CHALLENGE, October 23, 2002

War On Terror Hits Dockwokers

Liberal Democrats are Also Warmakers

The Profit System Makes War Inevitable

Garment Workers Talk About War

Working Under Capitalism Is Dangerous To Your Health

And Now Another 1.6 Million Die from War, Murder and Suicide

Brazil Elections: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Part-time teachers struggle at Chicago City Colleges

USAS Conference – Boston, MA, August 2002

Real Unemployment Figures Explode Myth of Prosperous 90s

Red Eye On The News


Bavaria Brewery Enforces Plan Colombia

PLP at Anti-Globalization DC Protests

Jailbreak from Greens Jail

Dockworkers Need Militant Solidarity

Anti-Muslim Racism on the Rise as War Looms

War On Terror Hits Dockwokers

The latest targets in Bush’s "War on Terror" are not some small suspected terrorist cell, but the 10,500 International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) workers. Bush invoked the strike breaking Taft-Hartley law, ordering workers back to work for an 80-day cooling off period. They had been locked out since September 27. The last President to use Taft-Hartley was Nixon to break a dock strike in 1971.

There will be no outcry from the liberal Democrat "pro- labor" politicians. On the contrary, the liberal New York Times editorialized that "Mr. Bush was fully justified," and that "most Presidents would have taken similar action under the circumstances." Labor Solicitor Eugene Scalia said this is the first time a president has taken such action during a lockout. He previously represented the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) employer group as a private-sector lawyer.

Before negotiations broke down on Oct. 6, the union agreed to work under their expired contract and end the lockout for shipments to Hawaii and Alaska and for military cargo. They had reached a tentative agreement on how new technology would be implemented on the docks. Then the PMA backed off, giving Bush the green light.

The lockout shut down 29 major West Coast ports from Seattle to San Diego and cost the bosses around $2 billion a day. (West Coast shipping accounts for about 3% of the Gross Domestic Product). Key sectors of the economy that use just-in-time inventory, like auto and computer manufacturing, scaled back production and closed plants.

The PMA wants to cripple the union and speed up the number of containers loaded and unloaded per hour. They want workers to compete with dockworkers in Hong Kong, who move three times more cargo per acre at a fraction of the wages. The union wants the new jobs created by new technology to be in their bargaining unit. Union workers moved a record amount of cargo in the last three months, and five workers died in the last seven months due to the incredibly high volume of cargo moved at the West Coast ports.

ILWU President James Spinosa offered to concede hundreds of union jobs to technology and outsourcing while the PMA imposed speedups and firings. In Portland and Oakland, workers protested and refused overtime. When locals passed resolutions to enforce the safety code, the PMA locked out the workers indefinitely.

The ILWU was founded by the old communist movement and opposed the war in Vietnam and apartheid. More recently they staged one-day strikes to stop the execution of Mumia and played a prominent role in the anti-WTO demonstrations. They hoped concessions would satisfy the bosses and that Democratic Party politicians would keep the White House from getting involved. U.S. bosses are in no mood for this type of challenge and will do everything necessary to whip the workers into line.

Instead of calling a strike, Spinosa is trying to outdo Ashcroft and Ridge as the defender of "national security." Before the contract expired on July 1, Homeland Security furher Ridge told the union that any job action would hurt "national security." Spinosa countered, "…anything our country needs in the interests of national defense, this union will provide." (Pacific Business News, 10/1) Oil imports and military cargo vessels were getting through.

Longshore workers are key to U.S. Homeland Security plans for a police state. At dozens of U.S. seaports and border crossings, special trucks are the "newest high-tech weapon for U.S. customs inspectors in the war on terrorism" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/21). One contract issue is whether the use of gamma rays by security scanning devices could pose a serious long-term health hazard, similar to asbestos.

Bush and Co. want to make the new Homeland Security Agency a non-union shop. They feel that even the slightest organization of the workers is a threat to national security. The liberals and union leaders are out to prove they are more red, white and blue than the "right-wingers." Both sides are leading the working class to fascism and war.

When millions of workers fought under communist leadership, sailors mutinied to defend a general strike in pre-revolutionary Russia. Longshore workers in Seattle threw military weapons into the Pacific Ocean that were being loaded for the invasion of the infant Soviet Union. As conditions sharpen over the coming years, a mass PLP will have the opportunity to transform these struggles into a force for revolutionary communism.

ILWU 3 Tier Weakens Struggle

The media claims that union dockworkers make $85,000 a year. The average pay is actually $68,000, unless a worker works double shifts, seven days a week, or is a foreman. But that’s not half the story.

The ILWU has three classes: "Steady men," "A men" and "B men." "Steady men" work every day, even if no ships are in the harbor. The "A men" work every day a ship is in port, and are guaranteed six days pay a month. That’s about half the 10,500 union membership. The other half is "B men," who only work when a ship’s in the harbor and all the "Steady men" and "A men" are working. "B men" get no work guarantees, and pay the same union dues as the other two groups.

Then there are 11,500 non-union "casuals." These workers are allowed into the union after accumulating 3,000 hours. They only work if the other 10,500 union members are all working. Many must juggle multiple temporary jobs along with dock work to support their families. For most it takes seven years to get into the union, and then they’re "B men."

How did this all happen to a communist-led union that was founded in the cauldron of the 1934 General Strike that shut down the Bay Area? The signing of the 1962 "mechanization" agreement that brought in containerization guaranteed "jobs for life" for all union members. But the bosses cut the workforce by not replacing all those who retired, quit, were fired or disabled. In effect, the union stopped fighting for the future of all working class young people who would be seeking jobs on the docks and the number of jobs dropped precipitously. The U.S. Labor Department used this contract as a model of how to usher in job-cutting mechanization and automation without a strike.

Slowly but surely, such pro-boss contracts spread the racist atmosphere that would shut out future black and Latin job seekers. The current union leadership boasts of its patriotism and support for the war. This ties the workers into defending the very system that exploits them and kills millions of our class brothers and sisters in imperialist wars. Once union officials become pro-capitalist, these developments are inevitable.

Liberal Democrats are Also Warmakers

The stakes are enormous as the bosses debate the details of invading Iraq. They all agree that U.S. imperialism must expand its chokehold on the energy treasures of the Persian Gulf and that this means war. They run the risk of needing to have the U.S. military occupying the entire region, slaughtering and terrorizing tens of millions of Arab Muslim workers and provoking mass anti-U.S. uprisings that could dwarf the Vietnam war.

The continuing status of U.S. imperialism as the top dog of the international profit system is at stake. This is why many liberal bosses, politicians, and their media mouthpieces have begun to rein in the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz faction of the Bush White House that wants to "go it alone" in Iraq. They forced Bush to address the UN in September. On October 5, the New York Times applauded Bush’s October 1 statement that "the military option is not the first choice" in Iraq.

The liberals want to cut deals with their most important junior partners in international crime to get them on board. The Russians are at the top of the list. U.S. and Russian oil bosses want Moscow to become an important U.S. energy supplier in the future. The Russians need money, and the U.S. energy barons would like to diversify their own sources of supply. This will take years to achieve. In any event, the U.S. will always need to control cheap Persian Gulf crude. So "a quick victory over Iraq seems to be a faster and easier way to maintain U.S. energy security…" (, 10/2).

The Russians have considerable interests in Iraq. The Iraqi government owes them billions in arms debt, a holdover from the Cold War. More significantly, Russian energy companies, as well as the French and Germans, have multi-billion dollar energy contracts pending to develop Iraqi oil and gas fields. They want assurances before the invasion, that the U.S. will honor these contracts after Saddam is gone. New York Times op-ed columnist Bill Keller sums up the situation: "…Saddam Hussein represents an insufferable menace, and…a convincing preparation for war is a prerequisite for any serious reckoning with him…[but] it would not kill us to offer some public assurances that Russia’s genuine economic stake in Iraq will be protected if Saddam is overthrown" (Oct. 5). This is what the liberals mean when they call for "the broadest possible international unity,": make sure all the jackals get a bite.

While the liberals joust with the Bush White House, preparations for war are well under way. The Pentagon is preparing for a "rapid massing of U.S. forces around Iraq in the weeks ahead" (Washington Post, Oct. 5). This mobilization allows for an attack as early as January and for a faster deployment once U.S. diplomacy manages to bribe Russian, French, and other imperialists into OK’ing the massacre. Liberal Democratic House Minority leader Gephardt waved a peace flag at a Sept. 29 fundraiser, then returned to Washington to broker a deal authorizing Bush to launch war in Iraq as he sees fit. Other important Democratic senators greasing the war machine’s skids include presidential hopefuls Joe Lieberman and John Edwards. Most House and Senate Democrats, writes the pacifist Nation, "are expected to vote in favor of authorizing Bush to mount a war—even a unilateral one—against Saddam Hussein" (Oct. 3).

War is coming, possibly within the next few months. While the New York Times calls for "farsighted" Congressional debate before the bloodletting begins (Editorial Oct. 5), we shouldn’t be fooled into believing that one gang of U.S. bosses wants peace while another wants war. The liberals’ caution is based on some of the possible far-reaching consequences: widespread urban fighting, use of Iraqi chemical-biological weapons against Israeli cities and Saudi oil fields, pre-emptive attacks against U.S. forces, unilateral Israeli pre-emption or retaliation, instability without end in post-Saddam Iraq, and an outbreak of anti-U.S. violence throughout the region by millions of impoverished, angry Arab workers with nothing to lose.

Imperialist war is not the end of history. Previous experiences in World Wars I and II proves that it can lead to the growth of revolutionary communist movements and the armed seizure of power by revolutionary communist parties. The class struggle has entered the early stages of a new period in the bloody rivalry for super-power status among the world’s bosses. Our job, in the years and decades ahead, is to create the conditions for a new period of international communist revolutions. Our Party’s modest growth in the short run, can help set the stage for this momentous transformation.

The Profit System Makes War Inevitable

NEW YORK CITY—On Oct. 6, tens of thousands of people took part in mass anti-war rallies in several cities, called by Not In Our Name (NION). The biggest one was in Central Park with about 20,000 demonstrators. PLP participated in several of these protests, distributing thousands of leaflets and hundreds of CHALLENGES.

Contrary to a year ago after 9-11, anti-war sentiment among the population is growing. A NY Times/CBS opinion poll reflects a widespread concern over Bush’s plans to attack Iraq. The poll, devised by the liberal media to reflect their own position, shows that 44% of those polled don’t want a "pre-emptive attack" against Iraq, and want the UN inspectors to be given a chance. While 54% said they would back military action even if it involved substantial U.S. losses, that figure dropped to 49% if the attack involved huge Iraqi civilian casualties. In addition, only 49% would support the war even if it became a prolonged one.

This poll reflects that the liberal Establishment section of the ruling class fears that "going it alone" in Iraq could be a domestic and international disaster for U.S. imperialism á la Vietnam (the Vietnam Syndrome still haunts the U.S. bosses). It also reflects that more people are concerned about being unemployed, paying the rent, putting food on the table and being able to retire with a pension and getting health care than about Hussein.

The morning after Bush’s latest televised speech on the need to invade Iraq (based on a "slanted and sometimes entirely false reading of the available US intelligence," London’s Guardian, 10/9), the New York Times editorial warned, "Not quite four decades ago, Lyndon Johnson learned to his and the nation’s sorrow that taking a reluctant country to war can severely damage the body politic. President Bush must be mindful of that danger as he draws the US ever closer to military conflict with Iraq."(10/8)

These protests, as well as those to be held on Oct. 26 in Washington, DC and on the West Coast, reflect the liberal point of view pushed by the NY Times. The fake leftists and celebrity organizers of NION do the work of the liberal bosses. The speeches at the rallies ignored the fact that imperialism and war go hand in hand. They called for everything from alternative energy sources to letting the UN inspectors do their work. But they didn’t have any analysis about why the U.S. needs war now to protect the bosses’ oil in the Middle East.

The only difference between the Bushites and the liberals is how and when U.S. imperialism should wage war to control the flow and profits of oil (see front page). Peace doesn’t have a chance under capitalism. As communists we don’t welcome war, but we do understand that it will happen as long as imperialism exists. Our task is to organize a mass communist movement that will prepare workers, soldiers and students to destroy the war makers and strike breakers once and for all. Join PLP

Garment Workers Talk About War

Angel: I don’t know much about history. I didn’t have much schooling. But I think this war is bad. It’s a question of those in power — and those who always suffer and die are the poor. But what can we do? We can’t do anything. We have to put up with it.

Alex: I don’t know anything about these things. At my job, no one talks about this. I’m new at the factory, and I haven’t made friends yet. The older ones talk among themselves, but not about these things. But I say they should stop this war because many innocent people are dying, especially children.

Jorge: The policy of the U.S. government is to obtain oil profits and spill the blood of innocent people. The fight is for oil in Iraq, to have more control, and make more millions. The war isn’t necessary. It will mean the deaths of innocent people: old people, women and children, who don’t know why or for what. But the millionaires in their competition don’t care about the lives of human beings, of the workers.

Sonia: Lately the news media is bombarding us with stupid patriotism. They ask that we pray for all the heroes who died in the Twin Towers. I don’t think they’re heroes. Yes, a lot of innocent people died without knowing they were going to be sacrificed for oil profits, the bosses’ thirst for profits. If they had known they were going to be sacrificed, they wouldn’t have been in this job.

Susana: I think about what will happen to my children. I don’t care if I die for my cause or my convictions. But workers who die to make capitalism more powerful, and think they’ll be heroes, are only leaving their children more years of exploitation, more years without providing solutions or changes in the way of life of the whole working class. I think the best inheritance we can leave our children and the youth is communist ideology so that maybe they can see our red flags over the White House or the Capitol, like the day the workers waved the red flag over Stalingrad after defeating the Nazi’s.

Lupe: I am filled with anger every time they talk about war, to think that so many people can be won to support the destruction of other human beings. Just to listen to the lies the bosses bombard us with everyday on the radio and television. They repeatedly tell you in a hypnotic manner that the devil of terrorism, Saddam Hussein, has to be smashed and that we must kill thousands of Iraqi’s to prevent this devil from attacking again. This doesn’t fool me. But if I didn’t know about politics, I would also be swallowing this fishhook. Fortunately I know a little bit about dialectics, thanks to PLP. And I can analyze the cause and effects of this bosses’ war. War means two important things: power for the bosses and destruction for workers. I don’t think it should be too hard to help a fellow worker to think the same way, to see the truth behind the news.

Working Under Capitalism Is Dangerous To Your Health

More than three workers die every minute worldwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from occupational injuries and illnesses. These 5,000 daily deaths — "much of which is attributable to unsafe working practices" — add up to two million a year, says an April 24th report by the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO). The study revealed that:

• Accidents cause 350,000 deaths a year;

• For every fatal accident, there are an estimated 1,000 non-fatal injuries, many of which result in lost earnings, permanent disability and poverty;

• Work kills more people than alcohol and drugs together;

• Hazardous substances kill 340,000 per year, asbestos accounting for 100,000;

• Exposure to daily occupational hazards such as dust, chemicals, noise and radiation cause untold suffering and illness, including cancer, heart diseases and strokes;

• Farm labor, construction and mining are the three most hazardous occupations.

The ILO says at least half the deaths from accidents could be prevented by safe working practices and that ALL accidents are avoidable and preventable. But workers know that unsafe conditions are directly traceable to the bosses’ drive to reap maximum profits by cutting corners on safety and by deliberately ignoring the danger of diseases at the workplace.

Capitalism makes war on the working class on the job every day. Truly, capitalism is a killer.

And Now Another 1.6 Million Die from War, Murder and Suicide

A new report by the UN’s World Health Organization says violence kills 1.6 million people per year worldwide. (They don’t include the two million the bosses kill at the workplace as "violence.")

This latest total includes war, suicide and murder. The report says, "Violence…is tied to income; the vast majority of violence-related deaths occurred in low-income countries." Interestingly, "violence, particularly war, seems to beget more violence…After wars, the levels of assault and violence remain higher than before," because more guns are available and more people have been trained to fight.

The report also says the solution is to treat violence as a "public health problem." But wars and low incomes are caused by capitalism, the same as workplace deaths and injuries. And the solution is the same — get rid of the profit system.

Brazil Elections: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Socialist Lula da Silva got 47% of the votes in the Oct. 6 Presidential election in Brazil. Since he didn’t win a majority there will be a second round in a few weeks. Some time ago, Lula, former head of the Metal Workers Union and head of the Labor Party (PT), changed his tune of favoring class struggle to one of "love and peace" with the bosses. He finalized it by choosing a millionaire textile boss as his running partner. This made him the favorite candidate of a large section of the São Paulo (the New York of Brazil) bourgeoisie and other bosses, religious leaders and even of many generals. They see Lula as the best way to control the angry masses of Brazil and avoid an Argentinean-type of mass rebellion. The PT already runs 7 cities in Brazil, including São Paulo. The PT politicians have been able to make workers sacrifice for the well-being of capitalism. It is clear that Lula will most likely win the election.

Lula promises to tax the rich more and fight the deep inequality in the country by doubling the buying power of workers, but these are just words in air. The reality is that the economy of Brazil is on the verge of collapsing because of the worldwide recession, the crisis of overproduction and the war among the imperialists for control of the world’s markets and labor. Eventually the working class will realize that Lula is nothing but a capitalist wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.

Some U.S. imperialists don’t see Lula as their ally. Lula’s PT has sponsored mass anti-free market activities in Brazil (the most recent one in Porto Alegre, a city run by the PT). These activities are mainly against the U.S. imperialists, and are supported by many who see the European Union as a "kinder imperialist." But many among the U.S. bosses also see that Lula can be good for U.S. interests in Brazil. After all, Lula has promised to keep on paying Brazil’s debt to the world’s bankers, keep public spending down, and open the Brazilian economy to more foreign investment. All of this is part of an IMF and World Bank $37 billion rescue plan for Brazil.

These promises to the world’s imperialists show that all the pro-working class promises made by Lula in his campaign are empty ones. Lula and the PT, just like the PRD in the cities it controls in Mexico, will just keep a lid on public spending, making workers accept more austerity measures.

The Brazilian bosses dream of joining the club of the imperialist masters of the world. That is why they don’t want just to be lap dogs of U.S. imperialism. This means that they need to control the MERCOSUR (the Common Market with Argentina and other smaller regional economies) and not become part of the U.S.-sponsored Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. To do that they must diversify, e.g. use the European imperialists to counter the U.S., and oppose U.S. plans (like Plan Colombia) that keep it in total control of South America. All these lead to a sharpening rivalry among the world’s imperialists and capitalists.

We in PLP must again warn workers that it is very dangerous to believe that some former union hack turned capitalist politician can save us from the hell of capitalism and imperialism. The only road to our liberation is the long, and hard struggle for a successful communist revolution.

Part-time teachers struggle at Chicago City Colleges

CHICAGO, IL October 8 — Today picketers greeted Truman College Board of Trustee member, Wayne Watson. In the midst of massive budget cuts, and negotiations for a new contract, part time teachers will take a strike authorization vote in two weeks. The old one expired on June 30. Teachers are demanding full-time jobs, one sick day per month, paid vacation and health care benefits with classroom hourly pay equal to Chicago Public School teachers. We also demand one hour’s preparation pay for every four hours of classroom instruction.

The City Colleges of Chicago serve 160,000 students, mainly immigrant workers who do not speak English, adults working long hours, young workers who didn’t finish high school, young single parents, etc. Severe city and state budget shortfalls, caused in part by cuts in federal funds, might close down this slice of public education for good.

Over the summer, the Illinois Community Colleges Board (ICCB) reported that state budget cuts of $500 million would have a big impact on the City Colleges. Grants and special budgets were eliminated or reduced. The $11.3 million Special Populations grant to help disabled students was wiped out. The $160,000 Special Initiatives grant and the $150,000 Leadership and Core Values grant were eliminated. Adult education was cut by $3.7 million, the base operations money by $1.9 million. At Daley College, the positions of coordinators, tutors and counselors have all been cut. At Truman, 43 employees were laid off. Student financial aid was slashed and more cuts are coming.

The Board has offered 750 Adult Education teachers and coordinators no raise for this year and 20 cents an hour for each of the following three years. They refused to give any paid sick days, health insurance, vacation days or increase in prep time. While the Board claims poverty, they voted to give administrators a 4% raise. Administrators with seven years seniority get free, lifetime health insurance. Adult educators and coordinators get none. Administrators get $500/month transportation allowances while their offer to us won’t pay for a bus ride.

At several campuses, PLP teachers and students are pointing out that the bosses’ priorities are war and a police state not educating immigrants and workers. We have participated in pickets, marches and teach-ins against the cuts. The best education workers and students can get out of this struggle is to learn how to fight for a society that serve their needs and not those of the warmakers and their stooges. Join the communist PLP.

USAS Conference – Boston, MA, August 2002

BOSTON, MA — Six PLP members were asked to leave the affiliate’s conference of the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) last August. USAS works closely with SEIU and UNITE and is a training ground for union activists and future misleaders. The ruling class needs groups like this to win workers and students to support the Democratic Party, the fascist Homeland Security and the invasion of Iraq.

We were expelled on the first day of the conference, solely on the grounds of our communist politics. A comrade from the Worker/Student Alliance at SUNY/Binghamton submitted a proposal that put forward anti-racist politics. But the USAS leadership destroyed this, the only proposal dealing with racism and proposed nothing in its place. Furthermore, any attempt to discuss, question or change USAS policies were put down.

When we asked why we were being expelled, some of the leadership whimpered, "I’m sorry, it just has to be this way." Others said, "There will be no discussion!" When we refused to leave, these liberal fascists called the police and we were thrown out.

Removing us did not keep us from fighting. We distributed a leaflet describing our expulsion to students attending the conference. We participated in USAS rallies to support striking Boston janitors and GAP workers, showing up with our own signs calling for international working class unity.

We defied the leadership and returned to the conference the next day. Three PLP members awaited the start of the "Solidarity Training" workshop, which was supposed to improve USAS anti-racist work. When the leadership told us we had to leave, we stood and explained to others that they were going to call the police to throw us out to prevent discussion on putting fighting racism on the USAS agenda. Sure enough, the police were called again and we were forced to leave. From the speech we gave at the workshop, to the suppression of our anti-racist proposal, to the presence of the police, everyone got a crystal-clear picture of the agenda of the USAS leadership.

We sold Challenge and made contacts with over 10% of the students at the conference. We found that some students were supportive of us, bothered that we were thrown out, but felt intimidated by the leadership. We explained our anti-racist and anti-imperialist ideas, and how only communist revolution can end sweatshops, racism, and fascist-style leadership. The most important battle for the student movement is exposing the role of the universities in building racism and support for imperialist war.

Real Unemployment Figures Explode Myth of Prosperous 90s

For decades CHALLENGE has been exposing the "official" unemployment and poverty rates as phony. Now the bosses’ media is finding it increasingly difficult to hide this fact.

While we’ve always known that one trick the rulers use is to omit from the jobless figures workers who’ve given up looking for work, it turns out that the numbers of such workers are far larger than customarily reported. Millions of male workers have dropped out of the labor force over the past "prosperity" decade, unable to find work paying nearly what their old blue-collar jobs paid. The bosses, in true capitalist/imperialist style, have moved many of these jobs to low-wage areas of the world. Over five million workers are forced to accept disability checks — averaging $800 a month, far less than unemployment insurance benefits — and are not counted in the unemployment rates. And even for those who keep looking and are counted, there has been a "long-term rise in the duration of unemployment."

The New York Times reported (9/29) that, "Today the real level of unemployment for men approaches the level of the recession-mired early ’80s." This increase occurred under Clinton’s so-called prosperity decade. In addition, as CHALLENGE has consistently reiterated, the prison population has skyrocketed to over two million (doubling under Clinton’s watch). This not only takes these workers out of the "official" labor force but causes millions more in their families to "suffer many of the consequences of joblessness," such as evictions and lack of health care. No wonder the French say the "U.S. has jailed its unemployment problem."

The Times admits this "Rise in the number of ‘missing workers’ calls into question the ‘great achievement’ of the 1990s economy." Of course, this mouthpiece for the ruling class does not admit it "calls into question" the ability of capitalism to provide a decent life for the working class. The Times even printed an op-ed article in the same issue entitled "Poverty Is More Than a Matter of Income."

While recent Census Bureau figures stated that 33 million people in the U.S. live below an all-too-narrowly defined poverty level (see CHALLENGE, 10/9), when measuring the assets of the poor, 25% of the U.S. population are "asset-poor." That is, if they lost their jobs and "had to live on only net worth — savings, home equity and other assets — they could survive at poverty levels for only three months."

Astoundingly, if they only had liquid assets to ride out unemployment (that is, not giving up their home), "the poverty rate jumps to nearly 40%"!

But this is not surprising when one considers that the top 20% of households own 83% of U.S. wealth (assets). and the bottom 60%, the majority, own less than 5%. Still worse, the bottom 40% own LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of total U.S. wealth.

All this, of course, hits black and Latino workers doubly hard because the bosses’ racism forces them to suffer double the jobless and poverty rates of white workers, and fills the jails with 70% black and Latino prisoners.

Given this sorry picture of U.S. capitalism sitting on the backs of its working class, now the rulers want to enhance their ability to intensify this hell by embarking on a series of imperialist wars to further control the world’s oil supply and increase their pool of exploited workers worldwide.

Yes, Karl Marx was right in analyzing the profit system as one that rests on the robbery of the value workers produce and control of the state apparatus to enforce that robbery. Need any more reason to join with the revolutionary communist PLP to wipe out that system and build a communist society that eliminates bosses, profits and their endless wars?

Red Eye On The News

RED EYE reprints clippings from the New York Times, British Manchester Guardian Weekly, and many other well-known capitalist publications. From their own papers we collect material which communists find useful in exposing capitalist maneuvers and weaknesses. Especially useful for students and others who want an "official source for important facts. Abbreviations: MG= Manchester Guardian; NYT= New York Times; MM=Multinational Monitor; LOW=Liberal Opinion Weekly; FT=Financial Times

Arabs distrust US plan for Iraq

A senior Arab official said Washington had not shared any of its ideas on who might rule Iraq if Mr. Hussein is ousted by force. "Everyone is asking, ‘Where is the Karzai for Iraq?’" he said, referring to Hamid Karzai, the American-backed leader of Afghanistan.

"But what is Karzai?" the official said, "He’s a U.S. stooge. No one wants a U.S. stooge in the region." (NYT 10/8)

US oil firms $upport war

A U.S.-led ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could open a bonanza for American oil companies long banished from Iraq, scuttling oil deals between Baghdad and Russia, France and other countries and reshuffling world petroleum markets, according to industry officials and leaders of the Iraqi opposition.

(MG 9/25)

People don’t want this war

Representative Lynn Woolsey, Northern California Democrat, said mail and calls from district residents were running 200 to 1 against a war with Iraq.

(NYT 9/21)

Capitalism-as-usual (no security) comes to Japan, and schoolkids turn violent

YOKOHAMA, Japan — By sixth grade, a growing generation of preteenage rebels has begun walking in and out of classrooms at will, mocking the authority of adults and even attacking teachers who try to restrain them.

Similar problems show up in higher grades too, with nearly half of all high schools reporting violence, higher dropout rates and problems like student prostitution.

"Up until now, Japan was a society in which children obeyed adults, but this relationship between children and adults is no longer workable, because the system was built around the idea that by doing well in school you should enter a good company, and having lifetime security," said Naoki Ogi, an education expert. "Over the last 10 years, however, Japan hasn’t found a way out of its economic depression, and from the children’s viewpoint, the academic record-oriented system has collapsed. Moral values are collapsing, too.

"So children feel they have no one they can trust, no adult society they can look up to."

(NYT 9/23)

Darwin said humans gain by cooperation, NOT by dog-eat-dog

So why is it that most of us don’t know what a great guy Darwin was?

In his case, bias has been compounded between his theory of evolution by natural selection and the perversion by philosopher Herbert Spencer of one aspect of this idea, so-called "social Darwinism." This is the view, explicitly rejected by Darwin, that all human existence is a cutthroat competition in which only the fittest are meant to survive.

This idea isn’t science at all. Our capacity to cooperate has given our species a powerful selective advantage. What a hideous irony that the tiny amount of science that many of us think we know is merely a perversion of a profound spiritual insight — that all life is kinship.

(MG 9/25)


Workers of the World, Write!

Bavaria Brewery Enforces Plan Colombia

"You are with the company or against it!" Repeating fascist Bush’s warning to the entire world, the Bavaria brewery bosses are telling workers to accept the company’s new contract offer. The company is using its flunkeys in the plant to force workers to quit the union (Sinaltrabavaria). The bosses even offered workers $300 as an incentive to quit the union.

Unfortunately some workers, lacking any class-consciousness, accepted the bribe and gave up the years of struggle it took to get the few benefits from the company. This is a betrayal of those workers who are still fighting for the union and our rights.

This is the kind of democracy the bosses want. In Colombia, only 3% of the labor force is unionized. Now that the friend of the Death Squad, Uribe, is President, the attacks against unionists will increase. Already, the death squads have killed thousands of unionists in the last few years (CHALLENGE has had numerous articles on the murders of several Coca Cola union activists). Unfortunately, many union leaders still have illusions in the bosses’ democracy. The Sinaltrabavaria leaders are still hoping to defeat the company’s latest attacks through legal means.

PLP supports the struggle of Bavaria workers for their union. At the same time, we must point out the limitations of struggling just for trade unionism in this time of growing war and fascism. The best way to fight the bosses and their terrorist death squads is to build a massive struggle for a society where workers produce according to their needs, a communist society without any bosses.

Red Worker

PLP at Anti-Globalization DC Protests

The last weekend of September in DC saw PLP’ers engaged in a wide variety of agitation and base building during the protests and demonstrations. On Friday during the "People’s Strike" comrades handed out leaflets about the Oil War, about PLP, as well as some Challenge/Desafíos. Several Latino workers were very responsive to the Desafío distribution.

On Saturday comrades did the same at the Anti-Globalization Rally at the Washington Monument. Many ISO folks were out there, but people seemed to be much more responsive to us. People were finding out who the REAL revolutionaries are!

On Sunday comrades distributed Challenge and leaflets to over 900 demonstrators at the Anti-War Rally in Dupont Circle. Throughout the whole weekend, we handed out over 1,500 leaflets and distributed over 250 Challenges.

Forward to REVOLUTION! Forward PLP!


Jailbreak from Greens Jail

Recently, the Green Party candidate for governor of California, Peter Miguel Camejo, spoke on a Los Angeles university campus. He said that the African American and Latino communities are prisoners of the Democratic Party, and the Greens represent the "jailbreak." While he presented many interesting facts about the world situation, his analysis reveals that the Green Party is really a prisoner of doomed reformism.

We wrote a statement/question to expose the failure of electoral politics and move the discussion to the left. The participation and comments of others helped sharpen the question.

After the speech the floor was opened for questions. A comrade said, "After studying the Patriot Act, secret evidence, secret trials, the arrest and deportation of thousands of our Muslim and Latin brothers and sisters, the FBI requesting student records even on our own campus without probable cause, the TIPS program asking workers to spy on other workers, the Homeland Security department threatening to break the dock worker’s strike, many people including myself think we are in a time of growing fascism…" She said that historically electoral, reformist parties like the Greens spread deadly illusions about the nature of fascism and misled workers and students towards elections instead of organizing to fight capitalism, the cause of war and fascism. "How would you differentiate the Green Party from these failed and ultimately dangerous reformist parties?" she asked.

Camejo revealed there is absolutely no difference. He said "the U.S. is not in a period of growing fascism" because "most citizens and the Republican and Democratic Parties still believe in democracy." He said we could reform the system by voting for Green Party candidates. This is exactly what the German and Italian Social-Democratic Parties said even as Mussolini and Hitler took power.

Capitalist elections never lead to workers taking power. The Greens won’t fight for workers’ power or to end capitalism: the source of racist inequality and wars for profit. They want the capitalist pie divided more equally, which will not happen, especially in this period of crisis. The Greens are appealing because they give many facts that Democrats and Republicans cover up. But unless they are connected to a larger political-economic analysis of imperialism, they mean nothing. While the Greens feel they are a jailbreak from the Democratic Party, the only jailbreak for the working class is studying dialectical materialism and fighting for communist revolution.

After the event we distributed CHALLENGE and made plans to meet several people for coffee to discuss these ideas further. Since then, Governor Davis again betrayed immigrant workers by refusing to sign a bill granting drivers’ licenses to those in the process of becoming permanent residents. Some immigrants’ rights leaders are supporting Camejo for Governor in response to this slap in the face by Davis. Many people are attracted to the Greens because Davis was involved with the energy companies in robbing the California treasury of billions of dollars. But no politician can change the nature of capitalism. Fighting the illusion that capitalism can be worker-friendly and peaceful is an important step toward building a mass PL to destroy capitalism.

Red not Green

Dockworkers Need Militant Solidarity

The Bush gang invoked the Taft Hartley Act to reopen the 29 West Coast ports shut by the lockout of 10,500 Longshoremen. The bosses are playing hardball. In Oakland alone some 30 carriers move 20% of West Coast exports, including electronic parts and foodstuffs from the Central Valley.

These negotiations hit at the heart of a simmering division in the US ruling class that has resurfaced over how to conduct a war on Iraq. US bosses with heavy investments in domestic oil and domestic industries have cultivated mass movements in groups like the Christian Fundamentalists. The liberal Rockefeller, Exxon Mobil, imperialists have replied by turning, among other things, to the unions. The ILWU has been a poster boy for the liberals, and has not won any favors with the White House. But it is the strategic role the West Coast ports play in the Bush scheme of things that has brought Tom Ridge and the matter for Homeland Security into the picture.

It is a sorry state of affairs for dockworkers, made even sorrier by a union leadership that is not prepared to tap into the potential strength and unity of the whole working class to answer these attacks.

Over 4,700 autoworkers at the joint GM-Toyota NUMMI plant were laid off when the engines and transmissions shipped via the port to this just-in-time assembly plant could not be unloaded. Yet no march of autoworkers and longshoremen protesting the lockout was called.

The port of Oakland lies next to some of the poorest neighborhoods in California. Yet, the union doesn't demand that the benefits of automation be passed on to the working class through a shorter workweek with no loss in pay. (The union won the 6-hour day over 30 years ago. Longshoremen work 8-hour shifts with 2 hours of overtime.)

Longshoremen are vital links in a chain of West Coast workers who create billions of dollars every just-in-time day. Their enormous potential is wasted by pro-capitalist, pro-Rockefeller union leaders. The job of communists in the unions is to demand and organize action against lockouts, against layoffs and outsourcing of jobs, and against the war plans of all the US bosses!

A Reader

Anti-Muslim Racism on the Rise as War Looms

On September 13, a racist woman in a roadside restaurant claimed she overheard three Muslim medical students making "suspicious comments." The students had stopped to eat in Georgia on their drive south to Larkin Community Hospital in Miami where they were assigned to work. The racist called the cops who sent out bulletins all over Florida for three young men, including one with a long beard wearing a skullcap. The students were pulled over on a Florida highway, their car was ransacked and they were held and questioned in a hot police van for 17 hours. Despite news reports that some of their belongings had been "detonated," they were finally released and the police called it "a mistake."

The only "terror" involved was experienced by the Muslim students. The hospital withdrew its offer for their medical training, even though this harassment was based on racist profiling. Ayman Gheith, who is from Illinois, finished his pre-med courses at the university where I teach and is well thought of here. Family members and classmates were shocked and angry. An article appeared in the campus paper. Meanwhile, cops and pro-war patriots hailed the racist as a good citizen who did the right thing!

This is what the rulers have in mind when they speak of Homeland Security, a nation of snitches reporting to the police, who can detain or kill a "suspect" on the whim of an ignorant racist. Thousands of immigrants have been rounded up, questioned, held without charges and deported in the name of the "War on Terror." This racist is a good Nazi soldier, goose-stepping in line. And we can expect to see more.

Homeland Security Fuhrer Tom Ridge is the scheduled keynote speaker at the APHA (American Public Health Association) Convention in Philadelphia next month. While over 45 million live with no health insurance and public hospitals like Cook County are reduced from 900 to 400 beds, the entire emphasis of public health is being turned toward "fighting terrorism" (bio-chemical attacks, anthrax, etc). For the Muslim students held in Florida, for the thousands being detained and deported, for the millions with no insurance, and the millions more with no hospital beds, we should give fascist Tom Ridge the welcome he deserves.

By the way …

Quote of the Year

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trial, 1946

Barefoot Doc