CHALLENGE, February 18, 2004

Elections 2004: Two Parties, One Warmaking-Racist Ruling Class

NYPD Murders Black Youth:

Law Of Capitalist Market: Half the Workers Can’t Meet Basic Needs

Brass Says GI Deaths ‘Cost of Doing Business’

Red Politics Influence Neighborhood Workers’ Struggles in Mexico

Celebrate 40 Years Of Challenge

‘One Party for one international working class . . .’

Soldiers Back From Iraq Attack General Strike In Dominican Republic

Fight Racist Attacks On Black And Immigrant Respiratory Therapists

Domino Sugar Workers’ Bitter Layoff Pill Sweetens Bosses’ Profits

Internationalism Trumps Nationalism At MEChA Conference

Fighting for the Party in a Mass Student Organization

Schwarzenegger Terminates Workers’ Vital Services

Bosses Use Union Leaders to Scab on Grocery Strike

Ford, DaimlerChrysler: Once A Nazi Always a Nazi

UAW Helps Auto Bosses Gear Up to Axe Workers

Rawlings Scores Big From Exploiting Baseball Workers

1911 Triangle Fire Didn’t End Sweatshops


Anti-War Activists Need Red Politics

Red Army Liberated Auschwitz

Teacher Salutes Anti-Fascist Stand

Boycott, Picket Gibson’s ‘Passion’

‘Community Policing’ Used to Stifle Class Struggle


Elections 2004: Two Parties, One Warmaking-Racist Ruling Class

All Democratic . The nation’s biggest capitalists are searching for an effective wartime leader. Their dissatisfaction with George Bush is growing daily. Senator Jay Rockefeller called for a "full investigation" following weapons inspector David Kay’s charge that Bush had invaded Iraq under false pretenses. Rockefeller whined that Bush had "rushed into this war," that is, without first preparing public opinion to fight and die for U.S. rulers’ strategic oil interests. The imperialist wing of U.S. capital that Rockefeller represents needs a president who can win large numbers of people to militarism in the guise of "serving the nation."

That’s the real significance of John Kerry’s leapfrogging in the Democrats’ race for the White House, whether or not he gains the nomination. Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top think-tank for U.S. imperialism, commended Kerry’s success in Iowa: "With more than 80% of Iowa caucus-goers endorsing candidates who voted at least to authorize the U.S. strike against Iraq, it is beginning to look as if the Democrats are ready to put the anti-war temptation behind them....That would be good news for the Democrats. No anti-war candidate can win a national contest in 2004. It would also be good news for the country and for the world" (Wall Street Journal, 1/21). Mead adds, "historically, the Democrats have been America’s war party."

Of all the candidates, Kerry has the most fully-developed "national service" plan to build the military and enlist popular support for a police state. A major plank in Kerry’s platform is a program called "A New Army of Patriots." It demands a compulsory year of service for high schoolers. That service includes assisting local and federal law enforcement in homeland security. Kerry also promises college tuition in return for two years in the military, which he calls "the highest form of service." In addition to expanding the existing Police Corps program, Kerry would create a fascistic "Community Defense Service" with local captains functioning as the eyes and ears of the government.

Despite his recent stumbling, Howard Dean is also proving useful to the rulers’ war efforts. While U.S. imperialists see a Dean presidency as less and less likely, they praise his skill in leading young people into the dead end of electoral politics.

Michael O’Hanlon, who studies military affairs for the Brookings Institution, has written no fewer than six op-ed articles since December in various papers criticizing Dean’s lack of foreign policy experience. But the New York Times (2/1) editorializes: "If the product of the Dean movement is thousands of young people who are slightly hardened to the lure of a charismatic candidate, but determined to keep on fighting for a better world, it will have been a success no matter what happens to the former governor of Vermont." The Times quickly explains that "fighting for a better world" means working for the Democratic Party and, implicitly, for its war plans: "The real heroics come from you and your friends with the pamphlets, stolidly going door to door."

War criminal Wesley Clark remains in the race. The Butcher of Kosovo could become a more viable candidate for the rulers if events, such as another attack like Sept. 11, were to dictate a more rapid militarization of society.

The CFR’s Mead recites the old saying, "Vote for a Republican, and you get a Depression. Vote for a Democrat, and you get a war." But it’s wrong. Both parties serve capitalism. And it is the profit system itself that, continually and inevitably, brings economic misery, fascism and war.

NYPD Murders Black Youth:

Bloomberg’s Crocodile Tears Won’t End Racist Cop Terror

On January 24, the New York City Police Department added to its long history of racist murders. Many workers may ask: "What else is new?" The cold-blooded killing of black teenagers, defenseless women and children are among the NYPD’s specialties. But the city’s liberal bosses and politicians are putting a particular spin on this crime, trying to lead us into a dangerous political trap.

The facts of the atrocity are simple enough. Shortly before 1:00 A.M., cop Richard Neri shot 19 year-old Timothy Stansbury on a building roof in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, while the unarmed youth was taking a short-cut to a party.

A devoted family member, Mr. Stansbury held a night-shift job at McDonald’s. He was pursuing a GED diploma at Thomas Jefferson H.S. In short, he seemed to be a role model. Well, the cops have murdered many young black and Hispanic role models over the years, and the NYPD brass and mayor’s office have almost without exception taken the classic racist "blame-the-victim" approach to the deed.

This case seems different. Immediately after Neri had executed Mr. Stansbury, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelley described the shooting as "unjustified." NYC’s Mayor, billionaire media baron Michael Bloomberg, echoed Kelley and rushed to comfort the youth’s grieving family. On January 30, when Bloomberg attended the funeral, the Brooklyn D.A. asked a grand jury to indict Neri.

One black city councilman, Albert Vann of Bedford-Stuyvesant, called the gestures by Bloomberg a "defining moment," and predicted a brighter future for relations between New York’s black working class and the NYPD.And that’s the trap we must avoid.

The cops can never become less racist or lethal to the working class than they have always been. They provide the domestic front line of the profit system’s government, which communists call the state apparatus. They serve the big bosses and embody the bosses’ class dictatorship over us.

The bosses love to pretend that the cops’ role is to "prevent crime." But it’s just the opposite. The cops exist to help the rulers commit the crimes against us that their maximum profits require. Bloomberg, for example, has carried out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of budget cuts, slashing health, education, day care, the parks, etc., to the bare bones. These cuts have undoubtedly led to more workers’ deaths than all the many police murders in the last decade. The cuts serve the profit interests of NYC’s major banks. The cops’ legalized terrorism gives the rulers firepower to use against working-class rebellions that eventually explode against racist oppression.

The disgusting hypocrisy of Bloomberg, Kelley and Vann is an act designed to lure us into backing the bosses’ long-range plans for foreign wars and the police state that the profit system will need to carry out this scenario. Even before 9/11, the rulers were engaged in a sharp tactical fight over the best way to package the cops. One side, represented by the Manhattan Institute and its star pupil, racist Rudy Giuliani, NYC’s former mayor, didn’t believe too much in subtlety. Their tactic consisted of giving the cops the order to "shoot first and ask questions later." The cops happily complied. Giuliani’s administrations have a lot of innocent blood on their hands.

The other side, represented by police "theoretician" George Kelling, by Al Sharpton, by former NYPD Commissioner Bratton (now "serving" LA), by Kelley, and now, apparently, by Bloomberg, wants to dress up the racist wolf in sheep’s clothing. These liberals call for "community policing," which would recruit workers to snitch on each other and police each other. "Community policing" is a scheme to water down and/or squash the class struggles that will inevitably erupt in the wake of U.S. rulers’ oil wars and economic vise-tightening against our class. Under "community policing," the cops will still carry guns and use them against us.

A boss is a boss is a boss, and a cop is a cop is a cop. The main dangers for our class remain less in the policeman’s bullet than in the bullet disguised as balm for the wounds the bosses inflict on us.

We must never rely on the rulers or their politicians. Police terror is, and will always remain, an indispensable ingredient of capitalist state power. Bloomberg’s crocodile tears and "community policing" won’t change the fundamental class forces in play here. That’s the main lesson of Bloomberg’s repulsive posturing around the latest racist cop murder in New York.

Law Of Capitalist Market: Half the Workers Can’t Meet Basic Needs

Wage inequality is widening in the U.S., due to capitalism’s drive for maximum profits and increasing international competition, especially among the bosses of the imperialist countries. Corporations are cutting labor costs by laying off workers, pushing those remaining harder for longer hours and shifting production to cheaper labor areas overseas.

As Karl Marx pointed out long ago, capitalists are driven to invest in technology and machinery — and now automation — that displace even more workers. All this plus shrinking unions, a stagnant minimum wage and the reduction in the manufacturing sector’s share of employment combines to uproot unskilled workers from higher-paying jobs.

This has produced "far more job-seekers than jobs…a recipe for higher inequality." (Economic Policy Institute) The lowest 10% of the pay range has seen their wages fall while the highest 10% has experienced a rise in pay, not to mention the astronomical increase for the top 1% of the super-rich. The bulk of the Bush tax cuts — approved by both parties in Congress — goes to the wealthy.

"More than 30 million Americans — one in four workers — are stuck in low-wage jobs that do not provide…a decent life….Thirty million…make less than $8.70 an hour, the official U.S. poverty level for a family of four. …It takes at least double this level for a family to provide for its basic needs. Their low-wage, no-benefit jobs translate into billions of dollars in profits, executive pay, [and] high stock prices…" (The Nation, 2/9)

These figures cover only the 100 million who work full-time. It excludes part-timers and the unemployed. Sixty percent of the unemployed are ineligible for benefits and receive zero income. The other 40% who do receive unemployment benefits get no more than half their pay, and then only for 26 weeks. Now 375,000 jobless workers whose benefits expired in January were denied an extension by Congress, and another two million workers will also exhaust their 26 weeks in the first half of this year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. So these nearly 2.4 million workers will also have zero income.

The so-called average wage, or even the median level, does not include these 20 million unemployed — the majority of whom have no income at all — nor the millions of part-timers (who traditionally earn less per hour than full-timers). So the average income of the entire working class is far lower than the figures reported just for those working full-time.

Capitalism is driven by the laws of the market to squeeze workers into lower wage levels to maximize profits. The laws of the market cannot be reformed. The international working class can only lead a decent life when we reap the full value of our labor, without the bosses stealing most of that value (see article on baseball-manufacturing workers in Costa Rica, page 8). The only solution is to destroy the profit system that thrives on this inequality and abolish wage slavery with communist revolution, the goal of PLP.

GI Writes:

Brass Says GI Deaths ‘Cost of Doing Business’

Recently our unit took leave for a few days. Before releasing us, one officer briefed us on safety, stressing careful driving and preventing injuries by avoiding dangerous activities. After formation, one soldier cracked, "Stay safe and make sure you don’t injure yourself so we can send you to Iraq." What activity could be more dangerous than having the brass send us to war? The soldier’s joke struck at the nerve of the officer’s and NCO’s concern for us.

The unit promotes recreation — drinking, playing pool, watching movies — and keeping each other in good spirits to maintain morale. Recently our first sergeant encouraged us to talk to our families and friends if we were down or depressed. "We want you to be able to focus on your work," he told us. Basically, they only care about our well-being as it affects our commitment to fight the war.

When we arrived here, a general told us to "know your enemy." He mentioned the continuing attacks on U. S. soldiers and the number of U. S. fatalities since the war supposedly ended and then said, "The most dangerous enemy is the soldier sitting next to you." He noted that most of the some 9,000 casualties (both injuries and deaths) were from accidents, mishandled weapons and the heat.

What a bastard! In Iraq the brass regularly order soldiers onto 12- and 24-hour shifts. One Gulf War veteran in our unit was a truck driver in Saudi Arabia. He said the brass made drivers repair, maintain, and operate vehicles for as long as 36 hours at a stretch. One driver was killed when he was run over by a 5-ton truck. He was sleeping under the truck after working two long missions. "Most of the driving accidents happened when we were working beyond exhaustion," our veteran friend told us.

Our senior NCO’s and officers tell us repeatedly they’re gonna bring us back home safe, but their job is to take us to Iraq to fight this war; coming home safe is optional. Our commander said his first priority is the mission and that he would sacrifice some of us for it. Sensing the chill in the room he smartly added, "That’s the cost of doing business." Of course, he didn’t mention the Iraqis slaughtered for the greater glory of Haliburton’s profits.

Red Soldier

Red Politics Influence Neighborhood Workers’ Struggles in Mexico

MEXICO CITY, Jan. 27 — A mass movement is growing in a working-class community here, demanding basic services like water, street pavements and drainage systems. Amid this struggle, many are reading, studying and distributing DESAFIO-CHALLENGE, gaining the understanding that the struggle is more than one for services, but mainly to end the oppression, misery and exploitation of capitalism.

Communism is the only way out. We’re looking for an historical and necessary change. Although we know it will take a long time, it’s worth waging the battles needed to get there.

A neighbor reading DESAFIO said, "I am hungry to know more about communism, to be able to destroy all the profiteers so that my children will no longer be cannon fodder to be exploited." In a recent PL study group, we read the article, "The Foolish Old Man that Moved Mountains." We agreed to challenge the ignorance and distortions many in the community have about communism.

Some workers here work for a transportation company. Many have been fired in the last few years. Some have gone beyond the limits set by the bosses, exposing the exploitative origin of the company’s wealth. Meanwhile, workers are fighting the bosses’ firings, wage-cuts and abuses. Fearing the workers’ anger will grow, so far the bosses have not fired the leaders of the struggle. Instead, they were transferred to other departments. Recently new workers were hired, but at lower wages and benefits. They will try to spread this to all workers.

We must build the Party and a mass communist movement to end this bloodsucking system. In another study group one worker asked, "What does communism have to do with firings?" Another responded, "If you have a better proposal, please put it forward." This kind of friendly but sharp exchange of ideas is crucial to building the Party.

Some workers have called for "a bigger PLP. We need to win more workers to visit and talk to workers about our Party instead of wasting our time watching TV at night."

We’ve taken some important steps, establishing a network of DESAFIO distributors with about 50 readers. We have also won a couple of dozen people into study groups, discussing the need to build the communist PLP. Even though some workers have been fired, we’re still in contact with them. The political potential is growing.

Celebrate 40 Years Of Challenge

BROOKLYN, NY, Jan. 24—About fifty teachers and other workers, students and friends of PLP celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the greatest working class paper around, CHALLENGE-DESAFIO in a hall decorated with working-class art and a collage of the paper’s headlines over the last four decades. we ate great food donated by comrades and friends.

A group of high school students read Bertolt Brecht ‘s poem, "General, Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle." describing how the technology of the bosses’ war machine must depend on humans to function. Earlier in the day a youth group had discussed the article on the key role of soldiers in stopping imperialist wars by using their training and knowledge to fight the generals and the ruling class which use them as cannon fodder . The ruling class’s biggest problem is that workers can think. Our Party and its paper continues to train workers to think and act as revolutionaries.

The evening’s highlight was a speech by a comrade who described the impact CHALLENGE and the Party has had on an elementary school over a ten-year period. The consistency in spreading the paper and organizing discussions around it in this school sparked an important struggle against forcing children to recite the pledge of allegiance.

The attack on anti-fascist fighter Inez Weiner was kept front and center with a speech that inspired us to keep pushing forward. CHALLENGE will be a central part of our campaign to bring supporters to the courtroom at her April trial.

An older man attending the dinner revealed he had been a CHALLENGE reader 30 years ago in Ecuador. A teacher who came with him was impressed enough to take 100 papers to distribute in her classes.

We must continue to fight for the paper that is a breath of fresh air to the millions who are searching for a way out of the hell of capitalism.

‘One Party for one international working class . . .’

NEW YORK CITY, January 31—It was very emotional to see over 200 people participate in CHALLENGE’s 40th anniversary celebration in Manhattan. Lenin said the revolutionary press has a key role in the Party’s development, each of which were outlined by the first three speakers, in noting CHALLENGE’s accomplishments over four decades in serving the international working class.

The first speaker said our paper has struggled against the opportunist tendencies of the old communist movement. While learning from the giants in our history, we’ve also gone beyond that in organizing one Party for one international working class across all capitalist borders.

A second comrade declared that CHALLENGE has played a significant role in most of our political development. He said the first time he read the paper, he was very skeptical. He still remembered the front-page headline which said that capitalism, with its "booms" and economic crises, will only end when workers bury it. He read it three times that night. The next morning he sat with a co-worker at his job to discuss communism, Stalin, the history of the Soviet Union, the Vietnam War, and so on. For the first time in his life, the ideas of communism and the class struggle made him very emotional. When he joined PLP he understood that he was now responsible to win others to fight for communism.

A third speaker said that sometimes we feel like we’re isolated in a forest, not knowing what’s happening on in the world. "I bet all of us sometimes feel like we’re trapped in a hole. CHALLENGE can help us get out of that hole. It puts the entire world in front of us. Fight for communism!"

People talked about fighting racism, against imperialist war in Iraq, the fascist Patriot Act and other horrors capitalism has in store for our class. We also enjoyed delicious food served by comrades, along with some revolutionary culture. We concluded by singing the revolutionary working-class anthem The Internationale in several languages.

An Upper Manhattan Worker

Soldiers Back From Iraq Attack General Strike In Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, Jan. 29 — A 48-hour general strike shut down most of this Caribbean nation. Several demonstrators were killed and hundreds were arrested. The strike demanded an end to the government’s deal with the International Monetary Fund imposing more austerity measures on the masses, as well as a 100% wage hike for government and private workers, lower prices on basic foodstuff and an end to the constant blackouts. The country has been lurching from one economic crisis to another. In the last year, the peso’s value has dropped from 17 to the dollar to more than 50. Many Dominicans are risking their lives crossing the dangerous Mona Channel to go to Puerto Rico en route to the U.S.

The strike was called by some mass reformist organizations and supported by politicians opposed to President Hipólito Mejía’s scheme to get himself re-elected for a second term in the May balloting. The government blames the rotten economy on the world crisis of capitalism and the price of oil (imported from Venezuela). This is partially true, but the government’s corruption and ineptness has made conditions worse.

Last year, the rich Bainter bank collapsed amid a Parmalat/Enron-style fraud. The government spent over $2 billion bailing out the big investors while working people lost their savings.

Soldiers just returning from duty in Iraq patrolled the city during the strike (the D.R. being one of the few countries worldwide sending troops to help the U.S.-UK occupation). They even wore the desert camouflage uniforms used in Iraq, not the green olive ones used by the other thousands patrolling the cities. They used their Iraqi training to occupy working-class neighborhoods and attack strike protestors. A few days earlier, one Iraqi veteran killed a young man at a beer hall in San Francisco de Macoris.

The strike itself is mainly an electoral maneuver to dump the President. Most people supported it because they hate his government. But more than a general strike (a similar strike took place on Nov. 11), or changing one crooked President for another, is needed to end the misery suffered by workers here and abroad. Two days after the strike, the President ignored the mass outpouring against his policies and got himself nominated by a faction inside the divided ruling Party. A similar crisis is enveloping neighboring Haiti, where the U.S.-supported "Democratic Convergence" is trying to topple the former Clinton lackey, President Aristide. Only a united struggle on both sides of the island, based on PLP’s revolutionary communist politics, can free workers and their allies from this capitalist hell.

Fight Racist Attacks On Black And Immigrant Respiratory Therapists

CHICAGO, IL, Jan. 29 — The racist Cook County bosses are doing their best to divide the black, Latino, East Indian, Filipino and Mid-Eastern workers who comprise the Respiratory Therapy Department at Stroger Hospital. Armed with an agreement from SEIU Local 73 HC, they’re threatening to fire nine black therapists and technicians if they do not pass a "certification" test by March 31. This is a racist attack on all health workers and patients.

Racism is the cutting edge in the rulers’ push to fascism and war. Racist budget cuts in health, education, heating allowance and mass transit are financing the imperialist occupation of Iraqi oil fields and the Homeland Security police state. Stroger Hospital and County bosses are collaborating in this process, which arrests and deports Arab and Muslim immigrants, and imprisons more people — mainly young black and Latin men — than any other country in the world.

The Improving Community Health Survey shows racist disparities in health care from one Chicago community to another, and the gaps are growing. David Ansell, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital said, "This is not a problem of individuals who have bad genes. I’ve been dealing with this for 25 years and it’s gotten worse, not better. Despite all these technological advances, the disparities have worsened between the haves and have-nots." (Chicago Tribune, 1/8)

These licensed and experienced workers have helped our patients breathe for over 20 years. Several black therapists are certified, but most were promoted and licensed based on seniority and work performance. Most have been out of school for 20 years and are heads of households, which makes studying difficult. The exam, which is not required by the State, costs $190 each time one takes it.

They are being sacrificed to settle the grievances of nine mostly East Indian therapists, who passed their certification but were never promoted. In February 2003, they filed a grievance, tired of doing the same work as the mostly black therapists for $4,000 less per year (Stroger Hospital already pays certified therapists the lowest wages in the city.) In May, Local 73 HC gave the bosses the racist solution they were looking for: give all non-certified (black) therapists six months to pass the exam or lose their jobs. All the new union leadership has done so far is to get a three-month extension.

Rather than play by the bosses’ rules and be bound by their agreement with the union, we will fight to stop the racist firing of the black therapists, and fight to upgrade the immigrant therapists. In battling this racist attack, we can unite citizen and immigrant, black and white, and explain how racism is at the very core of the profit system.

This an opportunity to unite the working class and build the revolutionary communist movement. On this 25th Anniversary of PLP defeating the Nazis and integrating Marquette Park, we can build a mass May Day aimed at defeating fascism with communist revolution.

Domino Sugar Workers’ Bitter Layoff Pill Sweetens Bosses’ Profits

BROOKLYN, N.Y., Jan. 31 — At one time over 1,300 workers were employed at the Domino sugar refining and packing plant here in the borough’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Now the last 240 workers are being sacked, over 220 today and the rest later this year when the plant closes its doors for good.

The American Sugar Refining company claims the firings are due to the "falling demand for cane sugar," compared to competing sweeteners. But the real cause is capitalism, where profits trump workers’ lives.

In June 1958, Brooklyn had 222,000 manufacturing workers. By June of ’84, the number was down to 88,800; and by June of 2003 it had sunk to 33,967. The reason is that more profits can be made from real estate and "the gentrification rippling across" Brooklyn. (N.Y. Times, 1/31) Now the bosses want to use our taxes to build a new stadium for the "Brooklyn Nets," and build high-priced housing from which they can reap still more billions in profits.

The bosses’ drive for maximum profits pushes them to invest in machinery to lower the cost of labor (see Wages article on page 2). Nine hundred Domino workers lost their jobs to automation by 1992, while the company was making huge profits. Now capitalism’s "free market" finds greener pastures for profits in other industries, sugar substitutes or cheaper labor overseas.

In 1992-93, the 350 workers struck after rejecting a sellout proposal from the union leaders. No one attempted to scab or cross the picket lines. Yet this militancy and solidarity could not stop the bosses unstoppable drive for maximum profits.

What was missing was the communist leadership needed to point out to thousands of workers that capitalism is the root of the workers’ problems. Out of such a political struggle, and building on the militancy of the workers to sharpen the class struggle and involving hundreds of thousands of other workers in the city — spreading workers’ consciousness as a class — a revolutionary Party could grow and eventually become strong enough to destroy capitalism altogether. Under communism, workers will never be thrown out like garbage because of a new product but will do other useful things for our class, working for the benefit of the international working class.

Internationalism Trumps Nationalism At MEChA Conference

SEATTLE, WA, Jan. 16 — Because of the planning and presence of PLP, working-class internationalism won out over nationalism and liberalism at the annual MEChA Regional Conference for the Pacific Northwest at my campus here. I am an officer and active member of MEChA, a Chicano student organization. Since the conference theme was "Empowering la Mujer" [Women], we had arranged for a young women worker to speak about conditions in her plant, a subcontractor that makes parts for Boeing airplanes (commercial and military), super-exploiting their mostly immigrant, female workforce. Since Boeing is still one of the state’s largest employers, this hit home with many of the students at the conference.

The worker discussed the current world situation, how the ruling class is waging its wars by exploiting immigrant workers and using their children as cannon fodder. She concluded chanting, "Men, women, students, workers and soldiers united will never be defeated." All 300 students chanted along with her and gave her a standing ovation.

This reaction in an organization known for its nationalist politics shows the potential to win many of these young people to a more internationalist, class-conscious ideology if we continue to struggle with them. This is really what MEChA members need to answer the problems they face every day.

None of this happened by accident. Without a Party presence, the world situation either would not have been discussed at all or, if so, the solution presented would have been a very nationalist one. I have been trying to recruit members of this particular chapter for almost a year now, so my club knew the conference was an opportunity we couldn’t let pass by. It was important to do the work of the conference while also building the Party. My comrades’ help was invaluable, as always. After the conference our club decided it was imperative that more Party members get to know my friends in MEChA.

To further the political development of people in the mass movement, we must be there and raise our politics at these big events as well as in the day-to-day struggles. Because we were organized and politically conscious during this conference, we won two new contacts.

Our club now sees its main goal as furthering this internationalist, anti-imperialist line by struggling with our friends and the two new contacts to develop a class-conscious political ideology. My first step will be to ask my close friends to join PLP. Ultimately, the only thing that will help them is a strong Party to lead the fight against capitalism and towards communism.

Fighting for the Party in a Mass Student Organization

Recently I attended a student conference on worker-student solidarity, sponsored by a student organization in which the Party has been doing good work for a while. Before going, my Party club discussed the importance of revolutionary theory, how Lenin exposed the left fakers for failing to understand that a communist party takes revolutionary consciousness to the mass movement where it fights for these politics.

In several workshops about trade unions, it became clear that the contradiction really was between reform and revolution. At one workshop, people were asked about their organizations. I said I was in the Progressive Labor Party, that we were a multi-racial, international party whose platform was to eliminate racism and the system of capitalism, and that we make revolutionary politics primary in order to create a communist society free from exploitation, racism and sexism. I received a warm response.

The younger students asked if Cuba had communism. I said "no" and started to explain what communism was, but one of the facilitators said talking about communism would "take too long," that we weren’t there for that but rather for the presentation — advancing student-worker solidarity. So then we talked about that.

After that workshop one of the facilitators, who was in a union, said she really liked what I said and gave me information to contact her. I then gave her a CHALLENGE and said one of my comrades would call her. When I asked the whole crowd to take the paper, I made the mistake of not asking individual people, so I didn’t get too many out.

At another workshop, a United Farm Workers (UFW) representative described conditions for farm workers, warning there would be a major push by right-wing republicans to lower the minimum wage for these workers. He also criticized Bush’s immigration "reform" proposals and concluded that we must vote in the next elections. I then said relying on the unions and especially on voting to solve our problems was like a pet in a cage, trying to escape to freedom by running on the treadmill. Instead we need to place revolution at the forefront of our politics, to end exploitation by abolishing the wage system once and for all, meaning communism.

Again the union official said we couldn’t talk about that now, but rather about immediate solutions. I felt my position was clearly stated, and that any further talk of revolution would probably lead to me being kicked out. Later, someone asked what Cesar Chavez would do. I said Chavez turned in the names of union members to the Immigration Service. Ultimately I corrected my previous mistake, and distributed CHALLENGE to every PERSON who was interested.

In further meetings, we continued the struggle, crucial for developing some of our friends.

Liberal led organizations won’t give up leadership without a fight. We’re a small party and must do the painstaking, detailed work to win people closest to our ideas to the Party. Putting communist politics primary is most important. I learned that the collective is the key to organizing. We must investigate the contradictions, and determine which are primary and which secondary. Had I taken on all the contradictions at once, I probably would have isolated myself. I made a contact who will help continue the struggle of the group’s rank and file. Our strength is the line of the Party. We’re on the long road to building a mass communist party to take state power.

Schwarzenegger Terminates Workers’ Vital Services

On January 10, California’s Governor released a proposed budget for 2004 containing sweeping cuts in desperately needed healthcare, social services and education for the working class. These cuts are part of the larger attack on the entire working class as U.S. rulers spend workers’ tax monies on fighting war after war to maintain their profits and world domination.

While state prisons received a hefty increase, Governor Swarzenegger proposed a $240-million cut from the State University budget. This will slash all higher education outreach and recruitment programs. The state’s largest outreach project is the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) which recruits a clear majority of low-income students, especially black and Latino, into higher education. The budget also increases tuition by 10% for undergraduates and 40% for graduates. This is on top of ex-Governor Davis’s 40% increase last year.

The reform leaders are focusing on saving EOP. They say we should ignore the openly racist nature of the cuts and appeal to the middle class — keep the message "simple." Their slogan is, "EOP equals social stability."

But if college education produces social stability, then we should see an increasing rate of stability as more and more people get college degrees. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that more people than ever graduated from college in 1996 and that rate has been continuing. It also reported substantial increases in graduation rates for all racial categories, but racism continues to mean lower numbers of black and Latino grads. According to the reformers’ logic, these increased rates should produce at least a small improvement in social stability. But, in fact, the 2000 census reported just the opposite. The gap between poor and rich doubled from 1979 to 2000 (N.Y. Times, 9/25). All major poverty indicators have worsened — unemployment, homelessness, children living in poverty, people without health insurance, etc.

There can be no social stability under capitalism, which is inherently unstable. A system that cannot provide healthcare, education, and needed social services for workers should be destroyed. The ruling class does not support public education to liberate workers from exploitation. From kindergarten through college, education exists predominantly to justify the exploitative capitalist system. New workers are trained and indoctrinated to enter different levels of the class hierarchy based on the family’s income level. Meanwhile, vast numbers of working-class youth are excluded through a combination of high tuition, racist under-education and high-stakes testing. While all workers are exploited, those excluded from education are forced into the most super-exploited jobs and/or into the bosses’ military.

PLP members and friends are participating in the fight against these racist budget cuts that are part of the bosses’ war budget and attacks on our class from Iraq to California. We can achieve a big victory and help to build a mass PLP by showing that this system needs inequality and uses racism and sexism to justify it. Capitalism will never provide the services the working class needs. PLP is fighting to organize students, workers, and soldiers to destroy the profit system and build a communist world based on creating a decent life for the working class. Join us!

Bosses Use Union Leaders to Scab on Grocery Strike

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 31 — Thousands of workers and students rallied and marched here, supporting the four-month-long grocery workers’ strike. The AFL-CIO, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), religious and community groups sponsored it. PLP distributed thousands of leaflets calling for action to stop scabs, shut stores tight, march on May Day and fight for workers’ power — communist revolution — because "a system that can’t provide decent health care for workers should be smashed." Many strikers and supporters bought CHALLENGE, saying the union leaders have refused to organize a strike based on the workers’ power and unity.

The demonstrators were angry at the attacks on the workers, whose health benefits have been cancelled, and whose strike benefits have been sliced in half. Some are also angry at the union leaders’ refusal to organize against the scabs and shut the stores. These union fakers also encouraged people to shop at a chain which has locked workers out and is using scabs. Except for one month, the UFCW and Teamster leadership allowed and urged teamsters to drive their trucks up to the picket lines, from where the store managers take the merchandise to the loading docks. The UFCW leadership has also pulled pickets from the distribution centers, allowing the teamsters to scab. Several teamsters said they wanted to honor the lines, but "without UFCW pickets, we were told we must do the work." Others encouraged them to reject this rotten leadership and back the strike.

While many are boycotting the stores, they’re open and many others are shopping. Ringing the stores with strikers and other workers throughout southern California might not guarantee the workers’ health benefits but, with red leadership, it could certainly show workers their potential power to act as a class against the bosses’ profit system, with its exploitation and imperialist wars.

Rick Icaza, head UFCW’s LA-based Local 770, with 30,000 members, was paid $273,000 in 2002. (LA Times, 1/26) His wages weren’t cut during the strike! He and the other AFL-CIO leaders are serving the liberal bosses, telling workers we’re powerless, that our only hope lies in voting for Democratic politicians whose health scheme would mean continued rationing based on the bosses’ war economy needs.

One of the rally’s main speakers was California State Attorney-General Bill Locklear, hailed as a "hero" by the union leaders for pursuing an anti-trust action against the three grocery chains. The unions want workers to rely on the bosses’ laws, the same ones that make it legal to scab and illegal to stop them, that label workers’ violence against scabs "illegal" while the U.S. government’s mass violence against the workers of Iraq in the drive for oil profits is completely "legal."

Many strikers and their supporters are open to an alternative to the bosses’ agents and their outlook. PLP is fighting to turn some of this potential into actual growth for the revolutionary communist movement.

Ford, DaimlerChrysler:

Once A Nazi Always a Nazi

Several developments in the auto industry confirm the fact that capitalists defend their interests and profits by any means necessary, including fighting ferociously for markets, using death squads to torture and kill workers, and joining hands with Nazis.

On the production front, Toyota has surpassed Ford as the world’s second leading automaker, a position it has held for 70 years. In 2003, GM sold 8.59 million units worldwide, followed by Toyota with 6.78 million and Ford with 6.72 million (not including Ford-controlled Mazda). Not only has Toyota passed Ford, but it is also set to displace DaimlerChrysler as the number three seller in the U.S. market. U.S. auto bosses are also trailing Toyota in the fast-growing Asian market, particularly China, where Toyota’s profits have outdone any one of the U.S. "Big 3."

Also, Ford is being sued in an LA federal court for participating in "crimes against humanity" during the ruthless military dictatorship that ruled Argentina in the late 1970’s. Between 1976 and 1978, death squads kidnapped 25 union delegates at the General Pacheco Ford plant. Ford bosses fingered the militant workers. The death squads entered the plant, tied the workers’ hands with barbed wire, put hoods on their heads, and took them to a sports center (a clandestine jail) at the plant complex where they were tortured for five hours. Then they were taken in a company truck to a police station where they were held secretly for several months. They were then jailed in Villa Devoto and La Plata for over a year. Two never returned.

On January 14, relatives and former workers filed a similar suit in a Northern California federal court, accusing DaimlerChrysler of conspiring to jail and murder 22 workers in an Argentine Mercedes-Benz plant during the military regime (Daimler owned Mercedes-Benz even before it took over Chrysler). An internal "investigation" recently "cleared" the company, but workers won’t retreat from exposing that the Mercedes plant bosses provided the military government with pictures of the more militant workers. Mercedes worker Esteban Reimer, labeled an "agitator" by the company, was kidnapped and murdered by the death squads. The plant’s chief of production, Juan Tasselkraut, worked for the Argentine intelligence services.

Both Ford and Mercedes were Nazi supporters. Mercedes was a major part of the Nazi war machine and used slave labor in its factories. Ford’s German subsidiary built trucks and other war vehicles for the Nazis, even during the war. Ford, like Charles Lindbergh, Joseph Kennedy (the Kennedy clan’s daddy) and Bush’s granddaddy loved Hítler. Henry Ford wrote the anti-Semitic "International Jew," praising anti-Semitism. Its Argentine edition contained the Protocols of Zion, a forgery concocted by the Russian Tsar’s secret police, which became the basis for modern anti-Semitism. Ford distributed this forgery worldwide, and published the first English translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Ford visited the Führer, who awarded him the "Iron Cross." For decades, Ford’s hometown of Dearborn, MI was off-limits to black workers, unless they were going to or from work in his factories, and was run by white supremacist Mayor Orville Hubbard.

Lawsuits won’t end this era of endless wars, racism and police-state-Homeland Security, which are part and parcel of capitalism’s defense of its profits. Scratch any boss and you’ll find a Nazi. PLP is building an international revolutionary communist movement. That’s the best weapon to fight fascism! "Workers of the World, Unite!"

UAW Helps Auto Bosses Gear Up to Axe Workers

THREE RIVERS, MI. — "The new agreement makes doing business here…on par with Mexico. They don’t have to move the jobs to Mexico," squealed City Manager Joe Bippus about United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2093 adopting a three-tier wage scale at the American Axle parts plant here. It’s not the first time the UAW has agreed to wage concessions for "job security," but this is the first three-tier wage scale in U.S. auto plants.

Of the 1,000 UAW members who build axles and drive shafts, the 420 high-seniority top-tier workers earning about $26-an-hour will take a 64 cents-an-hour pay cut. The 580 second-tier employees earn $13.50 to $17 an hour. For new hires in the new, third tier, pay begins at $13.50 an hour, with no cost-of-living increases for at least two years and they will pay a bigger share of their health costs. About 100 third-tier workers will be hired later this year as part of the $28 million plant expansion.

Recently UAW President Gettelfinger assured an industry conference, "The perception of the UAW is that a relationship with our union can be a drag on your production process. The reality is far different." The "production process" reflects the growth of fascism in preparation for endless wars. "The reality" is that the nationalist, pro-capitalist union leaders are trying to stay in business by delivering workers to fascism and war.

About 2.7 million factory jobs have disappeared since January, 2001. Michigan has lost 170,000 manufacturing jobs during this time, and GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are expected to slash up to 50,000 more jobs under the current UAW contract.

The union is renegotiating a new master contract covering American Axle’s U.S. operations. The current one expires Feb. 24. They’re also in talks with auto parts giants Delphi Corp. and Visteon Corp., spun off from GM and Ford, to adopt permanent two-tier wages. Last year they signed a $10-an-hour wage cut "to save jobs" at a Chrysler parts plant that was sold to Metaldyne Corp.

The union has spent the last 25 years, since the1979 Chrysler bailout, surrendering hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in wage and benefit concessions, to make U.S. bosses "more competitive." This is how Gettlefinger and the whole generation of UAW leaders have developed. Now they stand at the brink of irrelevancy. UAW membership has dropped from 1.5 million in 1979 to 638,722 at the end of 2002. Of about 500,000 hourly jobs at U.S. auto parts suppliers, 80% are non-union, up from 50% in the 1970s. They’ve failed to organize a single European- or Asian-owned "transplant." And their choice for President, Gephardt, was the first Democratic hopeful to fall.

We don’t have to follow them over the cliff. Today they sacrifice jobs and benefits. Tomorrow they will sacrifice workers’ lives and limbs as international "car wars" become imperialist shooting wars. Building a mass, international PLP, that knows no nations or borders, can turn these imperialist wars into class wars for communist revolution.

Rawlings Scores Big From Exploiting Baseball Workers

Karl Marx discovered the "secret" of capitalist exploitation, the fact that workers are paid far less than the value they add to the production of finished goods. The rather complicated computations he used to arrive at the source of capitalist profits can be understood by the men and women of Turrialba, Costa Rica who make the nearly 2,000,000 baseballs used annually by major league baseball, for which they are paid approximately $2,750 a year. This is a mere pittance compared to the profits of the Rawlings Sporting Goods company that manufactures the baseballs.

Each worker handcrafts 4 baseballs an hour and is paid an average of 30¢ a ball. Rawlings sells the balls in the U.S. at $14.99 each.

"After I make the first two or three balls…they have already paid my salary," says 37-year-old Overly Monge. "Imagine that."

That’s surplus value in a nutshell. In the first hour, Monge makes his weekly wage. Rawlings grosses $60 (at $14.99 per ball) from those first four baseballs, more than Monge’s $55 weekly salary. For the next 54 hours he’s making profits for Rawlings. At 4 balls an hour, for a minimum 55 hours a week, he produces 220 baseballs. Rawlings profits from 216 of them, which brings them $3,237.84 PER WORKER EVERY WEEK! PLP fights for communist revolution to abolish this exploitive capitalist wage system altogether.

Not all of that is pure profit. But Rawlings profits from the Costa Rican government’s "free trade zone": no taxes, no import duties for the materials needed to manufacture the balls, on a 54,000-square-foot area awarded free to Rawlings. No wonder U.S. bosses want that free-trade zone extended to ALL of Costa Rica in the prospective NAFTA-like accord now being negotiated.

Brother Monge is earning the same $55 a week as when he started 13 years ago. And for that he suffocates in 95-degree heat sewing 108 perfect stitches along the seams in a process that can only be done by hand. "A machine can’t make them…but it demands the precision and speed of a machine." The worker becomes the machine.

"It messes up your hands…hurts your shoulders" and "deforms your fingers and arms." After nine years at Rawlings, Soledad Castillo, 46, cannot make a fist or touch her right palm with her middle finger. From 1991-1997, one-third of the workers developed carpel tunnel syndrome and 90% experienced pain of some kind.

Could there be any clearer reason to destroy capitalism and its wage system? A communist society in which workers reap the full benefit of the value they produce, will put the health of the working class first and foremost.

(All information and quotes from the New York Times, 1/25/04)

1911 Triangle Fire Didn’t End Sweatshops

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David Von Drehle. Atlantic Monthly Press, 340 pages, $25

On March 25, 1911, a flash fire on two floors of the Asch Building, took the lives of 146 workers of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. Nearly all were Jewish and Italian immigrants, mostly young women. It was the deadliest workplace disaster in New York history until the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, 90 years later.

The Asch Building still stands, at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street in Greenwich Village, and billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared it an historic landmark this past year. It’s how the bosses and their politicians co-opt history. They’ve done the same thing with New York’s Tenement Museum and Ellis Island, and with the textile-mill museums in Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts. Some of the history is surprisingly candid about workers’ conditions, but it’s all presented as "ancient history." They’ll condemn the Triangle fire, and use it to show how the tragedy led to better working conditions, while ignoring the sweatshops that still exist, some within walking distance of the site of the Triangle fire. Yes, working conditions have changed, somewhat, through workers’ struggles against the bosses, but the essence of capitalism’s racist super-exploitation is a fact of life for most garment workers today, many of them immigrant women. And tens of thousands of workers still die every year in industrial "accidents." Only communist revolution can permanently improve workers’ lives and working conditions.

Washington Post reporter David Von Drehle’s book is a compelling account of the disaster, with all the horrifying details — the scores of victims who jumped to their deaths from a 9th-floor window rather than be burned alive and the locked doors that prevented their escape down the stairs. It also provides vivid accounts of the 1909 blouse-makers’ strike that emboldened the growing trade-union movement, some of whose leaders died in the fire, leading to some reforms of labor and worker-safety laws.

Von Drehle has compiled the first complete list of victims, and presents the only existing transcript of the subsequent manslaughter trial of the company’s owners, a document lost for decades. It includes heartbreaking testimony from survivors of the raging inferno. It also punctures the longstanding myth that defense lawyer Max Steuer won his clients’ acquittal by getting a key witness to repeat her testimony verbatim four times, showing it was rehearsed. Her testimony was not repetitive, except for some phrases that Steuer prompted her into repeating.

The owners were freed because the judge’s instructions to the jury all but forced an acquittal. To convict, the jury would have had to conclude that the owners knew the doors were locked and that the victims would otherwise have survived. This same judge had been forced to resign as city tenement commissioner seven years earlier, being held responsible for a Lower East Side fire that killed 20 people.

No one was held criminally responsible for the Triangle disaster. The company’s owners actually profited by collecting more insurance than their true losses, and successfully fought most of the civil lawsuits filed against them. Ultimately, 23 victims’ families and survivors settled for just $75 per claim!

The struggle against sweatshop conditions in the NYC garment industry strengthened the ILGWU (the garment workers’ union, today’s UNITE). But its Social-Democratic leadership became rabidly anti-communist, opposed the old Communist Party (which fought and beat gangsters who worked for the bosses), and allowed sweatshop conditions to flourish. But even if the more militant reformers of the old CP had won, today there would still be few unionized workers in New York’s garment industry or nationally. Sweatshops abound among many subcontractors to major apparel companies. Most garment workers in the U.S. are immigrants from Latin America and Asia, adding racism to the equation, a source of capitalist super-exploitation.

Ironically, N.Y. Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff just wrote (1/14) that the problem isn’t too many third-world sweatshops, "but too few." From China to NYC, from LA to the maquiladoras of Central America and the Caribbean, garment workers need communist revolution, not another century of meager, short-lived reforms. (Information drawn from the NY Post, 1/11/04.)


Anti-War Activists Need Red Politics

Last month a work-buddy and neighbor of mine asked me to attend a neighborhood meeting of the Dean Campaign which showed the film "Uncovered…."

A crowd of 60 to 70 people in their twenties and thirties and several of our vintage were told that similar showings were occurring across the country. Afterwards we’d be able to e-mail questions to the film’s producers and hear their answers over a speaker phone in the front of the room.

When the film ended and we were waiting for the phone to ring, I rose and said, "I hope it’s O.K. to make some comments while we’re waiting. Was anyone else disturbed, as I was, by…the voices of ethics and righteousness [from] veteran CIA agents, top military officers and high-level government officials, many of whom must have been the architects or agents of murderous U.S. policies throughout the world over the past several decades. Some may have even trained Saddam Hussein back in the ’80s or planned the murder of Salvadore Allende of Chile and tens of thousands of Chilean leftists."

One young woman replied, "That was to establish credibility for the film because there are a lot of people who don’t even know that the war was built on lies." I responded, "Yes, but it established credibility for more than just the film. By using these spokespeople, it makes it seem as though just the wrong people are in office, rather than that the whole system is criminal. And look at what the film omitted. Not a word about what the war was really about — control of Mid East oil. This glaring omission shows that the film’s real purpose is to build patriotism and hook all the disaffected anti-war people into the ‘anyone-but-Bush’ movement. The film makes it seem as though the U.S. government’s worst crime is lying. No! The worst crime is occupying a country — destroying and harming lives — to control its resources…."

When I finished, several people were nodding in agreement. I got the names and phone numbers of two people, after telling them about PLP. Although I didn’t talk about communism, I did induce the audience to think about this film in a new way.

Everyone should seek out these kinds of opportunities to bring communist politics into the anti-war movement. The people leading the meetings will never hand them to us. We must be bold and respectful, and build unity. I was nervous and my heart was beating hard, but I did it anyway. We communists have a responsibility to challenge the patriotic liberalism that is being promoted to build a base for U.S. imperialism and fascism. We must train ourselves to be bold!

Boston Reader

Red Army Liberated Auschwitz

January 27 marked the 59th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest and most infamous of the Nazi death camps. A group of Auschwitz survivors went to the site where many of Poland’s 2.6 million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis and their Polish lackeys, to honor this day and call for world peace. A monument dedicated to the victims of Shoa (the Holocaust) will be completed near the Berlin Parliament by 2005.

I read a brief report about these celebrations in the NY Daily News and in the Dwelles-World, a German news agency. Neither mentioned the Red Army’s role in liberating Auschwitz and many of the death camps. By Jan. 27, 1945, the end of the Third Reich was only a few months away. The Red Army was advancing swiftly through Poland, headed for Berlin.

Many people still believe that the U.S.-led Allies won World War II. CHALLENGE has frequently exposed this fraud, but it’s worth repeating. Recently I talked with a young Israeli man living in NYC who considered himself "knowledgeable" in history. He repeated this fraud. He thought D-Day — the June 6, 1944 landing of U.S. and British troops in western France — was the turning point of the war. But by the time Churchill and Roosevelt decided to launch this Second Front, the Soviet Red Army had already decimated most of the Nazi war machine, defeating it at the Battle of Stalingrad in February 1943, at the huge battle between 6,000 Nazi and Soviet tanks at Kursk soon afterwards, and in other battles.

These lies comprise the anti-communist rewriting of history by the world’s capitalists. Without the Soviet Red Army, history would have been quite different.

An aspiring historian

Teacher Salutes Anti-Fascist Stand

Because I’ve been struggling in my school against the chaos created by the racist school system, the administration has harassed and punished me in many small ways. One was being sent to the New Teachers Workshops (NTW) which occupied me for three full Sundays.

As part of this ongoing struggle, at the union’s Delegate Assembly two months ago I had championed the defense of activists. At my first Sunday NTW, one teacher told me she had heard me at the Delegate Assembly and we had a little discussion about the school chaos created by the racist capitalist system.

At the next Delegate Assembly I challenged the resolution to stand silently to honor just the U.S. dead, saying we should also stand for the Iraqi dead, (Challenge, 2/4). At the next Sunday class, this same woman told me that she again had heard me at the Assembly and said, "I wanted to stand with you. It was wonderful what you did. But I was there with a friend and I’m not a delegate."

By standing up against the forces of fascism we give other people heart. They may not be ready to stand yet, but we must believe that at some point they will.

A working teacher

Boycott, Picket Gibson’s ‘Passion’

Hollywood actor/producer Mel Gibson is poised to bring out his anti-Semitic movie, "Passion of the Christ," a depiction of the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life. Gibson’s personal hate- and horror-filled version of Jesus’ trial/execution and his rejection of the "liberalized" Roman Catholic Church flood the film. Set to appear in over 2,000 theaters on February 25, the movie should be boycotted and picketed. The controversy already swirling around it should be used now and in the weeks to come to build working-class solidarity and explain how and why capitalism uses its mass media to build fascism.

Philly Anti-fascist

‘Community Policing’ Used to Stifle Class Struggle

In CHALLENGE’s Red Eye on the News (2/4), the article, "It helps to act like Reds!" equates Harvard’s Dr. Earl’s theory about crime prevention (N.Y. Times, 1/6/04) with communist practice. I disagree. Can we imagine the American Society of Criminology, the National Institute of Justice, the McArthur Foundation and other government agencies funding $51 million to Dr. Earl to teach people how to act like reds?

Dr. Earl’s Ten Point Coalition used a group of black ministers with plenty of time and resources to convince some people to act as Homeland Security-style spies and reporters against graffiti scrawlers and teenagers who hang out on the corners. His theory challenges the Giuliani-type fascist crackdown currently used by police here and worldwide which results only in overcrowding the prison systems and creating potentially rebellious soldiers. He proposes instead community meetings to get volunteers to clean up and police neighborhoods, asking kids to rat out crime ringleaders and to "coordinate their activities with policemen" (a possible model for Iraq, using Shi’ite holy men?).

Dr. Earl says we can solve problems through neighborhood meetings, but most community groups say they need living-wage jobs, smaller class sizes, after-school programs, child care, medical care, affordable housing, places for the homeless, etc. Dr. Earl’s article or theories never mentions these issues or war spending that robs the funds to pay for them.

From the Vietnam War to the war in Iraq, PLP communists have participated in many community groups, picketing welfare and unemployment offices, leading mass anti-war marches in many cities and pointing out how capitalism was responsible for their neglected neighborhoods.

To equate Dr. Earl’s pro-cop, stoolie program with how red comrades have worked among the people is either a mistake or a gross error in judgment.

Red Comrade

The U.S. as the Fourth Reich

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Republican congressman from Long Beach, California, has introduced legislation that would force emergency room doctors to report and fingerprint any undocumented immigrants they treat. "America has become the HMO to the whole world," he said. "We are taking care of any illegal immigrant who can get to our country and get to that emergency room."

This means that ER personnel would ask people seeking emergency care, "Do you have your papers?" Most patients without papers would simply stay away — and die. Denying care is clearly the intent of this vicious racist bill. It also seeks to win workers and patients to blame immigrants for the horrors caused by the war budget.

Every week we hear over the hospital P.A. system, "Code blue, radiology waiting room, 2nd floor." That means another patient has had a cardiac arrest waiting for a bed in our overcrowded, downsized hospital.

Working in a hospital used by thousands of working-class patients from many countries, I see the next phase of intensifying fascism as particularly ugly for my co-workers and myself. We need to organize to resist and refuse these neo-Nazi proposals before they become law. As we raise resolutions in unions and professional organizations, we must educate those around us about the history of medicine in Nazi Germany. Our friends need to know how the Soviet Red Army eventually ended these atrocities militarily defeating the Nazi army. Must be time to start building a new Red Army.

Red Doctor



Cop violence not impartial

Far from being impartial enforcers of the law, New York police officers have historically taken sides against anyone threatening…particular ideas of order and authority — even when that meant clubbing workingmen demanding an eight-hour day or teenage girls striking outside sweatshops. (NYT, 1/25)

Contracts show war plans

A spokesman for Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary for Halliburton, claims that a contract for logistical services for troops in Iraq was awarded two years ago.... This contact…predates the invasion of Iraq by more than a year. How could a company get a contract for an event that had not yet taken place unless it surely knew that it would?

….Almost from the inauguration the Bush administration was involved in planning to invade Iraq. (Letter to NYT, 1/29)

US sells out Afghan women

U.S. support of fundamentalists in powerful positions throughout the country has left Afghanistan’s dreams of freedom dashed, and women far from liberated….

The moujahedeen do not approve of women leading any part of their lives in public, and harshly intimidate those who think differently….

The United Nations and international human rights groups recently released reports detailing widespread beatings, kidnappings and rape by these warlords and their militias. And several girls’ schools around the country have been set on fire. (LA Times)

Profits come before health

Sugars added to food….made up 11 percent of calories in American diets in the late 1970’s; they are now 16 percent overall and 20 percent for teenagers. By itself, that 20-ounce Coke or Pepsi in a school vending machine provides 15 teaspoons of sugars.

Understandably, industry lobbyists are uneasy about calls to cut consumption of sugars….Threatened by such conclusions, food companies and their friends in government try to…delay action, just as the cigarette industry did for so many years. (NYT, 1/23)

Iraq war long planned

[Paul] O’Neill, the former treasury secretary fired in December 2002….portrays an administration bent on invading Iraq from day one. "It was all about,… "Go find me a way to do this…."

When O’Neill goes to see Cheney in November 2002, to try to persuade him that another round of enormous tax cuts favoring the rich could cause deficits of a size that could cripple the country’s long-term economic future, the vice-president tells him….that we won the elections and we can do what we like for our backers….

The White House response has been to belittle O’Neill…. (GW, 1/29)

Arab youths losing hope

Of the 90 million Arab youth today (between the ages of 15 and 24), 14 million are unemployed….There’s not enough jobs and not enough hope," Jordan’s King Abdullah told the Davos economic forum. (NYT, 1/25)

Halliburton dodges taxes

Halliburton…goes to great lengths — literally to the ends of the earth — to escape paying…taxes to the government that has been so good to it.

Annual reports…showed Halliburton subsidiaries incorporated in such places as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Liechtenstein and Vanuatu….as a corporate tax shelter. (NYT, 1/30)

Women’s wages still super-low

Equal Pay for Equal Work is the oldest demand in the feminist repertoire….

In the mid-’60s, women were paid 69 cents for every dollar a man made. After 30 years of struggle and hard work, we now make 74 cents for every dollar a man makes….

Except, of course, for black and Hispanic women, who are now making 63 cents and 54 cents respectively for every dollar men make. (Molly Ivens, Liberal Opinion Week, 1/12)

Rob Palestinians of water

More than 80% of water from the West Bank goes to Israel. The Palestinians are allotted just 18% of the water that is extracted from their own land. Palestinian villages and farmers are monitored by meters fitted to pumps and punished for overuse. Jewish settlers…use 10 times as much water per capita as each Palestinian. (GW, 1/28)

US-Pakistan terror tactic

Pakistan massed several thousand troops….Using a harsh century-old British method, officials handed local tribal elders a list and issued an ultimatum.

If 72 men wanted for sheltering Al Qaeda were not produced, they said, the Pakistani Army would punish the tribe as a group, demolishing houses, withdrawing funds….

Pakistani officials…conceded that they had been under intense American pressure to act in the tribal areas. They said they hoped the new approach would prove fruitful. (NYT, 1/31)