CHALLENGE, October 5, 2005

Bosses’ Racism the Real Disaster for workers

Liberals’ Blueprint for a Police State

Liberals Use Katrina To Push ‘National Service’

Fickle Workers?

U.S. Hides GIs’ Huge Mental Casualties

Stern’s Pro-Boss Politics Mirror Nazi’s ‘Labor Front’

Grinding Down The Working Class

D.C. Metro Workers Reject Pro-War Patriotism at Union Conference

Protest Links Racist Attacks on Katrina’s Victims to Rulers’ War in Iraq

Nationalist Pols Undercut Militant March vs. Racist Minutemen

Stories of Police Terror and Worker Solidarity in New Orleans

Immigrant Workers: ‘Braceros’, Cannon Fodder or Revolutionaries?

GI’s in Iraq Get Pizza, Laptops and Death by Mortar

Raise Money for Anti-Racist Fighters

Liberals Aim to Turn Cindy Sheehan’s Fight into ‘Anybody-but-Bush’

1,500 Students Walk Out Against Prison-like School

U.S. Constitution: Document of, by and for the Ruling Class

‘Diamonds Are Forever’ Soaked in Blood

Workers are the Real 'Saints'

UNDER COMMUNISM - China eliminated syphilis in the early years of the revolution.


PLP Impresses D.C. Metro Worker

PL’ers Help Stop Transportation Firings

Primary Lessons of Katrina

Touts Book on Big Bill Haywood Trial

No Cops Under Communism

Becoming Fighters for Communism

Politics Primary in Fighting ‘Natural’ Disasters

Challenge Correction:


Bosses’ Racism the Real Disaster for workers

The profit system and its racism caused most of the death and misery following hurricane Katrina. Millions have seen the racist criminal nature of the U.S. bosses. But it’s not just Bush or some inept bureaucrats. Workers and their allies must be won to see that it’s the whole capitalist system, and that the only long-range answer is to fight for a society without bosses and their racism and profit wars. That answer is communism.

Tens of thousands, mostly black workers, could have been evacuated from the storm’s path. Dams could have been built and levees reinforced years ago. Most of the damage and suffering could have been anticipated and prevented.

But capitalism once again proved that maximum profits and the war budget trump human sacrifice. Then, after failing to avert the avoidable, government at every level subjected the stricken to inhuman conditions. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands face unemployment in a "refugee crisis" without precedent in U.S. history. (New York Times, 9/11)

The Bush gang stands as guilty of mass murder by neglect in the U.S. Gulf Coast as they are of mass murder by gunfire and bombing in their filthy Persian Gulf oil war. Now the liberal politicians and media are lambasting them for their callous racism, greed and refusal to heed decades-long warnings pointing to such a catastrophe. Correct. But if these bosses are pushing this, something else is afoot here.

It’s More Than Bush…

Beware of the liberals. In fact, the liberal bosses pose a far greater danger to our class than Bush & Co. They want to channel popular outrage at the Katrina atrocity, and mass solidarity with its victims, into demands for a stronger police state, beefed-up armed forces and a general militarization of society. Bush’s presidency has proved woefully ineffective in carrying out the liberals’ agenda for U.S. world domination. The Iraq quagmire shows that the forces the Bush White House has fielded don’t meet today’s challenges, let alone bigger future conflicts U.S. imperialism is bound to face.

The mass indignation and charity inspired by Katrina show that millions of U.S. workers have a deep aspiration to serve the people. This is good. But the liberals want to use that for an electoral movement to "throw the rascals out" of Washington and, worse yet, for a broad patriotic mobilization to fight and die for imperialism.

The storm’s track was known for days before it hit. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered the city evacuated but failed to provide for the 50,000 mainly black and poor households with no independent means of transportation. Hundreds of school and city transit buses sat in their lots. Yet the liberal media are now glorifying Nagin because he’s stridently criticized the Bush mob.

For half a century, scientists warned that New Orleans’ dams and levees wouldn’t withstand a powerful hurricane. In 1998, engineers devised "Coast 2050," a plan involving massive sea gates, like those built in the Netherlands after its 1953 disaster. Those gates might have saved the city. But the plan’s price tag was too high for Congress. In fact, Federal flood control spending for S.E. Louisiana was slashed in half between 2001 and 2005. As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers discontinued work on the levee system that could have protected New Orleans from flooding.

Liberals’ Blueprint for a Police State

CHALLENGE readers will remember the Hart-Rudman Commission’s reports on National Security in the 21st Century — the liberal rulers’ "bi-partisan" blueprint for 20 years of a home-front police state and ever-widening wars to defend U.S. world domination, particularly of oil. Among other things, these reports proposed the National Guard function as a homeland Gestapo. Well, 40% of the Louisiana and Mississippi Guards are now in Iraq. A New York Times editorial (9/2) restated the Hart-Rudman thesis: "…the National Guard must be treated as America’s most essential homeland security force, not as some kind of military piggy bank for the Pentagon to raid for long-term overseas missions." For those, said the Times, "America clearly needs a larger active-duty Army."

From the beginning, the government’s inept response has been more of a military occupation than a relief effort. The Pentagon has shoved aside traditional aid organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. While tens of thousands of victims ashore craved food and water, the Navy and Coast Guard immediately launched their largest domestic maneuvers since World War II, dispatching ships to secure oil rigs and shipping lanes.

But the liberals want still further militarization; they’re getting some. On September 9, Homeland Security replaced incompetent Bush crony Michael Brown with Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen as chief of FEMA operations along the Gulf. New York Senator Hillary Clinton, a leading candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, has introduced legislation to restore FEMA’s cabinet-level status and draw its top officials from the ranks of generals, admirals or police commissioners.

Liberal bosses also hope to use Katrina to reverse Bush’s tax-cuts-for-the-rich policy because it hampers imperialism’s ability to wage wars and implement a domestic police state. Alluding to the intensifying rivalry among the world’s top imperialists, the Times intoned (9/2): "Congress and the president had better get the message: an extraordinary time is upon the nation. The annihilation in New Orleans is an irrefutable sign that the national tax-cut party is over. So is the idea that Americans cannot be required to accept sacrifice or inconvenience."

Liberals Use Katrina To Push ‘National Service’

But the liberals need millions of workers willing to give their labor power and lives freely to the capitalist state. On Labor Day, the Times cynically seized on the Katrina disaster to boost the liberals’ push for "national service," asking for Labor Day to be turned into "a day of national service." (See CHALLENGE, 9/21, p. 2). This is the same plan which flopped with the Kerry campaign.

But helping storm victims is not the service the liberal rulers really want or need. The 12 years of the liberal Carter and Clinton presidencies saw many opportunities to repair and improve New Orleans’ levees and dams.

From the Gulf of Mexico to the Persian Gulf, Demopublicans Call for More War

On September 7, as thousands festered and died in filth, a group of highly-placed liberal Democrat and Republican "statesmen" — "Partnership for a Secure America" — placed a full-page in the New York Times urging the nation to keep its eye on the imperialist ball. Warmakers and fascists among the signers included former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, as well as Hart and Rudman themselves. The ad pointedly didn’t mention the hurricane. Instead, it urged that leaders "from across the political spectrum…come together to develop a bi-partisan national strategy to address the terrorist threat." They called for more U.S. troops and more "allies" (i.e., European and other bosses whom U.S. imperialists might cut in on Iraqi oil profits) to achieve decisive victory in their current bloodbaths. The reasoning: "outcomes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan will affect global security for decades to come." This "Partnership" is bankrolled by the liberal, imperialist Rockefeller and Soros foundations, among others.

The rulers want to channel the sympathy for Katrina’s victims into its opposite: a deadly mass movement to help their class rule the world. The Katrina’s destruction will pale before the hundreds of millions of corpses imperialism will pile up in its pursuit of this goal. Charity won’t stop the bosses. Neither will an election that replaces Bush with a Democrat. A system that can build nuclear weapons and can murder workers by the millions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam but can’t repair dams and levees to protect workers and can’t transport children and old people out of harm’s way doesn’t deserve to exist. A system which cannot exist without launching wars that devastate humanity doesn’t deserve to survive.

Millions of U.S. workers have proved after Katrina that their hearts are in the right place. Many are open to radical ideas: disgust and anger at the Bush crowd’s antics have generated potential desire to discover the catastrophe’s true underlying causes and to take useful action. This mood provides an important opportunity for PLP. The aspiration to serve the people is crucial, but is insufficient. A communist analysis and communist practice are necessary to make it a reality for the working class. The best way to honor the victims of this and future capitalist atrocities is to build the PLP. Communism is a difficult goal, but it’s the only one worth fighting for — and eventually winnable.

Boeing Strikers Push Unity with Northwest Walkout, Katrina Victims

SEATTLE, WA, Sept. 16 — Contradictions have sharpened as the Boeing strike enters its third week. From the discussions and debates at union meetings and picket lines, barbershops, church fund-raisers for Katrina victims, breakfast and lunch meetings, one can tell strikers are coming to terms with the possibility of a long strike. At this date, no negotiations are scheduled.

Our questions — while inspired by the strike — go farther. How to explain the recent passivity of the U.S. working class? How does New Orleans, which most agree has exposed U.S. capitalism’s racism and anti-working class bias, relate to our struggle? Just who is our enemy? Certainly, Boeing CEO McNerney is, with his millions in salary and supplemental retirement. But what about a system that attacks us all to finance the bosses’ oil wars? Getting answers to these questions right will have as much to do with determining our future as the pension, medical and work-rules contained in the final contract settlement.

Fickle Workers?

"I think you will have trouble with scabs if this continues," warned a striker at a recent breakfast, noting that this is the first big industrial strike in a while. "Others fought before us, but too many are not willing to really fight now. I hate to say this, but I think your fellow workers are too fickle."

That kept the water boiling for a while! Everybody at the table had an opinion. Some argued that the only way to understand this behavior is to realize that we all have contradictions — contradictions between capitalist individualism and communist working-class consciousness. Fifty years of business unionism, combined with abject revisionism (acceptance of capitalist ideas in the erstwhile communist parties) that did in the old communist movement, have taken their toll.

"We don’t have the fight and fire deep in our soul that our predecessors had," said another striker, "We have to find that."

The working class will find that fight and fire when we develop a revolutionary communist vision of the future. Today, we must focus on recruiting and developing Party members who can lead the fight for this vision. They, in turn, must increase the circulation of our revolutionary communist paper, CHALLENGE, through expanding our network of readers and sellers. These networks will, in all likelihood, be the hub of any attempt to sharpen the struggle, like mass picket lines to stop scabs.

Good things happen when workers who are under increasing attack regularly read CHALLENGE. "They are always doing this," said one 62- year-old white striker and a relatively new reader, referring to the racist portrayal of black flood victims in New Orleans as looters. "I think it was you [a comrade] who showed me those articles on how the bosses’ media uses race to divide workers. You’d think we’d get it by now!"

Turning Fickle Into Fight . . .

One comrade striker told how she brought leaflets to her hair salon. Her half-hour appointment lasted hours. Her hair dresser took the flyers that urged "strike against a system that uses race and class to leave workers behind" and gave them to every customer. "She may not know it now, but she has a lot of communist ideas," said our comrade. (Strikers distributed a thousand of these flyers, linking New Orleans, our strike and the bosses’ oil wars, despite not being inside the plants.)

Discussions at the salon about New Orleans and the Boeing strike mixed with debates about racism on the job. "On my job, Mexicans told the boss we weren’t working hard enough," complained a black woman.

"Pitting one race against another makes the boss happy," answered our comrade. "We want to send the boss home stressed and unhappy so we’ve got to talk to these workers and beat racism". The hair dresser backed her up.

Strikers built on this concept of working-class unity at various union meetings during the last two weeks. The union misleaders’ concept of unity means supporting them in negotiations. They’ve staged intimidating shows of power at these meetings.

Apparently, not intimidating enough! Some rank-and-filers spoke about supporting the Northwest Airline strikers, which the leadership refused to do. The latter actually shut the meeting down before a resolution could be brought up. Others linked our struggle to New Orleans, saying that the mostly black workers "left behind" during the flood and in the Superdome had the same enemy as we did. The racist exploitation in subcontractor plants was detailed. All the gobbledygook about "how we are all Americans" was ridiculed. More still proposed additional ways to support Northwest strikers and Katrina flood victims. The hall burst into applause as one speaker ended, "Same enemy, same fight, all the world’s workers must unite!"

…And Fight into Revolution

But even this applause revealed the contradictions within us. The same strikers who applauded the call for international working-class unity also applauded the union leadership’s nationalist, narrow trade union approach.

The bosses have state power now. Their labor lieutenants control the unions. It should be no surprise that their ideology dominates.

To turn this around we must understand the contradictions brought out by the strike in each and every one of us. The bosses want us to believe the lie that workers can’t be revolutionary leaders and that what we do doesn’t really matter. Quite the contrary, each worker who takes up the mantle of party membership and revolutionary leadership prepares for the day when our class thinks and acts in our own interests. Over time, our revolutionary vision will dominate. We will find the "fight and fire." Winning means preparing our class to take power.

U.S. Imperialism Attacks Workers from Baghdad to Boeing

Knowing that workers want to fight for something bigger than themselves, the union hacks frame this Boeing strike as a "fight for American workers." (Apparently, the hacks definition of "American" workers excludes Northwest strikers; Wichita commercial workers who were forced to vote and vote again until they agreed to wage, benefit and job cuts; and Lockheed strikers who the union was furious at because they overrode the hacks’ recommendation to accept the elimination of retiree medical benefits for new hires.) Even so, the term "American workers" excludes the majority of our class — and potential allies — not just in the U.S. but also throughout North and South America. Meanwhile, it sets us up for patriotic appeals to buttress the bosses’ oil wars, like in Iraq.

The chairman of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), the bosses’ main foreign policy think-tank, makes the case perfectly clear. He, along with his friends on the Boeing Board of Directors who are also CFR directors, says we must prepare for more "stunningly expensive" wars to control Mid-East oil. We have to choose, according to the bosses’ logic, "between retirement security and national security." Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board concludes "competitive outsourcing could be the answer" to the bosses’ funding problems. (Aerospace Daily, 2/3/2000)

We have everything in common with the workers in Baghdad, and nothing with CEO McNerney and the bosses on the CFR board. The question for us is: which class do we want the fruits of labor to serve — the bosses and their oil wars for imperialist domination or the worlds’ workers?

U.S. Hides GIs’ Huge Mental Casualties

It’s the toll the Department of Defense isn’t adding up for you.

[The latest] toll everyone knew was 1,834—Americans dead in combat. According to the Pentagon, the toll of war wounded was 13,877.

But TV’s The Mclaughlin Group doggedly reports another casualty toll….

When one adds mental illness to the mix, the cumulative casualty toll exceeds 43,200, reports show.

That’s a stunning figure. With a fighting force in the vicinity of 200,000 at any one time, that would make for one of the highest percentile casualty counts in modern warfare. (COX newspapers)

Stern’s Pro-Boss Politics Mirror Nazi’s ‘Labor Front’

(Our last issue exposed SEIU chief Andrew Strern’s intimate tie-in with the ruling class. Sitting on the Rockefeller/Ford-funded Aspen Domestic Strategy Group, Stern helps set these bosses’ policies in winning workers to back U.S. imperialism worldwide. Having split from Sweeney’s AFL-CIO, Stern is pushing the drafting of undocumented workers in exchange for citizenship, with the unions acting as draft boards. Stern wants to help the rulers control millions of immigrants by exploiting them in low-wage war production plants and using them as cannon fodder in the U.S. Army)

Unions proved very useful in mobilizing for World War II. The rulers entertain a similar hope for them now, as global conflicts loom over the horizon. But the movement Stern spearheads more resembles the German model for fascism than the U.S. model of the 1930’s and 1940’s. At that time, millions of U.S. workers in largely red-led unions sincerely believed they were fighting against fascism, despite the disastrous United Front policy of the Communist Party. Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party, the Nazis, on the other hand, abolished existing unions from the outset and set up an all-encompassing "Labor Front" with goals inseparable from German imperialism. Stern’s open collaboration with top capitalists on matters of national service, national security, and competitiveness forms part of broader plans to spill workers’ blood so that U.S. imperialism reigns supreme.

Hitler and his bosses succeeded temporarily — before the Soviet Red Army ground them into dust — because they had managed to win the bulk of the German working class to fight and die for Nazi ideology. Although the Stern breakaway reflects a similar aspiration on the part of U.S. liberal imperialists, their chances for success are far from certain. It’s been a long time since U.S. workers enthusiastically went to war for this rotten system. By the end of World War II, GIs were holding mass demonstrations against the idea of invading the Soviet Union or China. The Korean war saw a significant number of desertions and defections. The bosses’ Vietnam genocide gave its name to a "syndrome" that described mass rebellion, desertion, defection, and violence by U.S. troops against their own officers. U.S. soldiers’ morale today in Iraq is declining, with desertions and AWOL cases mounting.

"Vietnam Syndrome" therefore remains a significant monkey on the rulers’ back. Furthermore, the Stern gang has so far concentrated on service workers, who represent a growing sector of the economy and are extremely important. However, the big prize from the bosses’ viewpoint remains the workers in heavy industry, telecommunications, aerospace, and auto — the major war industries. The rulers have enjoyed relative labor peace for many years on this front. For this they can thank AFL-CIO bigwigs like Sweeney and the collapse of the old communist movement.

Grinding Down The Working Class

But, as the Stern phenomenon is attempting to show, passivity is no longer enough to meet imperialism’s needs. The bosses now require several generations of industrial and service workers in the tens of millions ready to kill and die to keep the U.S. on top. For years, the rulers have attempted to bribe large sections of the working class with the promise of material benefits like home ownership and the latest gadgets — cellphones, computers, whatever fad comes down the pike. Stern & Co., along with the think-tanks behind Hart-Rudman, are looking to replace this crass, individualistic consumerism with a modernized version of Hitlerite ideology, a kind of fascist "collective" spirit based on nationalism and sacrifice for whatever mask they put over their need to spill blood for maximum profit. This is all the more important to them as they have begun the process of grinding down the entire working class economically, not just millions of the most oppressed workers, who have had to live for years with high unemployment, little or no health insurance, etc. The rulers need desperately for us to march enthusiastically toward our own doom.

Well, the jury’s still out on their chances for success. The direction the working class takes in the coming years will determine the outcome. Ideology and the political organization that flows from it will determine that direction. Stern & Co. represent an early version of 21st century U.S. "National Socialism. "Two political errors can arise from our reaction to the Stern phenomenon. One is falling for it. The other is underestimating its danger.

The only antidote to this danger is the growth of the Progressive Labor Party and revolutionary communist consciousness and militancy among the same sections of the working class the Stern gang and its bosses are attempting to win.

D.C. Metro Workers Reject Pro-War Patriotism at Union Conference

DENVER—The contrast between communist and capitalist leadership stood out sharply at a recent conference for leaders of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). Our group from the Washington, D.C. Metro Local of the ATU was multi-racial, multi-generational, and as one young worker said, "the future of Local 689." We went with the goal of building political consciousness among the Metro workers who attended and on raising the war in Iraq with the other locals there. This was the exact opposite with the thinly-veiled pro-capitalist transit "leaders," promoting spending all their members’ money on electing politicians, who they even admitted are hard to hold accountable.

The union hack opening the proceedings set the tone by announcing the conference theme: "being under threat." He said we live in "daily danger of attacks on our freedom and our way of life." From whom? The bosses and their attacks on unions? Or from the ruling class’s attack on the workers in New Orleans? No, he was explicitly advocating the racist "war on terrorism."

Every morning we were told to stand for the national anthems of Canada and the U.S. and then to remain standing for a moment of silent prayer. Many Metro workers were offended by both the flag-saluting and the prayer. Two of our members refused to stand.

On the closing day, one misleader gave a speech about the flag, how it "stands for freedom and respect for the soldiers who have died fighting for that freedom." When the conference stood to applaud this pro-imperialist harangue, the entire contingent of Local 689 members remained seated. It was a great show of solidarity and power.

One comrade took the microphone to say, "When the U.S. and Russian soldiers met at the Elbe [River in Germany] in World War II, they sang the Internationale. They didn’t salute different flags; they united as workers under the red flag." Another comrade said, "The flag to me stands as a symbol of the oppression in this country. As a black man, I know that flag makes me three-fifths of a man. We were brought here in chains and suffered under that symbol of freedom."

When he finished, someone from another local shouted, "Want a plane ticket?" Six members of local 689 approached this racist and demanded a clarification. He backed off, stating he didn’t mean anything by his comment and that he was "a Native American."

Besides us, the only other mention of the war in Iraq came from the speaker on "terrorism and how to spot it." He distributed a list of "the worst offenders" of "state-sponsored terrorism" and the U.S. was not on it, causing someone to yell out, "the CIA!"

Near the end of the conference, one young Metro worker cited the need for solidarity between young and old workers, and for a fight against racist wage progressions. His speaking affected the other young workers he was working with; they saw his leadership and the need to speak out.

Another older comrade said the future of the labor movement shouldn’t rely on begging politicians, but on raising class consciousness through mass actions and demonstrations. He said the labor movement needs to be in the forefront of fighting the divisions within the working class such as racism and anti-immigrant attacks.

All this was an eye-opening experience for many workers in our contingent. It was very clear that these union leaders didn’t want to change society at all, or even build the labor movement. As one young worker commented, "They’re held bondage to their paychecks and nice suits and houses."

The conversations throughout the conference were the most important aspect of attending. We built commitment to organizing for the upcoming anti-war march in D.C., and built leadership among the younger workers who attended. Other local unions responded to our ideas and will be attending the anti-war rally at the union hall. We will continue to work with them to build class consciousness in the union and in our neighborhoods.

Protest Links Racist Attacks on Katrina’s Victims to Rulers’ War in Iraq

NEWARK, NJ, Sept. 9 — Demonstrating at the Federal Building, over 50 college students, workers and community activists protested the racist and anti-working class treatment of our fellow workers in Louisiana and Mississippi. Linking the events of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War, PLP members emphasized that racism and imperialism are not just part of the Bush administration, but two elements necessary to capitalism. A speaker also criticized the demand, "Troops out of Iraq, Troops into New Orleans," saying the National Guard’s role is to protect the bosses from working-class fight-backs, not to protect workers from these disasters. Actually the rulers are using the Katrina disaster to increasingly militarize civil society (see front-page article).

Although many participants were from liberal-led organizations, they joined chants, such as "From New Orleans to Iraq, the working class must fight back," and "Racism here, imperialism there; the struggle is growing everywhere." People responded very positively whenever speakers indicted capitalism, rather than merely blaming the Bush Administration. People bought 100 CHALLENGES.

The multi-racial demonstration of both young and old showed the importance of developing ties in these organizations, on the job, on campuses and in our communities. This led to the size and character of the rally. More importantly, it demonstrated that the working class is open to real left ideas. While many don’t have a communist analysis of capitalism, Katrina enabled them to see there’s a problem with "the system," that we need to do more than impeach Bush, a common call just weeks before this action.

Right now it’s important to talk to our friends, classmates and co-workers about events in Louisiana and Mississippi, and explain that one cannot talk about "race and class" without connecting them to how capitalism uses racism to divide and exploit all workers. As these events have shown, capitalism is not the answer for the working class, whether in Iraq or New Orleans. This is why we need to build a communist party that will represent the interests of workers worldwide. The bosses will fight back with everything they have to make sure our class doesn’t take state power, so we must fight back even harder to make sure it happens.

Nationalist Pols Undercut Militant March vs. Racist Minutemen

AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 17 — One thousand people from many Texas cities marched against the racist Minutemen at the State Capitol today. The Minutemen are a vigilante group like the Klan who harass and threaten immigrant workers along the border and at day labor sites from California to New York, claiming to be protecting jobs for white workers. Some politicians are trying to deputize these thugs to enlarge the Border Patrol.

Many workers and students joined the march along the route. Marchers chanted, "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Racist Minutemen Have Got to Go." Near the Capitol, a half dozen racist thugs chanted anti-immigrant and anti-communist filth. They were surrounded by around 30 marchers, including PL students, who shouted, "Fight capitalism, not other workers," shutting them down until they finally left.

Some marchers questioned how much these thugs represent white workers’ sentiment. But just as with most KKK appearances, only five or six were ready to show up. Clearly these vigilantes are class enemies who should be physically smashed when they appear, in order to help stop a fascist movement from growing in the U.S.

Although the march was tremendously anti-racist, it was organized and controlled by liberal Mexican and Chicano groups like LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), and Hispanic AFL-CIO organizers who tried to turn the day into a nationalist and cultural festival. After excellent chants opposing racism and defending undocumented immigrants, these misleaders would shout, "Viva La Raza," "Viva South America" and "Viva Mexico." Unity of all workers from all nations was absent. There were almost no black marchers, no mention of immigrants from Asia and Africa nor of the Katrina victims (mainly blacks but also many immigrant and white workers). Only the PLP leaflet explained how anti-immigrant racism and capitalist-created borders hurt ALL workers and drive down everyone’s wages. The March organizers tried to tell the crowd that immigrants only take away jobs from dishwashers, or only take the jobs that no one else wants. These patriotic sellouts’ only argument was that immigrants from South America "deserve" to be in the U.S. and take part in the "American Dream."

Most important, speakers from the podium never said that borders serve the rich and should be destroyed. They never uttered the word "capitalism." But many, many marchers were open to ideas of international solidarity and destruction of the capitalist profit system because they have seen how borders serve the rich. Only the PL leaflet explained the need to destroy the profit system and its borders and build true communism. The March leaders’ speeches implored listeners to vote for liberal politicians, asking everyone to beg Hillary Clinton and her friends in Congress to help immigrants by passing the Dream Act. This would allow young undocumented people to become "legal" by attending college or most likely by joining the Army since many won’t meet the college requirements.

One young student speaker pleaded with the crowd to support the Dream Act so she could become a nurse practitioner, explaining that she had already lived the "American Dream" by attending college. She was blind to the fact that under such legislation, hundreds of thousands would become easier to control and deport while tens of thousands would be forced to fight and die in Iraq and elsewhere in exchange for every college student who might get a degree and a job.

But the marchers’ anti-racist and anti-vigilante enthusiasm was great. PL’ers met many people who can be won away from fake electoral reformism and nationalism to international working-class unity against capitalists everywhere.

Stories of Police Terror and Worker Solidarity in New Orleans

Much of the media coverage on the destruction in New Orleans has been a racist smear of workers suffering from the flood, depicting them either as helpless and inept or as thieves and criminals. "Sixty Minutes" on CBS (9/11) also showed the cops as "heroes," a mighty tough sell, considering that one-third of the force ran away. Interviews with workers trapped in the city reveal the true picture, however: the cops and National Guards threatened the lives of workers trying to escape or just survive, while workers organized themselves, their sharing saving many who would have died. Some were broadcast on the NPR program "This American Life" (9/9).

Denise Marsh, a black worker at the city’s Memorial Hospital rode out the hurricane in her home after she was kicked out of her hospital room to make way for two white nurses. After the levees broke, she spent two days at the hospital in rising water, and was taken by boat to the Convention Center, a sewer with an overwhelming smell. Every few hours the cops told them busses would come, lining them up in the sun without food and water. Armed police and Guards kept passing by with water, but never stopped.

Young men with guns broke into stores on St. Charles Street and got juice for babies, food, water and clothes, distributing them and trying to secure the area, fanning old people to keep them cool. They were well organized and thoughtful, Marsh said, distributing food, but were labeled "animals." "I was touched by them," she said. Some people tried to cross the bridge into Algiers, which was dry and had power. Armed National Guards turned them back, under Governor’s orders to shoot to kill.

Another story which has received wide attention came from several EMTs from San Francisco, in New Orleans for a convention.The conventioneers pooled their money to hire busses, but the latter were commandeered by the Guard. They camped near a police command center, but the cops told them their busses were across the bridge in Gretna. They walked miles through town, their numbers growing to 1,000 by the time they reached the bridge. Armed Gretna sheriffs fired over their heads, threatening to shoot them if they advanced further. The sheriffs told them, "we’re not turning the west bank into another Superdome," which the EMTs understood as "code words for racism."

In the pouring rain, they gathered on an expressway. sharing water from a stolen water truck. "Blessed are the people who loot," said one EMT. The driver took as many as would fit in the truck. Those left gathered food from a wrecked National Guard truck, cleaned up the area, and built an improvised bathroom. At nightfall, a Gretna sheriff drove them off at gunpoint: ""Git the f--- off this freeway." The EMTs hid in an abandoned bus until daylight. In the morning they phoned someone from the firefighters’ union, who arranged for them to cross the bridge.

A high school student who survived days without food and water summed up what she learned: "I didn't know it was a crime to be poor and the punishment was death."

These stories show that the bosses’ government was not just inept or indifferent to the people’s suffering but used its armed force to enforce racism and stop workers’ efforts to save themselves. This will be the future for millions of workers until we do away with the real disaster, the capitalist system.

Immigrant Workers: ‘Braceros’, Cannon Fodder or Revolutionaries?

Two articles in CHALLENGE, (8/17 AND 9/7) about the industrial working class must also address the plight and importance of immigrant workers in the class struggle. Contrary to the racist smokescreen of fascist groups like the Minutemen and Save Our State, and the like-minded right-wing politicians who advocate strengthening "our" borders, U.S. imperialists need this source of cheap labor and working-class cannon fodder. Without it they’d find it very difficult to compete against China’s low-priced products and to wage imperialist wars. This stubborn fact doesn’t escape the liberal bosses and policy-makers.

As detailed in CHALLENGE (7/20/05 editorial), Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) have introduced a bi-partisan immigration bill to secure cheap labor for war industries and millions of rank-and-file troops for their war agenda, stem the influx of undocumented workers (in favor of "regulated," "more manageable" workers), and expand their fascist plans for the entire U.S. working class.

Liberal bosses have also mobilized their labor lackeys. A Brookings Institution essay by SEIU president and Change to Win coalition leader Andrew Stern suggests, "Why not make a two-year commitment to national service one pathway to legalization. Union leaders and employers together could identify eligible current and future workers…." (United We Serve) The bosses’ plans to win immigrant workers to their imperialist agenda and persuade them that exploitation is a sacrifice for "their" country are clear. But it’s also clear that the revolutionary potential of this most intensely exploited sector of the working class, when empowered with communist analysis, could help lead the working class and PLP.

Since all ideas come from life, examining conditions for industrial immigrant workers in the factory where I work reveal "temps" who receive no benefits, have absolutely no job security, and receive on average $2 to $3 less pay per hour than regular workers. They are mostly undocumented immigrants hired through employment agencies in order to free the companies who exploit them from any legal entanglements. For the bosses these workers are more disposable than the rest of us and can be exploited for anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, without the added costs of medical insurance, pensions, vacations or even sick days, and then are discarded without fear of repercussions. One co-worker has been employed for seven months without benefits, while the bosses keep counseling "patience."

Some temps are legal-resident immigrants, but they’re exploited as much as those without green cards because they’re so busy working they can’t learn English. "I know they shouldn’t treat us this way," says another, "but I can’t even defend myself. They reprimand me in English; how can I argue with them?" While the bosses dangle the carrot of long-term employment to keep temp workers loyal, these workers rarely become permanent.

The "fortunate" immigrant workers who’ve learned English and have green cards get to slave away as "permanent" workers — until the next round of layoffs. They fill the ranks of workers described in the previous articles. Immigrants from more than seven countries comprise at least 60% of the workforce in this factory, indicating the importance of internationalism and the fight against nationalism. To the dismay of the Minutemen and other racists, it also reveals U.S. capitalism’s dependence on immigrants to keep its manufacturing alive and profitable.

Since U.S. bosses must produce commodities at prices competitive with China and other rival imperialists, they must exploit every worker as much as possible. But, as Karl Marx wrote, they "…create their own grave-diggers."

These workers are not defeated. They’re searching for a solution to capitalist exploitation. The conditions in industrial production create a work-force ready for communist ideas. They generally accept the fact that the bosses are stealing from them; that the unions are, as one worker put it, "sellouts, when push comes to shove." Although exploitation pits worker against worker for the higher-paying positions, most look at co-workers within their circles as comrades in a struggle to survive. Every day there’s talk of how the bosses couldn’t care less about workers, about how current conditions are unlivable. But this doesn’t mean winning these workers to communism and PLP will be easy. Like the rest of us, industrial workers struggle with internal contradictions.

But PLP has dedicated itself to building for a communist revolution that’s the only way out for these and millions of other workers worldwide, including Chinese workers. The road to that revolution must travel through the industrial working class.

GI’s in Iraq Get Pizza, Laptops and Death by Mortar

They’ve been keeping us busy. I’ve been juggled around since the day I was sent here. But that’s the Army for you. And you wouldn’t believe how the Army attempts to kiss all our asses. Anything to keep us from uniting and complaining, right? Well, they can pay us more money; entertain us with large-screen TV’s to pass our down time watching movies; bring us Pizza Hut, Burger King, Subway and even KFC. They can sponsor Karaoke nights, casino evenings and open up pools for relief from the HOT sun. We want books? They open up libraries. We want internet? Free internet access, or with a monthly payment the internet is brought to your room — via wireless access. We want gourmet coffee, not the mud water we were getting? Well, a coffee shop opens with an espresso machine — get your vanilla latté or café mocha or frappuccino (even with whipped cream).

Then on your day off, you’re sitting inside a building overlooking the pool filled with young bodies mingling. You decide to take it outside, so you pick up your laptop and finish sending that e-mail from a reclining chair while sipping on your mocha frappuccino.

Then you hear a mortar round coming towards the base, followed by an explosion that makes the ground you’re standing on tremble. At that very moment you realize where you are. The sirens remind you you’re at war, and how much you’d rather be home.

Suddenly, you realize all these crumbs are worthless — worthless for one’s self, despicable for the soldiers who were killed when that mortar round hit the dining facility, worthless for the father and husband who was killed when a roadside bomb exploded while patrolling the streets of Iraq. Almost 2,000 soldiers’ and tens of thousands of Iraqis’ lives lost — all for nothing, except oil profits.

Believe me, the pacifiers offered don’t fool everyone, just as the excuses manufactured for this war are being exposed as lies. Many soldiers are upset, and if we aren’t home by February, you can guarantee people will take it a step forward, because this isn’t worth being away from family and friends. So I’ll be home soon.

Raise Money for Anti-Racist Fighters

Nine anti-racist members and friends of Progressive Labor Party face trials in Los Angeles, Bridgewater, NJ and Farmingville, LI, NY, for fighting the KKK-type anti-immigrant Minutemen racists. They follow a long PLP tradition of fighting the bosses’ racist thugs. The legal costs of defending these anti-racists amount to some $60,000. We’re asking all CHALLENGE readers and friends to donate whatever they can. Checks and money orders can be made payable to Challenge Periodicals and mailed to PLP, GPO Box 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202.

Liberals Aim to Turn Cindy Sheehan’s Fight into ‘Anybody-but-Bush’

I was in Crawford, Texas twice, while Cindy Sheehan was there. She was indeed a powerful catalyst for anti-war action. My first time I went with some people I knew and some I didn’t know. We found hundreds of people from around Texas and other states in a Crawford park and later drove out to "Camp Casey," the ditch along a country road where Cindy Sheehan and other military families and vets had pitched tents and set up a row of crosses with names of dead soldiers.

It wasn’t just "peaceniks" from cities. An older man in his pickup truck, from a nearby small town, wearing his "Vietnam Vet" cap told me he and his wife had been bringing in supplies. "You know what that is in Iraq?" he said. "It’s just a desert Vietnam." He spoke disparagingly of the few pro-war counter-demonstrators. "I know a lot of them," he continued. "It’s just the same old, same old people from around here."

The speakers at the rallies took a very narrow line, noting only U.S. casualties in Iraq. Only Cindy Sheehan mentioned the deaths of Iraqis. When one speaker began saying, "We can’t come home from Iraq tomorrow," people in the crowd shouted, "Yes, we can!" and "Out now! Out now!" A vet who appeared to be one of the rally leaders spoke very hatefully to a young man who was taking a more left, anti-imperialist position.

Two weeks later in Crawford there were thousands of people meeting at "Camp Casey II," under a huge tent on donated space near the Bush "ranch." It was very well organized. I recognized some of the organizers/workers from Austin; they had apparently been there through the week. I wondered, do these people have paying jobs from some of the groups running the event? (Otherwise, how do they live?) I got the impression that groups allied with the "left" wing of the Democratic Party want to keep Cindy Sheehan under their wing and keep the message very very narrow. The Peace House where we parked initially was so bedecked with American flags that at first I thought we were at the pro-war rally. However, one Iraq War vet give an impassioned speech contrasting the Americans eating their fill in Fallujah while Iraqi children starved outside. But again, most of the event was narrowly focused on lamenting the deaths of young GI’s.

Out on the country road, Bush supporters were driving by slowly in SUV’s with flags and pro-war signs. I yelled, "Get out of Iraq NOW!" Some women and children joined the cry. But a rally monitor came along quickly and shushed us. There was a pro-war rally in a high school football stadium miles from Camp Casey.

Driving back home, we agreed that though Cindy Sheehan is a sincere person and an appealing personality, the anti-war "movement" is in danger of turning into support for "anybody-but-Bush" politicians and the liberal wing of the ruling class that wants to continue and expand imperialism "by proxy" — keeping the U.S. death count down.

An old friend in Austin

Red GI

1,500 Students Walk Out Against Prison-like School

BRONX, NY, Sept. 20 — Fifteen hundred students walked out of De Witt Clinton H.S. yesterday, protesting the installation of metal detectors through which they have to pass before entering school. "They’re treating us like prisoners," Marleesa Lee, 17, told the NY Times (9/20). "They have money for metal detectors, but not for books," she declared.

"This is school, not a jail," read a sign carried by junior Saira Asif, 15.

The students took to the streets and marched nearly two miles to picket the Bronx office of the Department of Education, snarling traffic on the way.

They were also protesting a ban on leaving school for lunch, which led to dangerous overcrowding in the cafeteria for the student body of 4,600. Many missed part of their first class because the lines to pass through the detectors were so long.

This student militancy, amid a racist "educational" system that crams nearly 5,000 mostly black and Latin youth into what passes for a high school, sets a good example for their teachers who have now gone over two years without a contract with a union that "fights" with TV commercials rather than walking out themselves. Prison-like schools are one more symptom of a war budget that constantly cuts funds for schools while spending hundreds of billions for oil wars — to which the rulers want to send these youth to fight and die. And that won’t change even if billionaire Bloomberg, the current Republican Mayor, is defeated by Democrat Fernando Ferrer, the "lesser evil" choice of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

The day after the student walkout, angry teachers at a UFT Delegate Assembly meeting rejected the city bosses’ latest contract offer and authorized a strike, while attacking both Bloomberg and union president Weingarten. Unity of students and teachers behind common anti-racist demands would really up the ante of class struggle against a ruling class that treats these students as fodder for capitalism’s low-wage sweatshops and its imperialist wars.

U.S. Constitution: Document of, by and for the Ruling Class

The U.S. ruling class has used the myths of freedom and democracy to win soldiers to support the government because it’s our job to supposedly protect these "freedoms," especially those found in the Constitution.

Well, Thomas Jefferson did write in the Declaration of Independence that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights" but he borrowed those words from John Locke, an English philosopher. However, Locke spoke of life, liberty, health, and property, not happiness. The signers of the Constitution talked about joy but they were inspired by the pursuit of property, not happiness.

After the U.S. War of Independence, the founding fathers — rich merchants, slave-owners, landlords and large farm owners — argued about the kind of government they wanted. A union of states with a strong federal government won. The reasons? Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay agreed: to control the effects of "factions." Madison explained that these "factions" were the haves and the have-nots. "The most common and durable source of factions have been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society." Factions also included various sections of the propertied class — "a landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest and many lesser interests."

But the main "factions" were laborers, slaves and the property-less who might revolt and overthrow the propertied class, as well as competing bosses who might rise violently against the state to dominate or separate the union. Hamilton said, "A firm union will be...a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection." And Madison added, "The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation." Madison explained that the causes of faction cannot be removed but a strong federal government would deal with its effects such as, "a rage for…an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project."

After taking years to create the new government, the newly-formed United States elected as President George Washington a slave owner and the richest man in the former British colonies.

Today U.S. rulers have extended the vote to all citizens, males without property, women and black people. But workers remain oppressed because behind this "democratic" government is a group — the ruling class — that prevents working people from taking power, while disciplining competing bosses in the name of their national interest. As one political philosopher put it, "What better way to enslave a people then to give them the vote and tell them they are free?"

‘Diamonds Are Forever’ Soaked in Blood

When Kanye West attacked Bush for "not caring for black people" during an NBC-telethon fund-raiser for Katrina victims. he became part of the problem instead of the solution to a racist capitalist system that causes such mass tragedy from New Orleans to Sierra Leone.

His new "progressive" single, "Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)," talks about "blood diamonds" in that African country.

The music mixes soul vocals sampled from a James Bond movie into an alluring hip-hop beat, similar to the DeBeers’ commercials music. Kanye relates events in Sierra Leone to those in U.S. ghettos. He explains that, "Over here, it's a drug trade, we die from drugs. Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs. The diamonds, the chains…"

Kanye laments, "…I thought my Jesus Piece was so harmless/'til I seen a picture of a shorty armless." The bosses and their lackeys who control the government and diamond mines terrorize their workers and other inhabitants, often cutting off mostly child workers' hands and limbs with machetes for not finding enough diamonds.

One scene in the song's video depicts a diamond dealer reaching into a jewelry display case and a small black hand reaches up, grasping a diamond. The dealer plucks the polished stone from the child's palm and places it on the counter for the enjoyment of two rich white women. Another man gives a woman an engagement ring, and blood runs down her hand. In this video, only white people buy and sell these "blood diamonds." Doesn't anyone else buy diamonds?

In one part of the remix, Kanye asks Jacob the Jeweler, popular among many celebrities, if he's selling Kanye conflict diamonds, and asks Jacob not to lie. If relying on a multi-millionaire celebrity jeweler, out for profits, to sell him "non-conflict diamonds" sounds like a contradiction that's because it is — one of many in the song.

Kanye West, who wears diamond-encrusted chains, explains the day he stops wearing his chain will be "the same day I give the game back." After delving into the blood and politics of Sierra Leone, how does Kanye West justify wearing blood diamonds? He crashes a Porsche and runs away with Sierra Leone kids into a church; the end of his video says, "Buy conflict-free diamonds."

Do "conflict-free diamonds" really exist? The Swiss-based DeBeers monopoly controls a majority of the world's diamonds, most of them mined in Southern Africa and South America. True, the diamonds used to finance the warlords and capitalists fighting in Sierra Leone and elsewhere are "drenched in blood," but everything produced under capitalism comes drenched in the blood of workers exploited by this profit system. The point is, how will we fight this.

Capitalism's music industry teaches youth to value diamonds, gold, sneakers, cars, and rims (expensive flashy car wheels) over human relationships. But Kanye says that the real conflict over blood diamonds is inside the "black soul" because "it is in a black person's soul to rock that gold." Not only is it racist to say it's in black people's "souls" to wear gold and diamonds, but Kanye is part of the capitalist music industry that promotes and teaches youth these capitalist values. In other words, "Do you," get your ice, and forget about everyone else.

In Kanye's other videos, he portrays women as possessions; their bodies are jewelry, things to display and own.

Actually, the first cut of this song, the one in the video and on the radio, brags about Kanye's wealth and status. He talks about a stripper named Porsche, her fat friend named Minivan (it's supposed to be a joke), and seeing Vegas through designer glasses while tripping on acid. The "diamonds are forever" in the chorus of the song refers to the Roc-A-Fella Record label and their trademark sign. Kanye told Vibe magazine that he made the video and the "progressive" remix after a fellow rapper told him about the Sierra Leone "blood diamonds."

In Jay Z's verse on the track, he boasts about selling kilos of coke and comparing drug-dealing to selling CD's. At first, lyrical "niceness," full of allusions and puns, distract what he's really saying. However, listening closely the verse has nothing to do with Sierra Leone. Kanye just finished talking about how drugs and money are means of exploitation, and Jay-Z is bragging about how rich and godlike he is. As much as these rappers think they are big capitalists with multi-platinum albums and millions of dollars, they're really just pawns for the ruling class.

Kanye West recorded a song that pretends to educate people about a serious issue but comes off looking stupid, regardless of how good the production and flows are, and actually deflects the real causes of conflicts, like Sierra Leone’s civil war and its blood diamonds.

Workers are the Real 'Saints'

Just to shed more light on the consistent inequalities that capitalism seems to shore up on a regular basis. On September 11, 30 some odd brand new cars, luxurious and expensive, were dropped off at San Antonio's largest sports stadium for New Orleans Saints football players. Ornate BMWs, Mustangs, Land Rovers, Cadillac Escalades, easily amounting to over $2 million, soon littered the parking lot.

Tens of thousands of workers from New Orleans have lost everything, and are sleeping in abandoned warehouses and sporting stadiums, while these celebrity football stars are staying in the nicest hotels and commanding luxury automobiles in which to tour the Alamo City. Resources should be going toward finding homes and jobs for displaced workers, and towards putting their children in school. Instead, they're providing expensive toys for sports celebrities, whose primary purpose is to divert our attention from real world problems. But this is capitalism, where profit always takes priority over people. The Saints football team makes millions for its owners and investors, and now has a new contract to play several games in San Antonio (which appears to be using the New Orleans tragedy to try to gain a city football team). So the Saints’ owners are spending obscene amounts of money on their stars to keep them happy and keep the profits rolling in. Whatever these sports stars are, they are not saints. The real saints are the workers who pulled together to survive the flood-induced hell of capitalist racism in New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama and those who have stepped up to volunteer.


Dr. Joshua Horn’s book "Away With All Pests" describes how China eliminated syphilis in the early years of the revolution.

In the late 1940’s, when the communist-led workers and peasants took power, more than 50% of the population in some areas of China suffered from syphilis. Syphilis, and the resulting secondary infections from other organisms, causes nerve degeneration, inability to have children, painful gaping wounds and many other horrible symptoms.

All sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a result of, among other causes, (1) the subjugation of the population by outside imperialists like the U.S. and Britain; (2) war and the widespread rape that accompanies it; (3) poverty; (4) drug addiction; (5) prostitution; and (6) sexist attitudes towards women.

Public health campaigns in capitalist countries, even with antibiotics like penicillin, are unable to eliminate syphilis and other STDs because social and political conditions prevent it. But in revolutionary China, syphilis was completely eliminated in less than 10 years in the 1950’s. How did they do it?

First, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led mass campaigns to eliminate prostitution, making it illegal. Angry workers punished the brothel owners. Former prostitutes were given jobs and education. Their families and neighbors were taught that the old oppressive society, not a weakness of the individual, caused prostitution. Many former prostitutes eventually became leaders in their communities and members of the CCP.

But this alone would not have lasted if the inequality of women in society had not been transformed, with laws granting women equal rights and the necessary campaigns to change the attitudes of the entire population, both men and women.

Next came the elimination of poverty through the creation of relative equality of economic conditions of men and women, and across all former classes. Adequate food, clothing, shelter, education and health care were guaranteed to all.

Then came mass campaigns, with the help of medical workers, to educate the population about the nature of syphilis, how it’s contracted and how it’s treated. Medical workers met with communities and exchanged information about social relationships and about the disease. An army of fighters was mobilized to find, treat and educate all the victims of syphilis nation-wide. Attitudes about sexuality and STDs had to be changed. Relying on the masses made all this possible.

Doctors had to be convinced that workers could give penicillin to victims of the disease. Otherwise there would never have been enough people to treat the victims.

Chinese antibiotic factories turned out large supplies of penicillin and many drugs for other diseases. These factories produced surpluses to help workers in other impoverished countries as well.

In this way, China — once called the "sick man of Asia" — became the world’s first country to eliminate syphilis. Today, however, syphilis and other STDs are making a comeback in capitalist China. Until the Chinese workers seize power again, and institute a communist rather than socialist system, the rapid and deadly decline in public health will continue.


PLP Impresses D.C. Metro Worker

I became a supporter of the PLP quite simply and frankly because they’re darn good people!

I went to a protest sponsored by my job and was introduced to some PLP’ers. Following the protest, they invited me to "tag along" to a meeting. It was one of the best "tags" I’ve had in a long time.

At this meeting, I was totally impressed to see people of all different backgrounds pulling together for one cause. I was especially impressed by the ideas and logic of the younger members and their enthusiasm of how to fight capitalism and imperialism. I thought to myself, "There are people who still care."

I was invited to another meeting and found myself making excuses not to go. I called the friend who invited me and told her I couldn’t make it. She said she understood. My sister and I had plans to go grocery shopping, but there was this powerful force that would not let me. We both wound up at the meeting and enjoyed it so much that we do our best not to miss any others. My sister said it felt good to be around "intelligent people" again. I must agree.

I took my niece to the last meeting. She now wants to attend again. I’m grateful for the people who have entered our lives to show us there’s still hope for humanity. May the comrades and supporters of PLP stay strong and on the right path to get all of us what we deserve — RESPECT and the right to live our lives equally together without being slaves to the capitalists. Thank you!

D.C. Metro worker

PL’ers Help Stop Transportation Firings

Recently a group of comrades distributed leaflets supporting fired workers and others facing firings. The bosses are speeding up these transportation workers while cutting their wages and benefits. When the workers organized against these attacks, the company fired the leading workers.

Then some workers wrote a leaflet explaining the key role workers play in the profit system, producing all the wealth while the boss lives off their labor. They demanded an end to the firings and called on other workers to join their struggle.

When workers read the leaflets, they moved closer to us. We told them they were not alone in the struggle, that when workers get together and organize they can become a formidable force against the boss.

The bosses got scared and doubled the security at the company gates, to try to intimidate the workers. But workers continued to take the leaflet.

This action was a very good experience. It showed me that workers will confront their bosses and that, with PLP leadership, can be won to understand the need to fight the entire system, for a society without bosses.

Even though the action won’t end these workers’ problems, for now the bosses stopped the firings and offered them a monthly bonus.

Many workers there are very grateful for our solidarity action, which is winning new friends that could become future Party militants. That’s our challenge.

A comrade in Mexico

Primary Lessons of Katrina

We need to concentrate on a limited number of primary lessons to be drawn from the Katrina disaster. I was at two demonstrations/rallies about Katrina. There were many slogans, with an aspect of truth in nearly every one. But mixed in were some that were basically wrong:

There are certain primary lessons from Katrina:

We should concentrate on these primary lessons.

A New Jersey comrade

Touts Book on Big Bill Haywood Trial

I read a highly engaging story of class struggle in the silver mining region of the Western U.S. in the 1890’s and early 1900’s, "The Big Trouble," by J. Anthony Lucas, all 754 pages.

Based on the 1907 trial of union and IWW leader, "Big Bill" Haywood, Lukas — a master story teller — weaves in the important characters of the period from President Teddy Roosevelt to baseball pitcher Walter Johnson. This is the book for you!

West Coast Comrade

No Cops Under Communism

The letter from "Red Student" (CHALLENGE, 9/7) immediately reminded me of a 1998 CHALLENGE that said: "Under communism we would have no place for the Klan. Racism would not be tolerated. It will not exist, period." Also, in the early 1920’s, when the Soviet Union was still a workers’ state, a whole busload of people physically attacked and chased a racist off the bus when he shouted insults at a black man.

They told the stunned man (not used to such displays of violent action) that racism would simply not be tolerated any more, and that racists had better either get used to it or stop being racist.

Cases of domestic violence today are products of wider societal ills that express themselves in the most intimate relationships (romantic and sexual). Under communism they will be a sign of not having struggled hard enough to eliminate that old framework. A communist society’s proper response to such abuses would begin with a solid, scientific understanding among Party members of the fundamental divisiveness and anti-working class, pro-profit character of bourgeois gender roles. This summer in particular, Party members have already had great new discussions along those lines; these are steps toward that new understanding

The hope would be not only that communism could help victims recover more quickly and fully, but also that the fresh, inspiring political framework it would give society could enable the abusers themselves to be rehabilitated much more effectively. Consider that while such programs would be helping to eliminate the attitudes of abusive "significant others" or spouses, communism in the media, schools, etc., would simultaneously be dismantling and disallowing the present widespread images of females as objects for men’s pleasure (e.g., music videos).

We already know that abuse, murder and pedophilia are never O.K. for a person to act on, regardless of the circumstances. It would be the local workers’ militias’ job to deal with these saboteurs of the revolution, by force if they refuse to back off before inflicting harm.

Red Student specifically asks about a police force. We won’t need a police force separate from the ragtag militias on the one end and the professional army on the other. Those will be enough. It’s much easier, and more participatory, to keep things as direct as possible. We’ll still have lots of enemies, but if we do our base-building correctly, we’ll have even more friends. And a lot fewer ways of losing than our predecessors did.

Young Red

Becoming Fighters for Communism

The letter "Cops Under Communism" (9/7) asked how would the Party protect people. The answer depends on who's fighting on the front lines of the working class today against the horrors of capitalism. Our PLP, though small, is growing and trying to become the eyes, ears, conscience and champion of the international working-class battle to smash capitalism and win communism. Becoming a member of PLP is like becoming a fighter for communism who serves the working class, as opposed to cops who serve the capitalist class.

Cops' power appears awesome at times, like at the Republican convention in NYC or when they brutalize and force workers into dividing pens during anti-racist protests and strikes against bosses' exploitation. However, the essence of cop power is that it's temporary and dependent on the degree of political consciousness in the working class. From New Orleans come reports of cops turning in their badges and shutting their precincts in the face of outraged workers, along with TV images of uniformed personnel pointing rifles at desperate people seeking food, water and clothing but unable to stop them. The capitalist rulers are being forced to airlift in tens of thousands of soldiers — although desperately needed as replacements in imperialist wars — to protect locked-up property which people need to survive.

The cops' "protector" image can change very rapidly into their real role as mercenaries for corporations, as it did during the 1930's Great Depression when falling profits and a society fed up with imperialist war caused the capitalists to unleash a class war on workers. That same scenario may be underway today.

I remember that era as characterized by workers' mass hatred of capitalist bosses and especially of their cops who protect scabs crossing picket lines. Any workers seen talking to a cop were immediately classified as a "stoolies" and treated like lepers. For youth without knowledge of those times, the rulers' genocidal indifference to people's suffering in the Gulf States offers a crash course in capitalist racism and class warfare.

The most difficult time under communism may be when the majority of people will not be in the Party and crime may not be banished for some time because capitalist ideas of serving yourself have deep roots, and corruption will go underground.

The success of communism will depend on how well we recruit workers to the Party before the revolution and how well these recruits can win the uncommitted majority to see that communism not only serves their needs through the destruction of exploitation, racism and sexism but is a society that needs and honors their work. They will expose bourgeois ideas, practice and culture, protecting the working class by becoming fighters for communism.

A comrade

Politics Primary in Fighting ‘Natural’ Disasters

The 9/21 column on how communism would deal with disasters like Hurricane Katrina made some useful points on the superiority of communist organization and coordination for mobilizing masses of workers for disaster relief and reconstruction, but in general, the article was too utopian. First, even if we're living in a pure communist world, at least some people will die during any disaster, even with prevention. We can't control everything. Second, after any successful revolution, the capitalists and those adhering to their ideas will fight viciously to re-establish their rule. Mass destruction may exist across parts of the planet (with food, clothing, etc. in short supply in many areas). Thus, our ability to help those experiencing natural disasters would face severe limits.

Superior technique, while important, is not primary in a communist-organized society. Communist politics is primary. We won't win workers and allies to communism by promising them some kind of paradise. We'll win them through the struggle to end privilege, individualism and profits with collectivity, accountability to each other and the desire to serve the masses, not the bosses. Whether we're sharing wealth or deprivation, the key difference is that we're mobilizing to serve the collective, not privilege and profits.

Boston Red


The headline No Cops Under Communism did not correspond to the letter in the last issue (9/21). The letter for which this headline was meant to is in the current issue of CHALLENGE.


Black enlistment drops by 40 percent

Recruitment among African Americans — who make up nearly one-quarter of active-duty forces despite making up only 13 percent of the U.S. population — has fallen by 40 percent in the face of strong community opposition to the Iraq war. (L.A. times, 8/22)

Don’t look to Democrats to change US plan

…While a debate over the war has erupted…Democrats…remind me of Gore Vidal’s description of the Vietnam-era Congress: Unsure of whether to be hawks or doves, they sound like capons.

A capon, for the enlightenment of the vegetarians in my audience, is a castrated chicken….

Leaders like Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York criticize Bush, but only for the way he has tried to win, not on…his goals…. (Chicago Tribune)

Using hurricane as excuse for low wages

…Around New Orleans, the prevailing hourly wage for a truck driver working on a levee is $9.04….

Thursday, Mr. Bush issued an order that exempts federal contractors working on disaster relief projects from a longstanding federal requirement that they pay workers "prevailing wages," which are usually pegged to union pay rates....

"There are a lot of opportunities to experiment," said Treasury Secretary John W. Snow… (NYT, 9/10)

Top bosses grab $400 to worker’s $1

…At 367 top corporations….for every dollar bill in a worker’s pocket, the boss gets $431. And here’s a nugget of perspective: If the minimum wage had kept pace with bosses’ pay since 1990, it would be $23.03 an hour. (NYT, 9/4)

Russia Counter-Revolution Bleeds the People

…Behind the glitz Russia’s counter-revolution has not stopped taking a heavy social toll. After the privatization of industry and the transfer of most oil and natural resources to Yeltsin’s cronies in the 1990s, a new stage is under way — the total commercialisation of the welfare state.

Many state assets, from kindergartens to trade-union holiday homes, were shut and sold off a decade ago. In recent years local authorities have been charging people a growing share of the cost of the hot water, heating and electricity that their centrally supplied flats use.

Last week a law came into effect that requires councils to charge people 100%....

Cost recovery is spreading to health and education. Prescriptions, blood tests and other minor procedures increasingly have to be paid for. State universities are charging fees….

The newspaper Izvestia…wondered last week whether the new cost burden would lead to demonstrations…. (GW, 9/22)

Kill Chavez? In ’03 Robertson had other idea

When I heard Pat Robertson calling for the assassination of Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, my first thought was that….two years ago, Robertson’s hymnal of hate was open to a different tune.

"How dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, ‘You’ve got to step down,’…He doesn’t work for us!" he said.

In that instance, Robertson was sticking up for his buddy Charles Taylor, then the strong-arm dictator of Liberia, under indictment by a U.N.-backed tribunal for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone. Robertson has $8 million invested in a Liberian gold mine, which might have skewed his thinking.

Maybe if Chavez forked over some oil shares, Robertson would change his tune. (San Antonio Express)

High-tech army fails imperialist task

Remember shock and awe?....Now the shock is something else. It is shock of discovering that…America now looks like some fearsome robotic dinosaur stomping across the landscape, a gigantic Power Ranger toy, all bright gadgets and display but no power and nothing inside…It can’t actually do anything useful after all.

The hollow superpower stands exposed….The lessons that the Vietcong on bicycles thought they had taught the behemoth are being learned all over again… (GW, 9/22)

When money runs the world, hunger kills

The immediate cause of the hunger may be climate change or other "natural" phenomena, but the root cause is now recognised as extreme poverty, which causes more sickness, suffering and death than any disease on earth….

What is happening now is the relatively new phenomenon of terrible hunger amid ever-increasing plenty. India, which endured severe famines 60 years ago, now exports subsidized food and has never grown so much; yet figures suggest that half of all children on the subcontinent are malnourished.

…In 1970 sub-Saharan Africa had 18 million malnourished children. By 1997 there were 32 million. The UN predicts the figures will reach 350 million by 2015.

Extreme poverty and hunger are now so interlinked it is impossible to separate them… (GW, 9/22)