Hart-Rudman Report 2: A Blueprint for More War and a Fascist Police State
It IS About OilIraqs Is Plentiful and Cheap
Maverick Wellstone Supported Wars from Kosovo to Iraq
War Maker, Strike-Breaker Smash GE!
PLP Exposes City Colleges Pro-War Show
Liberals Divert Huge Anti-War Marches Away From Anti-Imperialis
California Campus Workers Blast War, Police State
Profit System Grinds Down Home Health Care Workers
Anti-Cop Rebels Confront Bush On Iraq War
Laws Are Bosses Fascist Tool
Rely on Workers, Not Lesser Evils
Anti-Racists Block KKK Movie
Unions A Tool Of Rockefeller Forces
Two Steel Workers In The Lunch Room
Bring Anti-War Message to Mass Organizations
Red Eye On The News
Another war with Iraq appears to be only a matter of time. U.S. bosses may haggle about the timing and details of this adventure, but they all share the strategic goal of world domination. This requires maintaining a chokehold on their rivals access to the worlds cheapest energy supplies, which are concentrated primarily in the Persian Gulf. A series of increasingly bloody wars will force them to militarize society to try to crush any organized, militant opposition to their agenda, at gunpoint if necessary. War and fascism go hand in hand.
The Clinton-appointed Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security in the 21st Century laid out the broad outlines for a "Homeland Security" reign of terror months before 9/11. However, the rulers still dont have their house in order. So former Senators Hart (Democrat) and Rudman (Republican) have just produced a sequel, entitled "America Still Unprepared America Still in Danger." It is the brainchild of an "Independent" Task Force convened by the Council on Foreign Relations, a key Rockefeller-led think-tank.
Hart-Rudman II implies a scathing criticism of Bush for not moving far enough and fast enough toward fascism. The reports recommendations include:
Immediate, emergency action to shore up "homeland security," especially now that war with Iraq is likely.
The government must intervene to ensure the security of U.S.-based refineries, pipelines and power grids. H-R II wants the feds to control ruling class upstarts like Enron while protecting the energy infrastructure from al Qaeda.
The private sector must share its security expertise with the government. Companies that comply will get the carrots of government information and an exemption from anti-trust actions.
The National Guard must "make homeland security a primary mission." This includes treating the victims of bio-terrorism and "maintaining civil order." Striking workers and anyone contemplating militant activity should expect to be arrested or shot by the National Guard.
Local and state cops must have access to "terrorist watch lists" available to the State Department.
Massive infusions of federal cash must be made available to implement these and other measures. Therefore, repeal the Bush-sponsored 2001 tax cut, which hinders the plans for a police state by enriching individual members of the ruling class while sacrificing the class-wide agenda favored by the liberals.
The reports co-signers include two former Secretaries of State, three Nobel prizewinners, two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former CIA and FBI director and a bunch of financial, legal and medical heavy hitters. The rulers are deadly serious about carrying out this agenda. If the Bush White House is not up to the task, the rulers will find a new cast of characters to do the dirty work.
The next war could eventually lead to far wider armed struggle throughout the Persian Gulf. Over the very long run, U.S. imperialism will probably have to go it alone against their Chinese, Russian, French and other competitors. We are entering a new period of inter-imperialist rivalry. U.S. rulers will stop at nothing, including world war and the use of nuclear weapons, to remain top-dog in the international profit system.
Capitalism makes war and fascism inevitable. Peace movements like the present one, backed by the same liberal rulers who are organizing wider, far more lethal wars, cant stop the inter-imperialist rivalry. Voting and legal action cannot stop the advance of fascism.
The way to confront imperialist war is to win workers, soldiers and students to understand that as long as capitalism exists there cant be peace. Making revolutionary war to get rid of all the warmakers is the only solution to endless imperialist bloodbaths. This requires bringing communist politics to the mass actions and organizations of workers and youth. At the moment, the rulers have the upper hand. But they are not invincible. As conditions sharpen, their weaknesses will magnify and multiply. Imperialist war and police terror will provide many opportunities for our Party to grow. Our efforts can eventually turn this period of homicidal rivalries among the worlds bosses into a movement for communism and workers power.
Many in the anti-war movement are beginning to link oil to the U.S. bosses plan to attack Iraq. Even the liberal media has been forced to mention the oil connection, albeit always emphasizing it is "not the main reason" to invade Iraq (Sunday New York Times News of the Week section, Nov. 4).
But it is the main reason. The U.S. ruling class spends tens of billions to maintain a permanent naval and military force in the region, fully aware that the control of Middle East oil supplies and profits is crucial to keeping their rival imperialists at bay. Thats why French, Russian, Chinese and other oil companies and their governments are not too happy with the U.S. plan to turn a post-Saddam Iraq into a U.S. protectorate. Even the chairman of BP (ousted from Iraq in the 60s) said hes worried that U.S. oil companies plan to carve up Iraq for themselves. For that reason a section of the British ruling class is bitterly opposed to Tony Blair being a lapdog of Bush.
The worlds biggest corporations are oil companies, headed by the biggest financial capitalists. The Rockefeller section of the U.S. ruling class controls Exxon-Mobil, the worlds largest corporation. Without oil, capitalist armies and industries cant operate. Today theres no alternative energy to oil. And the cheapest and best quality is in the Middle East. Iraq has 11% of the worlds reserves (second only to Saudi Arabia). With 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and at least 220 billion barrels of probable reserves "Iraq is universally acknowledged to be the new promised land of oil The war of positioning for a possible post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi environment is getting more ruthless by the minute. American oil conglomerates are openly courting representatives of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the umbrella opposition. The darling of Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco is Ahmed Chalabi .Dick Cheneys pal and major contender for the title of Iraqs number one opposition figure " writes Pepe Escobar (ATimes.com).
Chalabi already favors creation of a U.S.-led consortium to develop Iraqi oil fields once Saddam is gone. This is the main reason France and Russia oppose the U.S. vision of a future Iraq.
Iraqi oil is plentiful and cheap. "Industry sources in the Gulf and Singapore confirm the production cost of a barrel of oil in Caspian Sea is around US$8. The same thing in Iraq costs only 70 cents. So the new oil frontier in Central Asia for the moment is little more than a mirage." (Atimes.com).
That is why the U.S. rulers must wage imperialist war to control Iraq.
Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone was known as a "maverick" in the Senate, who supposedly defended workers and opposed Bushs war aims. Many of those who demonstrated for peace in Washington on October 26 viewed him as a friend and fighter for social justice. But in his last Senate speech before he died in a recent airplane "accident," he boasted of having voted for the use of military force in Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Wellstone was loyal to the Liberal Establishment and its plans for imperialist war and home-front fascism. His "opposition" to the war on Iraq was unprincipled. He thought the US shouldnt act alone, but with the blessings of the UN. He supported the USA Patriot Act and the fascist Israeli rulers.
The Institute for Americas Future (IAF), a small foundation that lists the Rockefeller Foundation as its main financial supporter, formulated his social and fiscal policies. He appeared regularly at IAF conferences and referred to its research almost exclusively in his campaign literature.
The IAF opposes tax cuts and the privatization of Social Security. This is consistent with the Hart-Rudman recommendations for massive funding of a reinvigorated "Homeland Security" police state. The IAF echoes the Brookings Institution, the Council of Foreign Relations and other liberal think-tanks, who support "nation building" and a massive U.S. occupation of Iraq. The IAF also demands a homeland security bill with more muscle than Bush and Ashcroft have shown.
Wellstone was no "lesser evil." Thats why his memorial service turned into a pep rally for the "un-maverick" former Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale. Liberals like Wellstone remain the major political threat to our class. In the name of "peace" they will launch imperialist wars for world domination. In the name of "defending our democratic civil rights," they will move ruthlessly toward a fascist, "homeland security" police state.
We dont need the mis-leadership of liberal sweet-talkers funded by the most murderous ruling class in history. We need to build our own revolutionary forces under the leadership of the communist PLP. Wellstone was a mouthpiece for the bosses. We shouldnt mourn him. We should organize the movement to smash them all.
LYNN, MASS, Nov. 5 About 2,500 GE aircraft engine workers in the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America (IUE-CWA) Local 201 went on a four-day strike at the General Electric River Works plant here. The strike involved just over half of the plants 4,400 workers, who build and test engines used in jets and helicopters. GEs aircraft engine business employs about 26,000 worldwide.
GE is the worlds most profitable electronics company and a major war contractor, with 310,000 workers internationally. It netted $16 billion in profits last year, much of it from supplying the weapons to be used when young workers are sent to kill and die in a Middle East oil war.
Earlier this month, GE Aircraft Engines announced it would eliminate 1,000 jobs this year and as many as 1,800 jobs next year, adding to the growing list of aerospace workers being tossed overboard, including 30,000 at Boeing. GE boss Gorham said, "The aerospace industry is in crisis mode..."
The capitalist crisis of overproduction, too much productive capacity, is sending millions of better-paying manufacturing jobs to wherever labor is cheapest. GE has been farming out work to Romania, Russia, China, Mexico and other countries where wages are about $2 an hour.
The job action was sparked when GE failed to replace machine operators lost through attrition. When these operators are not replaced, maintenance problems arise and equipment is shut down. If the machines arent running, the work gets shipped out.
Despite their best intentions, the workers are trapped by the pro-capitalist, patriotic outlook of the union leadership. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka opposes sending defense contracts abroad because it "will teach production techniques" to U.S. imperialisms rivals. (Boston Globe, 10/20) The IUE-CWA leaders have been unwilling and/or unable to fight the massive speed-up, outsourcing and mandatory overtime forced on GE workers in recent decades. They want to save the very same bosses who are attacking us and will support the bosses war drive.
Locals in Erie, Pa. (the largest) and Schenectady, N.Y. have also issued strike notices as things heat up for national contract talks next spring. The current contract expires in June, which could mean a strike in the midst of a Middle East oil war. Such a strike would defy the U.S. bosses "national interest" crap and meet the class interests of both U.S. and Iraqi workers.
In 1970, GE workers went on a nation-wide strike at the height of the Vietnam War. Nixon told the workers to return to work because they were hurting the war effort. On a picket line in Schenectady the workers chanted, "Screw the War Effort!" Now here we are decades later, facing another war and another GE strike. Building a mass PLP and fighting for communist revolution will stop this endless treadmill. "War-Maker, Strike-Breaker, Smash GE!"
How Anti-Communist Union Hacks Served Bosses To De-Unionize 250,000 Workers
The union bosses have been screwing GE workers for over 50 years, when they set up the IUE to bust the left-led UE that wouldnt kowtow to the U.S. bosses Cold War. When the dust cleared, the IUE had stolen 350,000 workers from the UE, which was left with 50,000 of its original 650,000 membership. This anti-communist attack left 250,000 unionized workers out in the cold. Now GE workers are divided among six unions, and many are in none. These divisions have weakened workers resistance (and put zillions in the pocket of former GE CEO Jack Welch).
CHICAGO, IL Oct. 22 "Dont believe anything the government tells you about why theyre going to war. Nothing!" declared a black marine Gulf War veteran who condemned U.S. involvement in past wars at the Chicago City Colleges Town Hall Meeting entitled "Iraq: Where Are We Heading?" About 300 black and Latin students and faculty attended the meeting from the seven city colleges.
There were three mandatory meetings to script the televised forum, and prepare us with the "dos" and "donts" of debating. In these meetings, many students supported the war.
One "dont" emphasized was, "Dont attempt to persuade someone." The forum was to encourage students to vote, not to debate or, more importantly, not to oppose U.S. imperialism.
Despite the moderators facade of "neutrality" and obvious support for war, there were stirring debates. After the first two scripted questions, two student panelists supported a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. Then a PLP student panelist from Malcolm X College, a veteran who had been stationed in the Middle East, raised the question of oil. Many students in the audience spoke passionately against the war.
The moderator tried to center the debate on terrorism and other smokescreens like religion and morality. Nevertheless, the students anger and opposition intensified as we linked war, racist police terror and the massive education cutbacks at the City Colleges. One student we didnt even know made copies of the CHALLENGE article on the cuts, approached a comrade and said, "Here, give these out."
In closing remarks, the PLP comrade declared that capitalism is the root of imperialist wars and that revolution, not voting, is the answer. Not surprisingly, this was cut from the broadcast version. We distributed about 100 CHALLENGES and even more PLP leaflets. Afterwards we discussed our communist politics with students. Many liked what they heard. Later a group of us confronted the Chancellor to demand the college pay for a bus to the anti-war march in Washington D.C. While we could have done better, this is an example of how the bosses drive to war can provide us with the "on-the-job" training we need to build a mass anti-racist, anti-imperialist movement and a mass base for PLP. The ruling class will give us many more opportunities, and we cant afford to pass them by. µ
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 26 Over 50,000 workers and students marched here, joining hundreds of thousands who demonstrated in Washington, D.C., in the biggest anti-war demonstrations since Vietnam.
The crowd marched down Market Street, passing bank after bank that fund the "war against terrorism" and department stores selling garments made by exploited workers targeted by the Patriot Act. The contradictions of capitalism were everywhere.
The demonstration itself was a confusing mix of revisionist (phony leftist) and liberal politics. The march Call, "Drop Bush, not bombs," did not criticize imperialism, the cause of war, nor the liberal democratic leadership. The latter favors more preparation than the Bush administration is offering, in order to ready people for a long-term war throughout the Middle East. The Congressional vote two weeks ago shows liberals support war.
PLP played an active role. The sharpened contradictions enabled us to discuss with our friends the differences between reform and revolution. Our anti-imperialist banners, speeches and chants stood out. Our leaflets and CHALLENGES brought the much-needed message of working-class revolution against capitalism as the only solution to end wars for profit.
A group of Southern California students drove to the march together. We collectively raised money on our campus so many more people could make the trip. We prepared meals, shared the clean-up, had long political discussions and made new friends. In short, a multi-racial group worked together without hostility and collectively struggled about how to fight against racism and imperialist war. Our success builds confidence in the collective fight of the working class to liberate itself from capitalism.
Our next step is to get CHALLENGE to workers and students who couldnt join us, so we can organize more struggles against racism and imperialism on our campus and throughout the world. One class, one fight; workers of the world unite!
BEREKELEY, CA., Oct. 18 Delegates at a Univ. of California (UC) campus union state-wide convention applauded a workers condemnation of the "War on Terrorism" as a War on Workers. The worker related UCs attack on employees to the U.S. rulers current drive to invade Iraq for control of Mideast oil and the creation of a police state at home. The delegates then passed resolutions condemning both. This was especially significant given that the union represents workers at UCs two nuclear labs.
These developments were no accident. On October 14-15, lecturers, clerical workers, staff researchers and technicians struck five of the nine UC campuses. University bosses assumed workers would accept pay cuts and increased health care costs. They thought workers wouldnt strike because "were lucky to have University jobs." They were wrong!
The University, a powerful ruling-class tool, has sharpened its attacks on workers. Its chief negotiator said, "Were not interested in employees that cant pay their rent." That enraged many workers.
The strike was preceded by lively discussions about the need to strike and rally co-workers. UC is seen by some as a "worker-friendly" haven. Workers direct actions defied this view. They dont want collections to lobby politicians.
On one campus, we organized rallies and invited student support. At one rally, a union member attacked capitalism and advanced the need for workers uniting to take power. Only education under workers control would serve our classs needs.
On the strikes second day, this organizing produced a rally and march through campus of over 450 workers and 150 students. Hundreds more wore red ribbons in support. We shut down several large construction sites. Our worker/student alliance message was well received. Our chants and energy reverberated throughout the campus. Workers gave and received leadership.
Amid these actions and excitement, real political advances occurred. For example, after a deeper discussion of the differences between socialism and communism, one student said she better understood the need for revolutionary communism. Others saw CHALLENGE for the first time and were open to it.
This sharper class struggle helps develop bonds of friendship and heighten class consciousness. We all grow. We learn that workers need communism. Only one organization, the PLP, can make that happen.
NEW YORK CITY "The boss of Premier Home Health Care Services and 1199/SEIU leadership are good for nothing. We were sold out," declared a home health care (HHC) worker about the contract settlement that averted a Sept. 18 strike.
The HHC workers mostly black and Latin women provide compassionate care in the homes of people discharged from hospitals. The latter try to minimize patients hospital stays to increase their profits. Therefore, patients tend to have more ailments upon discharge and need extra assistance at home. HHC workers administer medication, monitor pulse and temperature, assist with physical therapy exercise, bathing and feeding, dress the patients, run errands and accompany them to doctor appointments.
This strenuous work is just as important as a health care workers in a hospital. However, wages are much lower. The new contract left the HHC workers the lowest paid in the state. It grants a 20% increase this year (above the present $6 to $7 an hour) and a similar increase in 2003; health insurance worth 79˘ an hour; participation in the union education program; and five paid vacation/sick days after working 1,400 hours.
This agreement will have little impact on the home care workers ability to feed, clothe and house their families.
The capitalist home health care system is built for profit. It works through agencies that make millions off these low-paid workers and the lack of patient care. Its financed by Medicaid and Medicare. The money comes from workers taxes and bosses taxes extracted from the working class.
Medicaid and Medicare are channeled through Certified Home Health Agencies (CHHA) which keep a substantial amount for administrative costs and their own profits. They employ mostly nurses and therapists. CHHA subcontract to Licensed Home Care Service Agencies, who in turn are paid by the CHHAs to cover their administrative costs and profits. At the bottom of this profit pyramid is the little left for the home health care workers themselves, the only productive group in the entire system.
The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 reduced Medicare funding for home health care. The Clinton/Bush Congressional Budget Office has projected a $69 billion cut between 1998 and 2002. These cuts help pay for the U.S. bosses oil wars. They aim to reduce health care funding and drive down the wages of the entire working class. We must answer these attacks by building the PLP around the revolutionary communist ideas in CHALLENGE.
CINCINNATI, OHIO, Oct. 7 "All indications are that this will be a war about oil we should address the domestic terrorists like the KKK," declared a black worker to 5,000 people protesting a war on Iraq. They demonstrated as Bush spoke at the Cincinnati Museum Center. The crowd included many black workers and youth, from dozens of churches, several universities and high schools. Some carried signs reading, "No blood for oil."
This largest anti-war protest here in decades can in part be traced back to April 2001, when Cincinnati police murdered Timothy Thomas, an unarmed black youth. Black, Latin and white workers and youth fought back. Police used shotguns loaded with beanbags to shoot mourners at Thomass funeral, and met other protests with a massive number of cops in riot gear. On June 2, 2001, 2,500 demonstrators marched against racist police terror, the largest integrated demonstration in Cincinnatis modern history. PLP participated in that rebellion and was warmly embraced by the workers. (One friend met at that time provided the information for this article.)
Miami University students carried a large banner while Earlham College students from southern Indiana chanted and snaked their way through the crowd. Others came from universities in Lexington, Kentucky. Earlier a group of 15-year-old students distributed 1,000 leaflets at Walnut Hills High School. Students from many other schools were also there. Black, Latin, Muslim, Middle Eastern and white youth could be seen everywhere.
A few hundred protesters blocked the exit from the Museum Center parking lot, keeping several hundred Bush supporters from leaving. Cops on horseback rode through the crowd and arrested six demonstrators.
While the size, youthful energy and integrated character of the protest was impressive, the politics were not. It was led by the Democratic Party, through the leadership of various mass organizations, as a way to bash Bush and get out the vote. The aspirations of the anti-war demonstrators will never be realized by marching behind these liberals who gave Bush the war powers he was seeking, and is planning an even deadlier conflict. Only communist revolution will end imperialist wars. Building the Party here is a step in that direction.
(This is another in a series of articles analyzing the "legal" development of fascism.)
The U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed in the wake of 9/11, has given the rulers a green light to massively wiretap everyone who disagrees with the "war on terror." Under changes in FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), tracking "foreign intelligence" must be a significant aim of the wiretap, even if "domestic law enforcement" is the main purpose. The law makes it easier for the FBI to get wiretaps (including on multiple computers or phones), and encourages intelligence sharing between the FBI and CIA.
Ashcroft applied to the secret court for even more power. This 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. Legal interpretations of the Constitutions 4th Amendment and supsequent Supreme Court decisions required warrants for wiretaps, mandating the government to show "probable cause" a crime had been, or was being committed.
Supposing Ashcroft decides an anti-war activist who encourages civil disobedience on federal property is aiding foreign terrorists. And supposing some of these people meet with Iraqi, Palestinian or other organizations that the FBI considers "fronts for terrorism." The Patriot Act allows the FBI to tap the phones/computers of these people because "foreign intelligence" is a "significant" purpose of the wiretap. Now Ashcroft wants to give these wiretaps to criminal prosecutors to go after the activists. Before the Patriot Act, this was illegal.
The secret court was angry that under Clinton, and later Bush, the FBI was already sharing information from "foreign intelligence" wiretaps with criminal prosecutors, and denied Ashcroft these additional powers. But that ruling is only a slap on the wrist. Even if upheld on appeal, it only prevents the open sharing of evidence between intelligence investigators and criminal prosecutors. Nobodys been punished for past violations. The government is appealing to the FISA appeals court. If it loses, it can appeal to a secret session of the U.S. Supreme Court. Under the Patriot Act, more warrant requests will be granted.
Many people are becoming more aware of the Gestapo tactics of Ashcroft and others. Both the New York Times and Washington Post have featured Op-Ed pieces calling for "reining in" the more openly fascist aspects of FISA and the Patriot Act. The internal struggle within the ruling class is reflected in the fact that the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee sat on the secret court opinion for three months. It was finally made public in late August, followed closely by major media attacks on Bush and Ashcroft (not Clinton) engineered by the liberal rulers.
The liberals are upset over the clumsiness and arrogance of Ashcroft and Bush. No one is questioning whether there should be a secret court. The liberals want to limit Ashcroft and have confirmation power over whoever is proposed to head Homeland Security.
Revolutionary communists must unmask ruling-class wolves who pose as friends. The liberals are no more "anti-fascist" than they are "anti-war." Liberal Democrats like Carter and Clinton are up to their ears in these fascist laws. The ACLU claims fascism can be stopped through vigorous public debate, and new laws to "fix" the old ones. The rulers use "democracy" when it helps them maintain power but scrap it when fascism better suits their needs.
Workers Of The World Write!
After a lecture on Iraq and U.S. foreign policy, a group I belong to met to plan an anti-war demonstration. People were steamed that "our" representative, a Democrat, voted for Bushs war resolution.
Someone suggested we march by his office with a big poster of a voided check made out to him. "We should send our money to the ones who voted against Bush." "I voted for him already, by absentee ballot," another said. "Now I wish I hadnt."
"But, objected a Green Party activist, "hes still better than a Republican on education and welfare," to which another Green responded, "Someone can be a really great person, but if they kill someone, theyre a murderer."
I was cheered at the widespread disgust with Congress. People were particularly angered because "our" Senator admitted that phone calls, e-mails and letters were overwhelmingly against the war resolution, but she voted for it anyway. Our friends made a lot of those calls, but for what?
Then I realized they were mad at Congress because they still rely on politicians to stop war or improve society a dangerous illusion.
Then someone raised the West Coast longshore situation. When Bushs "homeland security" chief, fascist Tom Ridge, told the union a strike would interfere with the "war on terrorism," ILWU leader Stallone reassured Ridge he would never allow such a thing. But imagine if longshore workers did strike against the war! After all, in 1919 they refused to load ships with arms to attack the new Soviet revolution.
"It might take a long time to convince workers to oppose the war, but Id bet on that before Id take my chances with Congress," he added.
This group of mostly middle-aged, middle-class white folks seemed more skeptical about the working class than their congressman. Without a pro-working-class perspective, anti-war activists will cling to "lesser-evil" imperialist politicians, or throw their bodies "against the machine" in grand but ineffective pacifist gestures, or lapse into cynicism. But relying on workers to build an anti-war movement will open the door to more meaningful discussions about communist revolution.
Later I spoke with a woman who, with two friends, had raised anti-war signs on a main street in one of the port neighborhoods. She said responses were positive, especially from truck drivers. I wish Id known that, to tell the group. But there will be lots more opportunities for conversation, because everyone wanted to stay in touch.
Workers organized and stopped the scheduled October 5 showing of D.W. Graffitis film "Birth of a Nation," part of a "classic" film series co-sponsored by Marylands Prince Georges County Public Library System and the Greenbelt Theatre. The 1915 film glorifies the Ku Klux Klan who use it to recruit members.
Author Donald Bogle wrote, "Griffith presented all the [stereo] types with such force and power that his film touched off a wave of controversy and was denounced as the most slanderous anti-Negro movie ever released." (Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films).
This scheduled film showing followed several recent incidents of racist police brutality in the County and four Nazi demonstrations in the Washington, D.C. area. A letter to the theatre owner expressed outrage, asking the film be canceled. The owner had an employee reply, "I tried to contact the NAACP to get a speaker on the Negro point of view I did not contact the KKK because I had some of the same concerns about the movie as you did." The Library Director claimed it would be an "academic discussion." Co-workers, friends and colleagues made opposing calls to the Director. By the second day the movie was pulled.
This campaign generated intense discussion. Initially, most people were appalled at the movie but felt discussing it would teach young people analytical and critical thinking. But the theatre employees letter changed peoples minds. They agreed it should not be shown at all. Racist speech should not be tolerated, period. The first chapter of Donald Bogles book was copied and widely distributed, marshalling wider support for this campaign. Well celebrate this victory and show Bill Cosbys film "Black History, Lost and Stolen," which critically discusses "Birth of a Nation."
Ive been in a book club for the past five years, formed to discuss issues of race and bridge cultural gaps. Several book club members were willing to talk to the theatre owners and demand that he cancel the showing. Were making sure the movie does not pop up again unexpectedly.
The role of music, films, books, TV and radio programs all need to be analyzed more frequently in CHALLENGE and with our friends, children and co-workers. A neighbor thought young people would find the black-face characters in the movie ridiculous. I explained how my 20-year-old son, raised with anti-racist values, found it sickening and disgusting. But what about a 20-year-old with racist values? The neo-fascist National Alliance is growing rapidly among young white workers through its white supremacist music and attracted many young people to their August march.
I want to reply to the comment from "A reader" (CHALLENGE, 11/6) about the letter in the paper Oct. 23 about the West Coast dockworkers. First, I completely agree with the comrade that the job of communists is building a mass international PLP, not reformism (fighting for reforms as our goal). But I disagree over a political assessment of the role of U.S. unions today.
Unions play a vital role in supporting the Rockefeller wing of the U.S. ruling class in its struggles against other capitalist forces with heavy investments centered on domestic oil and other domestic industries. This is an ongoing dispute that sees periods of unity disrupted by periods of struggle within the ruling class. Both sides agree, of course, on keeping profits flowing at the expense of workers' lives.
The letter points out that the New York Times praised Bush for using Taft-Hartley to open the West Coast docks. In the view of the letter, this is evidence of the overall unity of the ruling class when dealing with workers.
But Taft-Hartley isn't ordering workers back to work after a strike (like it did in 1971). It is ordering the PMA - the bosses - to end their lockout of the workers. The ILWU leaders are glad to be back at work, although they don't like Taft-Hartley.
The Bush administration had originally spoken through Tom Ridge, Homeland Security Czar, who had warned the military would load ships in the event of a dockworkers' strike. I think the New York Times editorial was praising the Bush administration for using Taft-Hartley instead of its original Tom Ridge plan. The Bush administration backed down. Democrats, including Tom Daschle, attacked the Ridge plan.
Furthermore, a Times editorial (10/20) entitled "The Week of Living Dangerously" said:
"Congress has left town without approving the Homeland Security bill. Although this particular failure has many parents, the Bush administration's insistence on tying the plan to an ideological attack on job security for the new department's unionized employees is the biggest stumbling block."
Homeland security and the unions, with Bush and Rockefeller forces at loggerheads with each other!
The unions are very important to the Rockefeller forces as an ideological tool, as long as, (1) they don't organize militant working-class struggle, like a march with auto workers against the lockout-caused layoffs at Nummi Motors, or stop supplies to overseas military bases (in which case the Rockefeller forces would certainly use troops also), or (2) to the extent that they don't become schools for communism. The ILWU knows this and has carefully avoided mobilizing the working class.
A long marcher
PL'er: Did you hear the District Director is calling for the steel mills to consolidate? He says Europe and Japan have already done it, and consolidation is coming here to the U.S.
Joe: Did he give any reasons?
PL'er: Yes. He said when he hired in during the 1970's there were 18,000 workers in the plant. Now there are less than 6,000, but the plant makes the same amount of steel. He said you would think the steel companies made lots of profits, but they didn't. The auto companies would tell the steel mills that since your making steel more cheaply, you should sell it for less. There was always one company ready to undercut the price.
Joe: So he thinks that fewer, larger mills could stand up to Detroit?
PL'er: That's right. He said the mills could tell the auto companies, "Our workers are efficient and productive, and they deserve good wages and benefits. The price will stay where it is."
Joe: Well, I guess fewer companies might make the union stronger. We used to have one steel contract for everybody. When the union started negotiating separately with individual companies, it really weakened us. So it would be like going back to the "good old" days. We would have the power to shut down the whole industry, like they do in Europe. That's what we need, but the union will never do it.
PL'er: The Director's call for consolidation reminds me of the so-called "corporate state" under Mussolini in Italy in the 1920's-30s. The fascists tried to convince the workers that what was good for the corporation was good for them! This is a dangerous illusion that the Director is planting among us. He may get away with it temporarily because workers don't see any alternative.
He said nothing about the approaching war with Iraq, but his call for a more efficient steel industry will help the bosses simplify war production. He's telling us to get down in a crouch and try to fend off the blows and hopefully we'll survive. But we must come out swinging, using our heads and communist politics to win workers to communist revolutionthe only way we'll survive.
We're in the midst of developing all our contacts with steel workers. This struggle will continue. All suggestions for a campaign will be greatly appreciated.
I went to the Washington, D.C. Oct. 26 anti-war march with a co-worker and her friend. Another friend who has been to many of the anti-nazi rallies also hooked up with us. My co-workers sign read, "Dont send the snipers to Iraq" (the sniper and his accomplice had just been caught days before). She said a U.S. invasion of Iraq will terrorize workers there like the sniper was doing to workers in the Washington, D.C. area. My sign said, "Jobs for all, No racist war." I wore a T-shirt saying, "Fight racism with multi-racial unity."
We stood at Constitution Gardens listening to the speeches. My co-worker was heartened by the large numbers. We struck up conversations with folks in the crowd. My co-worker, an African American, was disappointed at the low turnout of black people. She vowed to return to her organizations and try to win people to build for and attend the next anti-war march (January 18).
We discussed how best to do that. She tends to fight battles by herself instead of gathering support from friends or co-workers. I reminded her that I usually have a base of support in the union meeting when I introduce an important resolution such as opposing a Nazi rally.
We were interviewed by an independent media reporter from a small radio station on Chicagos Northside. Im sure it was because of the anti-racist messages on my sign and T-shirt. We both talked about the racist nature of war. We reported our plans to introduce an anti-war resolution in our union. Other marchers overheard this comment. We talked with New York City teachers who told us of their unsuccessful struggle to get such a resolution passed at a union delegates meeting. They will try again.
We were angry at the march organizers for allowing the speakers to go on for over three hours. Many workers left the rally site, took to the streets and were starting to march! We made plans to bring up a resolution at the next union meeting.
Below Are Excerpts From Mainstream Newspapers That Contain Important Information:
Abbreviations: NYT=New York Times, MG=Manchester Guardian
Siqueiros, a towering figure in the history of Latin American Art, is remembered especially as one of Los Tres Grandes, along with Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, who pioneered the use of monumental public murals to tell epic stories of poverty, rebellion and the tortured history of their native Mexico .
Siqueiros was a militant communist .who fought in the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War .
The same issues Siqueiros painted about in 1932 still exist today in Mexico, in places like Chiapas, as well as throughout Latin America and the rest of the world. (NYT, 10/29)
In the week before invading Kuwait President Saddam asked for, and received, permission from the US government, which had supported him in the war against Iran. He asked the US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, what Washingtons response to an invasion would be. She assured him of the US governments continued support. After the invasion, James Baker, then US Secretary of State, tried to deny that she was acting on his instructions. But she had kept the cable he sent her, and made it public. (MG, 10/23)
94-year-old Henri Cartier-Bresson, the worlds most famous photographer .still regards communism as "the best idea."
"Above all, my parents were ashamed of money. It was suspect, immoral and dangerous." As a child, Cartier-Bresson pinned in his bedroom the headline of an article he had cut out of LEcho de Paris: "Where does the money come from? Cartier-Bresson said, "its a question that still bothers me."(MG. 10/16)
Washington, Oct. 14 Less than a year after passage of No Child Left Behind, the sweeping overhaul that promised a new era of accountability in public education, federal, state and local officials are taking steps to weaken crucial elements of the law.
The law demands that schools put a "highly qualified" teacher in every classroom by 2006 .
States and school districts have begun maneuvering to soften the laws effect, while the federal government has proposed regulations that would deem even teachers in training "highly qualified." (NYT, 10/15)
We ought to know exactly how many chemical weapons are in Iraq. After all, they were made in the USA and we should have copies of the receipts. (Mark Russell, Tribune Media Service)
Listen to the American hawks .After overthrowing Saddam Hussein were going to turn Iraq into a flourishing democracy.
But Im afraid its a pipe dream, a marketing ploy to sell the war .
"There will not be a democracy in Iraq, not a real democracy," said Mohammed Al-Jassem, editor of the newspaper Al-Watan in Kuwait. "That would mean allowing a Shiite state. America and the gulf countries cannot afford that."
.Kuwait rulers seem to think, based on assurances from U.S. officials, that Shiite domination is potentially so destabilizing that democracy is not even an option for Iraq .The prattle about creating a democratic model on the Tigris is just a shrewd White House marketing attempt to bait and switch. (NYT), 10/18)