CHALLENGE, March 2, 2005

Lynne Stewart Conviction: Rulers Break Own Laws to Build Fascism

Racist LAPD Terrorists Kill Black 8th Grader

KACHING!!! Cops Rewarded Million$ for Racist Brutality

War Budget Means Social Insecurity for Workers

Students’ Siege Disrupts Speech by Rulers’ Torturer/Apologist

Build Community Support to Fight Police Brutality

Buenos Aires: Subway Workers Block Tracks, Win Wage Hikes, Struggle Continues…

Cops, Homeland Security: Big Danger For D.C. Metro Drivers

Boeing Workers Must Ground Union Hacks’ Pro-Boss Garbage

Garment Workers Sew Red Ideas into Class Struggle

Chicago Cops’ Stun Guns Latest Homeland Security Execution Weapon

‘Million Dollar Baby’ Is No Knockout

CIA, Vatican Helped 5,000 Nazi Murderers Escape To Fight in Cold War

Imperialist Holocaust In Congo Massacred Millions

Thousands Protest Lack of Affordable Housing in NYC


Russian Free Market Spawns Nazi Skinheads

Berlin Workers Still Honor Red Army

Opposing Recruiters Is No Game

Building Worker-Soldier-Student Alliance

PLP Classic Songs on One CD


Lynne Stewart Conviction: Rulers Break Own Laws to Build Fascism

The bosses are moving quickly and ruthlessly to solidify important aspects of the police state they require to launch their next round of wars for world domination. The February 10 conviction of attorney Lynne Stewart for "providing material support to terrorists" and "violating special prison administration rules" provides a case in point. It should be a wake-up call for revolutionaries and militant workers everywhere.

Stewart is a defense lawyer who has taken anti-government stands in representing unpopular clients. During the trial, Stewart denied supporting terrorism, or inciting any violent acts. She was indicted under Clinton’s 1996 Counter-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty law, mainly for issuing a press release to Reuters from Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. He was imprisoned after being convicted of conspiracy in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center — an act PLP denounces, as we do of all terrorists.

Stewart’s clients may or may not have been guilty, but that’s not the point. The main questions here are the rulers’ willingness to violate their own laws and the actions workers and communists must take toward this reality.

Stewart’s conviction was based on recordings the government had made of conversations between her and her client. This is a clear violation of "attorney-client privilege," supposedly one of capitalist democracy’s most "sacred" rights. The Department of "Justice" (DOJ) also violated something called "the right of an accused to have zealous [i.e. enthusiastic — Ed.] counsel represent him." Yet, according to the New York Times, one day after Stewart’s conviction, the legal case against Stewart was feeble: " The government never showed that any violence ever resulted from Mr. Sattar’s calls or from any action by Ms. Stewart or Mr. Yousry; there were no victims in this case.…Ultimately the jury appeared to have been persuaded by the fact that Stewart, a lawyer, had clearly violated the legal letter of the prison rules."

Violating prison administrative rules is a procedural offense, usually subject to fines, not a felony. Stewart now faces 40 years in jail. One co-defendant Mohammed Yousry, the translator was also convicted of five counts, with no proof of guilt except that he translated.

The government’s justification here is the need to "protect" us from terrorists. The DOJ constantly referred to 9/11 in the Stewart case. But the authority to wiretap attorney-client communications existed before 9/11, through something called the "crime-fraud" exception. A set of regulations called "Special Administrative Measures" (SAM) can also be implemented to prevent people in jail from communicating not only with the outside world but also with their legal counsel. The DOJ only has to decide that the subject of conversation lies "beyond the scope" of legal representation.

Hitler took power through legal elections. As CHALLENGE has often warned, fascism will come to the U.S. wrapped in red-white-and-blue legality. So the bosses no longer like attorney-client privilege? Presto! They enact a new law or regulation that abolishes it. Why not? After all, they hold state power.

This is an important lesson for the working class. It is an attack on anyone who seriously challenges capitalism. It is even more proof that the Clinton "Counter-terrorism" law and others, like the Patriot Act, have long since established a national security police state. As Bush and the Democrats rip apart social programs and pour money into their imperialist war plans and homeland security, these laws will be used to crush dissent.

Right now, the government’s image of terrorism is a racist caricature of Arabs and Muslims. As the rulers expand their oil wars, they will continue to use this vile tactic, and, as in the Stewart case, will extend it to anyone who defends Arabs and Muslims accused, rightly or wrongly, of terrorism. This is flagrant hypocrisy coming from the U.S. government, which every day, extends its record as the greatest perpetrator of terrorist murder.

But something else is happening here. For some time, the bosses have enjoyed a low level of class struggle on the home front and have so far managed to avoid Vietnam-type mass rebellions in their military. They can’t maintain this advantage forever. The more far-sighted among them — as indicated by the 2001 Hart-Rudman Commission’s Report on National Security in the 21st Century — understand that they must take steps to squash working-class mass militancy when they’re unable to nip it in the bud. The Lynne Stewart conviction precedes measures the rulers have in store for the leaders of working-class rebellions that will surely erupt as war and fascism sharpen. Today the target may be a lawyer who represents anti-government defendants. However, the strategic enemy for the bosses remains communist revolution. Its specter will haunt them until it eventually destroys them. But they will do a lot of damage along the way, including no-holds-barred police-state terror against PLP and anyone who dares oppose them.

Our Party didn’t do enough to oppose these fascist attacks. Stewart has stated that she opposes fundamentalism and terrorism as a strategy, but her politics of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" led her to mistakenly portray Islamic fundamentalists as freedom fighters. Clearly, PLP has many political disagreements with her. But the prosecution and conviction of Stewart could help suppress the growing fight-back against war and fascism. This trial will be used by the government to brand all revolutionaries and militant workers as "terrorists." It is a deadly error for us to underestimate the potential for the working class to be won to these politics. We should raise resolutions in our mass organizations condemning this verdict, and calling for action to oppose its consequences.

You can’t fight fascism by relying on the courts, because as the Stewart case shows, the rulers own the courts and will use them exclusively in their class interests. Nor can you fight it by uniting with the supposedly "anti-fascist" liberal wing of the ruling class. It doesn’t exist: all bosses are driven to fascism to solve the crises of their system. The only antidote to fascist terror is a mass base for communist revolution among workers, soldiers and students — and the class struggle that will lead to working-class seizure of state power.

Racist LAPD Terrorists Kill Black 8th Grader

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14 — "Black people fear the police as much as they fear the gangs. In fact, the LAPD is considered the biggest gang in the city," one speaker told the LA City Council after cop Steven Garcia murdered 13-year-old Devin Brown on Feb. 6, firing 10 shots into the car the youth was driving. Devin and a friend had taken a cousin’s car out late at night. If it wasn’t South Central LA., the cops would have stopped the youth, given him a ticket, and taken him home.

The racist murder has sparked vigils, demonstrations and meetings about racist police terror. Meanwhile, the day after the killing, police invaded the area (83rd and Western) with shotguns. PLP members and friends have participated in discussions and rallies, distributing a leaflet exposing the LAPD as racist terrorists serving the capitalist system, calling for actions again the killing and for communist revolution to end this terrorism and its source — capitalism.

There have been several high-profile press conferences in which Police Chief Bratton and other cops "explained" what happened when Devin backed his car into a police car and Garcia fired into Devin’s car and killed him. But Garcia and his partner had exited their car before the youth’s car backed into it. They were in no danger whatsoever. Garcia shot to kill.

Bratton claims the car was stolen, but Devin’s family said it was his cousin’s car. Bratton and the LA Times are trying to push the lie that Devin was a "good kid gone wrong." His family and teachers say the opposite. Most people in the area don’t buy Bratton’s story. They know the cops’ racist record hasn’t changed.

While this killing occurred, Bratton has been lobbying the LA City Council for a new city sales tax to finance more cops. In today’s LA Times, Bratton claims the LAPD needs them to make LA "safer" and to prevent such attacks. In fact, a series of community meetings is intending to push for more cops. The City Council has refused Bratton’s request for now, given the anger at the racist murder of 8th grader Devin.

This killing comes on the heels of several racist decisions exposing the role of the courts in defending and protecting racist police who injure and kill African American men. In January, a jury awarded $2.4 million to two Inglewood police officers who were videotaped striking handcuffed African American teenager Donovan Jackson (see box). And a week ago, the LA County District Attorney said he wouldn’t prosecute the cops involved in the televised beating with flashlights of another African American, Stanley Miller.

Some African American community spokesmen have recently condemned Devon’s killing but called for working more closely with the police to formulate "new rules," like the promised one that police won’t shoot at a moving vehicle "unless they feel threatened." (They always "feel threatened.") This fits in with Bratton’s call for "community policing" in which community leaders become promoters of the LAPD in exchange for tiny "reforms." Bratton’s main "reform" is to add more cops, meaning more racist terror.

U.S. rulers claim to be fighting a "war on terrorism" at home and abroad. They’ve killed 100,000 Iraqis and over 1,450 U.S. troops, wounding tens of thousands more. They’re carrying out that same war on LA streets and throughout the country, directed especially at black and Latino youth.

The City Council is organizing community meetings to "answer questions" about this killing. They could face anger and answers they haven’t bargained for.

We condemn this racist killing and will fight for Garcia to be punished, taking this message to schools, unions, work-places and churches. But there’s no reform of the LAPD that will change its racist nature. That’s why the direction of this fight must lead in the long run to revolution for workers’ power — to destroy the racist terrorist bosses and their system once and for all.

We don’t want cop power, we want workers’ power. Crime and gangs have been created by capitalism. These problems can’t be solved with more cops, but by workers organizing independently of the cops to protect our own class, as we fight to eliminate the #1 criminals — the ruling class.

KACHING!!! Cops Rewarded Million$ for Racist Brutality

LA cops Jerry Morse and his partner Bijan Darvish were caught on video tape punching a handcuffed African American teenager, Donovan Jackson, and slamming him against a patrol car in Inglewood in July 2002. The video was broadcast and provoked outrage throughout LA, especially in Inglewood. But neither cop was ever convicted of a crime. Juries deadlocked twice in the assault case against Morse.

Morse was fired for his attack on the teenager, and Darvish was suspended for ten days for filing a false police report. They sued the city of Inglewood for "discrimination" and in January a jury awarded Morse $1.6 million and Darvish $810,000. The City is considering appealing the decision.

We can't expect justice from these bosses' courts that let racist cops off scot free and then reward them for their racist crimes!

War Budget Means Social Insecurity for Workers

U.S. rulers need to steal more and more from the working class in order to finance their rapidly advancing agenda of war and fascism. Bush’s proposed budget has this deadly goal. "In 2006, defence spending is scheduled to rise by 5% and homeland security spending by 3% while other programmes are to be cut." (The Economist, 2/12)

This racist budget slashes funds for food stamps, child care, public housing and health care to help pay for the extra $81 billion Bush is asking for the carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will fall especially heavily on black, Latin and immigrant workers, a higher proportion of whom depend on food stamps, public housing and public health care, reflecting the racist nature of the cuts. While workers and their children suffer, the Pentagon’s total spending will soar over the half-trillion-dollar mark. The "reforms" of Social Security now under debate also represent a massive shift of capital from the working class to the war machine.

As drastic as the cuts are, the main U.S. rulers fault Bush for not being ruthless enough and not providing for further military mobilization. The Concord Coalition, headed by Pete Peterson and Warren Rudman, is the Establishment’s chief watchdog for fiscal policy. In a February 7 statement, it said, "The main problem with this budget is not what’s in it, but what’s left out. It assumes that the upcoming $81 billion supplemental spending request for Iraq and Afghanistan will be the last one."

Key agents of imperialism, Peterson and Rudman have a clear vision of the U.S.’s expanding war needs. Peterson is chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the rulers’ foremost foreign policy factory. The CFR played a leading role in the weapons hoax that "justified" invading Iraq, and it also drew up the occupation plans. The CFR "differed" with the Bush gang, saying that it didn’t use enough troops to carry out the invasion. The CFR is now pondering U.S. options in Iran and North Korea, in which fiscal policy factors heavily. Rudman co-chaired the pre-9/11 Hart-Rudman Commission, whose reports form a blueprint for keeping the U.S. as the world’s top imperialist far into the future. Hart-Rudman demands ever- widening military adventures, establishing a domestic police state, and a massive sacrifice of "blood and treasure" to support both efforts.

The rulers see much of the treasure coming from cuts in Social Security. On the eve of the latest Iraq invasion, the Concord Coalition warned of "an urgent long-lasting demand for new spending on national defense and homeland security." (1/10/03) At that time it only hinted at plundering Social Security. "The nation now faces two history-bending challenges: global terrorism and global aging. Meeting the first may require marshaling new resources far above the extra spending already legislated. We know that meeting the second will test the ability of society to provide a decent standard of living for the old."

The rulers have since let the cat out of the bag. Concord now says, "Ensuring a more sustainable system will require change, meaning that someone is going to have to give up something, either in the form of higher contributions, lower benefits or a combination of both. No Social Security reform will succeed unless this fact is acknowledged up front" (1/9/05). Medicare is next in line for the rulers’ looting, "If we can’t make the hard choices on Social Security we can never hope to tackle the problems of our health care entitlements."

Private accounts are just a smokescreen in the Social Security flap. Reducing workers’ benefits to finance the rulers’ warmaking is the real issue. Bush is luring his conservative base with the bait of privatization. But it turns out that almost all "private" accounts would be managed by the ultra-Establishment State Street and Mellon banks. A member of the Rockefeller Foundation sits on the board of each institution. The capital in such accounts would further U.S. imperialism just as well as under the government scheme.

U.S. rulers have already robbed steel workers of their retirement to put that industry on a war footing. Over the past decade, liberal investor Wilbur Ross formed International Steel by buying up bankrupt companies like Bethlehem and canceling pension plans. Ross has sold International to the Anglo-Indian Mittal group, but his cost-cutting ensures the existence of functioning steel mills on U.S. soil, in case demand for tanks and warships spikes. Thus, the raid on pensions aims at funding current wars and rebuilding infrastructures crucial for future ones.

The profit system is based on capitalists’ systematic theft of wealth from workers, the creators of all wealth. When foreign rivals threaten, the rulers devote vast amounts of these stolen assets to war. A system that steals food from children and the elderly so that it can bankroll mass murder must be smashed.

Students’ Siege Disrupts Speech by Rulers’ Torturer/Apologist

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA—Forceful protests by students and faculty met the arrival of John Yoo on our campus, invited as part of the Chancellor’s "Distinguished Fellows Lecture" series — one that also included the infamous Viet Dinh, co-author of the Patriot Act. As Assistant Deputy Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, Yoo has been called the "principal intellectual author" of the Bush administration’s "torture memos" — interrogation policy directives whose aim was to "increase flexibility for harsh interrogation [and] reduce the risk that Americans could be prosecuted for torture or war crimes." (Hajjar, The Nation, 2/7).

PLP students and friends from other schools joined the protest while building the communist struggle against imperialism, racism and fascism, and the capitalist system that breeds them.

Yoo, a summa cum laude Harvard graduate, is currently a professor at the Boalt School of Law at UC Berkeley. Yoo’s memos have been used to justify the indefinite detention and torture of "enemy combatants" and "terrorists" in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yoo, and others like the current Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, are the prime architects of the fascist policies that led to the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. These policies are meeting with a fight-back.

Two weeks before Yoo’s appearance, professors gathered over 400 signatures on a petition urging the Chancellor to withdraw his invitation as a "Distinguished Fellow." He refused but instead set up a "panel discussion" before the evening lecture where professors could debate Yoo on the "merits" of his legal arguments. This was not enough for the students.

In the afternoon, progressive student clubs rallied outside the Student Center chanting and giving speeches, alerting other students to Yoo’s lecture. Carrying a banner reading, "There Is No Debating Torture," and chanting, "Hitler rose, Hitler fell . . . John Yoo can go to hell," students marched through the Student Center and into the debate room. Holding up pictures of the Abu Ghraib tortures and signs saying, "Imperialism breeds Fascism," the protestors accused Yoo of fascist war crimes before being removed by police.

The students’ actions changed the tone of the "panel discussion," from a civil "academic debate" to a confrontational exchange. One panelist called Yoo a war criminal. Another read a description of the tortures at Guantanamo and asked, "Is this torture? Yes or NO!" The audience joined in demanding, "Yes or No!" People interrupted Yoo, calling him a racist and a fascist, while others stormed out during his talk.

This afternoon protest set the stage for the larger demonstration planned for Yoo’s official "Distinguished Fellows" evening lecture. More than 100 students and faculty members gathered outside the hall where Yoo was to speak. Audience members could see and hear the chanting protestors outside through a glass wall. PL’ers distributed CHALLENGE and a leaflet linking Yoo’s and the U.S. rulers’ fascist policies to those of the Nazis, calling for a worker-student-soldier alliance to end imperialism with communist revolution. Students were open to talking about Yoo and the war in Iraq. Some agreed on the need to smash imperialism and fascism in order to end wars and injustice.

As Yoo took the podium and waved to the protestors outside, students became even more incensed. They chanted, "John Yoo, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!" Other students stood up during his speech and called Yoo a fascist torturer for U.S. imperialism. The demonstrators outside marched into the building chanting. When the police kicked them out, they reconvened outside. In fact, the lecture was cut short because of the demonstration

It’s no surprise that the apologists of endless imperialist wars are appearing on campuses nation-wide. While the rulers are waging their profit wars on the backs of workers and students, cutting jobs and social services, they simultaneously need to convince workers and students of the "justness" of their so-called war on terror. After all, young workers and students won’t be convinced to fight and die in these wars if they know it is for the oil profits of Exxon, Halliburton, etc. The university is a crucial site in this ideological war.

It’s possible the demonstrators underestimated the willingness of the students to stop Yoo. Many students see more clearly now that the University plays an important role in building fascist ideology to support imperialist war. Some people seem to have made a leap in commitment to fight these evils. One person told us, "This was the best thing that happened on this campus in ten years." Another said, "This is the most important thing we’ll do all year." This bodes well for the future growth of PLP.

Build Community Support to Fight Police Brutality

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD, Feb. 12 — Today over 50 people attended the inaugural showing of a documentary about the 1993 police murder of Archie ("Artie") Elliott III and the ensuing government cover-up. The showing was held at St. Paul’s Baptist Church and organized by Dorothy Copp Elliott, Artie’s mother, who has been a tireless fighter for justice in her son’s case and in the general struggle against racist police brutality.

The Peoples Coalition for Police Accountability plans to show the documentary — along with another short video made at a recent Amnesty International program on racial profiling and police brutality — at several other churches and public libraries. This will help build community awareness of how police kill and brutalize with impunity, and to demonstrate how we fight back.

This campaign demonstrates the importance of building grassroots activity around critical aspects of racism in a wide range of mass organizations. Many participants in these activities learn from these efforts that the capitalist system is determined to use the police as a terrorist force against the working class, especially African Americans, in order to stifle dissent and put a lid on any insurgency against their profit-hungry system. We’re constantly lied to by police, prosecutors, and politicians. The latest example is that "somehow" the darling of the liberals, States Attorney Glenn Ivey, has "lost" the entire file of Artie Elliott’s case! After hitting this brick wall enough times, many activists learn that the brick wall must be destroyed through revolution, and some have already joined Progressive Labor Party to make this happen.

Buenos Aires: Subway Workers Block Tracks, Win Wage Hikes, Struggle Continues . . .

BUENOS AIRES, Feb. 14 — The 1,900 workers operating this city’s Subte (subway system), transporting 800,000 riders daily, have won another victory in their unceasing struggle against the bosses of Metrovias — which has a contract to run the system — the government and the union hacks. Blocking the tracks helped win a 19% pay raise, which, on top of last December’s hike, totals 44% in wage increases. Their fight is important for the world’s workers in these days of endless capitalist wars, repression and economic crisis, with workers mostly on the receiving end of the bosses’ attacks. Overall, Argentine workers’ wages are now 20% below rates of 2001.

These subway workers must remain on constant alert since the bosses and the hacks will continue to try to take away these gains and smash the workers’ unity. The best lasting victory for these workers is turning their struggles into schools for communism.

After a week of striking, in addition to winning the wage hike, workers will also be paid for the days they struck, plus a night-shift differential. The lowest-paid worker’s earnings will rise from 618 pesos ($220) monthly to 910 ($325). The highest category will go up from 1,530 ($546) to 1,910 ($682). In last spring’s militant struggle, the workers won a 6-hour work-day which forced the bosses to hire more workers (although still below the 3,000 total of a few years ago). And very little is being invested in repairs and maintenance, endangering workers and riders. Plus Metrovias wants to introduce automatic ticket machines, which could lead to more job losses.

The workers’ fight began in November. In early February, they stepped up the struggle, initially stopping work for 3 hours each day, then 4, then 5 and finally 24 hours. Nine times the workers went onto the rails, blocking trains from running.

Meanwhile, workers were countering the lies of the bosses and the media, which accused them of being "high-paid" and tried to pit riders against them. They also had to make sure the UTA (Transportation Workers Union) bosses wouldn’t sell them out. The workers exposed the bloated salaries of the Metrovias executives’ as the real ones being overpaid, incomes many times that of the workers. The workers championed their right to a decent living for themselves and their families. Many youth rallied to support the strikers.

Finally, UTA union head Juan Manuel Palacios, after refusing the strikers’ call for other transport workers (like bus drivers) to strike in solidarity, pretended he was still controlling the workers and suddenly announced a 19% wage-hike deal with Metrovias and the government (Metrovias gets 65 million pesos a year in government subsidies). But, the workers’ real leadership — the House of Delegates — first learned about it on TV. At 1:00 AM, the UTA sent copies of the deal to the five subway lines. When agents of the leadership arrived at the Virreyes station, the delegates barred them from the meetings. "Rank-and-file workers, not the UTA, decide if the strike is over," declared a delegate (Pagina12/web, 2/12) Eighteen hours later, after all the shifts had discussed and approved the agreement, the strike ended.

Already the bosses are counterattacking: "During the week-long conflict, the company tried to run emergency services using supervisors, but workers went onto the tracks to stop the trains. Metrovias tried to get injunctions against the blockade. It will now pursue these demands since the deal doesn’t call for the dropping of the legal demands." (Pagina12)

So, the workers must not lower their guard; the struggle must continue.

Cops, Homeland Security: Big Danger For D.C. Metro Drivers

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 15 — About 70 workers picketed Metro headquarters on Feb. 10 around the issue of safety on the buses after a number of drivers had been attacked. The situation is complicated because the knee-jerk reaction of many people is to demand more cops. Some drivers want a cop on every bus!

But PLP member and ATU Local 689 President Mike Golash fought for a communist outlook, calling on his local to take the lead in fighting racism and poverty. He also got the local to refuse an offer from the D.C. police to give mace to every driver. (Some workers want every bus to carry a notice containing that section of the Homeland Security law making attacks on transit workers a federal crime. This would draw workers into collaboration with a fascist law that would, among other things, bust their union. More on this in a future issue.)

More than anything, today’s rally was a step in what could be a series of pickets and job actions to prepare workers for a possible strike this summer. Talks began on February 14 for a three-year contract, and workers would have to be politically and organizationally ready to wage a struggle that would be illegal under the fascist Department of Homeland Security. And during any possible walkout, the true role of the cops will be clear, not to "protect" the workers but to smash their strike!

CHALLENGE sales are slowly increasing, as is the potential for growing. The old right-wing union leadership is downloading Metro CHALLENGE articles from the web and distributing them, to "prove" that Mike wants to build a revolutionary movement to smash racism, poverty and imperialist war. They think this will discredit him! As May Day approaches and the war in Iraq deteriorates, as the contract fight unfolds and workers defend their red leadership from attack, a significant story is developing here.

Boeing Workers Must Ground Union Hacks’ Pro-Boss Garbage

The contract with Boeing’s largest union, the International Association of Machinists, expires September 1. Large is a relative word: membership has sunk from over 44,000 to slightly over 16,000 due to layoffs and outsourcing. The union leaders’ answer to these cutbacks is to try to sell themselves to management. These class traitors’ chief selling point is the union’s ability to blunt class consciousness, to persuade union members to view their future in the narrowest economic terms and in the "national interest." In the run-up to the contract, our Party and friends will expose this path to ruin, particularly during our summer project. Building the road to revolution will measure our success.

District 751 President Mark Blondin let the cat out of the bag during an interview with the Tacoma News-Tribune in January. After mouthing the patently absurd assessment that "things are looking better than they did the last time around," he got to the meat of the matter.

The union helped Boeing win more business. "We were a major part of the team that helped recruit the [new 787 Dreamliner] to Washington," he pleaded. Never mind that he led the racist charge to cut the state’s poorest workers off unemployment insurance to help finance the state’s $3.2 billion giveaway to the company of our hard-earn tax dollars. Latin farmworkers were particularly hard hit. "We’re [also] backing Boeing 100 percent [in lobbying and dirty tricks to rescue the scandal-ridden 767 air force tanker contract]."

When asked why Airbus is "outselling and out-producing Boeing," he declined to expose the company’s frittering away of more than $15 billion of our labor to speculate with company stock. Instead, he attacked European governments for creating an "unfair advantage" with "launch aid," parroting his master, CEO Harry Stonecipher.

Essentially, he argues that after all this loyal service to Boeing in the name of US capitalism, why not throw us [the union leadership] a bone so we can have something to show the workforce. Don’t hold your breath!

The Handwriting Is On the Wall

The only thing Boeing plans to throw is retirees off medical coverage. "Boeing is using Southern California as a proving ground in its effort to reduce the amount it must pay in health benefits to retirees." (Los Angeles Business Journal, 2/8) "On Jan 1, the provisions of a recently negotiated contract with the United Aerospace Workers’ Long Beach-based Local 148 denies health benefits to any new hires once they retire. The move follows a deal struck last year with two other UAW locals, Paramount-based Local 887 and Santa Susana-based Local 1519, that call for no health coverage upon retirement for members hired after May 15, 2003."

"The bosses are trying to pit young workers against old!" is the way one friend saw this before suggesting we offer a series on anti-racist, revolutionary and class struggle history in the industry to counter the bosses divide-and-conquer strategy.

We Have To See Past Our Noses

No matter what form the sellout takes in September, the most dangerous development would be allowing the union misleaders to win us to the bosses’ nationalism. Politically, this rotten ideology leads us to support their endless oil wars and war reorganization of industry. We intend to enlist Boeing workers, families and friends to help organize military personnel and industrial subcontractor and temporary workers, up and down the coast. CHALLENGE can be the tool to win these two groups of young workers to pave the way to smashing the bosses’ oil wars and war economy with communist revolution.

Garment Workers Sew Red Ideas into Class Struggle

(This concludes the series contained in the last three CHALLENGES describing the fight in a garment factory over the cutting of the lunch half-hour, slashing wages and defending a militant worker — Tomas — who was threatened with firing.)

After lunch, the boss ordered everyone to the cutting area, saying, "Someone from the company wants to talk to you." The workers gathered and the boss came in with a man who looked like a racist cop. This guy asked the boss to leave and presented himself as a "representative of the Lucky Brand company." He said he was a lawyer, had worked with the National Labor Relations Board and knew the law.

With arrogance and contempt, he said, "I’ve come to resolve a problem." Referring to a paper Tomas had given to a co-worker the day before, he said, "To stop production is against the law. This is the last day that the person who wrote this will work in this factory." The bosses’ supporters applauded.

After allowing some workers’ questions, he said it was necessary to form a committee to deal with these problems, and that he would name its members. He told Tomas to go to the office. The boss’s step-son gave Tomas two checks and then fired him. Knowing this was "illegal" according to the bosses’ labor laws, the company "lawyer" drew the boss’s step-son aside and came back to tell Tomas to return to work, and that he wanted him to be on the workers’ committee.

Everything seemed to be back to normal but work became "slow" so Tomas and his co-worker were laid off for several days. Tomas returned several times to the factory but the boss insisted there still wasn’t enough work, that he would call him. Meanwhile, his co-worker was rehired. The boss insists that Tomas has not been fired.

During this period, the co-worker visited Tomas’ apartment at home with his family to pass the time and discuss events in the factory as well as the general problems of capitalism. They’ve kept in close touch with the workers who told them the boss had ordered several workers to do Tomas’ job. When they refused, they were sent home. Since then there have been discussions with other workers in their homes about CHALLENGE, the war, fascism, the nature of capitalism, and the need for them to join a PLP study group.

The struggle continues on many levels. Losing one reform struggle is not losing the war against the bosses. Win or lose, the workers learn many things. Many have shown solidarity with and respect for Tomas, his ideas and leadership. When CHALLENGE is sold outside the factory, the lunch tables are covered with it. At lunch time, the workers sit reading it. Discussions continue about the war in Iraq, racism, the wage system and production for need.

This whole struggle has inspired us to redouble our revolutionary efforts. The workers are being won not only to fight the company but also the capitalist system itself. They will continue to receive CHALLENGE and leaflets, which they will also help write and distribute. Bringing communist ideas into the heart and soul of the working class is the key fight, even more so given the increasing attacks on the working class to pay for imperialist war.

Regardless of how able we become in fighting over reform issues, the bosses will always win as long as they hold state power. We must win ourselves and our co-workers to understand that the only lasting victory for our class is how many workers join study groups, read and distribute CHALLENGE and are recruited to PLP. This, and only this, will put our class on the path to its final liberation, communist revolution.

Chicago Cops’ Stun Guns Latest Homeland Security Execution Weapon

CHICAGO, IL, Feb. 11 — A 54-year-old man was killed today when the police used a Taser stun gun to subdue him. He had refused to leave the hallway on the 26th floor of an apartment building where he had been invited. His "capital offense" was screaming at the police, "If you come near me, I will give you HIV," and threatening to bite them.

A few days earlier, a 14-year-old ward of the state went into cardiac arrest after a police sergeant shot him with a stun gun at a residential group home. Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris said he believed the boy was sitting on a couch when police arrived and was no longer violent. The boy is recovering.

Chicago police have been using Tasers on a trial basis since April. Top cop Philip Cline said he would continue using the 200 Tasers the department has now, but temporarily halted plans to distribute more. About 6,000 police agencies use Taser stun guns, made by Taser International Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In November, Amnesty International reported 74 Taser-related deaths since 2001 and concluded the devices were "contributing to widespread human rights abuses." Last year in Miami, a 6-year-old boy was shocked in a school office, and a 75-year-old woman was shot with a stun gun in a nursing home in Rock Hill, S.C. An Air Force study found that multiple shocks from a Taser led to heart damage in pigs.

A stun gun fires two wires with electrified tips that send up to 50,000 volts into their target, shocking and immobilizing the person.

On the same day as the electrocution, the city announced plans to create a 1,000 mile-long Homeland Security fiber-optic grid with cameras and biochemical sensors to "fight terrorism and crime."

Last September, racist Mayor Daley said the city would add 250 cameras to more than 2,000 already in use, making it the largest video surveillance system of its kind in the world. The new Homeland Security Grid will add even more cameras, made possible by a $53 million settlement with the RCN cable company who will provide 388 miles of fiber-optic cable. Cook County and the city will add another $40 million in federal homeland security grants. Thirty-two miles of lakefront from Evanston to Chicago's South Side, including Lake Shore Drive, parks, water filtration plants and public venues like Navy Pier will be wired into the new system. The grid will be monitored at the city’s 911 center.

This is the future the bosses have in store for us while retired steel workers lose their pensions and healthcare; Cook County hospital workers prepare to strike for their health care and to keep their jobs; City College students face tuition hikes and other racist cutbacks; and the City prepares to close schools, lay off workers and open more military academy high schools. The only answer to war and fascism is communist revolution. As we build a fighting PLP, we have to keep our eyes on a bigger May Day, recruiting new members and spreading CHALLENGE.

‘Million Dollar Baby’ Is No Knockout

("Million Dollar Baby has been hailed as a "great movie" by liberals while right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh and Debbie Schlussel have attacked it as "left-wing diatribe" because of its message on euthanasia, implying that director Clint Eastwood is a "commie." Below is what a CHALLENGE contributor from the "Frozen North" writes about the movie.)

Everybody you talk to says "Million Dollar Baby" is terrific. While "Baby’s" not exactly a "feel-good film," it’s been nominated for seven Academy Awards — merely Hollywood’s way of patting itself on the back and drumming up more business. Merit means little.

"Baby" is a generally well-made and well-acted movie (especially Hillary Swank’s Maggie). The dialogue of the male characters is mechanically "cute." I won’t discuss all the plot’s twists, which, honestly, I didn’t see coming. Still, it’s worth analyzing why the movie is so awful politically.

For openers, it’s doubly racist.

Hillary Swank plays Maggie an all but impoverished, uneducated white working-class waitress who wants to become a boxer. The movie starts in a gym where an older man Frankie, played by Clint Eastwood, is training a young black man who shows promise of becoming champion. Morgan Freeman plays the gym’s black custodian and former boxer.

Maggie wants to make some mark in life. She has a lot of heart but little talent. She tries to get Frankie to manage her, but he refuses, calling "girl boxing" a freak show. Predictably, first Morgan Freeman’s character and eventually Frankie get won over to her dream.

A local black fighter sadistically taunts both Maggie and an untalented and mentally retarded young white fighter nicked-named Danger. (Danger is first seen making "innocent" racist remarks to Freeman, who takes the comments with no complaint or observations, and eventually encourages him to keep getting his head punched in.)

Maggie’s first opponents are semi-talented white women, who she always beats in the first round. Maggie wheedles Frankie into getting her better fights. The better fighters are black or Latin. Becoming a major draw, now Maggie can get a title shot with the champion, who is black, from Germany. and famous for fighting dirty. For various reasons, Frankie holds out on signing the fight.

If the nasty fighter had been white, or her opponents black, the message here might have been different. As it stands, not only this one fighter but the female champion are terrible caricatures.

Here in the movie Morgan Freeman’s role is that of the "Uncle Tom," character, dramatically necessary here to cover up the movie’s inherent racist messages. Boxing’s no picnic, but the two black fighters, the young man and the female champion, are vicious almost beyond belief. And why is she black? She’s from Germany; it would be reasonable to have a blonde woman play her. But Eastwood & Co. chose a vicious black person for us to focus on.

A second aspect of the movie’s intentional anti-working class outlook is Maggie’s family background. Call them "rednecks" or "white trash," they’re mean, rotten people who seek to get as much from their daughter’s fighting as they can, while openly laughing at her. It might be argued they must be that bad to justify Maggie’s desperate need to succeed in a foul profession. Just remember, writers and directors choose how they portray bad guys. These aren’t real people we see on the street. So how about this alternative interpretation:

What if the family had been thrown into poverty by the millions of jobs destroyed by capitalism’s unlimited greed? If they had the same bad attitudes but also had some basis for them, wouldn’t they at the least be more interesting people? Instead, they are simply contemptible dirt.

Why should we see any relation between white and black poverty? Don’t expect rich Hollywood to make any basic criticisms of capitalism.

(B. Traven, in his classic book "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," portrayed nasty Mexican bandits — then spent page after page giving the reader the economic reasons for their manner. But when Hollywood made the book into the movie, they saw no need for us to understand these people as the victims they were. But capitalist culture seems to be able to scratch up sympathy for murderous exploiting rich characters.)

For years Eastwood and his movies have been called fascist, a charge he laughs at. A realistic examination of "Million Dollar Baby" should tell us fascism is no laughing matter.

CIA, Vatican Helped 5,000 Nazi Murderers Escape To Fight in Cold War

(Part III —The previous article showed how Nazi scientists under SS Major Wernher von Braun were recruited by U.S. rulers to work in their space program, leading to astronaut Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon.)

One of the most precious prizes obtained by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, predecessor of the CIA) was Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, one of Hitler’s chief intelligence officers. Five years after World War II had ended, Gehlen was still on the job. From a walled-in compound in Bavaria, he oversaw a vast network of intelligence agents spying on Russia. His top aides were among the most notorious Nazi war criminals. Gehlen and his SS unit were hired as CIA agents when they revealed their massive records on the Soviet Union to the U.S.

Gehlen derived much of his information from his role in one of the war’s most terrible atrocities: the interrogation, torture and murder by starvation of some four million Soviet prisoners. Prisoners who refused to cooperate were often tortured or summarily executed. Many were executed even after having given information, while others were simply left to starve to death. The Gehlen group members, knowing that if they were seized by the Red Army they would be summarily executed, maneuvered near the end of the war to be captured by advancing U.S. troops.

In 1945, two months before Germany surrendered, Gehlen and a small group of his most senior officers carefully microfilmed their vast holdings on the USSR, packed the film in watertight steel drums and secretly buried them in a remote mountain meadow in the Austrian Alps.

General William Donovan and Allen Dulles of the CIA were tipped off about Gehlen’s surrender and his offer of Russian intelligence in exchange for a job. The CIA was soon jockeying with military intelligence for authority over Gehlen’s microfilmed records—and control of the German spymaster. Dulles arranged for the establishment of a private intelligence facility in West Germany, naming it the Gehlen Organization.

Gehlen promised not to hire any former SS, SD, or Gestapo members, but he hired them anyway, and the CIA didn’t stop him. Two of Gehlen’s early recruits were Emil Augsburg and Dr. Franz Six, who had been part of mobile killing squads, which executed Jews, intellectuals and Soviet partisans wherever they were found. Other early recruits included Willi Krichbaum, senior Gestapo leader for southeastern Europe, and the Gestapo chiefs of Paris and Kiel, Germany.

With CIA encouragement, Gehlen’s group set up "rat lines" to evacuate Nazi war criminals from Europe to avoid prosecution. By establishing transit camps and issuing phony passports, the Gehlen group enabled more than 5,000 Nazis to relocate around the world, especially in South and Central America. There, mass murderers like Klaus Barbie (the butcher of Lyons, France) helped governments organize death squads in Chile, Argentina, El Salvador and elsewhere.

While the U.S. participated in the war crime tribunals of key Nazi officials and maintained an alliance with the Communist Soviet Union, secretly the U.S. was launching the cold war and needed the Nazis’ help in that eventual struggle.

The Nazis escaped justice for their war crimes not only with help from the OSS-CIA, but also from the Vatican through Lucio Gelli, a member of the fascist P2 Masonic Lodge. He was responsible for the murder and torture of hundreds of Yugoslav partisans. Gelli's agreement with U.S. intelligence to spy on the communists after the war helped save his life.

(Source: Next: The concentration camps as death camps for surplus labor, and also as high-profit operations eventually operated by German companies while also reaping millions for Ford, GM, IBM, etc.)

The CIA has finally begun talks about handing over documents to a Congressional panel on the recruitment of Nazi war criminals by the OSS/CIA. The panel has been trying since 1998 to obtain these documents. But even this doesn’t mean the CIA will turn over all of them.

Imperialist Holocaust In Congo Massacred Millions

A statue of Belgian King Leopold II, erected in the heart of Congo’s capital city of Kinshasa, mysteriously disappeared the day after it appeared early this month, removed by the same workers who had installed it. Perhaps the anger of the city’s inhabitants over the fact that Leopold was responsible for the slaughter of ten to fifteen million men, women and children had something to do with it.

Leopold’s enslavement, kidnapping, rape and murder of half the country’s population, one of history’s most horrible holocausts, is perhaps the world’s least known examples of genocide. When the novelist Joseph Conrad journeyed up the Congo River, he described what he saw as "the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience." It all stemmed from the genocidal, exploitative nature of capitalism and imperialism.

In 1884, Leopold maneuvered to seize the Congo and make it his personal fiefdom, creating an immensely profitable business. In 1890, the demand for inflatable rubber tires for automobiles and bicycles created a huge market for natural rubber. It grew wild in the Congo. Retrieving it necessitated climbing high trees, cutting vines, collecting the sap and bringing it back to a central location. Workers had to be forced to stay in the forests "for days at a time to do work that was…arduous — and physically painful." ("King Leopold’s Ghost," by Adam Hochschild, 1999)

Leopold’s "solution"? A militarized system of terror, taking women and children as hostages, releasing them only if men brought back their quotas of wild rubber. Resisters had their hands, ears, noses, breasts, and heads chopped off, killing them along with their families. Leopold established a slave labor regime: if a village failed to meet its quota of rubber, all adult males, women and children were executed.

From 1897 to 1900, 3,000 Congolese soldiers revolted, uniting across all ethnic lines to fight the colonialists (who had organized a Congolese army to enforce Leopold’s "laws").

A worldwide movement developed protesting Leopold’s holocaust. Mark Twain was a leader of its U.S. branch. He charged that Leopold was the slayer of 15 million Congolese, labeling him "greedy, grasping, avaricious, cynical, bloodthirsty…"

An Englishman, E. D. Morel, organized the Congo Reform Association, backed by Liverpool businessmen who opposed Leopold because he had kept British capitalists out of his Belgian colony.

Once the Belgians had exhausted wild rubber supplies, they began cultivating it on plantations, using forced labor. Copper, gold and tin mining were developed. Miners were routinely whipped. "Safety conditions in the mines were abysmal." (Hochschild) Thousands of workers died every year. "More than 80 percent of the uranium in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki [atomic] bombs came from the heavily guarded Congo mine of Shinkilobwe."

Eventually exposure of the holocaust forced Leopold out — but only after he had amassed a huge personal fortune. He died in 1909. During his rule, Congo’s population declined from 20 to 30 million to nine million. Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Holmes stories, labeled it "the greatest crime in all history." Soon the U.S. and Britain developed vast investments there, in copper, cobalt, diamonds, gold, tin, manganese and zinc, sucking huge profits from this super-exploitation. In 1960, Belgium was forced to grant independence to the Congo. An anti-colonialist — Patrice Lumumba — was elected the country’s first president, hoping to reduce this imperialist carnage. Nearly immediately the U.S. had him assassinated. When Hochschild was visiting the Congo as a student, "A drunken CIA agent was boasting how they had organized the murder of Patrice Lumumba." (London Financial Times, 4/4/99) They then installed a loyal puppet, Joseph Mobutu, who had served in the Belgian’s colonial army. He ruled on behalf of U.S. imperialists for 35 years, amassing a fortune of $4 billion while poverty ravages the population. When the Cold War ended, the U.S. interest in Mobutu waned, but the French developed ties with him. Since then U.S. and French capitalists have vied for control of the Congo, supporting one or another of neighboring African rulers’ armies that have been warring over the country’s rich natural resources. The UN reports 3 to 3.5 million people have died since 1998 because of the conflict in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Global capitalism/imperialism is the source of racist genocide and exploitation in Africa. It cannot be reformed because the drive for maximum profits, the intense competition for control over raw materials, markets, and cheap labor is inherent in the capitalist system. The working class of Africa is paying for the absence of a communist movement to organize a fight against all imperialists and their local henchmen. Join PLP to build a new revolutionary international communist movement and end this imperialist hell.

Thousands Protest Lack of Affordable Housing in NYC

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 2 —Today this city saw its largest demonstration for public and low-income housing in decades, encompassing a multi-racial, multi-generational crowd of around 8,000 people. Many were angry over the city’s inadequate supply of public housing; no new housing projects have been constructed in years. A large section of the protestors marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and joined others at the City Hall rallying point.

The demonstration differed with past actions in its demands and grassroots character. It included block associations and neighborhood, tenant and ethnic groups, with an especially large Asian participation as well as large black, Latino and white contingents, rather than primarily people affiliated with tenant organizations. Their average age was much younger than in previous protests.

Even though the speakers were controlled by right-wing union leaders, the protesters were not. They didn’t limit their demands to merely strengthening existing regulations — greatly weakened over the past ten years — but called for changes in the whole course of the city’s housing construction and renovation, advocating a primary emphasis on increasing affordable housing for working people, opposing the erection of just luxury housing.

Not surprisingly, many of the reformist union leaders and community activists who addressed the crowd did little to link the crisis of affordable housing to either racism or to the war in Iraq that costs tens of billions. Firstly, this crisis has a very racist character, since black, Latin and Asian workers’ wages are the lowest in the population; therefore, a greater proportion of their earnings is spent on rent. Secondly, the war budget has increasingly affected this city — reducing federal monies to the State and City — forcing cutbacks in public education, rising tuition in the public colleges (CUNY) and attacks on professors’ contracts.

Still, speakers advocated voting their way out of society’s problems, showing their loyalty to the Democrats. Yet Democrats in Washington have consistently voted for Bush’s war budget.

However, the Progressive Labor Party spread the view that elections can’t fix capitalism, a system that has always created wars for profit, and will always use the working class to pay for and fight such wars. One young woman who took a copy of CHALLENGE responded, "Hell, yeah, we need revolution! Communism sounds good to me." A system based on the needs of the working class, where not only housing but education, healthcare and power itself are guaranteed to all, is something many think is worth fighting for.


Russian Free Market Spawns Nazi Skinheads

The CHALLENGE article (2/16) on the Red Army liberation of Auschwitz 60 years ago contrasts sadly with the rise of neo-Nazis in Russia. There have been many racist attacks there by skinhead gangs. On Feb. 6, 2004, skinheads armed with knives and bats murdered a nine-year-old Tajik girl in St Petersburg. She was stabbed 11 times. Shortly afterwards, an Afghan man died in a Moscow hospital, a week after being beaten by a gang of skinheads. Abdul Wasi was attacked with bottles and metal bars as he walked home. Mr Abdul, who leaves a three-month-old daughter and a Russian wife, remained in a coma for a week before dying of a brain hemorrhage.

The attacks are continuing. Skinheads severely beat a pregnant woman from India in the Arbat district. She lost her baby. Skinheads also beat a black U.S. Marine assigned to the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Forty-four people were killed in Russia in 2004 in racist incidents.

There are up to 80,000 skinheads throughout Russia, almost as many as in the U.S., Britain and Germany. Many are linked to fascist parties like the Russian National Alliance or the Freedom Party. Many skinheads also have their own gangs, like The Russian Fist of St. Petersburg, with some 400 members. They’re also being trained by KKK members from the U.S. or Nazis from Germany, who enter Russia.

Why do such groups flourish in the land that suffered so much from the Nazis during World War 2? There were fascists and racists in the former Soviet Union, but they were kept in check. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, these groups emerged.

Vladimir Simonov (of the RIA NOVOSTI news agency) wrote the following (reprinted in, 2/8/2005):

"The sudden change from a centralized to a market economy…caused a serious economic recession, and millions lost their jobs.…Four million children and teenagers were left homeless, just 30% less than during the years of the bloody civil war of 1918-21.

"These ‘children of the reforms’ were left confused, open to any primitive calls to violence. Youth gangs were formed fearing anything ‘foreign,’ particularly people of different skin color. Meanwhile, the new free market theorists in essence rehabilitated Nazism. Textbooks were written without mentioning the great victory of the Red Army, even saying this victory ‘put a brake to the economic progress of Russia’ and allowed the Soviets to ‘subjugate the peoples of Eastern Europe.’ If the Red Army had been defeated, Russians would have tasted Bavarian beer decades before, according to the teachings of the free marketers. Cheap copies of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Mussolini’s Doctrine of Fascism were sold openly in the streets, while anti-fascist books were hardly available, considered too ‘leftist.’ According to sociologist Alexander Tarasov, an expert on youth problems, including the skinheads, these textbooks are a basic source of information for students, so a good number of them have reached the conclusion that ‘Hitler was better than Stalin,’ and that ‘Hitler was right.’"

PLP is more than correct when it says the collapse of the old communist movement was a huge defeat for workers worldwide. It’s time we redouble our efforts to build a new international revolutionary movement, avoiding the mistakes of the old one, to free humanity once and for all from the scourge of fascism and its creator, capitalism.

Red Anti-Nazi

P.S.: The new "social reforms" imposed by Putin, cutting many services (like free public transportation) for retirees, have been met by a wave of protests across Russia. They’re the first mass working-class protests since the miners took to the streets in 1998. Retirees are angry because the "reform’s" monetary compensation — covering only 18 trips a month — falls far short of what they’ve had. Many retirees must work to supplement lousy pensions. These 18 trips only cover nine days.

These kinds of protests need left political leadership, not the kind offered by the old totally pro-capitalist CP, but a real communist one. That’s the only way to counter the growth of fascist skinheads and massive government cut-backs.

Berlin Workers Still Honor Red Army

On a recent trip to Germany heading to Berlin, some local revolutionary activists kindly showed me some important historical sites. Despite what I thought I knew about history, what I saw surprised me. The U.S. media and schools spread the lie that the Soviet socialist revolution was a total failure that supposedly oppressed the people of Europe. But it’s clear that many working-class people there understand and appreciate the revolution’s valuable accomplishments despite its ultimate collapse. This is true even in Berlin, where the Berlin Wall supposedly "proved that communism is bad."

There’s a plaza in the center of the city dedicated to Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels. In addition to statues, there are beautiful metal pillars with etched-in scenes showing workers in struggle, including the Vietnamese defeat of the U.S. invasion.

Elsewhere there’s a large beautiful park, the same one where earlier communist revolutionaries such as Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknecht gave speeches 90 years ago. After World War II, the park was re-dedicated in honor and appreciation of the Soviet Red Army for its role in freeing Germany, and the rest of Europe from the Nazis. At one end is a beautiful, huge statue of a Soviet soldier with a child on one arm and a sword in the other, smashing a Nazi. At its base is a small room with a mural depicting scenes from the war. There’s an almost identical statue in Russia, solidifying the ties of friendship expressed after the war between the German and Soviet working classes. Outside are twenty large monuments, ten on each side, each one displaying a picture and a quote from Stalin about the war, discussing the tasks and the progress of the struggle to smash the Nazis. Ten of the monuments have quotes in German, the other ten, with matching pictures, have quotes in Russian.

Now it’s true that German capitalists and so-called moderate "socialists" would like to hide the accomplishments of the communist movement, but as one activist told me: "The feelings among the working class are so strong that the government would not DARE to close down or even neglect these parks!"

Most importantly I gained a deeper understanding of the spectacular successes of the Soviet Revolution, despite its ultimate demise. Even after 50 years of Cold War, millions of Europeans understand the significance of the Soviet Revolution and the struggle against capitalism. Tens of thousands, including thousands of Turkish immigrants, marched on May Day in Berlin, and hundreds of thousands marched around the world.

One important way capitalism controls our minds is by limiting our information and therefore our vision of an anti-capitalist, pro-communist understanding of the world. Schools in the U.S. and worldwide, intentionally hide this knowledge, creating cynicism and defeatism within the working class. Many young workers and students are angry at capitalism’s abuses — economic hardship, intense racist oppression and war.

But it’s not enough to just feel anger. We, especially our young workers and students, must study and learn the lessons of the past, not simply because they’re good stories, but because they open our minds to the realities of the power of the working class and the possibilities of creating a new communist world.

Red Traveler

Opposing Recruiters Is No Game

Ben, a teacher friend and member of my church, was talking to me about military recruiters at his high school. He said students there seemed barely aware of them. Then he related an interesting story.

Four years ago, Scott (who Ben says is a communist), came to Ben’s school to do research for his graduate thesis. He got to know the students pretty well. One of them, Clyde, had recently spoken to the recruiters and was about to enlist in the Marines. The only thing left was signing the papers. Scott had been a Marine himself for six years, serving a tour in Vietnam. He wished he’d never joined. He and Ben tried hard to persuade Clyde not to enlist.

Finally, after failing to convince him, Scott and Ben challenged Clyde and his buddy to a "2-on-2" basketball game to settle it. If Ben and Scott won, Clyde would agree not to sign up. But if Clyde and his friend won, he wouldn’t hear any more static about not joining.

The next day, they were out on the court. All four played as if it were a matter of life and death. It came down to the final point, see-sawing back and forth for what seemed like forever. Finally, Clyde sank one from the far corner — a three-pointer. It was all over. There would be no more static. Clyde signed his papers a few days later, and shortly afterwards left for training camp.

For over a year Ben heard nothing from Clyde. Then, around last Christmas Ben heard from Clyde, calling from a Marine base somewhere in the U.S. Clyde told Ben joining the Marines had been a big mistake. "You know, Mr. Lewis," Clyde said, "I think about that game every day. If only I’d missed that shot ….."

Ben said that Clyde hasn’t been to Iraq yet. But we’re wondering how long it’ll be before he ships out. Meanwhile, the recruiters are still in the school, and there’s been no effort yet to get them out. We’re discussing it. We need to ask people at the church; they may have some ideas.

Old-time Red

Building Worker-Soldier-Student Alliance

After several weeks of pushing for the need to build a student-worker-soldier alliance, my campus group agreed to support a trip to a local factory and reach out to workers there. So several weeks ago, six of us arose at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday and traveled to the plant to talk to the workers. We distributed a leaflet containing workers’ letters describing conditions they face as well as their frustration with having relatives in the military fighting a war that’s obviously not in their interest — actually an imperialist war for control of Iraqi oil.

Afterwards we talked over breakfast about the significance of building an anti-imperialist, anti-fascist movement, how the only serious way to do this is by uniting workers, students and soldiers. We also discussed why PLP fights for communism.

One student asked, "Do you guys really think communism works?" Another replied, "The reason it’s so hard to envision a communist society is because we have grown up and been educated in a selfish, capitalist society."

One young woman was so enthusiastic about that morning’s experience, she asked me to speak about it at an anti-war rally she was helping to organize the following week. I agreed and invited a friend from my campus group to work with me on a speech calling for a worker-student-soldier alliance and for communism.

At the rally the crowd applauded our conviction that the only way to end imperialism and fascism was to fight for communism. But the organizers didn’t seem too happy about that. However, several days later my friend who helped organize the rally told me she really respected the Party for taking a strong stance against imperialism and calling for communism. She also asked when the next factory trip would take place.

This recent series of events have shown me that students and the working class in general are increasingly tired of war and fascism and more open to PLP’s revolutionary communist ideas. Furthermore, it has become increasingly clear that the anti-war movement’s reformist leadership is incapable of truly explaining the nature of war and fascism and how to fight it.

The ball is in our court; it’s time to take the offensive, and fight for the Party’s line. We must be bold and assertive; we can only grow, and where we fail, learn how to grow.

West coast college youth

PLP Classic Songs on One CD

The 1970’s PLP LP’s "Power to the Workers" and "A World to Win" are now available on one CD. It includes songs by the PLP Singers — in English and Spanish — such as: "Unemployment Blues"; "Challenge, the Communist Paper"; "Bella Ciao"; "Seņor Inversionista"; "Every Time I see a Cop, I think of Clifford Glover"; "The Song of the Deportees"; "The Internationale" and many more.

Rekindle old memories and live new ones. Send $10 payable to Challenge Periodicals,

Rand mail to PLP, Box 808, GPO, Brooklyn, NY 11202


US gets noble when there’s oil

…No nation is capable of sustaining a long war on the basis of idealism. War is so costly, both in resources and lives, that it can only be sustained when a nation’s direct interest… is at stake….

It’s no accident, for example, that our government’s interest is bringing democracy to other countries seems to rise in direct proportion to how much oil lies beneath their territory. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/27)

Tyrant? Play ball, you’re OK

Rice offered a little more information naming six countries as "outposts of tyranny"…Cuba, Myanmar, North Korea, Iran, Belarus and Zimbabwe….She could just as easily have snapped off the names of six of our allies — Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia, Kuwait, Uzbekistan and Egypt….

The fact is, however, that when totalitarian nations…play ball with U.S. business interests, we like them just fine. (Creators Syndicate, 1/20)

Bosses super-exploit immigrants

…Because the basic job of the line is cutting flesh — hard, manual labor — the dangers are very high for meat workers….Meatpackers, driven by the brutal economies of the industry, always try to hire the cheapest labor they can find. That increasingly means immigrants whose language difficulties compound the risks of the job. The result, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch, is "extraordinarily high rates of injury" in conditions that systematically violate human rights.

In fact, the report finds, some major players in the American meat industry prey upon a large population of immigrant workers who are either ignorant of their fundamental rights or are undocumented aliens who are afraid of calling attention to themselves. As a result, those workers often receive little or no compensation for injuries, and any attempt to organize is met with hostility.

The industry has little incentive to improve conditions… (NYT, 2/6)

Gov’t outsources torture

The title of Ms. Mayer’s [New Yorker] article is "Outsourcing torture." It’s a detailed account of the frightening and extremely secretive U.S. program known as "extraordinary rendition."

.…Extraordinary rendition is the name that’s been given to the policy of seizing individuals without even the semblance of due process and sending them off to be interrogated by regimes known to practice torture. In terms of bad behavior, it stands side by side with contract killings.

Our henchmen in places like Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan and Jordan are torturing terror suspects at behest of…the United States…. (NYT, 2/11)

New era betrays Iraqi women

…This is supposed to be one in a series of pioneering public meetings to address the growing inequalities of women in the new Iraq. A year ago, in the weeks after the invasion, hundreds of women marched in the streets outside this hotel in central Baghdad. The women were optimistic, most walked without veils and they made forceful speeches in front of the TV cameras.

Those days of mass protest are over. Today there are barely a dozen women present. Half are veiled and most have come with male relatives or colleagues for protection. It is a quiet indictment of the occupation and underscores the astonishing collapse in security, particularly for women, that it has brought.

The few women there describe how things have changed for them since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the subsequent rise in Islamic parties. Many more cover their hair now, sometimes in belief, often through peer-group pressure or simply to protect themselves in anonymity. (GW, 2/10)

US: Sickness often means mass ruin

Hundreds of thousands of Americans file for personal bankruptcy each year because of medical bills — even though they have health insurance….

Many lost their jobs — and their insurance — because they got sick, while others faced thousands of dollars in co-payments and deductibles and for services not covered by their insurance.

…One….respondent to the survey was able to pay for hospital stays for lung surgery and a heart attack but could not return to his old job. When he found a new job, he was denied coverage because of his pre-existing conditions….

…The high cost of continuing coverage under Cobra, the federal rule that allows former employees to stay on health plans for a time if they pay the entire cost, "is a cruel joke to these people,"….

"If you’re sick enough long enough, you’re in deep trouble in our society"… (NYT, 2/2)

Sell killer as long as you can

Celebrex, the popular arthritis and pain medicine from Pfizer, sustained another blow yesterday when the company acknowledged that a 1999 clinical trial found that elderly patients taking the drug were far more likely to suffer heart problems than patients taking a placebo….

…The study was never published… (NYT, 2/1)

Not so gung-ho on Iraq

Cadets don’t have to study the opinion polls to know they’re heading off to an unpopular war. Applications to the military academies are down substantially. (NYT, 2/9)

Torture orders came from the top

…At Abu Ghraib prison…the….problem was confined,…the Bush administration has asserted, to a few soldiers acting on their own.

"The Torture Papers," the new compendium of government memos and reports chronicling the road to Abu Ghraib and its aftermath, definitively blows such arguments to pieces…[A]damning paper trail … reveals…the roots that those terrible images has in decisions made at the highest levels… (NYT, 2/8)