Liberal Democrats Are Also Warmongers: Bush Carrying Out Rulers Iraq War Plans
Workers Need Red Politics, Not AFL-CIO Pro-Boss Hacks
Anti-war? Not These AFL-CIO Traitors
The Problem Is Capitalism, Not Immigrants
From U.S. To England, Racist Attacks Continue
Immigrant Workers Fight Racist Attacks
Coal Country Coalition in Solidarity with Nurses Aides Picket Line
United Airline Picket Agrees: We need a revolution...
Change-to-win SEIU Hypocrites Turn Backs on Home Health Care Workers
PLPS Songs On CD
Bible Group Moves Against War, Fascism
PLP Forum Makes Plans to Step Up Fight Against Racism
Small Schools: A Losing Lesson For The Working Class
Homeless Dying In Oppressive Heat Is Capitalist Murder
Killing Immigrants A Capitalist Sport
Workers Power Wont Come Via Chavezs Socialism
Communist ideas are alive and well as long as were fighting back...
Mexicos Drug Cartel War Nets Huge Profits For U.S. Banks
Movie Review: The Fourth World War
BBC Polls: Marx Tops All Philosophers
Under Communism: Can You Have Both Wealth and Health?
Red Vet Says, What You Do Counts
Collectivity Conquers Fear
Rockers Raise $ For Anti-Racists
Communist Art Celebrates Workers
Attack on Lynne Stewart A Fascist Step
Pakistani Comrades Teach Their Youth
Strikes Spread in Italy
Fighting Racism Builds Internationalism
RED EYE ON THE NEWS
Spokesmen for the liberal wing of U.S. rulers are talking out of both sides of their mouths about the bloody quagmire their masters created in Iraq. At times, they openly preach the liberals imperialist agenda and call for putting more boots on Iraqi soil now and mobilizing for greater conflicts later. At others, they seek to shift the blame onto bloodthirsty neo-cons, while portraying liberals as peaceniks.
Liberal mouthpieces in government, think-tanks, and the media have been pushing two related big lies lately. First, an energy policy directed by liberals rather than the Bush gang would shrink U.S. dependence on imported oil and thereby eliminate the need for military action in the Middle East. The second lie: invading Iraq was all the neo-cons idea; what liberals really want is an exit strategy.
The liberal Brookings Institution claims it knows how to end oil wars: "If all new cars, pick-up trucks and SUVs had roughly one-third higher fuel economy, it would take less than 10 years to displace petroleum consumption equal to the amount the United States currently imports from Persian Gulf dictatorships. This would be fabulous for U.S. national security." (7/28/05)
But supplying the U.S. with oil is not the main goal of U.S. Mid-East military action; imperialism is. The U.S. wields its control of Persian Gulf oil as a weapon against its rivals. Relying largely on Saudi production, Exxon Mobil makes 70% of its sales outside the U.S. The firm has over 100 countries dependent to some degree on its tankers. Typical is Exxon Mobils recent deal to ship Saudi crude, under the U.S. Navys watchful eye, to a new $3.5-billion refinery in Chinas Fujian province. U.S. rulers hope to use this leverage, which depends on the U.S. war machines continuing Mid-East slaughter, to check Chinas industrial and military growth. Iraq is but one of the oil wars in the liberals deadly game plan. The N.Y. Times editorial (7/10) warning of a possible "takeover by Al Qaeda of Saudi Arabias government and oil reserves," said "the active-duty Army should be increased by about 100,000."
Employing oil and armed force to maintain the U.S.s top-dog status is the chief aim of the dominant liberal faction of U.S. policy-makers. But the liberal media hypocritically hold the neo-cons solely responsible. By demonizing them, Bob Herbert, in his New York Times column (7/28/05), shielded the real enemy, "The obsessive desire to invade Iraq preceded the Sept. 11 attacks Iran was also in the neoconservatives sights. The neocons envisaged U.S. control of the region (and its oil), to be followed inevitably by the realization of their ultimate dream, a global American empire. Of course it sounds like madness."
Time for a reality check. Recall that the "weapons of mass destruction" lie, the pretext for invading Iraq, originated with the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the New York Times. In 2000, while Clinton was stepping up his missile attacks on Iraq, the CFRs "ambassador in residence" Richard Butler, a former UN weapons inspector, published "The Greatest Threat," a book charging Saddam Hussein with developing a full range of nuclear, chemical and biological arms. In editorials and news reports, the Times constantly repeated the WMD lie. Early in 2003, a CFR task force declared "full-scale military operations will be necessary [unless] Hussein disarms Iraqs WMD program." The invasion came within months.
The Times Herbert wrote that Bush should "declare victory" in Iraq "and bring the troops home as quickly as possible." But the liberal rulers have other ideas. A CFR task force headed by Sandy Berger, Clintons national security adviser, and Brent Scowcroft, who allies with Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell, issued a report in late July drawing lessons from the Iraq quagmire. Called "In the Wake of Iraq: Improving U.S. Post-conflict Capabilities," it urged expanding the Army so that it can perform more "constabulary" duties in conquered nations undergoing "reconstruction and stabilization" by the U.S. It also said that, in addition to setting up police forces and law courts overseas, the U.S. should "establish coordinators for reconstruction-related programs in other agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture, Labor, and Health and Human Services."
In other words, the U.S. should take a page from the heydays of the British and French empires and establish full-fledged colonial armies of occupation and complete colonial civil administrations.
The liberals wont bring the troops home. Their doubletalk is meant to steer us away from attacking the real cause of their wars: imperialist rivalry inseparable from the profit system,
In a future article we will analyze the love-hate relationship between the U.S. and the Iranian mullahs. How Iranian agents like Chalabi and Allawi are now ruling Iraq.
CHICAGO, July 30 PLP conducted a week-long Summer Project here, starting with AFL-CIO pre-convention events the previous weekend. During the week we sold over 300 CHALLENGES the majority at Cook County Hospital and the Ford plant distributed 2,300 leaflets and made 12 contacts.
At the pre-convention session, to which rank and filers were allowed in, a contingent of youth and adults went to raise our ideas. Unfortunately, for the most part, we were forced to listen to hacks talking to hacks, as union bosses like President John Sweeney dished out their liberal pro-capitalist pro-war lies.
Many streaming in and out of the hall agreed with us that both this session and the convention itself would be shell games devoid of any real political content. The bosses media gave the big play to the so-called split between "opposing" sets of misleaders, two sides of the same sellout coin. (See CHALLENGE, 8/3.)
There was much talk about needing "diversity" in union leadership. But this was actually an empty call for token "representation" and "legitimacy" that completely ignored the real need to fight racist divisions and super-exploitation amongst workers.
Those fights occurred when communists led the unions in the 1930s. Unfortunately those same communists were sucked into fighting only for reform, not for revolution, and, without a political base to support them, eventually were ousted in the Cold War anti-communist drive of the late 1940s.
At the pre-convention session, the only real fighting spirit came from the floor. In response to the AFL-CIOs nationalism, a union steward boldly stated that "working people have no nation." Later a young comrade spoke up to reveal the true history of how workers won the rights the bosses have taken away and continue to take away today.
The AFL-CIO did nothing when 140,000 United Airline workers were faced with losing their pensions, while further attacks loom for 20,000 mostly black and Latin baggage handlers, supposedly union represented.
The pessimistic reformism of many at the pre-convention events sharply contrasted with the atmosphere at the rank-and-file-organized SEIU picnic later on Saturday at which many militant ideas were discussed with workers from Cook County and Michael Reese hospitals as well as at our dinner- forum on Tuesday. At the latter, a worker from the local Ford plant related an impassioned story about his struggle to revive militant opposition among assembly-line workers, where there is mass skepticism and fear that the union wont back them if they speak out against such lousy conditions as the lack of fans in an overheated workplace.
Other dinner participants jumped in about how their contracts (or lack of them) only help the bosses. One young friend of ours angrily reported how his post office job would last only 89 days one day short of admittance to the union. An industrial worker quickly seconded this story with a similar one.
We concluded our project on Friday night with an open mic. Many spoke about the need for revolution. There were lively arguments about what this would mean and about the potential to really change society. We also held a group discussion with many young workers (all non-union) focusing on the decline of the labor movement. The collectivity and inspiration of the night did much to show the potential of our movement and goal of a communist society.
When the AFL-CIO convention passed a resolution that supposedly opposed the war in Iraq, many anti-war "leftists" went wild applauding the union bureaucrats "historic" change from backing U.S. imperialism. Whos kidding who?
The resolution says the Iraqi elections expressed the aspirations of the people "to control their own destiny." Thats exactly the Bush administrations position. The U.S. military presence made sure that any new "government" didnt conflict with the U.S. ruling classs stake in controlling Iraqs oil. The union resolution agrees that troop "withdrawal" should occur "as soon as security is established," again the administrations position. It never mentions U.S. atrocities at Abu Ghraib, mass round-ups, huge destruction of cities like Fallujah and the deaths of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians.
But the real kicker exposing these fakers is the reference to the AFL-CIOs "proud history of solidarity with worker movements around the world in their opposition to tyranny." In reality, these pro-capitalist sellouts worked hand-in-glove with the CIA to set up anti-communist "unions" in scores of countries to suppress militant workers movements opposed to U.S. bosses interests. They supported every war launched by U.S. imperialism, from Vietnam to Grenada to Panama to the Dominican Republic to Nicaragua to the Middle East. And now they hypocritically proclaim their allegiance to the Iraqi people "controlling their own destiny."
Their "solidarity" still lies with the capitalists who they serve all the time.
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 1 Some anti-immigrant racists are turning their sights on this citys black community. The racist "Save Our State" (SOS) group brags theyve been invited to a "roundtable" discussion on Pacifica radio to be aired in a studio in South Central LA on August 20. Last week the LA Times reported some attendees at a meeting blamed immigrants for unemployment and racist conditions faced by black workers. Ex-police chief Bernard Parks weakly advocated the need for "coalitions," saying "we all have to get along."
Clearly the racist SOS and their financial backers, like billionaire Scaffe, want to drive a wedge between black and Latino workers with the lie that immigrants "cause" unemployment and low wages. Two weeks ago, black and Latin neighbors united in protest against the racist cop murder of 19-month-old Susie Lopez and her father. The rulers biggest fear is that workers of all backgrounds will unite against their system. When politicians like Parks call for multi-culturalism without placing the blame for low wages where it belongs, they want us to have confidence that this system will protect us.
Facts are stubborn things. GM Southgate and Van Nuys, Bethlehem Steel, Chrysler, Firestone and many other large manufacturers closed plants in the LA area in the 1980s, laying off tens of thousands of workers, many black, from the few relatively good-paying non-government jobs available to them. Then the rulers helped flood many neighborhoods with crack cocaine, destroying families and leading to the "war on drugs," actually a war on black and Latin youth. This created the worlds largest prison population, over two million, 70% black and Latin. To prevent rebellions, the racist U.S. rulers and their Democrat and Republican politicians imprisoned black workers in record numbers after closing factory after factory in cities like Los Angeles.
Since the 1980s many more unionized manufacturing jobs are gone. The Center for Labor Market Studies at Bostons Northeastern University reports that 2.7 million manufacturing jobs were lost in the last recession. Simultaneously, about 320,000 new jobs went to immigrants in the manufacturing sector, concentrated in Texas and Southern California. Further, the Labor Department reports that 7 of 10 jobs outsourced go to U.S. contractors, rather than overseas (although some jobs have also gone abroad). In order to compete with other capitalists, U.S. bosses have been sharply cutting wages and working conditions. Most industrial workers have been forced to work for suppliers or mini-mills. Millions of these workers are Latin or other immigrants. Most are non-union. The hours are long, the work is dangerous. (The Communist magazine, Spring 2005, p. 44).
Blaming immigrants for this situation is akin to the KKK blaming black workers for working for lower wages than whites when they moved to the north from the south to find work. Its the bosses their racism and their constant competition for maximum profits who force black and Latin workers to work for lower wages, slash better-paying jobs and produce more goods with fewer workers.
The solution is the opposite of the one proposed by the anti-immigrant racists (many of whom are open members of Nazi and racist skinhead groups who also hate and attack black workers). Its working-class unity against racist low wages and conditions, racist unemployment and most importantly, against the capitalist system that profits by dividing and weakening the working class. Immigrant and black and white workers all have the same class interest. On-the-job segregation and apartheid help the bosses lower all workers wages.
We need to build unity and a fighting movement against the racist profit system which is based on the exploitation of labor. We call on black, white, Latino, citizens and immigrants, to stand up to the racist thugs who spread lies and division. The unity we forge is needed against the major racists: the top U.S. bosses who preach "multi-culturalism" (like Parks) while instituting and enforcing racist wage differences, low wages, terrorizing us with their killer cops, and sending our youth to war for oil profits in Iraq. The multi-racial unity we need is not to support U.S. imperialism but to build a movement to destroy it with communist revolution.
The terror attacks in England have spawned a wave of racist attacks against immigrants and blacks in England. According to the BBC, since those attacks there have been 269 racist crimes reported compared to only 40 in the previous year in the same time period. Immediately after the July 21st bombing attempts the London police murdered an immigrant, Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes (memorial service above right). An 18-year-old black man, Anthony Walker(above left) was killed last Friday by a group of white men with an axe. The attacks have escalated so much that a leading Muslim cleric has advised Muslim women not to wear their traditional head scarves, the hajib.
Seattle Project Sparks Growth of Communist OrganizersSEATTLE, WA., July 31 Weve just completed another Summer Project here, and as always, its been a great experience. The difference this year was that younger student and worker leaders of our Party led, organized and carried it out. This challenged us with limited experience leading a SP, but we responded, selling 1,800 CHALLENGES (1,000 to industrial workers, 200 to the community and 600 to GIs) and distributing 4,100 leaflets (3,500 to workers and 600 to soldiers).
We focused on industrial workers and soldiers. Surprisingly, rising at 4:30 A.M. to sell CHALLENGE to workers in the plants was not as difficult as dealing with the unions stark anti-communism and misleadership. The latter was very antagonizing, especially for some of the younger volunteers whove had no trade union involvement. As the last CHALLENGE reported (8/5), the union "leaders" spent all their time trying to tear our leaflets from our hands, rather than organizing workers against the bosses recent 30,000 layoffs.
One night, we watched the movie "Matewan." We discussed the differences between the unions that were led by militant class-conscious workers in the early 1920s, filled with anti-racist solidarity. Today the union "leaders" spend their time and our money making deals and selling us out. Class consciousness and union membership are at an all-time low.
But unions and reformist movements can only do so much under a system based on the exploitation of the working class. As history has shown, without the necessary ideology, strikes and sit-ins will only win limited victories, if any. Now were considered lucky if we can retain our health care or pensions.
One SP cadre school reviewed the history of workers movements. (Others were held on dialectical materialism, democratic centralism, immigration and the history of rebellions in the military.) One workers struggle was the 1934 West Coast longshore strike which shut all shipping on the coast for three weeks and the simultaneous San Francisco general strike, where over 125,000 workers walked off the job and ran the city for four days when the cops killed four dock strikers. But because the bosses still held state power, eventually they were able to turn around any victories (converting the 30-hour week into 45 hours) and slashing jobs with containerization. Any gains are on the verge of being destroyed for the next generation of industrial workers.
Because unions operate within, and currently defend, the capitalist system, they inevitably sell out the workers, not even maintaining any gains. This is why our goal must be to smash the rulers state power and erect a communist-led workers state.
With all this in mind, our other SP focus was soldiers. Right now the bosses are using all military personnel to defend and maintain their imperialist goals. However, those soldiers will eventually have a choice: fight for the bosses or fight for your class. Therefore, twice a week we talked with soldiers and their families, having many great experiences (see CHALLENGE, 8/3). Everyone was inspired to continue this with soldiers and their families back home.
Our final forum of volunteers, Boeing workers and other young workers from the area emphasized the importance of what we had accomplished the past two weeks. As the out-of-town speaker on political economy explained, the sharpening economic, political and military conflicts among rival imperialists means building a base in these strategic areas among industrial workers and soldiers is crucial, not to mention the need for large numbers of student comrades who will be the future soldiers and workers.
All in all, we grew as communist organizers this summer. The real victory will be to continue the struggle throughout the coming year. Adelante! Forward!
FARMINGVILLE, NY, July 28 Two weeks after our militant confrontation with anti-immigrant racists á la Minutemen here (see CHALLENGE, 8/3), we were invited back to a vigil/march supporting the workers viciously evicted from their overcrowded homes deemed "fire hazards." As our multi-racial group of young people entered the rally area, many workers thanked us for returning. While our conversations were limited because not all of us spoke Spanish, the workers didnt seem to mind since the DESAFIO/CHALLENGE front-page told the stories of our Party fighting against racism and imperialism.
Marching, chanting and singing in Spanish with over 300 workers and supporters in the early evening hours inspired us with the feeling of workers power. Although much of the chanting and singing were nationalist in character, they told of workers uniting to struggle against the bosses and/or system that oppresses them. We interjected class-conscious chants which were quite popular, like "Workers, United, will Never be Defeated" and "The Workers Struggle has no Borders."
As we rallied at the end of the march, we spotted several anti-immigrant racists from two weeks ago videotaping and holding up anti-immigrant signs. While this was not the right time to confront them, as the anger of the laborers grows, along with our building ties among them, the gutter racists will get what they deserve.
Most of the speeches called for legality and equality to gain justice for workers under this system. We told workers standing nearby that even if the politicians build the centers for laborers they want, the only future capitalism has for immigrants and all workers is low wages, racist terror and endless imperialist wars (see page 2). The next day at a NYC meeting, Mayor Bloombergs Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Guillermo Linares, promised more centers, without making any concrete plans to build them.
The best speeches came from a militant woman who condemned racism against immigrants from California to Arizona to Florida to New York, and another from a man who blamed U.S imperialism for having created the poverty of these workers in the first place.
These workers shouldering the brunt of the systems racism are realizing how capitalism and racism go hand in hand. But liberal politicians and their agents are working very hard to build illusions that the system can help them. We must both support workers and bring them our communist politics, to turn their anger and struggles into fighting for their real emancipation from the horrors of capitalism and its racism.
EBENSBURG, PA., July 25 "We work to live, not live to work!" "I was hired to work eight hours, not 16!"
These were the sentiments of more than 50 nurses aides, mostly women, demonstrating at the Cambria County Courthouse here against forced overtime at Laurel Crest, the countys nursing home. Many of the aides not only work an extra four hours a day getting called in early or staying beyond their shift but end up working double shifts.
Members of the Coal Country Coalition, originally formed to battle the Klan in the Western Pennsylvania coal fields, joined this spirited workers protest, firstly to show our solidarity with the workers righteous cause, and secondly to talk with them about capitalism, workers power and the war in Iraq, hoping to raise the consciousness of some. We carried signs reading, "Its not just Bush, Its capitalism"; "Nows the hour for workers power"; and, "Iraq War: Rich mans greed, workers and poor bleed."
The workers, members of Local 1305, Laborers District Council of Western Pennsylvania, told us that forced overtime is causing them stress and leading to burnout. One workers sign stated: "Overwork seriously undermines workers health and safety." Another said, "Im burned out. I work 32 to 40 hours in overtime alone in a two-week period. I could do 60 hours (overtime) in one week if mandated. Its too much."
Still another woman, walking the picket line with her three children, stated, "Im here because I want them to see we have a life outside Laurel Crest."
Many workers asked us about our signs. We talked with more than a few, saying it was capitalism, the entire profit system, that was waging war on workers nationwide. Many agreed. We also pointed out that the war in Iraq was a rich mans war and that young workers and the poor were dying and being seriously wounded.
This protest reflected the fact that workers are fighting the ruling classs attacks on their working conditions, as the bosses attempt to take out the cost of the war on their backs. We must support these workers while presenting the communist solutions to their oppression in order to win them to PLP.
CHICAGO, July 30 "Save our pensions, smash the system!" is just one of the chants PLP led on the system-wide United Airlines flight attendants informational picket line today. We were invited by a flight attendant who got our leaflet and CHALLENGE at an AFL-CIO rally. "I do agree and Ive been saying this for a while. We need a revolution!"
Arriving at the picket line with signs reading, "An attack on some is an attack on all. When workers unite, the bosses will fail." "When bosses and unions are united (United logo), workers lose." Many workers enthusiastically took CHALLENGE and talked about communism, capitalism and whether reform led by the union can work.
One attendant took the paper and declared, "Thats why people become communists because people are just not valued, only money is."
NEW YORK CITY, July 29 "I dont know anything about the split. No one consulted us," said one 1199-SEIU delegate in the Nursing Home division. "What does that have to do with us?" asked another delegate in the Homecare Division. While the "Change to Win Coalition" has bombarded the media with its goals to supposedly "revitalize" the labor movement, its leader Andrew Stern and 1199-SEIU have turned their backs on their members.
Nursing home workers face an immediate increase of 21.5% in payments to maintain their Benefit Fund. The union says "no give-backs," but has submitted to arbitration, which will result in "some pain on both sides." Homecare workers earn between $7 and $9 an hour and work 24-hour shifts for 12 hours pay and a $16 night differential. The government and homecare agencies have jointly robbed most workers of time-and-a-half for overtime for 20 years.
1199-SEIU courts politicians crow about how they "understand" the "pain and sacrifice" of the mostly women, immigrant workers. While claiming to lead the charge against racist and sexist practices and poverty, theyve done nothing. Meanwhile most of the 200+ "unionized" agencies have cut workers hours to no more than 40 to avoid overtime pay, dropping thousands of household heads below the poverty line. The union says back overtime pay isnt its "priority." But the misleaders all want the sons and daughters of these workers to join the military to fight for U.S. imperialism.
Theres no end to the shameless hypocrisy of the bosses and their agents in government, unions, institutions and the media. Capitalism, a system of profits for the ruling class and exploitation and misery for the working class, must be overthrown. We need a communist society based on production and distribution for workers needs under working-class rule.
About a year ago a group of home attendants at the Personal Touch agency in Brooklyn filed a case with New York State Attorney General Elliott Spitzers office for back overtime pay. Recently they won a settlement for between $1 and $3 million, going back to 1998. According to a 5/26/05 memo from Family Home Care Services of Brooklyn and Queens, Inc., the court ruling in Coke v. Long Island Care at Home "removes the overtime payment waiver that home care providers such as us had."
A worker and her 1199 ESL teacher contacted the Attorney Generals office asking about back overtime pay for the rest of the 100,000 homecare workers at over 200 union agencies here. A labor division lawyer pretended to be surprised at the numbers. He told us the workers must report their cases individually or agency by agency, not for the whole industry. A small group of homecare workers is organizing workers to file cases, to protest at public appearances of the mayoral and gubernatorial candidates this fall and to get student support. We expect a long, difficult struggle.
To proceed PLPers know we must build mass class-consciousness and overcome passivity, fear and isolation of the homecare workers. Workers need to develop their own rank-and-file leadership and give up the illusion that union leaders and liberal politicians will save them. To create a core group of communist leaders among the workers weve formed two club/study groups, which include four home attendants. One has joined PLP. We have a readership and network distribution of 36 CHALLENGE-DESAFIOS. These small steps can lead to future advances. We must stay the course.
The 1970s PLP LPs "Power to the Workers" and "A World to Win" are now available on one CD. It includes songs by the PLP Singers in English and Spanish such as: "Unemployment Blues"; "Challenge, the Communist Paper"; "Bella Ciao"; "Señor Inversionista"; "Every Time I see a Cop, I think of Clifford Glover"; "The Song of the Deportees"; "The Internationale" and many more.Rekindle old memories and live new ones.
Send $10 payable to Challenge Periodicals, and mail to PLP, Box 808, GPO, Brooklyn, NY 11202
Recently our political Bible study group had an excellent discussion about the London/Egypt bombings. First we noted how the Roman rulers and their class collaborators in 1st century Israel created a climate of fear and repression for egalitarian radicals like Jesus. Then we compared that time of imperial oppression to the present.
The priest expressed sadness at the deaths and the vindication Bush and Blair would claim for their invasion and occupation of Iraq. Many felt frustrated that, besides the daily stress of surviving as black and Latino working people, we had to cope with the fear of terrorist atrocity. Support for the NYC detention/searches was implied. I admitted to sadness, and anger at the ruling class, but also a stunned sense of, "Well, theyll get away with this higher level of oppression without a fight." One more hours thought brought decades of communist training into play, and I began thinking (with the help of an excellent recent Party forum) of how we could take the offensive against fascism.
Our priest made an excellent analysis of how the cops new stop-and-search program could in NO WAY prevent terrorism because a well-prepared bomber could simply avoid one of the search points and move to an unguarded station. Several workers, along with myself and the priest, explained the thoroughly racist foundation of what is inevitably racial profiling, and the mass intimidation and docility it fosters. (A N.Y. Times editorial insisted the cops had to assure that "the appearance" of racial profiling must be avoided. But all the Times photos of searches were of darker-skinned or Asian people.)
We then criticized and rewrote a leaflet: "Go On the Offense: Against the U.S. Occupation of Iraq; Against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine; and Against Tightening Fascist Repression." Probably half of the ten involved wouldnt be ready to take even agitational action against the subway searches yet. But everyone participated actively in drafting the statement below. I trust that, with struggle, more will begin to test in practice what theyre beginning to understand of the Partys line. Excerpts follow:
The corporations and their servants who actually run the United States are facing growing crises in their bid to continue to dominate the world . The Iraqi occupation far from guaranteeing control of oil and a secure military foothold in Asia is more quickly degenerating into uncontrollable civil war. And the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is a cynical public relations move to cover expanded control of the West Bank. Thus, continuing terrorist attacks on the U.S. and its lackeys are inevitable.
Within the U.S. support for the war is slipping, and fewer young people are willing to fill the ranks . The ruling class is becoming more desperate in its need to intimidate and repress any and all opposition. The "random," inevitably racist, searches in New York area transportation centers are the next stage in a strategic campaign to develop fascist controls.
It is essential to expand the debate about these developments and to resist the searches in mass actions. We must also continue to mobilize support for Lynne Stewart, the courageous defense attorney who will be sentenced in September after a Patriot Act conviction designed to intimidate all activists.
NEW YORK CITY, July 23 Fifty people attended a Progressive Labor Party forum tonight and heard reports and communist analyses of the protest against the fascistic Minutemen in Bridgewater, N.J., the split in the AFL-CIO and the continuing struggle of home care workers for overtime pay. Each report referred to the main issues shaping todays world, imperialist war and the growth of fascism. The forums value was measured by the fact that many people gained a better understanding of some current events, and secondly, this encouraged two people to join PLP.
In the first report, two young people who had participated in the Bridgewater demonstration examined the nature of the Minutemen movement and our efforts to disrupt their recruitment meeting. Clearly the police have a zero tolerance policy of our efforts to confront these racists. The audience made generous contributions towards legal expenses for those protesters who were arrested.
Then a veteran red unionist compared the current split in the AFL-CIO to the one in the 1930s. He contrasted the world view of communist-inspired union activists then to the pro-capitalist business unionists of both camps in the current AFL/CIO "split." He noted that todays low percentage of unionization (12% of the work-force, compared to 35% 40 years ago) makes the unions less useful to the main, liberal wing of the ruling class and the Democratic Party. He also exposed the AFL-CIOs role as an arm of U.S. imperialism worldwide, citing examples from Latin America and Poland.
A young comrade then outlined our Partys strategic goal of building a base among industrial workers as a key force for revolution. She urged those present to consider devoting their working lives to achieving this goal.
In the last presentation, a veteran comrade and a home care worker teamed up to outline the racist super-exploitation of these mainly immigrant women. Listeners were horrified at their working conditions, involving long hours with no overtime pay, 24-hour shifts with flat rates of $16 for the overnight hours, and the low hourly wages chaining them to poverty.
During the discussion period, many questions and suggestions were directed to the home care worker in an effort to help that struggle. We also drew up a collective plan to fight the "random" searches in the NY/NJ mass transit systems.
NEW YORK CITY Many large public high schools here are being phased out for new "small" schools, comprising 125 students per grade. They will gradually become full four-year, 9-through-12 grade high schools of 500 students. These schools are housed in the same building as the large schools being phased out. Some of those buildings may contain three or four separate schools. As the process proceeds, the new small schools will take over the space the old large school has vacated.
As we will show, this change represents a further ruling-class attempt to increase their fascistic assault on the working class. As communists, with PLP leading the way, we must fight them on this critical battlefield for the minds of working-class youth.
Firstly, the rulers try to convince teachers that these new schools provide the mostly black and Latin inner-city children their only chance to learn. The racist nature of this move is revealed in the fact that schools in predominately white neighborhoods are not being forced into such reorganization.
Many teachers buy into the idea that they can design "their own school" the way they think it should be run. However, the realities of the education budget bring the teachers down to earth very quickly. Teachers work on curriculum, administration, etc., to design a school with a certain "theme." The bosses even have teachers disciplining other teachers to "improve student performance." The teachers can then remove a colleague who doesnt conform to the "theme" of the school's designers. Some of the teachers in the new schools say theyre told not to talk to teachers in the phase-out school because "they dont know what theyre doing." Supposedly their school is closing because their students flunked the state regents exams.
Secondly, the rulers are increasing their absolute control of the small schools. The latter have very small staffs maybe 15 to 20 teachers and support staff, secretaries, etc. Most are either first- or second-year teachers without tenure. Theyre asked to perform many different tasks, violating the union contract, tasks that a veteran teacher who knows the rules could refuse to do. The administration is everywhere. I observed one small-school principal go from room to room overseeing each teacher's lesson. The teachers must follow the pre-designed lesson plans issued from the central office or face disciplinary action. Capitalism in crisis uses fascistic methods to completely control whats being taught to future workers. Many of these small-school teachers have told me they dont protest their being overworked for fear of losing their jobs. The teachers union is doing little, if anything, to stop this abuse.
As in all working-class attacks in the schools, the students are the most exploited. Students and parents have been deceived into thinking that these small schools are somehow better for them. The school "themes" never really have anything to do with education. For example, the curriculum of the Stevie Wonder School of Music and Art, the All-City Leadership Academy or the Harbor School, dont resemble Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech or Bronx Science high schools. The new small schools take students on field trips at least once a week, or give them lots of lessons using videos instead of books. Ive seen many students rebelling by walking out of the classrooms, arguing with the staff and, unfortunately, fighting with each other. The structure of these schools is very loose, where many young working-class students need structured guidance in their formative years.
Communists believe all workers must be educated to help lead and run society. They must be able to read, write and think critically. The bosses' plans for working-class children are either war or slave labor jobs, negating any education beyond those bosses needs. It is on this critical battleground that we must wage many fights to win the hearts and minds of the working class to communism.
PHOENIX, July 24 "Im dying out here," declared a homeless man seeking shade while waiting for a handout meal and bottle of water. "The police are making us move all over the place. Where do they expect us to go?" (NY Times, 7/23)
So spoke one of the up to 20,000 homeless on the streets of this city during a month that saw 14 days of 110-degree temperatures and a week in which 21 people died due to the blistering heat. "When the temperature is 115 degrees," said a Phoenix Rescue Mission worker, "the pavement is 130 degrees and peoples feet are burned even through their shoes."
The actual death total "is probably much higher because heat is either not listed on the death certificate or listed only as a contributing factor." (Arizona Republic, 7/24) The bodies of the homeless are discovered in dirt lots and between buildings. Volunteers distributing water found some were too weak to move.
Why these needless deaths? Because Phoenix has barely 1,000 shelter beds and hundreds of them are available only in winter. And these shelters lie in the shadow of real estate valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
This utter disregard for the homeless who the profit system has thrown out on the street exists alongside a corporation/city government joint plan renovating downtown Phoenix to create a "business friendly" environment. The homeless are seen as a "nuisance" to be ignored or driven out entirely, their presence conflicting with the long-term business plan.
Of course, theres no profit to be gained in providing shelter for the homeless to protect them from the ferocious heat, so naturally a system based on profit will never build the shelters needed to prevent death. And since most of the homeless are workers who capitalisms mass poverty has dumped on the scrapheap in the first place, the bosses attitude is, "if they cant produce profits, let em die."
Workers need to heat up the class struggle to put an end to this hellish system.
Additional victims of this relentless heat are job-seeking immigrant workers trying to enter the U.S. because capitalism has created even more mass unemployment in Mexico. During this lethal 3rd week of July, 13 immigrants died near the Arizona-Mexico border because of the 116-degree temperatures. Many more died crossing the border in other areas.
While the police protect the racist Minutemen bent on attacking immigrant workers, the U.S. Border Patrol is arresting volunteers from the group "No More Deaths" who station themselves along the border to transport immigrants to receive medical attention. These Border Patrol agents claimed that the immigrants one of whom was vomiting blood and a 13-year-old boy who had severe blisters on his feet "did not seem sick." No wonder many consider the Border Patrol just like the Nazi Gestapo.
On July 22, DaimlerChrysler in Carabobo, Venezuela topped off six recent firings with two more, for trying to organize independently of the plants sellout union. Some workers wrote to Aporrea, a Venezuela news service:
"DaimlerChrysler, faithful to fascist and counterrevolutionary principles, once again attacks the working class This company gets foreign currencies from the national government for its operations and financed the failed coup attempt and bosses strike of 2002. It has been plotting against a group of workers who decided to break with the pro-COPEI (the Christian Democratic Party) which for 25 years has not allowed a free and democratic union election."
The fired workers were trying to organize into the UNT, a union federation which has broken with the sellout union (part of the old corrupt union movement which was and is still supported by the AFL-CIO and was active in the 2002 coup and other attempts to overthrow Hugo Chavez). The UNT has demanded rehiring the fired workers.
Venezuelas workers, as in the rest of Latin America, are fed up with the old pro-boss and pro-imperialist union hacks. But, as in this case, they believe Chavezs Bolivarian movement is the answer. Chavez recently called for "a socialism of the 21st century." This follows social-democracy á la Zapatero (Spains Prime Minister, head of his Socialist Workers Party). In essence, Chavezs socialism is state capitalism with some free-market capitalism. Workers will get some crumbs, but theyll still be exploited since capitalism in any form is based on extracting surplus value (profits) from labor.
But many workers understand socialism as being workers power, a real revolutionary anti-capitalist society where production serves the needs of all workers. History has shown us that the old socialist societies (of the Soviet bloc and China) led back to capitalism, so we need to fight for workers power under communism (no concessions to any form of capitalism). Following Chavez or a new set of reformist union leaders wont produce that. These revolutionary workers in Venezuela need to turn their struggles into schools for communism.
El Salvador "We must be convinced that we have to fight racist ideas." "How can I explain that among us poor farm workers, the one who owns a cow thinks hes more important than another farm worker?" "Racist attacks are a direct result of capitalist economics." These statements were part of a heated political discussion about capitalism and communism.
With light from a gas lamp on a beautiful star-filled night on a mountain, a new group of friends of PLP was meeting, including workers, youth, teachers and farm workers. The discussion centered on racism.
"Communist ideas are alive and well as long as were fighting Back," said the comrade leading the meeting. First we discussed the world situation, showing that racism wasnt a question of "races," but rather that capitalism needs it to divide workers. "Our own internal conditions are primary," said a young worker.
We reviewed PLPs fight to expose capitalisms puppets like Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Nelson Mandela and Koffey Anan. No matter what color their skin, if they serve the capitalists, theyre racists.
We also talked about the LAPDs murder of a Salvadoran immigrant and his daughter, two more in the long list of racist police murders. The Mayor of LA, Antonio Villaraigosa forgave the police. Then he invited San Salvador mayor, Carlos Rivas Zamora, and an FMLN group to his inauguration. They congratulated this social fascist mayor. "The devil created them and they join together," is a wise saying.
"I would have thought the laws of Dialectical Materialism would be very difficult to understand, but now that weve been discussing the law of contradiction, how the internal one is primary to advance the struggle for communist ideas, it makes me really enthusiastic," said one worker.
There was much sharp self-criticism about our weaknesses and how we can collectively overcome them. The comrades made valuable contributions about their own lives and how racism has affected them. We plan for every meeting to be a true political school to strengthen PLP.
Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, across the border from Texas, has become the center of a war between drug cartels, employing local cops. Recently after one police chief was assassinated,his replacement was killed the very next day. Its basically a war zone.
According to a Southern U.S. Joint Task Force of police agencies, Mexican cartels have now replaced the Colombian drug lords as the main distributors of cocaine, marijuana and methaphetamines in the U.S. (El Universal, Mexico, 7/31). The drugs flow from Colombia and elsewhere through Mexico and into the U.S.
The latest development finds the Mexican Sinaloa and Gulf cartels using heavy weapons, not just Uzis and guns. How do these drug gangs obtain their weapons?
"Reports by Mexican authorities say that in their fight for control of the drug routes in the Gulf of Mexico-Caribbean side of Mexico, the criminal organizations have increased their purchase of weapons in the U.S. The same way they transport the drugs to the U.S. they bring back heavy caliber weapons to Mexican soil." (La Tornado, 7/31).
Mexicos authorities blame this on the U.S. governments lack of control over the weapons sales. The Gulf cartel is the main group with a paramilitary wing armed with heavy weapons, but their enemy, run by drug capo Chap Guzman, now also has heavy weapons. Both use them to kill each other and anyone else who gets in their way. Now a 50 millimeter Barret machine gun was also found on one of the Pacific drug trafficking routes.
According to Mexicos Justice Dept., the arrests and jailings of some drug capos and their lieutenants have led to a war among many of the drug cartels in Tamaulipas, Sinaloa and Baja California.
Drugs are big business. Methaphetamines are now becoming one of the most lucrative for the cartels, which have established labs on both sides of the border. The bosses especially in the U.S. have always been very hypocritical about the drug business. U.S. banks make billions laundering the drug-money. Only about a decade ago, Citibank had a special unit just to manage the money of the brother of Salinas de Gortari, then Mexicos President, before he was jailed for drug trafficking and murder. Corruption is rampant among the politicians and cops on both sides of the border. Afghanistan again has become the biggest producer of heroin following the U.S. invasion and restoration of the warlords back into power. Now the weapons manufacturers are making big bucks from the drug trade.
So basically, as long as capitalism is in power, drugs will be around.
Must Smash Capitalism, Not Just Big MacThe documentary, "The Fourth World War," produced by Big Noise Films, uses footage of street demonstrations and interviews with activists, a poetic narration, and vibrant music, to present a vivid picture of the class wars that are taking place in Argentina, South Korea, Mexico, South Africa, and many other countries. In these wars, workers are resisting with tremendous energy, solidarity and commitment capitalisms attempts to drive down their living standards in order to boost bosses profits. Some powerful segments include:
Huge demonstrations in 2001 in Argentina demanding the resignation of the government viewed as responsible for the severe economic crisis producing a steep increase in unemployment and sharp decline in the standard of living. An older woman tells a mass rally they must develop a new, collective way of thinking about society: "I am the Other. I am the unemployed worker. I am the revolutionary. I am those who take over their factories. I am those who do not eat. I am all of us."
A general strike of South Korean workers, who shut the factories and march militantly through the streets protesting the "crushing poverty of the working poor," hidden by glitzy skyscrapers.
Massive street demonstrations of black South Africans protesting the ANC governments privatization of water, electricity and housing, leaving many workers without these basic life requirements. One South African activist bitterly recounts how in 1994 the South African owners of the mines and factories shrewdly replaced white politicians with black ones, who now manage the same exploitative system.
While theres much to recommend in this film, theres also much to criticize. Its politics are that of anarchism. Anarchists may hate capitalism and racism, and many youth influenced by anarchists have participated in many demonstrations. But anarchism opposes building a revolutionary communist party, which is the only way the capitalism they hate can be defeated.
Because of this basic contradiction, the film is often confusing:
It never names the system of exploitation producing the poverty and misery that workers are shown fighting against. It refers to "corporate globalization," "neoliberalism," and "empire" but never once identifies the system as capitalism. This only leads people in the anti-globalization movement to think capitalism can be improved and saved, thereby promoting a liberal rather than an anti-capitalist outlook.
Although the documentary shows the governments armed forces (police, army) repeatedly breaking up demonstrations, arresting and shooting protestors, while protecting the meetings of the corporate and political elites, the narration never states the obvious that capitalist governments must be forcibly overthrown before capitalism can be replaced with a system of, by and for workers and their allies.
Street demonstrations, no matter how militant, will not topple the capitalist state. Yet the film suggests they can.
One segment shows unarmed peasants in Chiapas, Mexico led by the Zapatistas marching into a small, temporary military base and demanding the soldiers leave. The stunned soldiers, seeing themselves being filmed, dont fire their rifles and leave the base. The film presents this as a big victory. But this is politically deceptive. Actually the army has been able to establish military bases in Chiapas, and unarmed peasants havent, and wont, be able to prevent this. Only when the workers and peasants establish a red army with units in both rural and urban areas, as well as in the military will they win real victories.
The first criticism that anarchists dont identify capitalism as the enemy is related to the second criticism, that anarchists dont say capitalist governments must be overthrown. If anarchists tell people that its not enough just to demonstrate, or smash McDonalds windows, that the system needs to be overthrown, people will rightfully ask, "How can we accomplish this?" Then anarchists are in trouble, because its only by building a mass revolutionary communist organization that we can succeed. Without a revolutionary solution, anarchists often fall back into reformism, betraying their own desires for meaningful change.
Karl Marx was voted the most important philosopher in history in a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) radio poll of 30,000 people in the UK, leading with 28% of the total. An October 1999 BBC Online poll chose Marx as the "greatest thinker of the millennium," followed by Einstein, Kant, Descartes, Hawkings, etc.
Marx won the latest poll despite a massive campaign to stop him by The Economist magazine, representing Britains big bosses. The Economist pushed David Hume, who came in a distant second. Marx beat Aristotles, Schopenhauer. Confucius, Kant, Descartes, Locke, etc.
Now that Marx has won, the bosses are trying to "justify" it by separating his revolutionary philosophy from real revolution. Historian Eric Hobsbawn, a renegade from Marxism, used the already timeworn argument of the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union supposedly marked the death of revolutionary Marxism, whining that "the fall of communism has liberated Marx of the deformations it suffered in the countries where real socialism ruled."
Hobsbawn uses the term "real socialism" to mean the attempts to build revolutionary workers societies from the 1920s to the decade after World War II, not the state capitalism that ruled the Soviet Union from the late 1950s until 1989.
But Marx was not just an "armchair philosopher." He himself said philosophys real job was not simply to explain the world, but rather to transform it. His discovery of the "dirty secret of capitalism" (surplus value extracted from labor); his helping to found along with his comrade Frederick Engels the first international revolutionary workers movement; their writing of "The Communist Manifesto"; and his development of Dialectical Materialism (the universality of change, that capitalism is not eternal) all this still gives workers worldwide the roadmap to emancipate themselves from the endless wars, racist terror, mass unemployment, famines and super-exploitation that is capitalism.
Aspiring to be a good Marxist
The first column in this space (6/8) discussed health care in communist China in the 1950s, based on the inspiring "Away With All Pests" by British surgeon Joshua Horn.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the workers and farmers of China made tremendous strides after the 1949 revolution. That column described the struggle to improve relations among health care workers and patients, especially efforts to overcome the elitism of doctors and learn from the experiences of the worker-patients. (Future columns will give other examples, such as the amazing mass campaign to wipe out schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease carried by snails.)
In the decades following the revolution, the CCP made health care widely available to the working class in poor and war-ravaged China.. (The "barefoot doctors" movement merits another column.) Starvation was eliminated and once the population had enough to eat, the Chinese diet became one of the healthiest ever: modest portion sizes, not that much meat and fat, lots of whole grains and some vegetables. Obesity was no problem and the physical labor carried out by much of the population probably meant fairly healthy cardiovascular systems and bones.
Sounds like a great start for a society aiming for communism. But what has happened to health and medical care in todays capitalist China? Millions cannot afford health care. Drugs and prostitution have become serious problems. Its unclear whether Chinese officials are able (or willing) to control potentially dangerous diseases like AIDS, SARS, or avian flu. Industrial accidents, especially in mines, are epidemic and pollution is a major health problem in many areas, even sparking anti-government protests.
Fast-food companies like McDonalds and KFC are rampant and the consumption of animal fat has risen substantially. An increasing percentage of the population has adopted a sedentary lifestyle, sitting for hours at a time in factories and riding scooters or cars rather than walking or bicycling. Obesity, high blood pressure, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes are afflicting ever larger numbers, and western drug companies are salivating at the prospects of cashing in on these chronic conditions. Capitalism has undermined peoples health and made medical care unavailable to tens of millions.
Under communism, health care will be free and distributed based on need. Collective exercise time can be built into factories and offices. We will build and use mass transportation systems that include lots of opportunities for walking. Agricultural production and distribution will be organized to make fresh, healthy foods available to all. There will be mass campaigns to end smoking. Prostitution, drugs and pollution will be wiped out by a society that consciously and vigorously adopts a communist way of living and thinking.
When it comes to health and medical care, we need to learn both the positive and negative lessons of communist and capitalist China. Readers will undoubtedly have many other ideas about how a communist society should develop in order to guarantee the health of its people.
During our Summer Project, many comrades and friends questioned how you can know if youve made "progress" with friends at work, in school or in the barracks. At least in my case, Ive consistently underestimated how much our work and politics affects those around us. Here are three examples, beginning when I was a soldier during the Vietnam War.
About 20 years after I left the Army, my wife was selling CHALLENGE at a local shopping center. One shopper stopped in mid-stride, stared at the paper and exclaimed, "I havent seen that paper in twenty years since Sam Smith sold it to me when I was stationed at the Fort."
"Sam Smith! Thats my husband." answered my wife. Needless to say she made that sale!
A few years later, I was running for union office on a slate organized by the "outs." I went to the first campaign meeting thinking I didnt know these people too well as they were working in different plants, in different cities. After the formal meeting, one candidate pulled me aside with a couple of his friends and proceeded to recommend me highly. "You should listen to Sam and his paper," he told his friends, "These guys in the Progressive Labor Party are the real deal!" You see, during my court martial for fighting against racism and imperialist war while in the Army I had stayed at his apartment. I remembered him, but he really knew me and our Party!
Around this same time, I recognized another of my "rebellion" buddies from the Army as I was walking into work. He asked me what I was doing after all these years. "Oh, the same old thing," I answered, non-commitedly.
"Good!" he said, "because this is the most racist place I seen in years." We started some fight-back and he invited me to his house. When I arrived, there were maybe eight of his relatives sitting around the living room.
They immediately started to chat with me as if they had known me for years, complete with details of my history. There was only one problem; I couldnt for the life of me remember ever meeting them. After about 15 minutes of this, seeing the perplexed look on my face, they broke out laughing. In truth, they had never met me before, but my "rebellion" buddy had been telling them stories about our years of class struggles in the Army, so they just "felt" like they knew me.
You just never know how much our political work and base-building affects those around us.
On July 25th I went to my first PLP demonstration. On my way to a comrades house, I was more nervous than I was willing to admit. My mothers old joke of "dont get arrested" struck me in an odd way, possibly because I knew this wouldnt be like the other activities my mother jokingly issues this warning for. The minute I saw my comrades face all my fear diminished. He looked so ready for todays event that I knew I had no reason to be nervous. Another comrade arrived and also helped quell my fears. We left for the meeting place, getting really excited. I had waited for this kind of event for a long time.
The environment at the assembly point was like every other PLP event comfortable but charged with energy. After discussing the importance of fighting these fascists, we drove to Bridgewater, N.J., where I saw police cars. Suddenly my mothers warning filled my head. I contemplated turning back but my comrade put a reassuring hand on my shoulder and I realized I was surrounded by friends who would look out for me.
Everyone marched in front of the sports arena, many with copies of CHALLENGE. Then the cops, deciding we were a "threat" to their fascists inside, told us to move back, away from the entrance. Fellow comrades urged me to stay away from the cops I wasnt there to get arrested. One searing image was seeing a fellow comrade being handcuffed and taken away. I was angry, but kept myself in check, realizing this was not the time nor place to confront a cop. I could care less about getting arrested; its more the wrath I, and the comrade my mother trusted to watch out for me, would endure if I did.
Soon I got into the spirit of the chants. Slowly our numbers grew. It was hot. At times I wanted to stop, feeling faint (as has happened before) but the voices kept me going. I was amazed to be part of it all. My heart jumped as I saw the cops in riot gear arrive. We then stormed up the hill where comrades were holding up banners and cheering. I was ready to join them but realized we were supposed to go to the car and leave.
We returned to a friends house to talk about it all. A few thought it could have been organized a little better and that there should have been a little more discipline, but overall we felt it was a very good demonstration. Our four friends shouldnt have gotten arrested, but thats the way the system works against us.
I was sad to see it end. I never feel so right as when I am doing something with the Party. So thank you to all my comrades, youve become a second family to me.
On July 29, a benefit concert raised funds for the legal expenses of anti-racist protestors, including one PLer, arrested at a demonstration against the fascist Minutemen on May 25th in Garden Grove, CA. A diverse crowd of youth, students and workers came to listen to several alternative rock music bands and speakers. The latter reviewed the May 25th demonstration, the need to understand the nature of fascism as a necessary outgrowth of capitalism and to be aware of the danger of liberal politician misleaders. The last speaker concluded that the only way to fight racism is to build a multi-racial, revolutionary communist movement that rejects racism, patriotism and nationalism.
Many youth who helped organize and participated in the event because of its anti-racist character were glad to hear a broader analysis of the relationship between racism, war and fascism. Many also took CHALLENGE and asked to be contacted for future events. It was one more step in building an anti-racist, anti-fascist political campaign defending the anti-racist protestors under attack by the fascist Orange County cops, sheriffs, and courts.
What would the role of entertainment be under communism? In William Hintons historical work "Fanshen," documenting his experiences during the Chinese Communist Revolution, he recounts an opera he saw in the countryside. It clearly depicted the landlords savage brutality against the peasants, fleecing them for maximum profit. The operas music, acting, and beauty came from a realistic portrayal of the working class oppression.
Communist art will seek to challenge, motivate and educate as well as entertain. It will not be escapist, but will seek to illuminate working-class struggles.
About 10 years ago I saw the Chinese state ballet put on a beautiful show depicting a young woman being chased through dark woods. She eventually joined the communists and red flags and beautiful colors celebrated her new communist commitment. Her arrival at a communist consciousness was the greatest beauty; the ballet reflected this. This opera portrayed a glimpse of what art is capable of creating and inspiring.
Communist art will seek to create such consciousness. Soviet art celebrated the beauty of the working class and depicted factory workers building and struggling to create a socialist state.
Our art will celebrate the values communists hold dear the family, love, struggle, and communist politics. Our villains will be the real enemies of the working class the CEOs, kkkops, politicians, kkkourts and the bosses. Our creative ambitions will facilitate destroying rotten capitalist consciousness by building, reinforcing, and creating a morally communist conscience.
PLPs role in the Stewart case is about exposing U.S. imperialism and the development of fascism via the legal system which is increasingly being used to discipline the working class. We must fight the fascists as they seek to expand their control of the worlds wealth for their own profits.
The followers of Lynne Stewarts client, Sheik Abdel-Rahman, have committed acts of terror in Egypt and plotted to do so in the U.S. He has called for Jihad against "Jews." Abdel-Rahman is a vicious, racist, religious fanatic and a murderous fascist but Red Lawyer is wrong to say that PLers shouldnt be active in her defense.
Though Stewart has ideological differences with PLP, she certainly stands against imperialism and racism. Comparing her to Mathew Hale and Abdel-Rahman confuses the issue, which is that the ruling class is changing its laws to usher in growing fascism.
Red Lawyers letter (CHALLENGE, 7/20) was inaccurate. Ramsey Clark, who also represented Abdel-Rahman, testified at Stewarts trial that he also broke the Special Administrative Measures (SAMS), both in the U.S. and in Europe. The reason the Bush administration chose to go after Stewart and not Clark or the third lawyer, Abdeen Jabara, was probably a political not a legal choice.
The fact remains that Lynne Stewart has been convicted of five federal counts. She faces 40 years in jail for acts which previously would have resulted in nothing more that a fine and/or professional disciplinary action.
Who was the target here? Not just Stewart but the entire working class. Changes in the legal procedures, as in Stewarts case, show that anyone who speaks out can face "zero tolerance" and be viewed as a "terrorist," intimidating activists as well as lawyers.
Despite differences with Stewart, we must seize the political opportunity in this case to broaden our base, raising the issue in our unions, community organizations and churches. We need to understand and explain why this struggle involves developing fascism and affects us all.
As a Party we emphasize winning the masses to communist ideas, a struggle that begins with our own families, many of whom are won to bourgeois ideology. We must struggle to build a political life which abandons bourgeois customs and creates our own communist habits.
Here in Pakistan we held a communist cadre school in July with a good number of school children (sons and daughters of PLPs comrades and their friends). We believe these children are our future so they must prepare themselves for communist struggle.
Capitalism produces poverty, slavery, terrorism, religious and sectarian violence, exploitation, illiteracy, injustice and fundamentalism. The education system here is based on capitalists protecting their interests. It teaches that class division is made by God, so workers must thank God for their poverty. But we communists know its the capitalist system that makes us poor by exploiting our labor and resources. We preach each according to his/her need. Communist society will have none of the divisions rampant under capitalism. This is the only way to get rid of poverty, illiteracy, exploitation and alienation.
We also met with some trade unionists and professionals whove become fed up with the ideas of fake "leftists." Pakistans revisionist parties have quarreled over "social democracy" and "national democracy"; they viewed socialist revolution as a first stage for communist revolution. But these ideas failed to influence the masses so their rank and file became frustrated, leading to splits in their parties.
Then these fake leftists formed NGOs and enriched themselves. We in PLP know that because past communist movements didnt break with social and national democracy they ended up forming united fronts with the bosses organizations instead of relying on the working class. They limited themselves to trade unionism. Such errors led to a betrayal of the working class worldwide.
After a long discussion about the Party and its ideas, we struggle internationally under a single revolutionary communist party, the PLP. We analyzed the current situation in the world and especially in Pakistan, concluding that PLP is the only party truly struggling for communist revolution. We must work hard to win the working class to our Party. Long live communist revolution and PLP.
Comrade from Pakistan
Strikes are erupting throughout Italy. For the third time in four months, the Transport Workers union has shut down bus and subway service nation-wide. Theyre protesting the governments decision to allow the transportation companies to stop paying workers for the first three days of sick leave. Workers feel if they let this attack go unanswered, it will set a precedent for future attacks. Participation in all three strikes has been very high.
In addition, Alitalia flight conductors struck on July 18. And railway workers were scheduling a one-day strike on July 25 against staffing cuts that lead to longer shift hours and threaten safety conditions for themselves and train riders.
A friend in Italy
I was impressed once again by the importance of PLPs international work while participating in the NYC Summer Project. On July 16, we were determined to confront the racists in Farmingville on Long Island in solidarity with the Latino day laborers who gather at 7 A.M. daily at a local 7-11 store seeking work in landscaping or construction. (See CHALLENGE, 8/3.)
It was great to see these workers encouraging each other to join the picket line and participate in the chants. As they picketed they would signal others to do the same. These hardworking immigrant workers put a lot on the line by joining us; had any been arrested they would have faced deportation, not just a misdemeanor court date. Despite this, the workers were ready for action. Seeing the especially vulnerable and oppressed group come forward makes revolutionary ideas come alive. They showed that "the man" cant keep us down because were willing to fight! With students and workers joining in solidarity against the racist oppression infecting Farmingville, the racists and their cops took notice.
Our comrades arrests were not in vain because the workers saw our Party in action and our commitment to all workers. Visiting these workers, bringing them closer to the Party, will strengthen all involved. These connections can help advance our movement globally. Suppose these workers who join here get others to join PLP in Mexico, some of whom may return to the U.S. for work. Such results within this group can have powerful impacts internationally.
The imperialist nature of capitalism forces workers to emigrate, chasing after the jobs bosses create through their global investments. Many corporations have left Mexico for China and other still cheaper labor countries to make maximum profits from workers labor. Mass unemployment in Mexico drives workers to the U.S. Theyre often separated from families until scraping together enough money for brief reunions. They then travel to wherever the imperialists have taken the jobs. This dangerous trek is repeated over and over, showing the workers strong and admirable commitment to their families as well as their desperation.
As the ruling class continues its drive to increase pro-USA, nationalist sentiment, we must continue to promote international working-class solidarity. Capitalist bosses use borders and "race" to divide and oppress workers worldwide. We are one working class and must unite to smash racism and the profit system through communist revolution. Only then can we live, not just survive.
I was happy to join my NY comrades both for the protest and the discussions. This has been an unforgettable, red-hot summer! Keep the fight!
Oil-hungry US wont give up bases in Iraq
Its the oil, stupid.
The whole point of this war, it seems, was to establish a long-term military presence in Iraq to ensure American domination of the middle East and its precious oil reserves "the greatest single prize in all history."
The invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Dreams of empire die hard. American G.Is are dug into Iraq and the bases have been built for a long stay. (NYT, 7/28)
US leads new race to the bottom for labor
As labor costs in the United States continue to decline, employers in other advanced nations will feel pressured to lower their costs to meet the competition .
The United States is leading this race to the bottom in wages, benefits, working conditions and social protections. Many companies that once considered investing in Western Europe or Japan are now investing in the United States as the new low-wage center of the developed world .
The average annual employer contribution for Social Security in the United States is $2, 196, compared with $8,274 in Germany and $5,183 in Japan. (Labor Research Association)
Youth suicide high in capitalist China
Suicide is the main cause of death among young adults in China, the state media reported. Loneliness and a lack of medical support for depression are thought to have contributed to a suicide toll that is estimated at 250,000 people a year. (GW, 8/4)
Hope of Communism built Vietnamese morale
In South Vietnam, he [Westmoreland] was made commander in April 1964, in part because of his ostensible knowledge of guerrilla warfare.
Westmorelands main flaw was that he thought that if he confronted the communist forces directly, either on the ground or with his massive airpower, he could simply win by attrition. The communists death toll was very heavy, and this encouraged the delusion that the war was being won, as Westmoreland could not imagine how relatively small countries like North or South Vietnam could sustain such massive casualties.
As Stanley Karnow, the Vietnam reporter and historian noted: "Westmoreland did not understand nor did anyone else understand that there was not a breaking point. Instead of breaking their morale, they were breaking ours." (GW, 8/4)
Bribery is zooming in Russias democracy
More than $300bn will be paid in bribes in Russia this year, almost 10 times as much as in 2001, according to a survey. The average bribe paid to corrupt bureaucrats is 13 times what it was four years ago, research by the Indem thinktank shows .
Bribes are most commonly paid to avoid army conscription, secure a place in a school or university, buy up a judge or get better medical treatment. President Vladimir Putin admitted the scale of the problem in a recent speech (GW, 8/4)
Is Harry Potter worse than myths of Bible?
[An] anonymous clergyman got a primary school to cancel a Harry Potter-themed fancy dress party on the grounds that children who dressed as witches and wizards were being led into "areas of evil". Youve got to admire the chutzpah of such a pronouncement, coming from a man who peddles what some regard as superstition. (GW, 7/28)
Point a finger at all religion not just Islam
Yet before we embark on a round of religious finger-pointing we should note that all major faiths are the same .
Think of the muscular Christianity of imperialist, Victorian Britain (or indeed, of contemporary America) or Hinduisms lunatic fringe. In Sri Lanka even smiley, happy Buddhism has exacerbated one of the most vicious civil conflicts of our time.
In the Lebanese war of the early 1980s, more than 70% of the suicide bombers came from Christian secular groups. And, before being outraged by the more belligerent quotes from the Quran, we should examine the words of many hymns considerable portions of the old Testament or the religious references made by extreme Israeli settlers. (GW, 7/28)