U.S. imperialists intend to remain top dogs for the foreseeable future. European, Russian and Chinese rivals cannot directly challenge them at the moment. However, even a relatively easy U.S. victory in Iraq, which is by no means certain, will set in motion a chain of events leading to wider imperialist wars. Iraq is not an isolated case. The international working class must prepare for a protracted future of armed struggle.
Capitalism always leads to war. Imperialist war has two aspects. On the one hand, it produces unprecedented death, horror and suffering, as imperialist technology develops new methods of mass murder. On the other hand, it offers our class a great opportunity to build its revolutionary strength in the storm of battle. As communists, we must do everything necessary to build a mass PLP in the midst of imperialist slaughter.
Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. imperialist strategy has been based on preventing the rise of a rival superpower. Recent CHALLENGE editorials have discussed how important Iraq is to U.S. bosses in maintaining the upper hand over Russia and the European Union. However, China might offer the most serious long-range threat to U.S. ambitions for world domination. Chinese rulers are not ready to assume this role now, but they are carefully planning for the day when they can.
The best scenario for the Beijing bosses would be for the U.S. to have a relatively long war and a difficult occupation with mounting U.S. casualties. This might lead to further U.S. military involvement in the Persian Gulf and Middle East, and could give them advantages similar to those enjoyed by Japanese and European imperialists during the Vietnam period. In the 1960s and 1970s, while the U.S. was squandering its economic treasure in non-productive military investment, the Japanese and Europeans were developing industries like steel and auto and overtaking the U.S. Similarly, as the U.S. deepens its involvement in new oil wars, China "will try to take advantage of the investment boom it is experiencing" to "make it the prime investment and trade partner for goods otherwise bound for Europe." This would also allow Chinese rulers to "build up a powerful military." (Stratfor, 12/13)
Under these circumstances, China's new economic and military might could vie directly with the U.S. for mastery of Persian Gulf oil. A rising China could engage in armed struggle to unseat an overextended, weakening U.S.
If the U.S. succeeds in overrunning and occupying Iraq with minimal internal resistance and little initial opposition throughout the Gulf's oil-producing nations, China would find it difficult to quickly free itself of U.S. dominance. If Exxon Mobil, Texaco Chevron, et al. gain a stranglehold over cheap oil supplies, China will be unable to muscle in on the Persian Gulf-Middle East oil racket and will still need U.S. investment and technology.
But these disadvantages can turn into their opposite. The present gang of capitalist bosses in Beijing has a long-range outlook. A series of U.S. oil wars will remove China as a target of U.S aggression while they remain an important market for U.S. companies. A global U.S war against Arab and Muslim countries will allow China to portray itself as a "friend of the oppressed." Over the very long haul, even the scenario of initial U.S. victory will intensify the conflict between the U.S. and China.
In contemplating the complex scenarios that may unfold, we shouldn't make predictions. As the communist philosophy of dialectical materialism teaches us, we should anticipate many potential contingencies. Our primary focus should be on what dialectics calls "necessity," which means that imperialism always needs war because one imperialist power must try to dominate and others must seek to overthrow and replace it.
This vicious cycle will continue as long as the inter-imperialist rivalry remains the main contradiction in the world. As this period of widening war unfolds, the growth of PLP can accelerate. The sweep of human history will eventually lead to the protracted struggle for power between the profit system and communism. Despite present appearances, we will win.
The ruling class is going all out to force the workers to pay for the capitalist war economy and budget crisis. Strikes that threaten the bosses' "national" or "public interest" and their ability to wage war will be ruled illegal and crushed. Homeland Security fascism will be used to stop strikes in key industries on the "grounds" that they threaten "public safety" or "homeland defense."
NYC Mayor Bloomberg told workers to follow his "lead" and ride to work on a $660 bike in the event of a strike. He served his fellow billionaires well, using the state apparatus and the Taylor Law to get an injunction barring a strike. He threatened to fine every worker $25,000 for the first day of a strike, and double it every day thereafter. He threatened to fine the union a million dollars, also doubling it every day. He "mobilized" the city to use scab buses and blamed transit workers for any potential deaths from emergency vehicles being stuck in traffic.
The MTA hid behind the "billion-dollar deficit." Less than a year ago they were touting a huge surplus. Of course, the MTA pays billions to the big banks for past and present debts, before anything is spent for maintenance, new equipment and safety, much less workers' wages and health benefits. This lack of safety protection is what killed two subway workers last month while repairing tracks.
Racist Trent Lott has nothing on the MTA, the Mayor and Wall Street banks they represent. The 34,000 subway and bus workers are overwhelmingly black and Latin. The predominantly white workforces of the MTA's Long Island R.R. and Metro North R.R. make considerably more for similar work. The bosses managed to "find" the money to pay the other mostly white uniformed services but can only find pennies for the mostly black and Latin transit workers who move seven million riders every day.
The "militant" Toussaint betrayed the workers by joining with the bosses to prevent a strike which would have given tremendous leadership to millions of workers facing similar attacks. He sabotaged any struggle in the most far-reaching collaboration with the transit bosses in recent history, knuckling under to a lousy wage freeze. This sets a pattern for all city workers. They "threatened" to strike, but did nothing to prepare for one. A week before the contract expired, thousands of workers chanted "Strike! Strike! Strike!" at a mass meeting of 10,000. Toussaint didn't.
The White House/City Hall/Wall Street "war-on-terror" gang, in their drive for maximum profits, is making the working class pay for their oil war in Iraq. A wage freeze for workers and $1.2 trillion for the military over three years. Communist leadership will eventually win thousands of angry transit workers, and millions of others, to smash capitalism with communist revolution.
Snow, chairman of the CSX railroad, wants to stamp out corporate practices like speculation and embezzlement that harm the interests of the bigger bosses. This summer, Snow co-chaired a blue-ribbon commission of the Conference Board on corporate ethics. His partner was Pete Peterson, head of the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations. The panel helped spur criminal actions against Enron, WorldCom and others.
Friedman belongs to David Rockefeller's Trilateral Commission and the liberal Brookings Institute, which is fine-tuning Washington's plans for invading Iraq. In the early '90s, Friedman co-chaired Goldman Sachs with Robert Rubin, who became Clinton's Treasury Secretary. Conservative critics call Friedman a "Rubin clone" because, like Rubin, he favors deficit reduction over tax cuts. Clinton and Rubin reduced the deficit through wholesale racist cuts in social programs including welfare and education.
Donaldson, an aristocratic family friend of the Bushes, advised Nelson Rockefeller when he became vice-president. Stephen Moore of the conservative Club for Growth complains that Bush's new team "comes from this Rockefeller wing of the party" (U.S. News, 12/23).
The Federal Government and the courts have declared open season on airline workers, creating a fascist corporate state that would have made Mussolini proud! The airline industry is prepared to use bankruptcy laws to tear up existing contracts.
American, Delta and Continental soon issued their own threats. Continental chief Gordon Bethune said that bleeding the workers dry is "healthy for the industry." US Air demanded increased outsourcing, doubling of employees contributions to medical benefits and job-killing, work-rule concessions. (AviationNow.com 12/02) They threatened to liquidate the company if they don't get an additional $200 million in wage and benefits concessions.
"What's their alternative [now]?" asked David G. Bronner, head of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, US Air's largest shareholder.
Despite this tremendous pressure and the recommendation of the Union leadership, International Association of Machinist (IAM) members have rejected additional givebacks at US Air and United. But votes won't stop these fascist attacks.
Union leaders like Buffenbarger, see becoming junior bureaucrats of fascism as the only way to preserve their organizations and relevance. Just before he canceled yet another contract vote, a disheartened Buffenbarger whined, "We [the union misleaders] were ready to partner with United, the union coalition and the government. Unfortunately, the U.S. government walked out on that partnership."
So there you have it: a fascist corporate state attacking workers in preparation for imperialist war, aided and abetted by a social-fascist union leadership that leaves workers unable to resist. The only way out of this death spiral is to build a mass, revolutionary communist movement to overthrow a system that would destroy the lives of millions of airlines workers to "save the airline industry."
US Air is demanding "all labor groups agree to an [additional] 18-month, 5% `wage deferral' in the event of a U.S.-Iraq war." Those workers fortunate enough to keep their jobs will find their compensation reduced by a third from pre-9/11 levels.
We should maintain a healthy skepticism when it comes to figures issued by ruling class pundits. United Airlines CFO Frederic F. Brace II admitted, "Any financial person with any degree of competence can make numbers say whatever they want them to say," during the recent battle over federal loan guarantees. (New York Times, 12/03)
The European Union, an economic entity comparable in size to the U. S., is struggling to modestly increase military spending, but fear they could "bust the bank." But these increases pale before the huge amount U.S. bosses spend to defend their imperialist empire.
Recently, Robert Hormats, the vice chairman of Goldman, Sachs and a member of the National Security Council under Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan, advanced a more realistic appraisal of the cost of maintaining the empire. He fears we are drifting into a "Vietnam [War]-like model, with neither economic sacrifice nor war-focused prioritizing," that could lead to economic and political stagnation. "Tough wartime economic choices [are needed]," he warns. "Patriotism, candor and sound economics demand no less." (Wall Street Journal, 12/06)
Make no mistake about it. Maintaining the U.S. imperialist empire takes a significant bite out of workers' hides. In short order, it will really hurt.
Union hacks and bosses have often united to attack and fire militant workers, particularly left-wingers. Twenty-five years ago, a PLP airline worker fought and beat an IAM anti-communist clause banning communists from becoming union officials. This clause was born during the height of Cold War McCarthyism, designed to oust the communists who led and helped build many industrial unions.
In 1973, PLP led hundreds of autoworkers in taking over Chrysler's Mack Ave. Stamping plant in Detroit, protesting safety hazards, speed-up and the firing of a PL member. The UAW leadership organized 1000 paid goons, with baseball bats, to smash the sit-down strike and retake the plant where the cops had failed. The union and the auto bosses then blacklisted the leaders.
In Argentina, Ford and DaimlerBenz (formerly Mercedes-Benz) both favorites of Hitler, are accused of helping the death squads of the military rulers in the mid-1970s.
An external commission is investigating the role of DaimlerBenz executives in the disappearance of 14 union members from 1975 to 1978 in its González Catán plant. The company claims it "has already held its own internal inquiries, which found no evidence of wrongdoing." (BBC World News, 10/28) It hopes the new commission, formed by a German law professor, will clear its name, the same way it was "cleared" of its complicity with Hitler's war machine.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Felix Crous is investigating Ford's role in the illegal detention and murder of workers during the same military regime. Former Ford worker Pedro Norberto Troiani testified that a secret military detention center existed inside the Ford factory near Buenos Aires.
Troiani said he was held prisoner for 50 days, and was one of 25 workers "detained" at the plant in the 1970s. (BBC, 11/6) On March 24, 1976, the day of the military coup, army troops entered the plant and workers began to disappear immediately. Right wing SMATA union leaders helped the company and the military finger militant and left wing workers.
Ford has repeated this elsewhere. In Britain, the Danghemam Ford plant bosses worked with Special Branch (a police spy agency) and right-wing union leaders to fire and blacklist militant and left wing workers. In January 1992, Ford used armed goons to attack strikers in its Cuautitlan, Mexico plant, killing one.
Ford and DaimlerBenz represent the world's big bosses and it's doubtful much will come of these investigations. As worldwide capitalism turns increasingly fascist, and the auto companies' struggle for markets and cheap labor, antiworker attacks will grow. From Buenos Aires to London to Cuautitlán to Detroit, workers can confront fascism by building an international communist PLP while fighting the bosses and their union lieutenants and the local Gestapo.
These actions are part of mass mobilizations by the CNTE (a dissident group in the National Teachers' Union) demanding more money for education, opposing anti-worker changes in the labor law, and privatization of public schools, as well as more funds for education. They also wanted Elba Esther Gordillo, former union leader and PRI hack (the former ruling Party), tried for the murder of dissident teachers when she led the union.
After the Dec. 12 protest, legislators from the opposition liberal Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) met with the dissident teachers and agreed to support a law providing more money for education. The CNTE leadership then agreed to withdraw "demands to further raise education funding to equal 12% of [Mexico's] gross domestic product." (TheNewsMexico.Com, 12/13).
President Fox is trying to make workers pay even more for the crisis of capitalism, cutting social services and privatizing others. Eventually the government wants to privatize Pemex, the state-owned oil company.
Changes in the labor law are crucial to these privatizations. The government wants to impose 10-hour work-days, hourly pay instead of regular wages, and an end to seniority rights.
But while these militant teachers led the fight against such attacks, CNTE's proposed "new nation project" is no real answer. Such nationalist plans only help one group of bosses against another. No wonder Mexico's richest boss, Carlos Slim, is demanding Fox revive the country's internal market to favor local bosses. This billionaire may wind up running for president as the PRD candidate.
PLP teachers join the fight of the militant teachers and all workers opposing privatization, which intensifies unemployment and misery for our class, but we also show that capitalism in all its forms (state, private, mixed) is based on the exploitation of workers. During these days of imperialist oil wars and worldwide capitalist crisis, attacks against workers will grow no matter who's President and what form capitalism takes or which imperialist bloc (U.S. or European) he/she favors.
The only way out for all teachers and workers is to break with nationalism and fight for a society without bosses, where production and education serve the interests of the entire working class. That's communism, the goal of PLP. Join us!
The anti-Chavez forces are a united front of union hacks, Fedecamaras (the bosses' chamber of commerce), PDVSA executives and bureaucrats, and other military and civilian right-wingers. They're backed by elements in the Bush administration, who use this gang as a brake on Chavez's allying with anti-U.S. forces and to insure continued oil exports to the U.S. (PDVSA now provides 14% of all oil used in the U.S.) This is particularly important for U.S. imperialism as it gears up for war against Iraq.
But, the anti-Chavez forces want it all.The lockout that began on Dec. 2 -- although having failed to provoke a military coup against Chavez -- has disrupted PDVSA oil production, increasing the world market price of oil.
Most workers, particularly in the working class urban areas, oppose the putschists. Even middle-class support has declined since the one-day coup in April. That's when Pedro Carmona, head of one of the biggest private conglomerates, became President and tried to impose a Pinochet-like repression, scaring even many of his own supporters. Then in October, the putschists tried again, but masses of workers and youth stopped them. Now they're trying again.
With each attempted coup, the Chavez government compromises more and more with U.S. imperialism's demands (guaranteeing oil supplies and opening new rich gas deposits to U.S. companies). The masses of workers and youth (part of the Bolivarian Circles), fighting the right-wingers in the streets, don't want to return to the corrupt era of the old rulers, who stole tens of billions from the oil bonanza while impoverishing millions. But these workers and youth err in thinking Chavez is the answer. They should direct their militancy towards organizing a mass communist movement to fight for the only solution for workers: a communist society where the wealth they produce is shared according to need.
Delegates opposed to the resolution introduced a substitute motion calling on Bush to exhaust peaceful means and work with the UN. This resolution ultimately won, 202-136. However, many delegates were moved by the discussion during and before the meeting. Originally, some of those opposed to the anti-war resolution argued Bush's position in favor of war. Others argued this was not the union's business. However, by the time the resolution came up in the meeting, those against it presented the substitute rather than directly oppose it.
A number of teachers have begun to meet as "Teachers Against War." They organized discussions about the anti-war resolution, passed out fliers at the CTU meetings, and gathered 70 signatures on petitions calling for the CTU to take a position against war in Iraq. Now the group is organizing a busload for the January 18 protests in Washington.
Within this group, there's been a struggle over the best way to build an anti-war movement, including the content of the resolution to present to the union. Some felt passing an anti-war resolution was vital and therefore wanted to emphasize the money that wars take from education. Others, including a PLP member, argued we must counter the rulers' lies about the war on terrorism and explain that the rulers need to control the Middle East because oil is the life-blood of capitalism.
After the union meeting, several delegates approached the PLP speaker and complemented her presentation. One said, "Even I was almost convinced by what you said." This shows that we must win the working class to see the big picture and not just put forward ideas most already agree with. The struggle continues.
The work of one comrade took some important steps forward. All but two of our regular CHALLENGE readers attended. The week before we met to prepare brief statements for the workshops, describing personal experiences about survival in a brutally racist society, geared to perpetual war. Each soup kitchen volunteer gave his or her talk for a very supportive audience at our church to evaluate. It was one of the most moving experiences I've had in over 30 years of activism. When one volunteer spoke in my conference workshop about her daughter who'd joined the army on Sept. 10, 2001 because she couldn't afford college tuition, there were many seconds of silence afterward with understanding and appreciation.
However, our most advanced new comrade didn't attend; she was depressed about receiving a 10-day back-rent-due notice. We must struggle with her to develop an offensive political response to oppression rather than an individualist, defeatist one.
As one would expect, the main speakers -- while presenting much information -- didn't explain the essence of imperialism and generally re-enforced the participants' illusions about the effectiveness of pacifist organizing and the basic "goodness" of the U.S. political system, as expressed through patriotism. These ideas were debated in various workshops. Comrades and others offered their ideas. The ideological contradictions present at the conference exist in all of society.
As comrades talk to our friends in the post-conference period we are following up on the many opportunities for ideological struggle. One comrade has written an article exposing patriotism for debate in his local group's newsletter. Even if they don't print it, he will still show it to 10 potential CHALLENGE readers to introduce the paper to them. Another comrade has invited four new friends, who helped organize the conference, to join a Party-led study group. Ideological contradictions more sharply etched since the conference, will be discussed in the study group, linked to imperialism, fascism and capitalist political economy.
The conference's ideological weaknesses, widely evident in the current anti-war movement -- pacifism, patriotism and opportunism -- would leave many honest people prey to the next McGovern-type misleader the rulers throw our way. The patriotism of some conference participants stems from the unspoken resignation that "communism has failed." Since "this is the only system we've got," it must be fixed.
This presents us in PLP with both danger and opportunity. We must sharpen the level of struggle with our friends and greatly widen distribution of CHALLENGE-DESAFIO. As we deepen our involvement and leadership in the mass movement, this ideological struggle will be intense, long-range and multi-faceted. Ultimately the most important aspect will be the struggle to learn from the history of the communist movement, its strengths and weaknesses, and recover confidence in the principles of communism, based on an understanding of dialectical materialism. The Party's participation in this conference has opened the door a little more to this struggle.
PLP members measure the success of our work in mass organizations in various ways, including: whether we have speakers who can present our ideas to a large audience and in written material we distribute. We were only partially effective in this area at the conference and we have much to learn. The other yardstick measures the political and personal nature of our friendships: how we work with our friends in the course of organizing and fighting back, how these friends are developing politically and the nature of their role in the mass organization.
Expanded CHALLENGE circulation and the continued recruitment of these new friends into the Party is the ultimate measure of whether we're really doing our job. To build the Party under any circumstances and in the mass way necessary to eventually turn the imperialist war and fascist onslaught into an anti-capitalist revolutionary war, the work that the second yardstick measures is crucial, as the anti-war movement grows. We in the Party are learning a lot and are having some modest success in this area.
About 13.5 million immigrants came to the U.S. between 1990 and 2001, including 368,000 people born in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other U.S. island territories. During this time there were 16 million new workers. About 8 million were immigrants, who were used by the bosses to drive down the wages of the lowest-paid U.S.-born workers. About half of the new immigrants are without legal papers, meaning that Clinton's economic boom was based in large part on the racist super-exploitation of undocumented workers.
Andrew Sum, director of the center, said that the U.S. economy would have stumbled without the new immigrants, who contributed more in taxes than they used in services. He said, "Our economy has become more dependent on immigrant labor than at any time in the last 100 years."
According to the Census Bureau, two million immigrants have arrived in the U.S. since the 2000 Census. In the 1970s, immigrants accounted for 10% of new workers. It increased to 25% in the '80s and 50% in the '90s. Still, immigrants make up only 14% of the total workforce.
The director of the workforce education initiative at the Business Roundtable (a group of corporate executives) said, "We would not have been able to have this economic growth without the growth in the workforce that was supplied by immigrants." And their impact was felt throughout the economy, from manufacturing and service industries to engineering, computer science and physical science. Nine in 10 new immigrants went to work for private industry. More than one-third were blue-collar workers, while one in four held technical, managerial or professional jobs.
Without new immigrants, the labor force would have experienced no growth in New England and the New York region. Immigrants accounted for all the growth among workers under 35 and one-third of the growth in the labor force among the ages 35 to 44.
The effect was particularly noticeable among male workers, in part because of a decline in the percentage of U.S.-born men in the workforce. One factor is early retirements; another is mass racist unemployment among black and Latin males who were failed by the rotten school system and dropped out of high school. Among women, three in 10 new workers were recent immigrants while U.S.-born women continue to enter the workforce in larger numbers.
Immigrants will keep coming. The bosses need them to create super-profits while they intensify fascist attacks against them and the rest of the working class. We must wage a tremendous struggle against the racist anti-immigrant ideology on the job, in the unions and the schools. We welcome the workers of the world onto our jobs and into our revolutionary communist party. In their thirst for profits, the bosses will help us to break down nationalist barriers. They will create their own gravediggers. Workers of the World, Unite!
In a capitalist-imperialist system, academia performs a "skills" function, training a few experts and a literate workforce. But its ideological function is primary: teaching that exploitation, capitalism and imperialism are justified; teaching anti-communism and racism (usually in a nationalist form); promoting ideologies that rationalize injustice.
Academia is also a site of super-exploitation of part-time, graduate- and teaching-assistant labor: a decline in full-time jobs; cutbacks; tuition increases. Jobs and services are "privatized," so some boss profits. Research is given away to profit-making companies.
It's also a war on workers and many of us here. The NYC transit workers' contract fight reminds us that the USA is the only industrial country in which public employees have no right to strike. So much for workers' "civil liberties."
* The demonizing of the old communist movement by anti-communist lies, from Trotsky to Khrushchev to the Cold War academics, making communism seem "worse than capitalism."
* Promoting racism at home -- cutbacks, double unemployment rates, shorter lives, poorer conditions and police terror for black and Latin workers -- leads to the acceptance of imperialist racism against workers in Iraq, Palestine, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.
* The "liberal arts" teach capitalist ideology, making capitalism seem "less bad," dividing intellectuals from working people, and employing apologists for inequality, exploitation and racism, often with a "liberal" veneer.
The old communist movement made many errors but also had striking successes. We're learning from both, to build a revolutionary movement for a communist society in which the profit system that spawns racism, sexism and exploitation will be abolished. The free, full development of every individual can be realized only in such a society.
We urge you to join PLP in this task, the most important on earth, of creating this new world.
As teachers, we can fight racist, elitist, sexist and deterministic ideologies in our classes and research. We can join workers' struggles. Fighting racism at every step is essential.
In the MLA, we can support anti-racist initiatives. We can, and must, work to condemn imperialist wars and encroaching fascist repression, winning ourselves and others to do this more effectively. Contact PLP at email@example.com.]
The overall shortage of fresh water for the world's drinking and agricultural needs will worsen, due to global warming and to growing populations. The U.N. and the U.S. government estimate that by 2015 at least 40% of the world's people (3 billion) will suffer from insufficient water. The writers did a nice job of depicting the crisis but left the solution up to faith, hope and charity.
However, it's not difficult to see from their account of this crisis the impossibility of its solution in a world in which profit determines the actions of the world's biggest organizations -- large corporations and capitalist governments. One can also see that the only possibility of solving the crisis lies in a world in which human needs determine the actions of the largest organizations -- the working class and its future state power. Such a solution will, of course, require working-class revolution.
In the Middle East, the Euphrates River flows from Turkey through Syria and Iraq into the Persian Gulf. The yearly needs of water in these three countries total 50% more than the volume of water flowing in the river. These countries cannot agree on how to share this water since the upstream country, Turkey, controls how much water arrives in Syria and Iraq simply by building dams. Given a competitive system, the Turkish government logically fears there is no security for the future if it agrees to deliver more of the water downstream. Eventually this could provoke a war as the only way Syria and Iraq could obtain enough water. This competitive situation among nation states applies to almost 300 rivers in the world.
In Argentina the government has allowed two giant French companies, Vivendi Environment and Suez, to control the water for several provinces. The government funds the building of pipes, purification plants and other equipment, while the companies reap the profit through high prices that make it impossible for many workers to get clean water. When anyone objects, the companies threaten to leave those areas. Some regions are more profitable than others; some actually cost the companies more than they take in so they simply close up shop in those unprofitable spots.
Whether profit-making companies or capitalist-run governments control the water supply, the working class loses -- either through lack of access to water, or lack of money to pay for it. In a world in which the needs of the working class determined what was produced and where resources were distributed, there would be no need for nation states and their resulting competition. Plans for dams, distribution systems and purification plants would be made based on need. Clean water would be free to everyone so price would be irrelevant. If some areas were more difficult to supply -- the kind that would be losing propositions for profit-makers, the places easier to supply would subsidize them. There would be no need to "close up shop." Such a world would have to be run by the working class.
Profit is the cause of the water shortage, and water shortages cause disease, starvation and millions of deaths. Capitalism is the scourge of the world's working class. And you can read the basis for this conclusion in the New York Times -- minus the conclusion, of course.
Junior ROTC members and their uniformed troop leaders watched while one military leader had a sharp confrontation with a student before the rally started. The student argued that the war was for oil, not against terrorism, saying the army promises opportunity but doesn't deliver and now war can mean that young soldiers die. She said money should go for schools, not war.
After joining anti war protests this fall, the students organized this protest in 24 hours. It included black, Latino and white students at this public high school. After the protest the principal and multiple administrators, including a visiting Board of Education member, met with 12 students in a conference room and then allowed them to go to class.
The rally was the talk of the school. Many teachers and students congratulated the protesters and wanted to know when the next one would be and what the punishment had been. Not all were supportive. One teacher, an ex-marine, harangued his class about disrespecting the military. The Student Government Association sponsor was visibly pissed off. The administrators claimed they knew we were planning this for two weeks and tried to find out who had helped us organize it. They seemed confused when we said we did it ourselves overnight.
We learned that our fellow students are interested in more than clothes and video games. We were glad to have the support, but now we must follow up with the students who came and talk more about the rally's ideas and about politics generally. The administration will watch us more closely now and probably try to scare us. The school's chapter of Amnesty International is sponsoring a debate on the war next week which we'll attend and prepare for.
The political training some of us have had in Progressive Labor Party, Amnesty International and other groups enabled us to know it could be done and done quickly. May Day marches, anti-war protests in downtown D.C., and demonstrations against police brutality in Prince George's County prepared us with tactics and ideas. We now hope to lead our generation in political struggle against capitalism and imperialism. Teaching about the brighter future communist revolution can hold is our next big step. This event encourages us to push on.
In speaking for it, a teacher was applauded when declaring, "This morning [Dec. 4] the front page of the LA Times had a large headline stating that Hahn and Bratton are declaring `war on gangs.' In a tiny headline at the bottom of the page, Governor Davis plans to cut $1.9 billion to schools in California...I knew I had to ask this body to take a stand.
Bratton has declared"...a war on black and Latin youth, a violent version of racial profiling with a community policing twist to try to win leaders of churches and community groups to see our youth as the enemy....[We need] a real war on poverty and racism, not...on the youth....Instead of seeing our youth as the enemy,... teachers must be advocates for them."
Teachers at the House of Reps and at several schools have read the recent CHALLENGE article as well as local leaflets about this issue. Students expressed approval of our continuing fight against the "war on gangs" and our taking it to union meetings.
Bratton claims 100,000 LA youth are in gangs. But as Father Boyle pointed out (LA Times, 12/15), only a tiny percentage of those who even identify with gangs carry out gang violence. Over the years, these gang-bangers have gotten guns and encouragement from the police, doing the cops' dirty work of terrorizing workers and youth and spreading drugs.
Actually homicides and other violent crimes in LA by youth under 18 are "down sharply (LA Times, 12/15). Nationally, there were 60,000 fewer youth homicide, rape, robbery, and assault arrests in 2001 than in 1994....Youths last year account[ed] for just 5% of the nation's homicides and 12% of its violent crimes, the lowest percentage on record....The greatest arrest rates [are] persons in their 30's and 40's," having served long prison sentences with no job training or prospects for a job.
The rulers are squeezing California workers to make up a boss-created $25 billion budget deficit by cutting health, education and welfare while they plan to invade Iraq (costing $1 trillion, according to N.Y. Times columnist Thomas Friedman). The Hahn-Bratton war on black and Latino youth is part of this bosses' war on all California workers. As always under capitalism, the bosses shift their crisis and declining profits onto the backs of workers and our children.
PLP is urging all workers and youth to organize against these attacks and the coming war economy cuts. As capitalism's anti-worker, racist, war-like nature intensifies, opportunities grow for a mass communist PLP capable of turning the bosses' crises and wars into a revolution to put the working class in power.
The following is the cops' story. They claim they were conducting drug surveillance and approached a crowd of people around 10:15 p.m. They say Donnell ran to a nearby playground. When cop Thomas Forst tried to grab him, he broke free and supposedly fired twice, grazing Forst on the side of the head. When Forst's partner ordered him to drop his weapon, he allegedly fired two more shots and the cop fired back. Unbelievably, the cops claim Donnell then staggered several feet and fired twice at a third officer, who shot him, knocking him down. Police spokesman Pat Camden said the cops "fired their weapons while fearing for their lives." Strickland had no drugs in his possession.
Several residents at Hilliard Homes saw the shooting. "He had his hands up," said a family friend who watched in horror from her apartment. "He was kneeling. But they shot him anyway."
Strickland's sister-in-law said he spent the evening in her apartment, attending a birthday party for his 4-year-old niece, playing with his own 2-month-old baby girl. She said, "He didn't carry any gun. All he had was a cell phone. He didn't deal any drugs. He didn't mess with anybody. He was just kneeling with his arms up, nothing else." Witnesses said police kicked him after he was shot.
Strickland was a cashier in a fast food restaurant and was planning to get married. He also had a 4-year-old son.
Two days later, a march of 100 workers and youth stormed the offices of the Chicago Defender, an influential black newspaper. They were outraged that its story didn't mention the many witnesses who said Strickland was shot while attempting to surrender. They only carried the cops' version of the murder, ignoring the residents' side, even though they had to drive right by Hilliard Homes to get to the police station! Allegedly, one Defender employee was punched in the eye and protesters who didn't want their pictures taken damaged a photographer's flash.
More racist police terror is one of the many horrors the bosses have in store for black workers as they lurch towards war in Iraq and a fascist police state at home. The bosses are offering a future of racist unemployment, rotten schools and the destruction of public housing, while sending youth to kill and die in a U.S. bosses' oil war. But these workers reflect the growing anger felt by millions of workers and youth. Increased attacks will lead to sharper class struggle. The bosses can't have it both ways. PLP was involved in this action and will fight to win these anti-racist rebels to march the road to communist revolution.
I replied, "But the French government is just as imperialist as the U.S. They want Elf-Total-Fina, not Exxon-Mobil, to control Iraqi oil. If the U.S. cuts them in on the oil profits, they'll support the war." My friend admitted I was probably right, but was disappointed. "So what can we do?" he asked. I gave him the short answer -- rely on the working class! Deeper discussion is coming.
My study group read a Canadian author's proposal in Monthly Review to use the electoral process to get other "democratic" countries to oppose the U.S. "war against terrorism." This is the same "lesser-evil" anti-fascist strategy that the Communist International mistakenly adopted in the 1930s and 1940s-- but with the roles of U.S. and Germany reversed.
The "united front from above" undercut revolutionary class-consciousness and built trust in "good" capitalists like Roosevelt and Churchill. When the dust settled, workers who fought to "defend socialism" or "save democracy" saw their U.S. imperialist "allies" launch the Cold War and institute brutal puppet regimes from Vietnam to Iran to Guatemala. Meanwhile, Soviet socialism was so undermined by concessions to nationalism and capitalism that it turned into its opposite.
Imperialist alliances against the U.S., as proposed by the Monthly Review author, will only lead to wider war in the future. Fascism and imperialism are inevitable under capitalism. Only communist revolution can end that. I'll take this discussion to my activist friend.
During a recent anti-war march, a woman told me, "We need to reach out to people with different core values than ours, like all those who support Pat Buchanan. Those isolationist right-wingers are coming out very strongly against an Iraq war." I responded, "If our core values relate to justice and opposing unjust wars, then a lot of people share them. We need to go to the working class, not to Buchanan." She wasn't convinced. "But we need all the support we can get," she said, "no matter where it comes from."
I told her, "I came here with some church people and have some deep philosophical disagreements with them. But there are limits. If you put a racist like Pat Buchanan up as an `anti-war leader,' how can you fight against attacks on immigrants and all workers, which are part of the war drive? We need to build an anti-war movement that fights racism, not caters to it." She still wasn't convinced.
Who are our friends and who are our enemies? The communist movement has made mistakes, but we learn from them. Within the anti-war movement an array of opportunists are working hard to lead angry and impassioned activists into the arms of one section or another of the capitalist class. We need to be there, presenting the revolutionary potential of the working class to destroy global capitalism and its bloody wars for profit.
Firstly the military can demand all student files, including home addresses and telephone numbers, all without the knowledge of parents or students, and the schools must comply. Some students from my school and from an "outreach" program attached to the school, had their personal information sent to the military. (Students in danger of failing high school can have an "outreach" option -- with its more flexible scheduling -- to work towards a diploma.)
Students and parents were outraged at this military invasion of their files and organized to protest the action, including contacting their churches and community organizations.
The rulers' reaction to this opposition appeared in the form of a local newspaper article citing a letter from a high-ranking Navy recruiter in the area. He said the students from these two schools "were unfit to serve their country," since some students had failed the Navy's written exam given to new recruits. Many youth see the military as a way out of racist unemployment, poverty and police terror. The letter basically dismissed the students as too stupid to join the armed forces.
When I read the article to my classes, many students were angered at this disrespect. One exclaimed, "We're not too stupid, we're too smart to fight and die in their wars. If Bush's kids don't have to go, why should I?" Many agreed with these remarks. The bottom line is the rulers know they will need a draft to build the military needed for their imperialist aims.
The other provision of the law mandates closure or "re-organization" of any school with a failing record on standardized tests. By law, the mayor can close any school, for any reason, whenever he chooses. My school's scores make it a "failing" one. It's slated to be phased out starting next September. Should the district administration not adhere to this law, it could lose its state funding.
This rule will disrupt many schools. It will allow corporations to enter school systems, moving them toward privatization. Many of the new "mini schools" have corporate "partners" such as the Carnegie Foundation and Bill Gates. The rulers hope these schemes will divert funds now allotted to public education into paying for wars for world domination.
I have joined with a few teachers to fight this disruptive re-organization and the military invasion of our school. While some feel the school just needs more money, I pointed out that no matter what changes the schools make or don't make, the rulers' only concern about the lives of working-class students is how much they can be exploited.
Our meetings and discussions motivated us to fight for the best interests of our students. But even more important, it led us to question whether the system is really interested in doing the same.
Our group is reaching out to the community to organize parents and students, along with teachers, to struggle over this issue and others that will surely arise.
This fascistic law will lead to further attacks on workers and their families. Rather than "leaving no child behind," the rulers' real intention is to leave no child unexploited.
The first speaker schooled us on thanksgiving history, the genocide of Indians first by the Pilgrims and later by the U.S. government.
A trio of Howard University students related their struggles against the death penalty; the curtailment of privacy rights and the detention of hundreds of foreign-born workers under the Patriot Act; and their focus on the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Another speaker recounted the August demonstration against the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group. He said 1000 cops included snipers above Union Station pointing their guns at us and defending the Nazis!
A trade unionist reported on resolutions against a war in Iraq that have passed in several area unions.
A member of the People's Coalition described being caught up in the election campaign for Prince Georges county executive. He realized afterwards that with all the energy expended there was no clear guarantee the person elected, Jack Johnson, will substantively change the brutal racist culture of the County Police force. Johnson definitely will not heed the Coalition's call to fire the "Dirty Dozen" cops, one of whom has just shot another young black man.
A member of the American Public Health Association (APHA) reported the struggle at its meetings that forced Tom Ridge, Homeland Security czar, to withdraw from his scheduled appearance at the opening session under the onslaught of red-led opposition. Mohamed Ackter, the opportunistic APHA leader, felt compelled to give an antiwar speech amid passage of a resolution opposing the war in Iraq.
The next speaker praised the workers and students attending for their participation in anti-racist struggle, noting that our collective power can bear fruit only when capitalism is destroyed and a communist society built. The young people were congratulated and recognized as representing the future. Joining the Progressive Labor Party was advanced as the most important thing anyone could do in the coming period of fascist repression and imperialist war.
A "50-50" raffle was held to support the Anti-Fascist Defense Fund that aids workers and students arrested in the fight against racism and fascism. Over $250 was collected. The winner returned her half of the money to the Fund. Now, on with the anti-racist struggle!
A D.C. comrade
Comrades In 1975 in Boston, the racist and anti-busing movement turned violent. The antiracist reaction to these events is part of the history of our class. The personal struggle to improve our lives now is drawn in these pages.
To Have in Common A novel about a hospital strike in which workers run the hospital; nine stories about people in ordinary circumstances developing communist values.
All books are 8.50 plus $1.50 shipping. Send check or money to Challenge Periodicals, GPO 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202