*While the DC sniper scare made the Bushites changed their focus for the moment, they used the sniper murders to win support for "Homeland Security" and his police state measures.
* In Indonesia the terror bombing that killed 200 civilians proves that al Qaeda and its pals are far from done.
* CIA chief Tenet told Congress that the likelihood of another mass terror attack on U.S. soil is as great now as in the months before 9/11.
* North Korea, another nation in Bush's "axis of evil," just admitted having had nuclear weapons for several years.
Tactically, the liberal U.S. rulers have come out on both sides of Bush's war plans. On the one hand, Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Richard Gephardt, and Joe Lieberman have given him the green light. On the other, The New York Times, in its lead editorial on October 20, complains that Bush has unnecessarily delayed approving the "Homeland Security" bill, that the Immigration and Naturalization Service is a "mess," and that Bush's boast about having routed al Qaeda is "to say the least, premature." The Times concludes by warning Bush to get his "priorities in order" before beginning "any risky foreign initiative."
The liberals agree that U.S. oil giants must control the spigot of Persian Gulf energy wealth. They understand that this means military action, but are increasingly concerned about timing and consequences. That's why they are also backing the latest version of a peace movement. They want to buy time in order to prepare for a future of Persian Gulf oil wars on a scale far grander and deadlier than Iraq.
A number of military bigwigs side with the liberals. Among them is the former head of the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East, Anthony Zinni, who said, "I'm not convinced we need to [invade Iraq] now...[Saddam] can be deterred and is containable at this moment." He warns that war with Iraq will require hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, and that the cost will be high. More significantly, he predicts that installing a pro-U.S. government in Iraq "will [not] occur easily." (Salon.com, 10/17)
Bush/Cheney seem to think they can oust Saddam on the cheap, leave a few troops for show, and then set up a puppet regime that will pump the oil in any direction the U.S. wants. The liberals want to get rid of Saddam, but fear that an ill-conceived invasion could provoke mass anti-U.S. uprisings throughout the Arab world, upsetting their goal of dominating the world's richest oil supplies for the foreseeable future. This is the bin Laden-al Qaeda strategy, and so far, U.S. rulers have yet to prove that they can counter it.
The Bush gang is trying to guarantee that the U.S. will honor the multi-billion dollar contracts that the Russian and European oil barons already have in Iraq. But Saddam Hussein has dropped the surcharge on Iraqi oil, encouraging French, Italian and Spanish oil firms to sign new deals. He's also trying to increase ties to Russian energy businesses. One of them, Zarubezhneft, may have won concessions worth up to $90 billion. "There are now over 30 deals signed and ready to be implemented the moment that sanctions are lifted." (The Economist 10/10)
The price for European and Russian "support" for war will increase as their investments in Iraq grow. A pro-U.S. Iraqi puppet government declaring all contracts signed by Saddam null and void would drastically sharpen the contradictions between the U.S. and their European and Russian "allies." The liberals want a more measured approach toward sharing the Iraqi energy treasure with potential junior partners. But agreements among imperialists are built on sand, broken whenever a better deal comes along. Imperialist rivalry inevitably leads to war.
The profit system offers us a choice between a two-bit, half-cocked war-maker like Bush and an Exxon Mobil Democratic Party war machine with long-range plans to dwarf any slaughter for oil that he can envisioned. No one should mistake these liberals for "lesser-evil" alternatives to Bush & Co.
Our hope lies in destroying the profit system, which makes imperialist oil wars inevitable, not in a liberal-led "peace movement." We should fight, but not for the rulers' agenda. Our battles must lead to revolutionary communism. Building a mass, international PLP is the key to achieving this goal.
First, the PLP extends its sympathy to the innocent working class victims of these assaults and their families and loved ones. There is no possible rationale for murdering innocent people.
At the same time the capitalists are using the sniper to practice their plans for domestic repression of the working class. The rulers fear opposition to the war and depression which lie ahead. Why not get ready, they think, for the inevitable opposition? They've already passed a host of new laws that make civil liberties an outdated joke. The day of the shooting in Ashland, Va. (Sat. Oct. 19), every car leaving DC and going to Maryland at Chevy Chase Circle (and other sites) were stopped and searched -- over 80 miles from the scene of the crime! Drivers were detained, trunks were opened and items were pulled out. Terrified drivers allowed these illegal and invasive searches thinking they would help find the sniper even though they made no difference. These measures set up people for fuller fascist measures in the future, for any excuse the cops might invent.
Capitalism creates the conditions for murderous rampages. For example, the government mobilized 1000 cops, complete with helicopters and rooftop snipers, to protect 300 Nazis in August in D.C. The Nazis are terroristic, racist murderers, like the Chicago area serial murderer a couple of years ago who was a member of Matthew Hale's racist World Church of the Creator. In fact, on the Nazi website, two books are prominently advertised--the Turner Diaries, a manual for race war that was a blueprint for Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing, and Hunter, a manual for white supremacist urban snipers which strongly parallels today's maniac. The Nazis love this kind of terror! And the ruling class loves them! It keeps the Nazis around as possible paramilitary forces against communists and others who fight back against the capitalist system. If the sniper is not a white supremacist, he/she is acting just like one!
In this case, the police implemented a post-9/11 collaboration plan among all police agencies in the area in order to deal with the sniper; the military, in partnership with the FBI and multiple police departments, is flying special surveillance planes in the Washington, D.C. airspace in a clear departure from the late 19th century law banning the use of the military for domestic purposes. None of their high-tech gadgets or collaborative planning has helped track down the sniper, but it has surely been good practice for using more repressive measures against urban rebellions and mass protest.
And so, as we mourn with the families and victims of the sniper, we must keep a clear perspective and a clear eye on the prize - capitalism has much worse in store for us, and the depredations of the system can only be stopped by workers' revolution.
A few weeks ago, the North Korean government announced the establishment of an "international financial zone" in Sinuiju, an area that borders China. This free market zone, the "Korean Hong Kong," will operate autonomously with its own legal and economic system. It will issue its own passports and name its own police chief. As The Economist (10/12) says: "The idea of a capitalist zone in Sinuiju appeared to be...even bolder than China's decision in 1980 to establish what it called `special economic zones,' in which capitalist-style policies were introduced."
Yang Bin, the second richest man of China, was named director of this new region. Yang, who holds dual Chinese-Dutch citizenship, owns the Hong Kong-based EuroAsia Agricultural Holdings. He was arrested as he was crossing the border from China to North Korea, accused of tax violations and of siphoning money from his Hong Kong company to Holland Villages, a Dutch construction company he also owns. The Chinese ruling class is afraid that their North Korean "allies" might offer even cheaper labor than that available in China. This is capitalist competition -- not communism.
In July, the North Korean government announced the end of its rationing and distribution system that gave workers free food and electricity. One government official said the new method has been instituted to make workers "show enthusiasm for work." Workers' wages rose by an average of 1700%, but the price of rice increased by 43,750%! "Increased wages for factory and corporation workers fell short of what they had anticipated, and some corporations, due to fund shortages, issued `promissory certificates' to their employees instead of wages in cash." (English.chosun.com, 9/4). Workers must now increase their productivity to get paid.
Meanwhile, North Korea's road to normalize relations with Japan, South Korea and the U.S., and get their investments, hit a little nuclear bump. North Korean admissions that it is building nuclear weapons have caused a major turmoil, putting the Bushites on the spot. Knowing well that U.S. imperialism now only attacks militarily weak countries with oil (like Iraq), the military powerful North Korean rulers are using the nuclear issue "as part of a broader strategy to push Washington into final peace talks...And, as the U.S. has tacitly revealed that it does not consider a pre-emptive military strike an option for dealing with a state already in possession of nuclear weapons -- as opposed to one still developing them like Iraq -- Pyongyang is fairly confident that Washington will engage in negotiations rather than military brinkmanship."(Stratfor.com, 10/18).
While government officials and bureaucrats might become richer as the country runs into free market capitalism, most North Korean workers will suffer even more exploitation. Free markets will never solve the problems caused by capitalism. Only by establishing a communist society, where workers rule without bosses, can we serve the needs of the international working class.
It all started when workers found out that the boss had knocked off two pennies from the piece price of their operation. The boss said she had no alternative but to lower the piece rate because the manufacturer, Lucky Brand, lowered the price it paid her for each garment. The workers refused to accept this.
Other workers not immediately affected by the cuts, decided to take on the fight as their own. As one worker put it, "We are all in the same boat. What affects one affects us all." Women workers took the lead, going from section to section until all the sewing machines stood idle and all 300 workers had joined the strike.
The boss went crazy. Never before had she faced the unity and militancy shown by these workers. Her first reaction was to yell, "If you don't want to work, go home!" The workers responded, "We are not working and we are not leaving. We won't let you bring in other workers to do our job."
The boss tried different tricks and threats but the workers stood firm. The strike started at 8:00 A.M. No worker went to breakfast. At lunchtime, no one went out lunch. By 1:30 P.M., the boss was desperate. She ordered her foreman to start closing the doors, while yelling at the workers to go home. The workers refused one more time. "I'll call the cops to kick you out and arrest you!" roared the boss. "Call the cops, we don't care. We are not moving. We are fighting for our rights," responded the workers.
Then the boss used the biggest threat of all: to call the hated "Migra." When this failed, the boss gave into the workers' demand.
This was a very impressive show of workers' power. The unity, determination and fighting spirit of the working class shone brightly in spite of the individualism, selfishness, competitiveness, pessimism and despair that the bosses constantly barrage our class with.
It was a spontaneous strike. Its demands were very modest. Some of the workers know our Party, and our communist ideas played a small conscious part in the struggle. Yet it is very inspiring to see workers militantly taking on our class enemies. It is completely the opposite of the electoral approach preached and practiced by the bosses' politicians, their leaders in the unions and community organizations.
It bodes well for the communist movement. It shows that workers are mad and ready to fight. It is up to us to build the ties and develop the tactics and strategy that will enable us to lead the workers' daily struggles for survival with communist ideas. CHALLENGE and PLP must grow among these workers so that these struggles will become part of the fight to eliminate the bosses and their exploitation with communist revolution.
PLP showed a powerful and much needed presence by carrying banners attacking imperialism and holding red flags high. A multi-racial contingent of youth and workers marched under our banners. We distributed a couple of thousand leaflets, hundreds of CHALLENGES, for which we received donations, and led other marchers in anti-imperialist chants. Our signs and chants were in clear contrast to the hundreds of "Stop Bush," signs distributed by march organizers.
The liberals are trying to focus people's anger solely towards Bush. Yet the vote in Congress to give Bush power to attack Iraq reveals the class nature of imperialism. It is the capitalist class, including Gephardt, Daschle, and all the other profit-mongers that perpetuate endless imperialist war to protect their power.
Several comrades invited friends from the anti-war coalitions and campus organizations where we are active to join us for dinner afterwards. The energy in the room was extremely moving. A comrade stood and invited everyone to sing the Internationale in English and Spanish. This provided a revolutionary atmosphere, dramatically different from the march.
We introduced ourselves and shared our ideas, which covered a wide range of topics. One friend spoke about the need to turn the anti-war movement into a revolutionary anti-imperialist movement to smash capitalism. Another friend spoke about a communist future where our children will live in a world without exploitation and the miseries of capitalism. Several people spoke about fighting for immigrants' rights, indigenous rights, and fighting racism. Others said how happy they were to see they are not alone in opposing the war. CHALLENGE was distributed to all and plans were made to meet again.
We learned several things from this experience. The liberals maintain a stranglehold on most anti-war demonstrations, and we should not spend most of our time fighting for the leadership of coalition meetings. Our strength lies in doing the hard day-to-day work of fighting racism, fascism and connecting the struggle of workers with the political struggle on our campuses, at our jobs and at our places of worship. This is where we build long-term friendships and honest political alliances. With our friends and allies we can sharpen the contradictions inside the reformist movements. We can also create alternative spaces (like the restaurant where we had dinner) where people can express their righteous anger and revolutionary hope for the future. The best way we can give leadership to these demonstrations is by winning people to fight imperialism, racism and to ally with the working class so that we can fight for communist revolution.
About 10-15 pro-war demonstrators said they were coming to "f *** them up!" The PLP member welcomed all in attendance, including those who were pro-war, because he did not want to "preach to the choir." This disarmed the hostility of the pro-war forces. Of all the anti-war speakers, only one, other than the PLP member, gave the true reason for the war -- which is oil.
Although the rally was held indoors due to inclement weather, the crowd participated in chants and was given a variety of information including CHALLENGE and PLP leaflets.
A pro-war Gulf War veteran gave a speech, which consisted of the same flag-waving racist propaganda that the fascist administration has been dishing out for over a year. The response he received was less than encouraging. The crowd laughed, only the other pro-war folks in the room clapped. Another pro-war veteran demanded to speak, but stormed off with the rest of his fascist friends when he was told he would have to wait until the planned speakers had finished.
The PLP member spoke about how U.S. imperialism wants to control the 100 billion barrels of oil reserves in Iraq, and showed a map of the Iraqi oilfields, making the connection between capitalism, oil and U.S. imperialism. He discussed the corporate connections of the Bush administration and the large U.S. military buildup to protect the oil pipelines and shipping routes in Afghanistan and the Philippines. He said, "The U.S. is the only country to use nuclear weapons on another country...and...is currently using chemical and biological weapons...to eradicate the coca crops in Colombia, poisoning water supplies, destroying livestock, and...killing children."
The audience gave him a standing ovation. One demonstrator said, "He told the truth. He urged people to get involved." Teachers thanked him for giving a message that "needed to be heard." This rally showed that people are hungry for change and for a revolutionary party to take charge and lead the way towards a better future. People in this tiny coal-mining town seek revolution. Developing a PLP group is the next item on the anti-war agenda!
The workers were lowered from the furnace by a crane basket and rushed by helicopters to the University of Michigan hospital. Both had second- and third-degree burns and injuries to their airways. If they survive, they will be hospitalized for months. One Rouge worker said, "The high-pressure steam will cut right through you. It can cut your arm off, your leg off." Rouge Steel boss Hornberger said there wasn't any pattern of safety problems. But a Rouge worker said, "Nothing's changed. They're never held responsible for any deaths."
Even though the State Department of Consumer and Industry Services, a government agency, which oversees workplace safety in Michigan, and Rouge Steel, is "investigating" how the steam escaped. The government always protects capitalists like Henry Ford, a friend and admirer of Hitler, and the founder of the Rouge Steel plant. A Rouge worker said, "Nothing's changed. They're never held responsible for any deaths." But workers must make the change and hold the bosses responsible as we move toward communism -- where safety of the workers is primary.
According to the UN's International Labor Organization (ILO), at least half of the 5,000 daily job related deaths could be prevented by safe working conditions, and all accidents are preventable. But under the profit system, profits come first. The best health and safety measure we can take is to build a mass PLP and literally, fight for our lives.
NO PATTERN OF SAFETY PROBLEMS?
The 1,100-acre Rouge complex comprises six Ford Motor Co. plants and Rouge Steel. Recent serious accidents at the Rouge complex:
Feb. 24, 2001: One man is killed and another injured when a steam turbine ruptured while the men were testing it.
Jan. 6, 2001: Four explosions and spillage of 2,000-degree molten steel at the Rouge Steel plant left two workers with minor injuries.
Jan. 7, 2000: Molten steel exploded in a vat at Rouge Steel, sparking a series of small fires and causing two minor injuries.
Aug. 19, 1999: One worker died and four others were treated after being overcome by fumes while performing routine maintenance work at Rouge Steel.
Feb. 1, 1999: A boiler undergoing routine maintenance exploded at a Ford power plant within the complex, killing six employees and injuring 14. State regulators later found 15 workplace safety violations for which Ford was fined $1.5 million.
Source: Detroit Free Press library.
Today's strike was not supported by two of the three major union federations (CISL and UIL) in Italy, which are hoping to make a deal with the rightwing Berlusconi government. Meanwhile, the CGIL union federation, which organized the general strike, is using the working class to bring in a "lesser evil" government.
No bourgeois government functions in the interests of the working class, they all represent the bosses. The power shown by workers in Italy, through their mass general strikes in the last year, must become a school for communism. Workers must learn from their struggles that the only solution for workers' is to build a revolutionary communist movement to smash capitalism.
Another doctor said, "We always waited for others to take the initiative to strike in the Social Security Institute (public healthcare). It was time that we saw that the capitalist system affects all the workers no matter what they do."
A patient of the Social Security Institute(ISSS) said, "One can survive the privatization of electricity or the telephones. But with health care as a commodity to generate profits, a person has only one choice, pay or die."
Salvadoran capitalists have targeted the ISSS for several years. The businessmen's group ENADE 2002 concluded, "Social Security must be modernized and this can only be done by making it private." The World Bank and the IMF have told the local pro-U.S. capitalists that privatization can lower their debt. "The electoral parties have tried to profit from our struggle," said one of the doctors. The FMLN, as the voice of European imperialism here, prefers the "social security" system á la European. But "private" or "public," there is no "lesser evil" boss.
When Social Security was established in 1950, there were jailings and disappearances. The bosses saw it only as an expense, even though the money for it comes from the profits generated by the labor of the workers who use it. Now that the institution presents the possibility of being profitable, they fall on it like starving hyenas.
We support the striking workers who are showing that there are only two classes -- the oppressed and the oppressors. But militant union struggle by itself will never liberate the working class from the chains of the bosses' profit system. Only by destroying capitalism can we build a society that serves the working class. To lead the workers to power we must involve ourselves in the battles in which our class confronts the capitalist enemy. That's why PLP is supporting the strike. In this struggle we can spread communist ideas and expand the circulation of CHALLENGE. "The working class has no borders!"
The Brazilian ruling class, represented by the big industrialists in São Paulo, the church, the hierarchy of the army and part of international finance capital, is using the Workers Party to negotiate with the IMF. "Lula represents labor and I represent capital," said Alencar, who owns the Coteminas textile company, with a payroll of more than 18,000 workers. Enrique Iglesias, president of the Inter-American Development Bank said of Lula, ".... the markets will negotiate with him." The Financial Times, representing liberal European capital, asked the IMF to "give an opportunity to Lula and to Brazil." Roberto Setubal, owner of ITAU, the second largest private bank in Brazil, supports Lula's candidacy and defended him in a meeting of big finance capital in Washington, DC.
Lula's past as a union leader and his past anti-American rhetoric maintain the illusion that his election will benefit the workers. But the downturn in the Asian, African and South American economies has been caused by overproduction and overcapacity internationally, not the lack of a "workers" president (whether a "leftist" like Chavez or a rightist like Lech Walesa). We need communist revolution that will base production on meeting the needs of the working class and not capitalist profits.
The nationalist bosses want Lula's PT to breathe life into the MERCOSUR trading block (Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina). They want to dominate the South American trading block as a counter weight to the Free Trade Agreement pushed by Washington, and to strengthen their position in doing business with European and U.S. imperialists. Brazilian rulers dream of leading an alliance with Venezuela, and MERCOSUR.
The U.S. imperialists are using the IMF loan of $30 billion to save the bankrupt Brazilian capitalists and U.S. investments in Brazil. This is both a threat and a bribe. South America is one more battlefield between U.S. and European imperialists. Workers have nothing to gain by supporting Lula and the PT. We must build a mass international communist movement which will lead the working class to power that's the goal of PLP.
Faculty contract negotiations have stalled. Teachers are talking about job actions, including a strike, for the first time in campus history. The president, who has never taught, is trying to break the union through backroom negotiating with the faculty senate. As with the Chicago teachers (CHALLENGE 10/23) the status of Part-Timers is a major issue. They are over 800 strong and teach 50% of the English and math courses and 30% of all classes. They have no health care, job security, or conference hours, and they are among the lowest paid Part-Timers in the state.
The college is awash in money, but the president refuses the most minimal concessions. Even the conservative accreditation team criticized the college's morale problem. Hundreds of students have supported the faculty and are ready to go on strike. The campus is buzzing with activism.
In this atmosphere, Students for Social Justice has raised broader political issues, sponsoring the teach-in on the imperialist struggle over control of oil. One major issue is challenging the assumption, promoted by so-called leftists like Tom Hayden, that we are all to blame for the oil wars because of our wasteful lifestyles and gas guzzling SUV's. Not many students have SUV's on this working class campus!
At the teach-in, one speaker showed how only 14% of the oil consumed here comes from the Middle East, while Europe and Japan must import much or all of their oil. The intense imperialist rivalry over petroleum resources will profit the wealthiest oil companies like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron-Texaco but will provide nothing for working people except cutbacks in social services and genocidal war.
Other speakers criticized U.S. policies and the atrocities in Afghanistan since 9/11 in which "nation-building" amounts to bombing civilians and hiring warlord thugs to do their bidding. Another person spoke about their recent trip to Palestine and Israel where full-blown Israeli government fascism holds Palestinians in the most abysmal conditions. Finally, an attorney addressed the abuses in the USA PATRIOT Act and related legal assaults on all immigrants. When a member of the audience pointed out that oil profits went to the ruling class and called for a fight to end the capitalist profit system, he was applauded.
A core leadership group is growing in Students for Social Justice. Some of them are attending anti-war demonstrations off-campus for the first time. Ideologically, they are shaking themselves free of anarchist influences and liberal illusions through a combination of activism and study of capitalism's contradictions and the bloody legacy of imperialist war. An anti-war rally is planned for next week.
There are contradictions within the ruling class, but when it comes to attacking the workers, there is usually more unity than disunity. As the CD editorial pointed out, the New York Times praised Bush for using Taft-Hartley to open the docks saying he "was fully justified," and that "most Presidents would have taken similar action under the circumstances."
The bosses are united in driving down the workers living conditions, pensions, health care, etc. Clinton and Bush, Democrats and Republicans, all backed NAFTA and doing away with welfare. While the liberals want to use the unions to campaign during elections and to win them to war, the fact is that union membership nationally has dropped to about 10% of the workforce. In formerly union-dominated industries like auto, steel and coal mining, between 30%-40% of the workforce belonged to unions. For their own political purposes the AFL-CIO has "organized" some janitors and home health care workers, but that hasn't put a dent in the overall trend. The LA garment center remains a 150,000-worker open shop. The liberals didn't come to the aid of the longshoremen any more than they defended the Boeing workers from their recently imposed contract.
The letter also implies that we should demand a shorter workweek with no loss in pay, and concludes, "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 U.S. bosses!"
I think this is reformism based on frustration at the slow pace of the revolutionary struggle. The main job of communists, in the unions or anywhere else, is to fight for communism by building a mass, international PLP. That is why we fight layoffs, outsourcing, war plans, or police terror. PLP spent a long time fighting for the shorter workweek, and decided some time ago that it did more harm than good in building the Party and mass communist consciousness.
We are on our own "Long March" to communist revolution. We have to struggle with each other against mechanical thinking. "Objectivity" and "Patience" must be our watchwords.
On Sept. 26, 2002, the Senegalese navy packed over 1,200 workers and their families on a state-owned ferry built for half that number. The ferry quickly capsized and more than a 1,000 passengers died. At about the same time, 120 Somalis and Ethiopians seeking jobs in Persian Gulf oil fields boarded another boat. Its engine failed and the craft drifted for 17 days in the Gulf of Aden, crossing the paths of countless U.S. warships, none of which bothered to help. The U.S. Navy has an armada in the Gulf, protecting Exxon Mobil's tankers, seeking al Qaeda forces, and preparing to invade Iraq. By the time the boat finally washed up back in Somalia, at least 70 workers had died of thirst or starvation.
Just as horrifying was the discovery on Oct. 15 in Iowa of the skeletons of 11 workers who had been locked into a railroad freight car four months earlier in Mexico. A smuggler had promised them good jobs in U.S. Tightening cargo inspection at U.S. borders is supposed to be a centerpiece of U.S. rulers' multi-billion dollar Homeland Security scheme. But because Mexican migrants represent cheap labor to U.S. bosses, the workers' future coffin rolled unhindered past Customs and the Border Patrol. When the labor market turned downward, the smuggler, the potential employer, and the Feds all left the workers to rot.
The African and Mexican workers died because capitalists use the meaningless concepts of "race" and "nationality" to pay some workers less than others. The hardest hit have to flee their homes in search of wages. The rulers also push the lie that uprooted workers are somehow responsible for the ills of capitalism. The city council of Holyoke, Mass., and the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, citing unemployment, oppose the resettlement of 1,500 Somalis in their cities.
For all their talk of "security," capitalists cannot and will not safeguard workers' lives. Our Party's goal is to build a movement that can put an end to the profit system and profit-driven murders like these.
The biggest "positive" was the young people. They were leaders of significant portions of the school and made inspiring comments throughout the day. Older members can bring stability to the Party, but the energy of the youth is necessary to achieving communist revolution.
It was a good meeting. We need more like this. The commitment of cadre determines everything. The bosses appear strong. The old communist movement has collapsed. But dialectics teaches us that the internal is primary. We can make the Party strong by using Party literature to strengthen coworkers, friends and ourselves.
We discussed the layoffs and cutbacks, while the rulers push ahead for an oil war in Iraq. We discussed the struggle of a comrade and her coworkers in an upcoming union election. The current president is a black woman and our comrade is white. She is known as a fighter for the workers, but black nationalism is being pushed to create divisions. She has mixed feelings about running on a slate against the president because she has known her for a long time. While the president has made deals with the bosses, someone pointed out that all union leaders make deals, including those on the slate she may run with. Someone else said it's not what class you're born into, but what class you serve. The important thing is to build the Party from this election struggle. We need a plan to win our personal and political base closer to the Party.
Another comrade said that in his union, he submits 50 grievances but sells only five CHALLENGES. He is somewhat cynical and demoralized at the huge task facing us. He feels better actually winning something for the workers, like back pay or sick leave. Over the years, probably hundreds of his coworkers have seen the paper, and voted for him. Doing political organizing every day, on the same job, with the same workers, is very hard. He needs more help from his collective in focusing on specific workers and struggles.
We will struggle with each other to raise our level of commitment, learn more, and do more for the Party. We have to be able to act independently. Every activity can put us in touch with good people. So seize the time! Know your friends and enemies. Build the Party!
In the "Forum" film Scott Ritter, the former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, argues that his UN inspection team dismantled the Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" and that the Iraqi regime has not had the time or resources to rebuild. The second opponent is Simon Harak, a Jesuit priest and leader of Voices in the Wilderness. This group brings food and medicine to Iraq, defying the U.S.-led sanctions which have caused the deaths of up to a million Iraqis.
Both Ritter and Harak offer clear evidence that the Bush Administration has repeatedly lied about Iraq. Harak correctly states that the policy-makers' true goal is to install an Iraqi regime friendly to U.S. oil companies so that they can squeeze out competing French and Russian firms. Yet neither Ritter (a Republican) nor Harak (a pacifist) offer a clear understanding that this war is an unavoidable outgrowth of capitalism.
"Hidden Wars" runs for an hour, and contains both fascinating footage of the 1991 Gulf War and interviews with military and government officials. The film questions the official version of that war, showing for example how the U.S. lied about Iraqi forces massing on the Saudi border in order to be allowed to establish a huge military presence there. It also has a historical section that students find interesting. They learn how U.S. imperialism has been intervening in the Persian Gulf for decades, helping to overthrow leaders and aiding tyrants like the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein when it was convenient.
The final part of the film looks at how thousands of U.S. soldiers became sick after returning home -- the "Gulf War Syndrome." The U.S., which uses working-class soldiers as cannon fodder in its wars, denied any link between its use of depleted uranium in its weapons and the cancers that have wracked the bodies of these soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
"Forum on Iraq" can be purchased for $25 from JDM Productions, Inc, 139 Fulton Street #917, New York, NY 10038. Information about buying "Hidden Wars" can be found at http://www.hiddenwars.org.
A "Blue Ribbon Panel" of child psychiatry, pediatrics, education and public health experts conducted a national review in the early 1970's. They concluded that if these medicines were prescribed without a thorough investigation of the causes of the child's behavior, they could be misused. And further, that too often the necessary remedial education was not provided.
But "drugs" are not the problem. Appropriate medicine does not "warp the brain." It is a lifesaver for many children and adults with psychiatric problems. It would be incorrect to wage a campaign against "mind-altering drugs" when many patients need medicine as part of their treatment. The problem is that too often, appropriate treatment is out of reach for all but the wealthy.
We must raise more specific issues than simply "the growth of war and fascism" as the cause. Since Johnson's "Great Society" went up in the flames of the Vietnam War, poor children have been treated increasingly as expendable by the ruling class. Public education at all levels, from Head Start to job training for youth, and remedial education have been starved for funds. Teachers who are underpaid, and burdened with classes that are too large, cannot spend the time needed to help children with learning or behavioral problems.
The same goes for health care, including psychiatric care, which used to be readily available in public hospitals and clinics. Most often the necessary "in-depth investigation" is unavailable in money-starved city and county clinics and millions of children have no health insurance. We need to stress that our younger generation is being ruined in order to pay for imperialist war in which many other children will be killed.
People in the audience were very attentive and asked many questions. One main question was, "What can I do?" This is a good sign. The students leading the teach-in urged them to join a campus group that will be planning activities against the war.
Someone else said that he concluded from the panel discussion that all this killing and mayhem is being caused for the control of oil profits; and that the root cause is the capitalist profit system itself, which has to be destroyed. The person attacked the liberals as being just as much warmongers as the Bushites, and called for an alliance with workers, like the dockworkers who are being attacked by the bosses. The audience applauded and many asked for the leaflets and CHALLENGES that this person carried.