Imperialism = War, War and More War
Exxon Uses Indonesian Butchers to Pump Gas
With PLP Leadership, Hundreds of Workers and Youth Repel Nazi Vermin
Nazi Hale Preaches Racist Terror
Defending Boston Police Chief Wont Stop Racist Killer Cops
Union Partnership With Bosses Sinks Boeing Workers
Union Hacks Dicker Over Dues While Bosses, Govt Attack Dockers
Standing Shoulder to Shoulder Against Bosses War on Workers
Overproduction Shows Capitalism Must Be Destroyed
War on Terror Impoverishes Millions
Calif. Student Marchers Oppose Imperialist War
Warping Childrens Brains With Psychiatric Drugs
Secret Court Legalizes Fascism
My Family Saw the Building of the First Workers State
PLP, Workers Jolt Nazis
Signs Fire Up Candlelight Vigil
Organizing With CHALLENGE
Film Exposes U.S. Terrorists
Profits Carry Ball In Pro Football
As Bush and the liberals continue to haggle over going to war in Iraq, all sides agree on doing whatever it takes to continue U.S. dominance of Persian Gulf oil. This isnt an argument between a peace camp and a war camp within the ruling class. Both gangs want the U.S. to rule the world. War is coming, either now or in the not-too-distant future. War is inevitable under the profit system. We must not fall into the trap of backing one side against the other.
The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz crew wants to invade Iraq very soon, even if they must go it alone. Since 9/11, the U.S. has erected military bases housing 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and Bulgaria. The latest addition is in Djibouti, strategically located along the oil route of the Horn of Africa and which "boasts a modern deep water port ideally situated for monitoring sea traffic in the southern end of the Red Sea, the Bab al Mandeb strait, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean." (CNN.com, 9/19). Bush is sending troops, aircraft carriers, bombers and commandos into the Persian Gulf as a build-up for war in Iraq.
Powell and liberal Republicans and Democrats worry that if U.S. imperialism launches a war on its own, it could boomerang. Russian, French, German, and Chinese bosses wont go along unless they get major oil concessions, which the U.S. has yet to grant. For the moment, Powell and the liberals appear to be dragging Bush over to their side.
The liberals fear being sucked into al Qaedas plan for an ever-widening war. Bin Laden, alive or dead, represents a faction of Arab bosses who want to end the U.S. stranglehold on Persian Gulf oil. They have significant support within Saudi Arabia and from forces inside the Arab ruling classes, who want a cut of oil profits. They have support throughout the Muslim world and from economically threatened elements of the middle classes. Most important, they hope to turn growing numbers of brutally oppressed workers into an army based on religion, nationalism and hatred of U.S. imperialism to achieve their goals.
Al Qaeda is counting on U.S. imperialism to supply the kindling for the firestorm. They want their terrorist acts to provoke U.S. rulers into military retaliation, creating tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim casualties. Al Qaeda is hoping that the resulting outrage will create the conditions for massive uprisings throughout the Arab and Muslim world that drive Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco from the oil fields.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, U.S. policymakers appear to be doing exactly what al Qaeda hopes. They continue to butcher Afghan civilians while their fascist Israeli pals are murdering Palestinian workers and children every day. Each death further fans the flames of anti-U.S. hatred. The U.S. now has "status of forces" agreements authorizing the presence of U.S. troops in 93 countries. (L.A. Times, 9/6/02)
Invading Iraq and possibly overthrowing Saddam Hussein is one thing. Installing a stable pro-U.S. regime that can pump oil for Exxon Mobil is quite another. Saudi oil bosses have a very shaky hold on power, due to their own corrupt brutality and history as the U.S. energy puppet. War in Iraq could fan the flames of rebellion in Saudi Arabia and force the U.S. to invade and occupy that country as well. Egypt, with the largest population in the Arab world, remains highly unstable. Oil-rich Iran could pose an even bigger problem than it does now. Pakistan too could erupt. Strategically crucial Indonesia isnt in Washingtons bag. U.S. imperialism needs all these countries firmly in its orbit.
So the liberals are telling Bush to slow down before he drives over a cliff, taking them with him. Before going to war, they want to soothe the other imperialists and bribe into existence a pro-U.S. middle class in the important oil-producing nations. This is what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman means when he calls for "democratization" and "modernization" in these states.
But the liberals have spilled oceans of working-class blood: Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam leading to three million deaths and Clinton/Gore in their air war over Yugoslavia and maintaining genocidal sanctions against Iraq, leading to a million deaths. These liberals expanded overseas military bases, paving the way for the current Bush deployments.
We cant predict what the immediate future holds. Bush may invade Iraq very soon, or the liberals may slow down the process for a while. Over the long term, however, U.S. imperialism will make war not only in Iraq, but also throughout the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. It will field armies of occupation. These oil wars will lead to sharpened conflict between the U.S. and other imperialists.
Workers, students and youth in the Middle East and the U.S. wont sit still forever while U.S. imperialism kills and exploits them. Despite the dominance of purely reactionary, nationalist and religious ideology, eventually revolutionary communists will emerge to offer the only true alternative to imperialist war, building the revolutionary communist PLP across all borders. The bosses will dig their grave, but they wont jump in. Thats up to us.
Its now clear U.S. rulers plans to attack Iraq have very little to do with "weapons of mass destruction," or "regime change" to bring democracy to Iraq. As CHALLENGE has reported, its about oil. U.S. bosses need to control Middle East oil (Iraq is second only to Saudi Arabia) to maintain its world status as imperialist top dog.
That U.S. imperialism particularly its oil companies is not interested in democracy or toppling brutal dictators in Iraq or anywhere else is evident from a lawsuit filed recently in a Washington, D.C. federal court. Eleven residents of Aceh, Indonesias westernmost province and site of a vicious war between separatist guerrillas and the Indonesia military, charge they were raped, tortured, kidnapped and their relatives murdered, "by Indonesian soldiers paid to protect a big Exxon-Mobil natural gas plant in the province." (International Herald Tribune, 8/14). The suit accuses Exxon of providing the Indonesian military "with equipment to dig mass graves, as well as building interrogation and torture centres." (BBC News, 6/22/01).
At Exxons suggestion, the judge sought the opinion of the U.S. State Dept. William Taft 4th, the latters legal adviser, responded that the suit would adversely affect U.S. bosses interests and recommended it be dropped.
Exxon Enters Indonesia After 1965 Holocaust
In 1965, a CIA-backed fascist coup by General Suharto murdered a million people and crushed the massive Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The PKI was the largest Communist Party outside China and the former USSR. (Mel Gibsons film, The Year of Living Dangerously, had some great shots of the huge protests organized by the PKI.) Just like in Iraq, Iran, etc., The PKI was able to win masses of workers and others to communist politics in a predominantly Muslim country, just as communists did at one time in Iraq and Iran. But instead of fighting for workers power, the PKI made a deadly mistake. It tried to ally with "lesser evil progressive nationalist" capitalists.
Exxon began operating in Aceh three years after the 1965 fascist coup. In those days, U.S. imperialism built Islamic fundamentalism to wage holy war against communism. Suharto and his family maintained a bloody dictatorship and became super-rich by opening Indonesia to Exxon and other imperialists.
Suharto is gone now, but the Indonesian military continues to massacre its population. In Aceh, the guerrilla movement is now labeled "Islamic terrorism." Human rights groups estimate that at least 2,000 civilians, including children and the elderly, were killed between 1989 and 1993. And the killings continue.
As U.S. bosses prepare to wage more imperialist wars, millions of lives will be sacrificed on the altar of oil profits. The essence of the bosses "war on terror" is mass murder of workers and others worldwide. The only way out of this holocaust is to wage war on bosses and build a communist society without Exxon, all the imperialists and their fascist death squads.
WAKEFIELD, MASS., Sept. 15 Boston PLP and the working class here successfully attacked a Nazi meeting and disrupted their attempt to spread their racist, fascist filth. Several of the Nazis barely escaped, bleeding and shaking, one crumpled on the sidewalk, whimpering and yelling for the cops.
Nazi Matt Hale, leader of the so-called World Church of the Creator (see box) got the Wakefield town government to give him a library meeting room to bring his message of racial holy war to the state. During a year-long search, two other Massachusetts towns had flatly refused him. Wakefield is a working-class town, 97% white.
When PLP heard the fascists were coming, we began by issuing a leaflet literature in Wakefield and some surrounding towns calling for a demonstration to drive Hale and his Nazi scum out of Wakefield. Responses ranged from enthusiastic support, especially among young people at the Wakefield high school to the usual free speech concerns ("I-hate-them-too-but-this-is-America"). The students proved to be a significant force at yesterdays protest.
Meanwhile, the free-speech forces were organizing an alternative protest at a church several miles away "Love Lives Here." We countered with a leaflet explaining the need for working people to unite to drive the Nazis out of Massachusetts.
When September 14th rolled around, about 40 Boston PLP members and friends arrived in Wakefield an hour before the 1:00 PM starting time and established our picket line in front of the library. The first hour about 100 people listened, but as we picketed, the crowd gradually grew in size and support. By 1:15 it had swollen to about 600 (Boston Globe, 9/15), many clearly anti-Nazi, and included quite a few youth from the high school. Some joined the line; a few agreed to speak on the bullhorn.
Meanwhile Hale and 10 supporters had been standing on the street corner across from our picket line, surrounded by the press. Two Nazi supporters showed up and approached the picket line. One jostled a picket and was immediately hit with a flying object. Bleeding from a scalp wound, the two retreated, chased by a dozen anti-Nazis, soon joined by dozens more, until about 100 angry workers and youth were shouting slogans, throwing rocks, spitting on the fascists and tearing up their signs. The leadership we had provided in our picket line and our militancy confronting the two Nazis had won the crowd to our line.
At this point we closed the picket line and joined the crowd attacking the Nazis, continuing to grab and tear up the Nazis signs. Others quickly raised $300 in bail money from the protesters for two young people whod been arrested.
The 200 cops in their Darth Vader uniforms plus state police and federal marshals failed to regain control. Finally they led Hale and his nine Nazis, all drenched in spit, away from their corner and into the library. Thirty more of his vermin snuck in through the back door. Outside, PLP led the crowd in chants of, "Let us in." After 20 minutes, the cops let in ten anti-Nazis, five from our picket line. Once inside, the five PLers began to chant anti-Nazi slogans, confronting 40 Nazis screaming "Sieg Heil" and giving the Hitler salute. Some anti-Nazis are expelled. Those remaining shouted down Hales speech. Outside, the crowd waits patiently for the Nazis to make their exit.
Around 3:00 PM, the cops quietly escorted the Nazis into vans to slip out of town, but six left through the front door and then walked down Main Street chased by the crowd. Two protesters whacked two of the Nazis repeatedly with poles. The Boston Herald reported that one "burly neo-Nazi crumpled to the sidewalk with a whimper, yelling Help! Police!" Soon he fled with his companions down a side street, pursued by protesters. When the cops hand-cuffed two anti-Nazis to take them in for "questioning," about 150 protesters chased after the cops, yelling, "Let em go! Let em go!" The two were later released. Some of us then went to the police station to check on an arrested comrade.
The Wakefield demonstration has taught us that, (1) when we act boldly and honestly, the working class will respond to our ideas and tactics; and (2) in this period youth are very receptive to what we have to say and more than willing to follow our leadership.
Nazi Hale and his World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) are part of a new slicked-up and extremely well-financed coalition of Nazi groups called the National Alliance. Their late leader William Pierce wrote the Turner Diaries, the book that inspired Timothy McVeigh to bomb the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
The WCOTC, following the Nazi movements new "peaceable" style, renounces hate and violence, except in "racial self-defense," which includes any act of racist violence. They aim to mobilize a racial holy war ("RAHOWA") that will "shrink" [exterminate] the non-white populations, enabling the "White Race" to dominate the Earth.
While preaching non-violence, WCOTC is believed to have been behind a number of racist murders, most notably in Peoria, IL where in 1999 Hales leading protégé, Benjamin Smith, went on a rampage killing two people and wounding nine all black, Latin or Asian and then committed suicide. Hales comment was, "only one white man died that day."
These Nazis, protected by the rulers cops, help spread the racism the bosses need to institute full-blown fascism, the better to help the ruling class launch its imperialist oil wars. None of them will be defeated by pacifist love-ins.
BOSTON, September 20 On Sept. 7, Eveline Barros-Cepeda, a 25-year-old mother from Cape Verde, was murdered when a racist cop pumped a fusillade of bullets into the back seat of a fleeing car. She was the eighth victim of racist police terror here in the past 22 months. A few hours later, a black man, a carjacking suspect, was shot and severely injured in his moving vehicle. Within minutes, a small rebellion against the police broke out at the scene.
The day after the Cepeda murder, police commissioner Paul Evans called for rule changes to restrict police from shooting at moving vehicles. The police union responded with a vote of "no confidence" in Evans, the first in the history of the Boston police. The detectives union backed them up. The cops claim that terrorism and rising street violence require them to have "a free hand."
Today, a group of black religious misleaders led by Reverend Rivers called on the black community "to close ranks behind" the embattled police chief. These black clergy and businessmen have never rushed to the defense of black and Latin workers and youth, even after the eight unnecessary deaths at the hands of the police. And they never criticized Evans as these killer cops were exonerated, one after another.
Reverend Rivers has worked closely with the Boston ruling class for the last several years, hosting the police departments weekly "community policing" meetings at his church (one of the liberals main strategies to win workers to collaborate with the fascist police). He cozied up to Bush in an effort to get his share of the faith-based money the White House was planning to dole out to charity organizations.
These junior partners of the ruling class are desperately trying to prevent class-conscious militancy from growing among black and Latin workers and youth. They are rewarded with a little bit of money and power. As they bend over backwards to save Paul Evans skin, workers and youth should ignore their traitorous pleas.
September 13 Members of the International Association of Machinist (IAM) failed to muster the two-thirds majority needed to authorize a strike against Boeing. Sixty-two percent rejected the takeaway contract, while 61% reaffirmed the strike sanction vote taken last July. This was the second strike vote. International President Thomas Buffenbarger sealed the first one on August 29 to accommodate the federal mediator.
The mediation yielded nothing, as could be expected. Demoralization and confusion set in during the two-week delay as the company and the local press attempted to spread fear through our ranks. Buffenbarger branded members who thought federal mediation was a mistake as "those that think they know it all." There must have been a lot of "know-it-alls" the general feeling on the shop floor was, "Its all over but the crying."
Seattle area District 751 President Mark Blondin sent a letter to every union member concluding, "the company decided it is against us." Apparently this was news to the union leadership! But we workers have known this all along, ever since theres been a working class!
The unions reformist politics especially in this post 9/11 period of fascist attacks against the working class all but guaranteed the failure to get the necessary 2/3 majority in the final strike vote. The union issued three or four leaflets a day that last week, all focused on the contracts economics. We all knew the contract was a job-eating, benefits-busting disaster. What we wanted to know was how to win in these tough times. The unions years of pushing "partnership," patriotic unity with the bosses and reliance on friends in the government left us unprepared for the fight.
Two days after the final strike vote, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Alan Mulally told the Seattle Times, "Nobody can guarantee jobs and security in market-based economies," implying even more layoffs. Therefore, our number one job over the life of this contract must be to prepare to smash Mulallys market-based economy.
The Party and our base organized for building revolutionary class-consciousness as the only realistic strategy for winning, now and in the future. We made modest progress rebuilding our Challenge networks, which had been devastated by 30,000 layoffs. We will devote even more energy to consolidate these hard-won advances. Out of the chaos of the last weeks, we must learn to politically and organizationally prepare for the long, hard road to communist revolution.
In mid-September, Machinists union (IAM) president Tom Buffenbarger threatened to cross dockworkers picket lines if the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) struck. The ILWU is demanding that shipping bosses agree to make all new technology positions union jobs. But since some maintenance and repair workers on the docks are IAM members, IAM bosses are very ready to sacrifice unity with striking dockworkers to get their cut of these jobs. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka called a secret meeting to try to keep the lid on this jurisdictional squabble over members and dues money.
The ILWU has been working without a contract since July 1. Bush, in consultation with the Homeland Security Department, plans to send in federal troops to bust any longshore strike. Groups of rank-and-file workers have taken on the task of building working-class solidarity in response to this post 9/11 offensive against our brothers and sisters. Petitions of solidarity, signed by hundreds of IAM members, have been presented to dockworkers as a down payment on workers solidarity and power.
An IAM rank-and-filer brought greetings of solidarity to a recent ILWU meeting. Referring to the latest fiasco with the federal mediator, she noted that Boeing workers had learned, "We cant rely on the federal government. We cant rely on the bosses politicians. We can only rely on the power of a united working class." She asked the packed union hall whether she could return to the IAM membership with the promise that we would stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight for decent-paying jobs everywhere in the world. Would we stand with the working class against this bosses war on workers? The answer was a resounding yes, followed by vows to stand on the picket lines with IAM members and more!
Outside the meeting, workers from both unions discussed the "war on terrorism." "Dont get me started on that," warned one ILWU member. "I get furious when I think how theyve used that so-called war on terrorism to attack us." The workers vowed to keep in contact strike or no strike.
So heres the picture. The pro-capitalist union leadership squabbles over dues money while "Rome burns." On the other hand, our Party supports rank-and-file attempts to build a united-front-from-below to answer the bosses offensive and the hacks self-serving treachery. The difference between the hacks outlook and ours? Were communists, and communists understand the need to build revolutionary class-consciousness.
"To understand why the U.S. economy cant seem to muster a stronger recovery," comments the Washington Post (8/29), "it helps to look for clues in Victorville, Calif., where 500 unused and unwanted passenger jets some of them brand new sit wingtip to wingtip in the desert. Or in Detroit, where the Big Three continue to churn out large numbers of passenger cars that they sell at little or no profit, just to keep their factories busy. Or in nearly every major metropolitan area, where office vacancy rates are still rising after 18 months, and have reached 25 percent in Dallas, 24 percent in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and 18 percent in San Francisco . Falling prices shoppers find for clothing, televisions, hotel rooms and cellular phone service are being paid in the form of continued corporate layoffs, lackluster stock prices and a sky-high trade deficit in short, an economy thats having trouble building up a head of steam. Economists refer to this phenomenon as overcapacity, which is really nothing more than too much supply chasing too little demand. And it can be found these days across a wide swath: agriculture, autos, advertising, chemicals, computer hardware and software, consulting, financial services, forest products, furniture, mining, retail, steel, textiles, telecommunications, trucking, and electric generation, just to mention a few. In most every case, it is accompanied by prices that are flat or falling."
The bosses call it "overcapacity"; communists call it overproduction. In a world where millions go hungry and lack basic necessities, the capitalists produce more than they can profitably sell. But they never give it to those who need it.
This leads to even more layoffs and misery. Its built into capitalism, where ownership of the means of production and the vast wealth created by the working class lies in fewer and fewer hands while the masses of workers who actually produce the value are exploited even harder. Workers resistance is met by armed attacks and new laws restricting them even more, adding up to fascism.
As competition for maximum profits sharpens, the bosses automate, lay off workers and produce more with fewer workers. Rates of profits and actual profits decline because the bosses invest still more in machinery to try to out-produce their rivals with fewer workers but fewer workers are able to buy the greater quantities of products.
The bosses "solve" these problems by lowering labor costs even more: moving factories to low-wage areas and eventually either destroying the productive capacity of their rivals in wars or seizing their factories and resources (oil wells, etc.). But without a mass communist party leading workers to take state power, these crises have never and will never, by themselves, topple capitalism.
Says the Washington Post, "The big culprit in the supply-demand mismatch was the investment boom of the late 1990s, arguably the longest and most exuberant since the 1920s. Flush with cheap money made available by Wall Street, businesses of all sorts rushed out and expanded their capacity not simply to satisfy the increased demand of the moment, but in anticipation of continued high economic growth rates well into the future. When the growth failed to materialize, they suddenly found themselves with more capacity than they could profitably employ. In hindsight, its now clear that we invested too much in plant and equipment during the last boom maybe 20 to 25 percent too much, said Jerry Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. We were looking at things in an analytically flawed way."
The very nature of a profit system creates problems that it can only solve by creating mass misery, fascism and war. These inherent contradictions of capitalism are not "mistakes" and cannot be done away with. Inevitably they come to the fore as competition between the bosses, especially imperialist rivals, sharpens.
The Progressive Labor Party is committed to building a mass communist party among workers, soldiers and students to insure a successful communist revolution. This and only this can destroy a system based on exploitation and war for profit.
As U.S. rulers head for war against Iraq, theyre not neglecting the war at home the one against the poor. According to the Census Bureaus latest report on income and poverty, "Americans living in poverty rose significantly last year," to 33 million. [All quotes and figures from New York Times, 9/25.] Interestingly, percentage-wise, more white people fell below poverty levels last year than black and Latin people, although the annual household incomes for the latter was far below that of whites. The racism that produces 40% lower income for black and Latin workers thus helps the bosses drag down income for white workers as well.
But of course, the governments definition of "poverty" is ridiculously understated. They say a family of four whose income is above $18,104 is NOT in poverty; similarly $14,128 for a family of three, $11,569 for a married couple and $9,039 for an individual. That would mean, for instance, that an individual who earns $10,000 annually and pays $500 a month rent would be using $6,000 a year for housing, 60% of his or her yearly income! And such a person is not included in the 33 million considered below the poverty level.
Worse still is the family of four: say they were "above" the poverty level, at $20,000 a year, and paid $800 a month rent. Thats $9,600 annually, or nearly half their income, leaving little more than $10,000 a year for food, clothing, health care, transportation, etc., for father, mother and two children! And thats not poverty?
No wonder the disparity between rich and poor is skyrocketing. The richest fifth of the population accounts for HALF of all household income. The poorest fifth receives 3.5% of total household income. And this is supposedly the richest country in the world.
Now U.S. imperialism is preparing to spend $100 billion to $200 billion (Bushs Budget Directors figures) to enable Exxon Mobil to grab Iraqs oil, killing millions of Middle Eastern workers, while possibly half of U.S. workers cant keep their heads above water. For tens of millions the "American Dream" is really a nightmare.
On September 11, over 300 progressive students, faculty and community members from a State University in California marched against war. At the same time a speech by the University president attracted only 100 people. The marchers strode through the entire campus holding signs and banners that said, "Workers of the world unite against imperialist war"; "No Blood for Oil Profit"; "Peace, not War"; and, "Wanted: Bush, Reward: Peace." Many people joined us. We finished by forming a circle in the center of campus and held a speak-out.
The entire event was powerful because of the high level of student organization and the multi-racial unity of black, white, Chicano, Latino, Asian, Muslim and Filipino students. Students collectively organized every aspect of the march independently of faculty or administration, from public outreach, to planning the route, to security, to leadership. We spent countless late nights making flyers, banners and signs. Part of our elation came from seeing the power of organized working-class student unity.
While this action represents a great potential for building a campus anti-imperialist movement, during the speak-out many students expressed anger only against Bush. The rulers would want to control any emerging anti-war movement, so the liberals use their media and their leaders to channel student and worker outrage into simply trying to remove Bush. This shows the need for sharper political struggle. Capitalism creates monsters like Bush. But if hes ousted, the ruling class will only replace him with another monster.
Conservatives and liberals both need war. Workers and students should not fight for a "lesser evil" warmonger. Only by destroying capitalism through communist revolution will we collectively free ourselves from imperialism.
Struggling for a common goal brought many of us closer together. This bodes well for the coming period. PLPs long-term commitment to class struggle in mass organizations and distributing CHALLENGE will win students and workers to anti-imperialist, revolutionary action. Many of these students already hate imperialism because of their families experiences in Latin American and Muslim countries. Participating in campus groups and circulating this newspaper built the confidence to struggle inside the coalition for agreement to change the marchs call from "We oppose all forms of war" to "We oppose all forms of imperialist war which profits the ruling class." During the event, a comrade gave a speech condemning capitalism while other comrades distributed leaflets about fighting imperialism.
Our next step is to become closer to our new friends and build a teach-in to sharpen the political struggle against imperialism and for the long-term fight to destroy it. The majority of students at this rally want peace now. PLP brings to this fight the understanding that to achieve peace, we must get rid of the cause of wars: capitalist production for profit, and its inevitable creation, imperialism. Building a mass PLP will put us on the road to doing just that.
The diagnosis of mental illness in children is booming. The most popular is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), but bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety are close behind. Recently, shyness (social phobia disorder) and separation anxiety have also been labeled "mental illnesses." In 1999, Surgeon General Satchers Report on Mental Illness stated that 20% of children (and adults) have a significant mental health problem in any given year. The diagnosis of ADHD has increased about 20 fold in 20 years. There is now a national study evaluating the use of Ritalin in 3-5 year olds.
Psychiatry in general now declares that mental illness is caused by abnormal brain chemistry, although there is little exact knowledge of the abnormalities, even in severe diseases like schizophrenia. Moreover, psychiatry has lost sight of the divide between psychosis, in which patients have lost touch with reality, and deviations from maximal happiness or functioning brought on by the stresses and losses of life experienced by everyone. Now any depressed mood, anxiety or social ineptness is said to represent a "disease" and a "disordered brain." The consequences of this biologically determined view of life is that the treatment of all "disorders" is said to be pharmacological, and psychiatric drugs have become some of the most often prescribed, from Prozac to Ritalin. About 5% of school age children are now taking psychotropic medications, including 1.5% of toddlers. Many are on multiple drugs.
Of course, the drug companies promote this trend and finance the research supporting it. Most academic psychiatrists are paid almost exclusively by drug companies to study the very drugs they manufacture. However, the main reason drugging children is so popular stems from teachers finding them "difficult" to manage in class restless, disobedient or aggressive. The parent is then notified the child has a problem, likely to be a "chemical imbalance" of the brain, and recommended to get a prescription from a doctor. If the parents refuse, their children are sometimes threatened with expulsion or even removal from the home (see a recent New York Post series). Rarely is there an in-depth investigation of what, if anything, is bothering the child, which may range from lack of sleep to learning disabilities to boredom to stresses in the home.
This medication craze is spawned by capitalist societys need to control its citizens and blame social problems on the poorest and weakest. In overcrowded and poorly staffed schools, increasingly emphasizing standardized curriculum and tests, more and more children will not "fit in" easily. Instead of dealing with these problems and analyzing what individual children need in terms of their personality and skills, the school system declares such children to be "damaged" and drugs them until theyre easy to control.
Entering an era of prolonged war and economic depression, the rulers fear a citizenry that is alert and rebellious. They fear that soldiers, students, workers and others will object to shedding their blood for oil bosses, that anger over unemployment, falling wages and disappearing social services will spark class struggle. So they rely on building patriotic fervor, fear of terrorism, jingoism, racism, police terror and fascist laws like the Patriot Act. But if unhappy people are led to think theres something wrong with them rather than with their society, they may accept mind-altering drugs which prevent them from thinking clearly and/or fighting back against such fascist measures. When the process starts in childhood, imagine how debilitating it is and becomes.
There is some nation-wide fight back against this trend. Public pressure has forced several states to ban schools from diagnosing children or forcing drug use. In New York City a group of parents and community activists is leafleting parents about their rights, has demonstrated in the streets, been on the radio and has spoken to PTAs, school boards and at professional meetings. PLP members stimulate discussion here and relate the issue to the growth of war and fascism.
Comrades are also raising it with CHALLENGE readers, parents and teachers in our local school district. We aim to expand this work in NYC.
[Part of a series of communist analyses of law and legal issues.]
Recently, the New York Times and others publicized a secret U.S. court ruling criticizing the Bush administration. The Times article implied that the court was protecting civil liberties from fascist Attorney General Ashcrofts wiretap excesses. But a closer look paints us a quite different picture.
First it should be noted that capitalism is always a class dictatorship, even under liberal democracy. Fascism is only the more open form of this dictatorship. Its not enough to destroy fascism. We must get at the roots behind its growth of fascism, and why the rulers need it.
The secret court itself is long-standing. During the Johnson and first Nixon administration (1968-1972), at the height of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the government was wiretapping many revolutionaries, anti-war radicals and liberals, much of it without a warrant. The Constitutions 4th Amendment and earlier Supreme Court decisions required warrants for wiretaps, mandating the government to show "probable cause" a crime had been, or was being committed.
In the early 1970s, anti-war radicals being prosecuted for "conspiring to blow up a CIA office and other buildings" in Michigan suspected their phones had been tapped. Their lawyers demanded the government turn over the transcripts. The government refused. In the U.S. Supreme Court, then Attorney-General Mitchell argued that "national security" was enough of a legal basis to permit phone wiretaps without a warrant. Although rejecting that argument, the Court in a footnote allowed the possibility of wiretapping without warrants in "foreign intelligence" cases.
In 1978, Democrat President Jimmy Carter signed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This law created the secret FISA court to hear government applications to wiretap "foreign intelligence" sources without the "probable cause" required for regular warrants. Amid the Cold War. U.S. rulers said their spies needed to listen in on their Soviet counterparts.
The FISA Court is located inside a windowless, vault-like room, locked and guarded by security 24 hours a day, on the top floor of the U.S. "Justice" Department, the agency applying for the wiretap authority. In nearly 25 years of its existence, of about 10,000 wiretap warrant requests, not one has been rejected. So much for the bosses "checks and balances" theory.
The post-Cold War era has seen a drastic increase in wiretap applications. During the Clinton administration, this huge increase was based on investigations of "terrorism" suspects. The original FISA law barred the government from using intelligence wiretaps as evidence in domestic prosecutions or sharing intelligence information with prosecutors. But Clintons FBI routinely lied to the Court. Such information was being given to, and used by, prosecutors in their investigations. Even after the government admitted its lies in September 2000 the FISA Court continued granting warrants on every single application submitted. (Next article: the USA Patriot Act.)
We print this memoir in commemorating the 85th anniversary of the Great October Bolshevik Revolution. Given that it was the first attempt to build a communist society, it recorded some monumental achievements. Its goal of a classless system, free of bosses, profits, racism and war, so frightened world capitalism that the latter tried in the words of one of imperialisms masters, Winston Churchill to "strangle the baby in the cradle."
From the Soviet Unions very inception, the capitalists vowed to destroy it. This first successful workers state fought them off for 40 years, only to succumb to its own internal weaknesses. Meanwhile in less than one generation it transformed a backward, feudal order into an advanced industrial society that was able to save the world from fascism by becoming the first force to destroy the Nazi invaders. It suffered the deaths of 20 to 30 million Soviet citizens, far more than the entire Western capitalist world combined.
PLP is committed to taking the best the Soviets gave to the worlds working class while learning from their errors, to build a mass international party that will spread communism across the planet.
Both my parents had personal contact with the Russian Revolution. My mothers family left Russia before World War I, but couldnt afford to take everyone, leaving my mother 12-year-old Sarra behind to stay with an uncle who was a quasi-foreman for a landowner-farmer. Five years later the "Reds" arrived. She and other high school friends were already reading about the revolution and forming study groups supporting it. Naturally the big landowners opposed it and influenced the village government and schools.
In came the Reds not exactly an army, not exactly a new government, but rough-and-ready types with whom the villagers could identify and who quickly kicked the landowners off the land and out of their huge houses. This went over big with the laborers and the poor farmers, who were given the land.
Of course, later armed intervention by 17 countries (including the U.S.) spread counter-revolutionary chaos but the Reds eventually triumphed. Having joined her parents abroad, my mother had no first-hand experience with those events but her life among the villagers who greeted the Bolsheviks arrival stayed with her forever.
She became a communist here, and in 1928 joined a broad-based delegation to the USSR to see the revolutions achievements first-hand. In fact, the day this group spent many hours in Stalins office, she became the closest to the main man! When Stalin realized the visitors still had many questions, he agreed to stay well into the night. However, he didnt want to force his interpreter to work a double shift, so he asked if anyone in the group could take over. My mother was amazingly fluent in both languages, so for that one day she became Stalins interpreter!
My father, also on this trip, though "progressive," wasnt a communist. He worked for his brother, a rising owner of a small textile company here. My father had started as a mill hand but later designed plants for the company. He knew plenty about mills and working conditions.
He told many times about a visit on this trip to a cold, desolate area where the Bolsheviks were erecting a steel mill, part of the industrialization drive which later included the famous "Five-Year Plans." My father, Harry, asked one worker, "How can you stand working a full day in such miserable, hostile conditions? Dont you feel youre being asked to do too much for such low wages?"
The worker replied, "Yes, its hard here. But [making a huge gesture taking in the whole area] look at this mill were building!" It was apparent the workers felt the mill was THEIRS. They were proud of it. It meant so much to them that the hardships just werent worth worrying about.
No doubt this isnt "scientific evidence" complete with polls and percentages. But my parents saw, in 1928, that there were many workers who could have done without the wage system, and their enthusiasm could have been harnessed for a more persistent drive to real communism.
In the 1930s my Aunt Rachel my fathers sister left the U.S. to become an English teacher in Moscow. She had been a charter member of the U.S. Communist Party. Her husband, Al Stone, was a rank-and-file red who fascinated me as a youngster because he seemed to have worked in almost every conceivable job in his knockabout life short-order cook, construction worker, semi-cowboy his stories covered the waterfront.
In the USSR he did construction work throughout the 1930s. Capitalisms history books describe this period as mainly one of famine and massacres of Stalins political opponents. But my uncles letters to us in the U.S., and later his personal reminiscences back here, presented quite a different picture. (They returned because my aunt needed medical treatment unobtainable in Russian hospitals then.)
He remembered how full and rich the days were there. It wasnt just "Thank god its Friday." After work the workers got together to rehearse a play, or for chorus practice or for discussions of conditions at work, in the city and in the nation and what they could do to improve things or jostle the higher-ups. Al boasted that he was the only member of the Moscow chorus who couldnt sing. (He claimed he hid in a back row.)
One reminiscence which stuck with me: around 1938, although there was no official declaration, in effect the USSR had achieved the era of free bread. (Remember, the hearty Russian bread was THE staple food.) One could enter a cafeteria, order little or nothing, sit at a table and fill up on bread. Nobody gave you dirty looks or told you to leave. You needed, you received at least to that extent.
This occurred when the whole country was urgently building up heavy industry and the army, knowing that world capitalism was only temporarily quieted by the great depression but would go on the warpath again. Even during this heavy-industry drive, living standards rose measurably during the 1930s when the rest of the world was in wretched shape.
Its easy to talk about how "communism failed." While this "diary" isnt an analysis of what happened, we should recognize that when the Soviets forged a system where things were produced for use instead of for profit, they wiped out hunger and created a decent life for workers in an incredibly short time. AND built the weaponry and the type of men and women who smashed Hitler.
At first, White Teeth by Zadie Smith seems to be a welcome relief from the onslaught of bourgeois literature, which hails the divisions between "races" and sexes. The story describes three generations of immigrants living and working in a multi-ethnic London suburb where over 100 languages are spoken at the local high school. The main characters are Bengali, Jamaican and English. One of the featured marriages is between an English man and a Jamaican woman (her parents are an English man and an African woman). Issues of racism are addressed, the language is witty and the story moves along quickly.
However, in this comedy the actors are fools, losers, religious fanatics, political extremists and mad scientists. Its unkind buffoonery and no one redeems him- or herself. No one emerges as the voice of reason or hope for the future. Any multi-racialism or anti-sexism is countered by the total alienation among spouses, siblings, parents and children.
The two main characters are Sadam and Archie, two fathers leading frustrating, aimless, disappointing lives, which characterize the authors cynical worldview. Sadam (from Bengladesh) and Archie (an Englishman) were assigned to the same tank during World War II. They were sent into action during the last two months of the war, had no idea why they were there, got lost, and continued to think they were combatants after it was all over. They joined some Russians who were assigned to capture a French scientist who had aided the Nazi sterilization program. Sadam wins the scientist in a card game, and sets out to shoot him to prove to himself that he is carrying out his family tradition as a war hero. But he gives the task to Archie, who fails to carry it out.
The interpersonal relationships offer no relief to the main characters exploited/pathetic lives. These two think they know what the world is all about. After all, they were heroes in WWII. They marry women over 20 years younger, ignore and neglect their wives and children, have dead-end jobs, and spend all their time in a greasy bar that excludes women. Their whole lives are consumed in debating whether Sadams great grandfather had actually spearheaded the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Sadam parades as an intellectual, but knows very little. He engages in hypocritical nods to the Muslim religion while constantly violating it. His only real role in life becomes one of controlling Archie.
At the point where the reader feels lost in this alienated capitalist hell, a political polarization of the characters shatters any hope of things improving. The solutions to our characters boring, disappointing, lonely lives are fanatical, foolish and selfish.
The pro-Nazi French scientist re-emerges as the mentor of a mad scientist who is altering the genes of mice to determine their life-span. Sadam and Archies family and friends obsessively oppose or support the mad scientist. The opposing groups are fanatical and foolish (Jehovahs Witnesses, animal rights advocates and Islamic fundamentalists). The scientists son joins an animal rights group because hes fascinated with the body of one of its leaders. Shes involved in animal rights because she cant tolerate the in-fighting among leftist groups. One of Sadams sons joins the Islamic fundamentalists because hes a violent juvenile delinquent looking for an outlet. Sadams other son becomes the mad scientists protégé. On the way to the public gathering sponsored by the mad scientist, many of the characters are on the same bus, but are so angry at each other, they sit in separate seats.
At the gathering the bar owner supports the scientist because he believes hell find a cure for his genetically-induced skin disorder. Archie supports the scientist because his daughter works for him, and is senselessly killed in the process. His mother-in-law intends to stop the scientist from interfering with the Lords will. No one can get along with anyone, men and women are hopelessly divided, life is meaningless and intelligent people go with the flow.
The book is beautifully written. Some would say cynicism is funny and does no harm. But the authors dark worldview builds images that erode the trust between people. Without trust, and the belief that most people are intelligent and well motivated, there is no hope for building a movement to fight against oppression. Theres no way to create a better society if most workers are fools, hypocrites, bigots and misogynists. These cynical images are everywhere in the culture, and they erode our trust in other workers.
WORKERS OF THE WORLD, WRITE!
[For details of this protest, see front page Ed.]
Although I joined the protest against the neo-nazi "World Church of the Creator" in Wakefield Mass., I was somewhat skeptical about its possible effectiveness. Wakefield is a small blue-collar town, 97% white. Although leafleting the local high school the day before drew a generally good response, the same was not true in the downtown area. Local cops grabbed our leaflet there. Both the high school principal and local religious and community "activists" had been planning a counter-rally across town. I cynically figured: (1) not enough local residents would attend our militant protest, given the lack of leafleting and the well-publicized pacifists weeks-long organizing their event across town; and (2) hundreds of cops would completely block any confrontation with the racists. This has been the cops strategy in recent anti-racist protests, including metal pens or cages to contain and separate anti-racist groups like PLP from the fascists.
I was completely surprised, thanks to PLPs initiative and to the leadership of the local working class! PLP established a militant picket line right in front of the library witnessed by 600 local, mostly white workers who listened to our militant speeches, stressing historical reasons why we should fight racism and fascism. People read our signs saying "Death to the Nazis" and similar slogans. A few joined our line. The turning point came when a couple of racists walked past the picket line and were surrounded by dozens of onlookers, including many youth. One nazi was soon bleeding. The anti-racists pursued them as they scrambled back to the racists on the corner.
About 100 people confronted them, shouting, spitting, tearing up their signs (thanks to one PLPer). We joined the angry crowd and led it with bullhorn chants of "let us in." About 10 anti-racists were allowed in the hall and began to try to shout the Nazis down. Outside, hundreds of protesters again followed our lead in confronting the few racists who were foolish enough to leave the meeting without police escorts.
In sum, the protest was a great success because the Party influenced hundreds to fight back. Most of the crowd confronting the fascists was local, white and many were young "punk rock" types. PLP was the only identifiable political group there, but despite anti-communism from a few in the crowd, hundreds followed our leadership, and in some cases led us, in fighting back. Several have expressed interest in working with PLP to fight racism in the future. Things are looking up for the working class in Massachusetts.
A PLP member
We drew a very positive anti-imperialist, anti-war response to a small but significant political statement we made on September 11, 2002, participating in a Brooklyn Candlelight vigil on the Promenade overlooking the East River. This is a popular location for viewing the New York skyline and especially the World Trade Center which used to tower over all.
We made our sign at the Promenade and carried our candle for the victims and so the sign could be read. With just the first sentence, "Imperialism is the main terror," people walking by began making helpful suggestions. The next sentence was, "Oil is now their main goal," and lastly, "Fight ALL terror with international, multi-racial unity."
Then we added examples of imperialist terror such as Vietnam = 2 million Vietnamese killed; Indonesia = 200,000 East Timorese killed; Belgium, King Leopold = 10 million Congolese killed, U.S. bombing of Panama City killing 7,000 (a midnight attack 10 years ago). There were so many other examples that we put Etc, Etc, Etc. Hundreds walked by and encouraged us. Several stopped to talk black, Muslim, white, foreign visitors, mothers, daughters. A cameraman said this was the best sign hed seen all day. A Latin-American man talked with us for a long time and wondered how we had so much courage. We said we had to stand up but experience in struggles gave us confidence.
Workers need to see someone raise these ideas. We made contacts for future events. For two hours we enjoyed the positive remarks and this was even before the vigil walked by. Only one remark was negative. This taught us that with just a little leadership from militant rank and filers working in a mass organization like a union, the response is terrific and could be effective in fighting the war moves.
Regular readers know that CHALLENGE tells the truth. Sometimes we forget its also an organizer.
Weve been teaching at a high school for many years and are active in the union. Our union leadership just negotiated a contract with a 3% wage increase, which saves our health benefits. Meanwhile, the district has increased class size by two students, raising some class averages to 40.5 students. Every students education will suffer and teachers will work harder, while new teachers have been laid off.
When the union leadership solicited pro and con statements on the contract offer, we circulated our ideas among fellow teachers. Thirty-six teachers read CHALLENGE regularly, although in the year-round school system a dozen are on vacation at any given time.
Before the school union meeting, we asked our friends for suggestions to improve our statement. The final version termed the districts proposal a bad-faith offer. We said we werent impressed by talk of "hard times" or a "budget crisis"; that there was money for prisons and military adventures, but health clinics were being closed and class size increased. We asserted our opposition to this attack on our students and the community we serve.
When we raised our statement at the lunchtime union meeting, it started a good debate. No one proposed support for the contract. The controversy was about including the sentence on prisons and war. Several people said this was an irrelevant point because the school district didnt make war or build prisons, and we should stick to the contract questions. Many friends who read CHALLENGE supported raising the larger question of a war budget. They argued that it was obvious social services are being sacrificed to fund war and we should say so. We said that the working class produces all value and that were fighting for a bigger chunk of the surplus value we create to improve the life of our class.
The following week we read the statement at the faculty meeting, and later at the city-wide union meeting, as part of the debate over recommending contract approval. While the city-wide vote narrowly endorsed the contract, many teachers asked us for copies of the statement from our school. In another union meeting covering our area of the city, teachers asked for copies and urged a "NO" vote on the contract.
This activity has reminded us how important CHALLENGE is as an organizer, and encouraged us to offer it to more teachers and youth. We havent always been consistent enough in our CHALLENGE distribution, but were encouraged to broaden our base of regular readers.
The war budget leaves every working-class child behind. We should use CHALLENGE to help our friends see the nature of the crisis and the need to fight for revolution, to build a society where all the value created by the workers is used to meet the workers needs, instead of the warmongers!
I recently ordered a video to use in school during the 9/11 memorials. Its called "The New Patriots" and was made for SOA Watch, a mostly pacifist group thats been organizing and demonstrating against the School of Americas (SOA; renamed WHISC)), the Ft. Benning, GA training school for Latin American officers. These "graduates" are responsible for an unparalleled record of terror against workers and peasants in their countries. The video lasts 18 minutes and was made after the 9/11 attacks. The documentarys theme is that the U.S. governments call for an "end to terrorism" and the dismantling of terrorist bases worldwide is pure hypocrisy as long as such terrorist training operations as the SOA exist and as long as the U.S. supports regimes that practice terror against their civilian populations on such a worldwide scale. They make 9/11 seem like street mugging.
There are interviews with military veterans who, at an early age, were uncritical patriots, but who now realize that the U.S. military has been used to try to crush the aspirations of ordinary people in Vietnam, El Salvador, Colombia and elsewhere. Two veterans state that the U.S. militarys real goal is to protect the profits of U.S. multi-nationals. These interviews alone make the video worthwhile showing.
The films downside is its preaching of non-violence. Pacifism is an attractive ideology for many students and many of the groups leading the anti-war movement SOA Watch, the War Resisters League, Voices in the Wilderness are pacifist. We should try to gradually win people attracted to pacifism away from an ideology that actually perpetuates the very violent system they sincerely oppose. Christopher Caudwells 1930s essay, Pacifism and Violence: A Study in Bourgeois Ethics, is a wonderful examination of the contradictions of pacifism.
"The New Patriots" costs $15 (including shipping and handling). Order from SOA Watch, P.O. Box 4566, Washington, D.C. 20017 (202-234-3440). More information can be found at http://www.soaw.org
On Sept. 11, Johnny Unitas died, having been twice voted the greatest quarterback in U.S. professional football, most recently in the year 2000.
During the football season the games are watched by tens of millions every week. Players annual salaries range from $350,000 for rookies up to $10 million for leading stars. Spectators pay tens of millions over a season to attend the games. Television networks fork over billions more to broadcast them. And uncounted billions are gambled on the games, much of it illegally.
The average player career is about three years due to the brutal physical nature of the sport. Unitas was 69 when he died. The injuries he suffered during his 20-year career was reported in a New York Times obituary (9/12):
"Like most players, Unitas took a physical beating from football, and he had both knees replaced. His right arm was so injured that he could not pick up a fork and feed himself with that hand.
"He played golf by strapping his gloved hand to the club shaft with a Velcro strip. The middle three fingers on his right hand did not work .In 1997, he underwent five hours of surgery on the arm. The condition did not improve. He hoped to receive league-financed disability payments but learned that because he was receiving a monthly pension, he could not also collect disability because he had not filed by age 55, as the pension-fund rules required."
Not one multi-million dollar football team owner, media conglomerate or player offered Unitas a lousy nickel or denounced such cruelty and callousness. Thats the American sport and sportsmanship of the wealthy.