CHALLENGE, April 24, 2002


OIL FEEDS FLAMES OF BOSSES’ WAR IN MID-EAST: U.S. Bosses’ Plans to Whack Saddam Hussein Derailed for Now

3000 March in New York City

NY Teachers, Parents Talk Up Strike vs. Racist School Mess

Muni Bosses’ ‘Schedule’: Break Workers’ Backs

A Debate: Reform Union Leaders: ‘Friendly Debate’ or Sharp Criticism?

L.A. Airport March Hits Immigration Terror Tactics

Working-Class Unity Sparks May Day Celebration in SSEU Local 371

Recovery? Tell It to the Jobless

Bosses’ Oil Wars Deepen Poverty in Somalia

Bosses’ Dogfight Over Oil Spawns Endless Conflicts

Iraq: a Strategic Partner of Russian Rulers

Anti-Stalin Lies a Cover for Imperialists’ Mass Murder

LETTERS

Why Compare Israeli Rulers to Nazis?

An Apple For The Principal

Globalization and Imperialism—Same Garbage

Oscar Movies Cover for Racism


U.S. Bosses’ Plans to Whack Saddam Hussein Derailed for Now

The conflict raging in the Middle East has dealt U.S. rulers a major tactical setback. The bosses could care less about the number of Israeli civilians who die in suicide bombings or the wholesale murder of Palestinian workers by the Israeli military. Despite Bush’s fake humanitarian posturing about dead teenagers, the real issue for U.S. imperialism is the control of oil.

The domination of world energy supplies keeps the U.S. in the driver’s seat internationally. Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq remains an important threat to this domination. Hussein’s a thug, sure, but the real reason the U.S. hates him is his plan for oil deals with the European, Chinese, and Russian rivals of Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco and other Establishment energy firms. The U.S. ruling class has set a priority on replacing him with a docile, pro-Exxon government in Baghdad. When Bush Jr. took office, the big bosses had all agreed on launching a new war against Iraq. They thought they had only the details to settle. They figured they could afford to ignore the growing armed struggle between the Israeli fascists and Palestinian nationalists.

Ironically, their blunder is playing into the hands of the bin Laden gang, who want to use mass outrage in the Arab-Muslim world as a wedge to drive the U.S. out of the key Persian Gulf oil producing countries. Every Palestinian killed by the Israeli military fans the flames and increases the risks the U.S. would incur by launching a war against Iraq at this time.

Pro-U.S. Mubarak, Saudi Royal Parasites Remember the Shah of Iran

Millions throughout the Arab-Muslim countries are taking to the streets to protest a U.S.-equipped Israeli army that is terrorizing thousands of Palestinians. This growing instability could threaten pro-U.S. governments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, especially if the U.S. invades Iraq and slaughters thousands of Iraqi workers. This danger is far greater now than during Bush Sr.’s Desert Storm I in 1991.

Mass anti-U.S. nationalist uprisings could potentially topple the Egyptian and Saudi governments. They remember how in 1979 the Shah of Iran, the former U.S. goon in the Persian Gulf, was toppled. Egyptian President Mubarak faces mounting pressure to revoke the "peace" treaty with Israel. The Saudi rulers may have to appease the irate Saudi working class with some sort of anti-U.S. gesture. Oil prices are already rising because of the struggle in the Middle East, and a temporary anti-U.S. oil embargo would push them further upward, with unfavorable consequences for a U.S. economy that’s not out of the woods.

European Imperialists Want Independence from ExxonMobil

Further complicating the picture is mounting opposition from the major western European countries. They all have energy ambitions of their own. Most would like to conduct their oil business in Iraq and Iran independently of ExxonMobil. The only partial exception is Britain, but even they are wavering. More than 130 members of Parliament, including current and former cabinet ministers, oppose Blair’s Iraq policy.

Workers can learn an important lesson from U.S. imperialism’s predicament. On the one hand, the U.S. appears all-powerful. It’s richer and better armed than any country in the world. Yet the threat of mass uprisings in areas of vital strategic interest seriously undermines its tactical maneuverability. This is exactly what the bin Laden-al Qaeda bosses hoped to exploit. So far, they have made a good bet. Despite appearances, U.S. bosses face limits.

U.S imperialism can still bribe and threaten with more authority than anyone. This is what U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will do on his Middle East tour. However, every "solution" will lead to more problems. The profit rivalry that pits Israeli and Palestinian bosses against each other won’t go away even if Powell manages to make them sign a truce. Far more likely is a deal that would include some sort of U.S. "peacekeeping" force.

U.S. troops patrolling the Middle East will not bring peace. One way or another, U.S. imperialism must attempt to settle its Iraq problem by force. Perhaps a wider war isn’t immediately in the cards. But the dogfight for the world’s main oil supplies will go on, and it will always lead to war. The Arab and Muslim masses have shown their hatred of U.S. imperialism and their willingness to die to defeat it. But it does no good to replace one capitalist with another.

The task of workers, youth and soldiers, who are dying and will continue to die in the oil bloodbaths, is to break with all our oppressors and smash the profit system that causes war and racist-fascist terror. This requires fighting for communism, a society without any bosses. This will be our Party’s slogan on May Day 2002 and throughout the years ahead

Liberals Want U.S. Troops In Middle East

A growing number of voices within the U.S Establishment are demanding U.S. military intervention The liberal New York Times’ foreign affairs pundit Thomas Friedman has been plugging it for the last few weeks. His April 3 column quotes a Middle East expert calling for U.S. troops to "supervise the gradual emergence of a Palestinian state" as "the only solution." And Times columnist Bill Keller warns: "The tighter America clings to…Sharon, the more the Arab rank-and-file is aroused against America, the more the anti-terror alliance is strained, and the more Saddam becomes a folk hero" (April 6). Latest to weigh in is former Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski: "The United States should…indicate its willingness to deploy, with the consent both of Israel and of Palestine, a peacekeeping force to enhance security for both parties" (New York Times, April 7 op-ed). Brzezinski speaks with the voice of authority. His 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, outlined the strategy U.S. imperialism is now pursuing in its bloody drive to rule the world for the next 50 years.

Arabs and Jews Unite against Israeli Onslaught

LOS ANGELES, CA, April 5 — Over the past two weeks there has been a series of rallies and demonstrations against the Israeli government’s invasion of the West Bank. One primarily Israeli-American Jewish group held a spirited rally at the Israeli consulate, involving Jews, Arabs, and other opponents of the Israeli fascists. Among the chants were "Sharon, Sharon you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide." Signs calling for Arab-Jewish unity against the occupation were well received.

At the Westwood Federal Building, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and other Arab-American organizations sponsored two spirited rallies and marches. The official theme was the nationalist slogan "Free Palestine." Most of the participants were Arab-Americans.

Most of the criticism was directed at President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon. Missing was any mention of the Israeli Labor Party, which is part of Sharon’s government. Israel’s foreign minister and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, is on the verge of having his Nobel Peace Prize rescinded due to his role in this invasion. On the American side, the Democrats escaped any criticism, even though they are solid supporters of the U.S. "war on terrorism" and the Israeli war on the West Bank. The former, which was the target of other rallies at this site, was not linked to the current Israeli invasion.

But there were also glimmers of internationalism and anti-imperialism. Many signs called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel and to prosecute Israeli officials as war criminals. Others called for unity of Arabs and Jews. One group of American Jews and Israelis carried banners and picket signs that opposed the invasion, occupation, and illegal settlements. While the politics of these events was clearly nationalist, there was absolutely no animosity between Arabs and Jews. In fact, many people in the march were elated to see this group, offered to carry their signs, and engaged them in friendly conversation.

Many of those who marched were way ahead of the leadership on the question of nationalism. They rejected the concept of an exclusive Palestinian nationalism and were openly sympathetic to international unity and anti-imperialism. The idea of Jews and Palestinians overcoming their differences through personal contacts, and joining together in social, cultural and political events, was well received.

As the Israeli invasion continues, we can expect rallies and marches in city after city. And when the U.S. invades Iraq, these actions could swell even further and merge with opposition to the "war on terrorism." Our role is to steer people in an anti-imperialist and internationalist, revolutionary direction.

We need to come with signs and slogans that oppose all forms of nationalism and imperialism, not just a few hawkish politicians in Israel and the U.S. We also need to focus on the role of the U.S. and other imperialists in the Middle East, and oppose the oppressive regimes propped up by the U.S., like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

This political challenge is as hard as it is important. These protest actions are growing. But Palestinian nationalism, replacing one set of exploiters for another, will never lead to international unity of the working class, and the killing will never end. The Israeli-Palestinian war is a product of imperialism, linked to the "war on terrorism" and the need to control the oil and gas reserves of this region. The angry and militant workers and youth of the entire region need communist politics now more than ever, so that their struggle can grow into an international revolutionary storm to sweep away the cause of war and fascist terror: capitalism. That is what the communist PLP is fighting for. Join Us!

3000 March in New York City

NEW YORK CITY, April 6—As part of an international day of protest, 3,000 Arabs, Jews and others marched against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the imperialist oppression of Palestinians. Starting from Brooklyn’s Borough Hall they streamed across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan’s City Hall.

The demonstration followed Zionist death threats against the family of Adam Shapiro. Adam and his Palestinian-American fiancÚ live in Ramallah where they have been doing humanitarian relief work among the Palestinian resisters. For that he was called a "traitor" (he is Jewish) by right-wingers like the New York Post and the fascist Jewish Defense Organization.

Many Arabs at the demonstration made a point of seeking out the Jews to thank them for coming to the march. This is significant since the media is trying to push the idea that all Jews support Sharon, particularly in the U.S. However, opposing Israeli fascism is in the interest of workers worldwide. Arabs and Jews in many different countries united against the Israeli bosses’ slaughter of Palestinians.

Other marches opposing the Israeli butchers occurred around the world — Buenos Aires, London, Beirut and In Morocco where 300,000 marched. In Israel itself, 15,000 demonstrated against Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, calling for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza.

Protest in Ramallah

RAMALLAH, PALESTINE, April 3 — Today 6,000 unified Arabs and Jews marched to the Calandia checkpoint here to try to break the Israeli cordon around the city and bring urgently needed food and medicine to Palestinians trapped by invading Israeli troops. They were also protesting the curfew and occupation as well as the U.S. open support for the Israeli assault on the West Bank. The aid got through but the soldiers and cops engaged in running battles with the protesters, beating them and throwing tear gas bombs each time they regrouped and re-started their chants. Thirty were injured.

NY Teachers, Parents Talk Up Strike vs. Racist School Mess

NEW YORK CITY, April 2 — A group of teachers and parents met today to map out plans to lead education workers in the event of a school strike. New York schools are a mess. Working-class students, mostly black and Latin, aren’t being taught the skills they need—reading, math, test-taking — while facing tightened security and racism and increasingly patriotic propaganda. The pledge of allegiance and the national anthem are being forced on students in many schools.

The rulers might try to use this patriotism to accuse teachers of being "unpatriotic," or "striking during wartime." The union leadership has already adopted a pro-war position, setting us up for such an attack. We must expose the nature of the war as anti-working class, conducted on behalf of U.S. bosses to control the world’s supply of oil. Striking during an imperialist war, and exposing its true nature, can raise the level of class struggle and give leadership to the whole working class.

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), representing 80,000 education workers, has been working without a contract for the last 17 months. The union leadership, relying on politician after politician, has begun floating rumors that we might be forced to strike. There have been repeated calls from the floor of the monthly Delegate Assembly for union members to take action. Passivity won’t work against the city’s unwillingness to negotiate with the union.

Does that mean the union will lead us to fight for better conditions for students and teachers? Does it mean they will demand that the Board of Education act on our belief that "all students can learn?" Never!

Therefore, we’ve made plans to organize strike committees at all schools. We want to win our colleagues to strike against the coming budget cuts and to organize parents and students to join a struggle for better conditions. In the middle of this struggle, it is imperative that we recruit teachers, students and parents to the Party.

We’ll bring co-workers, students and friends to the citywide UFT meeting that will call for a strike authorization vote. We’ll bring students to our April 15 citywide informational picket lines despite the UFT leadership’s ban on students from picketing.

Today’s meeting is the beginning in some schools, and the continuation in others, of the struggle for the rank and file, Party members and others, to become the actual leadership.

Muni Bosses’ ‘Schedule’: Break Workers’ Backs

SAN FRANCISCO, CA April 7 — MUNI RR Management attempted to balance the budget by changing our work schedules to save $4 million and reduce our take-home pay. We beat back some of the changes and won a temporary victory. Everyone is waiting for the next attack when the summer schedules come out.

Workers are always in conflict with the profit drive. This conflict is getting sharper now as the bosses push their pro-war patriotism. Anyone who fights back exposes their Big Lie war cry, "United We Stand."

Drivers at all 7 Muni Divisions agreed that if one Division did not sign up for the schedules, no one would. This new level of class unity grew out of the last contract fight, which reduced wage progression from 31 months to 18 months. This put more money in new workers’ pockets for a moment, but was management’s first attempt to get it back. The real victory from the contract fight was a new level of class-consciousness and unity among older and newer drivers.

But this battle left us with the same old 12-hour day, OT built into our daily schedules, unsafe running times and the planning of our workday in the hands of management, whose main goal is increasing productivity. We asked our coworkers, "Why are we forced to work long hours so that the OT ends up killing us with high blood pressure and physical breakdown after 10 years of working at MUNI?"

Many workers hate the long hours and OT but don’t see any alternative to meeting the very high cost of living in the Bay Area. Many seek an "individual solution." Doing battle with management changes this outlook, but we have to be there to point out the contradictions of capitalism.

We want to build unity among riders and drivers, and a transit system that serves the working class. In the union, we raise the need to impose and collect a bigger transit fee on the Downtown Business corridor rather than raising fares, cutting service, or reducing labor costs. "Make the bosses pay" is a popular demand, while MUNI cuts service to community lines or off peak hours before rush hour service.

A transit assessment fee passed in 1981 as a compromise between Bechtel, Bank of America, Chevron and the then Mayor Feinstein. In return for doubling the fare from 25 to 50 cents, new developers would pay $5\sq foot of each new building into a Transit Impact Development Fund (TIDF), which they passed on as part of their costs. Old established businesses did not have to pay this.

Under Mayor Willie Brown, a loophole to "exempt" the developers from the TIDF created a budget deficit and Muni management is attacking transit workers to balance the budget. Our union leadership opposes collecting this fee because they don’t want to challenge the Democratic Party and Mayor Brown. Relying on the electoral process as their only strategy has contributed to the steady erosion of wages and benefits over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, this continues to have credibility with some drivers.

The union leaders don’t want to "make the bosses pay." They argue that if you challenge their profits, big business will leave San Francisco, leading to job cuts and unemployment. They believe the workers won’t fight, and the bosses are too strong.

We aim to show workers that without our labor, the bosses are nothing. We don’t need any bosses. We needed a communist society where everything that we produce serves the needs of workers.

A Debate: Reform Union Leaders: ‘Friendly Debate’ or Sharp Criticism?

The article "Bus Strikers’ Choice: Rely on Politicians or Rank & File Strength," concerning the recent struggle in Queens, attempts to address some hard questions about bringing up the need for a revolution while fighting for reforms on the job. Resolving this contradiction has plagued the communist movement and is a work in progress at MUNI.

The title asks the key question, but the article is confusing. It seems to make militant action the measure of a successful fight ("Stay out until we get what we want"). But that is a tactical question, which is hard to judge from outside the struggle.

The rest of the article correctly emphasizes that the development of workers’ political consciousness is most important. Challenge should expose why fighting for reforms without trying to develop revolutionary consciousness is a dead end while acknowledging that this is difficult in today’s work place.

We should investigate how struggle affects the working class. What political lessons do the workers draw? Do they gain a better understanding that we will always be on the defensive treadmill under capitalism? Does the struggle help chip away the cynicism and anger that many of our coworkers have towards other workers and passengers?

Communists see the potential of uniting workers and passengers to fight the big corporations. But we also recognize that many of our coworkers think this is impossible. Building this alliance requires changing a lot of workers’ understanding of the world and of the role of unions. Many drivers support a fare increase to help deal with budget shortfalls. Often drivers don’t take a class point of view.

To its credit, the reform leadership of Local 100 is trying to develop this unity with community outreach and opposing service cuts. This is the opposite of the collaboration with management and the Democrats that the old leadership of Local 100, and our International Leadership, did for 20 years.

As Bolshevik organizer Piatnitsky wrote in 1932, "Instead of taking every little fact of treachery [and]…relating just how and when the…reformist leaders…betrayed the interests of the working class…our comrades keep repeating: Social-Fascists and trade union bureaucrats, and that is all. And they think that having said [that]…all the workers must understand just what is meant by these terms…and believe that the…reformist leaders deserved them. This only has the effect of repelling the honest workers who belong to the…reformist trade unions, since they do not regard themselves either as Social Fascists or trade union bureaucrats."

Challenge should emphasize the hold that capitalism has on the minds of the workers, which makes revolution and a communist society seem to be a "pipe dream." There are reform leaders who are honest, want basic change in society, fight for the working class, but don’t see that building a revolutionary movement is possible among today’s working class. We hope to influence them with a friendly debate, not attack them.

Since we are more familiar with the ins and outs of the transit industry our input might have helped the balance in the article. However, the fact that the article did come out makes us confront our own problems with reform and revolution.

MUNI PLP Club

CHALLENGE RESPONDS

Thanks for sharpening the struggle around reform and revolution. While you may be "more familiar with the ins and outs of the transit industry," as the old Bob Dylan song goes, "You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing." The article you refer to was far from perfect, and written from the "outside." But we attempt to draw lessons from many struggles we are not directly involved in, like the war in Afghanistan or the Middle East.

The heart of your criticism is that we mistakenly criticized the leadership of Local 100, either in form or substance, or both. You point to their opposing service cuts and criticize the article for making "militant action the measure of a successful fight." You imply that we are calling names rather than explaining how the reformist leaders "betrayed the interests of the working class," and "repelling honest workers." You say that the struggle to defeat reformism will be won through "friendly debate, not attack[ing]" the reformist leaders.

Without going over the article line by line, the New Directions leadership was criticized for not organizing support among the MTA transit workers and said, "As long as the ‘public’ and ‘private’ transit workers fight separately, they will drag each other down…" Local 100 President Toussaint was quoted and criticized for "trying to ‘force local politicians to take a stand,’ and telling "1,400 workers that a ‘long strike’ would turn the ‘public" against them.’" (NY Daily News, 2/28) It was at this meeting that a militant driver challenged Toussaint saying, "Now that we’re out, we should stay out till we get what we want."

Should the driver not have challenged Toussaint? Should we not have reported it? How exactly should we carry out the "friendly debate?"

But even more to the point, the "reform leaders who are honest…but don’t see that building a revolutionary movement is possible," are the very ones who have a "hold…on the minds of the workers." In California, SEIU organized thousands of home healthcare workers by making a deal to support governor Grey Davis. In New York, over 200,000 SEIU hospital workers got raises in their contracts in return for the union’s backing of Governor Pataki. Toussaint and New Directions won the leadership of Local 100 promising to organize thousands of Workfare slave laborers, who clean subways for poverty wages, into the union. They have done very little to fulfill that promise. "What political lessons [did] the workers draw? [Did] they gain a better understanding that we will always be on the defensive treadmill under capitalism? [Did] the struggle help chip away the cynicism…?" Of course not.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The vast majority of union leaders, even the reformers, will never be won to the PLP and communist revolution. Those that are will come around as the Party develops a mass political base. This means fighting the reformers for the political leadership of the workers. This is a very difficult and complicated process, especially in these political "Dark Ages." We must take a hard line and use flexible tactics, and not be mechanical. But if we don’t fight tooth and nail to expose the reformist traps, we won’t be doing anyone any favors.

L.A. Airport March Hits Immigration Terror Tactics

LOS ANGELES, CA, April 8 — Over 500 workers, students and others marched around LA international airport to protest the recent terror raids by the hated INS (Immigration Department). Community organizations, unions (including SEIU) and churches organized the demonstration. In the last weeks, hundreds of people have been arrested at the airport while traveling to other U.S. cities. Airport workers with years at the airport have also been deported. Simultaneously, the INS has raided the garment industry and other industrial areas.

While the march’s leadership focused on writing Bush, telling him to stop the raids and deportations, many workers angrily chanted more advanced political slogans like, "Workers struggles have no borders"; "The workers, united, will never be defeated"; and "Migra, listen we’re fighting back!"

These raids coincide with the U.S. Supreme Court decision that a worker fired for union organizing has no right to back pay if he’s undocumented. This intensifies exploitation and open robbery by the bosses. An immigrant airport worker, and U.S. citizen, was fired when a 20-year-old arrest for marijuana showed up on his record! The bosses and their government use racism to terrorize all workers.

The attacks and racist raids against Arabs and Muslims after Sept. 11 showed what the bosses have in store for all workers — immigrant and citizen. At the time, the leadership of these organizations sat on their hands. Now, with sharpening attacks against Latino immigrants, these leaders call on Latinos to organize against them, ignoring Arab and Muslim immigrants, even boasting, "Latinos are patriotic Americans." They divide workers and build the big bosses’ pro-U.S. patriotism.

But these attacks are creating another contradiction for the bosses in their drive towards war. Many children and relatives of these deported workers are in the armed forces. The ruling class needs them to kill and die to protect the bosses’ control of oil in the Middle East. These youth can’t be too enthusiastic about that role while seeing their families deported, jailed and super-exploited.

Such contradictions expose the capitalist system and its lies about "democracy, justice and equality." We can turn these racist attacks and deportations around, fighting to build a communist society based on meeting the needs of the international working class, not the bosses’ profits.

By participating with many workers in the activities of these mass organizations, unions and churches, we can win workers to break our capitalist chains. With persistence and boldness, we can lead workers to the profound understanding that the "working class has no borders," and build international solidarity and the fight for communism. Bringing workers to May Day 2002 is an important step in this fight.

Working-Class Unity Sparks May Day Celebration in SSEU Local 371

NEW YORK CITY, April 8 — The bosses use divide-and-conquer as one of their main strategies. Throughout capitalist societies, so-called identity politics prevails. Workers, students and others are taught to identify themselves based on the color of their skin, their country of birth or their religion.

In AFSCME’s SSEU Local 371, we have celebrated Black history night as well as Caribbean, Latino, Jewish and Italian Heritage nights. This year, based on a resolution from the Local’s Delegate Assembly, our class unity will be celebrated on May 7 in our Local’s first ever May Day event.

In previous years, the Local voted to encourage members’ participation in PLP May Day events outside the union. This year May Day is being brought into the Local. At the first organizing committee meeting we discussed the nuts and bolts of the program as well as the history of May Day and of union organizing. It was a new way to learn and teach the lessons of the past and their applications to the future.

Meanwhile, workers can carry the May Day spirit even futher by marching with PLP in Brooklyn on May 4th.

Recovery? Tell It to the Jobless

"It’s all over!" claim the experts. "Recovery’s on the way." But don’t tell that to the millions who lost, and are still losing their jobs. The millions who were thrown on the street will never recover their losses, in wages and benefits. Even when and if rehired, the jobs usually pay lower and pay less benefits.

The new "recovery" is cutting jobs like crazy. According to the Wall Street Journal (4/1):

• After 43 consecutive years of profit growth, Emerson Electric’s streak ended in this recession. With profits down 27%, it’s closing 50 plants in the U.S. and moving much of its production to Mexico and China.

• By 2004, tool manufacturer Black & Decker will shut 25% of its productive capacity and shift operations to Mexico, China and the Czech Republic.

• Albertson’s, the country’s second largest supermarket chain, closed 165 stores. During the "recovery," another 116 will close.

• Fifty percent of employers polled by the Business Council said they will continue to cut jobs or, at best, maintain current employment.

The Wall Street Journal reports that this recession saw one of the worst profit declines since World War II. Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index reports after-tax income fell by 50%. Meanwhile, from 1995 to 2000 corporate debt rose $2.5 trillion!

Corporations are in a squeeze due to "excess capacity in factories" and "intense global competition." "Companies…address the problem by eliminating jobs." (WSJ, 4/1)

A capitalist "full recovery" requires increased corporate spending, which requires strong profits. So far that hasn’t happened. A "recovery" that cuts jobs certainly won’t help workers. With all the talk about "social safety nets," only 38% of the jobless are eligible for unemployment insurance. That represented 7 million workers last year, meaning over 18 million experienced some period of joblessness. How can workers ever recover those losses?

In five previous recessions, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted, then expanded, and then fell again. So it’s entirely possible this "recovery" may be short-lived. Either way, millions of jobs will have permanently disappeared.

On top of this, the rulers’ imperialist "war on terrorism" is being used to brand striking workers as "unpatriotic," further contributing to a decline in conditions for the working class.

"Excess capacity" — overproduction of the means of production — is built into capitalism’s "intense competition." The only solution is abolishing the wage slavery system with its money, profits and bosses. Communist revolution is achievable only by the working class seizing state power, and with it the control over production for the social good.

Bosses’ Oil Wars Deepen Poverty in Somalia

Somalia is in the news again, not only because of the racist movie "Black Hawk Down," but also because the U.S. bosses have made it a key part of their oil wars under the guise of "fighting terrorism." In 1992, the U.S. sent troops to Somalia in a UN "humanitarian" mission to allegedly deal with famine there. The humanitarian cover disappeared when the troops’ real role emerged: protection of the region’s oil shipping routes and to make the country safe for Conoco’s oil exploration.

Opposition to the intervention grew. In 1993 the Black Hawk Down incident revealed that U.S Rangers had attacked civilians in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, massacring hundreds. Several Rangers were killed by the enraged populace and their helicopters shot down. The angry crowd dragged some Rangers through the streets to avenge the slaughter. This forced Clinton to pull the troops out.

Today they’re back as part of the "war against terrorism." On March 19, CIA chief George Tenet testified to the Senate Armed Forces Committee that Somalia is "an environment [where] groups sympathetic to al-Qaeda have offered terrorists an operational base and potential haven."

The U.S. media, as usual, danced to the warmakers’ tune, saying that a handheld Global Positioning Device found by U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan had belonged to a U.S. soldier killed in Somalia in 1993. "Though the press first reported this discovery as a link between Somalia and al-Qaeda, subsequent investigation had reported that a different soldier lost the device in the heat of [Afghanistan’s] Operation Anaconda in early March." (Middle East Report, 3/22).

The importance of the Horn of Africa—Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti — was signified by the visit to the area of General Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. U.S. ships now patrol the Red Sea while German planes patrol the skies over Somalia 10 hours a day.

The U.S. seeks to make Somalia one of its "anchor states" in Africa (along with Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia). The masses of all those countries suffer extreme poverty and political repression. Now Somalians suffer still more since the Bush administration’s "war against terror" closed the al-Barakat money transfer offices through which Somalis overseas send cash home to relatives.

That’s the nature of capitalism. While millions starve in Africa, the bosses’ oil war turns a calamity into a holocaust. Workers and their allies worldwide need to carry out their own war against the real terrorists, the imperialist bosses.

Bosses’ Dogfight Over Oil Spawns Endless Conflicts

Although seemingly almighty, U.S. rulers are actually fighting for survival in Afghanistan and Iraq. Without control of Middle Eastern oil, especially Saudi Arabia’s huge reserves, U.S. imperialism would lose its main economic weapon. Led by Exxon Mobil, U.S. oil companies exert tremendous leverage over the countries they sell to by regulating the flow of capitalism’s lifeblood. But billionaire Osama bin Laden’s forces are trying to foment an Islamic rebellion that will wrest Saudi oil from the hands of the royal family and its pals at Exxon Mobil. And Saddam Hussein is uniting with Russian and French oil bosses in his own bid to grab a bigger share of Persian Gulf crude. U.S. bosses have already slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan workers, and scores of GIs, to protect their vast but shaky oil empire. They are sure to spill more blood as threats increase.

The operations of the U.S.’s flagship oil company, Exxon Mobil, and its allies show just how high the stakes are. Every day, Exxon Mobil pumps 2.6 million barrels of oil out of the earth and sells 8 million barrels of petroleum products, 5.6 million barrels of it to countries other than the U.S. The secret to this wizardry is Saudi Arabia, which sells the lion’s share of its 8-million-barrel a day production to Exxon Mobil at cut-rate prices. Fellow Rockefeller firm Chevron Texaco is also in on the Saudi deal. So is Shell, an Anglo-Dutch business competitor but strategic ally of Exxon Mobil. The Saudi connection enables Exxon, Chevron, and Shell to command 45% of the non-U.S. world market for refined oil exports. Add in BP, which has similar deals with both the Saudis and Kuwaitis, and the U.S.-British share jumps to 59%. As an oil power, France trails a distant third, with TotalFinaElf’s meager 11%. But that could change as French and Russian bosses join to exploit Russia’s and Iran’s production. And BP may yet slip from the fold. It has had sharp strategic differences lately with the main U.S. rulers over Russia, the Balkans and Alaska.

Persian Gulf crude, crucial to U.S. rulers now, will become even more so in the near future. The Middle East hold two thirds of the world’s proven oil reserves. Saudi Arabia alone has a quarter. The U.S. Government predicts that by 2020, Persian Gulf will account for 42% of world oil production, up from today’s 27%. At the same time, oil shipments from the Middle East to Asia will rise from four to 19 million barrels a day. China alone will see a 1700% increase to 6.9 million barrels.

U.S. rulers’ supremacy depends greatly on their ability to dominate petroleum sources and markets. That’s why they brutally counter every threat to their oily racket. Afghanistan is only the tip of the iceberg. U.S. bosses are dead set on deploying a massive ground force to invade Iraq and seize its oilfields. They only disagree about the timing and whether to go it alone or with allies. Potential conflicts with far more powerful foes lie down the road. Washington is taking advantage of Russia’s temporary disarray to set up military bases in the heart of the old Soviet Union, right along oil routes that a resurgent Moscow would seek to control. U.S. troops are back in the Philippines, facing shipping routes to China, while China builds a deep-water navy to safeguard its future oil imports. The profit system generates oil wars without end.

(Sources: The Oil Navigator; The Oil Daily; U.S. Energy Information Administration; company reports)

Iraq: a Strategic Partner of Russian Rulers

U.S. rulers’ plans to whack Saddam Hussein face many hurdles. Exxon Mobil needs to control the Iraqi oil reserve, the second largest in the world after Saudi Arabia. A war against Iraq will heighten even more the rivalry among the world’s capitalists and could lead to wider war. The following from Gasandoil.com and Itar-Tass news reveals Russian oil bosses have a lot to lose from a U.S. war against Iraq.

Russia’s energy minister said in his opening remarks to a session of the Russian-Iraqi Commission for Trade, Economic and Scientific Cooperation that Iraq was Russia’s main strategic partner in the region. Russia "makes political and diplomatic efforts in the UN Security Council with an aim to settle the Iraqi problem and seeks to find mutually acceptable solutions with other countries, first of all with the USA," Energy Minister Igor Yusufov said.

Yusufov said that if the economic embargo was lifted from Iraq, "that would create a basis for full-scale cooperation between Russia and Iraq." According to the minister, Russia will continue efforts in that direction. Yusufov believes that positive changes in the Russian economy were a stimulus for the development of economic ties between Moscow and Baghdad.

He said new technological developments by Russia, in particular to increase the production of oil wells, "could be of great interest for Iraq." The minister said Russian companies had received major contracts to build Iraqi facilities, citing among them the Eastern Al Jazira irrigation complex worth $70 billion.

Anti-Stalin Lies a Cover for Imperialists’ Mass Murder

The bosses’ media often refers to "innocent millions murdered by Stalin..." This is Cold War nonsense, plain and simple. The demographers Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D. Silver, ("Demographic Analysis and Population Catastrophes in the USSR," Slavic Review, 44, No. 3, 1985) estimate that "excess deaths" — defined as any "unusually large number of deaths" between 1926 and 1939 "among people who were alive" in 1926 — were probably between 3.2 and 5.5 million for the entire USSR. This is from all causes, including famine, disease, the entire collectivization process, executions and one significant war, against Japan in Mongolia.

We criticize Stalin and the Bolsheviks for the things they actually did, not for things they never did, but are falsely accused of, and which are widely believed by those who repeat the lies of Cold War historians, many originating with the Nazis. The Nazis had an "anti-Comintern" organization that specialized in this stuff, similar to the Harvard Soviet Studies program, or the Hoover Institution.

Yet none of Stalin-bashers report on "the innocent millions murdered by Winston Churchill." What about the Bengal Famine in India? In contrast to the Ukraine in 1932-33, the Bengal famine really was "man made." Capitalist historians say around four million died. Then there’s the Belgian imperialist, King Leopold, supported by British and U.S. bosses, slaughtering 15 million in the Congo, while cutting off the limbs of millions more. Not to mention the genocide perpetrated by U.S. rulers on hundreds of thousands of Native Americans in this country. And the 13 million black African slaves who died on their forced "trip" to the "New World."

What about the famine in the French colony of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) in 1931? Also "man-made." One recent scholar said: "...mortality in this famine, partly due to French taxation policies that were more rigid than Soviet procurement policies in 1932, was in proportional terms considerably greater than in the Soviet famine..."

These are but a few of the horrors of the "free world." We are all getting an overdose of this kind of "freedom" in the new and rapidly expanding American invasion of Afghanistan.

Unlike the communists around the world, with all their great weaknesses and failures in trying to build communism through socialism, Churchill, the myriad French governments, Roosevelt, Canada’s MacKenzie King and the other "leaders of the West" never were on the side of workers, farmers and others organizing against exploitation and murder. To say nothing of the fascists who ran the governments of pre-war Poland: Pilsudski, Bor-Komarowski, and the rest.

These "leaders of the Free World" did not fight colonialism and imperialism, as the communist movement did. Quite the contrary; these "Free Worlders" were the imperialist mass murderers.

Workers of the World, Write!

LETTERS

Why Compare Israeli Rulers to Nazis?

My liberal pro-Israel friend, a little mad and puzzled, asked me: "Why does the left always attack Israel, even calling it fascist? Aren’t the Arab governments more brutal and fascist than Israel? Israel is just defending itself from those who want to destroy it."

Indeed, the Arab rulers are brutal and fascist. Most care little about their own people or the Palestinians. After all, the more pro-U.S. Arab bosses, like the royal leeches ruling Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, used Palestinians as cheap labor in the oil fields until Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. Then most Palestinians sympathized with Saddam because of their hatred towards those rulers — and their U.S. imperialist allies — exploiting them. Other pro-U.S. rulers like Egypt’s Mubarak have kept their people super-exploited and politically repressed.

The more anti-U.S. rulers like those in Syria and Saddam himself have combined heavy political repression with some benefits from the oil wealth to part of the population (at least before Desert Storm, and the subsequent embargo of Iraq).

But the Israeli ruling class is also fascist, even though it hides behind parliamentary bourgeois democracy. Israel was founded after World War II based on expelling millions of Palestinians from their homeland. It has brutally exploited Palestinian labor and turned the Occupied Territories (seized by Israel after the 1967 six day war) into an Apartheid-like Bantustan. The Israeli army and police treat Palestinians like "sub-humans" (the way the Nazis treated Jews, Russians, etc.). The recent Israeli army invasion of the West Bank has launched fascist attacks on thousands of civilians.

Many in the U.S. know little about this because the U.S. media is very pro-Israel. When one Israeli civilian or youth is murdered by a suicide bomber, it’s big news, but when Palestinian children or youth are murdered by the Israeli army, it’s hardly reported. Robert Fisk in London Independent (2/24) quoted an Israeli official saying, "We should study what the German army did in the Warsaw ghetto." This kind of attitude prevails among Israel’s rulers, not only Sharon but also many in the so-called Labor Party. After all, some of Israel’s founders were part of the Judenrat which helped the Nazis carry out the holocaust by trying to stop revolts by Jews in Europe.

There are Jewish soldiers, workers and youth who are refusing inside and outside Israel to be part of the Israeli rulers’ onslaught against Palestinians instead of the fascist Sharon and all the Zionist butchers. They should be applauded and supported, not the fascist gang of Sharon and all other Zionists.

A comrade

An Apple For The Principal

I’m a high school student in in California. The harassment and insults against the students by the administration is constant. The students are sick and tired of the situation. The following example shows how the students feel.

A few days ago as hundreds of students were eating in the over-packed lunchrooms a fight started between two students. The principal and her goon squad (security squad)ran over to separate the students and arrest them. All the students stood on the tables and started throwing apples at the principal. Some hit her on the head, others on the back. The security guards also got their deserved apples. The principal had to leave the area immediately amid whistles and shouts of joy by the students. Many students congratulated each other that they had rebelled, even though temporarily, against the bosses’ oppression, in this case the administration.

A Happy Student

Globalization and Imperialism—Same Garbage

I’m a garment worker. I had to present a paper to other garment workers on "What is Globalization?" Even though I’ve read Challenge for years and participated in discussions, I didn’t know how or where to start. But I decided to look at my own life and use that experience.

I wrote the following:

I began my day at 6:45 am when my alarm clock went off. It was made in China. I got up and bathed with soap made in Mexico. I dried myself with a towel made in India. My underwear was made in Taiwan and my Levis pants were made in El Salvador. My shoes are of leather made in Brazil and my belt was made in Thailand. Now that I was dressed, I blended a drink with bananas from Honduras. My blender was made in Mexico. Then I drank Colombian coffee. I went to work in my old car made in Japan. My boss, who is from Taiwan, was waiting for me. Don’t you think that the international working class makes everything?

Fortunately or unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of work to do. That gave me time to think and I remembered that several years ago I heard talk of a "Free Trade Agreement" among three countries who were neighbors, supposedly "brothers." At that time, I thought that the Free Trade Treaty (NAFTA) would benefit our brothers and sisters, the Mexican farm workers and urban workers. But then I found out I was wrong. Before NAFTA, my boss paid me 20 cents for each piece I sewed. Afterwards, she lowered it to 12 cents. We stopped production. But we achieved little since the boss threatened that if we didn’t do the work, she’d send it to Mexico where they would do it for much less. Other workers in Mexico or China were not to blame. The blame was on the system of capitalism and imperialism, which force workers to work for poverty wages.

In conclusion what I understand by globalization is super-exploitation of the workers by the bosses in the richest countries all over the world. The name has changed, but the exploitation is the same. And the solution is the same: smash globalization or imperialism with communist revolution.

With this introduction, I started our discussion and our plans to mobilize workers for the May Day march.

Communist Internationalist Garment Worker

Oscar Movies Cover for Racism

The Front page article in the last CHALLENGE (4/10), "Oscars Mask Racism," was pretty accurate in describing how the sweep of the best actor and best actress by Denzel Washington and Halle Berry plus the lifetime award given to Sidney Poitier, don’t mean Hollywood has become a bastion of anti-racism or that racism is not rampant all over the U.S.

Of course, these black artists are very talented. But there is another side to the prizes they got this year: the movies they won them for. Denzel Washington in "Training Days," plays a disgusting cop in the LAPD. His character is a Ramparts division type of crooked, vicious and vile cop, even more than a regular policeman. Indeed, all cops no matter the color of their skin are enforcers of the bosses’ racist system. The movie shows that politicians are behind the vicious cop Denzel plays, but there is still the meaning that while there are bad cops of all colors, in general most cops aren’t like that.

That meaning is even more direct in the role played by Halle Berry in "Monster’s Ball." She played the role of Leticia, a woman facing the racism of a small Louisiana town and dealing with a husband on death row and a son dealing with an obesity problem. Berry ends up having a love affair with Hank (played by Billy Bob Thornton), a second-generation racist prison guard. Berry basically looks to a racist to save her from her rotten life, even though Hank changes his racist ways after his own son dies. This vicious racist "repents" and becomes "anti-racist." The fact that Leticia falls in love with this guy is like making a movie where a Jewish woman falls in love with a Nazi camp guard who after all his crimes, changes his mind.

Dr. Asa Hilliard III, professor of education at Georgia State Univ., said that when looking at the symbolism of these and other Oscars won by black artists: "More often than not, you will find some form of negative portrayal. None of these roles have really been powerful roles that touch on our most heroic people, not individually, but as a people." (Daily Challenge, NY, April 3).

Of course, if movies were really anti-racist, then Hollywood wouldn’t be the cesspool it is now.

Rex Red