No Tears for Pope Who Blessed Death Squads
Hundreds Blast Anti-Communists At Transit Union Meeting
Sabotage of Lockheed Strike Shows Need for Communist Class Consciousness
Lessons of the 1970 Postal Wildcat
PLP Anti-War Marchers Raise Political Consciousness
Racism Runs Rampant vs. Haitian, Muslim Students
Muslim Teenagers Threatened With Deportation
Philly Transit, Healthcare Workers Must Unite Contract Battles
Use Wage Fight to Sharpen Class Struggle
Racist Terror is LAPDs Main Job
Union Retirees and Social Justice Church Group Discuss Legal Fascism
Legal Fascism Discussed at Church Social Justice Group
Bosses Hunt, Exploit Immigrants and Kill Them in Wars
UAW Helps Sinking GM Screw Workers
Baltimore-D.C. Youth Learn About May Day
Eulogy for Lucia Flammia: Soy comunista, toda la vida!
War Budget Ravages Literacy Programs
Hotel Rwanda Fosters the Illusion of Relying on Imperialists
Students, Faculty Defend Prof Against Right-Wingers Anti-Stalin Attack
Minnesotans March Against Iraq War
How Would Communism Treat Older Workers?
Links Iraq War to Social Security Privatization
A Class Outlook and Communist Culture
PLPers Make A Difference
RED EYE ON THE NEWS
Reactionary John Paul II consecrated his considerable energy and talents to a life of anti-communism. For his help in preserving their murderous profit system, liberal U.S. rulers are pouring out their gratitude to the late pope, despite their recent differences with him. The church John Paul led, like all religions, immeasurably helps capitalist classes around the world by preventing workers from identifying the capitalist causes of their oppression and organizing revolution. Catholicism along with Judaism, Islam, Protestantism, Buddhism, and the rest boils down to the dead-end concept of idealism. In the idealist view, there exists beyond the real, material world a supreme being that guides the course of events no matter what people do. War and oppression become the "will of god." Fighting back is pointless.
John Paul embraced and espoused religious, anti-communist defeatism body and soul. When the Soviet example was attracting thousands of workers into Europes communist parties in the 1930s, John Paul (Karol Wojtyla at the time) entered a Polish seminary, hoping to rise high in the vast church hierarchy. When the Nazis invaded Poland, he joined an underground Catholic sect, which, unlike red-led partisans, followed the official Vatican line, doing and saying nothing that would antagonize the Nazis. The anti-communist Catholic "quietism" young Karol preached helped make Poland the heart of the Nazis extermination camp system. During the war, in fact, the future pope developed an admiration for the Nazis that resurfaced when in 1994 he bestowed a papal knighthood on former Nazi officer Kurt Waldheim, who also became UN Secy. General and President of Austria.
A decade before John Paul became pope in 1978, Catholic bishops in Latin America, dismayed that their support for U.S.-backed dictators impelled masses of workers to search for revolutionary answers, concocted Liberation Theology. This doctrine blended grass-roots organizing and mild criticisms of capitalism with Catholic teachings, but explicitly ruled out armed revolution (although many of its rank-and-file followers believed in exactly that). John Paul, however, couldnt stomach the slightest hint of Marxism. He pulled the plug, forbidding priests to participate in politics and threatened to excommunicate activists in Nicaragua and El Salvador. John Paul did not protest the CIA-trained death-squad murder of El Salvadors Bishop Romero, a critic of that governments wholesle slaughter of civilians. Even the Jesuit Democratic congressman Robert Drinan of Massachusetts, who was no more a revolutionary than his mentor Teddy Kennedy, had to vacate his seat under John Pauls order.
John Pauls next big anti-communist coup soon followed. By then, serious political errors, such as maintaining wages and a state separate from the party, had turned all the once-communist parties in the world into their opposites. The Soviet sphere and China, which remained threats to U.S. interests, had become thoroughly capitalist. But they falsely still used the label "communist." This offered U.S. rulers the chance to attack their strategic enemies while simultaneously denouncing communism as a corrupt failure.
Ever the opportunist, the pontiff prostituted his services immediately. In addition to funneling funds into Lech Walesas reactionary Solidarity union movement, also financed by the CIA and the AFL-CIO, John Paul made a 1979 barnstorming tour of Poland that helped build it and eventually topple the teetering pro-Moscow regime in Warsaw. When Walesa eventually became Polands leader, his corrupt government attacked the workers he claimed to represent, with mass layoffs and cutbacks in social services.
Even though today the pundits claim John Paul and Reagan were responsible for the fall of the Soviet bloc, the main reason behind its demise was the contradiction inside the Soviet system as local capitalists drove to eliminate all the gains made by workers under real communist leadership.
The crack-up of the Soviet Union altered the political landscape of Europe, and John Pauls role there. No longer needing the U.S. nuclear umbrella to protect them, Europes rulers began to behave more independently. They rejected U.S. dominance of Persian Gulf oil, a given since 1945. John Paul himself soon cemented his ties to the fanatically anti-communist Opus Dei sect, founded by the now beatified Monsignor Escrivá, private confessor of Spains fascist ruler Francisco Franco, and now bankrolled by French capitalists like Claude Bébéar, head of financial giant AXA. When John Paul took a pro-European stance against U.S.-led plans to invade Iraq, the U.S. rulers liberal media pounced on the well-known dirty secret that many priests were pedophilic predators.
Criminal cases in U.S. courts have jailed predator priests once coddled by John Paul, and lawsuits have forced the church to sell off crown jewels of its real estate empire. U.S. rulers want to politically distance U.S. Catholics from a pro-European Vatican. The coming pontifical election will in many ways reflect this inter-imperialist rivalry.
Under John Paul, Catholic Church membership rose from 750,000,000 to over a billion. But still the Pope exacerbated the many troubles facing the Catholic church. Many Christians in Western Europe dont practice their religion. In Latin America, fascistic pro-U.S. protestant sects are gaining ground, particularly in Central America. Many catholic schools and churches are being shut down in the U.S.
All these things present both difficulty and opportunity to those of us who fight for a world without capitalism and its racism, wars, starvation, fascist terror and mass unemployment. That so many people call themselves members of institutions that explicitly condemns communist revolution presents a real obstacle to building a mass revolutionary international movement like PLP. But most people belong out of a desire to be a part of something larger than themselves and to share in some aspect of the social good works the church shamelessly promises but seldom delivers. The majority of the mourners filling the streets of Rome and churches everywhere have aspirations for a world free of exploitation and the hell on earth that is capitalism. Our job is to win them to the rational, communist outlook of building for a revolution.
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 6 The road to revolution is filled with obstacles, some large some small, that slow down the working class. But 650 members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 almost three times the usual turnout for a union meeting cleared away a couple of these roadblocks as militant workers ripped into right-wingers who brought up the locals red president, Mike Golash, on bogus charges.
It was an odd motley crew of right-wing former union officials, black nationalists and white reactionaries whose intent was clear: rally anybody they could against a communist who is providing militant, anti-racist leadership. They dont care about the union members; they just want to reclaim union office and feather their own nests. Several pro-communists in the union took new steps in the struggle, writing and distributing a leaflet defending Mike, circulating a petition demanding the charges be dropped, and vigorously defending Mike, rejecting anti-communism on the union floor.
The charges were as phony as a three-dollar bill. They claimed Mike hired a union office administrator without official authorization, but the International was forced to overrule them, saying union rules supported Mikes action. The new office administrator is building a union web site and strengthening the newsletter, among other things, to help increase communication among union members. This is a crime?
The right-wingers also charged a union member took photos at the "Sweetheart Ball" instead of the union hiring an outside vendor. Yet another charge: Mike allowed a union member, having a difficult time due to illness, to use the union hall for a fundraising event. (Arent union members supposed to look out for each other?) They also claimed the unions Committee on Political Education conference was not about elections but about broad politics and fighting management a charge to which Mike pleads guilty, and is proud of it, since thats the kind of political education the union needs more of.
Union members were furious with the gaggle of right-wingers out to get Mike, and let them know it. One of Mikes supporters ripped the microphone out of one of the lying right-wingers hands and told him to shut the f--- up! When another right-winger attacked Mike for being a communist, a loud chorus of boos erupted throughout the union hall. The vote was decisive two-thirds voted to reject the charges against Mike.
But these right-wingers are determined. One got in Mikes face after the meeting, declaring that Mike had won a battle, but they would crush him next time. This is no idle threat. They did mobilize a core of 50 right-wingers and dupe another 200 to support the charges. With a looming battle over health insurance cuts (higher deductibles, co-payments and prescription drug prices) and other basic benefits, a battle that cannot be won without a major fight, the right-wingers will surely blame Mike for any setbacks, and may gain support.
Mike cannot win simply by promising steady improvements through clever negotiating. To maintain communist leadership, workers must increasingly understand the long-term character of the struggle, especially as capitalisms crisis intensifies and a communist-led union is seen as a threat by more than these bugs in the road. These self-aggrandizing bandits will ultimately be backed by management, the government, and their police forces.
An ever-bigger battle is looming. But the reds are ready!
PUGET SOUND, WA. The Aero Mechanic, the newspaper of Boeings largest IAM union, hyped Lockheed Machinists ratification of a "New Agreement" in its April issue. It rarely covers contracts at other locals, particularly those ending week-long strikes as far away as Georgia, Mississippi and West Virginia. The Aero Mechanic listed all the "goodies" in the Lockheed contract, but omitted the issue that caused the strike in the first place: new workers will still not receive retiree medical benefits.
These strikers threatened to break the IAM/UAW aerospace pattern established the past two years. Showing class consciousness despite objections by the Local and International leadership they struck on behalf of the new, younger workers who hadnt even been hired yet! A Boeing-area local passed a support resolution after the local leadership unsuccessfully attempted to end the whole meeting to avoid discussing the strikes implications.
As soon as these brave workers overrode the union leadership, the entire bosses propaganda machine acted. The media claimed large numbers of scabs; the local Congressmen and Senators called the timing "unfortunate"; the Pentagon threatened to cancel or relocate production. The International knowing that its job is to guarantee war production as cheaply as possible in order to more efficiently back imperialisms attacking other workers immediately met with the company again, quickly following that with a new vote. Democracy in action: keep voting until you get it right!
Under such pressure, its not surprising this isolated group of about 3,000 strikers caved in. Nonetheless, many workers in Boeings Puget Sound plants were disappointed, provoking discussion on how to end this cycle of attacks and weak responses. "Thats what happens when you have these small groups," said one local Machinist. "When they go out, we have to go out!"
In 1970, a dozen black, rank-and-file workers stormed the stage at a meeting of the Manhattan-Bronx (N.Y.C.) Postal Clerks Union, chasing the hacks off the stage, starting a multi-racial, illegal, national wildcat that spread to 200,000 in days. "Thats just it!" complained another machine operator. "You just cant get guys today to chase out the union leadership like they did."
These black, rank-and-file leaders were no doubt greatly influenced by the politics of the day, as was the whole postal workforce. A few years before, Harlem exploded in anti-racist rebellion. Anti-imperialist politics had migrated from the campuses to the army and back again. During that year, 55% of the Army had been involved in mass refusal of orders or outright rebellion against racism and the Vietnam War, according to the Pentagons own internal studies. There had been "a general weakening in the authority of all institutions," said the N.Y. Times (3/26/70). The "crisis in public and private employment [was caused] by two factors. One the erosion of pay envelopes .[Secondly a] general weakening in the authority of all institutions .No longer command[ing] respect ." this led to "the postmens defiance of the law" and their "refusal to heed the pleas of their own union leaders [to] return to work."
"Oh, that could happen again!" said the same guy who complained workers wont chase away the union misleaders.
This time we can get it right! No matter how militant the class struggle, the ruling class must eventually prevail if the politics remain within the bounds of capitalism. Indeed, relying solely on militant class struggle ultimately leads to cynicism and the burying of class consciousness as the ruling class reasserts its control. Instead, we must measure our success in the growth of revolutionary forces our Party, its base and the circulation of our press. None will come quick and easy. "We had class consciousness in the 1980s," said a Salvadoran worker, describing the fierce battles in his native country during that decadelike the massive general strike of July 1980, led by industrial workers.,. "Now, I have something better communist class consciousness."
Imagine what even a few comrades in the post office with a significant political base built through networks of CHALLENGE readers and sellers could have accomplished during the postal wildcat. Building such political networks of readers and sellers now will help prepare us for when it "happens again" and could spark it.
On March19, three teachers and ten students from my high school joined the anti-imperialist contingent at a local anti-war march. The day before we stayed after school creating posters. One sign depicted an Iraqi woman and a female U.S. soldier and read, "NO LIVES FOR LIE$." The "I" showed a picture of the burning twin towers, signifying the use of 9/11 to justify the invasion of Iraq.
The morning of the march, one student said the day before hed been "walking home from school. A cop shouted at me, saying I did something wrong, and sprayed me in the eyes with pepper spray. It burned so bad, I thought I went blind." I asked him why he thought the cop acted this way. He replied, "Because my black face fit the description." The student enjoyed the march because we "agitated police and stood up for what we believe in." I heard him screaming, "Racist cops mean We got to fight back!"
At the march, several of my students chanted on the mike with me, in English and in Spanish. One student was nervous about speaking, but she said, "I felt confident when I saw that everyone wanted to hear what I had to say, and were chanting along with me. I felt so much pain and energy while chanting that I wanted to cry."
Another student mentioned the diversity of the Party marchers. "There were so many people of different colors and ages, and teachers marching with students. We are fighting together instead of against each other."
One student like the chant, "Shitty schools mean we got to fight back." She said, "Im happy to see people actually care about how messed up capitalism is. Our schools are garbage, and the rich are just getting richer."
Our school was a sweatshop before it was transformed into a high school. This means small spaces, poor heating systems and few windows. Many of our classes have no textbooks, we have no music teacher, and the copy machine has been broken for a month.
Initially I was hesitant to expose some of my students and colleagues to the Party for fear of being fired. Ive been teaching for only four months. Some of my students read CHALLENGE, some have heard the word communism. Teachers discuss politics with me at lunch, but Ive only told a few Im a communist. After marching with the Partys contingent, things changed.
My students are excited about participating in an April 20th day of action against imperialist war. So far, more than half the teachers in my school agreed to incorporate the issue of present-day imperialism in their lessons including the Spanish, Art, Math and Science teachers. One of my students asked about attending May Day; another wants to know more about PLP. Monday morning, I walked into the classroom of a teacher who had marched on Saturday. In big block letters, the "Do Now" on the board read: "SMASH IMPERIALIST WAR. How does imperialism exist today?" I realized I could be more open about my politics with my friends.
QUEENS VILLAGE, NY, April 12 Today, dozens of angry parents and supporters picketed P.S. 34 demanding the firing and punishment of assistant principal Nancy Miller and principal Pauline Shakespeare for their racist treatment of Haitian children. After a squabble among two Haitian students, on March 16, Miller ordered 13 Haitian children of a 4th grade bilingual class to sit on the floor and eat their lunch with their bare hands. Talk about Nazi-like collective punishment! Miller said, "In Haiti they treat you like animals and I will treat you the same here." Parents are enraged that these two racists have not been punished although the incident occurred a month ago.
"Shes got to be fired," said parent Francia Devil. Miller has requested a transfer to a desk job in a regional Education Dept. office while the attack is "being investigated."
Since this outrageous act happened in the cafeteria, other adults were probably there and should have stopped it.
NYC students are experiencing a racist rampage. Recently two 16-year-old Muslim women H.S. students, one from Guinea and the other from Bangladesh, were arrested in the middle of the night by Homeland Security and threatened with deportation, based on pure anti-Muslim racism. The FBI has asserted that both teenagers are "an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers." Teachers and students at Heritage H.S. in East Harlem which the Guinean youth attended are outraged. The president of the parent-teacher association, Deleen Carr, said, "I know in my heart of hearts that this is bogus." Ms. Carr welcomed the young woman to her house daily, saying, "...how dare they?"
UFTers Against the War intends to bring a resolution before the teachers unions Delegate Assembly condemning the arrests and Homeland Security.
The same rulers that increasingly slash school programs to pay for the Iraq war and the Homeland Security police state are pushing this vile racism. All parents, students and teachers must oppose these fascist attacks!
PHILADELPHIA, April 8 In the next four months, union contracts expire here for almost 20,000 workers in transit and healthcare. Health benefits, pensions and jobs are key issues in both, but they also share a common cause.
The U.S. government continues to cut money from social programs needed to pay for the bosses widening wars. This fuels ever-greater funding crises in both industries. They are ultimately insolvable: the needs of the capitalist class to protect its profit empire are diametrically opposed to workers needs for transit and healthcare.
The urgency for revolutionary communist PLP leadership was never greater. When the pro-capitalist union leaders arent fighting each other, they ally with one group of bosses or another and make concession after concession. They will never organize the working class for communist revolution, the only solution for these capitalist funding crises. PLP here will participate in these contract fights to spread the need for workers to join PLP and fight for communism.
On April 15, the contract expires for 5,000 transit workers in Transit Workers Union Local 234, employed by SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). SEPTA is demanding that workers begin paying for health benefits and prescriptions.
The union agreed to extend the original March 15 contract expiration date by 30 days. In early March, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell announced a surprise federal grant which meant "no need for service cuts, layoffs or fare increases." Rendell nonetheless warned transit workers against striking, declaring that a strike would "anger" state legislators and jeopardize further state funding.
For several years, Local 234 union leaders have been fighting each other. At one point, the International stepped in and took over the local. Because of the infighting and the continuing funding crises, the previous union leaders decided to accept a one-year contract with no salary increase. A former union activist complains that, with the contract expiring in just one week, "nobody knows whats going on."
The more than 12,000 Local 1199C healthcare workers whose contracts expire in July have an advantage over their transit brothers and sisters. PLP has been active in that Local for years and PLP members are playing significant roles in these contract fights. They explain how a capitalist system in a period of war and fascism increases these healthcare cuts. We organize the workers to build a revolutionary movement, not just limiting our fight to winning the local contract battle something pretty difficult to do these days! PLP is also organizing healthcare workers to support transit workers should they strike.
In transit and healthcare, the real crisis is the lack of communist class-consciousness among the workers. The solution is more workers reading CHALLENGE and joining PLP.
NEWARK, NJ "Should I be struggling with my fellow workers to fight for better wages?" asked George, a Party club member here and an immigrant worker from a Central American country. He makes bricks for a construction company for $7 an hour.
"Have you talked to your co-workers on whether theyd want to fight for higher wages?" asked comrade Linda.
"Yes, we all feel the same way," answered George. "Every year we get a measly 20-cent raise, while every summer the work doubles. Theyre making plenty of money off of us to be able to give us more."
Then comrade Francisco said, "It would be a great struggle to launch against your bosses; it would expose the contradiction between the workers and the bosses. But we must show that this is the essence of capitalism. The bosses rely on you and your co-workers for cheap labor."
Then George said, "Many of us came here from Latin America thinking life would be better, but in reality many struggles here are almost the same. Eighty percent of us are immigrant labor."
A few months ago Georges arm was crushed in a brick-making machine. Fortunately, no bones were broken but his arm was in a sling for several weeks. These workers have no health benefits.
"Well, should I struggle with my workers for better wages?" George asked again.
"Of course you should," replied Francisco, "but we also have to emphasize that capitalism will never resolve workers problems. If we press hard enough, the bosses may throw crumbs more wages, better benefits at us. They will, however, continue to exploit us for our surplus value [the source of their profits]. We need to win our fellow workers to fight for a new society, communism, where workers worldwide will run things."
"Yes," George responded, "I guess, with these particular struggles we, as well as our fellow workers, learn that we can fight and sometimes win and lose. But we need to learn to keep fighting the bosses."
"Exactly," exclaimed Linda. "And dont forget to distribute CHALLENGE to show them workers are doing the same around the globe."
LOS ANGELES, March 28 "The LAPD has declared war on black and Latino young men," I said to a middle-aged black man as I handed him a leaflet about the two latest victims of police terror: Devin Brown and Tony Diaz, both murdered by the LAPD. "This has been going on for years," he responded. "Its not new."
"Heres our newspaper [CHALLENGE] saying we need a communist revolution to change all this," I said. "Theyre killing our young people here and in the war in Iraq. Over 1,500 U.S. soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed. Theyre not sending the politicians or rich folks sons and daughters, just our own," I continued. "This paper shows the revolutionary potential of the whole working class, especially the youth. Were asking for a donation." The man pulled out a $5 bill and took the paper.
Earlier this month, teachers in three different union area meetings passed a motion proposing that the union condemn the cops racist murder of Devin Brown as a violation of human rights. The motion will now go to the unions House of Representatives.
At several schools, students have distributed hundreds of leaflets condemning racist police terror and the war in Iraq. They call for the unity of students and workers to march on May Day as part of building a mass movement against these evils and the capitalist system that relies on them. Another group of students is circulating a petition against the LAPDs racist attacks.
Workers and youth in the community have been outraged at these recent police killings. Several marches and rallies have condemned them, but the leadership is proposing "community oversight of the LAPD" to reform the police department, and to "stop the killing of us by us." These two demands, while on the surface sounding good, divert us from the real culprit, the capitalist system itself. Theyre spreading the illusion that the LAPD and the system can be reformed to stop racist killings this at the very time were being attacked even harder. A leopard doesnt change its spots.
The misleaders use the highly-publicized teen homicides (mainly gang shootings) to try to build support for the cops. These shootings have been declining slowly for several years. Besides, gangs and gang ideology were encouraged by the cops and their capitalist masters including Hollywood and the music industry in an effort to keep young people from uniting against racism, unemployment and the capitalist system behind them. The gangs actually copy the rulers wars for control. We cant rely on the cops or their fascist ideas to end the gangs.
"Community oversight of the police" is a trap to involve workers and youth in fingering others and going along with the rulers drive towards their police state. We must reject this trap and expose the police as armed agents of the ruling class whose role is to protect and serve the racist capitalist system in crisis.
To continue their imperialist wars for control of oil profits, U.S. rulers are cutting more from education Gov. Schwarzenegger is slashing millions from Californias education budget while closing the MLK trauma center and many other social programs. This lowers all workers standard of living. As workers and youth fight these fascist attacks, the rulers will use their racist cops to terrorize us and use their "reform movement" to try to pacify us.
Workers need a different outlook to avoid the "police reform" trap. The bosses will send increasing numbers of youth into the military and into low-wage jobs with few benefits. Capitalism needs police terror. By organizing our class against their fascism and war machine, building unity between students, workers and soldiers with a multi-racial, international working-class revolutionary communist movement, we can challenge the rulers imperialist war and fascist police terror, and ultimately destroy them.
We invite youth and workers to march on May Day and to join the fight for our future: a communist society run by the working class in our own interests.
NEW YORK CITY, April 5 At a meeting of the Hispanic/Solidarity committee of AFSCMEs District Council 37, retiree activists heard Lynne Stewart present the chilling facts of her recent trial. She was convicted of "providing or concealing material support to terrorist activity" and making false statements to the government (saying she would abide by "special administrative measures"). She was then disbarred.
Following her presentation, one long-time activist noted that, "If they can attack an activist lawyer like Ms. Stewart, then were all threatened." A committee leader concluded that the changes in laws and rules, which were the basis for her conviction, were clear steps in the development of fascism.
The discussion turned to building concrete support for Ms. Stewart, including inviting her to speak at other union, retiree, church and community meetings. It was clear to the audience that broadening the defense campaign was more important than merely sending personal letters to the sentencing judge calling for leniency.
Finally, there was a wide-ranging discussion over why this was happening now. One black worker recalled former activist and anti-racist lawyer Alton Maddox who has been barred from practicing law for the past 16 years, wondering why there wasnt a widespread movement to defend him. Another noted the post-9/11 round-up of hundreds of Muslim and Arabic men, none of whom were ever charged with any crimes, and raised the possibility of the Patriot Act being used to break workers strikes.
Bringing this "outside" issue to the committee proved to be an exciting and useful day for the retired unionists, and for Lynne Stewart and her husband.
Seventy-five people came to a recent talk by Lynne Stewart about her case and its "implications for defense lawyers and our civil liberties." A social justice group of a large urban church I attend sponsored the event.
Although Lynne had nothing to do with supporting or aiding terrorism, shes been convicted of violating rules for lawyers and conspiring to help her client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, foment terrorism. She faces a 30-year sentence.
Lynne explained that although other lawyers were involved in the Sheiks legal defense, she was "chosen by Attorney General John Ashcroft to be his poster girl." In short shes been persecuted so the U.S. government, under "Homeland Security," can demonstrate how far it will go to break its own "rules and laws" and gut peoples so-called Constitutional rights to squash any dissent. As Lynne put it, "Fascism in the U.S. is no longer creeping, its galloping."
The attentive audience rose to applaud Lynnes courage in fighting her conviction. Plans were made to write hundreds of letters to the judge who will sentence Lynne on Sept. 23. He will no longer use the old "sentencing grid," but under new guidelines implemented in early 2005 will have "latitude" to use his own "discretion." We plan to bring as many church members as possible to court that day.
During the question and answer period, a young lawyer described his fear and asked Lynne how she overcomes hers. She spoke about her path from a Queens girl to one who came to understand the vile nature of racism and her decision to fight it and all forms of oppression. Yes, there is fear, she said, but the desire to do the right thing is stronger.
Another person asked if a Democratic Party election victory would have made a difference. "Not really," she answered. "Ive come to understand that corporate wealth rules America, not a particular party."
I spoke, pointing out that Lynnes case shows weve reached a new stage in the development of fascism in the U.S. Now the IRS is investigating liberal churches and institutions and civil rights organizations for so-called tax violations, a clear attempt to muzzle political dissent. The church congregation recently endorsed a mildly-worded resolution against "excesses" in the Patriot Act. The church lawyer and institutional leaders have refused to make it public for fear of further IRS probing. A fight is underway, pitting the principles of the social justice activists here against the political and institutional interests of the church leadership.
Before the program began I placed 50 copies on the literature table of a speech I gave at a local church in November, on a panel with Lynne Stewart and others. It outlined the development of U.S. fascism, how its linked to the global objectives of U.S. imperialism, how fascism was defeated in the past and how we must fight it now. All 50 copies were taken. One friend said the speech was "as straight to the point as an arrow." I plan to invite him and a few others to our May Day program.
The Partys roots are growing deeper. Were seizing the moment and preparing for the long-term struggle to defeat fascism with communist revolution.µ
LOS ANGELES, CA. "They didnt want to renew my drivers license," exclaimed a garment worker. "Ill have to risk having my car taken away." Hes lived in California 15 years, has a family and needs his car to get to work. The DMV denies drivers licenses to hundreds of immigrant workers because theyre undocumented.
Life in the U.S. is becoming harder for all workers, but for undocumented workers its already a living hell. They suffer super-exploitation in garment sweatshops, steel foundries, construction and aerospace parts production. The bosses impose minimum wages, speed-up and deny benefits. Without a drivers license or ID, one can be arrested and deported for jay-walking or forced to pay up to10% of a check to have it cashed.
With U.S. bosses fending off imperialist rivals and stuck in a quagmire fighting for Iraqs oil, they need to squeeze all workers more, but especially the undocumented. To accomplish this, one group of bosses want to openly use the racism and terror of groups like the "Minutemen." Other bosses have a liberal approach: win millions of undocumented workers, their children and the immigrant population in general to patriotism, and promise an amnesty program. They hope to get low-paid, "grateful" and stable workers for their expanding war industries and enlist patriotic soldiers for their wars. But they could get the opposite!
The "Minutemen" have gotten floods of publicity about their campaign to "patrol" the border and stop undocumented workers from immigrating. Theyre also demanding Bush use the Army to seal the border and more widely implement the fascist Homeland Security Act. Although they boasted theyd have thousands, barely 200 racists appeared, with a similar number of reporters.
They bosses scapegoat undocumented workers, blaming them for all the problems caused by their decadent capitalist system. Yet undocumented workers contribute greatly to the bosses economy. Although theyre ineligible for Social Security and other benefits, seven million undocumented workers contribute about $7.5 billion annually in Social Security taxes. (New York Times) Despite the bosses rabid anti-immigrant racism, there are more than 30,000 non-citizens on active duty in the armed forces. Another 25,000 have become citizens, or applied for it post-9/11. Another 11,000 are in the Reserves. The liberal bosses hope they can lure many more.
Workers and soldiers, whether citizen, legal immigrants or undocumented, are brothers and sisters of one international working class. We have the same interest: destroying this rotten system. Immigrant workers play a growing, key role in industry and the military. They can help turn the situation into its opposite by rejecting the bosses patriotism and nationalism, uniting with citizen workers and organizing against every attack, aiming to fight for power for the whole working class.
The bosses and their politicians, whether open fascists or liberal fascists, belong to the same capitalist class, which lives off our exploitation. In order to fight their attacks, we should take our struggle to our unions, churches and mass organizations. In the struggle for drivers licenses, amnesty or higher wages, we must show that the only lasting victory is the growth of a mass, revolutionary communist party fighting for workers power.
The upcoming May Day celebrations can help our unity and understanding grow in the factories, schools, churches and everywhere, a foundation for building a revolutionary communist movement to smash racism, imperialist wars, capitalist borders and exploitation.
DETROIT, MI, April 3 GM chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner, took direct control of the companys North American operations today to try to strengthen the companys weakening grip on the domestic auto market. In the first quarter, GMs domestic market share fell to 25.7% from 27% a year earlier, according to the AutoData Corporation. A decade ago, GM held about 33% of the domestic market. Overall U.S. market share for GM, Ford and Chrysler sank to a low of 57.6% in February.
GMs two most senior North American executives, Robert A. Lutz and Gary Cowger, had their responsibilities reduced. Peter Morici, a University of Maryland business school professor, compared it to "moving around the chairs on the deck of the Titanic."
GM cut production by 12% in the first quarter and 10% for the second quarter, and will permanently close three assembly plants in Baltimore, Lansing, Michigan and Linden, NJ. They will continue a five-year trend of cutting 1,000 to 2,000 white-collar jobs annually. At a conference hosted by Morgan Stanley, GM vice-chairman Lutz said that GM might phase out another brand, as they did with Oldsmobile.
The worlds largest automaker announced an $846 million loss for the first quarter of 2005, its second consecutive quarterly loss, and the largest since 1992, when GM was on the verge of bankruptcy. GM stock plummeted by 14% the steepest decline since the 1987 stock market crash to under $28, down from over $80 five years ago. GMs bond rating was downgraded by all major ratings firms, indicating Wall Streets lack of confidence in the companys future.
GM is facing a sharp decline in sales and market share, increased competition from Asian and European auto bosses and rising material costs. Health care costs are expected to climb from $5.2 billion last year to $5.6 billion (Chryslers health care costs are about $2 billion; Ford, about $3 billion). Over 1.1 million current and retired workers and their families make GM the largest private health care provider in the U.S. (about two and a half retirees for every GM worker still on the job).
GM is counting on the UAW to help them out of their deep financial hole. They may negotiate a buyout package similar to the one it got from its German union last fall, when Opel cut 12,000 jobs. But healthcare will be the big target. GM will look for concessions similar to the ones UAW gave Caterpillar and DaimlerChrysler, forcing workers to pay more of their health care costs. Lutz said, "Its very difficult to say how or where this is going to go, but we have to maintain the dialogue and impress upon our partners [the UAW] how important this is." If "dialogue" fails, GM could threaten to go to bankruptcy court, like many airlines and steel companies have done to eliminate their healthcare and pension responsibilities.
In the 2003 contract talks, the union conceded increases in co-payments for drugs and some doctors visits. Last month, Chrysler and the UAW agreed to raise out-of-pocket medical expenses for 35,000 workers, retirees and their families who use preferred-provider plans. Chrysler began secret talks with the UAW about six months ago, and negotiated those changes without re-opening its national contract. They used a little-known pact, negotiated in 1982 but never invoked, allowing Chrysler to seek relief if health costs spiral out of control. Stephen DArcy, in charge of automotive practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Detroit said, "Theres going to be significant changes in the way health care is provided to auto workers, retirees and their families in the future. This is just the beginning."
The crisis of GM reflects the sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry and the capitalist crisis of overproduction. Morgan Stanley auto analyst Stephen Girsky said, "They have too many plants, too many workers, too many models, too many dealers and their employee benefits are too high."
GMs problems reflect the decline of the U.S. auto industry over several decades. But the real crisis facing workers is the lack of any leadership that fights pro-war patriotism/nationalism; that would never accept "what is good for GM is good for workers"; that would fight racism and anti-communism; and that wouldnt accept concessions destroying jobs, wages and benefits. This loyalty to the bosses profit system has brought the UAW and U.S. labor movement to the brink of extinction.
To remain the top imperialist dog, the rulers must rely more and more on their military muscle, ultimately leading to another world war. Thats how the imperialists settle their battles for markets, resources and cheap labor. This May Day we will fight to win more industrial workers, soldiers and youth to build a communist leadership that will eventually bury the warmakers and their agents inside our ranks.
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 1 Workers and students here and from Baltimore gathered to watch the May Day video, eat pizza and discuss politics, in preparation for the upcoming May Day march in Brooklyn. After socializing while having pizza, two young comrades presented the history of May Day and the Progressive Labor Party. Then we watched the May Day video and discussed the issues talked about by workers in the march: workers rights; how capitalism takes power away from workers and why; questions like "Do workers have power?" and "How can workers obtain power?"
People asked how communists can legally exist today, how people perceive communism and how we can open up our fellow workers consciousness. This led us to a discussion about fighting for multi-racial class unity, and how the ruling class divides us by "race" in order to oppress us. Since many of the participants had never heard of May Day or the Progressive Labor Party, we partly focused on ways the ruling class uses fear to create an atmosphere of anti-communism.
Everyone took a CHALLENGE and a flyer about upcoming events. After the formal presentation, many of the youth stayed to talk more about capitalism and how to change it. Even speaking informally, a young comrades knowledge and class analysis of who controls wealth in the U.S. impressed an audience member. The comrade gave him the "Who Rules the U.S." article for more detailed information. The evening concluded with the youth leaders arranging for follow-up with the workers who attended, to consolidate their coming to May Day.
At the Boston May Day dinner and at a memorial service the following day, we paid our final respects to Lucia Flammia, our dear friend and comrade for 15 years. Lucia was a wonderful mixture of militancy and passion, determination and stubbornness. Both as an individual and as a comrade she made a positive impact on many peoples lives. Lucia loved life, and did her best to enjoy her life. She never held back. Whether she was cooking for and entertaining her friends and family, enjoying a night on the town or demonstrating against the evils of capitalism, she always did it with gusto and more. When those attending one of Lucias social gatherings often asked her why she prepared far more food than could possibly be eaten, she would reply, "Dont worry, Im Italian and thats the way we do it."
Lucia first met PLP as a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. She was already a committed communist and was working to organize against budget cuts and the English proficiency exam. She helped lead a student march to take over the presidents office. The president was dumbfounded as Lucia yelled in her face. The students joked that the president ran from the wrath of Lucia. Lucia wanted to show students here how Italys students did things, so they would learn to be militant.
Lucia soon joined PLP and was involved in many activities. She went to Seattle to help organize soldiers; mobilized residents of a Boston housing project to protest the police murder of a young man; and helped organize the Worcester community to protest the brutal police murder of Cristino Hernandez. Lucia used her knowledge of Spanish and Italian to enthusiastically bring the communist ideas of PLP to immigrant workers here as well as in other countries. While a professional tutor at Roxbury Community College, she organized the other tutors to demand their paychecks, delayed by the administration. Many people admired and loved her.
People sometimes say that communists are the best people theyve ever met. However, communist are still people, with all the flaws and weaknesses people have. But communists differ in that they struggle collectively to transform both the world and themselves so that humanity can move forward.
Lucias communism was born in the struggles of the Italian partisans against fascism. She came from a communist family. Her grandfather attended the founding convention of the Italian Communist Party. He later organized the peasants of his region to seize the land from a local prince and the Catholic Church and to establish a commune when World War II ended. As a young girl, Lucias mother served as a courier for the communist anti-fascist underground.
During the 1970s, Lucia participated in the massive left-wing youth movement that swept Italy, including communists as well as anarchists and the terrorist Red Brigades. As the movement began to destabilize the country, the Italian police responded with a combination of massive repression and encouragement of drug use among the young militants. In the aftermath of the Red Brigades kidnapping and execution of the former Italian prime-minister, Aldo Moro, 13,000 leftists were rounded up, imprisoned and tortured. Massive cynicism and depression swept the movement. Many of the best communist youth became shackled with the chains of addiction and alcoholism. Some recovered, some died, and some, like Lucia, fought a lifetime battle to stay sober. For much of her life, Lucia won that battle and was able to accomplish many things. She worked to raise a son and to rebuild the communist movement. Ultimately, she became a casualty of the class battles that she and other Italian youth had fought 30 years earlier.
The Italian partisan song Bella Ciao, which means beautiful goodbye, says that if I die, pick up my gun and continue to fight. It says that I am a communist all of my life. Lucia, too, was a life-long communist, and we know that she would want us to continue her fight.
Bella Ciao, Lucia. You will be missed and you will be remembered!
NEW YORK CITY, April 12 Millions of U.S. workers are facing drastic federal budget cuts for many already under-funded programs, like medical care and housing. Little-known adult literacy programs face a proposed 64% cut in federal funding. Meanwhile, money for the military, FBI and CIA, is being increased.
Over 50,000 mostly low-income and immigrant adults here attend literacy and ESL classes to improve their English language abilities, prepare for the GED exam, and/or improve their overall academic skills. The cuts will ravage this program.
Adult literacy staff and students in NYC are fighting back with letter-writing campaigns, petitions and demands on politicians. Staff in the CUNY adult literacy programs has spearheaded a coalition, including some community-based programs, in planning a large "Rally to Protect NYC Adult Literacy Programs" for April 22 at 10 A.M. in Union Square. Several students will give important speeches.
Progressive Labor Party supports these efforts but feels certain aspects could undermine the best interests of current and future students. First, by focusing almost solely on adult literacy programs, the coalition is not reaching out enough to others affected by the budget cuts and might allow the rulers to use one group against another. Last week thousands of healthcare workers rallied in Manhattan against budget cuts. Imagine how much more powerful a unified demonstration with those workers would be in fighting the war budget and fascist Homeland Security. The bosses are waging an offensive against the entire working class to appropriate even more federal tax dollars for their imperialist military machine.
Secondly, by relying heavily on the "good will" of mainly Democratic Party politicians, the anti-budget cut coalition is trusting the fox to protect the hen house. Some coalition leaders decided not to connect the dots, not to show the direct link between the budget cuts for adult literacy programs and the governments continued war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They fear alienating some of the politicians "friendly" to our struggle. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
SAN SALVADOR April 12 "May Day is a great opportunity worldwide to carry forward the fight for unity of the international working class," declared a university professor here. Wherever we march, PLP sees May Day as an occasion to show the workers that the red flag of communism is alive and well and that, one day, the working class will destroy the fascist, racist, capitalist system.
On this day, the bosses borders dont exist for the working class as millions of workers march to end the bosses oppression.
PLP is the force pushing for the abolition of the wage system, and the profits imposed by the capitalist bosses. Those who negotiate with the fascists are either dangerously naďve or represent another arm of the capitalist system whose goal is to fool the international working class.
Expressions from workers common on these marches include: "CHALLENGE is the only paper that calls things by their correct name and calls for international workers unity"; "Give me another to take to a friend"; "Ill help you pass out leaflets." Communist ideas belong to the working class and we must share them with everyone.
Since the fight of the Chicago martyrs in 1886 where May Day was born the working class has shown the bosses that our struggle continues through every worker who is oppressed in every corner of the world. The millions of workers worldwide who the bosses have killed, "disappeared" or tortured reminds us we should ignore the misleaders who say capitalism can work for us through elections while the working class dies from hunger and war.
Men, women, children, students, farmworkers, soldiers lets unite our forces to defeat the enemies of the working class. Organize in your neighborhood, factory, school. Join study groups and help bring CHALLENGE to your friends.
In 1994, the Rwandan genocide took millions of working-class lives. "Hotel Rwanda" follows the experiences of Paul (Don Cheadle), a Rwandan managers assistant at a wealthy Belgian four-star hotel. The movie begins shortly before the murder of president Juvenal Habyarimana and the start of the Rwandan massacres. Paul is portrayed as the unintentional hero in a country of chaos where people are brutally murdered for their ethnic background; men, women and children are cut to pieces with machetes, bodies cover the streets. "Hotel Rwanda" through its well-crafted script and its gruesome and often heart-wrenching moments makes the strong case that the U.S. should have intervened.
The movie boldly blames the lack of intervention on racism. A pivotal scene in which the U.N. allied forces are sent "to save" the people and the refugees in the hotel makes this clear. The commander of the U.N. forces (Nick Nolte) argues with the head of the allied forces because their orders were to escort the tourists not the Rwandan people out of the country. Immediately afterwards the U.N. general tells Paul, "They think youre dirt. Youre black. Youre not even a n-----. Youre an African."
This argument masks the real reason why capitalists support U.N. interventions in any country: whether or not theyll profit from their resources and labor. The worlds bosses dont care about the massacres of innocent working-class people.
"Hotel Rwanda" briefly describes the origin of the ethnic cleansing. The conflict began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when imperialist European bosses changed Rwandan history. "Imposing their own racist superiority on the Tutsi Hamito-semites and a corresponding inferiority on the Hutu." (N.Y. Times, 8/30/03) The Tutsis were only 18% of the population but were given many of the government and administrative jobs. This segregation and racism created by the imperialists caused the tensions that propelled the massacres of millions of Tutsi people. The Hutus misdirected their hatred towards their own working-class brothers and sisters, the Tutsis. The Hutus nationalism, like many nationalist and ethnic movements, encouraged workers to fight one another instead of their real enemy, the imperialist bosses. Actually the Tutsis were, and still are, the favored ruling class for the Belgian imperialists.
As the movies plot thickens, the Rwandan refugees fight for their survival within the walls of this four-star Hotel de Mille-Collines owned by the Belgian giant Sabena. During the genocide, the company called the Belgian government and stopped the militia from killing all the refugees for a few days. Paul, the main character, plays the role of the bosses lackey. He even charges the refugees for staying in the hotel. He mainly wants to keep up the "dignity" of the hotel. In the midst of his struggle, Paul realizes hes just being used as a ruling-class stooge.
This film fosters the illusion that only pleading for help from foreign capitalists can save the working class from racist genocide. The movies timely release directly relates to U.S. interest in a UN intervention in Sudan, specifically Darfur. Intervention for "human rights" is a capitalist excuse. Sudan and its neighboring regions are strategically important for their oil reserves. If U.S. bosses "intervene" in Sudan under the guise of "human rights," they can get a bigger piece of the profits at the expense of their rival oil bosses in China who are now exploiting Sudans oil.
The real murderers are the capitalists whose every step is based on maximum profits. They put the machetes into the hands of the Hutus and they push nationalist/racist propaganda. Workers can never be free from racist genocide until we smash the system that creates these superficial separations. Fighting for communism is fighting for the future of the international working class.
Students, former students and faculty have come to the defense of a professor whose research on Stalin has brought the slander of some right-wingers and an attack by editors of his universitys student newspaper.
Grover Furr, a Montclair State University English professor, has been researching the Stalin years in the Soviet Union since the 1970s. "I opposed the Vietnam War," says Furr, "and respected the Vietnamese Communist Party for its anti-imperialism and defense of the peasants against the landlords, the French imperialists, and the U.S. imperialists who replaced the French."
"But in the 1970s I was told: The Vietnamese communists could not be any good, because they got started under Stalin, the biggest mass murderer of all time. So I thought I should learn something about Stalin."
What he found was that the anti-Stalinists, from Khrushchev to Robert Conquest and the Trotskyists, were liars. "Amazing!" says Furr. "Trotsky started the lies. Khrushchev elaborated them. And the defenders of capitalist exploitation loved Khrushchev, drank up whatever he said, and made up yet more stuff. Its all false."
More recently Furr has been refuting anti-Stalin lies on an academic mailing list, H-HOAC, where his knowledge of Russian enables him to prove anti-communists are lying. Furr suspects this spurred the recent attack on him as "A Scholar For Stalin" in David Horowitzs far-right scandal sheet "Front Page." He learned Russian in college to read Russian literature. But now hes able to read documents from formerly secret Soviet archives, documents, Furr says, which show Stalin to have been a highly principled fighter for the working class.
"The article takes anti-Stalin lies as fact and then attacks me for proving theyre wrong," Furr declares. "But he also claimed Im indoctrinating my students, though he never spoke to any of them, nor visited my classes. He made it all up."
Furr says this attack produced very little. "This article has a link urging readers to bombard me with e-mail. I received a total of eight!"
But then the student newspaper wrote a viciously anti-communist editorial and cartoon charging that Furr teaches "communism" and that his department should consider "disciplining" him. "They took all their facts, even my photo, from Horowitzs page, though their office is a few hundred yards from mine. They did no fact-checking at all. When I met with them, they were very embarrassed."
What did Furr do? First he sent an e-mail to all his students, with the URLs of all the attacks on him, explaining that it was his responsibility to do so, since he was charged with "indoctrinating" them. Then he sent the same e-mail to the universitys faculty and staff.
The campus reaction has been very supportive. "Ive received many e-mails from former students, including two former editors of the student newspaper who were then, and are now, political conservatives. They all wrote to defend me and my teaching, pointing out the unethical nature of the editorial and cartoon, both of which were based solely on Horowitzs lies."
The student newspaper has now printed a full page of articles supporting Furr and criticizing the editors. But so far theyve made no retraction, or even correction, though they state its their policy to correct factual errors, and have not put the letters on their web page.
Meanwhile Furr has received many more e-mails of support than the newspaper has published. "My students, present and former, and my colleagues have rushed to defend me, and attack the student newspaper for their outrageous lies about my teaching. I have always treated my students with respect."
"What the anti-communists fear is the truth," says Furr. "The truth shows that capitalism is terrible, and that the communist movement, with all its failures and errors, was the best thing produced for working people in the 20th century." He believes, "Were still suffering the effects of its collapse."
Part of the criticism leveled at Furr was his links to some articles on the PLP web page. "PLP is a good source of political analysis of the Stalin years and the history of the communist movement," says Furr. "Im glad to link to articles on the PLP page, and of course to many other articles elsewhere on the Internet that expose the horrors of capitalism and imperialism. There are other pro-Stalin sites," says Furr, "but as far as I can tell, PLP is the only source that tries to look at the Stalin years dialectically not only defending the Bolsheviks achievements but also trying to identify and understand their mistakes."
"Naturally Im called a communist for standing up for the truth," says Furr. "In the capitalist world, being called a communist is a kind of badge of honor. If you make the supporters of exploitation squeal with anger, maybe youre doing something right. Keep up your good work," Furr says to CHALLENGE.
Whats next in his research? "Im writing an article to show, in detail, that Khrushchevs infamous Secret Speech of 1956, in which he viciously attacked Stalin, is at least 90% lies," says Furr. "Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Communists, and others, like PLPs founders, thought this must be true," Furr says. "But they did not have the evidence to prove it, which is now available from formerly secret Soviet documents."
"Im also writing an article summing up very strong evidence that Trotsky was, in fact, conspiring with the Nazis and Japanese fascists, more or less as charged in the 1937 and 1938 Moscow Trials," Furr concluded.
About 1,900 black, Latin, Native American, Asian and white workers and students marched in Minneapolis and St. Paul to observe the second anniversary of the U.S. bosses imperialist invasion of Iraq. About 1,500 marched in the Loring Park neighborhood of downtown Minneapolis while 400 rallied at the State Capitol in St. Paul. The liberal and revisionist (fake leftist) leadership of the demonstrations misled the marchers with pacifist politics.
Pacifism is no match for the murderous racist bosses who control state power. A violent armed struggle for communism, with a clear class analysis of who are the friends and enemies of the working class, is the key to ending our oppression at the hands of the bosses. Pacifism did not end slavery. It was ended by the militant efforts of people like Harriet Tubman and John Brown and by the Civil War.
The marchers were way ahead of the leadership. There was a lot of anti-imperialist sentiment. Many people driving by honked their horns in support. There was a "counter-demonstration" of seven pro-war fascist Bush supporters.
There are good people in the working class who hate U.S. policies that have murdered more than 100,000 Iraqis and 1,500 U.S. soldiers. They need PLPs revolutionary politics as we build for May Day and communist revolution, from Minneapolis to Baghdad.
The March 16 editorial on the trillion-dollar Social Security swindle did a great job exposing liberals as the workers worst enemies. The Democrats and unions claim they are defending Social Security against Bush and the nasty Republicans. But the editorial showed that for forty years, eight presidents, three Democrats and five Republicans, have all stolen $2,000,000,000,000 in workers money which was supposed to be set aside for our retirement. Instead of preserving the money we paid in Social Security taxes, the bosses raided its so-called "trust fund" to pay for their war machine. They stole $7,100 per person in the U.S. And as the editorial points out, they plan to steal another $2,600,000,000,000 over the next ten years, which works out to more than $9,000 per person per year.
The article was great at exposing the liberals, and called for communist revolution, but missed an opportunity to explain how communism works. In an article about retirement under capitalism, we should discuss retirement under communism. Retirement is a polite word for firing workers, paying them pennies on Social Security, forcing them to take low-paying, part-time jobs or live in poverty, and telling them how lucky they are to be unemployed. Only capitalism would think it makes sense to get rid of the most experienced workers and isolate them from young workers.
Under communism, older workers would have jobs appropriate to their condition (fewer hours, less physically demanding), and would be encouraged to share their experiences with the next generation. By explaining to our readers how we would do things differently under communism, we can point how we can do better.
A long-time reader
About 60 people attended the March monthly meeting of the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) to discuss how to stop Social Security privatization. Ed Ott, Political Action Director of the AFL-CIO City Central Labor Council, outlined the unions strategy continuing to use rallies, petitions and the Internet to pressure the politicians.
After he left, I took the floor to explain why privatization is bad, how theres no current crisis of Social Security, how benefits would be cut, how the government was out to destroy Medicare and Medicaid. But I then linked the drive for privatization to the war and occupation of Iraq. That war is eating up hundreds of billions of dollars that could be used for workers services. I said that "patriotism" on behalf of the U.S. government is against workers interests. As Samuel Johnson said long ago, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
An ARA leader from the teachers union replied that although he agreed about the war, and that all unions agreed on the need to fight privatization (and are winning that fight), the unions are divided on Iraq. Suddenly the meetings main issue became not Social Security but the war in Iraq.
Speaker after speaker outlined why the unions must fight this war openly, along with privatization; that it wasnt only an economic question of the amount of money spent on the war; or that the wars purpose was seizing Iraqi oil for U.S. corporate profit. The war, they said, was destroying everyones quality of life through the Patriot Act, the complete media censorship; and through a general increase in corporate fascism. The great majority strongly sided with linking U.S. imperialist strategies with Social Security privatization, with the need of U.S. capitalists to squeeze the assets of U.S. workers for the formers drive to maintain global supremacy.
Afterwards, one organizing committee head approached me to say, "Your bringing up the connection between the war in Iraq and the privatization of Social Security changed the whole nature of the meeting and brought an energy to the meeting we hadnt had before." He said the unions must openly deal with the war issue, that the only way there could be any real unity of the labor movement comes from the struggle of ideas, not from solidarity without struggle.
At least for this meeting, economism was exposed, developing unity on a higher level, more political in a larger sense and therefore more effective.
AFSCME ARA member
As a member of PLPs new cultural committee it was good to see the lively discussion in recent issues over "Million Dollar Baby." As one long-time reader wrote, "PLP should be destructively critical of the capitalist" views. Under capitalism, were constantly bombarded with culture full of racist, sexist, materialistic and self-destructive messages. As communists we strive to resist these ideas by struggling amongst ourselves and with our friends, family and co-workers. Criticizing the rulers media through a class outlook helps us keep things in perspective.
Of course, we must simultaneously struggle to build our own communist culture, in two main ways. Firstly, we should all "hang out" with both our comrades and our base of friends and try to be "good communists," being as collective as possible, having to function under the profit system. Secondly, we can build communist culture by literally making it. There are many in and around PLP who write, sing, rap, draw and create other kinds of art. We should encourage everyone to submit their work and in turn struggle over how to best represent our Party and use our skills for the good of the working class.
Currently the committee is reproducing a two-CD set of past PLP musical albums. We hope to have them ready by May Day. Were also creating and beginning to revise new work for a new PLP CD. Self-critically weve been limiting ourselves to mostly musical culture and so far have not contributed much to critiquing capitalist culture. One idea is to write a more in-depth pamphlet on the role of culture and the media under capitalism. Do others feel this would be useful? Please send comments and suggestions to Challenge at PO Box 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202, or e-mail: email@example.comµ
Culturally Red Student
As reported in CHALLENGE (April 13), PLPers played a much-needed role at the national conference of the mostly Latino student group MeCHA, held in Cal State Northridge, Los Angeles.
As a college student in PLP and MeCHA, I learned that nationalism can and must be fought and internationalism built. I also learned the importance of working in national organizations to build a strong base for a revolutionary movement.
Imperialism and war were hot topics as many students want the war to end. In a workshop I helped lead, we discussed the role of students, workers and soldiers in the anti-war movement. The students wanted a solution to endless war and were open to building an anti-imperialist movement.
I said that under capitalism we will always have wars because this system runs on maximum profits and competition for world markets and low wages. I explained that we need a system where there are no profits or exploitation, that we need a communist revolution.
This provoked much discussion; almost everyone agreed with many aspects of PLPs line. Many students, however, wanted a solution right now; they didnt have a long-term outlook. I invited everyone to march on May Day as something we could do right now to help build the anti-imperialist, communist movement. This fits our strategy to make building for May Day a focus of our activities there.
This conference revealed what collective effort can accomplish. It was truly inspiriting to see the great work of other comrades. I left ready to continue our work because I know what a difference PLP makes, and now many more students know that too.
A red Mechista
Hitler, too, did everything legally
Sen. Robert Byrd compared George W. Bush to Hitler last month .quoting historian Alan Bullock to make the following point:
"Hitlers originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the state: The correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal." (Hearst Newspapers, 3/18)
Capitalism feeds on unemployment
The headline said it all: "Weak job growth boosts market."
You see, when theres bad news on your street (the lack of new jobs), theres joy on Wall Street. As one market analyst explained it: Since the economy is not spinning out enough new jobs even to keep up with the increase in the number of new workers entering the job market, "theres not a lot of labor-cost pressure in the system."
When economists use the term "labor cost," they mean you or, more specifically, your wages. By holding down your wages, corporations fatten their profits, stock price rise, and Wall Streets high-rolling investors rejoice. Twisted as it is, this in fact, is the economic policy in the United States today. Another market analyst explained that Januarys lack of growth has created the perfect economic environment: "It really is the sweet spot," he gushed.
Unless, of course, you need a job or are struggling to make ends meet on stagnant wages, which includes most people. (MinutemanMedia.org 3/10)
Secret rules bleed former colonies
Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules by Philippe Sands
By far the most important body of international law concerns trade and overseas investment. Sands shows how rules governing overseas investment began to take shape in the 1960s as a direct response to the emergence of the newly independent former colonies and a conscious attempt to shackle their political freedom. It is these laws secretive, hidden from view and, and about all, binding that have underpinned the neoliberal globalization project. The chapters on trade and investment reveal how biased these rules are in favor of the West, and how they are made and exercised in institutional recesses that are unaccountable, even to cabinets, let alone parliaments, and utterly invisible to the public eye. (GW,4/14)
American dream today is gambling
Ah, the American dream.
If it was once about working hard to build a life, it has been replaced by reveries of striking it rich through toil no more onerous than dipping into the pocket for a buck to play Take 5 or Pick 10. This is the modern American dream, exploited enthusiastically by governments .
To see the corrosive potential of those get-rich-quick seductions, you had to go no farther the other day than West 33rd Street, where The Daily News has its office .
A misprinted number two weeks ago led hundreds of people to believe that they had each won the top prize of $100,000 .
"Thousands of people thought they had their shot at the American dream," said Steven Gildin, lawyer in Briarwood, Queens, who plans to file a class-action suit.
"A lot of people keep their hopes alive on these lotteries."
The lure, understandably, is irresistible to many living in or near poverty . "You will not see one Armani suit in the crowd,"Mr. Gilden correctly observed on 33rd Street.
Nearly all the protesters are blacks and Latinos (NYT,4/1)
Crazy Iraq info was gospel to govt
The claim that Mr. Hussein was building a hidden network of mobile labs in Iraq capable of producing a witchs brew of biological weapons was based almost entirely on the account of a single Iraqi defector, code named Curveball .
"You dont want to see him because hes crazy". Curveball, the official was told, had had a nervous breakdown.
There were also reports of a drinking problem and unexplained disappearances. What was more, the official was told there were serious reservations about the reliability of Curveballs information and about whether he was a "fabricator ."
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, made Curveballs claims regarding mobile labs a crucial part of his presentation to the United Nations Security Council .
Analysts who voiced concern about Curveball were "forced to leave" (NYT, 4/1)