CHALLENGE, August 7, 2002


Workers Don’t Need a System that Destroy Jobs and Pensions

Big Bosses Use Crisis to Consolidate Power: Communist Revolution: Only Crisis Capitalism Cannot Survive

Telecommunications: Eye Of The Storm

Biggest Sharks See Market Value Rise

Capitalism Can Survive Any Crisis, Except Revolution!

Telecom Bust Follows Classic Capitalist Pattern

Clock Ticking on Gulf War II As U.S. Bosses Try to Seize Iraqi Oil Fields

PLP Brings Fight vs. Oil War To AFT Convention

Red Ideas Spur Hospital Workers To Veto Union-Boss Give-backs

Boeing Contract Battle Needs Break With ‘Partner’ Fraud

Mexico’s Farmers Clash With Attacking Cops

Workers in Iran Reject Fundamentalist Rulers

Fascism in the Mills

Inglewood: Cops, U.S. Bosses Are Biggest Terrorists

Protest Nazi Resurgence

Liberals’ Anti-Pedophile Crusade Targets Pro-Europe Pope

Imperialist Rivalry Intensifies Latin America’s Poverty

People Nix Russia’s Free-Market Capitalism


Workers Don’t Need a System that Destroy Jobs and Pensions

Millions of workers are losing their jobs and their pensions while the liberals wring their hands over Enron, WorldCom, Bush and Cheney’s business practices. This brutal robbery of millions of workers demands a massive fight-back. Our battle cry must be "a system that destroys jobs, pensions and needs war and racist terror to survive must be smashed."

In order to confuse and pacify the working class, the Democrats and their union hack friends have taken hypocrisy to new heights. They’re just as guilty, if not more so, of destroying our jobs and pensions. Just weeks ago, Democrat presidential wannabees Lieberman and Daschle defended the accounting "principles" that permit the present deceptive treatment of stock options.

The roots of the current crisis go back at least as far as the "Clinton boom." Between 1994 and 1999, corporations borrowed $1.22 trillion from banks. Of that, just 15.3% was used for capital expenditures; 57% ($697.4 billion) was used to buy back stock, drive up company stock prices and inflate the value of executives’ stock options. Sure these criminals belong in jail. But under this rotten system, the ones sending them there are worse than the ones (that might be) carted off.

Between 1990 and1999, the average CEO’s annual pay at 362 of the largest corporations increased more than six times, to $12.4 million. This is 475 times larger than the average pay of a factory worker. Meanwhile, about two million industrial jobs were wiped out between April 1998 and last December.

The Enron debacle and stock collapses at WorldCom and elsewhere destroyed the retirement savings of many workers. A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll says that more than one-third of adults have no retirement money saved. Many have no access to a job-related pension or retirement plan. Millions can’t afford to contribute to a 401(k) plan.

"The average…household has virtually no chance to reach an adequate retirement savings in the next 50 years," according to a retirement specialist at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). An EPI study found that over 40% of retired workers won’t be able to match even half of their former job income, and 20% will live below the poverty line. And these are "Clinton boom" figures, between 1989 and 1998! Karen Ferguson, director of the Pension Rights Center, said it’s "inevitable…that many more millions of retirees will be without enough money to make ends meet."

While workers pay with their jobs and pensions, the big bosses take advantage of this crisis to consolidate their monopolies and get rid of the smaller bosses (see adjacent editorial). A passive working class that accepts these economic attacks, racist police terror and mass round-ups and deportations of immigrants, is ripe for the picking as the rulers build fascism and mobilize for war. Self-critically, we in PLP have not done enough to answer the bell. While the masses may not be storming the barricades, the bosses’ onslaught is not winning their allegiance. We must be "tribunes of the people" in the unions, churches and mass organizations. We can do much better in building a fighting PLP. In this very difficult period, fighting is winning!

Big Bosses Use Crisis to Consolidate Power:

Communist Revolution: Only Crisis Capitalism Cannot Survive

The present stock market nosedive provides a lesson in the political economy of the profit system. A long boom has ended in the explosion of a huge speculative bubble. A vast economic consolidation is taking place. Millions of workers are suffering the loss of jobs, pension values and benefits.

Within their own class, the old-line, liberal rulers of the Eastern Establishment are using the current Wall Street scandals to tighten their economic and political hold on all of society. They are swatting down newly-rich competitor upstarts, disciplining incompetents and furthering their murderous agenda, especially oil wars abroad and a police state at home.

Telecommunications: Eye Of The Storm

During the 1990s, greedy lenders and investors poured billions into fiber-optic and cable networks. According to the New York Times (7/22), "A glut of capacity in communications networks, a result of overzealous investment during the telecommunication boom in the late 1990’s, is a big factor in the industry’s current slump."

The telecom boom "provided too much money to too many companies to build too many competing networks" (Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, 5/2). In some sectors, over-capacity was running as high as 98%. Less than 10% of fiber-optic wire is being used. So the telecom bosses cut prices and offered special deals to win "market share." Many had barely enough money left to pay operating expenses, much less service the enormous debt they’d incurred to finance their expansion. Then they tried to disguise their troubles with accounting and financial tricks, now being exposed by the liberal media.

Even companies like AT&T had eyes bigger than their stomachs. In the Fall of 2000, Wall Street saw that new telecom loans were being used to service debt (get new loans to pay off old ones), rather than to increase actual production. They decided to turn off the financing switch and stop this Ponzi scheme. At that moment today’s market collapse became inevitable.

This has cost workers dearly and is a painful reminder that capitalism can never provide the working class with economic security. It also whacked a number of "new money" companies and executives (WorldCom, Tyco, Qwest, PSINet, XO, Teligent, et al.) And it is having a ripple effect. "Nearly every telecommunications company…is owed money by WorldCom and will have difficulty collecting these debts…" (NYT, 7/22)) Verizon and SBC are owed $200 million each by WorldCom, who has been paying them $100 million every month to connect to their networks. BellSouth in Atlanta usually collected $80 million a month from WorldCom.

Biggest Sharks See Market Value Rise

But the biggest Eastern banks are about to make a killing. The Times reports (7/17) that the market’s collapse "may prove to be an opportunity for private firms to acquire companies and business divisions at fire-sale prices." Chief among the vultures is the Blackstone Group, which recently launched the largest private investment fund ever assembled ($6.45 billion). Blackstone is using this war chest to gobble up "distressed companies" like the debt-ridden telecom firm Qwest. Blackstone’s CEO, Steven Schwartzman gloats: "This should be a good cycle for people who have money."

WorldCom’s bankruptcy debt is about to be financed by Citigroup, J.P. Morgan and GE Capital, all pillars of the Eastern Establishment. The spoils are going into major Eastern banks.

According to the Times (7/21), by July 18 Exxon Mobil’s share of the market’s total value had increased by 52% since March 2000. The Establishment camp’s Citigroup share was up 73% increase since 2000. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s share dropped 18% in that period.

This economic consolidation has an important political aspect. The Eastern Establishment not only wants to profit from the current disarray, they want to tighten their grip on the economy of the future. Taking matters into their own hands, they’ve set up a "Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise" to ensure that corporations are run the way they want. Co-chairing the commission is Peter G. Peterson, chair of the Blackstone Group. Other members include the present or former heads of the pension fund giant TIAA-CREF; Intel; the Vanguard Group; the Securities and Exchange Commission (Arthur Levitt); Johnson & Johnson; and Harvard Business School Professor Lynne Paine.

Also on this commission are Paul Volcker, former chair of the Federal Reserve System and longtime Rockefeller agent, and former Senator Warren Rudman, who co-chaired the Hart-Rudman commission that laid the groundwork for the big bosses’ current drive toward a police state. Consolidating the economy, squashing upstart capitalists, and disciplining disobedient or incompetent insiders are key aspects of this plan. If the bumbling Bush White House proves unable to meet the Eastern Establishment’s expectations, they will be headed for the golf course in 2004. Liberal Republicans are already distancing themselves from their moronic commander-in-chief (See N.Y. Times, "GOP Lawmakers Bolt Bush’s Herd, " (7/20).

Capitalism Can Survive Any Crisis, Except Revolution!

At the moment, the biggest rulers are having their way, albeit with some problems. Many people are outraged when their life-savings go up in smoke. The stock market’s decline has caused great cynicism among large numbers of workers and others. While the rulers would prefer to exploit "happy" victims, for the time being they’ll settle for passive outrage and cynicism. Capitalism can survive any economic or political crisis. It will never topple itself.

A mass, international, revolutionary PLP, prepared to challenge for —and win — state power in the course of protracted armed struggle, is the only crisis from which the ruling class cannot recover. Without that, the boom-bust-imperialist war cycle can go on indefinitely. As we work toward this goal, no matter how long it takes, one of our highest priorities must remain winning workers and others away from "lesser-evil" illusions about liberal capitalists and politicians.

Telecom Bust Follows Classic Capitalist Pattern

Speculative booms and spectacular collapses have been the hallmark of the profit system since its earliest days. The railroad boom of the 1880s provides a curious mirror. Instead of fiber-optic cables, the hardware was iron railroad tracks. Investors flooded the market with so much capital to build parallel tracks when only one was needed, or so many tracks to locations that couldn’t support profitable service, that the entire industry went bankrupt. Like today’s consolidation, J.P. Morgan, the most powerful U.S. capitalist at the time, wolfed down the spoils.

Liberals Portray Their Fascist Military As A Model Of ‘Corporate Governance’

Hitler depicted himself as the "enemy of big capital," while he served the biggest German capitalists, who needed fascism to mobilize the population for World War II. He targeted those German bosses who had played a role similar to that of the crooks now vilified in the liberal press. The liberal rulers hypocritically denounce the "corporate greed" of a "few bad apples," while the biggest banks and oil companies make huge profits and war plans. The July 20 New York Times op-ed page contains an article by Robert Hemsley, a member of the Western Pulp and Paper Workers Union. Normally, the Times doesn’t run statements by union rank-and-filers. But Hemsley has a line that echoes the liberal police state/war gospel: "Contrast [the 1:592 ratio of pay between Hemsley and his boss — Ed.] with the Marine Corps, which is structured so that enlisted personnel and officers work together for a common purpose. The Marine Corps commandant…is paid…just 13 times more than…a new private in boot camp."

Clock Ticking on Gulf War II As U.S. Bosses Try to Seize Iraqi Oil Fields

Iraq, which holds the largest supply of cheap, accessible crude outside Saudi Arabia, remains the most likely target for another U.S. oil war. U.S. imperialism intends to rule the world for the foreseeable future by retaining its chokehold on the most profitable sources of oil. Exxon Mobil and other U.S. oil giants won’t allow Iraqi crude to be controlled by imperialist rivals. Saddam’s potential deals with European, Chinese, and Russian oil barons — not his ruthlessness — have made him "worse than Hitler" in the eyes of U.S. rulers.

But the U.S. has run into a few stumbling blocks on the road to Baghdad. These include Bush’s failure to put a lid on the explosive situation in the Middle East, his general ineptitude in imposing fascism in the "war against terror," foreign policy and, most recently, the economic crisis/scandals.

Despite these obstacles, the clock is ticking on the next oil war. "Military experts estimate that there are already about 200,000 U.S. soldiers in the Gulf" ("Prophesying War," London Financial Times, 7/18). The build-up is therefore in an advanced stage.

Further preparations for wars beyond Iraq are also well under way. The "largest military experiment in U.S. history" was due to begin the week of July 22, in southern California, with 13,500 troops from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, who will use "the latest in military hardware in simulation of what planners believe the battlefield could look like in five years" (Associated Press, 7/18). Scenarios include "simulated weapons of mass destruction, urban warfare, the United Nations, and humanitarian relief."

Given the bosses’ plans for war without end abroad and a police state at home, "urban warfare" could well include simultaneous fighting in Baghdad and Los Angeles or New York. All this murder and mayhem will be disguised as an effort to protect "human rights" and "democracy." The PLP will never cease mobilizing workers to fight against this Big Lie and its deadly consequences.

PLP Brings Fight vs. Oil War To AFT Convention

LAS VEGAS, July 18 — "I read that already! Where’s today’s leaflet?" is how many among the 5,000 delegates greeted us on the third day of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention ending today. This was the first time in years that PLP members participated actively in the convention. It won’t be the last.

The AFT is one of the largest unions in the country with over one million members, including teachers in New York City, Chicago and many other large cities. PLP members met with delegates from their hometowns, participated in committee and caucus meetings, helped organize against the leadership’s pro-war, pro-fascist resolution supporting the "war on terror" and extending it to Iraq, and held a small but excellent Party forum. We distributed over 300 CHALLENGES, more than 800 copies of our new education pamphlet, three leaflets totaling 3,800 copies and 1,000 buttons with the slogan "A War Budget Leaves Every Child Behind."

The button was everywhere. Delegates wore it constantly. It was seen on the huge TV screens as delegates spoke at the microphones. AFT Pres. Sandra Feldman is a member of Rockefeller’s Council on Foreign Relations, which develops foreign policy for the main wing of the ruling class. Still, the best majority the leadership could muster to cut off debate on their pro-war resolution was 60-40. Even in a controlled convention, they must rely on maneuvering and stopping debate to stifle the rank and file.

Another highlight was the unfurling of our banner in the convention hall during the debate, including one opposing the AFT top honchos’ support of imperialist war as an attack against all workers and their children. Most delegates saw it when entering the hall as comrades and friends held it up in the lobby. A group of teachers, young workers and students from the L.A. Summer Project were part of that activity and met many delegates as well. Their presence and seriousness impressed many.

We were also active in discussions on high-stakes testing, privatization and vouchers and racist budget cutbacks. Our main reason for attending the convention was to meet more delegates who want to organize around these issues. We will not accept a police state and racist terror. We will fight the bosses’ and union leadership’s plans to turn our students into cannon fodder for their endless wars. Over the next two years we will work to involve our friends in more struggles in our schools and locals, and bring more communist delegates to the next convention in Washington, D.C.

The following is a speech that was to be given from the floor by a PLP delegate at the AFT convention. For many reasons, including the fact that the issue came up so late, the speech was not given.

"Sisters and brothers, the issue we are now discussing is probably the most important issue facing this convention. It is a matter of life and death. Furthermore – in all likelihood – it will profoundly affect every other issue we care about, both at home and abroad.

Resolution 49 does not mention Iraq, but the unspoken reality is that an upcoming war against Iraq is the central and undeniable context of this resolution.

The magazine I am holding up is the July 8th edition of Fortune. In this featured article about war with Iraq, the subtitle says, "IT’S NOT IF BUT WHEN"! Make no mistake. The U.S. government is preparing to launch a major war against Iraq!

Resolution 49 is long. It discusses a number of different things related to the attack on 9/11 and events since then. Some parts of the resolution are quite true. Most importantly, however, it says "We have no doubt that military action will be required more than once in the coming years and that the costs may be great." And it also says, "We support the use of the wide range of powers at the country’s disposal . . ."

I am not speaking as a pacifist. Some wars are necessary. Slavery in the United States, for example, could not have been defeated without the Civil War. As a communist, as a member of Progressive Labor Party, I am firmly convinced that the Enrons, Worldcoms, and Exxon/Mobils are the vicious exploiters of today. Like their kindred spirits – the slavemasters of old – they will not give up their power or privileges willingly. Nothing short of a revolution will allow working people to take power and create a world of true equality, sisterhood, and brotherhood.

Finally, on the question of justifiable violence, it would be perfectly fine with me – if indeed Osama bin laden is guilty – that he pay with his life for the deaths of three thousand working class sisters and brothers who died horrifically and tragically on 9/11.

But violence and war are not always the right thing. Let’s be clear. What are the real reasons propelling a U.S. attack on Iraq?

First, it’s not about terrorism. In fact, for months after 9/11, the U.S. government searched desperately for any possible way to put some of the blame on Iraq. Try as they might, there was no connection to be found.

Second, it’s not about weapons of mass destruction. Quite a few countries have more weaponry than Iraq. In fact, most such nations – like England, Pakistan, India, Israel, France, Russia, and the United States – have engaged in military operations outside their own borders to pursue economic and political domination. In this regard, Iraq is not unique, and Iraq is certainly not the worst offender.

Third, plans for war against Iraq are not based on needing oil for use here in the United States. Only a small percentage of the oil used here comes from the Middle East.

In other words, the upcoming war against Iraq is not based on terrorism, not based on weapons of mass destruction, and not based on U.S. energy needs. The real reason for the war is something else: Exxon/Mobil’s deadly quest to dominate Mid-East oil.

Whichever capitalists win the struggle to control Mideast oil achieve two things as a result: 1) Billions of dollars in profit, 2) A degree of control over their European and Asian rivals who depend on that oil. That’s what this war is all about.

Since World War II, U.S. oil companies have exercised control over Saudi Arabian oil, the world’s largest reserves. Iraq is the country with the second-largest reserves, but U.S. oil companies – in recent years – have been unable to control Iraqi oil because the Iraqi ruling class has been more favorable to deals with companies from France, China and Russia.

All of this reflects a more fundamental and powerful contradiction – the deadly rivalry between major imperialist powers for domination of all the world’s labor and natural resources, not oil alone.

In an effort to line up support for war against Iraq, the U.S. government has fostered increasing anti-Arab racism. We are now expected to accept racial profiling – if the victims are Middle Eastern – and we are expected, in an upcoming war, to accept the loss of many many civilian lives, as long as they’re not American. This is dead wrong! We must never tolerate racism of any kind!

There are three additional reasons that necessitate our strong opposition to a war against Iraq:

Resources that go into this war will significantly take away from resources available for education. Let’s not forget that the large-scale military buildup during the Carter/Reagan years took military spending from less than ╝ to more than 1/3 of the federal budget. As an inevitable consequence, we witnessed deep slashes in funding for social programs like education. A new war in the Middle East will do this again, perhaps worse.

Students whom we have just recently taught – young people we care about deeply – will be sent to kill and die.

The students and working people of Iraq – our working class sisters and brothers – may die in horrible ways and in horrendously large numbers.

Delegates, we must choose sides! Do we support Exxon/Mobil and their bloody war for profit? Or do we support students and working people here and in Iraq?

The rich and powerful are beating the drums of war for their own deadly purposes! We must follow the drumbeat of a more righteous rhythm, the rhythm of sisterhood, brotherhood, and international working class solidarity!

I urge you to vote against resolution 49!"

Red Ideas Spur Hospital Workers To Veto Union-Boss Give-backs

"I told those union leaders that I’m sick of the ‘haves’ always making the ‘have-nots’ pay the price!"

"Bill, who’s the communist here, me or you?"

That brief exchange occurred as an angry rank and file defeated the union leadership’s attempt at a major hospital to cheat workers out of four months worth of wage increases. It illustrates how PLP’s close ties with workers and participation in the class struggle enables us to raise communist ideas as the answer to the daily problems caused by capitalism.

We’re in the third year of our contract, which scheduled a 3% raise on July 1. Last spring the hospital bosses told the non-union workers that their raises would be pushed back to November. Many non-union workers then wished they were unionized.

In the last week of June, the union began calling for a membership vote on July 2 to push our raise back to November as well. They warned of mass layoffs if we didn’t give in. But a number of union delegates challenged them calling for, "No Give-backs! No Layoffs! No more cuts in patient care!"

PLP members explained how the nature of capitalism and the needs of the bosses’ oil war made it impossible for them to promise "No Layoffs." Posters with these slogans quickly covered locker-room walls. Floor captains were recruited from the rank and file to mobilize the members.

A PLP flyer urged union members to vote against giving up four months of the raise. It traced the main cause of the cuts in healthcare to the billions now being used for the bosses’ oil war and "Homeland Security" police state. Workers carried the flyer throughout the hospital. Someone posted it on a heavily used time clock. Usually workers are quick to tear down flyers they disagree with. But the PLP flyer is still hanging in some locker-rooms, an indication of mass support for our ideas.

The scared hospital and union bosses hastily called an all-day series of union meetings on July 1, at the hospital! The union business agent and the head of human resources co-chaired the meetings, and got their fill of workers’ anger.

Distrustful workers demanded that the rebellious delegates be allowed to watch the voting and ballot count to prevent any tampering. The union leaders had to agree, but this didn’t stop the union’s Executive VP from arguing with workers to "vote yes," right at the ballot box. She was challenged by one of the rebellious delegates, and workers called her a "shill" for the bosses.

The leadership’s give-back proposal was resoundingly defeated, 450 to 35. The union leaders are furious, and the bosses are meeting to figure out how they were beaten so badly.

This battle re-charged the Party’s ties with both union and non-union workers. The demands of the bosses’ oil war and their "Homeland Security" police state will mean more attacks. Building a mass communist base and leading the workers in battle will re-build a new communist movement.

Boeing Contract Battle Needs Break With ‘Partner’ Fraud

"Man, this crowd is old!" observed an International Association of Machinists (IAM) member at the July 9th strike vote against the Boeing Company on July 9. The whole crowd was considerably smaller than at past votes, with fewer black and Latino workers participating.

Some have said the company has "cut the heart" out of the union, laying off nearly half the membership during the past nine months. These layoffs have been particularly racist as many blacks and Latinos are the last hired and first fired. Fewer than 24,000 IAM members remain as the September 2 contract deadline approaches for workers in Seattle, WA, Wichita, KS, and Portland, OR. We must "put the heart back" into this contract battle, bringing laid off and retired workers back into this fight, emphasizing that the profit system is the source of the layoffs and cutbacks. That can help create the ability and desire to raise the level of class struggle to one of fighting for communism.

Accepting Capitalism Assures Defeat

Commercial aerospace is suffering form a capitalist crisis of overproduction. In 1990, Boeing delivered 285 airplanes with 43,400 IAM members. Last year, they delivered 450 airplanes with only 27,123 members. Companies throughout the world are slashing jobs as the market for the increased production has collapsed. Communist production, where all value provides for the needs of the international working class, is the only way out of these endless crises.

To maintain credibility, the union leadership is calling Contract 2002, "the fight for job security." But they began their expensive strike sanction brochure saying, "Job security does not mean the employer can never eliminate a job." Since the misleaders accept capitalism and its rules as a given, they are forced to define this issue in such a way as to assure defeat for the workers.

Their proposed contract provisions have never saved any jobs. They talk about creating work through the High Performance Work Organization (HPWO), which would force us to speed up, and even fire, our co-workers. Then the entire Washington State congressional delegation (11 U.S. senators and representatives) signed a letter to the strike sanction rally which said, "the core of the Boeing Co.’s success [is] its skilled work force." Did these "representatives" back our vote to sanction a strike? Of course not! "Nobody wants a strike," they assured us.

Two days later, leaders of the IAM and the engineers union traveled to Wall Street to convince stock market analysts that preserving our jobs was best for capitalism. The analysts’ reaction "appeared largely noncommittal." With friends like Wall Street analysts and bought-and-paid-for politicians, who needs enemies?

Ultimately, the IAM leadership calls for a "real partnership" between Boeing and the workers are ridiculous: what benefits the bosses — speed-up, layoffs, depressed wages, off-loading and reduced health care and pension coverage — can never benefit the workers. The dangerous ideology used to justify these "partnerships," racism and nationalism, spell death for the working class.

Worse Than Ridiculous

The union leadership wrapped itself in the flag, talking about "when America came together after 9/11" and criticizing Boeing for having "no loyalty to the flag." But patriotism and nationalism only dull our ability to wage the sharp struggle these hard times demand. Where is the union’s loyalty to the international working class? Where was their support for the 2,000 Airbus wildcatters in England or the 8,000 IAM wildcatters in Canada last April? The misleaders’ loyalty is to capitalism and themselves.

The political crisis we face is even more important than the economic crisis. A decade of racism and nationalism — and the piles of propaganda about national unity since 9/11 — has decimated our ranks. Calls for partnerships with the bosses, especially in these times of current and future wars, amounts to becoming social fascists, siding with the bosses of one country to slaughter workers of other countries. The bosses are all too willing to "partner" with us to help defeat their international competition. They’re all too willing to sacrifice our youth on the altar of their imperial profits. The only war workers should be fighting is the class war, to free our class from wage slavery and the oppression of capitalism.

PLP has often paraphrased the communist writer Bertolt Brecht’s famous phrase, "When the bosses talk peace, better get your helmet." In the same way, when the IAM talks partnership with Boeing, prepare for cuts and oppression.

Uniting with the capitalists provides as much job security as a pig has at a hungry BBQ. Some Boeing workers are emphasizing the need to bring laid-off and retired workers into the contract battle. The Party supports these efforts, as class struggle contains the potential to learn how to finally put an end to this job-killing system. Make no mistake about it; the only security for our class is a revolutionary movement strong enough to smash capitalism.

Mexico’s Farmers Clash With Attacking Cops

MEXICO, July 17 — More than 300 small farmers armed with machetes clashed with police while protesting the proposed construction of the new Mexico City airport on their communal lands.

The farmers said police shot at them first and about 25 officers beat one protester to death. The demonstrators then seized at least nine hostages and demanded that state officials release all 15 arrested. The hostages included five cops, three Texcoco officials and a Texcoco District Attorney. Over 400 state agents and federal police were sent to Atenco, home to many commuting industrial workers . All highways leading to the town were closed, causing miles-long traffic jams.

The farmers, from San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico, were heading toward a meeting that included Gov. Arturo Montiel when they encountered a police blockade. A fight broke out and hundreds of farmers threw rocks at the cops and burned cars. At least 12 were injured and 15 arrested.

Early last month, Atenco farmers took six topographers hostage for taking illegal land surveys. They were released at the steps of the Supreme Court building unharmed.

Last October the federal government chose Texcoco for the area’s new international airport. Since then farmers have staged frequent machete-wielding protests around Mexico City, claiming the money the Fox government is offering for their land is well below market value. Auto and other industrial workers fighting layoffs have joined some of these protests. The bosses are using the law and repression to eliminate the jobs of agricultural workers in the area, handing their land to the big bosses.

Behind this struggle lies a capitalist dogfight for profits; for the next Presidential election; and for the governorship of the state of Mexico, involving different sets of politicians. Gov. Montiel is a member of the Atlacomulco investors’ group, which wants to build the airport and collect huge profits from the multi-billion dollar business. Angry people ran the mayor of Anteco, a PRI member, out of town some time ago.

If the mass militant protests temporarily stop the airport, it will benefit the group of investors who want it built in Hidalgo. The Mexico City government and others have filed constitutional challenges against the project. Workers and their allies must not support any side in this dogfight. They’re all our class enemies.

The "ejidos" (community-owned land) to be destroyed by the new airport were formed as part of mass struggle by small peasants in the last century. But ejidos have not solved the basic problems of poverty and oppression suffered for centuries by these small farmers and farm workers. Only social ownership of all production will allow workers in the countryside and cities to have a decent life. We must build a mass revolutionary communist movement to serve their class needs.

Workers in Iran Reject Fundamentalist Rulers

The Islamic Fundamentalists try to present themselves as an alternative to U.S.-British imperialist plundering of the Middle East/Persian Gulf and to the corrupt local rulers serving Exxon-Mobil, Shell and BP. But in the last 20 years the workers and youth of Iran have learned that the Islamic holy rollers are as rotten as the fascist pro-U.S. Shah regime they replaced in 1979.

On July 16, tens of thousands of workers gathered in front of the Labor Ministry in Tehran to protest unemployment, lack of social security, unpaid wages and plans to make the already weak labor laws even more pro-boss. Banners of workers from different industries called for the right to strike and other demands. When the Islamic Council and Workers’ House sellouts were unable to control the angry workers as they pushed their way into the ministry building, uniformed and plain-clothed cops attacked them. Workers fought back against the cops’ tear gas, clubs and plastic bullets. Several workers were injured and many were arrested. This action was the latest, and most militant, of angry protests against the rulers by workers and youth throughout Iran.

Meanwhile, the different ayatollahs and other Islamic ruling-class forces are fighting each other over who will be top dog. Some want to "reform" the regime with some small changes, knowing they can no longer fool the masses.

Revolutionary-minded workers and youth must learn the lesson of history. Oil workers and revolutionary youth led the 1979 overthrow of the hated pro-U.S. Shah regime. The Islamic fundamentalists co-opted it, helped by fake leftists who tailed it, saying workers were "not ready" for a communist-led system. After the fundamentalists seized and consolidated their power, they turned against the workers and leftists, arresting and murdering hundreds of thousands in June 1981.

As the U.S. and British imperialists prepare for a Gulf War II to capture Iraq’s rich oil fields, the many contradictions facing the region are exploding. The militant workers and youth of the Persian Gulf must build a mass communist movement to smash the imperialist warmakers and all capitalist forces.

Fascism in the Mills

EAST CHICAGO, IN — "It’s a new day, a new industry. All this sucks but what can we really do? We can fight to make some small changes, but the old days are over." That’s how a former LTV worker with 29 years seniority described life as a new hire at International Steel Group’s Indiana Harbor Works (ISG). And he’s right.

Last December LTV Steel went out of business, wiping out thousands of jobs. Pensions and health care were cut or eliminated for over 50,000 retirees, while the top corporate jackals walked away with millions in bonuses. The union’s response was to wrap themselves in the bosses’ flag and demand steel tariffs. The union told us our best hope was that someone would take over LTV’s assets. And now it’s happened.

W. R. Ross, a corporate vulture that specializes in picking up failed or failing companies on the cheap, bought the stinking carcass of LTV Steel for peanuts and is now operating the LTV plants in Cleveland and here, where they’ve re-called about 850 former high seniority LTV workers, all as unprotected ISG new hires.

What’s it like? A worker came in ten minutes late on his second day of work — fired. Somebody missed a day after his brother’s wedding — fired. If you fail to report off — fired. Park your car in the wrong spot — fired. Millwrights at the Hot Strip finished a job, and went to the shanty for an hour — fired. A ladle cover was dropped. The bosses couldn’t figure out whom to blame, so they gave the whole crew a day off.

Conditions are vastly different from those under LTV. ISG is operating the integrated mill like a mini-mill, significantly cutting labor costs. The workforce is smaller and more "flexible," meaning workers perform many different jobs and work company-determined shifts and hours. Some are working three 12-hour shifts with four days off, followed by four 12-hour shifts and five days off. And these are not kids!

"You can’t say yes or no," said one ISG worker, who feared he’d be fired if identified. "You can’t talk back and you can’t give your opinion." "People are fed up," said another. "It’s a sweatshop. The company knows it can do whatever it wants to do and that’s so hurtful."

Some workers have become more vocal and others have talked about organizing a walkout. The union hasn’t put out one leaflet, let alone led any sort of fight-back against these new attacks. According to the Hammond Times (7/18), a Local 1011 official said the workers "are spoiled," and that any walkout would be considered an unauthorized wildcat strike. Currently, they’re negotiating a permanent contract with fewer job classifications, more company control of work rules and cuts in man-hour cost per ton of steel produced.

People are angry. Some are working and have health insurance for the first time in six months. Others who are not coming back have nothing. A millwright’s wife cannot get cancer treatments. A worker with leukemia has to skip pain medicine and treatments.

This is how profiteer Ross makes his millions. This is how the rulers and their agents who run the unions are bringing fascism to the workplace as they mobilize for war. Every steel worker in the world is feeling the blows. We can’t become cynical or demoralized by this "new fascist day." We’re in this for the long haul and will use every attack to build a mass PLP among all steel workers and the entire working class, across all borders.

Inglewood: Cops, U.S. Bosses Are Biggest Terrorists

LOS ANGELES, July 12—Chanting "No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police," hundreds of demonstrators marched here today to denounce the racist beating of Donovan Jackson-Chavis and the jailing of Mitchell Crooks, who videotaped the beating. Without Crooks’ video, the world would never have seen the racist treatment cop Jeremy Morse has dished out to Inglewood residents for years. As payback, the Sheriffs arrested Crooks on a 3-year-old warrant.

While U.S. Representative Maxine Waters called for civilian review boards and investigations, neither will stop police terror or the system requiring it. Others carried signs saying "Inglewood, LA, U.S. cops, U.S. rulers, The #1 Terrorists in the World." Liberal politicians like Waters try to calm angry workers with the promise that the system can be fixed to end racist police terror.

Some say Morse is just a "rogue cop" (suspended WITH PAY!). But a group of cops attacked Donovan. Nationwide, thousands of cops carry out daily racist terror against black and Latino youth and workers. Over 2,000,000 people are imprisoned in the U.S., 70% black and Latino, mostly for non-violent "crimes." Many are forced to work for pennies in prison slave labor. Rather than being the work of "rogue cops," this is the systematic racist terror of U.S. capitalism.

The LA County Board of Supervisors has just voted to close 11 clinics in LA County, forcing many of LA’s poorest residents into long and deadly waits in over-crowded emergency rooms. (See CHALLENGE, 7/24) The rulers use their racist cops to terrorize us into accepting these cuts while the rulers spend over $400 billion on the "War on Terror" and Homeland Security.

U.S. rulers are pretending to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. But they’re the biggest terrorists of all. Attorney-General Ashcroft, head of the "INjustice Dept.," is "investigating" the beating of Donovan. What’s to investigate? He and the bosses’ government just want to look like our "friends" so they can trick black and Latin youth into joining the army to fight, kill and die for the control of the rulers’ oil profits and pipelines.

Less than two weeks after this racist beating, cops Morse and Darvish were indicted by a grand jury. Morse is charged with "assault under color of authority" and Darvish with "filing a false police report." While it remains doubtful they’ll be convicted, Waters applauded the indictments, saying they would "change the culture of the police department."

On the same day, former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton applied to be LA Police Chief. The LA Police Commission fired Bernard Parks for not implementing community policing. This represents a very long struggle between the liberal Eastern Establishment and the old LA rulers over control of the city and it’s policing.

Bratton is an advocate of the "Fixing Broken Windows" strategy, involving a massive police presence and arrests for the most minor offenses. He graduated from the FBI’s National Executive Institute. As NY’s police chief he organized massive dragnets and arrests. His "community policing" tries to win local ministers, priests and other community leaders and groups to turn in all potential offenders. This is the liberal stoolpigeon program to counter Ashcroft’s "spy-on-your-neighbor" TIPS. The liberals fear TIPS is too crude, so the NY Times editorialized (7/22), "This [TIPS] ill-considered domestic spying program should be stopped before it starts."

The liberals pose as our "friends" but have a more advanced strategy to implement fascism. They are indeed the MAIN enemy. The PLP leaflet distributed at the demonstration said Morse and his racist buddies must be fired and jailed for the racist assault on Donovan and many other residents of Inglewood. To fight police terror, we should oppose the liberals’ plan to expand fascist community policing. The main job of cops is to protect and serve the racist rulers so in the long run to end police brutality we must fight for a society without bosses—communism.

Protest Nazi Resurgence

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 22 — Government workers overwhelmingly passed an Anti-Nazi resolution at our June union meeting. The resolution encouraged members to protest when the white supremacist National Alliance, a West Virginia-based group, rallies at the U.S. Capitol August 24. We’ll announce this at our next union meeting. Struggles are being waged to get workers to win their community groups and religious congregations to come out and oppose them.

Several workers discussed and collectively produced the union resolution and flyer. Many handed them out, urging their co-workers to attend the meeting and vote for it.

The Alliance has held four increasingly successful rallies here the past year at the German and Israeli embassies. A May rally drew 200 young racists and skinheads, outnumbering the counter-demonstrators and encouraging the fascists. On July 14, these neo-Nazis marched in Georgia attacking Latin immigrants.

These fascist terrorists can’t be ignored. Nazis and their followers use racism and anti-Semitism to win support and divide workers. Since the founding of the KKK, these agents of U.S. capitalism have mainly targeted black workers and anti-racists.

The U.S. "War on Terror" and "Homeland Security" are chilling echoes of Nazi Germany’s early days. U.S. rulers’ unending wars and plans for a fascist police state mean more budget cuts, police brutality, losses of pensions and jobs and the invasion of everyone’s privacy, including arrests. Rallies defending all immigrant students from racist harassment and deportations are good, but not nearly enough. We must challenge the fascists at every turn and build the movement to smash racism and fascism. That means joining and building a mass communist PLP.

We’ll mobilize workers and students to confront these racist terrorists at the Capitol and drive them out of town. We’ll spread the word at student groups, churches and with union resolutions, to stop these storm troopers because they’ll attack anyone opposing racism and attacks against all workers. We will reach many willing participants.

Liberals’ Anti-Pedophile Crusade Targets Pro-Europe Pope

Many U.S. Catholics are rightly enraged at pedophile priests and the higher-ups who shield them. But without a class-based outlook, that anger could become support for far more deadly "liberal" misleaders. The liberals championing church "reform" speak for the dominant wing of U.S. capital, which is slaughtering workers wholesale to ensure U.S. control of the world’s oil supplies and markets. U.S. forces in Afghanistan have already killed over 6,000 non-combatants, including the recent wedding massacre.

The liberals’ campaign against pedophile priests aims at separating the U.S. church from the Vatican, which serves the interests of European capitalists opposed to the U.S. bosses’ strategy. For example, French oil barons — like the Al Qaeda murderers — want to end the U.S.’s stranglehold on Saudi crude.

Cardinals Law and Egan, of Boston and New York, top the liberals’ hit list. Sure, they protected perverts. But, for U.S. rulers, their most grievous fault was preaching the pope’s pro-Europe, anti-U.S. line. When U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan shortly after Sept. 11, Law announced "military force...is always regrettable" and must "continue to be limited" (America magazine, 10/22/01). Egan said Catholics should "not harbor any thoughts of war, of any kind" (Catholic New York, 10/04/01). These words constitute heresy for the liberal U.S. establishment as it fine-tunes plans for invading Iraq. Targeting the church’s age-old dirty secret, liberal media like the Boston Globe and the New York Times are now running exposÚs demanding the bishops’ criminal prosecution. Boston College (BC), meanwhile, which is controlled directly by the Eastern Establishment, plays a large role in the intellectual side of the anti-Vatican movement, with help from Harvard.

On June 19, a Globe columnist proclaimed, "BC is leading the way on church reform" and continued, "For more than a decade, the Vatican has been trying to bring this country’s Catholic universities into line. Now one of those universities is starting an effort that could lead to a discussion of reform and change." The Globe didn’t say that "reform" entails backing U.S. oil wars in the short term and wider conflict later. The man who launched the anti-Vatican push at BC was Geoffrey Boisi, vice-chairman of JP Morgan Chase, Exxon Mobil’s leading stockholder. As head of BC’s board of trustees, he hand-picked William Leahy to be the school’s new president in 1996.

Leahy’s opposition to Rome matches Boisi’s loyalty to the Rockefeller banking and oil empire. As chief administrator of Marquette University, Leahy had for a decade battled the Vatican’s demands that it approve the teachings of professors in Catholic colleges. Boisi belongs to David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission. Boisi and Exxon Mobil’s CEO Lee Raymond were the two men most responsible for JP Morgan’s takeover by Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan according to the Wall Street Journal (10/19/00). Boisi had earlier helped engineer Texaco’s buyout of upstart Getty.

Boisi founded and steers the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at BC. Holding frequent forums on liberalizing the church, the Center focuses on winning the faithful to U.S. rulers’ war plans despite the Vatican. The Center’s first post-9/11 newsletter featured Fr. Bryan Hehir of Harvard Divinity School jesuitically advocating "the just war tradition...that seeks to place war inside the moral order." In stark contrast to Law and Egan, Boisi Center director Alan Wolfe praised "Bush’s decision to take military action" as "remarkable." Wolfe later gloated that the sex abuse furor was helping the cause. "The gap between ordinary American Catholics and the Vatican... will only widen as a result of the scandals (New York Times, 4/30/02).

To make the object of the liberals’ religious activism perfectly clear, Gary Hart himself will speak at the Boisi Center in September. He is co-chairman of the Clinton-appointed Hart-Rudman Commission. Long before 9/11, its reports laid out a blueprint for war and fascism. Hart-Rudman’s goal is to do whatever it takes, at whatever human cost, to maintain the U.S. as the world’s number one imperialist for the next quarter century. Hart & Co. call for "galvanizing society" by means of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, for a fascist police state, and for ever-widening military action, to the point where "the American people are ready to sacrifice blood and treasure" and wage global war. Liberal Hart cloaks profit-driven carnage in noble rhetoric. His topic at BC will be "religious freedom."

We must continue to expose the liberal "clean-up" campaign for what it really is: a sweeping fascist reorganization of society that brings ever more lethal wars.

Imperialist Rivalry Intensifies Latin America’s Poverty

The collapse of the old communist movement and triumph of "free market" capitalism has led to a new Dark Ages for the world’s workers. In Latin America, the imperialists and local bosses have impoverished hundreds of millions. Their thirst for profits has led to a capitalist crisis of overproduction.

Today the unemployment rate exceeds 50% in some countries, creating poverty and unheard of death rates from malnutrition and disease. Argentina, formerly having the highest standard of living in Latin America, now has 30% jobless and a gross domestic product dropping 15% by next year. Similar fates are befalling Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Ecuador, Mexico and Central America. Workers have staged mass demonstrations from Buenos Aires to Venezuela to Arequipa, Peru.

In the early ’90s, U.S. imperialists initiated the "new model" of globalization for its "emerging economies." Globalization, a euphemism for imperialist control of markets, labor and natural resources, includes strategies to stop rivals from joining the pillaging.

The crisis in Latin America is one more symptom of the sharpening worldwide crisis of overproduction leading to global depression. Brazil is the biggest economy with the largest debt on the continent. When Brazilian auto production was cut from 1.7 million to 1.3 million, it lowered imports from Argentina by 25%. Latin American markets are saturated and workers are suffering huge layoffs, cuts in public services and repression.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil says, "No more rescues, either for Argentina, Brazil or anyone else." However, the New York Times, speaking for the dominant wing of the US ruling class, editorialized support for IMF help to prop up Argentina’s economy and prevent the spread of economic and political turmoil throughout Latin America, which could open the doors to their European rivals. U.S. imperialism is not about to let GM, Citicorp, Caterpillar, Alcoa (O’Neil’s outfit) and gas and oil companies lose their investments without a fight, including using their military. Already, the U.S. has thousands of "advisers" and troops in the region.

Latin American rulers — with the support of the European imperialists — formed the Movement of National Salvation. On June 15, 1,000 of these bosses’ agents met in Argentina. Latin America’s workers must avoid the trap of these nationalist charlatans and not exchange one exploiter for another.

(A future article will discuss the role of anti-U.S. forces, including fake leftists, which are trying to turn workers and their allies away from building a mass revolutionary Party to fight for the only real solution: a communist society where production is according to need.)

People Nix Russia’s Free-Market Capitalism

To mark the 10th anniversary of all-out capitalism in Russia, the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Integrated Social Research summarized the results of sociological surveys conducted over that span. The results don’t say much for the profit system. Of those polled:

• Two-thirds see Russian-style democracy as mere window-dressing designed to conceal the authoritarian state beneath. ("Democratic processes are nothing but a sham. The country is in fact run by the rich and powerful.");

• The majority rated the results of "reform" as unsatisfactory;

• Eight-eight percent favor government ownership of the energy sector, 72% for machine-building plants and foundries, and 63% for housing;

• Over the 10-year period, support for private enterprise dropped 16%;

• Only 8% back the liberal economic model, having fallen from 12.5%.

The report says "social status, not age…[is] the leading factor in determining people’s attitudes." The "responses of 18-year-olds and 55-year-olds [were] nearly identical." Despite the din of media propaganda extolling free market capitalism, it seems experience has been the best teacher for the Russian people.