AFL-CIOs New Strategy Apes Hitlers Unions
To Fight Fascism, Terminate Lesser Evil Politics
Grocery, Transit Strikers Battle Over Health Cuts, Give-backs
Talkin the Talk and Walkin the Walk on the MTA Picket Lines
Garment Workers Back LA Strikers
NYC Teachers Hit The Streets!
Rotten Auto Contracts Betray Future Generations
Stand Up Against Steel Bosses
Miners March With Dynamite: One Down, A Whole System to Go
Workers Anger Rising in Auto Plants
Boeing Workers Fed Up With Pro-Boss Rallies
March Against Domestic Violence
Environmentalism: A Communist Perspective, Part Three:
Molotov Remembers Anti-Revolutionaries in Soviet Union
Soviet Defeat of Japan in 1939 Shaped World War 2
Capitalism Breeds Unemployment: 22 Million Jobs Lost Worldwide
Health Care, Capitalist Style
Priests in the Class Struggle
Pro Sports A Diversion?
The British Union of Fascists, in its short definition of fascism, declared, "We believe in the co-operation of all classes, in the solidarity of all units of a nation, and in justice. And in the mystery of patriotism." ("The Blackshirt," No. 34, 1933)
United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger, at the conclusion of the contract negotiations with the Big Three automakers and their parts-maker spin-offs, said, "Since the start of these negotiations, one of our goals has been to bring this industry together." (New York Times, 8/20)
United Auto Workers (UAW) contracts with the Big Three automakers set the pattern for major manufacturing contracts throughout the nation. One of every 10 jobs in the U.S. is auto-related. This fall the New York Times declared that the UAW negotiations signaled a "new strategy" for labor. "Even corporate executives are acknowledging that labors first concern has changed from demanding more to making sure that companies survive," the Times reported.
Unions at G.M., Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Delphi, Visteon, Goodyear and Verizon have all agreed to a wage freeze. Hundreds of thousands of industrial workers have seen their plants sold or spun off, and wages cut drastically. Last spring, the UAW agreed to cut hourly wages from $26 to $16 when DaimlerChrysler sold an auto-parts plant to Metalydyne. Knowing a good thing when they see it, Metaldyne agreed to allow the UAW to organize their ten remaining non-union parts plants.
Even worse, 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last three years, hitting black workers in auto, steel, aerospace and textiles especially hard. This has led to a widening of the wage gap between black and white workers, and increased the poverty rate among black workers at more than twice the rate of their white brothers and sisters.
"Theyre like sharks that smell blood in the water," observed a Boeing Machinist, referring to the industrial bosses. "No amount of concessions will satisfy them." Alan Mulally, Boeings Commercial Airlines chief, said Washington States business climate still "sucked," even after the state, with the unions blessing, cut unemployment insurance and workers compensation, and gave Boeing a $3.2 billion tax break. David Groves, of the Washington State Labor Council, thinks Mulallys broadside is part of a campaign to gut what is left of workers comp. "Unions are still not giving up enough to make their employers truly competitive in the global market," threatens the New York Times.
The leaders of the major industrial unions have always served the bosses interests. Their "new strategy" reflects the increasing challenges to U.S. industrial leadership. U.S. rulers aim to maintain their imperialist dominance through the control of Mid-East oil, a strategic resource. This requires unending wars, like the occupation of Iraq.
Two keys to continuing this bloodbath are the control of industrial workers and soldiers. These two groups, where black and Latin workers are concentrated with white workers, can also spearhead our liberation from this racist, imperialist nightmare.
After World War II, the union leaders maintained their control over us by delivering economic crumbs. Simultaneously, the bosses used their government, laws, cops and courts to persecute communists and other anti-racist, class-conscious opponents.
Now that financing endless wars is the priority, and Europe and Asia are challenging U.S supremacy, even the crumbs have been taken off the table. Today, the main role of the union leaders is to win us to class-collaboration and nationalism, paving the way for even sharper attacks. So the UAW "give[s] the automakers a green light to shut 12 assembly plants" and calls it a plan to save jobs (New York Times, 8/20).
This "new" strategy is not really new. In March 1933, as fascism began in Nazi Germany, the German unions declared, "The trade unions are fully prepared, even beyond the field of wages and working conditions, to enter into permanent co-operation with the employers organizations."
British communist R. Palme Dutt wrote, in "Fascism and Social Revolution":
"The whole propaganda and line of [the pro-capitalist union misleaders] confused, weakened and battered down the class-conscious socialist outlook of those workers under its influence, prevented the spread of revolutionary Marxist understanding, fostered semi-fascist conceptions of nationalism, imperialism and class collaboration, and thus left the masses an easy prey to fascism."
Fascism doesnt emerge out of the blue. The bosses and their labor lieutenants who lead the industrial unions will try to maintain the traditional organizational forms of liberal "democracy," but with a more pro-imperialist, nationalist, class-collaborationist essence.
To repeat the mistakes of the past would be unforgivable. We must answer "labors new strategy" with a renewed commitment to anti-racist class struggle, exposing the industrial union leaders betrayal of the working class at every turn. Every union meeting, strike or grievance on the shop floor, every campaign involving our fellow workers provides another opportunity to build a revolutionary communist outlook among industrial workers. We must let no opportunity pass to expose the racist, capitalist system and its inevitable drive to war and fascism.
Class struggle combined with patient base-building and increased ideological debate, spurred on by the increased circulation of CHALLENGE, can build a mass base for PLP. The fight will be long and hard, but revolution is inevitable. Armed with revolutionary communist ideas, black, Latin and white workers can sweep labors "new strategy" into the dustbin of history, and fulfill our historic mission to smash the bosses endless wars and racist exploitation with communist revolution. Start today! Read and discuss CHALLENGE articles on industrial workers.
On October 11, many Californians voted for either Davis or Schwarzenegger out of the belief that their choice represented the lesser evil. But both candidates have solid evil credentials.
The winner, Schwarzenegger, came from former governor Pete Wilsons anti-immigrant camp. He is sexist, has ties to Nazis and was very friendly with Enron and the energy barons who milked California of $9 billion. But Davis also took Enron money, voted for de-regulation and cut many vital programs. Those who voted against either Schwarzenegger or Davis as a vote against fascism seemed to be saying, "If fascism is capitalism without the democratic mask, lets keep the mask!"
The capitalist rulers use elections to fight out their tactical differences. For the working class, elections are an "empowerment" gimmick to make workers feel theyre part of the decision-making process. Yet their voting has no bearing on strategic decisions, which are made by capital in the privacy of their board rooms, carefully shielded from public scrutiny. Elections cannot stop the drive towards war and fascism because they cannot solve the capitalist structural problems of declining profit rates, overproduction, increased competition, exploitation and war. Fascism is capitalism in this acute crisis.
The Democrats lesser-evil claim to stop or slow the drive towards war and fascism was exposed in this election. Aligning with them is aligning with one of the major forces ushering in war and fascism. Lesser evilism presents class enemies as friends. After all, it was Clinton who killed welfare and bombed Yugoslavia, commanded by current Democratic candidate General Wesley Clark.
In a recent pre-election forum, we presented these views and noted that the U.S. ruling classs response to 9/11 brought it closer to a point of no alternative other than war abroad against its competitors and fascism at home.
Many students at the forum largely agreed. Several left with bunches of CHALLENGES. Some older adults thought Democrats would help workers and minorities. We replied that capitalism in crisis has less and less carrots for workers, mostly sticks. Some thought multilateralists were better than unilateralists. Someone else reasoned that if youre an Iraqi, theres no difference in being shot at by one army or several armies.
The Democrats program includes cutbacks, prison construction (their $40 billion baby), the Hart-Rudman Commissions Department of Homeland Security, putting more "troops on the ground" in the Middle East, and centralizing health care and energy under the Federal government.
Both major parties favor military mobilization and related domestic repression. No ballot-box strategy can prevent a series of escalating post-Iraq wars. While its useful to participate in electoral groups as long as we develop a base exposing the whole system, voting Democrat instead of Republican wont work because Democrats champion the above program.
The Greens, represented by Nader, favor cutting one-third of the Pentagon budget by eliminating weapons systems which the brass thought were unnecessary. The militarys basic role remains. Similarly, the leading California Green, Peter Camejo, wants to maintain the occupation of Iraq via the UN. Hes silent on the underlying U.S. agenda, oil.
There are two choices for anti-fascists: make peace with a fascist regime or pursue an activist and ultimately revolutionary communist approach. We cannot wait for the legal structure of fascism that combines Patriot Acts I with II and an expanded Department of Homeland Security.
Fascism will be defeated by the development of a revolutionary communist party among workers, soldiers, students and others, a massive task, but do-able. "A journey of a thousand miles," our revolutionary Chinese comrades used to say, "begins with a single step." Organize your friends and co-workers with CHALLENGE. Defeat fascism with communist revolution!
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 20 The transit and grocery workers strikes over the issue of health care are entering their second week. Grocery workers would have to pay 50% more for their health benefits, while MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) management wants mechanics to pay $200 a month more and cut retiree benefits by 75% (the union offered worker payments of $80 more each month, which management rejected)! The bosses also want service workers to do mechanics work for $9 an hour less and contract out millions of dollars of work to companies paying poverty wages. In January, MTA plans to increase bus passes by $10 a month. Workers have called these give-backs a "war tax," since transit funds have been cut to pay for the war in Iraq.
When 2,200 ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union) mechanics and service attendants struck the third largest transit system in the U.S., they had been without a contract since Sept 30, 2002. About 6,200 transit workers in three different unions are honoring the picket lines. MTA workers are divided into four unions while LA mass transit as a whole is divided into a dozen different locals.
AFL-CIO leaders say they support the strike, but Teamsters are driving for Foothill transit and the Dash lines and other transit company workers are running expanded routes. No worker should be doing the work of the struck MTA. Some rank-and-filers are fighting to unite mechanics and drivers, other transit workers and the riding public. But AFL-CIO union leaders, rather than organizing a city-wide general strike, try to keep us tied to the profit system, and divert us into voting Democrat as the "solution" to these attacks.
Students have been distributing CHALLENGES on the picket lines, along with a PLP leaflet saying, "A system that cannot provide decent health care should be destroyed." Weve had many sharp and friendly talks with workers about the strike, revolution and communism.
At one location, a General Manager was bragging to a group of workers that he had insulted two PLP students. One worker told him, "You have no right to harass anyone who comes to support our strike." This led to a sharp discussion on the pros and cons of communism.
A supervisor said, "Immigrants come here from all over the world. They dont go to the communist countries." A worker answered, "If the U.S. is the best, why are there so many homeless and why do workers have to work in terrible conditions like in Wal-Mart with low wages and no benefits?" Another added, "Capitalism in Central and South America and Africa forces the majority of people to live in the worst conditions. The U.S. government has a lot to do with that." The discussion sharpened, appearing to become physical. The manager who started out puffed up left with his mouth closed, knowing that a group of workers rejected his anti-communism. We plan to return with more supporters. We think the strikers will greet us and exchange strike experiences.
At another transit division, a group of students and teachers joined picket lines with signs calling for "Health care for all"; "Dont raise the bus fare"; and "An attack against workers is an attack against us." Students have been seriously affected by the strike, but see the attack on the workers as an attack on them. The strikers were elated, having many good conversations. One striker wants to keep in touch with PLP.
Winning more workers to become CHALLENGE sellers is one important Party goal in this strike. A Party friend brought another worker to a garment district rally where they distributed over 1,000 leaflets. Hes read CHALLENGE for years and is overcoming his frustration with the passivity of other workers by becoming active in the fight against the transit bosses and capitalism itself.
Another young worker who has come with his friends to May Day marches for the last few years, agreed to talk about the strike to a group at a local college. "Im not sure about speaking in front of people, but Ill give it a try." Exactly the right attitude! The same young worker wants to start a study group with some of his friends.
These two strikes have put the issue of health care front and center for workers throughout southern California. Over 43 million workers in the U.S. have no health insurance and the bosses are attacking those who do. Some union leaders call for "national health insurance," but their plan would save billions for the huge steel, auto and other corporations by removing health care costs from their declining profits and shifting it to workers taxes. Either way, workers will be getting less while paying more. This racist, imperialist system is in crisis, and will not provide decent health care for workers. Our health and lives depend on building a mass revolutionary communist party.
There seems to be more activity than Party members can handle, a good problem impelling us to rely on more people. We plan to emerge from these strikes with a bigger, more active PLP, more people fighting for workers unity, and more people reading and distributing CHALLENGE. Our task is to steer this anger and militancy down the road to communist revolution.
Student: "We came to show that your fight is our fight and if you lose, we all lose." (He handed the striker a flier and a CHALLENGE.)
Striker: "Youre a communist?"
Student: "Yes. We represent the future of the working class. Capitalism is grinding down the standard of living of the entire working class. Whatever cuts in health care and benefits you suffer, well suffer too."
Another Striker: "Youre right about that. But what does communism have to do with it?"
Student: "You guys are very powerful. You have the power to shut down the whole city."
A third worker: "The government doesnt have the money to pay health benefits and higher salaries but we at least have to defend what we have."
Student: "Yes, because they are spending billions on war in Iraq. Workers create all value but we dont control any of it. Imagine committees of workers organizing and deciding everything, what to produce and how for our own class."
First Striker: "I dont think that can happen."
Student: "It already happened in Russia and in China. We can learn from their success and their mistakes, see what they did wrong and correct it."
Striker: "Thats going to take a revolution."
Student: "Yeah, and revolution is a long process. It starts in these strikes and in discussions like this."
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 20 "If the bosses can attack the transit and grocery workers so hard, what will they do to us?" remarked a garment worker here. "Even though this transit strike is hard on us because we all use public transportation, we must back the strike and organize to fight against the garment bosses too."
The majority of the more than 100,000 garment workers here use buses to get to work. Despite this inconvenience, most workers support the strike, some passively by not saying anything against the strikers, others by declaring, "This is what we need in the garment industry, so theyll stop exploiting us." Public transportation is actually a government subsidy to the garment bosses and big clothing stores, all of whom pay poverty wages, which dont permit these workers to buy cars, a necessity, not a luxury, in LA. So this government-run bus system gets these workers to the bosses shops.
Some transit strikers joined garment workers and students for a protest rally in the center of the garment industry. They called for multi-racial unity between citizens and immigrants against the racist bosses and their attacks on the whole working class, demanding health care for all, and calling for organization of the unorganized.
PLP distributed thousands of leaflets exposing capitalism based on super exploitation and war as incapable of providing decent health care for the working class. While we support the fight against every cut in benefits, the long-term fight must be for communist revolution and a society whos very essence is the well-being of the workers.
Weve sold hundred of CHALLENGES, calling on garment workers to join the strikers and not support a fake reform like minimal "national health care" paid from workers taxes. We championed the building of a mass revolutionary movement. The sharpening of the political struggle has sparked new CHALLENGE networks among garment workers and an atmosphere of struggle in preparation for CHALLENGE dinners.
NEW YORK CITY, Oct. 21 Twenty thousand teachers and parents protest at City Hall rally against Mayors bureaucratic maze of new rules and codes that dictate everything down to the placement of chairs and desks while doing nothing to reduce class size. These new rules have given way to overcrowded rooms and worsen work conditions. Negotiations are at a standstill over a new contract to replace the one that expired May 31.
DETROIT Facing an increasing threat from Japanese and European competition, the UAW, the Big Three auto makers and their former auto-parts subsidiaries Delphi and Visteon broke with tradition and signed five contracts in five days covering about 302,500 active workers and nearly 370,000 retired workers. The deals include a two-tier wage system for new hires at Delphi and Visteon, the two giant parts suppliers spun off from GM and Ford in 1999 and 2000, formally ending the 70-year commitment to "equal pay for equal work." This will hit black, Latin and women workers first and hardest, and accelerate the slide to lower wages and benefits for all.
A UAW International VP called the new contracts, "remarkable achievements given the state of the economy, outsourcing, jobs moving to Mexico and China and the tremendous downward pressure on wages and benefits." He said we must be "realistic" about the times, and that "in this period, confrontation would not help."
Whats less remarkable is the union trying to win workers to unite with the racist bosses "in this period" of increasing inter-imperialist rivalry, widening war and increasing fascist terror.
The UAW maintained current health-care benefits, 30 and Out retirement at any age, and pensions, but will pay for them with a wage freeze, job cuts, plant closings and increased productivity.
Referring to the two-tier system, one Delphi worker called it a "sellout of the next generation," and said, "When the company goes to these workers a few years down the road and tells them they cant afford a pay raise because of the retiree costs, this will come back to haunt those who voted for it." Thousands of higher paid Visteon and Delphi workers will be offered transfers back to Ford and GM to make room for "second-tier" new hires.
Ford will close four U.S. factories and announced 7,700 job cuts on the day the contract was ratified. Days later, Delphi Corp., the worlds largest automotive parts supplier, said it will cut 500 salaried jobs by the end of the year. In addition to the two-tier wage system, the new four-year contract could allow Delphi to close or sell some plants.
Toyota, Honda and BMW are expanding production with non-union workers and suppliers while GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are losing domestic market share.
Through August, Detroits Big Three held 63% of the U.S. market, down from 64% in 2002 and 75% in 1980. Toyota outsold Chrysler in August for the first month ever and is building a new truck plant in Texas with plans to pass DaimlerChrysler for good within two to three years.
According to the Harbour Report, an annual study on auto productivity, GM, the most profitable of the Big Three, earned $701 per vehicle in North America in 2002 while Toyota earned $1,214. Labor costs are lower at the non-union transplant factories, and the workforce is younger, so there is a much smaller cost for pension and health-care. GM has 2.5 times as many retirees as active workers in the U.S.
The chairman of UAW Local 594 in Pontiac, Mich. said UAW leaders are hoping that "working in partnership with the Big Three will take away any reluctance [of the non-union auto makers] to welcome them in." But if collaborating with the bosses meant more members, the UAW would be about 100 times its size rather than half of what it was in 1980.
From the racist bashing of Japanese imports in the 1970s, to the Chrysler concessions, GM and Ford plant closings of the 1980s, which crippled cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Flint, and Pontiac, the UAW leadership has been fiercely loyal to the racist profit system. With their numbers shrinking, they are out to prove they can still play a vital role for U.S. imperialism. "In this period," these are war contracts that show the racist face of industrial fascism. We are dug in for the long haul, confident that black, Latin, women and white autoworkers remain a key force for revolution and with patience and struggle, are open to building a mass PLP.
WHEELING, W.VA., Oct. 8 Wierton Steel announced plans to cut 950 of 3,500 jobs and eliminate pension and healthcare benefits for 10,000 former workers and their dependents (New York Times 10/8). The USWA (United Steel Workers of America) will cry crocodile tears over these losses, but this is what it means to "Stand Up for Steel [Bosses]!" (SUFS) This is the industry consolidation the union supports.
On Sept. 20, SUFS rallies were held in Pittsburgh, Detroit and Gary, IN. cities devastated by racist unemployment due to the sharpening challenges to the U.S. auto and steel industries. The rallies were to demand that Bush maintain the current steel tariffs, to give the steel bosses more time to consolidate and restructure (about 36 have declared bankruptcy in the current crisis). The tariffs of up to 30% on imported steel have increased costs and raised protests from other sectors, like the auto industry and the UAW.
But not all steelworkers are marching to the bosses tune. Over 500 voted against the latest contract at Wheeling-Pittsburgh, a 5-year restructuring as W-P comes out of bankruptcy (the contract passed 1,875-545). And workers in Logansport, IN recently rejected their latest contract offer. None of these workers were featured speakers at the SUFS rallies.
The steel industry, like auto and aerospace, is caught in a crisis of overproduction and overcapacity. Steelabor, the USWA paper says, "There is still a glut of excess steel and over-production in the world market. Some estimates have put the number at more than 240 million metric tons of excess world-wide capacity." Mergers of steel giants in Europe and rapidly expanding production in China and eastern Europe are adding to the glut, which will globalize poverty and unemployment for steel workers.
The Brookings Institution, a liberal Eastern establishment think-tank, says part of the solution is to ditch the old integrated mills requiring large workforces and expensive coke plants and blast furnaces (only integrated mills can make the steel used for outside car panels). Mini-mills like Nucor produce 50% of the countrys steel, using scrap steel, electric furnaces and non-union workers. Brookings says this must be increased.
Only under capitalism can the production of "too much" steel, which could be used to make life better for workers worldwide, become the cause of widespread poverty. The crisis of overproduction is caused by the contradiction between thousands of workers who produce the steel and a few rich capitalists who own the mills and decide how the steel will be distributed, based on whats good for their profits. Only communist revolution can resolve this contradiction. Then the working class will produce, own and distribute the steel based on our needs.
During the Great Steel Strike of 1919 headed by the great communist leader, William Z. Foster every steel worker in the U.S. was on strike. Strike bulletins were printed in 35 languages. That movement was inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution that had led the working class to power in the Soviet Union two years earlier, for the first time in history. We are a long way from that now. But the struggles of steelworkers remain fertile ground for building a new communist movement that, unlike SUFS, will know no borders.
BOLIVIA, Oct. 20 "One down, many more to go." President Lozada became the fourth South American President to flee in the last several years (Fujimori from Peru, Mahuad from Ecuador, De la Rua from Argentina and now Lozada). The mass mobilizations of workers, peasants and students, led by miners armed with dynamite sticks, forced Lozada to flee. Just before escaping to Miami, Lozada sent tanks against demonstrators, killing many more and heightening their anger.
The indefinite general strike, begun on Sept. 29 by the Labor Federation (COB) under rank-and-file pressure, widened. Tens of thousands of protestors jammed La Paz and all major cities after the latest massacre. Thousands of miners from the Hunani region marched towards La Paz armed with dynamite sticks to "defend the people." In a striking display of working-class unity, soldiers refused orders to shoot the masses, scaring the bosses. On Oct 17, as the miners began their march, U.S. Ambassador David Greeley met with Vice-President Mesa and "solved" the crisis by dumping millionaire Lozada, long-time U.S. lackey.
The new government is weak. Already opportunists like Evo Morales, one of the main anti-Lozada leaders, is biding his time to figure out his next move. The ruling class will use this time to reorganize itself.
The rulers $1.4 billion deal that sparked the rebellion was to allow Pacific LNG (a British Gas-controlled consortium) to send gas to Chile for liquification, then ship it to Mexico, to be turned back into gas and then sent to the U.S. The Bolivian government would get only $40-70 million. This will probably be reworked with some minor changes.
The bosses will get away with their plans, and the misery and suffering of workers and their allies will continue. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries on the continent.
At mass celebrations after Lozadas fall, thousands of workers and their allies swore to continue the struggle. Many called for a mass revolutionary Party. Thats the missing ingredient to turn the struggles into a school for communism. PLP is fighting to build an international communist Party to end the hell of capitalism once and for all.
Iraq is not the only war. Every day, the class war rages. Over three million jobs have been lost since January 2001; more than 15 million workers are either unemployed, working part-time, or have quit looking for non-existent jobs. Over 44 million workers and their families have no health insurance. In one UAW region, 29 plants are closing and union membership has dropped from 180,000 in 1980 to 66,000 today.
In one plant, a 500-member "independent" union voted to affiliate with the UAW in 1996. Rather than negotiate a contract, the company formed a "free" union. In January 2003, the UAW won a bargaining order from the NLRB, but because of the huge turnover rate, the core of union activists had shrunk to just 10-15 workers. They have struggled to raise union membership to just over 50% since March, and are still without a first contract.
A chain of 18 plants making fiberglass parts for Ford and GM and hoods for semi-trucks was bought by a new owner who wanted $18 in hourly wage and benefit concessions, to end the defined pensions and to end health care for retirees, even though a contract was still in effect. Last December, 1,800 workers at one plant began a health and safety strike. The company took $10-$12 in hourly concessions, announced the plant closing (without giving the required 60-day notice), and refused to negotiate a plant-closing agreement. As of October 1, retirees lost all health care benefits and the company is closing four more UAW plants, moving the work to non-union plants in the U.S. and Mexico.
At a factory in a "Right-to-Work" state that makes parts for Electrolux, 3,000 workers are threatened with suspensions and firings for wearing pro-union T-shirts. The company said that a union newsletter could not be distributed on company property, so the workers organized plant gate distributions at shift change. The company stopped that, ordering security guards to confiscate all union literature. Recently, 200 workers were hired and most joined the union, pushing union membership to about 90%.
156 workers struck for 27 weeks to stop a plant from closing and moving their work to China. For over 40 years this company made more than half of all the highway pavers used in the U.S. They also make small construction equipment being used in Iraq. They were bought out seven years ago and the union was notified last winter that there would be no new contract. For six months, not one worker crossed the picket line or missed picket duty. One worker described the support rallies as "the biggest held in this county since Grant organized the Union army." The plant closed, but the workers were able to get $1.7 million in severance pay and health care included in the pension plan.
A United Technology (UTC) plant that makes parts for the aerospace industry locked out 850 workers in a contract dispute in a city with the highest unemployment rate in the state. UTC is a billion-dollar corporation and owns defense contractors like Pratt-Whitney and Sikorski helicopter. The company wanted to slash health care, raise insurance premiums 15% a year, eliminate retiree healthcare and outsource work. After three weeks, the company announced it was taking replacement applications. The workers turned most applicants away and flooded the office with their own "applicants." After six weeks, the workers gave in, "accepting" a 5-year deal that ends retiree healthcare for those retiring after 2008. Their numbers had dropped to 680 and more will be retiring.
An organizing drive is underway at three Textron plants, another billion-dollar company that owns Bell and Cessna. The workforce has dropped from 2,000 in 1999 to about 800 today, with the work moving to non-union plants in the U.S., Mexico and China. Workers have active committees in all three plants with workers from nearby factories helping with rallies and house calls. Elections are coming soon. One worker said, "Were ready for a battle."
On another organizing drive at a company making parts for Maytag, Frigidaire, John Deere and Mitsubishi, workers earn between $8-$8.50/hour, work 7-day weeks, and must pay $70/week for their health insurance. Seven workers have been fired over health and safety and workers compensation issues.
Contract talks will open with Catepillar in December. The company said it is "preparing for negotiations, and permenant replacements."
Multiply these struggles by the tens of thousands. Add to them the largest prison population on earth (more than 2 MILLION, mostly black and Latin young men) and the round-ups of thousands of immigrant workers, many held without charges or deported for minor visa violations, and the face of fascism becomes a lot clearer. Its not just the face of Bush, Rumsfeld or Ashcroft, but the racist face of capitalism and wage slavery!
The bosses have a big problem; they need the loyalty of those theyre attacking and they arent making any friends. The working class is not rolling over for fascism. The union leaders want to use these struggles to elect the Democrats, which will only lead to more fascism and war. With patience and persistance, building unbreakable ties and spreading CHALLENGE, we can turn these struggles into a mass base for communist revolution. But we have to be in it to win it.
AUBURN, WA., Oct 17 The Boeing Machinist Union (IAM) rallied today, lobbying for production of the new 7E7 jet in Washington State and for the purchase of the 767 aerial tanker now held up in Congress because of a scandal over Pentagon /Boeing collusion to overcharge the government. Billed as a demonstration "to keep our jobs in Washington State," a few hundred union officials, shop stewards and sprinkling of rank-and-filers heard IAM District President Mark Blondin list the "achievements" of the unions "We Can Do It" campaign. After Blondin finished listing what we gave the company, one shop steward remarked, "If this is the way we are going to deal with the company, we might as well rename our next contract negotiations, giftings!"
"Airbus is the enemy," began Blondin. "We want to partner with the company, but partnership is a two-way street."
The company needed unemployment insurance reform so we got it for them, he continued. "We can do it!" he exclaimed. The same with a tax-paid pier in Everett, workers compensation reform, $3.2 billion in tax "relief" and a myriad of other gifts: "we can do it, we can do it, and we can do it." He praised the Governor for bringing together opposing interests to hammer out legislation that protected our laid-off members from unemployment insurance cuts, a bold-faced lie since a freeze was instituted. Even more importantly, he failed to mention that the unemployment reform bill included a racist attack on the States poorest workers, denying unemployment insurance altogether to seasonal workers, like farm laborers.
Alan Mulally, Boeing Commercial Airline chief, responded to this largess by announcing that the States business climate still "sucked." The bosses are never satisfied.
Who Cares About Racist Unemployment When We Can Have Good Press?
When workers complained about these concessions at the pre-rally union meeting before the rally, the misleaders said we had to be "positive," get behind this plane and "get good press."
"Who cares what happens to the cranes in Everett," remarked one official, referring to the complaint that the company was eliminating crane operator jobs.
Seeing the handwriting on the wall, rank-and-fillers wrote their own rally leaflet entitled, "35,000 Laid-Off Workers Demand: No Concessions, Jobs Now!" We circulated and posted hundreds in the plants. "Ask the laid-off about being positive!" said one enthusiastic leafleter, ruefully.
"Were witnessing the beginning of the end," commented a disappointed union member, surveying the rally.
"This is way past the beginning!" answered his shop steward.
The current crisis of capitalism highlights the hacks inability to deliver jobs, or even mount a significant fight-back. Theyve been revealed as racist apologists for the company.
The same crisis that has forced the union misleaders to reveal their true colors has depleted our ranks, making it more difficult to launching campaigns free of the misleaders pro-capitalist politics. Nonetheless, our experience has shown there is a great reservoir of class hatred ready to be tapped if we take the initiative. Our network of CHALLENGE readers can turn, over time, into "the spark that ignites the prairie fire."
NEW YORK CITY, Oct. 15 Carrying pictures of victims of domestic violence, dozens of people marched in Upper Manhattan chanting, "No more violence against women." So far this year, 16 have died from such attacks. The marchers, many of them young women, gathered in front of the Pediatrics Emergency room of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where many of the victims come for treatment. A City Council hearing revealed that last year over 220,000 cases of domestic violence were reported
The demonstrators marched to 181st St. and St. Nicholas Ave., where a minute of silence honored the memory of Melissa Pérez, found in a closet in January, murdered by her boyfriend. A poll of young women 14 to 17 reported that 40% knew someone who had been beaten by a boyfriend. The most famous victim in the area was Gladys Ricart, who was murdered several years ago on her wedding day by a jealous former boyfriend, a "successful local businessman."
Capitalism is based on all forms of violence against workers, particularly women, who carry the double burden of being exploited on the job and doing most of the housework and child-rearing. Many workers ape the sexist violence of the system and its music and culture which degrade women. This should not be tolerated.
Throughout the world, famine is a major problem and increasing rapidly. Many wonder how this can happen on a planet abundant with nutritional food sources. Examining the contradictions of capitalism answers this question. Capitalist "logic" means paying farmers not to plant but to destroy crops to keep supplies low and prices high. It also means that millions of pounds of healthy and nutritious grains are wasted on cattle and other livestock instead of using them to end world hunger. In the U.S. alone, 77% of the countrys corn supply is fed to livestock; only 2% is eaten by people. Four million acres of U.S. farmland is used to produce vegetables while 56 million acres produces hay for livestock. The bosses have chosen to support and supply an unhealthy meat-based diet rather than a nutrient-rich, healthier and more abundant plant-based one because meat is a more profitable commodity. This capitalist approach to food production wastes natural resources, destroys the environment and starves workers worldwide.
Through control of state power and agencies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization, the bosses drive under local food production with cheaper, subsidized imports. This forces agriculture-rich "third world" countries to become dependent on foreign food imports while simultaneously producing grain to feed the livestock whose meat is sold back to them at prices most super-exploited workers cant afford. For example, in Bangladesh, where famine and malnutrition are common, enough grain was grown in 1979 to supply each person with 2,200 calories per day; yet its agricultural potential was hardly tapped. Pressure from imperialist powers drove under local, diversified food production in favor of an import-based food economy and an export-based grain economy grain that would go to feed livestock. The result was that millions of workers and peasants needlessly endure starvation conditions there and worldwide.
Millions of people do not know the process their food goes through to get to their plate and what effect it has on workers and their environment. Dyes, additives and preservatives pollute the foods we eat. Usually, these foods are produced under wasteful and unsanitary conditions. The meat and dairy industries are among the worst offenders. To generate a single pound of beef, cattle must be fed 16 lbs. of grain and 5,000 gallons of water, not to mention the 400 gallons of water needed to produce the grains. Grazing herds of cattle destroy forests and eco-systems, leaving their waste behind to pollute the ground and then be washed away by rainwater into rivers, lakes and drinking water. That is, if they are even allowed to graze. Most livestock are housed in factory-farms covering 60 acres of land with 20-acre waste pits. Theyre crammed into tiny cages, unable to move, covered in their own vomit and excrement, and fed a steady cocktail of drugs to keep them docile and "healthy." In some cases, theyre fed the pureed remains of dead or slaughtered cattle, a destructive "cost-efficient" practice which has led to an epidemic of Mad Cow Disease among humans. From these conditions the cheap mass-production of meat products supplies fast-food and franchise businesses.
The bosses claim a plant-based diet doesnt satisfy the nutritional standards humans need to survive. They say daily consumption of their products will help you become lean, fit and healthy, although actual studies show that a high meat and dairy diet are linked to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, colon cancer and osteoporosis. Antibiotics, hormones, and steroids injected into mass-produced livestock also help increase cancer risks. Also, improper handling can spread deadly diseases such as E.coli and salmonella poisoning. Yet a mostly vegetable diet with some organic meats would eliminate the need for unhealthy, mass-produced meat and dairy products, and would greatly reduce the risk of disease. Vegetables have no known links to diseases and can supply the nutrients and vitamins we need to survive. Above all, the transition to a plant-based diet impossible under a profit system could free up millions of tons of food to feed undernourished and starving workers around the world.
Recently, the bosses have spread the lie that food shortages result naturally from poor crops, claiming that high-tech, genetically-modified plants are the solution. Many staple crops such as corn, wheat and soy are now grown from modified seeds altered to resist damage from pesticides. Despite the fact that tests have proven modified plants are unhealthy and pesticides downright deadly, the use of modified seeds and pesticides continues to increase rapidly, mainly because these products reap huge profits for the bosses.
So why continue to feed ourselves with un-safe food when a better source is more widely available and environmentally friendly? With so many workers starving and unhealthy, animals suffering and the environment being destroyed, we must consider a healthier, more reliable food source. Sections of the bosses media will hypocritically print advice on a proper diet and exercise while capitalism saturates us with the opposite in the way of polluted food, obesity through empty calories and unhealthy mass-produced meat and dairy products that prevent masses of people from having bodies fit and healthy all because the bosses are interested in only one thing, maximum profits.
Interestingly, the Chinese Revolution developed a health system that not only wiped out many diseases plaguing past generations but also greatly reduced others resulting from unhealthy diets. Now, with capitalism restored in China, location of the worlds largest Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, heart disease is climbing.
Under communism, workers will finally have control over their diets. Free from the bosses lies and terror, workers will be able to rationally plan agricultural production to meet human need.
Lappe, Frances Moore. Diet for a Small Planet. New York; Ballantine, 1991.
McMichael, A.J. Planetary Overload. London; Cambridge UP, 1993.
Robbins, John. The Food Revolution. Boston; Red Wheel/Weiser, 2001.
Over two decades before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Progressive Labor Party documents analyzed the victory of the pro-capitalist forces in the USSR and the restoration of capitalism there and in China. These failures, despite important successes and accomplishments of the old communist movement, allowed us to understand that socialism a compromise between communism and capitalism, supposedly an intermediate stage before the establishment of communism cannot work. Instead of leading forward to a classless society, socialism inevitably leads back to capitalism, with all its miseries. The book, "Molotov Remembers : Inside Kremlin Politics," (by Felix Chuev, Chicago, 1993), shows how in a limited way one leader of the Soviet Communist Party (CPSU) understood and resisted the pro-capitalist politics in that party. This book is a series of conversations between V. M. Molotov and journalist Felix Chuev, from 1968 to 1986.
Molotov was an active communist for over 4 decades. He held leading party and government positions, and was a trusted associate of Stalin for most of that period. After Stalins death, he was involved in an attempt to remove Khrushchev for his anti-revolutionary policies, but was defeated, removed from leadership, and expelled from the party.
Molotov considered Stalin to have been a great leader of the working-class movement, and defends most of his policies as correct, acknowledging that "grave errors" were also committed. The most interesting interviews are those in which Molotov explains his disagreement with Stalin and with the pro-capitalist politicians who succeeded him. One persistent theme is the need to promptly abolish money and commodity relations, and to take concrete steps to eliminate classes under socialism. Molotov continued to accept the idea that distinct stages are needed prior to communism: a transitional stage, a socialist stage, and then communism. He insisted, however, that money, commodity relations and social classes be abolished under socialism (pp. 382-4, 394, 403). He claims that he tried unsuccessfully to get Stalin to put these policies into the 1936 Constitution and then into Stalins 1952 book, "Economic Problems of Socialism" (pp. 205-6, 392, 398-9). Abolition of classes is the main task of socialism, he said. It cant be postponed.
The CPSU claimed that the wage system and inequality were needed as a "material incentive" (i.e., higher pay) to get people to work hard and build up the economy. Although Molotov does not say that material incentives had never been legitimate in the USSR, he argues that they must be abolished. He proposed six substitutes: (1) competent and scientific planning of production; (2) socialist competition of different organizations and workplaces with each other; (3) selection of personnel; (4) a social orientation, so that all organizations work toward a common goal; (5) international socialist economic integration; and (6) the partys ideological education, covering all internal and external policies (pp. 371, 381). He proposed elimination of material incentives for workers and that government officials not be paid more than the average worker (p. 380).
Despite these insights, and his interesting comments on many other subjects collectivization, the anti-Nazi war, the "purge trials, etc. and given the benefit of hindsight, we should note some limitations of Molotovs views. Although he said that "Khrushchevism is the bourgeois spirit," and attacked the anti-revolutionary policies of the Soviet leaders and the growing inequality in the USSR, Molotov did not see that capitalism had already been restored. He still held out hope that the CPSU could move forward to communism. He did not see that the wage system and class structure of socialism cannot lead to communism. Its also worth noting, however, that some of the hard-won lessons PLP was learning in the 1970s and 80s were also being learned by some people in the USSR. (See the documents, "Road to Revolution III" and "Road to Revolution IV" for the full story.)
"Officially," World War II began in Sept. 1, 1939 with the Nazi invasion of Poland. But to many, the war started when the Japanese fascist army occupied Manchuria, China, in 1931; or in 1936 when the Hitler-Mussolini axis helped fascist General Franco overthrow the Republican government of Spain; or even when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1937 (see CHALLENGE, 10/22), murdering one million. To this list, we must add the Khalkin-Gol war. "World War II began here," said retired Mongolian Col. Zhavzanglin Yadmaa (quoted by Rafael Poch de Feliu, reporting for La Vanguardia, Barcelona, and reprinted in Lainsignia.org). This war is largely ignored or unknown. The 500-page World Almanac of WWII devotes one paragraph to it. Yet this short-lived war had an important influence over the outcome of WWII.
The Japanese fascists aimed to capture Mongolia and Siberia, to control the Soviet Unions rearguard and facilitate the Nazi invasion from the West. "Stalin considered Mongolia a vital zone for his defense and communication systems against a Japanese attack against Siberia and the Soviet Far East, says Mongolian historian Tsedendambyn Batbayar. "Soviet leaders, were determined to teach the Japanese military a lesson if they attacked Mongolia. Then the Soviets could concentrate their efforts on the European front."
In 1927, Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka, one of the architects of the invasion of China, announced that the Russian Far East and Mongolia had to be conquered. In 1935, when the fascist Axis powers signed an anti-Komintern pact vowing to crush the Soviet Union and the international communist movement, Soviet-Japanese relations deteriorated. In 1937, Stalin sent 30,000 Red Army soldiers to Mongolia. Axis agents in the Mongolian army and government were purged. Without these measures, the Japanese fascists plan would have succeeded, just as the Nazis did in Western Europe.
On May 11, 1939, the Japanese army attacked Mongolia, an invasion which the Western powers refused to condemn. Many Western ruling-class forces including Henry Ford and many in the British royalty wanted the fascists to crush the Soviet Union. It wasnt until they saw Hitler & Co. wanted everything that they took action, and even then waited until 1944 to invade Europe when the Soviets had already defeated the bulk of the Nazi army (and might have liberated all of Western Europe). Even during the war itself, GM, IBM and Wall Street bankers were doing business with Nazi Germany.
The Soviet army, led by Gen. Khuzov, counter-attacked, routing the Japanese invaders before Hitler invaded Poland. The struggle in the East was a prelude to the major battles of World War II, integrating the use of tanks, artillery, aircraft and infantry for the first time in modern warfare. The Soviets flew 500 planes and fielded 500 T-34 tanks, a training ground for later use against the Nazis. Some 30,000 soldiers died on both sides. The Japanese lost 660 planes and took over 60,000 casualties. The Soviet-Mongolian forces lost 207 planes and 18,500 soldiers. They were also led by Gen. Choybalsan, nicknamed "the Stalin of Mongolia" for his role in defeating the fascists.
This war witnessed real cavalry charges, as distinct from the WW II mythology about Polish cavalry attacking Nazi tanks, more fiction than fact. Tens of thousands of Mongolian horsemen played a crucial role in defeating the Japanese army. "We attacked them with sabres in hand, rifles with bayonets, wearing gas masks, fearing the Japanese would use poison gas," says 88-years old retired Mongolian Col. Cegengiin Dorzh. He commanded 6,000 horsemen. They loved their horses and tried to protect them with their very lives. Col. Dorzh adds that, "The cavarly never launched frontal attacks. Our enemy was very powerful, well armed and had the experience of having conquered Korea and Manchuria. They also used mercenaries, like the remnants of the White Army, the anti-communist Russians who waged a civil war against the Bolsheviks in the early 1920s in Siberia and the Soviet Far East." Dorzhs cavalry lost 400 men.
Today, a decade after the implosion of the Soviet Union, Mongolians still revere the Red Army and the leadership of Stalin in their liberation. They would have faced the same fate as China, where the Japanese fascists killed millions of innocent civilians. Racism against Mongolians is entrenched in Western and capitalist culture; the racist legends about Genghis Kahn and the Mongol barbarians still exist. The Japanese fascists defeat in Mongolia forced them to sign a non-agression pact with Moscow. Then Japans rulers attacked the French, British, Dutch and U.S. colonies in the Pacific, leading to Pearl Harbor. After finishing off the Nazis, the Red Army defeated the bulk of the Japanese army in Manchuria just when the U.S. was dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a warning to the victorious Soviets that a "Cold War" was beginning.
The Mongolia war also disproved another anti-communist myth, that the Soviet leadership was "unprepared" for the Nazi invasion. This myth was enhanced by the Nazis early victories in their 1941 invasion. But unlike Western Europe, where Quislings (pro-Nazi traitors) helped the Nazis conquer, these traitors were destroyed in the Soviet Union before and during the invasion. The defeat of the Nazis at the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-43 was the turning point of WW II. After that, the Red Army drove relentlessly all the way to Berlin. The committed communist-led Red Army accomplished virtually by itself what the capitalist armies could not.
How come there is so much talk about a "jobless recovery" in the U.S that is, the economy is growing while unemployment remains high?
Unemployment ALWAYS exists under capitalism. Even in the 1990s "boom," millions were unemployed. But the "boom" lays the basis for the bust, for recessions/depressions.
Capitalism is a planless productive system, in search of maximum profits. To beat out competitors and stay in business, companies produce far more than the market can sustain. Procter & Gamble built new factories in the 90s with the anticipation of reaching $50 billion in sales but only reached $43 billion. "We overbuilt capacity," said P&Gs president A.G. Laftley. (New York Times, 10/19) "Struggling to get rid of this costly glut, companies shut plants and lay off workers .
"The glut of boom-era investment continues to litter the economy with underused factories." (NYT) Right now U.S. manufacturers are using less than 73% of their capacity.
This is a worldwide phenomenon. "Countries everywhere are struggling to reduce excess capacity. Weve got too many steel plants in the world, too many auto companies, says [the] chief economist for Asia at J.P. Morgan Chase." (Wall Street Journal, 10/20) Each company builds new plants with the aim of outdoing its competitors, eventually littering the world with underused factories. From 1995 to 2002, a study of 20 large economies "found that from 1995 to 2002, more than 22 million jobs in the manufacturing sector were eliminated, a decline of more than 11%." (WSJ)
As Karl Marx pointed out, each capitalist not only lays off "excess" workers, but invests more heavily in new technology to try to increase productivity, that is, produce more with less. The Wall Street Journal (10/20) confirms this: "Gains in technology and competitive pressure have forced factories to become more efficient, allowing them to boost output with far fewer workers." While 22 million factory workers were laid off worldwide, "global industrial output rose more than 30%. (WSJ)
In the U.S., 15 to 20 million workers search for non-existent jobs. Meanwhile in the past 2½ years, "The productivity growth rate jumped to an annual rate of more than 4% firms were able to increase output by 10% without hiring any new workers or increasing the average hours worked per week," says Reagans former Chairman of Economic Advisors, Martin Feldstein. (WSJ, 10/13) During the second quarter of this year, productivity rose at an annual rate of 7% as fewer workers work harder and produce more. This is real exploitation.
Bushs tax cuts, approved by Democrats and Republicans alike, are accelerating this process. By cutting capital gains taxes and taxes on dividends, corporate investors are given more money to pay for new technology and equipment, which intensifies productivity growth. This results in more layoffs and does not create new jobs for the millions entering the labor force for the first time. The less workers, the less profits, the more the rate of profit drops, driving the bosses to invest in still more technology which results in more layoffs, and so on.
The racist bosses super-exploit black and Latin workers to shift the crisis onto the backs of the working class. They use racism to pay these workers 30%-40% less than white workers, netting the rulers nearly $250 billion annually the difference in median family income between these two groups and lowering the wages of white workers as well. Black and Latin workers also suffer twice the jobless rate of white workers. This racism has always been the key to the profit system, used to divide and weaken the working class.
The bosses get away with their attacks as long as we workers let them. We must launch intense struggle against the racist bosses and their labor leaders who serve them. Out of that fight, in which PLP must immerse itself and help lead, workers can be won to understand that capitalism, racist unemployment, poverty and war go hand in hand. Only communism can provide for the needs of the working class, eliminating the anarchy of production for profit and creating jobs for all to produce for the collective enrichment of our class.
A young woman came into my clinic with mouth sores and severe joint pain, barely able to walk. She suffers from systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE), a terrible disease of the immune system, which disproportionately affects African-American women. Treatment exists and is often quite effective. In fact, until recently my patient had been responding well to several medications prescribed by a private physician. Then she was laid off, losing her health insurance. She soon ran out of her medications. Within weeks her SLE symptoms returned with a vengeance.
As a primary care provider in a public clinic serving a mostly black and Latin working-class community, I see some of the best and the worst health care under capitalism. Our clinic staffers work themselves to the bone. The number of patients has expanded tremendously in recent months, but people still work with amazing politeness and caring. Theres a limit to the number of patients who can be seen in a day, but still they keep coming, with uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes and cancer, often seriously ill after years of medical neglect. Many lost their insurance when they lost their jobs. Black and Latin workers, the last hired and first fired, are the worst off.
Over 43 million people in the U.S. have no health insurance. Every year 18,000 workers die prematurely because of poor health care. Why? The reasons are many, but ultimately boil down to the bosses insatiable drive for profits. Racism plays a major role. Black workers are the first to die from a stroke or lose a leg from diabetes under this racist system.
Recently an insured patient receiving private care came to our clinic to get medicine not covered by his insurance. I indicated I wanted to help him, but could not copy his prescriptions so he could get them through our clinic. He became slightly angry, declaring he had worked his whole life in the steel mills and was entitled to health care, including medication. I felt bad. He was correct. I worry about my patients. They could become part of the 18,000 who end up dead. They are workers unemployed, ill or retired. They produced profits for the capitalists, but they cant have health care because the capitalist system now considers them "superfluous," expendable. During wartime its even worse. U.S. rulers would rather spend $87 billion for their empire in Iraq than on workers health care.
These minority workers represent the most oppressed. Many already recognize that bosses and workers are enemies. This understanding can put them on the road to becoming communists. Under capitalism, health care is delivered only crumbs at a time to quell potential anger. Much energy is spent seeking these crumbs, making it harder to think about a collective way out of this horrendous situation.
Padre Rogelio Cruz, a Salesian priest from the Dominican Republic, came to New York recently on a visit hosted by Padre Luis Barrios, an Episcopalian priest very much involved in the struggles of poor working people in the city and a fervent anti-war activist. These priests believe as Father Barrios noted in his weekly column in NYCs El Diario-La Prensa, "Father Rogelio reminds us of what two historical figures wrote. First, St. James, who told us: Dont say you have faith; show me what you are doing and I will tell if you have faith. The other was Karl Marx, the father of communism, who declared, It is not just a question of explaining the world. The point is to change it."
Padre Rogelio has organized the people, particularly the youth, of the poor working-class neighborhood of Cristo Rey in the capital city of the Dominican Republic, protesting the constant blackouts there (electricity was privatized, sold at bargain prices to Spanish-owned energy companies, which have worsened the blackout problem). He has organized against the corruption of all recent governments, including the current one led by President Hipolito Mejia, and their anti-people deals with the IMF. He has also constantly denounced the rash of police murders of young people and led militant marches and protests. Hes been attacked by the police, the government and Cardinal López Rodriguez of the archdiocese of Santo Domingo. They are threatening to exile him to Madrid or Rome.
There are many honest priests and religious people like Father Rogelio and Barrios, all followers of one version or another of Liberation Theology. Some years ago, I was in a PLP study group along with a Cuban-born priest like these two, who was expelled from another Latin American country for organizing peasants, and a former theological student who instead of becoming a priest joined a Communist movement in his native country. We were studying Engels "Anti-Dühring," a critique of the German philosopher Dühring in which Engels outlined the laws and categories of dialectical materialism. We discussed idealism vs. materialism, the origin of religion and how it is used as opiate of the masses. But ultimately, the former priest just couldnt break with the idea that humans created God, never agreeing that the universe is eternal and that therefore there couldnt be an eternal God.
These militant priests are honest fighters and could become allies of a revolutionary communist movement that is actively organizing among the masses. This is even more important today when the bosses from bin Laden to Bush ("appointed by God to fight Satanic Islam," according to U.S. General Boykin) are cloaking their oil wars as a jihad. But a struggle must be waged about these priests idealism, and how to really change the world.
My Friend: "Arent you excited about the upcoming baseball playoffs and World Series?"
Me: "Yes, a little bit, but there are a lot
more important things happening in the world."
But I must "confess," the first thing I did the following Saturday was to turn on the TV to watch the Giants-Marlins game. When you grow up playing baseball and other sports, youre continually sucked in to watching them on TV and getting excited about a home run or the great catch.
I go to a gym and enjoy working out. I also enjoy talking sports and having political discussion with my friends. I get CHALLENGE out to a number of them.
Many of these workers think capitalism "with all its faults" is the only game in town. I raise the communist alternative. What would gym life be under communist equality? It would be free and accessible to all workers. We would not have professional sports with superstars like Barry Bonds or Lance Armstrong. We would have intramural games where all workers could participate, without all this competitive and dollar-driven nonsense. This would be a better world!