They were explaining the real reasons why U.S. soldiers are being sent to kill and die in Iraq -- oil profits and the rulers' need to ward off imperialist competitors. Suddenly, the wife of a soldier deployed in Iraq blurted out, "I know what you're talking about. My husband called me yesterday and told me he was being sent on a `suicide mission,' and that he wouldn't be able to call me until he got back to the States." She agreed the war was only benefiting rich multi-nationals like Exxon-Mobil and Halliburton. After taking CHALLENGE, the woman agreed it was important to build a higher level of political consciousness among soldiers. Others discussed with soldiers and their families the growing tensions and fundamentally contradictory interests between rank-and-file enlisted GI's and officers.
The sister of a GI who's back from Iraq but is being redeployed believed the war was not worth the death of a single soldier or civilian. She understood it was a "rich man's war," with workers paying the ultimate price for the bosses' profits.
In a show of class anger, the mother of a soldier in Iraq exclaimed, almost yelling, "I'd like to see Bush send his children to Iraq!"
Another GI, a member of the Special Forces, openly confessed: "We know this war is about oil profits for Exxon-Mobil, and we know it's not for us. Thank you very much for this."
"I was in Iraq, but I don't have an opinion about this war," said another soldier. "You can think, so you do have an opinion!" we responded. Although he wouldn't share his opinion, he agreed he had one, and took the leaflet and a copy of CHALLENGE.
After hearing us say Exxon-Mobil's profits and the bosses' oil wars are not worth the life of one GI or the death of one Iraqi civilian, a number of soldiers thanked us for coming to the town near the base and distributing the paper.
While many believe soldiers are won completely to capitalist ideology, most GIs were open to anti-imperialism and to PLP's red politics. In fact, the overwhelmingly positive reaction soldiers had to CHALLENGE surprised many in the group at first. The experience among many who had never spoken about politics with soldiers helped them to combat and demystify the negative stereotypes and opinions spread by the majority of liberal and phony "left" organizations. "While there were some negative responses," one said, "mostly it was a good experience, and I would definitely enjoy talking with soldiers again."
A Vietnam veteran felt soldiers were facing many of the same problems and difficulties today that he and others had to deal with during the 1960's. Suggesting that the war wasn't worth fighting, he felt soldiers needed to put their collective interests first, even if it means disobeying orders. There was some discussion of soldiers' tactics during the Vietnam War, including wildcat strikes on bases and "search-and-avoid" practices (where platoons would ignore orders and purposely avoid combat). Political solidarity is needed among soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. If these soldiers' and their families' reception of us is any indication, solidarity seems to be growing with every passing day.
Soldiers play a key role in the basic workings of capitalist society. The U.S. ruling class can continue to wage its bloody profit wars only by winning working-class soldiers to nationalism and racism. Yet, armed with communist ideas and leadership, soldiers and workers also can end the permanent cycle of wars, exploitation and racism endemic to capitalism. Winning soldiers to this fight will prove crucial to PLP's long-term struggle for communist revolution.
On a previous visit we learned that every day these racists harass workers and those who come to hire them. On that earlier visit six workers took CHALLENGE and gave us all the information needed to plan a confrontation. (Farmingville gained international notoriety four years ago when two men linked to white supremacist groups attempted to murder two young Latino workers.) Recently, the town police raided and evicted these workers from their overcrowded housing on the pretext that it was a fire hazard, to hide its racist character. Some of those evicted are now living in the nearby woods. Today a local racist had thrown a bottle at a worker.
As we arrived, a group of four racists were leaving, with signs reading, "INS, do your job!" and "Deport illegal aliens!" We quickly set up a picket line. The workers we had met previously eagerly took stacks of CHALLENGE. They collected $11.00 for 30 papers they distributed.
Then the workers spotted the leader of the racist scumbags who was filming our demonstration from across the street -- big mistake on his part. We immediately surrounded him, blasting our chants in his ear through our bullhorn while the workers cheered us on from across the road. As our fists pumped and we shouted, "Working people have no nation!" the workers were grinning from ear to ear in appreciation that the local racists were getting what they deserved.
Then the cops arrived. At first, the coward chuckled arrogantly, but ended up whimpering to the cops to rescue him. The entire time, we marched around his car, continuing to chant slogans like, "We are not illegal, we are workers," and "The workers, united, will never be defeated," in both Spanish and English.
In minutes, at least 15 police cars arrived. Initially, the cops told the scumbag that since he was "free to leave," the actions of the demonstrators were not their responsibility. But in five minutes, they changed their tune and ordered us to the sidewalk.
At this point, one comrade made a short, impassioned speech in Spanish: "Now we can see that the police defend the racists, that the racists and the state are one and the same, but we're not afraid! We will continue marching!" When the on-looking workers heard that, they immediately joined our picket line.
When we didn't move quickly enough for the cops, they arrested four of us. The police targeted those they thought were the leaders, today's most visible fighters. But as communists in Progressive Labor Party, we're all leaders. We raised bail money to get our comrades released from prison, but in any event we would keep fighting.
As mainly a group of students and teachers, we have much to learn from these workers who, by joining this demonstration, put more on the line than any of us did. In defiance of the state, its laws, and its vigilantes, we will visit Farmingville regularly to water the seeds of revolution planted there today.
Nixon and Kissinger opened relations with China three decades ago, realizing that the latter's embrace of the profit system would, for a time, prove a boon for U.S. rulers. It largely has done so. With workers averaging 40cents-an-hour wages, U.S. companies have raked in super-profits by erecting factories in China. Imports of low-cost Chinese goods have limited U.S. inflation. They've also provided a kind of bribe to U.S. workers, who can increasingly afford a broad array of consumer products despite stagnating wages. Prices of TV sets, for example, drop 9% a year mainly because of Chinese production. Wal-Mart imports $18 billion worth of goods from China annually. While the U.S. trade deficit with China reached $162 billion last year, Chinese rulers' holdings of $230 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds more than offset the gap. China's bosses are stealing more from workers than they can invest in the booming but not fully-developed Chinese economy. So they park a big chunk of the profits in U.S. government securities, which helps finance U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The liberal U.S. rulers' wing doesn't want to upset that apple cart just now, even as it plans for a future large-scale conflict. The San Francisco Chronicle (7/17/05) warns of repercussions if lawmakers block the China-Unocal deal: "Boeing could lose billions in contracts for commercial jetliners....The business climate for U.S. companies heavily invested in China's fast-growing market could turn chillier." Rockefeller protégé Kissinger is advising CNOOC on Unocal, as is JP Morgan Chase.
The main opposition to the takeover comes from the "Iron Triangle" of weapons makers, Pentagon arms buyers and compliant Congressmen. But Kissinger foresees a decade or more of breathing room: "Certainly, China's growing industrial capacity will improve its military capacity, and surely in a war with us, China could do us more damage in ten years than it can do now....China will not be in a position for a generation to threaten vital American interests militarily." (Council on Foreign Relations website, 7/14/05)
But the Nobel "peace" prize winner vows the nuclear murder of hundreds of millions when and if China does challenge U.S. profits through armed force: "It would suffer total devastation in such a war....[W]ar between major countries in the nuclear age is not the same as it was before World War I."
The clash could come sooner than Kissinger thinks. China's thirst for energy puts it squarely at odds with U.S. imperialism's need to control the world's oil and gas supplies. Taiwan, which commands the oil route between the Middle East and China, has become a flashpoint. A top Chinese general, Zhu Chenghu, said at an official briefing recently, "We will have to respond with nuclear weapons," if the U.S. military intervenes in a conflict over Taiwan. (New York Times, 7/15/05) [The general's statement reveals the Chinese "Communist" Party's utter abandonment of communist principles. During and after World War II, China's communists defeated their imperialist enemies not with capitalist "biggest-bang-for-the-buck" weaponry but by mobilizing the entire working class.] And, at the Persian Gulf heart of hydrocarbons, China has launched an "Arms for Energy" program with Iran.
"Beijing has reportedly threatened to veto any U.S. attempt to impose sanctions on Iran for pursuing uranium enrichment technology in what Washington alleges is a nuclear arms program. China has also sold Iran weapons, including long-range missile technology, that could threaten shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40% of the world's oil exports flow. In October, Beijing used its friendship with Tehran to seal a $70-billion agreement giving Chinese companies a 51% stake in the huge Yadavaran oil field, Iran's largest onshore field, along with a promise to help develop the largely untapped area." (Los Angeles Times, 7/17/05)
To prepare for potential "real wars" -- such as a "mainland Chinese attack on Taiwan" -- in the near future, a New York Times editorial (7/10/05) urged that "the active-duty Army should be increased by about 100,000." (Hillary Clinton is sponsoring legislation to add 80,000 more troops to the Army.) And Kissinger holds the door wide open for U.S. military action against Iran. "I'm not recommending it but, on the other hand, it is a grave step to tolerate a world of multiple nuclear-weapons centers without restraint. I'm not recommending military action, but I'm recommending not excluding it."
We cannot predict when or how hostilities between the U.S. and China will erupt. But we understand that cooperation among capitalists is limited by an overriding need for each capitalist to eliminate his rivals. When Kissinger and General Chenghu speak openly of nuclear slaughter, it's time for the working class to go on our own wartime footing.
Of course Rove is a sleaze ball, who will stoop at nothing to slander Bush's critics. Sure, he "outed" CIA agent Valerie Plame to punish her husband, Joseph Wilson, for blowing the whistle on Bush's Big Lie about Saddam Hussein's non-existent purchase of uranium from Niger. But that's not exactly news; repeating it won't get us very far in understanding why the rulers are making such a ruckus about this scandal. Our class has nothing to gain from glorifying a married couple with close ties to the Central Intelligence Agency, which has directly or indirectly murdered millions of workers worldwide since its founding 60 years ago. Nor should we fall into the trap of celebrating the supposed "courage" of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, now serving a short jail sentence for refusing to divulge her sources for leaks in the Plame-Wilson caper.
Miller is hardly a hero. In fact she, and by extension her Times' bosses, are war criminals. As Bush & Co. were preparing to invade Iraq in late 2002 and early 2003, the Times' editors published a series of front-page counterfeit stories by Miller about Saddam Hussein's "nuclear program." They played a key role in mobilizing public opinion to believe Bush's B.S. about going to war over Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD).
Facts, as the great communist revolutionary Lenin once wrote, are stubborn things. Here are a few: (1) The legend about WMD was a crude pretext for a war Bush & Co. were going to launch anyhow. (2) Congressional liberals who now criticize the war -- including 2004 Democrat presidential candidate Kerry and 2008 front-runner Hillary Clinton -- gave Bush the green light in 2003 to launch it. (3) The liberal press, which now condemns Bush and Rove for their lies about WMD, could have exposed the fiction well before the war started.
The liberals who voted for the war did so with misgivings. But these were purely tactical. The Liberal Establishment and its media ideologues never questioned U.S. imperialism's need to control Iraqi oil as an indispensable weapon in the struggle to maintain U.S. world dominance. They did worry, however, about the wisdom of conquering and occupying Iraq with fewer than 150,000 ground troops and few allies. But they put aside their doubts for the sake of class unity.
Now, however, the war is going badly. There seems to be no end in sight. Even the top guns in the U.S. military brass have to acknowledge that the anti-U.S. resistance is gaining strength. The U.S. occupation has increased rather than diminished the number of suicide bombers. Exxon Mobil and cohorts are a long way from enjoying the stable investment climate they covet to begin reaping a profit bonanza from pumping, refining and exporting Iraqi oil and gas. Perhaps most ominous for the rulers is growing cynicism among soldiers, workers and youth about the war and U.S. society in general. The military is stretched thin and demoralized. It needs twice the number of boots on the ground that it now has in Iraq. Hardly a week goes by without news about the army's failure to meet its recruitment quota. None of this bodes well for U.S. imperialism's future plans.
These, and not Rove's "dirty tricks," are the real reasons the liberal politicians and media are going after the Bush White House. While it's entertaining to see Bush -- the born-again man of "faith" and "character" -- having to duck questions about a top advisor who's a character assassin, the Times and others aren't attacking Rove and Bush for our benefit.
At stake here are an empire to defend, trillions of dollars in present and future profits and a world to rule -- and Bush simply isn't up to the job. That's the real scandal from the rulers' point of view. Rove may well prove to be the fall guy, because they always need one, but the center of the storm is a presidency that has failed to meet the needs of U.S. imperialism.
Bush might get impeached. After all, a lie about a sordid sexual scandal served as an excuse to impeach his predecessor, Clinton. Bush's failure and transgressions are much greater. Unlike Bill Clinton, an opportunist from a modest background who successfully hitched his star to one ruling-class faction, Bush actually comes from that class. His family represents the unstable marriage of convenience between Wall Street and a number of U.S. business interests. They include the domestic Oil Patch and oil services industry (Halliburton, etc.), which don't always share the agenda of liberal Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans. Whether or not Bush is impeached is of little concern to workers.
From a working-class viewpoint, the real "scandal" here is the profit system itself. When the bosses go to war, they always concoct a lie to cloak their mass murder in the fabric of righteousness. Lyndon Johnson's genocidal escalation of the Vietnam War began in the summer of 1964 after a fabricated incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. Clinton bombed the former Yugoslavia to smithereens in 1999 in the name of "human rights." Throughout his eight-year presidency his policy of sanctions and bombing in Iraq slaughtered hundreds of thousands, especially children.
The real scandal is that war and imperialism are inseparable. The rulers are trying to punish Bush for his ineptitude. But since 2003 this ineptitude has already killed over 100,000 Iraqis and maimed many more, and has caused the death of nearly 2,000 U.S. troops, plus tens of thousands injured. The liberal bosses' idea of competence is a presidency that can impose a police state at home and enlist millions in a military capable of far more violence and destruction than the Bush White House has managed to produce. There's no "lesser evil" here.
The Rove scandal and the liberals' hypocrisy around it reflect a sick, rancid system that has managed to hold on for so long only because the old communist movement fell under the weight of its own fatal errors. However, cynicism about the rulers won't get us very far. Yes, Bush, Rove, Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Kennedy, and their media mouthpieces are all rotten. But shaking our heads in dismay or disgust isn't the answer. Communist revolution remains the only road away from the profit system's dung heap of endless war, racism and terror. It's a long, hard road, but it nonetheless represents the interests of future generations of our class.
After a 911 call, the South East Division cops showed up at Raul Peña's small dealership in Watts. They claim Mr. Peña started shooting at them, while holding his little daughter in his arms. The family said Mr. Peña was upset and needed counseling, that he would never hurt his baby. They charge that he didn't shoot first.
Mrs. Lopez was on her knees, begging the cops not to shoot, but instead to call in a psychologist to talk to the distraught man. But a police SWAT team brought in nearly 100 cops who fired more than 60 bullets into the small office, killing father and baby.
Police Chief William Bratton and his lieutenants are working overtime to convince the public that Susie's father is the "sole responsible person" for his daughter's death. The racist LAPD keeps attacking the father's character.
Black and Latino residents of this neighborhood held several demonstrations against the murderous cops, demanding they be fired. Hundreds attended the wake at Mrs. Lopez's home. Several comrades distributed leaflets condemning the cops and connecting racist police terror to the capitalist system. Many asked for extra flyers and CHALLENGE. They expressed both anger at the police and the need for unity between black and Latino neighbors against the killer cops. Some agreed the problem is the system itself. People questioned why the police didn't look for alternatives to halt the standoff. An onlooker said the cops saw little Susie as "collateral damage."
Comrades also went to the mass for Susie, where once again leaflets and CHALLENGES were distributed outside the church. Many commented approvingly and asked for extras. The media was there to spread their racist filth. The priest had to recognize that multi-racial unity had resulted in the aftermath of Susie's death but couldn't quite blame the cops. Instead his sermon was about making the "right choices," clearly directed at the father.
Liberal politicians like Maxine Waters (who attended the wake), Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and AL Sharpton (who came to the mass) are telling everyone to rely on the results of the "investigation" and/or the "Community Civilian Police Review Boards." The Police Department's Force Investigation Division and the Inspector General's Office are "investigating" the cops' actions. The district attorney's office will "monitor" the investigation. That's like saying that after the wolf eats the chicken, a wolf's council will investigate the incident. No report will ever justify racist murder.
The Civilian Police Review Board would have us believe the cops can be "reformed." But that can never happen because their job is to enforce poverty wages, exploitation, terror and scabs, while protecting the rich and their capitalist system.
These two murders come a month before the 40th anniversary of the Watts Rebellion, which erupted not far from this site at 116th St. and Avalon, during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. Today, amid another imperialist war, racism continues and intensifies. Rebellions and protests are good but in the course of these struggles we must win groups of youth and workers in the factories, schools, churches and the military to build a mass red-led movement to fight the real cause of racist terror and endless wars: capitalism. That's the goal of the communist PLP. Join us!
PLP'ers joined the picket line with CHALLENGE and leaflets about the struggles of Boeing workers in Seattle, literature which the strikers gladly took. We told them, "We're here to support you and to say the workers at Boeing are in a similar struggle." Before finishing, one striker interrupted to say, "Wait. I want you to make this announcement to all the strikers."
While the workers picketed Raytheon and Boeing they chanted (in Spanish), "What do we want? Justice!" When we chanted, "The workers, united, will never be defeated!" the strikers became more enthusiastic and chanted that slogan.
They gave one of us their bullhorn. We emphasized the need to build the unity of all workers against all bosses' attacks. We added that the reason for these attacks was capitalist greed and the war in Iraq. We mentioned that whatever lessons they draw from their strike will benefit all workers.
The strikers applauded. Some gave their names. Then a striker told us, "It's true [as we had said] that workers' struggles have no borders. For example, in El Salvador a few families control all the wealth and the rest of us work for them." He gave us his name and requested our communist paper.
The janitors' union has over 9,000 members but some workers pointed out that the leadership is doing nothing to mobilize them to support the strike, nor to organize support from the machinists either. They emphasized the need to build a labor movement in which solidarity is the key principle.
Such a movement must be built on the communist principle that all workers have the same class interests and need to act as a class against the bosses' class dictatorship. Ultimately, the lasting victory in this or any other strike is the growth of the revolutionary movement, of Progressive Labor Party, whose goal is to destroy exploitation with workers' power, communism. We urge workers and students to go to the picket lines and support these workers.
"Let them try to take this from me..." one worker warned when, true to form, IAM union hacks snatched our leaflets from workers' hands. Workers know if the hacks are trying to keep it from them, it must be in their interest.
Many evening visits and contacts were made with workers and soldiers. We focused on working-class solidarity, particularly among industrial workers concentrated at Boeing aerospace. The machinists' contract expires soon and last week saw the ritual strike-sanction vote. While the union sells out the workers every contract, this year there's an oil war and massive cutbacks, as well as the Boeing sale of their Wichita plant (see CHALLENGE, 7/6 and 7/20). PLP is exposing the union hacks' sellout, while winning workers to see that only PLP and revolution can truly end exploitation and war.
Project volunteers spoke with workers streaming in and out of the strike-sanction vote. We cited the need for a militant labor movement, but concluded that the only long-term solution to cutbacks and sellouts is a revolutionary movement destroying the profit system. A concerted effort on our part and a marked increase in class solidarity, led by communists, can fight the worsening attacks on workers.
We were inspired to see that a group of "concerned workers" had circulated a petition at the strike sanction vote calling for a new labor movement based on anti-racism and working-class solidarity. We heard one worker declare, "Everyone sign this petition! Workers Solidarity!" One petitioner said over 240 workers signed. We applaud these workers and fight for them to hear our revolutionary line. After all, the only choice in the present crisis -- with attacks from all sides on workers' livelihoods -- is to stand together as a class and use the power we have to halt production and halt the flow of profits into the pockets of the ruling class.
In the plants (average age is 52), a 60-year-old Boeing worker exclaimed, "I never thought I would be reading a communist leaflet...and agreeing with it!" He said his only hang-up was the word "communism" at the end. After a discussion with a friend, he read the Seattle General Strike article from PL magazine and wants to see PLP's documents, Road to Revolution III and IV. He planned to pay for and distribute a leaflet on the company's and the union's lies.
At the end of the first week, Boeing workers and Project youth attended a forum to learn from the experiences of a seasoned veteran of the class struggle. He described a railroad strike in the sixties in which the workers, through mass agitation and years of concentrated development of class consciousness, led by communists, were able to halt all freight transport throughout New York City in defense of 660 railroad tugboat strikers. Truck drivers, freight handlers and electricians banded together to respect the strikers' picket lines and stop all scabbing -- not one worker crossed the lines.
We also heard from a young worker from a local Boeing subcontractor (with thousands of workers) describe how work was being sent from Boeing union shops to hundreds of non-union subcontractors. In contrast to older Boeing workers, these subcontractors hire mainly young black and Latin immigrants, half of them women. The worker explained the necessity of -- and our ability to -- organize for revolution in such shops.
Both speakers inspired us to see the need and possibility of influencing industrial workers, especially in the non-union shops that capitalism is forcing onto the working class.
In the remaining week, we'll be out at the plants mornings and afternoons distributing CHALLENGES and leaflets with our communist analysis and talking to workers eager for a new direction in the class struggle. The latter may be a long one but we can and must win it, and we've done a good job moving it forward this week!
Daily outside the convention hall, comrades and friends distributed PLP flyers, totaling over 5,500, and 800 CHALLENGES. Teachers were very receptive. They began asking, "What's today's flyer about?" Four different flyers covered the war in Iraq, prison construction, "Let Us All March Against Racist Budget Cuts" and "It's Not Just Bush and Arnold, It's War and Capitalism."
They opposed the NEA leadership's line of blaming Republican politicians for capitalism's problems and challenged them to lead all 9,000 delegates to Governor Schwarzenegger's office on July 5 to protest $2 billion in state education budget cuts. Although they planned a hand-picked delegation of 300, 3,000 eventually joined the march.
Later we erected a banner inside the convention center where exiting delegates could read: "Capitalism leaves every child behind." This stood for 20 minutes, receiving favorable comments from several delegates before security intervened. We also organized a well-attended PLP Forum, which included members, friends and delegates new to our ideas.
Shortly after returning from the convention, a study group examined how reform and revolution are both united and contradictory. As communists we participate in both processes, but reform builds capitalism and revolution destroys it. Actually we had been applying these concepts daily, as we tried to move delegates to the left in caucus and floor discussions.
For example, asking 50 delegates to sign a petition enabled us to introduce New Business Item (NBI) 39, which asked the NEA to "encourage its state and local affiliates to organize job actions in alliance with public employee unions and organizations....in response to massive cutbacks in funding for schools, healthcare, housing, and other social services caused by the war budget." The maker of the motion and our delegates speaking for it attacked the imperialist nature of the war in Iraq, described its burden on the working class and called for working-class unity in fighting these attacks on our class. While NBI 39 was defeated, it led to sharper discussion with many friends about the nature of the system.
Our speeches on the floor and in caucus meetings sparked a higher level of political response from delegates. However, we should have exposed the bosses' plans to recruit green-card soldiers for their imperialist war when a resolution about the DREAM Act demanded that "legalization [must] not be used as an incentive for or be dependent on military service." We also could have better explained that 70% of the prison population is non-white because the ruling class is intent on jailing the unemployed and young working-class men who are potential rebels against capitalism's racist attacks. As we return home to our study groups, the collective struggle with PLP's members and friends will help us all take advantage of the openness of our friends to the Party's ideas.
The heads of five "insurgent" unions, with about one-third of the Federation's members, have two main demands they agree on: more power for themselves in an Executive Committee of select larger unions; and a 50% rebate on the dues they pay to the central Federation. Now consider who these "leaders" are:
* Joe Hansen, president of the UFCW (United Food & Commercial Workers) with 1.4 million members, has a resumé that includes destroying the strike and the union of meatpackers in Local P-9 who fought Hormel in the mid-1980's. Hansen plotted with the strike-breakers against a militant rank and file, becoming trustee of the local and then expelling the workers' elected leaders, offering unconditional surrender to the company and seeing to it that none of the strikers ever returned to work. Hansen screwed up the Southern California grocery strike and today pushes 2-tier contracts while gaining new members by making sweetheart deals.
* Andrew Stern heads the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the biggest in the AFL-CIO with 1.8 million members. Recently he spent $65 million of his poor members' money to try to elect John Kerry. One of his right-hand men, Steve Lerner, headed up the failed campaigns to organize the strawberry pickers and the Las Vegas building trades. Stern distinguished himself by promising corporations help in lobbying state regulators in exchange for union recognition. He is most aggressive at applying trusteeships, stripping power from a huge number of locals, a la Hansen at Hormel. He "organized" 70,000 Illinois health care workers by getting exclusive AFL jurisdiction and making a deal with Democratic Governor Rod Blagoievich in exchange for helping him get elected in 2002.
* James Hoffa, son of the infamous "Jimmy," whose Teamsters has 1.4 million members is close to the most reactionary and corrupt elements in that union. He stands out as pusher for oil drilling in the Artic and attacking reform-minded rank-and-filers. He collaborated earlier this year with the bosses at Tyson Foods to decertify his own union's Local 556 in Pasco, Washington. Its 1,500 members were bombarded with Hoffa's attacks on the local leadership, threatened with plant closure and forced workers to vote twice on a sellout before they capitulated.
* Bruce Raynor and John Wilhelm, president and hospitality division chief respectively, of the merged UNITE-HERE (apparel, laundry and hotel and restaurant workers), with 450,000 members. Raynor never fought the shakedown artists in UNITE's garment locals and essentially abandoned the country's sweatshops as a "lost cause," giving free rein to some of the most exploitative bosses in the U.S. Raynor's number two man, at UNITE, Edgar Romney, has run the union sweatshops in New York where contracts were never upheld, labor standards were violated and members lost wages and overtime pay. Wilhelm has never purged Mob influence from HERE.
* Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers with 800,000 members, has never worked in the trades, owes his position to his father who was union Secy.-Treasurer and ran it like a fiefdom jointly with the Mob, who the younger O'Sullivan has never cleaned out.
So these are the "insurgents" challenging the Old Guard. With "friends" like these, the rank and file doesn't need enemies.
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The terrorist attack (7-7) occurred a day after London won the 2012 Olympics and in the middle of the imperialist G-8 summit meeting in Scotland. Tony Blair returned to London from the meeting while Bush condemned terrorism. All the world's big bosses have condemned this attack. How hypocritical! These same bosses are responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of workers and their families worldwide due to wars, poverty, starvation, lack of decent health care, mass unemployment, racist police brutality, and more -- all created by a capitalist system driven by the need for maximum profits. This is mass terror.
There are already many rumors about who was really responsible for this terrorist attack. The London Times (7/17) reported that MI5 (British domestic spy agency) had one of the terrorists, Mohammed Sidique, under investigation. Previously, the cops had said they didn't know any of the terrorists. But apparently, they knew Sidique and let him go because they considered him non-dangerous despite his connections with reactionary Islamic groups. So, conspiracy theories abound about who is really behind these terrorists. A French intelligence leak reported that MI5 had said that, contrary to other terrorist acts, military explosives were used on 7-7.
What is not a conspiracy theory is that all these groups are fighting for the control of the oil profits of the Middle East and Central Asia. They include Al Qaeda that represents Saudi bosses who want to break with Exxon-Mobil; MI5 representing BP-Amoco and Shell; Mossad representing Israeli bosses; and Pakistan's drug-dealing Inter-Service Intelligence service.
We live in a world full of danger for the international working class. Imperialist war for control of oil and other resources has put millions at risk, from New York to Madrid to Baghdad to Kabul to London. We in PLP condemn all forms of anti-working class terrorism, whether by individual terrorists or the terror hi-tech bombing by B-52s and cruise missiles, or the racist-fascist backlash against Moslem workers and youth.
While the G-8 bosses have condemned the London attack, don't hold your breath if you think the imperialist rivals of the U.S.-UK war in Iraq will help Bush-Blair in their troubles there. The rivalry among the imperialist blocs is sharpening. These bosses have inflicted war and tremendous terrorism on the world's workers and their families. The only way to smash all forms of capitalist terrorism is to fight for a world without any bosses, a world run by and for workers: communism!
With this reform, U.S. rulers are also aiming to further stem the flow of immigrants by eliminating one of the main reasons they've been forced to stay here and bring their families: inability to travel abroad. The H-5B bill will allow workers in the program, and their families, to travel freely back and forth. But most important, they hope this bill would win many immigrants and their children to join the military. If this fails, when a draft is reinstituted, millions of these workers will be forced to enlist or face deportation.
This policy follows the mandate of United We Serve in which U.S. rulers' strategic thinkers advocated the need to integrate millions of undocumented workers and their children into the system, to foster their patriotism and consequent willingness to fight and die for U.S. imperialism. As U.S. rulers' need for more "boots on the ground" in Iraq grows, so grows their desperation. Articles in both the N.Y. and LA Times have promoted allowing undocumented workers to serve in the military in exchange for U.S. citizenship.
Behind their "humanitarian" facade of "caring" for the immigrants' plight and "safeguarding" wages and jobs for U.S. workers, U.S. bosses are creating slave-like conditions for millions of immigrant workers. This includes legislation like the Real ID Act, which establishes uniform standards for state driver's licenses. It effectively creates a national ID card (resembling South Africa under Apartheid) to better control the population, supposedly aimed at possible immigrant "terrorists." It intensifies the fascist conditions U.S. rulers will use to try to stifle the struggles of all workers against racist cutbacks, unemployment and imperialist wars.
Both the open and the liberal racists are the enemies of the whole working class. Relying on "lesser-evil" liberal politicians who back expanded wars and low-wage war production is a deadly trap. Racism will be ended when a united working class revolts and eliminates its source: capitalism. The rulers' biggest fear is the growth of a massive alliance of exploited industrial workers, students and soldiers to fight for power for the whole working class. That is the road to victory.
The same week, the Wall Street Journal ran a story "Banks Open Doors to New Customers: Illegal Immigrants." It also detailed the trend to grant mortgages to undocumented workers, saying they're good risks because they make payments on time.
The LA Times ran a story (7/3) on the benefits immigrants supply to the economy, saying, "Immigration is part of the DNA of America, and its as necessary as ever." It favored the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005," sponsored by Senators McCain, Kennedy and others.
The bosses' media haven't just "discovered" that undocumented immigrants make huge profits for the bosses. But the liberal rulers now argue for a combination of "amnesty," winning immigrants to feel part of the U.S., to be patriotic, and have them and their children work for slave-labor wages in the arms and other industries, this is especially important since many industrial workers among the tens of millions of baby boomers are about to retire.
The bosses have always known they could make super-profits from immigrants' labor. Now they need them also for war. We shouldn't be fooled. The liberal imperialists are even more dangerous than the openly fascist Minutemen but slicker. All these racist bosses are the enemy of all workers. Our allies are workers and soldiers of all backgrounds, whose class interests sharply contrast with those of the imperialist exploiters.
Supporters of the opposition parties -- the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) -- organized the action. The so-called opposition party CUD is a pseudo-left and nationalist assortment. The UEDF is composed of feudal remnants and their cronies who fled to England and the U.S. in 1972 when Haile Selassie was deposed by the Dergue (military Junta led by Mengistu, who sided with Moscow against the U.S. in the rivalry among the superpowers back then). Both of these reactionary bourgeois parties claim the election was fraudulent, as if they have different agendas for the working class. There's no difference between the current rulers and these so-called opposition parties.
Jane Gaffney, U.S. State Department director for East Africa, said the election was "fair and free and non-violent," but after the government murdered 36 people, she "condemned" the violence because their puppet embarrassed them. The European Union, which monitored the elections, declared there were significant irregularities, while Gaffney called the balloting "very impressive."
The Ethiopian publication Nation online (6/11/05) reported, "Ethiopia's position is global geo-politics [which] could mean it escapes international scrutiny (it is a key U.S. ally in the anti-terrorism campaign)." This enables the government to crack down on any opposition by calling it "terrorism." So now we know what "anti-terrorism" means. Britain is also freezing its so-called aid to the Ethiopian government ($36 million). So rival imperialists are in the act.
The CIA helped the current government come to power in 1991, after deposing the military junta (a Russian client) that had ruled from 1973 to 1990. Originally called the Tigrai Liberation Front, after it took power it changed its name to the EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front), an umbrella disguise to cover its fascistic character.
For the working class and the oppressed masses there's no difference who's elected. The working class's only alternative to this murder, starvation, poverty, oppression and exploitation is to fight against capitalism by establishing the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party. Only communists represent the interests of the workers in the fight to emancipate our class from exploitation.
The extremely popular "Command & Conquer" series of strategy games allows gamers to "experience" leading an imperialist power as they build giant armies to conquer other nations. One of the most popular installments, "Red Alert," puts the gamer into the middle of World War II. Only this is an imagined version where the allied forces utilize time travel to kidnap a young Hitler so the German military can ally with Britain and France to fight Stalin and the Soviet Union in the 1940's. By doing this, the game makers switch the roles of the USSR and Nazi Germany in the gamer's mind. As the game progresses, Stalin is revealed to be a mere puppet controlled by "Kane" who represents pure evil and turns the USSR into the "Land of Nod" (the mythical area outside of the Garden of Eden where wickedness dwelled).
The games' premise reflects the anti-Soviet trend in U.S. universities that accuses the USSR of being "worse than the Nazis" and labels Stalin as history's most evil man. These lies are pounded into workers' heads so they'll forget that it was the Soviet Union which wiped out the scourge of Nazism during WWII.
To the current ruling-class academic, the USSR and all it represented (workers' power, anti-imperialism, and anti-capitalism) are the real evils. It's important to remember that in the 1930's, other imperialist states supported German fascism in the hope it would fight the USSR. Not until the Nazis invaded France (a fellow imperialist) did other imperialist powers make any effort (small as it was) to stop the Nazis.
By implying that without Hitler, Germany would not have fallen to fascism, the games' creators are also saying that "great men," not masses of people, make history. Fascism, like imperialism, is a natural outgrowth of capitalism, not the actions of one man. When dealing with the Soviet Union, the game not only spreads lies about Stalin, but erases the role of Russian workers and peasants in defeating the Nazi armies. The game implies that working people are too weak, too dumb, or both to resist such "great" leaders. This same belief in individualism and the fear that workers couldn't be won to communism undermined many working-class movements in the past.
"Command & Conquer's" latest effort, "Generals," continues with more of the same. This game pits the Chinese, the U.S. and the GLA, (an imagined terrorist organization of Middle Eastern origins) against one another. It sees the three sides as imperialist powers that fight one another in order to expand their empires.
This game intensifies the level of violence. The intro to the game assures us that "in the modern world leaders use words to solve their disputes...words like `scud launcher' and `carpet bombing.'" It portrays B-52's carpet bombing houses while people run in terror; a scud missile smashes into a crowded market. Your tanks roll through towns, running over people who happen to get in the way, and civilians run away screaming as artillery barrages destroy city blocks. Such acts of violence against civilians were not available in previous games. These images are both a sign of people's willingness to accept this kind of violence and a tool for U.S. culture makers to prepare people for the slaughter that accompanies real imperialist conflicts.
One sign of the power of these games is that the Army now uses a combat simulation game similar to these commercial games to recruit youth, showing them that the army is "cool." Perhaps these kids think that if they join the "Army of One" they can be a "great man" too, just like in the game.
To combat such indoctrination, we must constantly remind workers of our true history and the great accomplishments of workers' power in the last century. We must expose the anti-working class nature of individualism and the "Great Man" theory by showing that it is the masses of people working together for a common goal who make history, not individuals.
What appeal do these games have for workers? Is it the feeling of power they give the gamer after a hard day of being exploited and feeling powerless on the job? Is it that the mind-numbing effects of video games help one forget -- for a night -- the situation facing the working class? Is it that we have internalized enough ruling-class ideology that we are "amused" by imperialism and fascism and the violence they create? Or do we simply want to permanently escape reality and feel like we can be one of the rulers?
We must answer these questions if we are to provide an effective defense against these opiates of the masses.
The bosses understand that almost all good ideas are held by those who actually engage in the practice of production -- the workers. Makes you wonder which worker(s) actually came up with the idea for the movable assembly line that made Henry Ford famous as an inventor.
Indeed, major business consulting firms are now teaching bosses how to reap the benefits of workers' knowledge. They preach that since the bosses own the workers' hands for eight or more hours a day, tapping their brains comes at no extra charge. They preach that only a small percent of ideas are held at the top of the corporate structure. The further down the structure you go the more knowledgeable and smarter people get. No kidding. I've actually attended such corporate consultant meetings.
In any case, in a communist society there'd be no obstacles to putting innovative ideas into practice. No worker would be laid off and there'd be no boss to profit. Only the workers would benefit, both those in the plant as well as those throughout society.
We can see how this worked in the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China when communists were in the leadership. For one example out of thousands, Chinese workers at a steel plant invented the process of cold rolling, now used all over the world. They met regularly during work-hours to discuss everything from political issues and relationships among the workers to the production process and how to improve it. Of course, improvement to them did not mean increasing profits, since there were no profits to be made for a boss (only steel). Rather, improvement meant increasing the amount of steel they could make in a particular amount of time and making the job easier to accomplish with fewer workers so that others could be freed to do other jobs.
Under communism, once the bosses and their murderous imperialist profit system are eliminated, no capitalists will be around to steal the fruits of workers' labor and ideas. No capitalists will be around to prevent the workers from taking time out to meet, discuss and think, let alone go to the bathroom, rest or eat lunch. Under communism the sky will be the limit in what the world's working class can accomplish. After all, as even business consultants understand, the workers are the ones who possess almost all the knowledge about production.
In the course of a review covering two-thirds of two full pages, nowhere is it ever mentioned who won this war! If someone from outer space came to the Earth and read this opus to find out what happened in World War II, they would have to conclude that Hitler beat the Soviets. The review never states what actually happened.
Ferguson, therefore, never quite explains how Stalin and the Soviet leadership was able to convert this "greatest military defeat in Russian history" into a war that not only stopped the Nazis cold at the gates of Moscow; not only produced what is accepted even by Western historians as the turning point of World War II when the Red Army smashed the German 6th Army at Stalingrad; but somehow was able to drive one of the most committed armies the world has ever seen all the way back to Berlin. This is never mentioned in the book review, and presumably in the three books themselves.
Ferguson doesn't explain this because, seemingly, it never happened. He also fails to contrast the Red Army's achievements with the six-week collapse of France's military and government, not to mention the rest of Western Europe.
Somehow he sees a "demented" Stalin as "assum[ing] that the capitalist powers...were more interested in the destruction of the Soviet Union than in the destruction of Nazi Germany." The anti-communism of this reviewer knows no bounds. For that is precisely what Britain, France and the U.S. were aiming for: Hitler to destroy the world's first workers' state. U.S. President Truman even said he hoped the Nazis and the Soviets "would bleed each other to death."
Ferguson "concludes" that it is hard "to conceive how World War II might have turned out if Stalin had not trusted Hitler." [!] But Ferguson never says how it did turn out -- the smashing of the Nazis along a 2000-mile-long front, occupying 80% of the German army, and saving the West.
No wonder Ferguson can't figure out that -- despite 50 years of an anti-Stalin orgy, from Khrushchev to Gorbichev to Yeltsin to Putin -- "53 percent of Russians still regard him [Stalin] as a `great' leader," according to a 2003 poll by the Russian Center for Public Opinion (which Ferguson appears to accept). Truly, no matter how huge their lies and distortions, the apologists of capitalism can always top themselves.
My son will never receive justice under capitalism. Even if the police were caught on tape killing him, the chances are high that they'd escape punishment. I live on the other side of the country and have no base of support to mount any movement to avenge my son's murder in the area where the police killed him.
The Michigan police are the same as the police everywhere. They exist to serve the interests of the ruling classes. Part of that "service" consists of terrorizing the working class. What we all can do is organize to destroy the ruling class and their police forces. Get a job in basic industry or join the military. These are the places where the bosses are most vulnerable and where we can organize to finish off capitalism.
I dream about killing the police who ended my son's life and hope some day I'll be able to do it. But I know what's most important for victims of capitalism worldwide -- those that have been killed and we workers who are still alive and fighting -- is organizing to fight them collectively as a working class. Build and fight for communism!
Angry Fighting Parent
A Summer Projecteer
During the evening there were several political discussions. Some asked to be informed of future events and protests; a few new people decided to join upcoming study/discussion groups.
The event's outcome further reveals that these punk youth, with all their frustration, are incredibly full of potential. All they need is some attention and direction. Instead of shoving them to the sidelines because they may be "cynical" or "just trying to be different or rebellious," we should talk to them as we do to any other potentially fighting youth.
Self-critically, I laughed at Chappelle when I first saw him, but then I analyzed what he was really saying, and it's not O.K., since he reinforces racist stereotypes, dividing people. Is it funny to say that it's now the "Arab's" turn to suffer racism since other groups have suffered such for centuries? NO! Racism should not be tolerated in any form, nor is it anyone's "turn." Are crack addicts a joke? NO! It's a serious disease caused by capitalism's corruption and inequality. Classism is not funny, nor is sexism (every other word out of Chappelle's mouth is the B-word). Just because he and Mencia are people of color doesn't make it O.K. for them to use racial slurs or poke fun at African Americans, Muslims or Latinos.
Some friends have said that these shows are a good way to start talking about race and gender with those we're trying to influence. I disagree. A better way is to bring someone to protest a Minuteman or Nazi rally! These demonstrate exactly what racism is (ugly and sick!) and how we do something positive about it and oppose it with our class analysis. Showing someone the reality of this hatred and racist slander is the best way to open discussion, not by making jokes. Emmett Till's mother wasn't laughing, Matthew Shepard's family didn't make jokes, and the countless other families of victims of police brutality, police murders, hate crimes and lynching were not smiling.
These shows get air time to promote divisive stereotypes. Just as the kkkourts protect the kkkops who protect the Nazis, the ruling class protects and promotes this kind of hate and racist thought through its propaganda and TV "programming." As long as we're divided, we'll always be defeated. The actions in Yorktown and New Jersey (see CHALLENGE, 7/20) are great ways to fight racism as well as organize to destroy the murderous capitalist system that fosters it. I applaud all those who participated in those actions and showed the fascists and racists what they're up against. Racism, sexism, fascism -- capitalism is the disease. Multi-racial, unified, militant workers and students, women and men, young and old, PLP --- communism is the cure! Not a step back!
There is uneven development among comrades; we all have our strengths and weaknesses which are to be discussed with our clubs in criticism and self-criticism -- including Mike! If CHALLENGE continues to use Mike's name in articles, we risk making him a Party icon and elevating him above other members. All of us contribute to the Party in different ways; all of our work is important.
In combating individualistic ideology, let us look up to Mike's strengths and accomplishments rather than to Mike himself. Remember, in our history of struggling against cults of personality (such as those that were created around Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, often against the desires of these leaders), we decided to never sign our articles or letters, since all such items are social products, not individual ones. It's the same with "individual" accomplishments; they're really accomplishments of all of the people, activities and organizations that influenced, strengthened and taught that one "individual."
"It interests me," I replied, "that if you combine the right ingredients in the correct proportions, your cooking turns out fine. That's science." And so it is with the science of making communist revolution.
A good friend who helped win me to PLP 30 years ago told me, "Do something every day that helps lead to communist revolution, even it it's only distributing one CHALLENGE." I've always remembered those words, because -- as in science -- quantity leads to quality. Every bit we do counts!
What does scientific analysis mean? Objectivity and collectivity are paramount in assessing the situation in the world, in the community and on the job. We must figure out the contradictions. It's important to assess the quantity and quality of our friendships: How many are political? How many took CHALLENGE? How many are involved in struggles? Can these reform struggles help bring out the contradictions which will lead to revolutionary consciousness?
Many of us were recruited to PLP during the mass reform struggles around civil rights and against U.S. imperialism's invasion of Vietnam. But the ruling class maintained state power and stole almost all these reforms from the workers. It's up to our class to scientifically analyze which are the correct ingredients which will lead to communist revolution.
From the Paris Commune to the Russian and Chinese revolutions, workers have moved the struggle forward. We have a world to scientifically analyze, and a better world for all workers to win!
Keep up the good work in CHALLENGE.
West Coast reader
Socialism is basically a class system utilizing state capitalism. It could have even eliminated currency and cash and the state capitalists would still have been able to appropriate labor power to further their interests, privileges and power because they, their class system and ideology had become dominant in the communist parties. If we don't learn that lesson and struggle now to make sure bourgeois and revisionist ideas and values have no place in the Party and among the working class, we could defeat ourselves and negate any opportunity for revolution. Under communism workers will still create surplus value in their work but it will, as the reader says, be used for the collective needs of the working class.
I like the new "Under Communism" column since it helps answer many of our doubts of how communism will work. Many friends have asked me, "If communism is so good, why doesn't it exist anywhere?" -- that it's like a dinosaur which we will never see again. When I can't respond, this column is very helpful.
I hope the column will deal with my main interest, rural areas under communism, since in countries like El Salvador they contain the majority of the exploited population -- many of whom have emigrated to the U.S. searching for jobs.
Fight for communism!
The trouble is there is nothing in the last paragraph that could not just as easily be said from Falluja as it could from London...with more that 1,000 people killed or injured, half its housing wrecked and almost every school and mosque damaged, what Falluja went through at the hands of the US military, with British support, was more deadly. But they should be compared. Our blood is no redder, our backbones are no stiffer, nor our tear ducts more productive than the people in Iraq and Afghanistan....
Invading Iraq clearly made Britain a target. (GW, 7/21)
I trust that my evidence is now on the historical record and that John Brown will be granted a special place in the pantheon of enlightened Americans who demanded justice for people of all ethnicities.
David S. Reynolds (NYT, 7/10)
Few would deny that one of the things Africa needs is investment. But investment by many multinationals has not enriched its people but impoverished them. The history of corporate involvement in Africa is one of forced labor, evictions, murder, wars, the under-costing of resources, tax evasion and collusion with dictators. Nothing in ... the Growth and Opportunity Act imposes mandatory constraints on corporations....
From now on, the G8 would like us to believe, these companies will be Africa's best friends....
At the Make Poverty History march the speakers insisted that we were dragging the G8 leaders kicking and screaming toward our demands. It seems to me that the G8 leaders are dragging us dancing and cheering towards theirs. (GW, 7/21)
"It's unfair. We had nothing to do with growing coca."
The fate of the Vargas family is shared by thousands of farmers living under the flight paths of US-sponsored aerial fumigation programmes....
Aerial fumigation also raises health concerns...Medical records from a local hospital show a significant increase in skin and eye irritations, fever, abdominal pains and respiratory problems among patients living in fumigated areas....The US government disagrees.
In addition to the health and environmental effects of glyphosate, crop spraying is useless ....A US embassy spokesperson said...the amount of coca in Colombia was virtually unchanged....But aerial fumigations will continue... (GW, 7/14)
General Zhu said he believed that the Chinese government was under internal pressure to change its "no first use" policy....
"We Chinese will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese." (NYT, 7/15)