Anti-Racist Rage Explodes in Rebellion Against Nazis, Cops
GM/Delphis War Contract: Whats Good For Bosses Will Kill Auto Workers
You Can Kiss The Pension Plan Goodbye!
Bosses Cure for Avian Flu: Militarization of U.S.
Key Provisions Of Harvards Fascist Plan To Militarize U.S. Society
Capitalism Turns Natural Disasters Into Mass Murder of Workers Again
Black Capitalism Wont End Racism
Auto Workers Paying for Nazi-like Sellouts
Mexicos Workers Have No Team in this League
British Columbia: Strikers Defy Bosses Laws
Salvadors Disasters: Workers Tragedy is Bosses Bonanza
Hundreds Protest Racist Minuteman Group
DC Metro Workers Fight for Unity vs. Bosses Attacks on Healthcare
Reflections on the War
Students Confront Fascist DSouzas Anti-Muslim Racism
Rulers Use Charter Schools To Undermine Public Education
NYC Teachers Vow Action Against Sellout Contract
What Is Winning?
Teachers get mad, take action
Attacking KKK In Coal Country
Not All Critics Are Bad Critics
Physical Fitness And Revolutionaries....
D.C. Metro, Health Workers Step Up Fight
Change in Bosses Skin Color Wont End Racism
REDEYE ON THE NEWS
- Dems wont solve Iraq or other issues
- Capitalism offers us creative destruction
- 1957-77: China lifted low-income groups
- Polls say: for Katrina aid, cut Iraq $$
- Democracy in action: Congress using Katrina to rob the poor
- New war front: US is shooting Syrians
- Cheeky Nipsey Russell wouldnt turn cheek
Workers Seize Plant, Confront Argentine Rulers
Workers Fight U$ Imperialisms Grip on Paraguay
Under Communism: What Will Prisons Be Like?
TOLEDO, OHIO, Oct. 15 "They don't have the right to bring hate to my front yard," said one black worker. "You can't allow people to come challenge a whole city and not think they weren't going to strike back," said another, who watched the violence begin near his home. They were referring to the anti-racist rebellion that erupted today as more than 600 mostly black workers and youth overwhelmed the police and the mayor, who were trying to protect a planned Nazi rally here.
In the days leading up to the Nazi march, preachers and community misleaders pleaded with workers to stay calm, as they organized "peace" rallies. The police delayed releasing the route so protesters wouldn't know where the racist/terrorists planned to march. The Nazis didnt apply for a parade permit and planned to walk along sidewalks of North Toledo shouting their racist filth.
But nothing would stop the angry workers and youth, who hurled rocks and bottles at the police. Mayor Ford, a black Democrat, defended the cops and tried to negotiate with the growing anti-fascist crowd. A young man in a mask threatened to shoot him, and others cursed him for allowing the march. The march was cancelled and the cowardly fascists left. Twelve cops were injured, one suffering a concussion when a brick flew through her cruiser window. In all, 114 people were arrested and charged with assault, vandalism, failure to disperse and curfew violations.
After about four hours, the mayor declared a state of emergency that remained in effect through the weekend. About 200 cops patrolled the neighborhood overnight, and an 8 p.m. curfew was in effect. Ford said if the Nazis try to come back he will seek a court order to stop them.
The rebellion was as much against racism and poverty as it was against the Nazis and the cops. More than 8,000 manufacturing jobs have moved out of the city since 2000.
The black unemployment rate is 14.2% here in Lucas County.
Jeep once employed tens of thousands of workers here. The new Toledo North Plant, which borders the North Toledo neighborhood where the rebellion took place, began operations in 2001 with 1,400 fewer workers than the old Jeep facility. Black youth stand no chance now of finding a decent-paying job in an auto factory. About 16.5% of the population lives in poverty, including 44.6% of black children.
This weekends rebellion is an expression of the contradictions simmering just below the surface of cities nation-wide. They reflect the anger over the Katrina disaster and the beating of a 64-year-old black former schoolteacher by New Orleans police the previous weekend. It reflects a deep distrust of both Democratic and Republican politicians, who bring workers only wars, racism and cut-backs. It may reflect the beginning of a change in the class struggle. It certainly is an opportunity to build a mass revolutionary PLP.
DETROIT, MI "We simply cannot afford to continue to be encumbered by high legacy issues and burdensome restrictions under current labor agreements that impair our ability to compete." Thats the brief civics lesson Delphi CEO Robert Miller gave to the New York Times, to show how the bosses use their courts and laws to enforce their dictatorship over the working class, and explain why the largest domestic auto parts supplier filed for bankruptcy protection. But the day before they filed, Delphi sweetened severance packages to its top 21 executives, "to retain its newly assembled management team," which was recently purged due to an accounting scandal now under investigation.
This largest bankruptcy filing in the history of the U.S. auto industry underlines a deepening crisis that is unraveling over 70 years of wage increases, health care coverage, pensions, work-rules and protections against job losses that were fought for by generations of workers. It shows that as long as the bosses hold power, no worker is secure:
It reflects the weakening position of the domestic auto bosses on their home turf, especially compared to Toyota, Honda and Nissan;
It mirrors the global race to the bottom, pitting U.S. workers against their brothers and sisters in Mexico, China and other low-wage havens;
Delphi makes auto parts that are installed in about 75 million cars and trucks, but has lost $5.5 billion in the last six quarters. Half of its business comes from GM, whose plunging fortunes have dragged down the parts supplier.
Delphis filing could push G.M. closer to the edge. Delphi is seeking to stop paying health care and life insurance benefits to 12,000 retirees, who until the 1999 spin-off were GM workers. GM agreed to pay those benefits in the event of bankruptcy, and could be on the hook for as much as $11 billion. GM lost more than $2 billion in the first half of 2005, and its own drive to wrench concessions from the union and parts suppliers has just born its first fruits the UAW has just given back $1 billion worth of health benefits from its employed and retired members.
When the United Automobile Workers union (UAW) ultimately accepts major concessions at Delphi, it will set the pattern for the 2007 contract talks with GM, Ford and Chrysler.
With U.S. imperialisms war in Iraq continuing to sour, and the Katrina disaster exposing the systems racist brutality for all to see, the same contradictions that forced the brutal restructuring of the steel and airline industries are now in full bloom here. These contradictions are leading the imperialists to fascism and world war. For the international working class, the only solution is communist revolution and the building of a mass PLP!
Delphi wants pay cuts for its 34,000 union workers by as much as two-thirds, to as little as $10 to $12 an hour. Currently, they make more than 10 times their co-workers in Mexico and China. Delphi also wants to close plants and stop paying 4,000 laid-off workers, as required by their current contract. It filed for bankruptcy protection after weeks of failed negotiations with both GM and the UAW.
UAW president Ron Gettelfinger called this an "extremely bitter pill," implying the union would have to swallow it. The filing will hang like a sword over the UAW as it tries to negotiate cuts before the company asks a judge to set aside union contracts and impose them. If Delphi has no concession contract by December, it will seek a court hearing to terminate union contracts. Then a judge can impose the cuts, and the UAW can strike. Whether they will is another question, but PLP will take up this challenge to build a mass base for communist revolution among autoworkers, union and non-union, and across all borders.
Bankruptcy will allow Delphi to reduce a contribution to its employee pension fund, due in June 2006, from $1.1 billion to $160 million. Delphi boss Miller said, "If the union says, "No, I don't want to give on wages and benefits and we are break-even instead of profitable, then you can kiss the pension plan goodbye."
Miller speaks from experience. He was the chief executive at Bethlehem Steel and a director at UAL, the parent of United Airlines. In his wake he left more than 150,000 steel and airline workers with slashed pensions, health care, wages and jobs. He was hired three months ago and vowed to file before major changes in bankruptcy laws took effect on Oct. 17.
Delphi workers are about to be marched down the same road as steel and airline workers, and pay the price for a union "leadership" that cannot answer the increased attacks on workers because it is blinded by nationalism and committed to capitalism. GM, Ford and Chrysler workers are close behind. But just as Katrina laid bare the brutal racism built into the system, these attacks on high-paid union workers can show the fleeting nature of any reform and the class dictatorship that hides behind endless elections. This can be a turning point for our efforts to build a mass base for communism among industrial workers. We must meet this challenge.
Delphi has 185,000 workers worldwide. Since being spun off from GM in 1999, it is the largest private employer in Mexico, with 70,000 workers. Many have worked there 20 years, and earn between 500 and 700 pesos weekly ($50-$70) plus bonuses of about 150 pesos ($15).
But even these wages are not low enough. The company has closed several plants and slashed nearly 8,000 jobs. Delphi is invested heavily in China, where auto parts workers earn about 90¢ an hour. They produced $650 million of components there in 2003, and roughly 20% were exported to North America and other destinations worldwide. Thats expected to grow significantly over the next five years.
When capitalists worry about our well-being, dont look for humanitarian motives. The rulers concern for the health of the working class extends only to our fitness to produce their profits and fight their wars. Thats the real worry behind fears recently trumpeted in the liberal media that a bird flu virus now migrating from Asia to Europe might trigger a pandemic in the U.S. as deadly as the flu of 1918.
"The health of the nation is at risk," warns Teddy Kennedy (Boston Globe, 10/16). Hes backing a bill that would create a public health preparedness czar, compel drug companies to make vast quantities of vaccines and boost hospitals surge capacity. Kennedy dreads a repeat of 1918, when, he says, "entire cities and even our military were brought to a standstill," in the midst of World War I.
Today U.S. rulers are embroiled in an intensifying, and increasingly armed, rivalry among the worlds imperialists. They are hyping the flu scare as part of a broader plan to discipline the nation for ever deadlier conflict. When Kennedy demands "preparedness" and "surge capacity," he speaks the language of wartime mobilization.
Bush feebly attempted to advance the rulers agenda by saying that the military would conduct quarantines during an outbreak. But for some time, the big boys have had far more sophisticated and drastic plans in the works. In 2000, Harvard University, working in concert with the Hart-Rudman Commission, issued a report describing just how the government should prepare for public health catastrophes. It called for establishing a federal agency with wartime mobilization powers (see adjoining box below).
Richard Falkenrath, the reports author, joined the Bush administration in May 2001 and helped establish the Homeland Security department following 9/11. He quit the Bush team in 2004, when its efforts at implementing a police state proved half-hearted, and now works for the liberal Brookings Institution.
Falkenraths original concern was bioterrorism. But he recently said, "The highest probability, highest consequence devastating incident in America is an outbreak of pandemic flu .It exceeds by an order of magnitude the severity of a risk of an al-Qaeda biological attack" (Global Security Newswire, 6/10/05). Falkenrath hopes the flu frenzy will elicit "an enormous response from the government."
One of the rulers goals is bending the big drug companies to their will. In their view, stockpiling strategic vaccines is now more important than peddling highly profitable anti-cholesterol drugs and painkillers. Costing billions to develop and market, blockbuster drugs tie up capital that the rulers could use elsewhere, such as funding the half-trillion-dollar Pentagon budget or rebuilding the nations infrastructure. Kennedys recommendations mesh both with Falkenraths fascistic blueprint and the current legal woes of Merck and Pfizer.
With military recruitment and popular support for their Iraq fiasco dwindling, U.S. rulers desperately need patriotism. Theyre cynically manipulating real and potential disasters to encourage workers to seek government protection, especially the military. But the main threat to public health and safety remains capitalism. The wars it ceaselessly spawns have cut short more lives than any illness ever could.
Furthermore, the capitalists wars compound the effects of disease exponentially. In 1918, the rulers turned a flu outbreak into a scourge that killed tens of millions by confining troops in filthy trenches and then shipping them all over the world.
A glimpse at the alternative comes from China in the 1950s, before the Communist Party there utterly embraced capitalism. The then red-led Chinese government eradicated a widespread killer disease called schistosomiasis by mobilizing virtually the entire population to destroy the snails that spread it. [For a detailed account, read Joshua Horns "Away With All Pests," reviewed in CHALLENGE, Oct. 5 and 19.] The lesson here is that the working class can address problems like pandemics only after it seizes state power through communist revolution. Thats the ultimate goal of the Progressive Labor Party.
Impose a state of emergency, including curfew;
Compel people to remain in one location or move to another, including temporary detention;
Use the military for domestic law enforcement, population control and mass logistics;
Seize community or private property, such as hospitals, utilities, medicines, vehicles, or transit centers, or to compel the production of certain goods;
Compel individuals to undertake decontamination procedures, take medicines, or be quarantined;
Censor and control the media;
Relax standards for conducting searches and seizures;
Dispose of deceased individuals;
Compel civilian public servants to work;
Waive regulatory requirements on the use of certain pharmaceuticals.
Capitalism has again turned a natural disaster into mass murder of workers and their families. Since last December weve seen the tragedies of the Tsunami, Katrina and now an earthquake in Pakistan-India and hurricane Stan in Central America, the latter causing about 2,000 needless deaths in Guatemala, and leaving another million or more homeless. (Also, see article on El Salvador, page 4.)
As we go to press (10/19), the death toll in South Asias earthquake is approaching 80,000, about half in Pakistani-held Kashmir and half in Pakistans North West Frontier Province. The numbers are significantly higher than the central governments figure of 42,000, a count that has lagged behind the local count since the disasters early days.
Asif Iqbal Daudzai, information minister for the North West Frontier Province, told the Associated Press that 37,958 people died in the province and at least 23,172 were injured, the vast majority in the Mansehra district. He said the figures were based on reports from local government and hospital officials.
In addition, about 40,000 people died in Pakistani-held Kashmir. India has reported 1,360 deaths in its part of Kashmir. There are also possibly two million refugees whove received very little government help. Meanwhile, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has reported that in Pakistan, over 1.1 million jobs may have been lost in this earthquake. Widespread destruction has threatened or destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people, according to an Oct. 18 report by ILO Director-General Juan Somavia.
Both countries are nuclear powers (threatening war against each other). While India has a large number of well-qualified scientists and engineers, the Science and Development Network web site reported (Jan. 2005) on Indias neglect of earth sciences. It pointed to a qualitative and quantitative deficiency of scientists in geophysics, geology, seismology and atmospheric science, despite the fact that the country is located amid one of the most earthquake-prone regions on earth. Both India and Pakistan lack any building codes insuring housing capable of withstanding earthquakes.
This contrasts with Indias funding of space-related activities directly benefiting its military ambitions that have created a sizeable pool of specialists to support them, along with an educational infrastructure. Sixty percent of its annual budget goes to the military and debt service.
The Pakistani ruling class is even worse, investing most of the countrys resources in the military. ( President Musarraf is a general and an ally of U.S. imperialism.) The rulers have also encouraged and financed Islamic fundamentalism at the expense of education and science. The military uses one-fourth of Pakistans annual budget while an astonishing half of the budget goes for debt service. Education gets only 2%.
A system that cant protect its citizens from natural disasters indeed must be destroyed.
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 15 Today PLP greeted thousands of participants in the Millions More Movement (MMM) rally on the mall here with the message that only building a mass revolutionary communist movement will answer the attacks on workers by the racist capitalist system (such as the bosses response to Hurricane Katrina). Four thousand leaflets were distributed along with 1,000 CHALLENGES. Its lead article showed the crucial role industrial workers play in the leadership of social movements, providing the power to advance the interests of the entire working class and its allies. We were able to spread our communist politics during a PLP bullhorn rally held on the edge of the MMM rally during the afternoon speeches.
Meanwhile, hundreds of black workers and youth in Toledo, Ohio put revolutionary ideas into practice by attacking both the neo-Nazis who tried to rally there and the politicians, police, and city officials who dared to allow these racist scum into the city. These assembled workers met offers of "negotiation" from city officials with flying bricks! (See article, front page)
The contrast between the two events is illuminating. At the MMM, sponsored primarily by the Nation of Islam (NOI), tens of thousands of black workers, students and professionals heard Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton propose a ten-point conservative black nationalist reform program that stresses building black businesses. It relies on self-help activities, resembling the tradition of Booker T. Washington who, at the end of the 19th century, encouraged such "self-help" and discouraged any activities challenging the bosses. Most MMM rally participants we spoke to showed little interest in these proposals, and were much more interested in PLPs strategy: building a revolutionary movement to destroy capitalism and its government, and replacing it with an anti-racist workers state. They were also attracted to PLPs militant local anti-racist campaigns against racist police brutality, the AIDS epidemic, relief and support of Katrina evacuees, the struggle against the racist reconstruction plans for New Orleans and on-the-job fights against the bosses.
The NOI attempted to stifle such discussions and our rally by calling the cops, who insisted we move or be arrested. So we moved across the street! and continued the rally and discussions.
Ever since the 1972 Gary Conference, black nationalist strategies for black progress have been exposed as incapable of meeting the needs of black workers. The MMM simply continued this dead-end approach, which at best will help a handful of African Americans to become wealthier on the backs of the working class.
The choice is clear: revolutionary mass action against racist capitalism, or following capitalist politicians to our doom. Choose life and join the PLP!
The Delphi case shows again how rotten the U.S. union leadership is and how it is leading workers to fascism and another world war. Winning workers to willingly or grudgingly sacrifice to save the bosses is a major aspect of fascism.
This is what the Nazis did in preparation for war after defeating the labor movement and crushing Germanys Social-Democrat and Communist Parties. U.S. rulers and all the imperialists have enjoyed a similar free hand with the defeat of the old communist movement some three decades ago.
In the domestic auto industry, things took a dramatic turn in the 1970s when the UAW:
Violently smashed any revolutionary challengers, using 1,000 goons to crush the PLP-led Chrysler Mack Ave. sit-down strike and purged PLP from the industry in 1973:
Sponsored racist anti-Japanese rallies that led to the racist murder of Vincent Chin in a Detroit bar, a Chinese student mistaken by two racist Chrysler employees to be Japanese;
Gave away billions to bail out Chrysler in 1979, including half the workforce. This ushered in the era of "jointness" with the companies, and decades of concessions, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, from Carter to Reagan to Bush, Sr. to Clinton to Dubya.
Delphi CEO Miller said he did "not want to put [UAW president] Ron Gettelfinger on the hot seat. He is on the hot seat." Gary N. Chaison, Clark University professor of industrial relations, said, "These were the aristocrats of labor, and now they're in the position that their jobs are going to become lower-wage manufacturing jobs, as if they were producing hairdryers."
This comes with the A.F.L.-C.I.O. disintegrating, the UAW having lost half its membership (even more among industrial workers), and the domestic auto industry about 50% non-union.
The union leaders may be on the hot seat, but its the workers feeling the heat. No sooner did Delphi declare bankruptcy than the UAW announced "progress" in talks to grant GM concessions on healthcare. GM spends $1,500 per vehicle on health care, $5.6 billion annually, and wants big cuts right away even though the contract doesnt expire for two years. Theyre clearly looking for GM to come to their aid with Delphi. This strategy, called "leverage" by the union, relies on the biggest bosses pressuring the smaller ones to give the union a break.
PLP will again challenge the UAW leaders for the political leadership of the workers. We will oppose "leverage" by fighting to sharpen the class struggle and to expose the union hacks as agents of imperialism. We will oppose helping the bosses compete globally by raising the banner of "Workers of the World, Unite!" We will show the bosses agents the truth of what Haymarket martyr August Spies said at his trial more than 100 years ago. The workers desire for revolution "is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out!"
MEXICO CITY When fighting his removal as this citys mayor, Lopez Obrador, was mainly concerned about assuring big businessmen that if he became president he would guarantee to make them even richer.
The bosses electoral circus tries to suck workers into the fight for power within the ruling class. One faction wants to continue profiting from the current alliance with U.S. imperialism to share the countrys most profitable businesses. Their "labor reform" would legalize the current fascist working conditions, and guarantee stability behind the mask of "democracy," strengthening the repressive apparatus. This faction represents the Fox government and his legislature. Behind them are the businessmen of Monterrey. The fascist group Yunque is their ideological head.
The other faction comprises the bosses who without breaking alliances with U.S. rulers are looking for a greater share of the profits through an economy more independent of the U.S. They want relations with imperialists in the European Union, Asia and Mercosur (the Brazil-Argentine-led common market). These nationalist bosses push policies that expand the internal economy, including social and cultural programs that strengthen nationalism.
Carlos Slim, Mexicos most powerful boss, has interests in both groups and favors one or the other, according to circumstances. Under capitalism, these bosses hardly lose. We need a communist revolution to get rid of this slime.
The supposed "left groups" and "pro-democracy sectors" are debating their position on the presidential elections, especially since August when Sub-commander Marcos of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, declared the PRD (Party of Democratic Revolution) and its candidate Lopez Obrador, to be traitors. Marcos called on the "rank and file and the left" to unite their struggles, to agree on a national program, a new constitution, and how to fight for it.
But capitalism whether neo-liberal or "socially conscious" causes poverty and oppression of the working class. Weve lived for 70 years under capitalism with a "social conscience" and almost 20 years with Neo- Liberalism. None of these bosses offer anything different. We must have no illusion that capitalism will change its nature if we elect a different boss.
None of these factions or bosses political parties want to eliminate the wage system, abolish racism or sexism, all of which lead to the special oppression of tens of millions. None want to prohibit profits, the fruit of exploitation, hunger and poverty. Theyre proven and sworn enemies of the workers. The only alternative for a world without exploitation or poverty is the continual building and growth of our communist party, the PLP.
Whichever faction wins power, they send their whole police and military apparatus to smash us. We cant ally with any boss. All are bad. The ruling class unites against any movement that threatens their continued power.
A plot does exist, but not against Lopez Obrador. Its a plot by the ruling class against the workers. We need unity of all workers against them, but unity based on communist ideas and practice. This unity will be more powerful than all bosses put together!
BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada, Oct. 18 Thousands of public employees (members of the CUPE union) walked off their jobs today across this province in support of the striking teachers here. More large-scale protests are planned this week. The escalation follows Mondays B.C. Federation of Labour protest in Victoria by teachers and other union workers that shut down many government services for the day.
The B.C. Teachers Federation began its illegal strike a week and a half ago after the provincial government imposed a contract extension on the union. The union is also defying a civil contempt of court ruling, after they disobeyed a B.C. Supreme Court order, telling them to go back to the classroom. The teachers are demanding a smaller class size and a 15% wage increase over three years.
SAN SALVADOR "These are natural disasters and we can do nothing about them," said Salvadoran President Antonio Saca about the recent storms, avalanches, eruptions of the volcano Llamatepec and a 6.2 earthquake that shook the nation.
"Nature is not the enemy. Our real enemy and killer is capitalism," declared a comrade in a meeting with workers from the areas most affected by the storms. "Eruptions, rainstorms and hurricanes cannot be avoided. What can be avoided are the disasters that follow, which are not natural; theyre created by poverty and capitalist greed. Weve seen this from Pakistan to New Orleans to Mexico to Central America." Under communism, workers needs and security will be the priority. Profits will be a thing of the past.
"This is history being repeated," said a worker from Bajo Lempa, a community south of the countrys main river. "When it rains hard like this, they open the dam called Sept. 15 and they flood our homes and land. Here in this area theyre thinking of building a containing wall, but not until the big businessmen carry out their tourist project for a hotel chain."
"Thats why they want to kick us out of here, but were going to fight," said another youth from this community. "Were not willing to leave. Whats more, we wont let anyone who brings us aid bring the flags of any electoral party, as theyre doing in other communities, asking for votes in the middle of so much tragedy."
President Saca cynically designated ANEP (National Association of Private Businesses) to receive all the international aid. ("The wolf will take care of the sheep.") These are the same killers who for decades have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of workers through hunger, poverty and outright murder. The European imperialists have sent the most aid, almost 80%, trying to win the favor of the local capitalists and the workers as well. Theyre seeking to be the new imperialist exploiters of Salvadoran workers.
Although the people whove become homeless are demanding control of these donations from workers of other countries, actually much of it will stay with the bosses and the government.
Just like in New Orleans, Italian engineers have been recommending since 2002 that repairs or big changes be made in the drainage system here, where many workers died in mud slides. These studies also recommended stopping construction in the area, but the construction companies are out to make maximum profit, not save lives.
"We must evaluate the cost of maintaining these people in the refugee camps. Its necessary to leave," said Mauricio Ferrer, director of COEN, the Committee of National Emergency, about those affected by the volcano eruption. More than 75,000 are now homeless. Days earlier people in Palo Campana, Santa Ana, were told theyd be notified 24 hours before an eruption. This became a deadly capitalist promise. The forest rangers and other workers stayed, waiting for Ferrers official order until it was way too late. The deaths increased, but for the capitalists they dont count.
There are hugs for children in the refugee camps and promises of help by the bosses and politicians. The workers tragedy is a bosses bonanza. Every refugee camp had signs depicting the candidates. Bags of food contained logos of the fascist ARENA party.
The conclusion? This murderous system cant be reformed; it must be destroyed. PLPs members and friends feel more urgency to build networks of CHALLENGE readers, meetings and study groups, and to organize struggle against the bosses to prepare a real revolutionary communist earthquake that will destroy the capitalists and their system. This will be a truly NATURAL phenomenon!
CHICAGO, Oct. 17 While 600 protesters were chasing Nazis out of Toledo on Oct. 15 (see article front page), PLers helped lead a protest in the suburb of Arlington Heights against the racist/fascist Minuteman group, who held a meeting/benefit at a local church. Many protesters knew that the Minuteman is a group similar to the KKK and neo-nazis, and are deputized by the Office Of Homeland Security to carry out not only its racist anti-immigrant worker acts of deportation but also outright terror and murder.
PLP sought to show that these actions are intrinsically tied to capitalism, a system which lures in immigrants, super-exploits them, and then threatens to deport some to maintain the exploitation of the rest. Meanwhile, it uses their children as cannon fodder in imperialist wars. The only solution is to smash all borders and fight for a society without bosses communism.
After a small number of people trickled into the Minuteman meeting, buses arrived filled with about 200 workers, their families and students, including Latino workers, and others from India and the South Pacific. The cops sought to terrorize them, bringing in riot teams from at least four local police departments. Armed with M-16s and holding agitated attack dogs, the cops walked into the middle of the group of demonstrators over a span of two city blocks. PLP members sought to help allay the workers fears, and distributed copies of CHALLENGE. Meanwhile anarchist groups provoked the police and ran back into the crowd, chased by the cops, in effect siccing the police on the undocumented workers.
Towards the end of the rally, a PL member spoke on a bullhorn, saying that as long as these racists gathered to spread their message of hate, protesters would continue to come in increasing numbers to resist them.
As we chanted, "The only solution is communist revolution!" we were joined by local college students. One said they were glad they were not the only communists there. They gave us their contact information and took CHALLENGES to read and give to interested friends.
Several Pl members rode back to Chicago on a bus with a group of local students who were members of a Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage collective. They seek to give local youth a safe place to express themselves artistically.
While this group has a nationalist outlook, they were not at all disrespectful of PLPs communist message. One of their leaders said that at some point there would be a need to bring people under a far more unifying symbol than any national flag. We said that symbol already existed, the Red Flag of communism. We offered to send them one. They invited us to stay in contact and participate in their future events.
While the Minuteman group was able to carry on their police-protected meeting, we were able to bring PLs politics to many new workers and students, and establish the basis for continuing contact.
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 17 A PLP-led group once again had to respond vigorously to a right-wing critic at the meeting of Metro Local 689, Amalgamated Transit Union, this time about healthcare negotiations. The bosses, including those running Metro, are seeking ways to save money in this weakening economy. This means cut-backs in workers benefits, eliminating retiree health benefits, raising premiums and offering, at best, a tiny wage increase. Sound familiar? U.S. bosses are attacking workers health care in industry after industry (see Delphi, front page). Capitalism in crisis means a real crisis for us workers!
The bosses demands have raised consciousness among the workers here. We distributed a militant leaflet to the workers entitled, "Our Healthcare is Under Attack." It definitely worked meeting attendance was higher than usual.
The president (a PLPer) spoke on healthcare, on health cost escalation, on the bosses proposals, and the need to unite to fight these attacks by developing membership solidarity. When he opened the floor for discussion, just as expected a right-winger jumped up to blame the president, saying he needed to negotiate harder. But more talk wont get to the bosses. It takes solidarity and militancy at least. At some point workers will have to break the bosses laws. (See British Columbia teachers strike, page 4) Functioning within the bosses rules means submitting to their demands.
When the right-winger finished, a contingent of 15 workers, led by another PLer, told the fool to shut up and sit down. A comrade took the mike, stating how individuals like this right-winger were individualistic rather than collective-minded, that we must recognize who the real enemy is, and that the union and its members must challenge themselves to take responsibility for sharpening the struggle against management. Were no longer relying on empty promises from politicians and the old sellout union leaders. Many of us now understand we must step up and fight the bosses attacks, and eventually their entire system. Mobilizing workers to attend this union meeting to discuss these issues was a first step.
This war has put us in despair. Its caused us pain and suffering. Our government can legally murder our loved ones and theres not a darn thing we can do about it or can we?
I work for a transit company. Recently a homeless man was attacked for no reason by a passenger. The homeless man defended himself and could have done serious damage to the man, but he kept saying, "just leave me alone, I dont want to hurt you." The attacker ran out the rear door of the bus.
I couldnt help but wonder about this homeless man with such control in an angry situation. I asked him was he in the military at any time. He said yes, he was in the army he told us the wars hes fought in. Told us that at one time he was proud to defend this country.
I dont know if being homeless has made him numb, but I found myself being very angry. This administration is trying to entice our young men and women to join their slave organization (armed forces) in the guise of fighting for "our freedom" to make them richer, promising these youngsters things theyll never deliver!
At the anti-war rally I attended with my union, they had boots of dead soldiers spread out on the lawn the average age was 21. The government left out the "promise of death"!
I would encourage anyone to take pictures of our homeless veterans and show anyone interested in joining the army what their future is tell them its the fine print of the promise theyre not told about when they sign on the dotted line. Also, that line is dotted for a reason all the spaces in between the dots are where they expect you to fall.
Well, thats enough for now. Transits calling me to do what they underpay me to do.
In solidarity, DC Metro Operator
Recently our PLP campus in the southwest organized an action in which hundreds of students were won to militantly oppose an appearance by the fascist mouthpiece Dinesh DSouza. This bosses tool endorses U.S. imperialism and spouts a viciously racist anti-Arab ideology. By emphasizing DSouzas racism in various political and non-political campus groups to which we belong, we were able to organize many people to attend the event and oppose him.
Our flyers detailed DSouzas connection to the bosses think-tanks, enabling people going to the event to prepare questions exposing DSouza as a fascist. We also distributed these flyers to those attending the speech, including DSouzas family! Meanwhile, the campus Democrats sat on their hands and did nothing to oppose him.
When planning to confront DSouza, many students questioned obstructing his "freedom of speech." PLers explained that freedom of speech is an illusion when one oppressive class controls all media outlets. Still, many were engaging in their first political action and were uncomfortable with the idea of shouting DSouza down. We decided to be flexible, asking questions that pointed out the speakers racism and endorsement of U.S. imperialism. Then, if people became upset with him, wed encourage them to disrupt the event and shout their objections to DSouza.
Of the three hundred students who attended, about 200 came to oppose his message in various ways. When he praised the American Empire, the majority of the crowd booed and hissed. People stood and applauded when one professor berated DSouza for his racist characterizations of Arab people.
One PLer, disguised as a conservative student, even got to address DSouza. When the Party member challenged DSouzas historical analysis of U.S. Mid-East adventures as completely incorrect raising the Hart-Rudman Reports on U.S. bosses imperialist plans people from the campus group that brought DSouza yelled "shut up" and "write your own book."
The majority of the audience shouted back to let the "dissident" speak. Then, when the fascists summoned a cop to threaten the Party member, people began shouting their disagreements with DSouza, calling him a racist. DSouza was made to feel completely unwelcome on our campus.
Afterwards, Party members talked to people who were furious about what theyd heard. Many were angry at DSouzas mocking and laughing at those who asked questions disagreeing with him, and angry at DSouzas sponsoring group that shouted at and ridiculed those who opposed him. Muslim students were furious at DSouzas defining all Muslims as "fundamentalists," and "therefore" terrorists.
We explained that DSouza was simply a mouthpiece for those who wish to maintain the profit system and that he, and others like him, must be opposed. It was then that people abandoned their timidity concerning "free speech." Many repeatedly said people like DSouza have no right to speak at all and took a more militant stand against these fascists.
The same group that brought DSouza is inviting the racist, anti-immigrant MinuteMan group to the campus to talk about "border security." Many attending the DSouza event, and others who heard about it, are now pledging to organize and take a much more aggressive stand against these racists.
This was a victory for working people, a result of the hard work and leadership of PLP members.
I began working in a charter school several years ago. I wasnt a certified teacher, which charter schools permitted then. The general buzz claimed charter schools were replacing failing public schools. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was enacted somewhat later, also "to help our suffering public school system."
Charter schools offered a healthy dose of quality competition. NCLB set standards. Looks great on paper, but several years revealed to me the impact of charter schools and NCLB on public education the exact opposite of what they promised. They are tools the ruling class is using to dismantle the public school system. This is a vicious racist attack, doubly affecting the children of black and Latin workers who attend public schools.
Virtually all charter schools cater to low-income, struggling students and their families. Charter schools offer an illusion of choice. Theyre generally worse than the public schools they take kids from. They lack the resources and infrastructure. Our school doesnt have a gym, a science lab or a library. Teachers tend to have less experience and stay only a few years. Charter schools quality is just rhetorical hype.
These schools are also less stable than public ones. Many of our students move from school to school as their parents try to maneuver their way through the education system, looking for help. But any help is generally no more than that received at a public school. The chances are greater the child will be ignored and then passed along to the next grade, or, if a behavior problem, be tolerated because the school needs the income from the state.
Many charter schools use corporal punishment or a demerit system. Others are faith-based. Both styles negate true learning and create environments where obedience and submissiveness are enforced and required. All this guarantees that working-class children whose families seek "better" schools will get the worst education.
Along comes No Child Left Behind, another wonderful misnomer like Operation Iraqi Freedom. One of its harshest components deals with Special Education. It limits the percentage of those diagnosed with a learning disability and placed in Special Education.
NCLB has thus forced many children out of special education and into the general classroom. Schools in poor neighborhoods are hardest hit. Although putting children with learning disabilities in a general classroom is not always bad, if in overcrowded classes and lacking resources, these students who need more individualized attention wont be getting it. Theyll fall farther and farther behind academically.
NCLB also mandates heavy standardized testing in order to pass certain grades. But recent research shows that high-stakes testing doesnt increase student performance; it only increases student retention and dropout rates.
Essentially NCLB throws kids who need the most help out of the main program that was supposed to help them keep up academically, shoves them into a crowded classroom, and then tests the hell out of them. By middle school, the kids feel like absolute failures and cant wait to drop out when they turn sixteen.
So could the ruling class be making an honest mistake? Hell no! The pieces of their insidious puzzle fit too well together. Legalize privatization of public school education. Then pass another law eliminating individualized instruction for children who most need it and create high-stakes testing that "proves" these kids and public schools are failing.
Who wins? The ruling class and its profit system. The companies who make the tests, sell the curriculum and even charge to grade them; the educational management companies who run charter schools; the businesses who rent equipment; the tutoring companies who charge thousands of dollars because a child will possibly be retained.
The ultimate benefit for the ruling class? Those students not easily and cheaply trained become dropouts who will scramble for the lowest-paying job. This allows companies that globalize and send jobs overseas to now lower production costs at home too. When the U.S. dropout population increases, U.S. companies can make higher profits domestically.
We need to let others know how charter schools and NCLB hurt the working class. In my school were organizing to fight the special education cut-backs. But we need to expose the ruling classs supposed "solution" to a serious problem as just another source of profit, and then pose possible real solutions. From that point comes the realization that there are no real solutions under capitalism. Thats the first step into PLP.
A meeting of my schools teacher union chapter occurred about the same time talk of a strike was floating around NYC. The chapter chairperson recapped the Fact Finding Report that formed the basis of mediation between the Education bosses and the union. Wed get a 15% raise over the 52-month contract, but lose the right to grieve administration letters in our files. A teacher asked how we could handle problems like the "dumping" of students into classes instead of figuring out which ones they really needed, and switching teachers programs without telling them until the last minute. The chapter chair said hed consult the contract and would get back to us.
Having heard Party members reports about activities at their schools inspired me to think of some communist ideas I could raise at such a meeting. The above discussion gave me the perfect opportunity to relate these problems to the proposed contract and link them to the bigger picture. (I asked teachers who were beginning to leave to stay for just a few more minutes.)
I traced the low level of working-class consciousness nationally to the fall of the old communist movement. I said this contract was a step towards attacking workers nation-wide, giving the bosses more control to satisfy their need to carry out an imperialist war in Iraq. I described how historically workers militancy and unity against the bosses is what produced gains for our class. I noted the Boeing and North West Airline strikes as examples of workers fighting back. Then I proposed that we organize actions to fight for our students needs.
From that meeting an action subcommittee was formed, helping to convince a group of teachers and students to join the rally at the following Delegate Assembly protesting the contract. In the next few days, teachers told me they agreed with what Id said and would help carry out actions we proposed.
Out of this small struggle, a few new teachers took CHALLENGE for the first time. Were also planning a rally at the school to unite teachers, students and parents. While only a start, now the discussion centers around how we can better serve our students one of our communist ideas.
Ive been a high school teacher for 19 years and was given a "U" (unsatisfactory) rating in the second year of a new license. I was fired under the fiction that I "could not teach and could not be taught how to teach." Im working now as an ATR (Teacher in Reserve) only because almost the whole school teachers, students, paraprofessionals and security were angry that I was thrown out and forced the union to fight for my rehiring under my previous license. PLP leafleted the unions Delegate Assembly protesting my firing.
The NYC Human Rights Commission agreed to file an ageism suit against the Citys Dept. of Education (DOE) because Im 68 and have a spotless record as a teacher, with many previous commendations. Although the DOE was supposed to respond by the first week in October, up to now (Oct. 16) there has been none. However, Ive now been moved from the job Id been given back to my old school. Im still an ATR, but I now have one class to teach in the subject area for which I was deemed "unsatisfactory." Upon my return, three very religious older teachers, one a Protestant minister, said they never believed Id be back. They thanked the Lord; apparently I had hardened their conviction in God. A group of 12th grade students whom I had taught in the 9th grade were overjoyed, saying I was a legend in the school.
That day was overwhelming positive and ended with a union meeting at which I carefully raised PLPs and my disagreements with the proposed contract. The following day, more joy: the basketball team and some other teams wanted me to watch them play. They hoped they would win this year. I spent a full day talking with students and teachers, giving advice and getting the news. Some students told me they were pregnant and that their parents were giving them a hard time. One decent Assistant Principal said I was like a grandfather to the school.
What, then, is winning? The vast majority of teachers and students felt it was a plus that I was back in the school. Although, Im still an ATR and can be moved at any time, I am teaching the subject they said I couldnt teach and Im in the school they threw me out of. In my view thats winning.
Now anti-communist forces have started to organize against me. This is another plus because it sets the stage once more for struggle. Im now organizing a little after-school party at one of the local pubs to thank those teachers who never gave in.
Victories come in many different ways. Fighting back is always a victory. Dare to struggle, dare to win!
Brooklyn red teacher
"But what about my family?" asked a fellow teacher when I urged her to vote against the current contract proposal. Sure, we havent had a raise in almost three years. Its tempting to give in and vote yes.
But thats a mistake. If we really want to think about ourselves and our immediate families, we must become conscious of ourselves as members of a class the working class.
Many teachers have made a first step. They have gotten mad! They see this contract proposal as an attack. At my school, Ive fought for class consciousness, explaining that this attack on teachers is more sharply aimed at the black and Latin working-class youth we teach.
When I wrote a newsletter and presented it at a chapter union meeting, it sparked the most advanced discussion weve ever had. I proposed we write our own leaflet and suggested someone write the draft. Teachers responded. One volunteered to write it and four others helped with editing, proofreading, Spanish translation and graphics. It argued for schools that better serve students, smaller class sizes, an end to racist inequalities in funding, and respect for the hard work of the teachers. Five teachers distributed it at a neighborhood train station.
Yet even these modest reforms which the bosses refuse to grant wont change societys fundamental power relations, but theyre providing a forum to discuss capitalism and the need for communist revolution. Theyve also inspired some teachers to feel like theyre fighting for something. They are! Theyre fighting for the future of the working class. Fighting with class consciousness is the way theyll actually fight for their families.
Ive pointed out the big picture, that workers everywhere are under attack from United Airlines, to Boeing, to Delphi, to Northwest Airlines, to other NYC unions. These bosses are attacking the entire working class, eliminating protections workers sacrificed and struck for.
Unless we build a class conscious movement to confront this capitalist system, we and our children face a future of drastic reductions in our standard of living, more wars for profit, more terrorist attacks and intensified racism. The bosses who run this system are in trouble, and theyll force our children to fight and die in their wars, if we dont stop them.
The U.S. ruling class is pushing nationalist/patriotic politics, asking workers to sacrifice, with lower wages and benefits, "for the good of the nation. " They also say, "Things are not that bad," like some delegates said at our recent union Delegate Assembly about this lousy contract proposal.
PLP advocates an internationalist/pro-working class line which asks workers to give their time and energy to build a movement that confronts capitalisms endless profit wars, systemic racism and wage slavery. Workers must ally themselves with other workers, in other unions, outside of unions, unemployed workers and in other countries. All bosses are our enemy.
Many teachers have been won to think of themselves as "above" other workers. The teachers at my school are decent and honest but need more understanding of how their struggles relate to the working class as a whole. They dont see themselves as part of history, rather just as people living their own lives. Capitalism fosters this illusion. All of us are supposedly separate "individuals" with our little families. This allows the ruling class to exploit some more than others, bribe some more than others and basically keep us divided.
Teachers need to realize that by fighting for our class, were actually serving our students and their parents.
I've helped organize and have participated in several protests against the Klan and Nazi skinheads in western Pennsylvania's coalfields. Of course, the major criminal in the U.S. is the racist capitalist system, perpetrating such racist atrocities as New Orleans no aberration.
As CHALLENGE pointed out (10/19) in "Capitalism - Biggest Crime of All," in the U.S. "black workers suffer from the greatest racism, poverty, unemployment and disease," and that "black workers, because of their history in the U.S. and their relation to society, are also the key force for communist revolution."
When we formed the Coal Country Coalition (CCC) to battle the fascist KKK and to support workers' struggles, we made anti-racist action our central focus. At every KKK appearance, we distributed leaflets linking these ghouls to the capitalists. Our position was quite clear.
While it's good to protest the Klan, it's not good enough. We showed that the KKK worked for the bosses by trying to divide workers and make black workers the scapegoats for the problems created daily by the capitalist system.
We also believed that it was necessary to confront the Klan. This position was assailed not only by the cops, who defend the Klan, but also by members of local "unity" groups, who would hold rallies three miles or so from the Klan gathering. Needless to say, the CCC was not asked to speak at these "Love-me-I'm-a-liberal" rallies.
Though the KKK has vanished into the woodwork right now, the CCC continues to battle racism, imperialist war and capitalism and support workers' struggles. We have great respect for PLP because of its long history of courageously fighting racism and capitalism.
Finally, as Karl Marx wrote, "Labor in white skin can never be free, as long as labor in the black skin is branded."
In an article I wrote for CHALLENGE (10/5), "Immigrant Workers: Braceros, Cannon Fodder or Revolutionaries," I claimed some immigrants are more exploited simply because they can't speak English. Later I contradicted myself by pointing out that the situation of English speaking immigrants is ultimately just as exploitative.
The idea that learning some skill is an answer to capitalist exploitation has no foundation in reality. This illusion has liberalism written all over it and shifts the responsibility of exploitation away from the bosses and onto the working class.
These workers are not exploited because they don't speak a particular language; they're exploited because capitalist profit is the order of the day. In any language this spells exploitation for workers.
While this idea isn't new to me, I couldn't see the contradiction until it was criticized at a PLP club meeting. We discussed the error, why it occurred, and what should be done to resolve the issue. By remaining open to my comrades' criticism, I learned more about my weaknesses and the need for vigilance in writing politically. Had I closed myself off to this criticism, as I've done in the past, I would have missed a valuable opportunity to learn and grow as a communist.
At times I find it difficult to be self-critical or open to criticism. I justify this by reasoning that older comrades are "out of touch" or that younger comrades are "too inexperienced." In hindsight, that's the easiest way to perpetuate my own weaknesses. With this in mind, in the future I will welcome such comradely criticism. I highly recommend it.
A Young Red
At a recent PLP club meeting we discussed and struggled over the issue of cigarette smoking. One reason this arose was because at a recent Party event, a comrade's son asked his father, "Daddy, why are they smoking? Are they good or bad?"
This led some of us to believe that whether we like it or not, we're examples and we set examples. As revolutionaries, we should have high standards of health and physical fitness. Obesity is also a big problem. Some comrades are overweight. Is this the example we should set as revolutionaries?
The day will come (as if the current fascism isn't enough) when we'll have to train and prepare (physically) for revolution, not just organizationally or theoretically. Don't we owe it to the masses, if not to ourselves, to provide an example of better health, fitness and well being? How can we serve the people if we're physically unfit to do it? Many of us run, some are vegetarian and some actively train. My question is: is this an issue to be struggled over? Is there something to be said about a revolutionary who smokes and is overweight? Are these the kinds of people we want as leaders of a revolution?
Is there any Party material dealing with this topic? If not, we should create something, and wage an internal campaign for comrades to improve their health to better serve the working class.
PLP'ers in Washington, D.C. and Maryland mobilized for the Millions More March (MMM) by building on the advances made in the anti-war march among health and union activists. We leafleted workers and students coming to the March with a hard-hitting statement about racist attacks on New Orleans workers, which showed that capitalism offered nothing before the hurricane and will further destroy lives in the reconstruction of the city.
Many D.C. workers at Metro and in Public Health for the first time joined with PLP in mass leafleting and CHALLENGE distribution. These are the workers who will build a real movement, not the charlatans on the MMM stage. Students from Howard and Georgetown Universities read the leaflets and spoke with Party members. One black Georgetown student exclaimed, "I didn't realize other people saw what is happening in New Orleans this way!"
Our leaflets on HIV/AIDS in D.C. called the AIDS epidemic the "Katrina of DC." Hundreds of flyers urged workers to build a city-wide campaign to target this epidemic which affects at least one out of every twenty residents. D.C. leads the nation.
One of the new members of the public health group we work in wrote us to say, "I had a great time helping on Saturday and was impressed at people's interest in what we were passing out. I also look forward to working with the committee more" an important development as we prepare for the November 5 convergence of patients, health workers and advocates in Washington, DC for a rally for the "Campaign to End AIDS." This will be the beginning of continued activity to fight for housing, outreach, school education, substance abuse treatment, and federal AIDS funding.
PLP's work in sharpening politics among union workers to fight the war and among health workers to take on the AIDS struggle contrasts sharply with the political leaders prattling on at the MMM event and working only for their self-aggrandizement.
I went to the Millions More Movement Washington rally on Oct. 15 with a school friend and his family. When we arrived we saw tens of thousands on the National Mall. But while Black Nationalism dominated the speeches, the masses of workers and students present were open to PLP's line of the need to smash the racist capitalist system, and with multi-racial unity.
While my friend listened to the speeches, I marched around the outskirts of the rally with other party members and led chants on our bullhorn. People joined us in shouting, "Racism means, we've got to fight back! Killer Kops mean, we've got to fight back!" Our speeches explained the nature of capitalism and how it breeds racism. We also pointed out that a few black capitalists cannot solve the problems facing black and white workers. Soon the Nation of Islam decided they weren't comfortable with our comments and sent their security to shut us down. Nonetheless, the Party distributed 4,000 flyers, 1,000 CHALLENGES and a revolutionary political line.
After our rally, I rejoined my friends on the lawn listening to Louis Farrakhan and others. Basically they called for a growth in black business and independence as the "answer" to racism. Farrakhan even made the outrageous call for a ministry of trade/commerce to tap the cheap labor in Africa and Latin America. Changing the color of the oppressor will not eliminate oppression. Farrakhan's mansion on Chicago's South Side has done nothing to rid neighborhoods of vacant lots and slum housing. Ultimately workers can never win by lining up behind a boss, be it Farrakhan or Rockefeller, Bush or Clinton. We can only win by taking power ourselves.
Red College Student
Dems wont solve Iraq or other issues
While Americans are turning increasingly against the war in Iraq the support for the war among major Democratic leaders seems nearly as staunch and as mindless as among Republicans. On that and other issues, Democrats are still agonizing over whether to try to present themselves as a somewhat lighter version of the G.O.P. (NYT, 10/17)
Farewell to US middle-class worker
There was a time when the American economy offered lots of good jobs jobs that didnt make workers rich but did give them middle-class incomes. The best of these good jobs were at Americas great manufacturing companies, especially in the auto industry.
But it has been a generation since most American workers could count on sharing in the nations economic growth .
.Corporations are squeezing wages and benefits, saying that they have no choice in the face of global competition. And with the Delphi bankruptcy, the big squeeze has reached the auto industry itself .
Americas working middle class has been eroding for a generation, and it may be about to wash away completely. (NYT, 10/17)
Capitalism offers us creative destruction
Bait and Switch presents a world in which believers in merit and achievement which is to say, most of us find themselves tossed aside. That is because they operate in an economy subject to the relentless process of "creative destruction" a phenomenon first named by the conservative 20th-century economist Joseph Schumpeter and previously analyzed by none other than Karl Marx .
The white-collar jobless whom Ehrenreich encounters are carried along in a river that is indifferent to their work effort, needs, opinions, or moral worth. Schumpeter and Marx had a point: American capitalism today regularly turns all workers labourers and managers alike into economic junk. (GW, 10/20)
1957-77: China lifted low-income groups
Gittings knows his China, and we can all be the wiser for reading him .
Such has been the preoccupation with the extremes of the Maoist period notably the great leap forward and the cultural revolution that its singular achievements have been largely neglected. The first World Bank report on China, citied by Gittings, concluded that its economic performance between 1957 and 1977 had been impressive: gross national product grew at an annual rate of more than 2% despite a 2% annual growth in population. This compared with an average growth rate of only 1.6% for other low-income countries. In the same period industrial production grew at more than 10%. There were also huge improvements in literacy, mortality rates, healthcare and womens rights. The report regarded "Chinas most remarkable achievement over three decades as making its low-income groups far better off in terms of basic needs compared with their counterparts in most other poor counties". (GW, 10/13)
Polls say: for Katrina aid, cut Iraq $$
When asked by a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll how theyd prefer to finance the (at least) $200 billion Katrina relief effort, only 6 percent proposed cutting domestic spending and just 15 percent supported increasing the deficit. A majority 54 percent choose "cut spending for the war in Iraq." (Washington Post, 9/22)
Democracy in action: Congress using Katrina to rob the poor
As Hurricane Katrina put the issue of poverty onto the national agenda .Congressional Republican leaders are pushing for spending cuts, with programs like Medicaid and food stamps especially vulnerable.
"Weve gone to the likelihood, that the low-income people will be asked to bear the costs. I would find it unimaginable if it wasnt actually happening."
Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut: "Poor people are going to get the short end of the stick, despite all the public sympathy .poor people do not make campaign contributions. (NYT, 10/11)
New war front: US is shooting Syrians
A series of clashes in the last year between American and Syrian troops, including a prolonged firefight this summer that killed several Syrians has raised the prospect that cross-border military operations may become a dangerous new front in the Iraq war, according to current former military and government officials .
Officials say that as American efforts to cut off the flow of fighters have intensified, the operations have spilled over the border sometimes by accident, sometimes by design.
Some current and former officials add that the United States military is considering plans to conduct special operations inside Syria, using small covert teams (NYT, 10/15)
Cheeky Nipsey Russell wouldnt turn cheek
Nipsey Russell was .One of the early black stand-up comedians who found success with mainstream audiences .
Speaking of nonviolent protest, he observed, "He who turns the other cheek will get hit with the other fist." (NYT, 10/4)
The workers of Zanon, Argentinas largest ceramic/tile factory, located in the city of Neuquen, held a march and rally on July 7 (see photo) to reaffirm their right to continue to occupy and reconstitute their factory after seizing it four years ago following the owners lockout. The march, reflecting the wide community support for the tile workers, included health workers, public employees, teachers, professors and students, townspeople, and the unemployed organizations ("piqueteros"). They proclaimed the right of Zanon workers to establish a "Fabrica sin Patrones" "Factory without Bosses."
Several weeks earlier, a bankruptcy court judge had reopened bids to place the factory in private capitalist hands once again. However, the workers had expropriated the plant without payment, arguing that since the bankruptcy declaration was both criminal and fraudulent, there must be no compensation to the former owner or creditors. Zanons boss owes back pay to his employees and paying off the fraudulent debts would weaken the community that depends upon the factory as a principle source of income.
An appellate court disallowed the new bid on August 5. The Zanon workers' ultimate aim remains state ownership of the tile factory under worker control.
The former owner, Luis Zanon, was awarded a $45 million loan and credits from the World Bank, Banco Rio and the Neuquen Province and then liquidated and sold the plant, after years of firing workers and instituting dangerous speed-up, killing one worker and injuring countless others. Zanon used his capital for speculative and personal investments. Of the 380 workers still on the payroll, 240 remained to occupy the factory and began production in February 2002 under worker control. (This action grew out of a mass nation-wide uprising in December, 2001, which forced the former president to flee.) By August 2005, employment had risen to 480 workers and production had increased 15-fold.
The workers take-over of the ceramic factory had become the symbol throughout Argentina of opposition to neoliberal governmental collusion with corporate finance. Governor Jorge Sobisch supported the former owner and the factory shutdown and viewed the worker takeover not as increasing provincial employment but as a working-class virus that had to be crushed. Given that Neuquen province contained the newly-privatized gas and petroleum holdings, employing over 15,000 workers, the Zanon workers represented a dangerous alternative model. Since the 2001 economic crisis, over 5,000 factories have closed and approximately 180 have been taken over by, and transformed into, workers cooperatives. Zanon stood out as workers beginning production without legal permission from a bankruptcy court judge or a provincial legislature.
While many Argentine labor unions have not supported worker cooperatives, in 1998 the Zanon Ceramic Workers local had won control against the former bureaucratic unions collusion with the owner and began to confront the repressive factory administration. After defying the company shutdown in 2001, the union has organized a democratically-run factory with impressive outreach to the Neuquen community. They hire from among the unemployed "piqueteros." They have built and maintain a major neighborhood health clinic and have opened factory doors to cultural, artistic and sports activities. Majorities of weekly-run worker assemblies make all decisions. Constant rotation of positions of responsibility is this cooperatives hallmark. All workers, whether in production, sales or administration, earn exactly the same monthly salary. The Zanon workers see their factory as servicing their community, not the capitalist market. Because of that the community has prevented the local police from retaking the factory.
A contingent of workers guards the factory day and night, with cell phones and walkie-talkies at the ready. Zanon workers are battling to be both a productive workers cooperative and a vanguard for social change against neoliberal capitalism.
Every move Zanon workers have made is explained in detail to the community through press releases, posters and leaflets. This has stood them in good stead. Every ceramic worker demonstration becomes a social movement. Zanon does indeed belong to the Neuquen community and the community has adopted Zanon.
[The above article was sent to us by a reader who recently returned from Argentina. We in PLP support the Zanon workers in their fight. However, given that capitalism still reigns in Argentina and the bosses still hold state power, eventually actions like those of the Zanon workers will eventually be crushed by the ruling class, be they Peronist like the current President Kichner or any other bourgeois ruler). The ruling class will use all of their state power to prevent the working class from seizing the means of production. Therefore, the best lesson workers can learn from such struggles is to turn them into schools for communism. In this way workers can learn they dont need any bosses, as well as learn how to build a mass revolutionary communist party to prepare all workers and their allies to smash the bosses and their state power.]
Paraguays bosses have long allied with U.S. bosses, dating back to the Chaco Oil War (Standard Oil in Bolivia and Royal Dutch Shell in Paraguay) and the days of fascist dictator Alfredo Stroessner. Then they collaborated with U.S. terrorist Henry Kissinger and puppet Pinochet in Chile during Operation Condor. Paraguayan generals have long trained at the fascist School of the Americas (Assassins) at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
In August, U.S. War Secretary Rumsfeld visited Paraguay to bolster this alliance. Thousands protested his visit, burning the U.S. flag and demonstrating deep anger among workers at U.S. imperialist oppression. Brazil sent over 700 troops to its border with Paraguay to conduct military exercises, simulating an invasion and take-over of a city, as a show of strength against U.S. intervention.
With over two million Paraguayans living in below-poverty conditions, the region needs a true communist revolution, not only anti-imperialist but anti-racist as well. PLP has begun some small efforts in the region. Several workers now receive DESAFIO. But we need more agitation, study groups and wider distribution of the paper. A true base-building effort can win Paraguayan workers, farmers and students to a struggle for communism.
Already, U.S. rulers are revamping and transforming an old airfield in Paraguays desert into a facility to improve and conduct "military exercises that have been going on since 1948." According to the Bolivian newspaper El Deber, this facility is located in Mariscal Estigarribia, 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia. It reportedly will allow the landing of large aircraft and can house up to 16,000 troops. This airport is bigger than the one in Asuncion, Paraguays capital.
Shortly after the Paraguayan Senate approved U.S troop maneuvers and granted the U.S. military immunity from Paraguayan and International Criminal Court jurisdiction, 500 U.S. troops arrived on July 1 with planes, weapons, equipment and ammunition on a "humanitarian mission." This transpired right after discussion about joint "anti-terrorism activities." The U.S. threatens to deny almost $25 million in "aid" to countries in the region if they dont grant immunity, but Paraguay was the only country to accept the "offer." (Benjamin Dangl, 9/28/05)
This is part of the growing rivalry U.S. rulers face from their imperialist competitors in Europe and China for the energy and water resources of South America (the worlds biggest sweetwater supplies). Just a few months ago, a mass revolt ousted another Bolivian president after he tried to sell the countrys gas supplies to imperialist oil companies. Venezuela and Brazil are also fighting for that energy wealth, trying to take advantage of the U.S. quagmire in Iraq.
The Chaco War (1928-35) killed nearly 100,000 people in Bolivia and Paraguay. Today, workers and their allies are again faced with growing imperialist war threats. Their task must be to turn this coming war into a mass revolutionary struggle to get rid of all the bosses and fight for communism.
Capitalism produces constant, mass unemployment. Crimes committed by members of the working class are mainly caused by capitalist-created poverty. Imprisonment for crime masquerades as punishment of offenders or protection of victims, but the rulers main purpose is protecting their system from the huge numbers of unemployed workers. Reintegration of offenders into society is the exception, not the rule. Therefore, life sentences are becoming more common in the U.S. Prison job "training" at pennies per hour is really slave labor for owners of privatized jails.
In this racist system, black and Latin men, mainly youth, are imprisoned at much higher rates because, (1) they suffer much higher rates of unemployment; (2) inadequate legal defense forces many innocents into plea bargains; and (3) racist police frame many. Because of their far greater oppression, black and Latin workers are correctly feared as a greater threat to the capitalists. The many black rebellions in the late 1960s threw the rulers into a panic. To stifle further rebellions, drugs were poured into the cities. Far longer sentences for small amounts of cheaper crack cocaine than for larger amounts of more expensive powder cocaine reflected a specifically racist assault.
Prisons are conduits for drug trafficking, sexual assaults, beatings and murders, whitewashed as "suicides." U.S. prisons are the most repressive, and contain more prisoners than any country in the world. (See PLP pamphlet "Prison Labor: U.S.-Style Fascism.")
Under communism, the conditions that provoke crime such as capitalist culture and poverty would be non-existent. Secondly, for those still retaining the hangovers from capitalism, reintegration would be a priority. Education in literacy and political awareness, regardless of the crime, would foster understanding of the offenders relationships to others in an egalitarian society. Selfish individualism, mimicking on a small scale robbery and exploitation by the big bosses, would be combated. Offenders would learn that family violence, theft and individual racist acts are violations against the working class as a whole.
More serious acts, such as racist organizing, anti-communism, murder and child molestation would be tried and judged by masses of workers. The pervasive ideology of capitalism may take generations to uproot, necessitating immediate imprisonment for these crimes.
In the then Soviet Union, prison leaders talked with new prisoners, determining their character and vocational abilities. Progress through three levels was determined by conduct. Some prisoners were granted leaves of up to two weeks a year. Farmers who cooperated received several-month furloughs to assist in the harvest.
Exercise and nutrition were emphasized. There were workhouses for young offenders and therapeutic facilities for the psychologically or physically ill. Detention houses, solitary residences or transitional facilities housed "correctional" and "political" inmates.
Rather than punishment or revenge, the goal was to help the offender work cooperatively in the community. Skills were taught, and work was creative. Those who at first refused to work were encouraged rather than forced. Generally inmates preferred work to isolation from the collective atmosphere. Prisoners wore regular clothes, and guards neither wore uniforms nor carried weapons.
In communist China, prisoners built their own houses, and some prisons resembled farms. One prison had three factories with eight hours shop work, two to three hours study and lectures, four to five hours for meals, exercise, reading, recreation and discussion, and eight hours sleep. Men and women shared a dining room and attended plays and sports contests in the prison compound. The windows had no bars. Cell doors remained open. Guards were unarmed. Prisoners managed barber shops, mess rooms, canteens and libraries.
Political prisoners underwent interrogation and thought reform, or hsueh-hsi, prior to formal trial and verdict. The process took up to several years. (Source: Edgar Snows "The Other Side of the River")
Once unemployment is eliminated and all workers have productive jobs, once the culture is transformed from one of individualism (look out for yourself, "number one") to one of the collective (everyone contributes to society as a whole), capitalism-created crime will cease to exist.