-year reign, mainly by the Red Army and the communist-led resistance movement. Our job today is to learn from the heroic feats of these ant-fascist fighters, as well as their mistakes, and build a massive communist-led movement to make sure the U.S. bosses’ plan for a new fascist Reich will meet a similar fate.

Workers and youth should well remember the famous statement by the German pastor, Rev. Martin Niemoller in 1945: "First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak."

Bush Expands Clinton’s Slave Labor Workfare Program

NEWARK, NJ, March 8 — More slave labor. That’s the sum total of the Bush administration’s recent welfare "reform" proposals that build on the 1996 Clinton law which Bush lauded as "a good start."

Clinton’s fascist law forced all adult recipients who were not disabled and could not find jobs to "work off" their welfare benefits and food stamps in the dead-end of Workfare. This worked out to a "wage" that could go as low as $1.66 an hour (CHALLENGE, 1/16/02), with no right to join a union. This is truly slave labor. At its peak in New York City under former mayor Giuliani, Workfare slave laborers in transit, sanitation and other city agencies reached 40,000.

Now Bush and his bosses want to force all people on Workfare to work 40 hours per week instead of the previous 30, for the same benefits pushing the hourly "wage" even lower. It would also require all states to force 70% of all recipients into jobs or "work activities" by 2007. (Previously states could reduce the number of Workfare equal to the number of recipients dropped from the rolls.) And any recession at that time would make life even more repressive for the jobless.

Rep. Cardin of Maryland told the New York Times (2/27) that this would force states "to put people in unpaid Workfare positions…rather than providing the skills necessary for a person to be successful in a wage-earning job." Still more slave labor.

Workfare, like prison labor, is part of the ruling classes’ worldwide drive to lower wages and bust unions. Capitalism’s iron law drives each boss to strive for maximum profits or lose out to the competition. New Jersey has contrived the latest twist to this low-wage drive. When welfare recipients call a toll-free number to report problems with their benefit cards, the phone is answered not by workers in Green Bay, Wisconsin who formerly performed this work for $12/hr. but by workers in Bombay, India, earning $3 an hour!

So far, Workfare can only be used by non-profit or government agencies. But as U.S. wars for oil expand beyond Afghanistan, don’t be surprised if bosses here begin using slave laborers in war production (a la Nazi Germany), or in "homeland defense" jobs.

The law keeps the racist, anti-immigrant restrictions on benefits. Bush also attacked unemployed fathers, implying they’re all irresponsible and don’t care about their kids. In reality it’s the bosses and their White House servants who are attacking children. The vast majority of those affected by these new laws are children. And they follow a 60% cut of those receiving welfare benefits, with additional cuts coming when recipients reach their cut-off dates, attacking still more children. Whether it’s sanctions and bombings killing working people in Iraq and Afghanistan or welfare cutbacks here, U.S. bosses are responsible for genocide.

Under communism, there would be no unemployment, and therefore no need for welfare. Decent lives for working people, especially children, would be the number one priority.

We must fight these attacks started by Clinton and expanded by Bush. Welfare Repeal is all part of the rulers’ fascist drive, which includes mass round-ups of Muslim and Arab immigrants and the legalization of police torture and terror, all to control any working-class resistance to the expanding imperialist oil wars.

Judge O.K. Cops’ Torture of Black Workers

BROOKLYN, NY March 9 — PLP members rallied today against the February 23 Federal court decision to throw out the convictions of three cops involved in the torture of Abner Louima. The workers and youth in the mostly black working-class neighborhood of Flatbush are very angry with the bosses freeing these racist, sadistic torturers. We distributed over 2,500 communist leaflets and sold many CHALLENGES.

The rulers are throwing another bone to the racist cops, telling them it’s O.K. to be Nazi storm troopers. For those workers and youth who believe the bosses and their media propaganda that "United We Stand," this should remind us once again: cops are not our "heroes."

Meanwhile opportunists like Democratic Party hack Al Sharpton can only "demand" that the freed cops are not reinstated into the NYPD and that they should be tried again. Sharpton, who supports Bush’s "war on terrorism," doesn’t want to rock the boat with the mass demonstrations of the Giuliani era. Such actions like those protesting the NYPD torture of Louima and murders of Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond, shot in cold blood, are not now on the agenda of black politicians. One way or another, they’re all helping the bosses’ war plans.

Workers and students should never forget that the cops are the front-line killers for the ruling class. The cops’ main role during this period of war and fascism is to quell dissention and instill fear in the working class such as their refusal to tolerate any kind of militant demonstrations at the World Economic Forum. Given all this, we must organize our fellow students and workers to continue to fight for our class against these cops.

Billions for War, Nothing for Steelworkers

EAST CHICAGO, IN — "That’s right! They come up with billions of dollars for their wars," declared an LTV worker, "but they don’t want to give up anything for us!" He was among 30,000 steelworkers who traveled from Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C., February 28, to fight for their jobs, pensions and health care.

But union leaders had no intention of fighting for these displaced workers. Instead they organized a pro-war rally and demanded 40% tariffs on imported steel. The depths to which the union bosses have sunk were revealed in their ban on signs attacking Bush. It was to be all USA, all red-white-and-blue.

Steel War

The rally opened with chants of "USA! USA!" Tom Usher, U.S. Steel’s CEO, gave the opening speech and called himself an American steelworker. Nobody mentioned that this flag-waving hypocrite bought a plant in Slovakia where the workers are paid $2 an hour. USWA President Leo Gerard called on the government to save the steel bosses so U.S. rulers can wage war on workers around the world. Gerard and all his "personal friends" from Congress rattled on about 40% tariffs. All this patriotic hogwash left no room for organizing workers to fight back.

On March 6, Bush imposed tariffs as high as 30% on most steel imports from Asia and Europe. The Wall Street Journal (3/7) called this, "perhaps the most dramatically protectionist step of any president in decades." The WSJ didn’t mention that the U.S. ruling class needs a minimum steel industry to guarantee steel for war production.

The European Union could retaliate by imposing sanctions on U.S. exports. It’s early yet, but a steel war could be the start of the slippery slope towards a full-scale trade war and ultimately a shooting war. In 1930, the notorious U.S. Smoot-Hawley tariff Act spawned a round of retaliations from other nations that collapsed the level of world trade to a fraction of what it had been in the late 1920s. This contributed to the Great Depression and the start of World War II.

Protesting steelworkers were told to unite with the steel bosses against foreign steel and support the U.S. bosses’ "war on terror." In short, unite with anybody BUT other workers. This nationalist poison will only isolate U.S. steelworkers and lead to support for imperialist wars against workers everywhere.

Workers want more. Many are open to the PLP. Hundreds took our leaflet that said, "Billions for War—Nothing for Steelworkers." With better planning we could have distributed thousands, and many CHALLENGES. Also, we should have made a banner with the leaflet’s slogan, as we had planned. One Party friend saw the leaflet and said, "Damn, that would have made a great banner!"

New bosses are going to reopen the shattered hulk of what was LTV. They are just front men for the bankers who ran LTV, and who collected their "secured debts" while we lost pensions and health care. They will cut jobs and benefits, and may try to keep out older workers, "troublemakers" or those with health problems.

We are fed up with the bosses walking away with million-dollar bonuses, while retired steelworkers die because they can’t get health insurance. We are tired of fighting to keep the crumbs we had already won.

The oil war in Afghanistan is spreading, along with more fascist attacks against the working class. The steel bosses and politicians cannot wage war without the support of industrial workers. Steel production to serve the international working class will be at the center of a communist world. Participating on May Day, and building an international PLP, is the order of the day.

Same Enemy-Same Fight!

World steel production has taken a dramatic nose-dive. World steel capacity is around one billion tons per year, but final steel production for 2001 was around 830 million tons. On Dec. 19, officials from the world’s biggest steel producers met in Paris to discuss how to cut capacity and raise prices.

US steel production is down and about 30 steel companies have declared bankruptcy since 1998. U.S. Steel is considering buying several ailing competitors, including Bethlehem, Wheeling-Pittsburgh and National Steel, but wants a government bailout of $13 billion to cover legacy costs for pensions and health care.

The merger of NKK and Kawasaki Steel, Japan’s second and third biggest producers, will form the world’s second biggest steel company. In February, a merger of Arbed, Usinor of France and Aceralia of Spain formed Luxembourg-based Arcelor, with capacity exceeding 45 million tons.

Corus (the merger of the British Steel Corporation and Dutch steel maker Hoogovens) recently announced a year-long pay freeze for steelworkers because the company is losing $1.6 million a day. This follows the announcement of plant closings and 6,000 job cuts by next year.

Steelworkers around the world have the same enemy, and the same fight! Nationalism can only serve the bosses. International solidarity and strikes are what steelworkers need. A measure of our success will be winning steelworkers to join us on May Day!

Labor Hacks’ Role in Developing Fascism

The development of fascism in the U.S. did not start with the fascistic Patriot Act imposed after 9/11. The FBI’s mass spying on individuals began during the Democratic Roosevelt Administration under J. Edgar Hoover who invigorated it with the Cointelpro program during the Vietnam War and civil rights struggle. Since the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, preparations for fascism accelerated. Then came the total collapse of the labor movement in every major struggle by workers against the bosses’ attacks. These included:

• In August 1973, the UAW organized 1,000 union goons, including Klansmen, to crush the Mack Avenue sit-down strike, the first in auto since the 1930s. Led by Workers’ Action Movement and PLP, the workers occupied the Chrysler plant to protest unsafe conditions. The hacks not only attacked the demands of the workers, but like low-life scabs, attacked the workers with baseball bats. The UAW leadership smashed the strike after Chrysler and the Detroit police had failed. In 1979, UAW president Fraser (who organized the assault to take back Mack Ave. for the bosses), was added to Chrysler’s Board of Directors in exchange for massive concessions in wages and benefits, and over 500,000 jobs to Chrysler, Ford, and GM.

• When Reagan smashed the 1981 air controllers’ strike and busted the PATCO union with 10,000 scabs, the AFL-CIO and their Democratic friends did nothing. This set the stage for sellouts of militant strikes at Eastern Airlines, Greyhound, Hormel meatpackers, Caterpillar, among coal miners — the list goes on and on.

• Just as the AFL-CIO leadership, staunch backers of the Democratic Party, supported the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, it has supported every major imperialist adventure since, from Desert Storm, to the 1999 Balkan air war to the current "war against terrorism."

The fascist measures now suffered by many workers and youth under the Patriot Act have long been in the planning stage, as outlined in Clinton’s Hart-Rudman Commission report (exposed in CHALLENGE over the last year). The bosses needed a pretext to impose such draconian domestic measures. They got it on Sept. 11.

Anti-War Conference Avoids Real Cause of War

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 24 — College students, professors and workers convened at Columbia University for the first national anti-war conference since Bush & Co. began its imperialist invasion last fall. Over 25 colleges and universities as well as various political organizations were represented, including PLP.

Workshops dealt with imperialism, the role of oil and the function of workers in the bosses’ war. At the "New York City Labor Against the War" workshop, a union leader explained how he had been working with other union heads to organize workers against the war.

During the Q&A period one PL member suggested clarifying to the workers that this is an imperialist war about oil. The union leader categorized this as unusable "leftist jargon." Such excuses are part of the reason why workers in general are so passive against the war, mass layoffs, fascist terror, etc. It is clear that this message must by-pass these bosses’ lieutenants and brought directly to the rank and file.

At another workshop, "The Politics of Oil," the group discussed the role of oil in the Middle East. PL members pointed out that the working class will not benefit from the war and that the capitalist group bin Laden represents is mainly fighting to control Saudi Arabia’s oil, something workshop leaders ignored. One member said Clinton’s Hart-Rudman Report had predicted the 9/11 events and outlined the government’s fascist response. Workshop participants asked for further resources on these issues and took CHALLENGES.

In a larger gathering, two proposals on "points of unity" were to be debated (so we thought). A Peace group from Columbia Univ. (heavily influenced by the ISO — International Socialist Organization) put forward one while students from SUNY-Binghamton — including PL’ers — advanced the other. The latter linked the role of U.S. imperialism to the cause of the war; exposed the universities as institutions that support and promote war and fascism; and put forth the crucial idea that control of oil is behind the conflicts in the Middle East.

The ISO and other liberal reformers revealed their true opportunist colors when they said that, although they agreed with the SUNY points, those proposals were "setting the bar too high" for other students and workers to become involved in the anti-war movement. (!) They then railroaded the discussion, using the tactics of structural and procedural questions to monopolize the discussion. Some rank-and-file students who came for the discussion left because it became so convoluted. The liberal points were adopted, sidestepping the views about war, capitalism and exploitation.

The opportunists leading the conference think they’re fighting against the war but by ignoring the relationship of capitalism and imperialism to the war are allying themselves with the Democratic Party liberals who support it.

PLP students and friends will continue to work, and build the Party, in these anti-war conferences. We need to overcome the opportunists like the ISO and their liberal friends who have no confidence that workers can understand that capitalism is the cause of war and fascism. Students need to realize that the only solution is communist revolution.

In Memoriam

CHICAGO, March 11 — Tonight members and friends of PL here bid farewell to one of our best. A memorial service was held for Philip Williams who recently passed away at 52 after a brave and courageous battle with cancer.

Phillip, a Jamaican immigrant, had been a member of our Party for almost 20 years. The many stories told at this service revealed his reputation as a fighter for the working class. PLP says racism must be smashed. Philip put that idea into practice, helping to organize against the Nazis and KKK throughout Chicago and Illinois. As a Chicago Housing Authority painter, he was a leader in fighting for his co-workers. But he also demanded that his fellow workers do a good job painting the apartments for the working-class tenants. Anger at the boss was no excuse for a bad paint job. He loved painting, and brought to it an artistic flair and love of color.

Philip’s comrades and friends related how he always said what was on his mind. If he agreed or disagreed with a political point, you knew it. Many of us can learn from this quality. For communism to work we must have everyone’s open and honest insights and opinions, not gossip behind closed doors.

Testimonies made it clear Philip had genuine love and commitment for his friends family. He went the extra mile to help friends with painting and construction projects. He protected, encouraged and defended his and other children, while helping them meet the challenges of life head on and strive for excellence and independence. And he loved to cook for the many social gatherings given by himself and his wife Kathy.

At home and at work, Philip defended the equality of women, taking the lead in standing up to sexism on the job and participating equally in housework at home. He was a hard worker and deeply thoughtful man, who put the needs of his family and friends before his own.

Philip remained optimistic and positive throughout his illness, never succumbing to fear or despondency. This enabled him to live a full year longer than expected, living fully and happily until the end. Throughout, his great love for his wife deepened. He became an even more affectionate and thoughtful father.

Philip would want us, and especially the youth among us, to live honestly and respectfully, in a way to deserve and command respect; to stand up for our rights; to love and honor people, not money; to be one’s self and do what’s right. And, as he said in his last message to his daughter Kaya, "Have fun."

As a human being and a communist, Philip Williams will continue in our hearts. We shall miss him dearly. He leaves behind a loving family, friends who are honored to have known him and a legacy of multi-racial and international unity.


Workers of the World, Write!

Night School Students Lead the Way for Struggle

I’ve been taking an English class in an adult school for six months and have made some friendships. Among the five closest friends, we’ve had many discussions about how the ruling class uses nationalism to manipulate workers in their wars for control of the wealth. We used the events of September 11 and those following it as an example. I gave them newspaper articles and some liberal magazines that reviewed the problem more profoundly. Later I showed them CHALLENGE. They now read it regularly.

I’ve also made friends with the teacher. She is very open. When she frequently questions the attitude of the police and the kind of people they protect, I then present aspects of communist ideas to the class. Privately, using what English I’ve learned, I have more political discussions with her, from a working-class point of view. She has also started reading CHALLENGE.

One night she said that we need to unite the teachers and the students because the Governor wants to end night English classes in the high schools, transferring them to college campuses, making them inaccessible to most students. This provoked a lively discussion. I proposed formation of a school-wide student committee to fight this. The teacher said, "That’s a very good idea, but the other teachers aren’t discussing this problem." "O.K.," another student said, "but we can talk about it." Everyone got very excited. My closest friends and I spoke in two other classes and then wrote a leaflet informing the students about the problem.

Later the teacher attended a meeting with all the night school English teachers in the County. They discussed the leaflet. It was criticized because no one had taken responsibility for writing it. But now we plan to have our first formal meeting to plan a student committee.

Many of these students work in the garment and other basic industries. We’re linking the problems in the factories to the budget cuts in social services all due to the U.S. bosses’ war economy. These struggles are creating the opportunity to build a base for CHALLENGE, for May Day and for communist revolution.

A worker learning about English and the class struggle

Money for Cover-ups, Not For Schools

Here’s an addition to the excellent articles on the pedophile priests (CHALLENGE, 3/13) and the role of religion. It’s since been revealed that the Catholic Church has paid even more millions to settle suits against pedophile priests, and that the bishop of Palm Beach, Florida who himself replaced another pedophile priest, resigned because he’s a pedophile. Now, this same church that has spent untold millions to cover up the sins of its priests and bishops refused to grant a decent contract to Catholic High School teachers in New York when they struck three months ago. More evidence of the anti-working class nature of the church hierarchy.

A Reader

What Next: Sainthood for Hitler?

What Do Billy Graham and Queen Isabella have in common?

The Nixon tapes keep on exposing this rotten capitalist system. They recently revealed Reverend Billy Graham talking anti-Semitic trash with Nixon. Graham’s attacks on what he labels "the Jew-controlled media" were so blatant that even Tricky Dick himself had to tell him "you can’t say that in public." This is the same Graham who publicly was palsy walsy with Jewish religious leaders.

This also shows that all these religious holly rollers are essentially the same. Supposedly Graham was more ecumenical and respectable than gutter fascists like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson or Jimmy (I love prostitutes) Swaggart. Well, what else can you expect from a man who blessed U.S. imperialism’s war against Vietnam.

Another famous racist and anti-Semite now in the news is Queen Isabella "the Catholic" from 16th century Spain. It was under the reign of Isabella and her husband Ferdinand that Jews and Arabs were expelled from Spain and under whom the Inquisition began. Isabella sent Columbus to the New World to begin the colonization and genocide of the Native population, as well as to expand the holocaust-slave trade of Africans begun by the Portuguese colonialists.

But now the push to make Queen Isabella a saint of the Catholic Church has taken a big step forward. This idea started under fascist Franco, but has been dormant since his death in the 1970s. The defenders of sainthood for Isabella claim she expelled the Jews and the Arabs not because of anti-Semitism (since "some members of her court were Jews"), but because they were "foreigners," not citizens of Spain. Her big "achievement"? She united Spain as a Catholic country.

What next, Torquemada the Inquisitor, Hitler, Chester the Molester for sainthood?

Former Catholic, Current Red

Hare Hell for Krishna Kids

The articles in CHALLENGE (3/17) about the pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church were very useful. As one said, abusing children is not unique to the Catholic Church. It’s now well-known that it occurred in the group Beatle George Harrison made famous, the Hare Krishna.

NY Newsday reports (3/3) that, "Thirty-six years after the religious group’s first U.S. temple opened in lower Manhattan, Melody Gedeon and 90 other former Krishna children, including seven in New York State, are suing the organization for what they say were years of physical and mental abuse in the schools known as gurukulas. The suit…seeks $400 million in damages from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or Iskcon, as the movement is known.…In the heyday of the Krishna movement, from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, thousands of followers put their children in gurukulas to indoctrinate them into the faith."

The complaint outlines gruesome acts said to have been carried out by adult devotees, allegedly with the encouragement of movement leaders seeking to crush resistance to their beliefs. The lawsuit originated when ex-pupils began commiserating about their experiences. It charges that children were regularly raped and sexually molested, deprived of food and sleep, forced to eat moldy or insect-ridden food, and made to eat their vomit when they threw up. They were locked in dark, rodent-infested rooms, denied adequate medical care, barred from parental contact and beaten until their bones broke.

"The kids were always being abused. It was hellish," said Uddhava Samanich, a college student in Utopia, Queens. As a child, he spent several months at the upstate Lake Huntington gurukula, where he said brutal beatings — including some with hot carrots — were common for infractions such as talking to children of the opposite sex, missing the pre-dawn wake up calls, or simply skipping stones in a lake.

For Ms. Gedeon, who entered a boarding school at 7, problems began when she was 8 and was molested by a male devotee. "I went to a teacher and told her this guy had put his hand up my sari and into my underwear. She told me it was my fault, that something inside me must have incited him," Gedeon said. When she was 9, Gedeon said church elders said she should prepare for marriage because she was growing breasts. She was never married off, but she said she was raped for the first time at 13 by a 27-year-old married devotee.

"When everyone found out this married man was taking me, they immediately came to me and said ‘How dare you! You broke up their marriage!’" said Gedeon, who now lives in Miami Beach, Fla. "Nobody asked me if I was OK, not even my mother. The brainwashing was so deep, you just didn’t question anything."

Even the pupils who were spared sexual abuse say they lived with day-to-day physical and mental battery that included wake-up calls as early as 2:30 a.m. to recite hours of prayers, rules that banned most music, books, television, newspapers, socializing with other children and brutal beatings for those who violated the codes. Lessons consisted primarily of memorizing Krishna’s teachings. History and geography were virtually ignored, they said.

If there were a hell, these religious child abusers will surely go directly there. As for the parents of the abused children, many of whom sought to escape the anti-war and anti-racist struggles of the ’60s and ’70s with mysticism crap, you shouldn’t have listened to guru Harrison.

A Teo

Guess Who’s Using Bio-Tech Warfare? The U.S.

When U.S. rulers decided to go to war in Afghanistan, the New York Times carried a front-page interview with a Russian general who had experienced such a war. He said the U.S. could not defeat troops who retreated to caves, unless it used poison gas inside these caves.

Now the U.S. has proudly announced the use of "hyperbaric bombs." This bomb converts the atmosphere of the cave into a mixture of gases which, when breathed, cannot sustain life. In effect, those inside are suffocated.

There is no difference between this weapon and poison gas, except that the U.S. can piously claim it doesn’t use poison gas.

Ancient Red

Lessons Learned Trying to Build the Party

For seven years I’ve tried to advance PLP’s ideas in an old-line right-led organization with several million members here and scores of millions worldwide. With the Party’s help, I’ve learned some lessons and firmed up some views I’d like to share. Criticism, of course, is welcome.

Join or create a sub-structure that can lead and expand class struggle indefinitely. Of course, no bosses’ organization is designed to conduct real class struggle. Our local chapter has long entertained anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-war causes, but has never had a standing "social action" committee. Because of this, the few comrades we’ve recruited there lurch along from issue to issue without me providing an effectively coherent focus. So the chapter leader (who’s aware of my Party activity) and I planned to approach the Board with a proposal to collectively concentrate long-term on our own Congressperson and her staff.

We’re developing "advocates" and "annoyers" who will visit her office regularly on issues that we slowly shape into demands, then follow up when the old Pol fails to "deliver." Of course, meanwhile we’re working to explain to our larger base why she both won’t and can’t deliver quality results for the whole working class. This will much sharply define our theoretical work within the Party club and provide a better way to introduce and evaluate possible new comrades. We can also begin to expose and somewhat limit the maneuverability of one of the rulers’ main agents in the community. (Our chapter leader does not now understand this goal, but I think — with struggle — she will be increasingly open to it.)

Always tie local anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-fascist issues to other somewhat comparable issues that expose U.S. imperialism. Over the thirty years I’ve worked with, and in, the Party we’ve usually tried to sharply link the particular object of struggle to the general picture of developing U.S. imperialism. However, in practice most comrades and myself have usually focused on one primary struggle at a time, while also guaranteeing CHALLENGE distribution for a fuller presentation of our ideas. This will likely continue. But the post 9/11 consciousness of the U.S. as the world power makes it clearer that a link-up of the local-global is essential wherever possible. At every opportunity we’ve related "the dying children of Baghdad, the frightened children of Bethlehem, and the homeless children of our own city."

The Party club will highlight these points in our work with the congressional staff. The chief federal official in our community surely has responsibility to defend or oppose U.S. foreign policy oppression as well as to scrutinize how much federal money the city gets for homeless relief and how it’s used. Hence, it’s easy to link the global with the local in every meeting, and eventually to expose this representative as the bosses’ lackey she is.

If we’re expanding the writing for, and reading of, CHALLENGE within the organization during the "struggle with/struggle against" the politician, recruiting to PLP at higher and higher levels of practice and understanding should become more routine, not just in our local chapter, but more broadly. This process means survival and then victory for our class!

A Comrade