The group met first at a breakfast hosted by Local 689 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) at the union's headquarters. The local elected a PLP'er as president. After a hearty meal, rank-and-filers from the various unions and schools gave rousing talks which the audience greeted with loud "Right on's" of approval.
A young Metro worker linked the Katrina tragedy to the war in Iraq and racism at home, noting that capitalism was the root of all these working-class deaths. He said workers had to be at the forefront of fighting against racism and imperialist war.
A college student agreed, speaking about the importance of worker involvement in anti-war protests, which could make a real difference. She was very excited about being side-by-side with workers at the breakfast and in the march, fighting the same fight.
A Ford worker cited the attacks directed against auto workers but declared that organizing like this for an anti-war march means that UAW members were "coming back."
Local 689's President traced the plight of workers on the job and in cities ravaged by the hurricane to a system which is governed by profits, at the expense of our class. He said the war won't end simply by marching and pleading with the bosses' politicians to "bring the troops home," but rather by working-class soldiers rebelling like they did in Vietnam, which was an important reason for U.S. imperialism's withdrawal from that war, given the heroism of Vietnam's workers and peasants. He said that kind of action in Iraq with support by striking workers both in Iraq and here at home is the way to fight against the bosses' war. For this it was necessary to build a mass PLP
The participants made signs to carry in the march, such as, "Human Blood: $3.29/gallon" with "Hallibutcher" plastered on a gas station pump; "Support Striking Workers and Rebelling Soldiers"; "Warmaker, Strike-breaker, Fight Boeing!" and "Unions United to Fight Racism." The 8-year-old son of a Metro worker carried a sign proclaiming "Working-Class Revolution!"
These signs were matched by militant chants in the march itself, including, "Asian, Latin, Black, and White, Workers of the World Unite!" These sentiments sharply contrasted with the pacifist "Peace Now" pleas put forward by the March leaders. While the latter directed all their fire at Bush, our contingent indicted capitalism as the cause of imperialist war, racism, poverty and the fate that befell the victims of Katrina.
The group caravanned to the train station and then took the Metro down to the rally. Our militant chants were applauded by many fellow protestors as we joined the main march, where we continued to chant. It was a powerful sight.
All this had an inspiring impact on the workers and their families. Having a militant political gathering beforehand added a broader anti-imperialist message to the superficial one of the march organizers, who blamed it all on Bush. The workers and students vowed to return to their jobs, schools and communities and spread the ideas they had brought to the day's events.
By itself, this Bush-bashing isn't a good development for the working class. When the rulers call for "sacrifice," they really mean they want to spend more money forcing us to defend their profit system by spilling our blood. They require corporations and wealthy individuals willing to pay higher taxes to fund the war machine and workers willing to sacrifice their personal freedoms at home and their lives in battle.
The Iraq morass and Hurricane Katrina show how little the Bush gang has done to muster patriotic spirit or establish an effective, centralized apparatus of homeland coercion. So now the rulers are using state power in the form of the legal system and the media to sap the very foundations of the Bush administration. Bush's congressional base, donor base, electoral base, advisors and cronies are all taking ruling-class fire. But we should avoid getting caught in the middle. We have no side to take in a bosses' dogfight.
In late September, a Texas court indicted Tom Delay for campaign finance wrongdoing, forcing him to step down as House majority leader. But his real crime against the rulers lies in supporting the Bush gang's "on-the-cheap," undermanned, under-funded, and thus far unsuccessful Iraq invasion, all the while pushing for tax cuts for Bush-friendly corporations and budding billionaires. DeLay called for an immediate invasion with existing forces in August 2002. At the time, the ruling class's Council on Foreign Relations was advising an October 2003 operation with hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and a sizable contingent of allies. Bush went ahead with a March 2003 invasion anyway, sending fewer than half the ground troops recommended by liberal think-tanks and the Pentagon. After the shooting had started, DeLay, like Bush, continued to thwart the plans of the main wing of the ruling class for a more general mobilization, telling reporters, "Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes."
Senate majority leader Bill Frist, another tax-cut champion, is now under federal investigation for shady stock deals involving his family's HCA corporation. Frist's pet project is to repeal the estate tax. But the rulers want the wealthy to willingly bankroll U.S. imperialism. A February 2001 statement published by the Rockefeller family and other members of the ruling class warned that eliminating the tax would harm "government programs so important to our nation's continued well-being." These programs included the Hart-Rudman commission's recommendations for transforming the U.S. into a militarized police state. Beset by his current troubles, Frist has postponed action on the estate tax.
Jack Abramoff, a top pro-Bush lobbyist, faces federal charges for ripping off Native American tribes. But the rulers want even more blood. On September 28, the New York Times ran a story under the headline "3 Arrested in Killing of Businessman With Whom Abramoff Feuded." It linked Adam Kidan, a Bush fund-raiser, with a Mafia murder. The feds have indicted Kidan and Abramoff as partners in a fraudulent casino financing scheme. And they recently arrested David Safavian, Bush's chief procurement officer, for obstructing the Abramoff investigation.
Karl Rove, the White House advisor known as "Bush's brain" is once again in the rulers' cross-hairs. Times reporter Judith Miller, having done a three-month jail stint as a First Amendment "martyr," has now agreed to assist the federal investigation into Rove's role in attacking an official who exposed Bush's lies about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Hypocrite Miller ignores how she herself promoted the war with stories "proving" the existence of Iraqi WMDs. Miller's hypocrisy reflects that of many leading Democrats, including John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war in 2003.
Calling Bush worse than Nixon and implying the threat of impeachment, Frank Rich, another ruling-class mouthpiece at the Times, said (10/2/05) in comparison, "Watergate itself increasingly looks like a relatively contained epidemic of corruption."
The battle rages far beyond Washington. The rulers are moving to discredit the ideology and leaders of the Christian Right, which constitutes Bush's largest single voting bloc. Under intense coverage from the liberal media, a Pennsylvania court is hearing a case, dubbed "Scopes II," that challenges the teaching of "intelligent design," the supposedly more sophisticated version of creationism. In addition, the liberal media, which have promoted every racist theory from eugenics to Sociobiology, are now ratcheting up their criticisms of gross racist statements by pro-Bush Bible-thumpers like Pat Robertson and former Bush, Sr. Education Secretary William Bennett.
Bush has reacted feebly to the rulers' pressure to shape up or ship out. His only call for "sacrifice" has been a pathetic and impractical appeal to citizens to save oil by driving less. Bush did raise the idea of using Army troops to police U.S. cities in emergencies, but fell short of the detailed, far-reaching proposals for fascism outlined by the Hart-Rudman report.
Bush is indeed a sworn enemy of the working class. But this anti-Bush campaign is in no way good for workers, nor are his attackers our friends. When the liberals start assailing racism and calling for "shared sacrifice" in the so-called "national interest," watch out! Remember: the liberals brought us the war in Vietnam, the gunning down of working-class rebels in the 1960's and '70s, racist Workfare, Clinton's bombing of Yugoslavia, and starvation of Iraqi children. The main strategic focus of U.S. foreign policy is the liberal doctrine of squashing all rivals by force and control of Persian Gulf oil at gunpoint.
The anti-Bush crusade stems from the rulers' overriding need to discipline, mobilize and militarize society in a period of intensifying conflict among the world's imperialists. But this is a time to mobilize for the building of PLP as a revolutionary, communist party that will some day bury the war-makers.
"Genocide reduces the crime rate," is just one of the absurdities implicit in his statement. But the main point is that Bennett and the ruling class he serves are the biggest criminals in history, and capitalism is the biggest crime of all, a crime against the entire working class. To paraphrase playwright Bertold Brecht, "It's a bigger crime to own a bank than to rob one." When we smash capitalism with communist revolution and destroy the racist parasites in the ruling class, the crime rate will not only go down, it will be eliminated.
Capitalism depends for its very existence on stealing the surplus value produced by the working class . If capitalism stopped stealing, it would cease to exist. Since the defeat of the Bolshevik Revolution more than 50 years ago, and the Chinese Revolution in the late 1960's, capitalism has ruled the globe and its crime wave against the international working class has basically gone unchallenged. Today, more than half the world's population lives on less than $2 a day! And the death toll from imperialist wars, civil wars, ethnic cleansings, curable diseases, AIDS, hunger, famine and infant mortality is unprecedented in human history. Given the racist nature of capitalism and imperialism, the death tolls are highest in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Globalization -- imperialism on steroids --has only increased the levels of poverty and the numbers of children in sweatshops.
Social, and especially economic relations -- capitalist class relationships of exploitation -- cause crime. Wealth, and the lack of it, causes poverty, degradation, misery -- and crime. Workers and the poor who turn to crime are only aping the ruling class. "They rip off the workers, why can't we?" But the real looters in New Orleans turned out to be white and black cops, and now Halliburton, & Co.
Bennett is drawing racist conclusions from faulty crime statistics. Different groups in the population commit different crimes disproportionately. People classified as "black" are convicted of certain kinds of crime in higher proportion than the proportion of black people in the general population (convictions and plea bargains often have little to do with guilt or innocence). The same is true of other groups.
Rates of violent crime -- murder, for example -- are highest in the Southern U.S., for whites as well as blacks. Bennett could have said, "Abort every baby born in the South, and crime rates will go down." He could have said, "Abort all male babies, and the crime rates for rape and murder and all violent crimes, will go down."
In the U.S., black workers suffer from the greatest racism, poverty, unemployment and disease. They are also victims of the highest crime rates, from the billionaires to purse-snatchers. The racist differential in family income between black and Latino workers and white workers reaps $250 BILLION in super-profits each year for the racist bosses. These super-profits are essential to the capitalists -- and that's only the beginning. Forget about paying rent for rat-infested firetraps or higher prices for rotten meat in local stores.
But black workers, because of their history in the U.S. and their relation to society, are also the key force for communist revolution. Building a mass base among black workers, soldiers, students and youth, winning them to join and lead the PLP, will make us worthy of the title, revolutionary communist party.
Her trial -- like others of abuse cases in Iraq -- exposed the mass torture of Iraqis by U.S. forces. England described the organized beating and torturing of prisoners in interrogation cell areas.
The first trials all described teams of CIA and army intelligence interrogators torturing Iraqis, the vast majority randomly rounded up in sweeps by U.S. forces.
These crimes against innocent Iraqis were known up and down the chain of command. England's trial revealed how the soldiers in Abu Ghraib were given the wink and nod to torture, and how professionals were brought in specifically for that purpose.
One officer who exposed the abuses recently told the New York Times that instead of going after the higher-ups, the Army is investigating those who speak up.
Torture in Iraq is playing multiple roles for the U.S. ruling class. It serves to terrorize Iraqis as well as others worldwide who refuse to go along with U.S. interests. It also helps to build an army that loses its reservations about slaughtering innocents; and it's a trial balloon -- much like the imprisonment of Arab men in Guantanamo -- to see how much fascism people in the U.S. will accept.
At this point the U.S. rulers' position in Iraq seems to be worsening. Mass torture isn't winning the war for them. While there hasn't been mass rebellion in the U.S. Army, at home thousand of soldiers have deserted, many because of the racist nature of today's military, and recruitment is down. Amid the horrors the bosses are currently meting out to workers, these are hopeful signs that the U.S. working class will not march lock-step behind the rulers' growing fascism.'
Jean Aubigny, a sympathetic commuter at this city's Saint-Lazare station, told the Associated Press, "All of the rights that our ancestors took centuries to acquire are being squeezed."
The walkout involved postal, electricity, railroad, airline, ferry and some private sector workers. Two-thirds of trains were not running into Paris, one-half of the Metro was shut, the railroads were seriously disrupted and hundreds of flights were grounded, all combining to cause massive traffic jams. Some national newspapers failed to publish.
The loss of 400 jobs in ferry operations -- being sold off by the government -- out of the port of Marseilles to the island of Corsica impelled the Army to take over the ferries from striking workers. Port workers walked out in sympathy.
France's ruling class, trying to compete with its imperialist rivals in this age of endless war and fascist attacks on the working class, is driving to overturn the "social contract" that workers have won through decades of struggle. But this union "show of strength" will probably last for only this one day, given the union misleaders' ideology of "capitalism is here to stay." They're all committed to cutting a deal with the ruling class, competing with each other to be the capitalists' "preferred partner."
Mass actions like this are good if workers learn the lesson that all bosses are their enemies, and that the only solution for a world free of unemployment, racism and imperialist war is communist revolution.
Capitalism is an economic roller-coaster. The bosses have used a series of lame excuses, like Hurricane Katrina, to drive up prices and keep gasoline in short supply. But like those increases in California electricity prices, the crooked capitalists who steal a few billion dollars are only the tip of the iceberg. The main guilty party is the anarchy of capitalism, forcing it to lurch from one crisis to the next, leading to endless imperialist wars. The oil industry is a prime example.
In the 1960's, capitalists built cars and factories that guzzled oil while not investing much in new oil wells. The result of soaring demand and stagnant output was the 1970's "oil crisis." The capitalist "solution" to the shortages it had created was to drive prices sky high. They rushed to drill new oil wells and redesign everything from cars to more energy-efficient offices. As supply soared and demand crashed, in 1985 oil prices fell to one-fourth their peak price, and stayed that low through the 1990's, while hundreds of billions invested in oil projects and energy-efficiency schemes turned out to be unprofitable.
Did the capitalists learn from this roller-coaster ride? Hell, no! Capitalism is incapable of planning. So for the last decade, business "geniuses" have done exactly as they did in the 1960's: build cars and factories that guzzle oil while not investing much in new oil wells. Exxon has $30 billion cash on hand but has refused until recently, to invest more; Last month, Exxon was still insisting that oil prices would soon decline.
More than a century ago, Karl Marx wrote a brilliant analysis of why capitalism goes through irrational cycles of over-investment and crisis. It's not that the capitalists are stupid. Rather, capitalism is a wasteful system that can't pay attention to warning signs about looming problems. Communism is a system designed to plan ahead, where workers have the means and motive to solve problems before they become crises.
But the main story is that higher oil prices are part of the same pattern dominating world politics for most of the last decade, namely, a campaign by rulers worldwide to take the USA down a couple pegs. Whether in China or Germany, the Middle East or Latin America, the world's bosses, in various ways, have gone after "the world's only superpower," and oil is a tool in this campaign.
Oil is a weak spot for the U.S. and other big imperialists because it's the one vital commodity they cannot produce enough of domestically. They make their own steel, they pretty much grow their own food, but they must import much of their oil. That means oil is a useful tool for the smaller ruling classes to use against the bigger ones. Whenever U.S. imperialism is weak, the oil-exporting rulers take advantage. As the USA was losing in Vietnam, OPEC jacked up prices. And now that the USA is bogged down in Iraq and the "war against terror," lots of nationalists are taking advantage of the situation to take a tougher line against multi-national oil companies like ExxonMobil (and the two British oil firms, BP and Shell, which are in fact more U.S. than European). Putin jailed Khudorovsky, Yukos' owner, the one Russian oil boss ready to work with the multi-nationals, and has put the oil business back under state control. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez tore up the multi-national contracts, insisting on better terms.
Russia and Venezuela have each increased oil exports by about $50 billion a year, thanks to the $30 boost in prices in the last two years -- and nearly all that money has helped build much stronger states. Middle East rulers have been the main gainers. They reaped about half of the total $550 billion price hike, plus they're in the best position to increase output at a time when few others producers can. Smaller amounts have gone to African, Caspian, and Southeast Asian producers, plus to so-called U.S. allies Canada and Norway.
To be sure, U.S. bosses are not the only ones who must pay when oil prices rise. In fact, the total $550 billion world bill is just about divided equally with the U.S., the European Union and East Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China), each paying about $150 billion annually. But the main political impact of the price rise undercuts U.S. influence and power. For instance, Russian military spending this year is twice what it was a few years ago.
Capitalism can't deliver because it is completely disorganized. Each group of bosses is constantly looking for a way to get ahead at the expense of the others, while the workers get stuck paying the bills. And this doesn't even include all the crooks who cheat us even more while the bosses' government helps them with their scams (the bosses have manipulated the U.S. oil refinery business to jack up their prices $15 per barrel, or about half as much as the rulers of oil-exporting countries have been able to steal). The bosses' long-range "solution" to this is war and more wars against their rivals, eventually leading to another world war.
Meanwhile, we don't need "better enforcement" of laws or a new "national energy strategy." To meet our needs, we must smash capitalism with communist revolution and build a society run by and for the workers.
Today, the gigantic U.S. military appears lost in the sands of Iraq. From Gulf War I to blockade to Gulf War II to occupation -- in the 15 years of this bloodbath, U.S. imperialism's top-dog position has been increasingly challenged. In 1991, the "allies" paid $54 billion for Gulf War I. In 2003, the "coalition of the willing" could only muster $5 billion for Gulf War II -- in pledges, not cash in hand.
At its height, right after World War II, U.S. bosses set the capitalist world's financial and trade agenda. Bretton Woods, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and GATT (later to become the World Trade Organization) all resulted from U.S. initiatives. The rest of the capitalist world mostly reacted to U.S. programs. U.S. rulers had the atom bomb and the dollar had clout.
Lately, however, major capitalist initiatives have been launched over which U.S. rulers have little control: development of the euro as a viable world currency; emergence of a capitalist China; and the development of A-bombs in India and Pakistan. Today, it's the U.S. that often reacts to events.
This is no small challenge. If a country establishes its currency as the world currency, advantages approaching world domination flow to it. For example, most of the world's oil is traded in U.S. dollars. They're called petrodollars. If, say, Japan needs to buy oil, it needs dollars. Since oil prices can rise sharply from time to time, that country needs a large reserve of dollars. Millions of dollars sitting in a Tokyo bank vault would be of little use. So Japan, like other countries, earns interest on its dollars by investing in the U.S. stock market, especially in Treasury bills.
T-bills are the main way the U.S. government borrows money when it overspends (or runs a deficit). Every congressman, senator and cabinet member knows there are billions of free petro dollars in the world waiting to be invested temporarily in U.S. T-bills. This means Congress can cut taxes to the richest 10% and spend gigantic sums on military hardware regardless of the deficit. They know it can be easily covered by T-bills.
The seriousness of this was reflected in Saddam Hussein's decision to demand payment in euros instead of dollars for Iraq's oil. This sealed his doom. U.S. rulers -- who, in any event, wanted to take control of Iraq's oil (the world's second largest reserves after Saudi Arabia) -- also stood to lose trillions if the dollar was no longer the reserve currency.
This is the context in which we must understand Iran's recent announcement that beginning next March it plans to begin competing with New York's and London's oil stock markets, which trade in petro-dollars. Iran's "bourse" (oil market) will trade in euros. This is almost a declaration of war. While the existence of the euro and the dollar side by side might be negotiated short of war -- at least temporarily -- it's inconceivable that a country the size of Iran would announce such a bold plan without ensuring it had friends in high places.
Russia, China, Germany and France all fit the bill. China has just become Iran's biggest trading partner. Russia and Iran have long discussed trading oil and gas in euros. Germany and France, of course, were cut out when U.S. occupation forces reversed Saddam's order to sell them Iraqi oil in euros.
"A successful Iranian bourse will solidify the petro-euro as an alternative oil transaction currency, and thereby end the petro-dollar's hegemonic status as the monopoly oil currency," says W. R. Clark in his article "Petrodollar Warfare: Dollars, Euros, and the Upcoming Iranian Oil Bourse." No wonder U.S. rulers are contemplating attacking Iran.
The invasion of Iraq, and Iran's newly-announced oil bourse, are gradually drawing all the major imperialists into the battle. Whatever ideology or ideals are used to recruit soldiers or insurgents (U.S. "democracy," Chinese nationalism, Pan-European unity or Islamic history), the outcome in reality means they either "car bomb" for the euro or "smart bomb" for the dollar.
There is a weak link for all the imperialists in this: most workers, soldiers and students are not totally won to die for their bosses. But, that never stopped the imperialists from waging war. That's why we in PLP must fight for the line of to hell with "power to the dollar" or "power to the euro." It's time to fight for power to the workers. This won't happen spontaneously. We must instill among all we know the confidence that workers will fight and produce for a world without exploiters and exploitation. We want share-and-share-alike communism, not the socialism that the revolutions in China and Russia fought for. The longer this dirty capitalist imperialist war drags on, the greater the opportunity to raise the need to build a new communist movement.uIraq Invasion Sharpens Euro-Dollar Fight
U.S. imperialism's supremacy rests on three pillars: oil, a dominant world currency and a gigantic military. Of course, central to military supremacy is the bosses' ability to win the troops politically to racism and nationalism. But from the day the euro was launched (Jan. 1, 1999), it threatened the dollar's supremacy. In three months it was already valued higher than the dollar. Yet by the end of that year, it was lower. The threat had waned. The U.S.-led NATO destruction of Yugoslavia showed the world that Europe - at that time - was incapable of calling the shots on its own doorstep, let alone defending a world currency. However, since the invasion of Iraq, the situation has changed, reflected in the comparison between the two Gulf Wars. The euro has again become stronger. This is another aspect of the sharpening deadly rivalry between the imperialists, who are attacking the international working class.
The city's schools are overwhelmingly black and Latino and the ruling class has been getting away with racist attacks on these students for years, allowing conditions to worsen to a point where many feel their schools are more like jails. Two days before the DA, 1,500 students walked out at De Witt Clinton H.S., protesting the racist installation of metal detectors. (See CHALLENGE, 10/5)
Teachers have been working more than two years without a raise or a contract. Meanwhile, overcrowding, inadequate programming, and lack of books and supplies are rampant. School budgets are continuously being slashed while hundreds of billions are being funneled into imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The union leadership has been trying to hoodwink members into accepting an outside arbitrator's Fact Finding Report (FFR) as the basis for the upcoming contract negotiations. But some chapter leaders said their members had repudiated the FFR, labeling it "starting off at zero."
Not surprisingly, union president Randi Weingarten monopolized the time, confusing people with "Roberts Rules of Order" and other minutia, so angry teachers couldn't get the floor. By the time of the vote on the resolution, she had won many teachers to a line that didn't represent the class interests of students and teachers.
PLP members have been active in our respective schools, organizing picket lines, union meetings and confrontations with Weingarten's UNITY caucus leaders, explaining that the proposed contract is a racist attack on students, teachers and parents. It proposes a series of give-backs: elimination of important rules teachers need to defend themselves from administration attacks, giving principals more power, a small salary increase for longer hours and increased assignments.
The Delegates Assembly is somewhat of a circus; the dominating UNITY caucus runs the show. Although allowing some dissent, it basically rubber-stamps Weingarten at virtually every meeting. Even though many teachers vehemently opposed the resolution on the floor, the vote carried. Many angry teachers stormed out of the meeting in disbelief and grabbed CHALLENGE and leaflets, as well as newsletters distributed by other opponents of the union sellouts. PLP members encouraged teachers to take the struggle into their schools, to build for strikes and strike actions and to fight for the unity of students, parents and teachers.
As we go to press, the union and the mayor have announced a contract agreement modeled after the FFR, increasing teacher time, giving principals more direct control over teacher transfers and adding to their assignments in the schools, and seriously attacking teachers' ability to grieve attacks by the principal. This is in return for a decent-sounding raise, but that's not what it appears. New teachers will get 6% less.
We've all met teachers who didn't teach, and obviously school administrations let them get away with it because the ruling class doesn't care if the black and Latin student population gets an inferior education, primed for low-wage jobs or the military. We all know workers whose children have been badly served by teachers who just shouldn't have been in the classroom. However, we must recognize that the capitalist system is the source of the racist attitudes filling the schools. The vast majority of teachers work hard teaching far too many students, and this contract increases their workload, making it still more difficult for good teachers to do as well as they could. (More on this contract fight next issue.)
"Proof that those who run this country don't care about the working class, especially black and Latino workers and their children, can be seen in New Orleans where thousands were left to die because they had no way to get themselves out ahead of Katrina. [When someone shouted "Get to the point," she shot back] This IS the point. The ruling class that allows workers in New Orleans to die and kills workers in Iraq for oil is the same ruling class that destroys the future of working-class students here in New York City. Our students are the main victims of the attacks by the Department of Education. So long as our students are considered expendable and unimportant, we as their teachers will be seen as unimportant.
"We must fight for the needs of our students and of ourselves. We must fight the racism of the Department of Education. We must build unity among students, teachers and parents. This is what the politicians fear.
"We cannot support a contract where we sell out our younger colleagues and our students for a salary raise. These younger teachers will be working under these conditions for a long time. Our working-class students will also be living with the disastrous results of them. And we will be allowing ourselves to be divided, which is exactly what the administration, politicians and all who run this city want.
"We must reject the Fact-Finders report. We fight for no give-backs, for smaller class sizes and other things that are good for the education of working-class students in New York City."
For two years the CCHS staff has conducted a variety of activities for better working conditions and a better educational experience for our students. In addition, we're trying to prevent the school's closing. The Department Of Education wants to convert the building into a number of mini-schools, funded by the Gates Foundation.
Militant picket lines at CCHS, which PL members helped to organize and lead, have called for students and teachers to unite in demanding mini schools out of CCHS, more schools to alleviate overcrowding, smaller classes and a UFT contract.
Recently, staff and students picketed against the FFR. Teachers' signs condemned the union leadership's blatant class collaboration. Upon seeing a sign declaring, "Recall Randi; Randi is in Bed with Bloomberg; No to give-backs!" a local UFT hack went berserk, running to the principal, our chapter co-leader and the Bronx-wide UFT representative, demanding measures against whoever wrote this sign.
Nobody cooperated with the administration/hack witch-hunt except our local Trotskyite (phony leftist), who proceeded to destroy the sign. He wrote UFT Rep "deploring" the sign's content and profusely "apologizing" for our teachers "stepping out of line." So: union hacks in bed with the enemy and a Trotskyite trying to stop the flood of anger coming from those who must suffer the effects of their class collaboration.
We've been struggling for two years with many staff members about a strike and the issues listed above, with mixed success. Many staff members have feared to act, but others have been active in several ways.
Before this pending settlement, most staff was strongly pro-strike. However, we remain divided by years in service, grade level taught and what we do and teach. The UFT sellouts used these factors to weaken us and prevent unity at CCHS. However, these struggles have created opportunities to increase our CHALLENGE readership, bring pro-communist ideas to our school and move people to the left. We also need to expose the tentative contract's fascistic provision that impedes filing a grievance against any charge the bosses want to trump up against school workers, especially political activists. The UFT leadership and the school bosses want to bribe teachers with a "higher" salary in exchange for accepting more control over staff and surrendering the right to defend ourselves when the system attacks us.
Teachers must be won to see that capitalism will not and cannot provide the learning conditions teachers want for their students and for themselves. We must build a movement that will fight the billionaires out to save their rotten system, who put profits ahead of our students' well-being, and the pro-boss unions that don't serve our class interests. Ultimately, a communist system eliminating exploitation and racism will be the antidote to the atrocities we experience daily.
So read a poem read during the anniversary of a student organization in northwestern Mexico. Amid political apathy among many, the celebration's musical festival attracted some 200 people.
The atmosphere was great. PLP members and friends helped organize the activities. Women friends of the Party showed great potential. We now have the opportunity to develop closer social and political relations with them.
The next day, current and former students and professors from other universities met to evaluate the festival and plans for the growth of the Party, ideologically and numerically.
Just before last year's anniversary some students participated in a party welcoming new students. After a fight among some in the party, the cops came and attacked everyone. To confront this police brutality, we organized a mass march from the campus to the city's downtown. From the beginning, students "arrested" a cop and warned they wouldn't free him until all the arrested students were released. PLP comrades participated in this action and strengthened their commitment to fight for communism.
The trust and solidarity among all involved in these actions can help to win more students to a higher level of political activity. This can lead to joining and building PLP and the fight for the interests of workers and students internationally.
Only when we act and think as a class can we begin the march to break the chains that bind us to the bosses' system. To that end, strikers distributed 1,500 leaflets and 500 CHALLENGES during the strike. One leaflet entitled "Holding the Line; Fighting for Our Class" was particularly popular. After explaining how the racist profit system is worldwide, it concluded: "Calls to fight for `American Workers' fall short. From Baghdad to Boeing to New Orleans we fight the same enemy. We fight for the working class. History is on our side. Eventually we will find a way to win."
Of course, no contract can liberate us. They only define the shape of the chains that bind us. Nonetheless, this contract contains some particularly nasty bits. The company paid for a measly additional $4 pension multiplier (an extra $4/month per year of service) and restoration of retiree medical benefits for new hires by eliminating all general wage increases. This wage-freeze contract gave the 3,500 called back from layoff in the last year smaller signing bonuses than the rejected contract. Over 500 got zilch. Nothing was won on outsourcing and selling of plants, while the medical part contains the same formulas that resulted in higher premiums under the last contract. "I'm going to burn my `Do The Right Thing' union T-shirt!" threatened one striker.
The company did agree to withdraw its demand for multi-machine operation -- up to four machines per operator. Of course, this won't help the many thousands already in sold plants or in subcontractor firms which all have multi-machine operation policies. Nor will it help the rest that will be sold in the future -- if they don't lose their jobs outright to outsourcing. The 1989 strike involved 56,000 workers. In the1995 strike, there were fewer than 40,000 workers. This time the number dropped to 18,000+. Signaling their continued intentions, during the strike Boeing offloaded machining work on two freighter programs from the Auburn site to the non-union Salt Lake City facility.
Boeing hired Gephardt to grease the works. A scant four months ago, he was rewarded with a seat on the board of Spirit AeroSystems (the outfit set up by the buyer Onex) in exchange for ramming a wage- and job-cut deal down the throats of recently sold Wichita workers. The union praised this corporate mercenary to the skies. "They probably got the union leaders in a room and lectured them about the `national interest' and we were sunk," said a former shop steward.
As long as we remain chained to capitalism, contracts and secret meetings will seal our fate. Victory is defined as not losing too much and even that is temporary as the bosses reorganize our industry to pay for more oil wars. When the IAM International president says this contract is an "opportunity [for Boeing] to make strides working with the union to stay competitive" he disarms us. There are bosses and workers. You can't serve both.
Many, if not most of the strikers, refused to return to work on Friday, the day after the contract was approved. A small group continued their Friday breakfast, just as they had every Friday during the strike. They, along with others, vowed to continue organizing the events we had planned if the strike had continued, events dedicated to building revolutionary class consciousness. And we will keep holding expanded Party meetings so our friends can continue to attend. It's from these events and these workers that we will gain our lasting victories.
KATRINA, IRAQ and BOEING
Whether it's a major corporation, a war for oil profits or a huge natural storm the results for workers are a disaster under the capitalist system. The IAM machinists are in danger of joining the working poor of New Orleans who were left behind to the fury of the hurricane. Boeing wants to leave its striking workers behind with inadequate pensions and a substandard health plan, and for some, no medical at all.
Wouldn't you think that one of the world's largest arms-producing corporations, the largest manufacturing exporter in the U.S. and a huge supporter (and beneficiary) of the war in Iraq would be making enough profit without trying to screw its workers blue in the bargain? But the capitalist law of maximum profit compels Boeing -- in competition with the world's other aerospace companies -- to attack its workers harder year after year. Similarly, the U.S. military attacks Iraqi workers so ExxonMobil can float along on a sea of Mid-East oil rather than let it flow to its European, Chinese and Japanese imperialist rivals.
This worker is already moving beyond the union's line. He's talking about the need for class consciousness, which he thinks workers had in the thirties. He sees the need to educate and organize his fellow workers as a class against attacks from capitalism and big war-maker Boeing. He's looking to put the fire and the fight back into the soul of workers.
A woman comrade sitting next to him said, "And instead of going to sleep between contracts, we should be meeting like this to begin preparing for the next contract." A floor inspector agreed that what we do here in this strike affects the next contract. "Today -- and for the last 60 years -- unions are about making a deal with the boss," he said. "Is it likely that the union president would put out a call for the workers to come to films about the militant history of the U.S. working class?" he asked. No one thought so.
"We have the resources to do this," the inspector continued. "With the workers from the roadhouse meeting yesterday, including the Northwest strikers, and today's meeting, that's thirty people at our first film showing." Someone else said, "We can do it, then present it to the union leadership at the membership meeting. That way we'll find out, do they want to pick up on it? Or do they drop it and expose themselves?"
Is $1 billion all this strike is about, a struggle of IAM workers against the aerospace giant? Yes, but it's more. It's also part of the larger struggle of all workers against a capitalism preparing for endless wars that are grinding down every working man and woman. When we clearly see ourselves as waging a fight for our class and not just for ourselves, we have the potential to give leadership to the working class internationally.
Just as the bosses pay attention to every strike to gauge the mood of the workers, so the working class takes note of strikes. The potential to inspire our class to stand up for itself and fight for our own future is always there.
In this spirit two in our group said they could find a hall to show a movie. Another woman said she had a friend at the school district who would lend us a DVD projector. Two others are going to check out the films "Salt of the Earth" and "Matewan."
Can large things come from small beginnings? We aim to find out.
This enthusiastic group, composed mainly of high school students, gave great leadership. Two young women led the chant: "The workers, united, will never be defeated! Obreros, unidos, jamas seran vencidos!" as well as rounds of "Fight Back" related to the war, the Boeing strike, the hurricane response and police terror. One comrade spoke attacking capitalism as the cause of both the imperialist war and the racist destruction after the hurricanes. PLP made a splash as the only communist group as well as a serious youth-led contingent. One man said, "You're the only group here calling for what's needed."
We distributed 1,000 CHALLENGES and 2,400 leaflets to the interested marchers, linking the Boeing strike, the imperialist war and Katrina. We pointed out that the workers, soldiers and youth are crucial to organizing a mass PLP to end imperialist war with communist revolution. Our attacks on imperialism and capitalism offered an obvious alternative to the pro-Democratic Party politics of many of the liberal groups that "led" the march. The students who helped lead our contingent left the march inspired to do more, not only on their own campuses, but also to discuss how to actually combat the system of capitalism that causes war and fascism.
Many were glad to receive CHALLENGE and gave donations. Quite a few gave their names to be contacted for upcoming events. Marchers as well as onlookers encouraged us to distribute more papers.
Send checks or Money orders made out to Challenge Periodicals and mail to PLP, GPO Box 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202, USA
The seniors depend on their counselors for help with college applications, guaranteeing all graduation requirements are met and for advice on other problems. When they learned they were losing their counselors, they questioned the administration. With no real answers forthcoming, the students sat down.
Immediately assistant principal Rashid Davis showed his fascist colors, frantically dialing his cell phone (presumably trying to reach the police), screaming, "I know how to deal with a riot! Hose them down!" Teachers old enough to remember the 1960's immediately thought, "Now his name is Bull Connor?" (the Birmingham police chief who used dogs, hoses and other violent attacks on civil rights marchers).
The seniors continued their protest until forced out of the building by security. Once outside some underclassmen who had joined the seniors were arrested by the cops. Many teachers were furious at the principal and gave the students "thumbs up" as they passed the protesters, a change from often previous support for the administration.
In meetings after the demonstration and on Friday and Monday, many students told how the principal had tried to convince them to go along with the excessing, saying he had no choice: "It was either the counselors or teachers. Do you want your classes bigger?" Some choice! Students said, "He [the principal] lies to us all the time!" Some students are beginning to realize the administration is their enemy and won't do anything to improve students' education. Many understand the fight must continue.
Students need to learn that racism is intrinsic to capitalism and guarantees that working-class students won't get a real education, especially at Kennedy where the vast majority of students are black and Latino. These are the youth U.S. rulers depend on for cannon fodder in Iraq and other imperialist wars. As students learn the true nature of not only their high school but also of the entire capitalist system, they'll realize they must fight against being used by their class enemy.
The worms cause holes and obstruction in the intestines, bleeding and anemia, enlargement of the spleen, malnutrition and death. Children fail to grow and develop. Adults become sterile. Suffering is unimaginable.
But in the 1950's and 1960's, Chinese workers, led by their Communist Party (CCP), eliminated the disease by preventing exposure to, and contamination of, river water and by eliminating the snails, the latter through a mass campaign. The CCP sent health workers to teach the population about the disease, inspiring the workers with understanding, firing their enthusiasm, releasing their initiative and tapping their wisdom as to how to carry out the campaign.
The disease was concentrated around the lower Yangtze River, infecting more than 10 million people. The workers were mobilized to search for and stamp out millions of snails. They burned riverside vegetation and temporarily drained waterways. Where bridges made this impractical, they sprayed poisonous chemicals sparingly. Without ending the disease cycle, those treated would just contract it again.
All these steps were developed and carried out by the farm workers, often at great personal discomfort from the boredom, heat and mosquitoes, but led and inspired particularly by past sufferers of the disease. By relying on the workers, the CCP learned from them how to spread the campaign to other regions. For years, soldiers from the People's Liberation Army, students, teachers and office workers volunteered to help.
Once prevention was underway, all infected victims had to be found and treated. Everyone was instructed to submit stool samples, but many didn't treat this seriously. Workers who had suffered from the disease publicized its horrors, producing cooperation. The sufferers were treated with medicines and, when necessary, with surgery to remove massively swollen spleens or to relieve intestinal obstruction.
In 1955, when the effort began, some wanted to rely on a few "experts" from Shanghai, whose work proceeded slowly while the disease spread. Only with the reliance on the millions of workers themselves was the disease reversed. The class struggle between those who advocated reliance on "experts" and those who relied on the masses of workers was fierce and unrelenting. Wherever the former had the upper hand the disease flourished. Only where reliance on the masses won out was the disease driven back. Eventually the snails were eliminated in wide areas of China, but constant vigilance was necessary to prevent their return.
Under communism, vigilance and continued class struggle for communist theory and practice can never be relaxed. With them, monumental achievements in health and in all other human needs became the order of the day. Horribly for the Chinese workers and for workers worldwide, the class struggle there has been reversed. Capitalism's return to China has caused a return and increase of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease and stroke, as exploitation and oppression of the workers accelerates. But this situation, while long-lasting, is nevertheless temporary. One day workers will again seize power. The capitalists and the snails will again be eliminated.
(Source: "Away With All Pests," by Joshua Horn.)
Behind this game lies an unquestioned assumption, namely that the Constitution protects the working and middle classes from oppression. But Fresia shows nothing could be further from the truth.
Actually, the Constitution was intended to be, and always has been, an instrument of the capitalist class to protect its wealth from former slaves and the working class, and initially to protect the slave-owners from the northern bankers and manufacturers.
Disguised as "protecting" us from terrorism by non-governmental groups, executive orders and laws have been issued recently that permit increased wiretapping and electronic surveillance, holding anyone the government chooses in extended arbitrary detention without trial, carrying out military tribunals with no appeal rights, and many other forms of governmental oppression.
But workers cannot appeal to the Constitution for protection from these orders and laws, since, as Fresia shows, they're all completely consistent with it. Abundant quotes reveal that the men (and they were all men) who wrote the Constitution intended to protect profit-making property-owners from the working class.
Furthermore the Constitution was sneaked through by the slave-owners over the anticipated objections of certain state legislatures whose populations -- fresh from an anti-colonial war against the British aristocracy -- were up in arms over the even greater oppression they now faced at the hands of domestic property-owners.
The Constitution's first 10 amendments -- the Bill of Rights -- are often touted as a guarantee of freedom from government oppression. The Bill of Rights, however, doesn't even address the right to participate in government, only protection from it, and only for capitalists at that. And there is nothing protecting workers from their bosses. Lincoln's famous claim that this is a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" was then, and continues to be, a bald-faced lie.
Fresia gives detailed proof, intentionally or not, that supports Marx's and Lenin's declaration that all states (governments) serve only the interests of the class that owns the means of production, meanwhile drowning the interests of the oppressed and exploited (literally, in New Orleans).
For example, the Constitution's authors, including Washington, Jefferson, and Madison (first, third, and fourth U.S. presidents), owned vast amounts of property, listed by Fresia, including hundreds of slaves. He proves how they designed the Constitution to protect themselves from rebellion by those workers who generate the profits -- whether through chattel or wage slavery.
Bush is only one of the latest in a huge long and dishonorable line of wealth accumulators who display total contempt for workers -- most particularly, black and now Latin workers -- generated by a fear of losing this profit-making property. Murderous racism is no accident. It was and is designed as an insurance policy against united rebellion by the oppressed and exploited.
Fresia updates it all with the secret operations of the CIA and private mercenaries who assassinate, train in torture techniques, and otherwise blaze a trail worldwide to secure U.S. corporate profits. He details how the Constitution encourages and protects these secret operations in worldwide terrorism, and enables the government to wage war for oil in the Middle East, killing millions in the process. Significantly, he also shows how the non-violent and peace-directed approach of modern protest movements prevent effective opposition to the ruling class.
In summary, the book helps destroy the illusion that somehow things have "gone drastically wrong" in recent years. The fact is that conditions have been drastically wrong for the great majority of us for over 200 years. The book's major weakness is that Fresia never poses the only solution, a working-class revolution for a communist system. For the alert reader, this conclusion is all but inescapable.
The marchers were delighted to join our militant chanting. There were no marshals to provide information or direction in order to move people in a safe and serious way. At times, the crowd was forced into small spaces and against cement barriers, causing people to be crushed.
One of the few groups that had organized security was the Campus Anti-War Network, with signs that read "College, Not Combat." A marcher close to a PLP member commented how elitist that sounded. A better slogan would have been, "Students, workers, and soldiers unite."
Some PLP members marched with their union, like SEIU and the ATU at D.C. Metro. Others came with church or community groups. The military groups (Military Families Speak Out-MFSO-VVAW, IVAW, Veterans for Peace, and Gold Star Families for Peace) were supposed to lead the march. But the March leaders decided to let celebrities like Jesse Jackson march at the front, with only a few military group members.
The following day, a national MFSO meeting took place. Many people had been in Crawford, Texas with Cindy Sheehan, and had been part of the cross-country bus tour that wound up in D.C. for the march. Some had loved ones who had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Their grief brought many to tears, but also brought anger against the war-makers. A few raised the question, "Where do we go from here." One person said MFSO should issue a statement of solidarity with thousands of Katrina victims, tying the racist nature of the economic draft to the bosses' criminal neglect towards these workers. The leadership cut off discussion on this idea, saying we should "stick to the issues."
Until recently, MFSO had been active mostly on the Internet, with only a few chapters sponsoring meetings or events. Emphasis has been on media coverage, and convincing politicians to call for an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal. Many felt it was time for a change. Some good ideas were raised about expanding the organization, including going to high schools and exposing the recruiters' lies, and forming groups of health care workers to advocate/agitate for better care for returning soldiers. Several people called for a campaign to integrate this mostly white, educated group. One person suggested reaching out to more oppressed military family members who live on or near the big bases.
The struggle within this group will sharpen. The leadership has many very loyal supporters. There's way too much faith in the system. We must continue to build ties with those who are ready to take the next step. Pleading with government officials or even militant marches won't get us what we need. And we are fighting for tens of thousands of families in Iraq who are grieving because their loved ones have been sacrificed on the altar of ExxonMobil, BP, Halliburton, etc.
PLP's goal is to unite workers, soldiers and students from Baghdad to Washington, DC, from Kabul to Newark, to fight for a society without any bosses and their imperialist wars. We have a long road ahead, but the seeds for this revolution are being planted in the small things we do today.
While the march on Saturday may have been rather uneventful, the most memorable actions for us (two PLP members in our late teens), occurred during the trip to and from Washington.
On Friday afternoon people boarded buses throughout Chicago. Our bus was filled with local union members, professionals, high school and college students.
As we started, the bus captain asked people to come forward and say something about themselves and why they were making the trip. One worker made a profound statement when recounting a conversation he had with a co-worker. He said it was risky for him to be taking such a trip because of his health problems. "If I die at least I know I died doing something!"
A young college student stated that once she reached Washington she would link up with friends who have been vocal not just in the anti-war movement, but also in spreading awareness of the plight facing Coca-Cola workers in South America. She explained the situation and made the connection between the fight of these workers and the exploitation of our class world-wide.
When it was our turn, we said we aimed to show this was an issue far bigger than just the Bush administration. We stated we were PLP members and were fighting for a communist society, controlled by those who produce everything in society, not by a small ruling class. We answered the question of our mission by starting the chant: "Racism means: We got to fight back! Police state means: We got to fight back! Bush administration means: We got to fight back! Labor splits mean: We got to fight back! Capitalism means: We got to fight back!"
At one stop a UAW member told me of his fight against Apartheid in South Africa, how he was motivated by the actions of the South African unions, and the communists' role in that struggle. After seeing how no one person held a power greater than that of the collective, he was motivated to return and work at implementing changes in his local.
During a rest stop, one of three young sisters traveling with their mother asked where my friend was. I said my comrade had gone to eat. They asked me what the term "comrade" meant. I explained that as communists, there is a bond between us that we express by saying "comrade." This was repeated on the ride back as we distributed CHALLENGE. We declared that our mission in life -- to fight for freedom from exploitation at the hands of capitalism -- created a very strong and special bond among us. And that's why we fight for communism.
However, this atmosphere changed when we arrived in Washington and joined the demonstration. We chanted and spread our revolutionary ideas to those around us, inspiring enthusiasm among them. They chanted along with us and some even spoke on the bullhorn
I began distributing CHALLENGES amongst the crowd. Many people took one and thanked me. Several became more interested once they saw the words "revolutionary" and "communist." One lady said, "I bet there will be some different ideas in here."
When I ran out of papers I returned to my group to get more, plunging again into the crowd, reaching people I hadn't reached before. I was proud of how many people I had exposed to revolutionary ideas and opinions.
When we were done marching we relaxed on the grass but soon I gathered up some leaflets and began distributing them to people in the area. All in all, it had been a good march and trip.
Returning to school on Monday, my English teacher asked me what I did on the weekend. I told her about the demonstration in Washington. She said she had heard about it and asked how it went. I told her it was good.
Showing this letter in CHALLENGE to my friends and other students will help bring my experience at the demonstration to them.
We've been meeting at school over lunch to organize a club on campus and to mobilize for the march. Everyone was wearing stickers we passed out two days before the march: "Stop the War in Iraq, March 9/24/2005." We distributed flyers and taped them to the walls, and more students really started getting into it.
We've also attended meetings with college students to organize a November conference against the war. They've encouraged us to raise our opinions. We've also gone to PLP study groups where we've learned about the war and Katrina and how to organize against such horrors.
Something we've discussed is "Life after Bush," because although some are organizing for a walkout to "Drive out the Bush Regime," we think it doesn't really matter who comes after Bush -- the Republicans and Democrats are pretty much the same and it's the whole government system that has to change.
West Coast Student
When reaching retirement age, they often find it difficult getting benefits due them. Very checkered employment histories require assembling lots of documents from many employers to calculate their benefits. Some have problems filling out forms, not being proficient in French. They make use of the French health system at one-third the rate of others in their age group.
Poverty-stricken, they continue to live in "foyers," public housing for laborers so rudimentary, they're smaller than studio apartments. As they age, their increasing health problems require a different kind of facility but no money is provided for that.
They don't return to their home countries for various reasons. Some are ashamed to return to their villages in Morocco or Algeria after having promised they'd be back driving a fancy car and loaded with money. But after a lifetime as a laborer here, that's impossible. Generally they feel they've failed and wasted their lives, leading to very low self-esteem, neuroses and other mental problems.
After spending nearly 40 years in France, some no longer have family or friends in North Africa. They aren't really French, but are no longer North African. They're stuck in the middle of a capitalism system which has failed them on two continents.
Some, of course, have raised a family in France and so want to stay to be with their children and grandchildren. But the latter are too poor to lift their parents out of poverty. Others also have health problems that cannot be treated in North Africa and are better off taking advantage of the French health system rather than returning to their native country, ruled by fascistic agents of one imperialist power or another.
The radio program noted that this problem has been developing for 40 years. It increasingly became clear that these immigrant workers wouldn't be returning home, leaving France with a large number of impoverished and aged day laborers. No French government ever provided for these workers.
The French have an expression for this: "Workers are treated like Kleenex -- used up and then thrown away. That's capitalism!
A Reader in France
The shipyards require the subcontractors to do the same work for less and less money -- 5% less year after year. Subcontractors able to win the bids are subsidiaries of major firms. These subsidiaries are under-capitalized.
The subsidiaries hire foreign workers (from India and Romania in this film), pay them rock-bottom wages, then no wages, and then eventually go belly-up.
The shipyards are happy because they get the work done at a very cheap price. When one subcontractor goes bankrupt, they just bring in another one. The major firms are happy because they skim the profits off the subsidiaries before they go under. The workers get screwed because there's no way for them to recover their unpaid back wages once the subcontractor has gone bankrupt.
While the film explains very well how this works, and graphically depicts the human consequences for the workers, it doesn't show any way of fighting the system.
It does present French and immigrant workers supporting each other, but the French trade unions are clearly outgunned. They don't have the funds or the legal expertise to fight the bosses' scheme in the bosses' courts, and nowhere does the film pose the idea of all the workers striking together, instead of each group of foreign workers walking out individually, isolated from the others, when it is already too late, when they haven't been paid for weeks or months, and when their subcontractor is about to file for bankruptcy,
A Friend from France
* "First, even if we're living in a pure communist world, at least some people will die during any disaster, even with prevention." This is wrong. A hurricane is predicted long in advance. Cuba evacuates everybody from hurricanes, normally without loss of live. Is Cuba "utopia"?
* "Thus, our ability to help those experiencing natural disasters would face severe limits" because of capitalists' viciousness. Sure, but that's true about everything. The example of Cuba is relevant here too. The Katrina article was not about "superior technique" at all, or any technique. Choosing to protect and defend the working class instead of profits is not "technique," but politics.
As for the characterization that the Katrina article was "utopian," I'd add, "Why should people become communists? Why should we give our lives fighting for it?" The vision of a communist society is that of a shining, wonderful future. "Utopian" implies a lack of struggle. Communist society will be full of struggle, but struggle for a better world and life for all workers.
This is an immensely inspiring vision. We must hold out this bright future to inspire ourselves and others. Our vision of the future is what gives us the strength to work for communism in the present. We should depict the communist future as infinitely preferable to the capitalist present and future, because it IS infinitely better and more beautiful. To call this inspiring vision "utopian" is a form of cynicism.
I thought the original article was very good.
In a Sept. 18 letter to the senators, Captain Fishback wrote, "Despite my efforts, I have been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees. I am certain that this confusion contributed to a wide range of abuses including death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment."
...Investigators who have questioned him in the past 10 days seemed to be less interested in individuals he identified in his chain of command who allegedly committed the abuses....
"I'm...concerned this will take a new twist, and they'll try to scapegoat some of the younger soldiers. This is a leadership problem."
...When he took his complaints to his immediate superiors, Captain Fishback said his company commander cautioned him to "remember the honor of the unit is at stake." (NYT, 9/28)
The prince said...the potential disintegration of Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish states would "bring other countries in the region into the conflict."
Turkey, he noted, has long threatened to send troops into northern Iraq if the Kurds there declare independence. Iran, he asserted, is already sending money and weapons into the Shitte-controlled south of Iraq.... (NYT, 9/23)
"It broke my heart," said Steven Sharp, [jury] foreman... "It's terrible to put a 15-year-old behind bars forever."
The United States is one of only a handful of countries that does that. Life without parole, the most severe form of life sentence, is theoretically available for juvenile criminals in about a dozen countries. But a report to be issued on Oct. 12. by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International found juveniles serving such sentences in only three others. Israel has seven, South Africa has four and Tanzania has one.
...More than 350 of them were 15 or younger....
Juvenile lifers are overwhelmingly male and mostly black... (NYT, 10/3)
"...the resulting outflow of profits may be so high as to make it a substantial cost. Production...displaces local firms."
Multinationals often shield profits from a developing country's tax authorities depriving it of vital revenues. Mr Kozul-Wright said capital flight from Africa, by rich people or multinationals, was a huge problem....
...The global tax avoidance industry causes $500bn a year to flow out of developing countries, dwarfing the $78bn annual aid inflow. (GW, 9/29)
...Worldwide, politicians represent the least trusted occupation, scoring only 13%....In the US 50% trust religious leaders and 40% would give them more power. (GW, 9/29)