CHALLENGE, September 11, 2002

(This is a 3-weeks issue of Challenge)

A Year After September 11: U.S. Rulers At War Over Iraq War Plans

Big Bosses Need A Long Bloody War To Remain Top Dog

Federal Mediator Won’t Be Neutral at Boeing Talks

‘Meet My Wife: A Terrorist Supporter’

Patriotism Helps Strikebreaking

‘Jobless Recovery’: Workers Always Lose in Capitalism’s Periodic Crises

Liberal Pols, Union Hacks Undermine Dockworkers’ Struggle

Open Letter In Solidarity With Dockworkers From Active, Laid-Off And Retired Boeing Workers

Blame Capitalism for Murder of Ciudad Juárez Women

Mob Violence Mirrors Racist Cops

Lesser Evil Chirac Building Police State

U.S. Victory In Afghanistan Unravelling


Win Soldiers To Fight Sexism

Church Groups Protest Nuclear Weapons, Iraq War

UMWA Did Nothing To Help Trapped Miners

A Year After September 11

U.S. Rulers At War Over Iraq War Plans

A funny thing happened on the way to Baghdad. The main wing of the U.S. ruling class (led by the Rockefeller’s Exxon-Mobil oil gang) and the Pentagon have opened a very public assault on Bush’s plan for invading Iraq. In July, Pentagon sources leaked two scenarios under consideration. One involves attacking Iraq from the west, north, and south with 250,000 U.S. ground troops and then fighting on to Baghdad. In the other, a smaller U.S. airborne force assaults the capital first and radiates outwards. As the criticisms mount, the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld plan to "go it alone" in Iraq may have them going it alone in Washington.

We should not be misled by this major tactical difference between Bush and the liberals. An invasion may be delayed, but it is far from scrapped. Both sides are committed to US world dominance and control of oil, regardless of the price in workers’ blood.

One of the main points of conflict appears to be that Bush & Co. have not "made the case" to win workers and soldiers to accept massive casualties in Iraq or in other oil wars that will follow. Liberal strategists see the Vietnam Syndrome as the biggest hurdle Bush has yet to overcome. A chorus of voices from the liberal Rockefeller-Exxon Mobil wing of the Republican Party is warning Bush that a half-baked invasion could cause U.S. imperialism more problems than it would solve.

Not surprisingly, two of the loudest voices are those of Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, two former generals who earned their stripes being defeated in Vietnam. Schwarzkopf, the butcher of Desert Storm in 1991, is preaching that the main lesson of Vietnam is never to go to war without the full support of the population. During Vietnam, workers, soldiers and youth were not politically committed to kill and die for U.S. imperialism and rebelled. The specter of Vietnam still haunts the rulers. "If the action involved ground troops and resulted in significant American casualties, a majority of 51 percent would oppose the action." (Washington Post, 8/18)

Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Naval War College, Veterans Administration psychiatrist Jonathan Shay has written a new book called Odysseus in America. Shay compares the ancient Greek hero’s adventures to the travails of a traumatized modern veteran returning home. The book’s main point is that trauma and rebellion among soldiers can be avoided by improving leadership, training and camaraderie. Make the troops more loyal and they become more lethal.

Big Bosses Need A Long Bloody War To Remain Top Dog

Exxon Mobil doesn’t want a hit-and-run operation. Maintaining a stranglehold on the world’s oil supplies and shipping routes is crucial to the rulers’ strategy of preventing the emergence of a rival superpower. The main wing of the U.S. ruling class—and their politicians inside both the Republican and Democratic Parties—see that achieving this goal will take a protracted, long-term effort. Rockefeller stooge Henry Kissinger said, "Military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed." (New York Times, 8/16)

The Pentagon is gearing up for a much longer conflict than anything Bush has tried to sell the public. The Navy just awarded the Maersk shipping line a five-year contract to operate vessels that will ferry tanks and ammunition from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf. (Defense Department press release, 8/5) The Air Force has built a huge permanent base in Qatar, within striking range of Iraq.

Brent Scowcroft, Bush Sr.’s national security advisor warned Bush Jr., "[D]estroy[ing] Saddam’s regime...would not be a cakewalk. On the

contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive...and could as well be bloody…Finally, if we are to achieve our strategic objectives in Iraq, a military campaign very likely would have to be followed by a large-scale, long-term military occupation." (Wall Street Journal, 8/15)

These critics and others represent the sector of U.S. capital that has the most to lose from a misfire in Iraq. Kissinger and Scowcroft work for Kissinger Associates, a "strategic consulting group" that counts Exxon Mobil as its top client. When Scowcroft calls "global terrorism" the main threat to U.S. interests, he means that Al Qaeda and "terrorists" in Indonesia and the Philippines could threaten Exxon Mobil and shut off vital sea-lanes to their tankers.

Don’t look for anti-war sentiment among liberal ruling-class spokesmen who urge caution in Iraq. Despite their words, they will sacrifice human lives by the millions for the sake of profit. Capitalism makes murderous oil wars inevitable. Begging for peace won’t stop these imperialist butchers. Only communist revolution can smash imperialist war. This is worth fighting and dying for. Building the PLP, now and in the long, hard years ahead, will eventually lead our class to overthrow the war makers.

U.S. Bosses’ Road to Baghdad Full of Potholes

While Exxon and BP want to recoup the oil fields they lost to Iraqi nationalization in the late 1950s, the road to Baghdad is proving to be a difficult one for the U.S/British imperialists. A force of local Iraqi-Kurd mercenaries to oust Saddam Hussein and form a pro-U.S. government is not so easy to assemble. In early August, the motley crew slated to form a "Northern Alliance"-Afghan-type invasion force was invited to Washington. The leading section was the London-based Iraqi National Congress (INC), headed by Ahmad Chalabi, whose main claim to fame has been to grab and mis-use the millions they received from the U.S. government.

"Not far away in London, Saad Jabr, leader of one of the oldest opposition groups, the Free Iraq Council, says the INC ‘was created by the Americans…to dismantle the opposition.’ A London representative of the powerful Kurdistan Democratic Party thinks Mr. Chalabi has ‘never been a team player. He has alienated many people with his words and wild ideas.’ The tensions among Iraq’s opposition groups amount to a significant impediment as the Bush administration speaks more publicly about ousting Mr. Hussein." (Wall Street Journal, 8/13).

One key player missing from the Washington trip was Kurdish Democratic Party chief Massoud Barzani, the most powerful Kurdish warlord, whose father led the largest Kurdish rebellion of the last century. His absence "was a blow to the Bush administration officials who had orchestrated the meeting in part to demonstrate that Iraqi opposition forces were unified behind a new campaign to oust Saddam Hussein." (NY Times, 8/15)

Even offering Barzani a private plane and a personal visit with Bush failed to get him to Washington. Barzani is crucial because he leads tens of thousands of experienced Kurdish fighters.But Barzani has his own plans — forming a Kurdish mini-state controlling key oil resources around Kirkuk in northern Iraq. The Turkish government, a vital U.S. ally, fears this might incite its own Kurdish population to rebel. "Turkish officials have warned that they are prepared to go to war to prevent the Iraqi Kurds from declaring a kind of mini Kurdish state within Iraq." (Times).

In 1993, Barzani’s group started fighting the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) over the lucrative oil smuggling revenues. The PUK is led by Barzani’s rival Jalal Talabani (who came to the Washington meeting). At that time Barzani called for Saddam Hussein to help crush the PUK. The Iraqi army seized the opportunity to wipe out the INC from its CIA-established headquarters in the town of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

When U.S. bosses decide to invade Iraq, all hell might break loose. There are some 60 smaller anti-Saddam Hussein groups as well as hundreds of individuals operating independently, including a notable senior military defector from Iraq, Nizar al-Khazraji, who played a role in using poison gas against Iranian soldiers in 1988. Reagan and Bush, Sr. provided aid and logistical help to Iraq, and "wasn’t so horrified by Iraq’s use of gas," according to US military officers. (New York Times, 8/18) So even if U.S. troops seize the oil fields and eliminate Hussein, the resulting conflicts might make Afghanistan look like a tea party (see page 6).

(A future article will examine what the working class of Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the world can do against this war-war-war-and-more-war hell created by the world’s imperialists.)

Big Bosses Need A Long Bloody War To Remain Top Dog

It’s been one year since the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. In this time, the U.S. launched war in Afghanistan, war in the Middle-East has escalated, and millions of workers have lost their jobs in the U.S. and around the world. Capitalism around the world is failing and killing workers for the interest of profits. Now more than ever, the working class needs a revolution to get rid of this system of exploitation.

Don’t Trust the Same Government that Threatens to Bust Dockworkers’ Strike

Federal Mediator Won’t Be Neutral at Boeing Talks

SEATTLE-TACOMA, WA, August 15 — The Machinists’ union asked a federal mediator to intervene in contract talks today. The negotiators cited the wide gap in pension proposals and "job security" language. Just days before, the longshoreman held a rally at Pier 66 demanding the federal government get out of their negotiations. Is the role of the federal government sometimes positive and sometimes negative? Is it neutral, "above and beyond" the class struggle?

The government is, and always will be, the agent of class rule. Under capitalism, the government always serves the bosses. It is the power behind the bosses’ dictatorship.

The bosses and their agents in the labor movement spread the illusion that the government and its mediators can be honest brokers, even neutral. But dockworkers are seeing the real truth, that the government is an instrument of bosses’ terror.

A Fox In The Hen House

Why then would the union negotiators invite our enemy into the contract talks? The sad fact is that they believe the interests of the workers and bosses are reconcilable.

"The way we see it, there is nothing wrong with telling a corporation, ‘If your revenues are up, if your orders are up, you hire more workers, you don’t ship work overseas,’" chief negotiator Dick Schneider, told the New York Times. "But we understand that if your revenues are down then you lay people off." (Our emphasis, Ed.)

But the "State" — and all the organs of governmental oppression like the army, police, courts and laws — arose precisely because the interests of workers and bosses are irreconcilable. The bosses get out of their periodic crises of overproduction by attacking us. Their need to maximize profits is in direct contradiction with our need for a decent life. How much longer will we allow them to exploit our labor and then discard us like so much extra baggage when their profits are threatened?

‘Meet My Wife: A Terrorist Supporter’

At the Longshoremen’s demonstration, an older speaker observed, "Bush calls us terrorists. I’d like to introduce you to my wife, Edith. She’s a terrorist supporter….And my kids: more terrorist supporters!" The crowd roared with laughter. Everyone there knew that the real war was the war on workers.

Who is prosecuting this war? Who had secret meetings with Homeland Security to plan the mobilization of Army and National Guard troops to take over the docks? The same Federal Government, that’s who!

Even faced with these stark facts, the union leaders still push their faith in capitalism. "If we just spend more time and money electing ‘friends of labor,’ we can sway the government in our direction."

But the capitalists’ government has never been peacefully taken over by the working class! We can’t elect a workers’ state to serve our interests. We can’t turn the bosses’ state into an instrument of workers’ rule. We must smash it!

Mediators won’t get us jobs, let alone answer the bosses’ "Homeland-Security" attacks on our class. To get the job done, we must build a mass revolutionary communist movement to smash the bosses’ dictatorship and replace it with the dictatorship of the working class to serve our needs. Joining the Progressive Labor Party and circulating Challenge, are good first steps.

1919 Seattle Longshoremen Aided Bolshevik Revolution

(Seattle author Anna Louise Strong remembers a proud chapter in our labor history in her book, "I Change Worlds." The year was 1919. Longshoremen had discovered arms secretly being shipped to Russia to supply the 17 capitalist armies that had invaded the Soviet Union to destroy the new Bolshevik working-class revolution.) The following is an excerpt from Strong’s book:

"Seattle longshoremen led the strike against supplying arms to [the counter-revolutionary] Kolchak [forces], and it spread up and down the coast. They had just won by their wartime strength their first collective agreement with the shipping companies.…Hardly was the ink dry on the agreement when the workers discovered that arms were in the sealed cases [labeled ‘sewing machines’] that were being shipped to Kolchak. They knew what they risked when they voted to strike, thus breaking the collective agreement, which they were never again able to renew. But they knew also that British workers struck against sending arms to the intervention in Russia; that French soldiers mutinied; that workers struck in solidarity all around the world. Thus they did their part against Kolchak, their share in the world revolution."

(When 40 scabs were sent to load the arms, 400 longshoremen "met" them. Few of the scabs escaped unscathed. — PL Magazine, July 1973)

Patriotism Helps Strikebreaking

I went to the recent International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) rally in Seattle. There were 500 to 1,000 workers there, about half longshoremen. The rest were organized by various other unions and mass organizations.

I was impressed with the apparent militance and class-consciousness presented by the union. On the surface this seemed to be a very good rally. But soon the essence became clearer. One thing that stood out was all the war talk. Workers carried signs saying, "No War on Workers." The speakers seemed to understand that this Bush administration attack — threatening to use federal troops to break any strike — is part of a war effort and a disciplining of the working class, but they felt the workers’ interests and "U.S. interests" were essentially the same. But "U.S. interests" are those of the ruling class, not the workers.

There was talk of fighting long and hard to protect the workers’ interests, of striking and taking to the streets. There were calls to unite dockworkers with other area workers. However, the union’s main demand is to preserve current jobs and pensions while sacrificing future jobs.(See CHALLENGE, AUG.21) This betrays a self-serving position and is not true class-consciousness. Bush was painted as the enemy along with the company. One speaker even called the CEO’s of WorldCom and Enron "the real terrorists." There is tremendous potential in these labor struggles for our Party to point to capitalism as the real enemy, one which will continue producing wars and sharpening attacks on the working class.

When Bush talks about sending federal troops to break a strike, it’s clear that workers are the enemy in the "war on terrorism," but then the union gets defensive and announces they’re "the real patriots." However, capitalism requires war and squeezing the most labor for the lowest cost from the entire working class in an unending drive to maximize profits. In wartime, which seems to be all the time nowadays, this drive intensifies When Bush said "You’re either with us or against us," he was talking to workers and he meant regardless of the costs involved.

Without revolutionary leadership the workers will lose in the long run, in any struggle. But the contradictions of capitalism become increasingly evident, as the need for greater profits impels more blatant attacks on workers requiring intensified fascism. By organizing resistance to these attacks, the Party can win by recruiting workers in the course of this struggle.

We must become more involved in the mass organizations and should attend such rallies with our co-workers. This enhances our opportunity to develop workers’ knowledge of these basic questions.

We’re planning to connect this struggle to the one at Boeing and to other work in the area.

Seattle Red

‘Jobless Recovery’: Workers Always Lose in Capitalism’s Periodic Crises

U.S. capitalism’s latest "jobless recovery" is fast degenerating into a "double dip recession," a second decline before emerging from the first one. "The beginnings of a normal recovery…seemed to grind to a halt in July." (New York Times, 8/12)

For the working class, this means more mass layoffs, speed-up and wage-cuts, enabling U.S. corporations to maintain and/or increase profits.

The bosses boast they’re increasing productivity (how much a worker produces in an hour), which is "good for the economy." Good" for whom? The Times explains that employers have become "skilled" at responding to fall-offs in demand by rapidly laying off workers and cutting overtime for those remaining so that, "Employees still on the job worked faster." The current "increased productivity" is based on speed-up, pure and simple.

Northwestern Univ. economist Robert Gordon says, "It is easy in the United States to get sharp and sudden declines in hours by laying off workers and eliminating overtime, and this contributes to healthy productivity growth in hard times." "Healthy for whom? Maybe economists keep collecting their paychecks from Wall Street investment houses and universities, but certainly not for the millions laid off nor for those remaining who are sped up unmercifully.

All this means, "Profit no longer shrinks…now that companies are quicker to cut labor costs by shedding workers and hours." (Times, 8/10) This reduces workers’ income, affecting consumer spending. Its decline leads to "another round of cost-cutting" and "widespread redundancies [layoffs]." (London Financial Times, 8/2) "Stagnant Wages Pose Added Risks to Weak Economy," headlines the Aug. 11 Times — which economists say has become the driving force for maintaining the economy.

One current drain on workers’ income is the rising cost of health insurance: "Profits are squeezed so employers have to shift more of the cost [of health insurance] to employees, and it is harder and harder to get a job, so companies don’t have to worry about employees going somewhere else." (Times, 8/11) This is an economic "recovery"?

All this confirms Karl Marx’s analysis about capitalism’s "Reserve Army of the Unemployed." The bosses’ system creates the army of unemployed that enables them to cut wages and speed up workers who fear joining that "army," enabling the bosses to slowly start increasing profits once again. Meanwhile, the working class suffers untold miseries, losing savings and homes, gong into debt and falling prey to illness and earlier deaths as well as increasing mental anguish.

"Officially" eight million are unemployed, but the real total is at least twice that. The 8,000,000 doesn’t include those who’ve given up looking for non-existent jobs, the two million in prison and those driven onto welfare or to join the military because they can’t find jobs. Black and Latin workers suffer doubly in all categories because of capitalism’s racist discrimination in hiring and firing.

Finally, "the possibility of further corporate scandals or an oil disruption in the Middle East heightens the uncertainty." (Times, 8/12) "Disruption" is a polite word for imperialist war. A U.S. invasion of Iraq could shut off supplies from Iraq and other Gulf oil producers and send the price of oil and gasoline sky-high, not to mention killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi workers and U.S. youths.

Capitalism’s constant drive for maximum profits insuring a planless economy always leads to overproduction, mass unemployment, speed-up and war to "solve" these crises. How to permanently break this cycle? Destroy the profit system and replace it with communism which produces for workers’ needs, eliminating bosses and profits.

Liberal Pols, Union Hacks Undermine Dockworkers’ Struggle

Long Beach, CA August 12— The ILWU sponsored rallies up and down the west coast to kick off a new round of negotiations and protest the Bush Administration’s threat to use troops as strike breakers in the event of a strike.

The union leaders have already agreed to cut 30% of the clerk’s jobs. The remaining issues deal with the threat of calling out troops against the strike as well as cuts in health care and the union’s demand that new jobs created by new technology be under union jurisdiction. A PLP leaflet attacking the use of troops against the workers, layoffs and capitalism and calling for communist revolution was distributed at one rally. Resolutions are being circulated to support the dockworkers’ fight against the threat of troops, against job cuts, and cuts in health benefits.

The 10,500 workers (it used to be many thousands more) that move over $700 billion worth of commodities or 7% of the GDP (more than twice the $300 billion we mistakenly reported last issue), have the potential power to stop the bosses’ economy. That power is being undermined and misdirected by the union leaders into relying on liberal politicians loyal to the interests of the capitalists, who use their state to attack the workers!

At the Long Beach rally, Dominic Maretti, a Los Angeles Harbor liaison for the union said port workers would never endanger national security. "During a strike, we move all military goods, troops and passengers." (LA Times. 8/13) But in the past, in 1919, communist-led dockworkers refused to load weapons being used to invade the infant Soviet Union. In Seattle, they threw the rifles into the Pacific Ocean.

About 2000 workers marched in Long Beach, some carrying signs reading, "Fight Terrorism, Not American Workers." The war on terrorism IS a war on workers, both in the Middle East and right here at home!

At the Bay Area rally, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown attacked Bush’s threat to call in troops. Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle attacked Bush at the rally in Portland. None of these capitalist politicians attacked using automation to cut the jobs of union members. The LA City Council which never misses a chance to attack workers, voted to ask the Bush administration to "remain outside" the negotiations. (LA Times, 8/13)

There is a dispute within the ruling class over the best way to attack workers. Bush is playing hardball with the unions. The liberal politicians favor using the union leaders to try to win the workers to accept layoffs and other attacks while building patriotism and support for the bosses’ wars for oil.

Both sides are enemies of all workers. Just like Bush, the liberal Democrats won’t hesitate to use troops to bust any workers’ struggle that hurts the "national interest". Our fight, in the unions and elsewhere, is to unite the whole working class to fight for workers’ power, to smash the bosses’ state, represented by both Bush and Willy Brown!

Open Letter In Solidarity With Dockworkers From Active, Laid-Off And Retired Boeing Workers

We, the undersigned, want to express support for our Brother and Sister West Coast dockworkers in the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU). We categorically condemn Federal Government’s plans to sabotage their negotiations. Secret meetings of the Homeland Security Department and others to plan the mobilization of federal troops to take over the docks will only serve to strengthen the resolve of all workers to fight back against this bosses’ offensive. Let the bosses and their servant politicians remember that Seattle was the scene of the first General Strike in U.S. history!

We, Boeing workers, are well aware of the need to fight for jobs, not only for ourselves, but also for our children and our class. Our labor has built the jets Boeing has sold and moved the goods through the docks. We made billion$ for the bosses. We categorically reject the assumption that we can be discarded, like so much extra baggage, on the altar of increased efficiency, automation and super-profits. Not one job lost! Indeed, we demand more jobs for future generations of workers.

The bosses whine that global competition forces them to eliminate our jobs. We reject any system that diverts the fruits of human progress solely into the coffers of huge corporations while throwing the very workers that build those enterprises on the streets. Who needs a system that eliminates jobs and pensions!

Blame Capitalism for Murder of Ciudad Juárez Women

Executions in Texas are nothing unusual. There are 453 inmates on the state’s death row. But the August 14 execution of Javier Suarez, a Mexican man accused of killing a Dallas cop in 1988, caused an international uproar, Mexico’s President Fox even canceling a visit to Bush’s Texas ranch. Mr. Suarez was not informed he could contact the Mexican consulate for help after his arrest, violating the 1963 Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, signed by the U.S.

But while the Mexican government turned the execution into an international incident — and although the death penalty doesn’t exist in Mexico — executions do occur there. The same day Suarez was executed, a vigil was held outside the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. by the group "Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa"(May Our Daughters Return Home). They represent more than 450 young women who have disappeared and another 284 found dead since 1993 in and around Ciudad Juarez across the border from Texas. Only 30 of the murders have been solved. The group hopes to draw international attention to the deaths, and to what they call the "incompetence and negligence" of Mexican authorities.

"Our authorities have paid no attention to us, "said Ramona Morales, whose daughter was slain in 1995. "It is important that people outside of Mexico pay attention." (, 8/15).

Most of the victims were young women, slim and with long dark hair. Many worked at one of Ciudad Juarez’s more than 340 maquiladoras (sweatshops which manufacture for export). In Juarez alone, 220,000 are employed in these sweatshops, 2/3 of them women. Some were raped and mutilated, others burned. "They work late at night and walk alone, and that makes them targets," said Coco Fusco, a Columbia University art professor who has studied life on the border and took part in the vigil. The crimes occur mostly in the dangerous areas outside the factories. "We want safe roads [and] lighting," said Fusco. "The companies don’t pay taxes and…make a lot of money from these women. They should contribute something."

According to some of the victims’ relatives, the Mexican authorities have ignored them and refused any thorough investigation. It’s rumored that some of the murderers might be cops or supervisors at some of the maquiladoras. In an interview conducted by filmmaker Lourdes Portillo in her documentary about the killings, "One woman, María Talamantez, points at police officers, saying that when she went to report the beating of her husband…, a group of officers at the station raped her and showed her graphic pictures of some of the murdered women as they were killed." (New York Times, 8/19)

While the relatives’ call for justice for these victims must be supported, understanding why this slaughter occurs and continues is vital to ending them. These crimes and the government and maquiladora corporations’ inaction stems from the anti-women and anti-working class nature of capitalism and its rulers. The maquiladoras super-exploit these women, treating them like simple commodities on and off the job, and then discards them, replacing them with other young women to be super-exploited. This also creates those perverts who feed on sexual depravity.

Capitalism thrives on this. Communism will organize production to satisfy workers’ needs, and advance a collective spirit of concern for others.

Mob Violence Mirrors Racist Cops

CHICAGO, IL— "Yeah, revolution! That’s exactly what we need!" That was the response of many at the annual Bud Billiken parade on Chicago’s South Side as over 1,000 leaflets and many CHALLENGES were distributed near the site where a few days earlier, two black workers were beaten to death by an angry mob. On July 30, 62-year-old Jack Moore and 49-year-old Anthony Stuckey were killed when the van they were driving jumped the curb and ran into three young women. Shani Lawrence, 26 years old, later died of her injuries. Both the victims and the mob were black.

The beating deaths were inexcusable. But the epidemic of violence in our communities is a reflection of the racism of the capitalist system we live in. And the most violent are the bosses who run it.

The entire North Kenwood-Oakland neighborhood was blanketed with cops, accompanied by a racist media frenzy. Black Police Superintendent Terry Hilliard and racist Mayor Daley ordered arrests quickly. Seven black men, ranging in age from 16 to 43, were arrested and are being held without bond. Charges range from felony murder to felony mob action. Two are relatives of Shani Lawrence.

Al Sharpton, Rev. Meeks (Jesse Jackson’s #2 man at PUSH) and local ministers all converged on the neighborhood preaching, "Stop the Violence" and cooperate with the police. This neighborhood has seen many changes recently, mainly through gentrification. As in many other parts of the city, many poor black and Latin workers are being pushed out as affordable housing disappears. Developers can’t build townhouses and condos fast enough for black and white yuppies to move back into the city.

While the mob beating generated headlines for days, the racist mob violence of the police is just business as usual. Not two miles away from the deadly beatings, four young black workers, two of them PLP members, were beaten and arrested on August 6, while moving three bags of groceries, 1 air mattress and 2 suitcases into their mother’s apartment at the Lawless Garden Apts. The Bronzeville community is also being "gentrified."

The SDI security guard became verbally abusive and words were exchanged. Off-duty Chicago cop Murphy pulled his gun and said, "I can solve all this right now." When the young comrades stepped off of the elevator, they were attacked by more than a dozen cops and arrested. They were charged with resisting arrest and assault. By the time they were taken to jail, there were eleven squad cars and over thirty cops terrorizing the scores of witnesses that had come out of their apartments.

SDI Security has a list of more than 100 names of family members of residents who are not allowed on the grounds. There is daily harassment, especially of the youth. Security guards beat one youth with a pipe. When the family retaliated, they were given a 10-day notice to move.

We plan to distribute CHALLENGE in the building and on the block to meet other victims of racist attacks. We will organize tenants to go to the next building meeting. And we will take people, CHALLENGES and leaflets to a big rally planned by the ministers around the mob killings.

Lesser Evil Chirac Building Police State

A few months ago, millions in France took to the streets to "stop fascism." Jean Marie Le Pen’s fascist National Front was second in the first round of the Presidential elections. Chirac, the candidate of the official right-wing was first and Socialist Party candidate Leonel Jospin, a distant third. "Defeating Le Pen" became the battle cry of millions, mobilized by all the anti-Le Pen forces, included the phony "left," ranging from the "Communist" Party to various Trotskyite groups. Rightist Chirac was the "lesser of two evils" according to them.

Now Chirac is imposing what many see as a police state. His Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is putting into practice what the 19th century writer Victor Hugo (creator of Les Miserables) called "La police partout, la justice nulle part"("cops all over, justice nowhere"). Under the guise of "fighting crime," the new government has increased the police budget by $5.6 billion to hire 18,000 new cops and gendarmes in five years (4,500 more than previously planned). Meanwhile, the Justice system will get $3.65 billion more for new jails, including for 13-year-olds. Parents of children who don’t go to school will lose public assistance (affecting mainly working-class parents in the poorest neighborhoods, many from North Africa).

Nicolas Sarkozy, the new Interior Minister, will have increased powers over the cops and gendarmes, making him one of the most powerful forces in the new government. He can demand more money if he thinks it’s needed. He’s also ordering cameras to watch over "sensitive areas."

Meanwhile, the government has cut other public spending. Raffarin has refused to increase the minimum wage (although government ministers’ salaries were increased 70%). In the last year, unemployment rose from 8.1% to 9% and is still rising. So "fighting crime" looks increasingly like attacking workers and youth who might offer resistance.

There are no "lesser evil" capitalists or politicians. They’re ready to remove their "democratic" masks and become fascist monsters when their system requires it.

U.S. Victory In Afghanistan Unravelling

While U.S. rulers debate when and how to wage war on Iraq to seize its vast oil fields (second to Saudi Arabia’s), the invasion of Afghanistan is not proceeding according to plan for the U.S. military. "The upsurge in attacks on American and local forces…over the past few weeks suggests that the present U.S. strategy there — an unsatisfactory mixture of non-intervention in and manipulations of Afghan internal affairs — is crumbling," writes NY Post columnist Jonathan Foreman (8/12).

Robert Fisk, writing for the London Independent (8/14), says the backlash against U.S. forces has begun: "The Americans are being attacked almost every night. There have been three shootings in Kandahar, with an American officer wounded in the neck near the airport two weeks ago. American troops can no longer dine out in Kandahar cafés. Today, U.S. forces are under attack in Khost province.…Now guerrilla attacks are increasingly targeting Afghan forces loyal to the government or loyal to local drug dealers who are friendly with the Americans."

Even a close U.S. ally, Canada, decided to pull out many of its troops, especially after several Canadian soldiers were killed by "friendly fire" from U.S. pilots. (Many are drugged on speed — see Challenge, 8/21).

The U.S. military operation has apparently gone sour after what seemed to be an easy victory over the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. But actually most of those forces escaped. The U.S., following its Vietnam Syndrome fear of any real ground fighting, relied on the hated Northern Alliance and other warlord mercenaries to do the fighting. Some of those mercenaries had defected from the Taliban/AQ after getting big CIA payoffs. They then took payoffs from the Taliban to let the "enemy" slip away. But the mass murder of civilians by the air bombardments has really turned the Afghan population against U.S. forces, including the massacre of 55 people at a wedding in July, when U.S. aircraft machine-gunned them "by mistake."

The U.S. has few choices left in Afghanistan. Foreman says it can: (1) occupy the whole country, putting more U.S. troops at risk; (2) install a warlord with some real base into power (unlike the present Karzai government — Karzai was an agent of the Unocal oil company before the U.S. made him president); or (3) leave Afghanistan altogether.

That last choice would be a big defeat for the U.S., leaving the country to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But occupying Afghanistan would tie down tens of thousands or more U.S. troops needed to invade Iraq.

Whatever the choices, the U.S. imperialists are finding their military "victories" more illusory by the day. Every "solution" leads to new problems for these butchers, a contradiction inevitable under capitalism and imperialism.


Win Soldiers To Fight Sexism

I could not agree more with a recent letter in Challenge entitled "Sexism, Imperialist War led to Ft. Bragg Murders!" Capitalism breeds sexism, especially in the Army. The Armed Forces tries very hard to control the minds of soldiers. There is no doubt that drugs are used to prolong the strength and vitality of soldiers during strenuous missions. Imperialist war works to destroy the minds of soldiers who are given high doses of caffeine to keep them awake, and injected with drugs that affect their state of mind.

Sexism and nationalism are control methods used by the capitalists to suppress and divide the working class. Unfortunately this duo of death exists more in the Armed Forces. However, sexism and nationalism can be immediately fought against. I had a friend in the barracks that would always try to entertain me with racist and sexist jokes. Since we were roommates he would go online using his computer to surf the web for jokes. I confronted him, telling him that he would have to stop saying such trash around me. His behavior around women and treatment of his girlfriends was also sexist and disgusting. I confronted him about that too. We became good friends and within time I showed him Challenge and he eventually went to May Day. My friend stopped saying racist jokes and began to treat women with more respect. He is now married with a daughter.

As long as capitalism exists, imperialist wars will murder millions for profit. The bosses will also try to infest the Armed Forces and the whole working class with racism, sexism and nationalism. We on the other hand, must wage war against them and their capitalist ideas. We must fight to prevent the destruction of soldiers’ minds. We can look back at history to see that the Bolsheviks saw imperialist war as an opportunity to win soldiers to the side of workers’ revolution—and they eventually won. When they wage their imperialist wars, we must take advantage of the situation to fight to destroy their ideas and their system and not allow it to destroy us.

GI Joe

Church Groups Protest Nuclear Weapons, Iraq War

Fifty people, organized by a committee representing half a dozen churches commemorated Hiroshima Day with a peace march in the shopping district of our small city. Many carried posters opposing an Iraq oil war as well as the US nuclear weapons policy. A wide range of views were displayed, from religious pacifism to scientific socialism, and there was a strong sense of unity and common purpose.

The marchers were part of a larger event, involving ninety people that included poems, speeches, and letter writing to members of Congress. "Thank you so much for doing this," the organizers were told repeatedly. Even the more cynical amongst us could see the huge potential resistance to the bosses’ "war against terrorism" propaganda and intimidation.

The disagreements that emerged during the day were similar to those you would encounter anywhere. One speaker said that the U.S. rulers agreed in principle that a war with Iraq was necessary, although they disagreed on timing and tactics. He suggested that such a war was practically inevitable because control of Persian Gulf oil is crucial to U.S. imperialist strategic interests.

The next speaker countered saying that a mass popular protest movement might be enough to stop the drive toward war. But that same person pointed out that Clinton was as bad as Bush when it came to nuclear weapons. Some in the audience argued that the way to work for peace was to elect Democrats and to bombard elected officials with letters. Others were reluctant to write letters, because of the response (or lack of response) that they had gotten from politicians in the past.

Even though the peace issues were linked with racism and with the economic attacks on workers, none of the speakers identified capitalism as the root of war and injustice. Revolutionary politics seemed fairly remote from the order of the day.

Some of my friends agreed with me about the need to fight capitalism. "This is a really hard time to be trying to organize," said one. That’s true. It’s why we need to struggle collectively to figure out how to do it. But the flip side illustrated in this peace event, is that it’s a time when our efforts, however limited, can really make a difference.

A Comrade

UMWA Did Nothing To Help Trapped Miners

I was reading every article I could find about the nine trapped miners in Pennsylvania. There was one glaring absence, the UMWA. I did not see their name mentioned once in any article. I called them to ask why. They said because it was a non-union mine. It seems to me that would have been a great organizing tool (that is, if you actually wanted to take on the bosses). Maybe mention how the profit system does not see the need to keep accurate maps of the mines that would have shown how close they were to a flooded shaft.

I did hear one miner comment that he was still waiting for a phone call from the company to say how glad they were to see them alive. Maybe we will have to wait just as long for the Disney movie to reveal the hazards of the profit system.

A seasoned comrade

[Editor’s note: Thanks for your letter. An article in our last issue (8/21) headlined "Profit Drive Trapped Quecreek Miners" also exposed the UMWA’s collaboration with the mine owners in taking a payoff for agreeing to allow such non-union mines.]