CHALLENGE, Sept. 7, 2005

(To our readers: this is a 3-weeks ssue of Challenge. We will return to our biweekly schedule with the issue going to press on Sept. 8)

Threats to U.S. Oil Control Mean Bloodier Wars

Back Northwest Airlines Workers

Why U.S. Rulers Will Spill Blood of Millions of Workers to Try to Save Their Empire

U.S. Atomic Genocide Launched the Cold War

LA Summer Project Reaches Out to Industrial Workers

Workers in Puerto Rico Refuse to Pay for Bosses’ Crisis

Capitalism Killed Cindy Sheehan’s Son; Bush Just the Trigger Man

Screwing Subway Safety: Millions for Racist Profiling, Layoffs for Conductors

Inter-Imperialist Rivalry Bleeds Factory Workers — Part I

LAPD Admits Killing; Mayor Promises More Cops

Racist Bosses Force Immigrant Workers to Live in Tents

Chrysler Boss Deserts Union Roots; Profits Thicker Than Blood

UNDER COMMUNISM…How Will We Eliminate Racism?

Movie Review: Steal A Nation, Build A Military Base

Brooklyn Summer Project Views ‘Crash’


‘Borders’ Even on Nashville Buses

Cops Under Communism?

Differs on Lynne Stewart Case

Fox News’ Big Lies Apes Goebbels

‘Bubble’ Talk Ignores Lack of Housing

NYPD Blue Message: Don’t Fight Back

Cautions on ‘Under Communism’ Column


Threats to U.S. Oil Control Mean Bloodier Wars

Sharpening threats to U.S. rulers’ control of the world’s oil, from their foes and friends alike, bring the possibility of yet another oil war still closer. Having the upper hand on capitalism’s lifeblood allows U.S. rulers to dominate their rivals. But Iran’s increasing hostility and, more significantly, Saudi Arabia’s precarious internal politics could loosen the U.S. grip on the energy lever. The carnage in Iraq shows that U.S. rulers will resort to war without hesitation to hold on to the Middle East’s irreplaceable oil treasure.

Preventing any other state from achieving military supremacy over the Persian Gulf has been a cardinal point in U.S. strategy for decades. In 1979, liberal Democrat Carter declared that the U.S. would consider any challenge to its access to the region’s oil an act of war. In the 1980’s, Reagan backed Iraq’s fascist Saddam Hussein against Iran’s emboldened holy rollers. When Iraq, in turn, got too big for its britches, the U.S. invaded twice.

Today, with U.S. forces bogged down in Iraq, Teheran’s ayatollahs are again poking their thumb in Washington’s eye. Iran is threatening to restart its nuclear weapons program, sending arms to anti-U.S. insurgents in Iraq, and planning to establish an oil exchange that would trade in euros instead of dollars and weaken U.S. dominance in world energy markets. On August 13, Bush warned Iran that "all options," including military action, were "on the table." Democrats in Congress were more specific. A report they issued in July spoke of "the possibility of repeated and unwarned strikes." (Boston Globe, 8/14)

But stepped-up terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia, which sits atop one-fourth of the world’s oil reserves, is giving U.S. rulers even greater reason to worry. Saudi oil serves as the economic cornerstone of U.S. imperialism in two ways. Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco and U.S. ally Britain’s Shell and BP have access to the lion’s share of Saudi production, an arrangement giving them tremendous leverage over the countries to which they sell it. And Saudi Arabia’s role as a "swing producer" until recently put the powerful price weapon in U.S. rulers’ hands. With vast excess production capacity, Saudi royals would pump more or less crude according to Washington’s desires and thus lower or raise the price of oil worldwide. In the mid-1980s, for example, Reagan and Bush Sr. got the Saudis to pump so much oil that the resulting five-dollar price severely reduced Soviet bosses’ oil export profits and undermined their regime.

But today China’s and India’s growing demand for energy is eating into Saudi spare capacity. Still worse for U.S. rulers, their plan to turn Iraq into a second swing producer hasn’t exactly panned out. Insurgent attacks on Iraq’s oil facilities are keeping daily production under two million barrels, far below U.S. oil bosses’ goal of six million.

While the Iraq quagmire makes Saudi oil all the more indispensable for U.S. rulers, bin Laden and his terrorists are hell-bent on seizing it. Saudi Special Emergency Forces have encountered more than 800 Al Qaeda attacks in the past two years, many against oil installations. Poverty and the royal family’s obscene corruption are driving more and more Saudi youth into the terrorists’ camp. A year ago former CIA chief James Woolsey feared "attacks…coordinated by terrorists who have infiltrated Aramco could cripple the Saudi system" and "take as much as 6m-7m bpd [millions of barrels per day] of Saudi output off the market." (Economist, 5/27/04). So U.S. rulers repeatedly warn the Saudi royals to eliminate Al Qaeda or face a U.S. invasion.

In 2002 a government-backed RAND Corporation report "recommended that U.S. officials give [Saudi Arabia] an ultimatum to stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields." (Washington Post, 8/6/02) Although U.S. liberals disavowed the threat for diplomatic reasons at the time, they repeated it last month. A New York Times editorial (7/10), invoking the Carter Doctrine, urged the Army to add 100,000 soldiers immediately and prepare for "real wars." One involves reversing "a takeover by Al Qaeda of Saudi Arabia's government and oil reserves."

The Pentagon seems to be pondering air strikes against Iran. Taking Saudi Arabia, however, would mean a land campaign. We cannot predict how, where or when U.S. rulers will open the next front in their oil war. Their ground troops are now stretched thin [see box]. But one thing is sure: as long as capitalism exists, the rulers’ cutthroat competition for profit will cost workers their lives.

Back Northwest Airlines Workers

Fight Mass Layoffs, Wage-Cuts, Scabs And Pro-Boss Hacks

As we go to press, Northwest Airlines (NWA) and its mechanic’s union (AMFA) appear on a collision course for a strike or lockout. NWA wants $176 million in annual cost cuts by firing 2,800 mechanics and taking a 26% wage cut from the remaining 1,600. In addition, Northwest is demanding a freeze on workers’ pensions and wants deep cuts in retirement pay.

A 30-day cooling off period expires on August 20. At that time, NWA can impose its demands and the union can either accept it, reject it and strike, or reject it and get locked out.

When Northwest faced a mechanics strike in 2001, Bush broke it by creating a "Presidential Emergency Board." This time the White House says it doesn’t plan to get involved because they’re confident Northwest can continue flying with scab mechanics.

The opportunists who run the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association are looking for a concession contract they can sell, which means NWA giving in a bit on the number of job cuts. They can’t sell a contract that eliminates more than half of the jobs of the people who will vote on it.

NWA claims to have more than 4,000 strike-breakers lined up to use against the mechanics and flight attendants, should the Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA) refuse to cross mechanics’ picket lines. Northwest also plans to contract out more work to outside maintenance companies. On August 15, Detroit workers held a mass picket at the Hyatt hotel that’s housing many of the scabs.

At another one of its major hubs, NWA is having one of its sub-contractors assign immigrant workers with less than 5 years in the U.S. to clean its terminals. These workers are in Andrew Stern’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the leader of the "Change-to-Win Coalition" that left the AFL-CIO in July. There’s a struggle being waged in that local to refuse to let these very vulnerable immigrant workers be used as scabs.

The national AFL-CIO organizing director called AMFA a "renegade, raiding organization that is creating havoc in the airline industry," adding, "It’s not in the house of labor." The president of Local 141 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), who represents Northwest baggage handlers, skycaps and ticket agents at Detroit Metro Airport will tell his 2,700 members to cross the mechanics’ picket lines if they’re on strike or locked out. This is in stark contrast with the solidarity shown by British Airways ground workers who wildcatted in sympathy with striking food service workers and paralyzed Heathrow airport.

The struggle of Northwest mechanics and flight attendants shows again that narrow trade unionism just doesn’t work. All the various union hacks fight each other to see who can serve the bosses’ profits better.

PLP and all our friends must be on alert for a possible significant skirmish in the class war. We can turn this into a school for communism by bringing the full weight of our revolutionary communist politics into this fight, from many vantage points. We should organize Party clubs and friends in mass organizations to take regular picket duty with the strikers, and help them to face any fascist Homeland Security threats and to smash all scabs.

We should be bold in distributing CHALLENGE and our communist leaflets and in engaging the strikers in political discussions, linking the increased attacks on workers to the slaughter in Iraq, and exposing the pro-capitalist union leaders, whose loyalty to the bosses makes them unable to take them on. We can expand our base among airline workers and consolidate and recruit more workers to PLP from the factories, hospitals, schools and communities where we do our political organizing on a daily basis. If it happens, let’s jump on this from the opening bell.

Why U.S. Rulers Will Spill Blood of Millions of Workers to Try to Save Their Empire

"The goal of establishing an American colony in the Middle East has fallen on hard times, exposing the nation to the possibility of ruin in the process. For Washington powerbrokers and policy-makers even the thought of failure in Iraq is too grim to contemplate. The withdrawal of combat troops would put the second largest supply of oil in the world in the hands of an Islamic government which would quickly grow into a major player in the region and compete openly with rival Israel. Withdrawal would also hasten the expected switch in currencies from dollars to petro-euros; a change that would signal the end of America's economic dominance through control of the world's reserve currency.

"The US would be forced to face the $8 trillion debt that currently underwrites the "greenback" and deal with the economy-busting hyper-inflation that would quickly ensue. If creditor nations suddenly decided to dump their US currency and bonds and move to oil-backed assets, the US economy would go into freefall. It is impossible to calculate the magnitude of the catastrophe for the American people.

"This suggests that the Bush administration will carry on for as long as possible; trying to cobble together a strategy that will allow them to stay in Iraq controlling both the oil and the political process. But as the Iraqi resistance grows in strength and daring, and as public support continues to erode, there's little chance that the administration will be able to avoid the looming disaster.

"The American Century is now looking like it may be abbreviated to 10 or 15 years at the most…" Mike Whitney in CounterPunch, 8/15


Whitney presents an emerging picture joined by many other analysts, that the problems facing the U.S. at home and abroad are so overwhelming, the Bush gang will be unable to "avoid a looming disaster." But the U.S. ruling class won't give up its world financial and military dominance without spilling the blood of millions of Middle Eastern and U.S. workers.

The Los Angeles Times (8/12) cited military experts who said the Pentagon is building the infrastructure to make possible a permanent U.S. military occupation of Iraq with bases for up to 50,000 soldiers, a force that can be used throughout the Middle East.The U.S. ruling class is united on the necessity to control the world's two largest sources of oil and gas, the Middle East and Central Asia, both to insure its own supplies and to have the upper hand against its major rivals.

The Democrats are even more adamant on this question than the Bushites. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Joseph Biden are all calling for more troops in Iraq to squash the resistance.

To U.S. rulers, "giving up" in Iraq is unacceptable for their oil profits and class interests. They will move ferociously to try to maintain their control of this region, and will kill millions in pursuit of this objective. While anti-war demonstrations are good, they will not stop U.S. imperialism. History has shown that as long as there is capitalism and imperialism, there will be wars for profits. Workers and soldiers must have no illusion about peace under capitalism. Our task is to organize and prepare to turn imperialist war into a revolutionary struggle and build a society without bosses, religious holy rollers and fascist terror. That's PLP's goal.

U.S. Atomic Genocide Launched the Cold War

"In Hiroshima, 30 days after the first atomic bomb destroyed the city…, people are still dying, mysteriously and horribly — people who were uninjured in the cataclysm from an unknown something which I can only describe as the atomic plague. Hiroshima does not look like a bombed city. It looks as if a monster steamroller has passed over it and squashed it out of existence." Wilfred Burchett, reporting in the London Daily Express, Sept. 5, 1945)

August marks the 60th anniversary of U.S. imperialism’s act of atomic terror against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing some 250,000 civilians, and leaving 270,000 people in succeeding generations suffering genetic effects of radiation poisoning. This mass terror marked the beginning of a new era of imperialist wars waged by the U.S.: Korea, Vietnam Gulf War I, the Yugoslav air war, Afghanistan, Gulf War 2 in Iraq, and countless military interventions in between, from Dominican Republic to Angola to Nicaragua. Millions have been murdered by the U.S. bosses’ drive for world domination.

Today, the U.S. rulers continue to spread the lie that the Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bombs were "necessary to save a million U.S. lives" which would have been lost in a land invasion of Japan; that the dropping of the bombs forced Japan’s surrender. However, the evidence is overwhelming that rather than being the last military act of World War II, the Bomb was a political act, dropped as a "warning" to the Soviet Union, the opening shot of the U.S. Cold War against the USSR.

Dropping The Bomb Was ‘Militarily Unnecessary’

On March 9, 1945, "100,000 to 200,000 men, women and children died…when the U.S. Air Force doused Tokyo with jellied gasoline; all told, in the months before the Hiroshima, [conventional] bombs killed up to 500,000 in Japanese cities and left 13 million homeless." (US News & World Report, 7/13/95) This policy of mass terror bombings of civilians was pursued by the Nazis, the British and the Japanese fascists as well as the U.S. Only the Soviet Union did not target civilians.

By 1945, Japan’s entire industrial and military machine had ground to a halt, its oil lifeline severed. By June, U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay complained that there was nothing left to bomb in Japanese cities except "garbage can targets." On May 5, the U.S. intercepted and decoded a cable sent to Berlin by Germany’s ambassador to Japan stating: "Since the situation is…hopeless, large sections of Japan’s armed forces would [favor] an American request for capitulation even if the terms were harsh. (NY Times, 8/11/93)

Furthermore, at the May ’45 Yalta Conference, Stalin had pledged to Truman that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan no later than three months. This led Truman to write in his diary, "Fini Japs when that comes about." (Truman, "Off the Record") On August 8, millions of Red Army troops swept into Japanese-occupied Manchuria and were even preparing an invasion of homeland Japan. Truman wrote his wife that with the Soviet entrance into the war, "We’ll end the war a year sooner." ("The Letters from Harry to Bess Truman — 1910-1959"; edited by Robert Ferrell; 1983) As it turned out, by September the Red Army had routed the fascists (the subject of a future CHALLENGE article).

All the top U.S. brass were convinced that Japan was about to surrender and that using the A-Bomb was militarily unnecessary. It was General Dwight Eisenhower’s "belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary…and no longer mandatory to save American lives." (Eisenhower, "Mandate for Change"; 1963) Army Air Force commander General Henry Arnold wrote, "It always appeared to us that atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse." ("Global Mission"; 1949) And the U.S. "Strategic Bombing Survey" concluded that, "certainly prior to December 31, 1945,…Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped." (U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, "Japan’s Struggle to End the War"; 1946)

The evidence is inescapable that the liberal Democratic Truman Administration’s decision to drop the Bomb was a political one. Once the Bomb was tested successfully on July 16 — with the Soviets ready to enter the war against Japan by August 8 — the U.S. rushed to employ it before the Japanese would surrender, to show to Moscow that the U.S. now had a "master card," as Truman’s War Secretary Henry Stimson referred to it: "Let our actions speak for words. The Russians will understand them better than anything else….We have got to regain the lead …in a pretty rough and realistic way….We have coming into action a weapon which will be unique." (Diary of Secy. of War Henry L. Stimson; emphasis added)

Finally, Truman’s Secy. of State James Byrnes told Truman that, "The atomic bomb might well put us in a position to dictate our own terms at the end of the war." (Truman, "Year of Decisions") And when atomic scientist Leo Szilard met with Byrnes at the end of May, he recalls that, "Mr. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war….Mr. Byrnes’s….view [was] that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable in Europe." (Leo Szilard, "A Personal History of the Atomic Bomb"; 1949)

So when it comes to mass murder, the U.S. ruling class is Number One.

Gen. Byrnes Takes Hit For Army Recruiting FailuresThe U.S. Army just fired its third highest-ranking general, Kevin Byrnes, who was in charge of recruitment and training, for having an extramarital affair. But the Army, which wantonly slaughters children and civilians and tacitly condones rape and prostitution, wasn’t upholding family values. Powers higher than the Pentagon made Byrnes a scapegoat for its inability to enlist soldiers in the numbers U.S. imperialism requires. At a time when U.S. rulers can’t even field enough troops to control Iraq or Afghanistan or face down Iran, the Army expects to miss its yearly recruiting target for the first time since 1999. So Byrnes takes the hit.

Byrnes’s policy differences with the main U.S. rulers contributed to his shortcomings and thus his downfall. Hoping to please Rumsfeld & Co.’s technocrats, Byrnes had favored high-tech weapons systems over boots on the ground.

But Byrnes’s replacement won’t be able to solve the rulers’ manpower problems, either. Their all-volunteer military has flopped. Signing bonuses and college tuition aid worked only until potential recruits began having to weigh them against the growing likelihood of getting killed or maimed. For their future conflicts, the rulers will need to win millions of young people, and society at large, to making sacrifices, including giving their lives, for U.S. imperialism.

Byrnes’s self-centered "Army of One" couldn’t fill the bill on either count, numbers or political commitment. His firing reflects the liberal bosses’ criticism of the Bush regime for failing to undertake the ideological shift, especially after 9/11 served up the opportunity on a silver platter. Although the rulers always have the option of restoring the draft, they would prefer willing warriors. Consequently, the liberals count on creating a voluntary national service scheme to fill the ranks.

(Next issue: the liberals’ various national service proposals.)

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth:

Capitalism Has To Go!

SEATTLE-TACOMA, WA Aug. 13 — The Boeing IAM union will host a final rally here Sunday, August 21, before its contract expires in early September. So far, union leaders have presented an almost cheery demeanor, pledging a good contract if we "keep up the pressure" for the remaining days before the "final and best offer." All this "happy talk" flies in the face of reality. Their trade union reformism has hit a brick wall, as the bosses gut our wages, benefits and pensions to finance their strategic oil wars. Only red organization, energized with class consciousness, can answer these attacks.

Not an Honest Face on the Podium

Nowhere was the disarray of the labor "movement" more evident than at the August 9 "solidarity" rally at the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda in support of Northwest’s airline mechanics, who face a possible strike on the 20th.

The mechanics split from the IAM seven years ago, forming the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA). (CHALLENGE readers will remember that the AMFA, while hiding behind a militant façade, is a narrow, elitist craft union that, at least covertly, encourages racist divisions in the working class.)

No representatives from the IAM or the Air Line Pilots Association spoke at the rally, but a former IAM local leader vowed not to cross the AMFA picket lines. In fact, the pilots’ union has said the mechanics should take a pay cut, while the IAM claimed the mechanics union proposed their ground-workers take a cut. (The AMFA denies it said this.)

Leaders of the flight attendants’ union called for solidarity, but wouldn’t guarantee their members would honor the picket line, initiating a straw vote among its membership instead.

The state-wide AFL-CIO unions boycotted the rally, while the "change-to-win" crowd, including UNITE-HERE, SEIU and the carpenters — without so much as raising any criticism of this elitist, craft union —vowed unconditional support. So much for these hypocritical opportunists and their "change-to-win" strategy of "diversity" and big industrial-wide unions!

If you could get a nickel for every hypocrite on the podium at this rally, you’d be rich! The whole labor "movement" has been reduced to opportunist hucksterism.

Red Politics Will Defeat Class Traitors

"And they’ll get away with it," complained a retired Boeing worker, "because nobody will call them on it!"

Well, our Party won’t let them "get away with it." We’ll support the hundreds in the Boeing IAM who have gone on record for real solidarity and anti-racist, international class struggle — signing and circulating petitions, distributing leaflets and CHALLENGES to start. We’ll continue to patiently explain the limits of trade unionism, which can’t ultimately serve the needs of our class because it operates within the laws and boundaries of capitalism.

The August 21 rally is billed as a "Truth Rally." The most important truth we have to understand is that this system must go. Pleading with the bosses to "do the right thing" just doesn’t cut it.

LA Summer Project Reaches Out to Industrial Workers

LOS ANGELES, AUG. 15 — This past week young comrades here participated in a mini-project centered on local industry. We kicked off the Project with a BBQ, including good food, comrades and political discussion. Later on we arose early in the morning to sell CHALLENGE and distribute communist leaflets at a local aerospace factory. Everyone thought this was a great experience, receiving only positive reactions from the workers.

We also had a paper sale in the center of the city’s garment district, the largest sweatshop center in the Western hemisphere, and exhausted all our CHALLENGES and leaflets. (The leaflet was entitled, "De Indocumentados a Soldados y Super-explotados" — "From undocumented to soldiers and super-exploited workers" — calling on workers to unite against the imperialist exploiters and fight for communism.)

Earlier in the week we held a study group on the first law of dialectics: the unity and struggle of opposites. We read and discussed a short excerpt from the "Jailbreak" pamphlet, using such topics as basketball, magnetism and capitalism in examining the nature of a contradiction and why we intensify a struggle to resolve it. The week ended with some comrades attending a talk about the Mexican muralist Siqueiros, revolutionary politics and the Mexican muralists.

This week we’re continuing the Project with more industrial CHALLENGE sales, extending to transit workers, and more study groups, as well as a demonstration against anti-immigrant racism. We’ll expose capitalism as the cause of unemployment of immigrant and citizen workers alike. A group will also attend the preliminary hearing of three anti-racist fighters who were arrested in a demonstration against the racist Minutemen.

Workers in Puerto Rico Refuse to Pay for Bosses’ Crisis

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Aug. 12 — In the latest of recent protests, thousands of public employees marched today to protest against Governor Anibal Acevedo Vilá’s plan to unilaterally nullify contracts for these workers, cut the work-week to four days and wages by 15%. The Acevedo administration insists it will defend employee benefits but is demanding that workers accept individual wage-and-hour cuts, rather than submit to mass layoffs. Initially, AFL-CIO union leaders accepted the Governor’s proposal, but when independent unions and rank-and-file workers rejected this attack, the AFL-CIO mis-leaders changed their minds.

The government is the biggest employer here, with some 200,000 workers. And these workers are very angry. Chants like, "Let the rich pay" for the budget crisis were commonly heard. Others included, "Where is the money, at the Banco Popular?" and "Don’t touch my work-hours; Wal-Mart pays no taxes." The workers are pushing the legislators to tax corporations and luxury items to solve the crisis.

The government is under pressure from Wall Street to reduce its fiscal debt. Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded Puerto Rico’s bonds to speculative levels once this year. Early in August, Moody’s representatives met with Acevedo and pressed him to carry out severe budget cuts to stave off another reduction in bond ratings.

Now the Governor is trying to shift the blame to the legislature, especially the opposition right-wing PNP (New Progressive Party, linked to U.S. Republicans). Acevedo’s Democratic Popular Party is closely linked to U.S. Democrats. Several legislators spoke at the workers’ protest, but got the cold shoulder.

Workers here face the same kind of attacks as workers in the U.S. GI’s from Puerto Rico have one of the highest casualty rates in the entire Armed Forces. And now "war budgets" are destroying workers’ lives at home, too. And just as the AFL-CIO leaders have been on the wrong side of the fence in every fight-back in the U.S. (any protests they organize are basically to derail them), workers should understand these union mis-leaders will do the same here.

We live in an age of endless capitalist crises and wars, and the union leaders’ role is to make workers accept this reality, not to fight it. The best lesson these workers can learn from these struggles is to build a revolutionary communist leadership to fight all the bosses and their attacks.

Captalism Killed Cindy Sheehan’s Son; Bush Just the Trigger Man

Cindy Sheehan, dubbed the "Rosa Parks" of the anti-war movement, has been camped outside of Bush’s Texas hideaway for weeks. (Parks was the black woman whose refusal to move to the back of the bus helped spark the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.) Sheehan has garnered widespread press as the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who is demanding explanations from Bush for the failed war.

She’s not the first mother of a dead soldier to confront Bush, but her stance comes at a time when it’s becoming clearer that the U.S. is not winning in Iraq; outside of a small minority of diehards, whatever support for the war existed has vanished.

She is compelling, and losing a child to imperialist war is beyond horrible. Certainly she, and the mothers of the many tens of thousands of Iraqis and those from the U.S. side killed in this war, deserve much more than answers. This war always was about control of oil, and all those democratic politicians and editorial pages now lining up behind her knew that from the beginning.

The media portrayed her as something she may or may not be, the almost perfect composite of a modern anti-war heroine: against the war, but for the troops; loving her country more than the right-wing; and demanding answers from the neo-cons.

For papers like the N.Y. Times, which cynically printed front-page stories about Hussein’s WMDs knowing the war was about oil, to now jump on this bandwagon because the war has failed is perverse.

Cindy Sheehan would be a voice in the wind as far as the media and politicians were concerned if Iraq were just another stunning victory for the U.S. war machine. But the war has been a failure, and while the think-tanks try to figure out the best way to avoid a complete disaster in Iraq, the Pentagon is already turning its sights to an increased role for Homeland Security and possible war with China down the road.

The liberals are using the widespread publicity of Cindy Sheehan’s protest to attack Bush. Thirty-eight Congressional Democrats have signed a letter to Bush demanding that he meet with her. TrueMajority, an organization founded by multi-millionaire Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream) hired a Washington public relations firm for her to coordinate media coverage.

We hope Cindy Sheehan can see this, and that she doesn’t become a pawn in the ongoing machinations of U.S. imperialism as the war for oil moves to its next front.

Screwing Subway Safety: Millions for Racist Profiling, Layoffs for Conductors

NEW YORK CITY, Aug. 15 — While the fascist Homeland Security department and this city’s mayor have launched a "war on terror" in the subways and buses — ostensibly to "guarantee the safety of passengers" — their transit bosses have launched a war on the safety of subway riders and workers. After having eliminated conductors on midnight and short shuttle runs in 1966, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has announced the wiping out of 313 conductors in 2007 on four lines: the "7," the "N," the "J" and the "M."

Amid a massive police presence supposedly searching for "bombers" (and finding none) entering the stations — costing an estimated $1.3 to $1.9 million a week in overtime pay — the MTA refuses to use a dime of this year’s $833 million surplus to pay the $20 million "saved" from laying off these conductors. This exposes the bosses’ hypocrisy about "concern" for riders’ safety from "terrorism" while slashing jobs that runs directly counter to safeguarding riders and transit workers.

In terms of riders’ safety, conductors have the real responsibilities, not any cops engaged in racial profiling of innocent citizens. Operating from the middle of 10-car trains, conductors’ tasks include: opening and closing doors for passengers; observing platforms as the train moves out of the station to guarantee no passenger is stuck in a door; are the "first responders" (along with the train operators) for subway disasters; are trained to evacuate passengers over the electrified tracks in case of fire or smoke incidents or when trains are stuck underground; and are the first people passengers can turn to in dangerous situations.

Now only the train operators in the front cars on these lines will have these responsibilities, while operating the train as well. Many platforms are curved, making it impossible for a train operator to see more than half of a full-length train. The conductors are the most crucial "eyes and ears" on a train.

Of course, there may not be any hue and cry until a passenger is trapped in a closing door and is dragged to their death. But what do these bosses care about really saving lives? For them, profits come first.

Meanwhile, Roger Toussaint, who became president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union posing as a militant, has again shown he’s just another hack. He wants workers to act as cops enforcing racist "ethnic profiling" — he used union funds to hire the former head of security at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport to train workers in sniffing out "potential terrorists."

Some workers are circulating petitions asking Mayor Bloomberg to rescind the cuts. This might help to raise the issue, but it’s not enough. The mass power of the transit workers, organizing a strike against the layoffs and against the racist "war on terror," is what’s needed to protect the workers’ jobs and the riders from the real threat to their safety. The solidarity of the city’s entire working class can be drawn upon in such an effort. That’s the way to revive the labor movement, instead of relying on politicians or supporting the bosses’ racist "war on terror." And that requires a red leadership, very different from any of the splitting factions in the AFL-CIO or Change-to-Win "dissidents."

Inter-Imperialist Rivalry Bleeds Factory Workers — Part I

As imperialist rivalry intensifies worldwide, the contradiction between the ruling class and working class also sharpens, made inevitable because all capitalist gains come from the sweat of workers. For example, the super-exploitation of Chinese workers has been the key to the growth of China’s imperialist strength. The resulting "China Price" (cost of production in China) has become the standard for capitalist exploitation. All imperialist powers must compete with this rate of exploitation/profit, and therefore must intensify it to remain economically, politically and militarily competitive. General Motors knows this only too well. It has a minivan factory in Liuzhou, China, that pays its workers $60 a month!

Competition for maximum profit is inherent in the capitalist system. That’s why U.S. workers face longer hours, lower wages, fewer benefits and generally increased exploitation.

This analysis is a daily reality for millions of industrial workers. In factories, large and small, across the U.S. and indeed the world, imperialists are forcing workers to sacrifice their lives on the industrial front of imperialist war — no less true than for working-class soldiers sent home in body bags from the military front in Iraq. My experiences as an industrial worker under these conditions reveals that these workers are still crucial to the overthrow of capitalism, and that this material reality opens the door for communists to win industrial workers to PLP’s ideas and to join the fight against capitalism.

My factory illustrates what the "China Price" and imperialism mean for the industrial working class: between 60- and 70-hour work-weeks, not out of the ordinary for industrial workers; 12- hour shifts, but workers are also told to come in early or stay late; and sometimes working 15-16 hours.

Imagine the alienation spending this much time away from your home and family, for six days a week, a most common complaint. "I barely see my children any more," said one worker. "While I’m at work they’re sleeping. The only time I spend with them is while driving them to school." Another said she feels a lot of guilt and added stress because every weekend she must work her youngest daughter cries and begs her not to go. Workers often feel their children are growing up without them. As one worker noted, "We work these crazy hours to be able to provide for our children, yet we never see them."

This sacrifice of family, while not as drastic in the immediate sense as military deployment overseas, is just as harmful to working-class families. In fact, such deployment can last through an entire childhood. But beyond this sacrifice are the devastating long-term effects of this exploitation on industrial workers’ health. Almost all workers in my factory bare the scars of this labor war. Some injuries are visible while others are internal and only revealed by a brace of some kind, or a grimace on the face of a worker in pain.

Workers complain that their hands, arms and shoulders cramp while they try to sleep. They suffer headaches from inspecting products under magnifying lenses for endless hours. Chronic pain and loss of vision are common. Since I’ve been employed here, at least once a month a worker returns from medical leave. And when they do return, if a doctor restricts their work-load they’re treated like a burden on the company and given the most repetitive, tedious work day after day in hopes it will be so unbearable they may quit.

Even those workers who are not directly injured find that, over time, their bodies give out to stress. This is because every worker is pushed to the point of exhaustion; with virtually no time for exercise or recuperation their health deteriorates — and they can forget about recreation.

The bosses’ "answer" to workers’ suffering is a vending machine stocked with various pain relief medications so they can keep working by numbing the pain. The bosses treat workers the way they treat machines: run them until they break and then patch them up just enough to get them running again.

The capitalist system constantly proves it’s incapable of providing workers with a full and rewarding life. It also proves that no election or reform can change the fundamental contradiction between workers who produce and bosses who profit. Under capitalism workers labor so that they can live. This implies that life, for the wage-slave, is lived between shifts. For the industrial working class then, there’s not much life under imperialism. So the question my co-workers repeatedly ask is: "What else are we supposed to do?"

The answer for these and all workers is to change the social relations of production to a more collective, egalitarian process where we produce according to need and not profit. This is communism — Progressive Labor Party’s goal. Friends and comrades, the industrial working-class is awaiting PLP’s ideas.

(Next: the special exploitation of women workers in the industrial sector.)

LAPD Admits Killing; Mayor Promises More Cops

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 15 — LAPD Officer Steve Garcia was not in danger when he fired the ten shots that killed 13-year-old Devin Brown six months ago. But that’s not news.

The real news is that LAPD Chief Bratton is admitting it. Why is Bratton doing it now, when most LA workers figured it out six months ago?

After cop Padilla murdered Devin, Chief Bratton and his crew tried to suppress the autopsy report until they could "correct" it, to let cop Garcia (and the whole LAPD) off the hook. Now, after a special "reenactment" of the scene, he‘s changed his tune. It’s all "politics" — the bosses’ politics!

The "WHY" is "community policing" but a better name would be "trying to win black and Latin workers to fascism." The capitalist rulers are working hard to get us to trust their stinking racist system.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa claims to be the mayor of "One LA," and likes to pose for the cameras with a "rainbow" of political allies. Meanwhile, he campaigned — with the support of former police Chief Bernard Parks — on a platform of "putting 300 new officers on our streets now, followed by an additional 1,300 officers within five years." Villaraigosa emphasized that "we need to expand community policing." The Los Angeles Community Policing website shows they’re already expanding it.

Former mayor James Hahn tried the same thing, but workers weren’t buying it. For example, last March voters rejected a ballot proposition that would have raised the LA sales tax to fund the police. The rulers are hoping their phony "multi-racial unity" of politicians will do a better sales job. Villaraigosa’s ally Alex Padilla says, "Eventually, we’re going to have to revisit a sales tax increase for a permanent significant increase in the size of the police force."

But many workers know better than to trust the bosses’ system. When Devin was murdered, many teachers and parents at his school — black, Latin, and white — joined together to offer support to his mother. They chased the lying journalists who were looking for "dirt" to smear Devin’s reputation. Some marched in protest against the racist cops.

This is the real multi-racial unity that can lead to class-consciousness and a revolutionary outlook, when communists show that only revolution can end racist police terror and the profit system that needs it. This is the multi-racial unity we need to build "from the ground up" — in opposition to Villaraigosa, Bratton, Parks & Co. Their "rainbow" only serves those who already own the pot of gold at its end.

Racist Bosses Force Immigrant Workers to Live in Tents

FARMINGVILLE, LI, NY, Aug. 16 — The bosses and the police here have found new ways to harass and attack immigrant laborers, most of them from Mexico. Twenty of these workers are being forced to live in tents outdoors. Tenants in 11 of the 117 houses rented to laborers in the area have been evicted from overcrowded housing by Suffolk county executive Steve Levy.

The evicted workers and their supporters know well that the "overcrowded" rationale is based on racism. The local authorities should be providing decent affordable housing for these workers, instead of forcing them to sleep outdoors.

Several evicted laborers, camped in back of 196 Berkshire Drive, told El Diario-La Prensa (8/16) that the owner has allowed them to stay there, but they didn’t know for how long. Despite the recent unbearable heat wave blanketing the Northeast, endangering people’s lives if staying outdoors for too long, these workers must suffer since they have no place else to go.

While there’s a lot racism directed against these laborers, there’s also some support. People have brought blankets, water and money to the camped-out workers.

Farmingville is now considered a red zone of anti-immigrant racism, along with Arizona. PLP has been actively supporting the laborers. Several weeks ago, the cops arrested four PLP members when they confronted the local racists harassing the laborers. Our comrades are now facing court appearances for their anti-racist stand. We’re asking CHALLENGE readers to help cover the legal costs. Contributions can be made out to CHALLENGE Periodicals and mailed to PLP, GPO Box 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202.

Chrysler Boss Deserts Union Roots; Profits Thicker Than Blood

The grandfather of Thomas LaSorda, incoming chief executive of Chrysler, must be turning over in his grave. LaSorda (no relation to the ex-Dodger manager) is pushing the exploitation of auto workers in the U.S. and Mexico to the hilt. Yet his grandfather, Harry Rooney, was a Canadian union leader whom Chrysler accused of trying to prevent scabs from crossing a strike picket line in the 1940’s. And LaSorda’s father Frank led a local union in Windsor, Ontario.

The Chrysler boss has obviously cut himself off from his working-class roots. Using his 20 years experience overseeing General Motors’ manufacturing operations in the U.S. and Europe, LaSorda is out to suck the blood out of Chrysler workers. Speaking of streamlining the company’s assembly lines, he told the New York Times (8/13), "We’ve got to…add a lot of new products with the same number of people and make more money."

At the Chrysler truck assembly plant in Saltillo, Mexico, LaSorda told the 2,100 workers there that, "We’re depending on all of you…to stay focused….Don’t let up." This to workers who are paid $5 and hour, including benefits, less than one-tenth of U.S. Chrysler workers’ wages and benefits. No wonder Chrysler — the U.S. division of the German automaker DaimlerChrysler — has more than doubled its vehicle production in Mexico, to "stay competitive."

While grandfather Harry was doubtless striking against speed-up, by 2007 grandson Thomas plans to have a system in most Chrysler plants allowing it to build multiple vehicles on one production line. His face lights up as he explains how robots with an interchangeable tool on their robot arm will allow it to build different parts of a vehicle, rather than requiring different robots. He’s even speeding up the robots! But, of course, they don’t strike.

The LaSorda family values sure have changed. But of course, under capitalism, profits are thicker than blood.

UNDER COMMUNISM…How Will We Eliminate Racism?

The 250 years of slavery in the U.S. gave birth to modern racism. The deliberate intent of racist discrimination, oppression and ideas was to create separations among European-Americans, Africans, African-Americans, and Native Americans (Indians), all of whom were initially used for slave labor. When the Southern aristocracy found that multi-racial unity among slaves was fostering slave revolts and escapes that were very expensive to them, they decided to focus slavery on Africans and African-Americans alone because they could be bought more cheaply.

When chattel slavery formally ended with the Civil War over 140 years ago, the bosses discovered that racism would still serve their continuing need to divide and conquer the working class, who now were all wage slaves rather than chattel slaves.

Under communism, when the working class, led by PLP, seizes power from the bosses through armed revolution, there’ll no longer be any bosses who profit from racism. Only then will it be possible to eliminate it. However, because of the grip these ideas have worldwide, the struggle to eliminate them will lag behind, and depend on, the elimination of the practice of discrimination and oppression. Under communist leadership, there will be ongoing sharp struggle to win all workers around the world to reject and fight against racism, just as PLP does today and has done for the 43 years of its existence.

The elimination of discrimination and oppression will be possible immediately upon the seizure of power, through laws making racist speech and actions illegal and, if persistent, punishable. The same will be true for other forms of division, such as sexism and nationalism, which the bosses use now to make maximum profits.

A glimpse of how this will work comes from the experiences of Paul Robeson in the Soviet Union. Robeson was a black communist in the U.S. in the early to middle part of the 20th century. He excelled as an athlete, actor and singer. One of his greatest contributions to the working class was his courage in defying the U.S. government and traveling to the then communist Soviet Union.

In a conversation with the great Soviet film-maker Sergei Eisenstein, Robeson said that in the Soviet Union he had felt "like a human being for the first time since I grew up. Here I am not a Negro but a human being. Before I came I could hardly believe that such a thing could be….Here, for the first time in my life, I walk in full human dignity." (Martin Duberman, "Paul Robeson, A Biography"; 1989; p. 190)

Despite the laws against racism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the communist leadership failed to win workers to take the anti-racist struggle upon themselves. As a result, when these communist governments openly reverted to capitalism, racism — as well as nationalism — increased rapidly. With the participation of millions of the world’s workers, PLP plans not to repeat that error.

Movie Review:

Steal A Nation, Build A Military Base

Many may have heard of Diego Garcia, a U.S. military base in the Indian Ocean, from where B-1 and B-52 bombers took off to launch the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. This base cost $1 billion, has room for 30 warships, and contains two bomber runways, a satellite spy station, and facilities for 4,000 troops. But what’s little known is that this base was built only after thousands of indigenous islanders were forced from their homes.

Diego Garcia is the largest of the Chagos Islands, a chain of 64 coral islands that up until the 1960’s was home to 2,000 Creole-speaking people of African and Indian descent, whose ancestors had lived on the islands since the 18th century. In 1965, Britain’s Labor Government leased Diego Garcia to the U.S., which was looking for a base in the Indian Ocean from which to spy on the Soviet Union and China, and to use for attacks in the region "if necessary." Before the U.S. began construction in 1971, it insisted British officials first remove local residents from the Chagos Islands.

John Pilger’s extraordinary film, Stealing A Nation, is the heartbreaking story of how a peaceful people were forcibly removed from islands they had lived on for generations. Pilger, who’s made a number of valuable films about Iraq, Palestine and East Timor, uses recently declassified British and U.S. government documents to describe the vicious tactics used to remove the islanders. First, the British government simply declared — against all evidence — that the Chagosians (also called the Ilois) were "not indigenous people" but were rather "temporary contract workers." Britain then began a campaign of intimidation and removal, including barring people who had gone to Mauritius for medical treatment from returning home.

Finally, the remaining residents were loaded on a boat and brought to Mauritius, where they were dumped in an impoverished housing project without water, sanitation or electricity. There they’ve remained, hoping some day to return to their homeland.

The documentary includes shocking interviews with British and U.S. officials attempting to justify their racist treatment of the native population, contemptuously described as "Tarzans" and "Men Fridays."

This racist attack shows that both the U.S. and British imperialists have always done whatever’s required to protect and expand their business empire, no matter how many people are harmed. Diego Garcia provided U.S. imperialists with a strategically-located base from which to control the oil-rich Middle East and to block any expansionist efforts by its Soviet rival. If 2,000 people lose their homes, it’s no big deal for the imperialists. After all, a million Iraqis died in the 1990’s from U.S. economic sanctions, and 100,000 Iraqis perished in the U.S. invasion and occupation of a country that has the world’s second largest oil reserves. As a U.S. Defense Secretary recalls, the displacement of the Chagosians was a "minor detail."

However, the film promotes the liberal hope that the Chagos Islanders can obtain justice through the courts. In 2000, a British court ruled that their "evacuation" had been illegal. Four years later, Tony Blair’s government quietly obtained a royal decree which simply forbid the islanders from ever returning home, possibly based on a rigged environmental "study" concluding that the island was unsuitable for human habitation. Nonsense, of course, since these people had lived there for centuries and thousands of U.S. military personnel currently "inhabit" the island.

Just as Native Americans couldn’t stop their dispossession through court suits, the Chagosians won’t win by relying on a legal strategy. The right of return for the Chagos Islands indigenous people is an anti-racist demand that should be raised by the anti-war movement, particularly in Britain and the U.S.

Despite this weakness, "Stealing A Nation" is a wonderful film to show in classrooms, churches and union halls. It’s available from Bullfrog Films:


Brooklyn Summer Project Views ‘Crash’

After weeks of spirited organizing and a successful attack on racism in Bridgewater, N.J. and Farmingville, Long Island, our youth summer project chose the movie "Crash" to watch and discuss. As reviewed in CHALLENGE (July 6), the film deals with racism in Los Angeles. We have additional comments.

On the one hand, we thought "Crash" tried to expose the racism of the police, especially liberal cops. They turn out to be the worst, since it’s the liberal, well-meaning cop who can’t believe the black hitchhiker he’s picked up likes hockey and country music. This cop eventually shoots the man and tries to destroy the evidence. The main cop (played by Matt Dillon) is believable as he humiliates a black couple on their way home and tells his liberal partner, "You have no idea." In fact, the police department and the District Attorney’s office are exposed as both racist and corrupt.

While we disagreed on whether the characters change or are able to redeem themselves, we did agree that the movie’s main message was cynicism and hopelessness — that we workers are trapped in a web of racism and hate and there’s no way out. The movie begins and ends with a crash scene where the drivers are screaming racist epitaphs at one another. We thought the characters were often exaggerated or even cartoonish and most were clueless about what was happening to them. The movie made racist and insulting stereotypes seem as if they’re perfectly acceptable to everyone. Only the character played by Ludacris as the conscious car thief questions and analyzes his situation. Everyone else seems to be passive victims.

The movie portrays racism as a personal thing, infecting everyone. Most of the characters blame and hate other workers and show a disturbing lack of humanity towards others. Whether it’s the selling of workers from Thailand that Ludacris meets up with or the District Attorney’s wife who bosses around her Latino housekeeper, we wondered why the director chose to portray almost all his characters in this manner. We felt this was a dangerous movie because, while focusing on what some people are really like, it sent the message that most people are like this.

Our group feels Hollywood won’t make a movie exposing racism as the class enemy nor present a story showing multi-racial unity, like the recent Los Angeles janitors’ strike or the recent protests by black and Latino youth in South Central LA against the LAPD killing of a Salvadoran immigrant and his little daughter. The film begins with the line, "We crash into each other so we can feel something." But the movie is certain to make one feel hopeless and cynical.


‘Borders’ Even on Nashville Buses

I spent a one-week immersion in the Spanish language at Lake Tahoe’s Community College Intensive Spanish Summer Institute. Besides grammar classes they offer sessions on culture and contemporary issues like immigration.

I attended the latter and the subject of "legal" and "illegal" immigration came up. A classmate asked why we shouldn’t punish people who break the law. Immediately I went into my favorite story about borderlines.

I was raised in the South during the 1950’s and on every damn city bus in Nashville there was a borderline. This border would move according to the needs of the racist bosses: if the bus had more white people the border moved farther to the back of the bus. Those who "broke the law" by crossing this line were subject to arrest, beatings, fines and/or expulsion from the bus.

When I said this, three different people said the problem of borders is the problem of capitalism.Que viva el comunismo!

Anti-racist reader

Cops Under Communism?

I recently joined PLP. I’m very happy with this decision, to have joined a productive struggle for a better world, a communist world. All my friends really like the "Under Communism" articles in recent issues of CHALLENGE. In fact, in my efforts to increase class consciousness among my peers, the majority of questions I’m confronted with are about the details of life under communism. I suppose this is better than being asked about whether or not there’s anything wrong with capitalism.

The reason I’m writing is that I would like to see an article about what law enforcement would be like under communism. I know the cops are class traitors and serve only ruling-class interests. Yet there’s still a certain degree of concern about the protection of people, particularly women and children regarding sexual assault. I think it would be naive to think things like pedophilia would simply disappear after a revolution. Since under communism there would be no private property and therefore no concern about things like property theft, my friends and I are still curious about how the Party would deal with people’s safety, and how we would react to attempts at exploitation, racism and sexism that would be left over from the capitalist world.

Red Student

Differs on Lynne Stewart Case

The letter from "Red Lawyer" on the Lynne Stewart case (CHALLENGE, 7/20)) was very useful, but neither the letter nor the CHALLENGE response really addressed how the ruling class is using this case. Red Lawyer was absolutely correct in pointing out that Stewart’s client, Sheik Abdel-Rahman, is a "vicious, racist, religious fanatic and murderous fascist." Stewart made two wrong-headed decisions: (1) to defend such a working-class enemy, and (2) to smuggle out messages for him (regardless of whether it was covered by attorney/client privilege). CHALLENGE was correct to state that Stewart isn’t a fascist like Rahman, but actually neither Rahman nor Stewart is the issue.

The main point is that the ruling class is using this case to increase fascism and repression, and it’s precisely because both Rahman and Stewart were so unappealing in their actions that the bosses are getting away with it, playing up both fear of terrorism and racism against Muslims. The rulers’ actions in this case will make it easier for them to attack immigrants, working people, activists and revolutionaries, and more difficult for working people to obtain defense in court against attacks by the bosses and their agents.

Red Lawyer was right that not every exercise of capitalist state power is a step towards fascism, and CHALLENGE’S assertion that Red Lawyer "seems to disagree with PLP’s position that fascism is growing in the U.S." was not at all supported by the letter. But the fact that the bosses are marshalling such efforts around this case, and that the convictions were so disproportionate to all previous precedents, shows that the bosses are using this case to their own ends.

Even so, with the bosses perpetrating so many attacks on undocumented immigrants, especially with the renewed rise in profiling, it’s not at all clear or convincing that this is the best case around to organize to fight the rise of legal fascism. If we’re going to devote time to the struggle around this case, we need to always be up front about Rahman’s fascism and Stewart’s severe political weaknesses, and make primary how the ruling class is using the case.

Many cases communists have organized around in the past — the execution of Joe Hill in 1915, Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927, the Scottsboro defendants in the 1930’s, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953 — were persecutions of dedicated organizers or innocent workers. (And the ruling class never backed off in any of these cases, despite worldwide opposition.) It would be much easier for us to organize here if this case had similar sympathetic defendants. But it doesn’t. What it does have is the ruling class’s attempt to increase fascism, and that is what we have to point out.

Agrees with Red Lawyer

Fox News’ Big Lies Apes Goebbels

I’m never surprised by the fascist nature of capitalism and its media, police and armed forces. This view was reinforced when I caught a commentary on Fox News endorsing the terrorist, racist Minutemen, portraying them as "social justice peace officers." The news report linked the spread of Latino gang activity with the "dangers" of "illegal" Mexicans entering the U.S. The Minutemen were portrayed as patriots doing their civic duty, protecting the nation from the "threat" of "illegal aliens," with the complete cooperation of local law enforcement.

This shifts the attention from the capitalist conditions that cause crime and poverty to poor immigrant workers trying to survive. It also demonstrates that the cops and government do not oppose racism or any discrimination, and never have. In fact, this allows them to divide the working class here and worldwide.

Unified, militant actions against these terrorists, like those carried out by comrades and supporters in Los Angeles, Long Island, NY, New Jersey and Chicago, is the only way people will see that we won’t stand for capitalist-sanctioned hatred.


‘Bubble’ Talk Ignores Lack of Housing

Recently numerous articles about the housing bubble (Paul Krugman in the NY Times, Business Week, etc.) are eerily reminiscent of the stock market crashes and junk bond episodes — hard to follow all the details, but ultimately it’s all based on building mounds of paper that must collapse, with many small investors, and some big ones, imploding and being gobbled up by the bigger fish.

But none of these articles ever refer to the availability of housing for the working class or even the middle class. They don’t examine the number of housing starts or the increasing number of foreclosures and they ignore the abysmal tightness of the rental market. It’s almost like the railroad wars at the end of the 19th century, when the biggest robber barons fought over the rising value of railroad stocks when the railroads themselves were deteriorating.

The bottom line in all this is capitalism’s total inability to provide basic human needs, like shelter, even in the "affluent" West. And the entire ruling class is on board with this — Clinton’s housing "plan" was to increase the percentage of home-ownership, not the stock of affordable housing. And the words "housing" or "homelessness" were never uttered by John Kerry the last time around. (Then again, when shuttling between five of your wife’s mansions, it’s hard to keep track of little things like overcrowding at the shelters.)

The pundits are counting on the i-crossing details and percentages of the housing bubble to blind us from the fact that housing is just one more commodity under capitalism. If you can’t afford it, you can always exercise squatter’s rights in the big cardboard box from a new plasma TV discarded by some yuppie living in a condo they’ll be flipping in a year. Or so they hope.

A Reader

NYPD Blue Message: Don’t Fight Back

Recently I saw a rerun of NYPD Blue that addressed the post-9/11 social climate in New York City. A store owned by a Muslim family had been burned down by a racist with a history of harassing this family. The son of the store owner went to the police station to proclaim his family’s status as U.S. citizens and ask what they should do to protect themselves. The lead cop, played by Dennis Franz, told him, "Hang in there." His advice was that Jews, Italians and blacks didn’t have an easy time in this country (implying that their hard times have passed), and if he can just tough it out, things will eventually get better. The young Muslim man smiled and thanked the cops for all their hard work, even after being verbally abused by some of them earlier in the show.

This kind of thinking fuels the apathy that allows racism, anti-Semitism, sexism and anti-working class ideas to flourish. It exemplifies the complacency that the rulers encourage and enforce with brutal police terror and fascist laws. The idea that people shouldn’t actively fight to smash hatred of any kind is disgusting. Class-consciousness needs to be developed among all those hurt by the tools of capitalism so we can destroy it and erect a communist society where hatred isn’t fostered or protected.

Red Robyn

Cautions on ‘Under Communism’ Column

I find the new column "Under Communism" thought-provoking with the ideas on what a communist society would do for the masses of people. And I certainly would not want to discourage readers from addressing this subject and trying to answer the questions that many of our friends have about what communism could do for the working class.

However, in trying to demonstrate how the elimination of the profit system would create many wonderful conditions, we must remember that the road to communism involves destroying capitalism. We won't just "jump" from capitalism to communism. Not only will the old ruling class not go quietly, but a revolution will probably grow out of world war (as did the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Chinese Revolution of 1949). So in building communist relations in factories, in health care, in culture and so on, we must recognize that this building must take into account that tens of thousands of current factories, health care facilities, farm land and other features of society will be physically destroyed, along with millions of the workers who run them, who would be fighting for the revolution and who would run all institutions under communism.

Proceeding from capitalism to communism will be no "tea party." And rising from this destruction to build communism may very well entail tremendous sacrifices upon the part of the international working class as it attempts to establish all the aspects described in some of the columns in CHALLENGE.

Of course, this road in creating the new will hopefully be following communist ideas and principles, not the baggage of capitalism unfortunately carried into previous aspiring communist societies, which led to their downfall. The many ideas being presented of what communism will bring to the working class will be affected by the suffering and sacrifices of world war, and by a capitalist class fighting tooth and nail to preserve its system.

So obviously we will go through a period of constructing the new society while fighting off the remnants and ideas of the old. How this will affect what we create remains to be seen.

Old-time red


Case history of famine: It’s the profit system

"I cannot afford to buy millet in the market, so I have no food and there is no milk to give my baby," says Fatou, a mother cradling her son Alhassan. Though he is 12 months old he weighs just 3.3kg [7lbs].

This is a strange reality of Niger’s hunger crisis. There is plenty of food in Niger, but children are dying because their parents cannot afford to buy it. The starvation in Niger is not the inevitable consequence of poverty, or simply the fault of locusts or drought. It is also the result of a belief that the free market can solve the problems of the world’s second-poorest country. The price of grain has skyrocketed but…the last harvest was only 11% below the five-yearly average….traders have been exporting grain to wealthier countries like Nigeria and Ghana.

Niger relies heavily on donors such as the EU and France, which favour free-market solutions to African poverty. So the Niger government declined to hand out free food to the starving….

The World Food Programme, which supplies emergency rations to other hunger-stricken parts of Africa, also declined to distribute free food. The reason given? Interfering with the free market could disrupt Niger’s development. (GW, 8/11)

Wal-Mart creates poor, then sells to them

By offering rock-bottom wages to its more than one million workers (and by depressing the wages offered at other competing businesses in the area), Wal-Mart leaves its workers and other consumers little choice other than to shop its aisles, stocked as they are with merchandise that is dirt cheap in large part because of those low wages….

Lower prices are supposed to allow poor households to save more money to better their lives. Wal-Mart’s policies, however, seem to create more poor people, who then need even lower prices to survive. (NYT, 8/7)

US mining giant poisons Indonesians

In a rare case against an American business giant operating in the developing world, the Newmont Mining Corporation and its chief executive in Indonesia go on trial here Friday on criminal charges of pollution….with mine waste containing arsenic and mercury….

Local people…moved from Buyat Bay in June after complaining of illnesses….

Even so, the Indonesian government, which depends heavily on foreign investment, has pushed the case ambivalently. On the one hand, its anemic regulatory agencies would like to put teeth into their still-evolving environmental laws; on the other, high-ranking and local officials alike fear driving off the corporate money that is their biggest source of tax revenue. (NYT, 8/5)

Darwin’s great insight not ‘merely a theory’

Charles Darwin’s great insight is based on a simple syllogism: (a) like begets like, with variations; (b) all creatures produce more offspring than can survive to reproduce in turn; (c) those most fit — adapted — to the environment are more likely to survive; and therefore (d) favourable variations will be preserved and species will evolve — change over time. This is natural selection, and its logic is irrefutable….This is why "Darwinism" is not merely a "theory" to be confronted with mumbo-jumbo such as "intelligent design" , but, like gravity, an inevitable feature of the universe we inhabit. (GW, 8/8)

Sharon, Bush make imperialist deal on Gaza

…On the eve of the Gaza withdrawal, in an interview with the daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, Mr. Sharon gave a strikingly succinct explanation of his diplomacy. "I’ve reached a deal with the Americans," he said. "I prefer a deal with the Americans to a deal with the Arabs…."

Mr. Bush…asked for — and got — Mr. Sharon’s agreement to do what he could do. Evacuating Gaza was one of those things.

But the deal Mr.Sharon cut with President Bush…comes with an escape clause. Further Israeli concessions are predicated on the Palestinian Authority — led by President Mahmoud Abbas — taking control and disarming the Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas gunmen.

…If Mr. Abbas and his colleagues won’t (or can’t)…George W. Bush has made it clear that the process stops. (NYT, 8/16)

Capitalist Russia: ‘The system is corrupt’

…Vast amounts of Russia’s wealth flow in a shadowy netherworld of corrupted officials — unreported as income, untaxed by the government and unavailable for social or economic investements.

"The weakness, inefficiency and corruption of all branches of government are the most important obstacles to further progress….

…Transparency International, the worldwide corruption watchdog, said in its latest report that Russia was now following the path of countries like Nigeria, Azerbaijan and Libya — rich in oil but soaked by graft….

"Corruption is not a virus infecting the system…."It is the system itself that is corrupt." (NYT, 8/13)

Medicaid: As usual, pro-worker law is gutted

In a series of rulings, federal judges are limiting the ability of poor people to turn to the courts to fight for Medicaid benefits….

Medicaid provides health insurance to more than 50 million low-income people. The court decisions are raising questions about what it means to have health insurance, if the terms of such coverage cannot be enforced.

The rulings, in more than a dozen cases, affect millions of people and involve a wide range of services like nursing home care, home health visits and preventive care for children. (NYT, 8/15)