Not one, but three big lies ooze from the deepening Bush-Iraq-CIA scandal. The lie that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has cost the lives of at least 100,000 Iraqis -- a recent estimate put it as high as 194,000 -- and over 2,000 GI's. The second lie is that Bush and his neocon cronies alone fabricated the WMD story and that they pushed for the Iraq invasion against fierce liberal opposition. The third claims that liberals can end the carnage in Iraq by "cleaning up the White House." The last two lies are even more lethal than the first because they build support for the ruling-class faction that has a widening array of armed conflicts on its agenda.
The truth is that the loudest cries for war came from the liberal wing of U.S. capitalism -- especially from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), its chief imperialist think-tank, and the New York Times, its leading media outlet. In 2000, the CFR published a book by its "diplomat-in-residence," ex-UN weapons inspector Richard Butler, called "The Greatest Threat." It began: "The greatest threat to life on earth is weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, chemical, biological....The most determined and diabolical of such challenges has been mounted by the dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein." Judith Miller, a Times reporter, filed story after story, backed by Times editorials, "proving" the existence of WMD in Iraq.
Democrat Gore made "regime change in Baghdad" a central plank of his 2000 campaign. Meanwhile, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), Gore's (and Clinton's) idea factory, put out manifestoes with titles like, "When to Go In." Seeking allies for a U.S.-led invasion in February 2003, liberal darling Colin Powell parroted Butler's and Miller's falsehoods at the UN. The CFR had prepared plans for the occupation a month earlier in a report entitled "Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq." It outlined everything from the future government of Iraq to the disposition of its vast oil wealth. And U.S. forces entered an Iraq "softened" by years of sanctions and bombardment courtesy of liberal Clinton.
But now, with U.S. casualties mounting and Iraqi oil barely trickling, the liberals most responsible for the fiasco are trying to lay the blame on the Bush gang exclusively. Fareed Zakaria, a CFR director, wrote in the Times (10/30/05), "A few neoconservatives, most prominently Paul Wolfowitz, had long believed that ousting Saddam Hussein would pave the way for a grand reordering of the Middle East."
War criminal and CFR member Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Bush, Sr., in the first Iraq massacre, reminded the world of his August 2002 article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined "Don't Attack Saddam" (New Yorker, 10/31/05). Like other main-wing strategists, Scowcroft thought Bush & Co. invaded with too few troops. The CFR favored postponing D-Day until a larger force could be built but nevertheless praised Bush for "pursuing the only realistic alternative (CFR Publications, 3/13/03).
Liberal columnists Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich, the Times' top anti-Bush snipers, are having a field day rewriting recent history. Referring to the Cheney-Libby mess, Dowd says, "To protect a war spun from fantasy the Bush team played dirty." (10/29/05) Rich targets neocon defense undersecretary Doug Feith, "whose rogue intelligence operation...supplied the vice-president with the disinformation that bamboozled the nation." (10/30/05) In reality, the fantasy driving the war is the liberal rulers' dream of pumping six million barrels of Iraqi oil a day and establishing permanent military supremacy over the entire Middle East.
While Rich himself provides disinformation on the causes of the war, he hints at the real reasons why the rulers are attacking Bush & Co. It's because they have "bungled the war in Iraq," in other words, have not won decisively and secured the oil fields. Rich criticizes the "utter ineptitude" of the Homeland Security department. The bosses require a police state apparatus more effective and far-reaching than Bush's stepped-up airport screenings.
The liberals are headed down a path deadlier than anything the Bush gang can envision. An overview of the challenges, which liberals complain Bush is not steeling the nation to meet, comes from the liberal Brookings Institution and Democratic Leadership Council. Testifying in Congress on October 26, Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon rattled off a list of "plausible scenarios" for near-term U.S. military action: defending Taiwan against China, countering a North Korean invasion of the South, reversing a fundamentalist coup in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, blocking a Chinese-backed Iranian grab of Persian Gulf oil, propping up strategic states like Indonesia, Nigeria or Congo, and so on. Some operations would demand a rapid three- or four-fold increase in troop strength, necessitating "drastic policy changes including a full activation of the National Guard and Reserves -- or perhaps even a form of military conscription." The DLC calls for an all-out fascistic militarization of society to bail out U.S. imperialism. [See box below.]
Gloating over the Bushites' come-uppance would be a serious political error, amounting to cheering on their warmaking liberal assailants. The liberals remain the more dangerous band of murderers, no matter how hard they try to hide that truth.u
(Next: The U.S. presidency, key to the rulers' state power.)
[PROMOTE PRO-BOSS "PATRIOTISM"]
* Democrats need to show the country a party unified behind a new patriotism -- a progressive patriotism determined to succeed in Iraq and win the war on terror, to close a yawning cultural gap between Democrats and the military, and to summon a new spirit of national service and shared sacrifice to counter the politics of polarization.
[EXPAND IMPERIALIST MILITARY]
* We challenge Washington to increase America's Armed Forces by 100,000 troops. Iraq isn't the last war we'll have to fight, and we need a bigger army. We need to challenge more Americans to serve, and give them the means to do so.
[BRING BACK DRAFT IN "NATIONAL SERVICE" DISGUISE]
* We need a voluntary system of universal service that offers every young American the opportunity and responsibility to serve his or her country in a military or civilian capacity.
[PREPARE FOR WORLD WAR III]
* We need to evaluate what a rising China means to our national security policies. So, our military must be equipped not only to look at the jihadist threat and the ongoing threat of terrorism over the next few decades. But, it should be equipped to do more than that.
[TURN SOCIETY INTO A MILITARIZED POLICE STATE]
* Democrats should lead in ensuring the tightest possible bonds between the Army and the American people. Democrats must be seen to embrace a philosophy of uniformed leadership. We need homeland security that puts safety ahead of bureaucracy and politics by securing one of our greatest vulnerabilities -- our borders -- and launching a new domestic intelligence service to prevent terrorist attacks from within.u
The students angrily denounced their exclusion from the event, their detention in buildings that open onto the yard, and their blockage from the student cafeteria.
Panicked, the school administration first sent Franklin Chambers, vice-provost of student affairs, to control the students. He warned them that the Secret Service sharpshooters might fire if they felt Bush was threatened! Still, the students refused to move. Then university president H. Patrick Swygert arrived to "reason" with the students, grabbing one by the arm and insisting she follow him to a newly-designated rally spot. She refused, tearfully stating that her father was in Iraq, and that she would not be moved. The students remained until the end of the conference when Laura Bush was whisked away past the line of protesters. (George W. entered separately with his Lincoln Navigator/motorcycle entorourage and sped away shortly afterwards.)
This student anger and militancy bodes well for the development of a revolutionary movement opposing the entire system of capitalism that generates the wars, cutbacks, and poverty facing the working class. Liberals and revisionists (phony leftists) will try to channel this energy into voting for a "better" administration, but Democratic politicians, like Republicans, are determined to continue the war in Iraq, reduce social benefits, cut wages, and beat their international competitors by any means they deem necessary (see adjoining editorial).
To deal decisively with the U.S. ruling class, more students should be reading CHALLENGE, attending PLP study groups and building a long-term alliance with the PLP-led Metro workers union in order to form a more powerful anti-capitalist force.
Rosa Parks herself was measurably influenced by left-wingers and communists, as were the events that preceded and led up to her action. She met her husband when they were both raising money for the communist-led defense of the Scottsboro Boys, nine young black men who were framed on a "rape" charge in the early 1930's. "Her action [refusing to move to the back of the bus], spontaneous though it seemed, was actually the world-changing vindication of Alabama's long tradition of civil rights activism...by the Southern Conference for Human Welfare and the Southern Negro Youth Congress." (Both organizations had communists playing leading roles.)
In 1942, the Youth Congress began a "premeditated `direct action' against segregation on public transportation.... Mildred McAdory, a young cook who moonlighted as an organizer of steelworkers, had boarded a Birmingham streetcar with two SNYC colleagues and moved the `segregator,' a wooden bar posted with a warning against touching it. After the police beat her up and took her to jail, the SNYC mounted a campaign to desegregate the streetcars." However, "it never amounted to the intended legal challenge.... McAdory ended up moving to New York, where she became active in the Communist Party. But her protest had made an impression on Montgomery's premier black activist, E. D. Nixon."
Nixon, a member of the SNYC advisory board, also had founded the local chapter of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first significant black trade union, and was a leader of the Montgomery NAACP, whose chapter secretary was Rosa Parks. Nixon had remembered McAdory's heroic action and began looking for someone to challenge bus segregation.
Now in 1955, Virginia Durr, who worked closely with communists in the Southern Conference for Human Welfare (which she helped found), received "a request from...a fellow architect of Rosa Parks's rebellion, Myles Horton, a poor white son of Appalachia...[who] ran the Highlander Folk School in his native Tennessee." The school taught how " oppressed people [can] collectively hold strategies for liberation that are lost to individuals."
Horton had no hesitation "about embracing...communists, which included "Don West, who founded the Highlander School." Horton asked Durr "to recommend a Montgomery Negro for a scholarship he had available" for a Highlander workshop "to develop grassroots leaders for an offensive against segregation." She "nominated her seamstress, Rosa Parks, who went to Highlander that summer to discuss the possibility of mobilizing blacks in her hometown."
Four months later, Rosa Parks, 42, a $23-a-week seamstress at the Montgomery Fair department store, boarded a bus home, sitting in an aisle seat near the front. When a white man got on after her, the driver ordered Parks to get up and move to the back of the bus. ("Blacks had been...killed for disobeying bus drivers." N.Y. Times, 10/25/05) Instead, Parks just slid over to the window seat. The driver called the cops; two came and took her to jail.
She called Nixon, reporting what had happened and asking him to bail her out. Nixon and Durr freed her and Nixon told her, "Mrs. Parks, this is the case we've been looking for." When Nixon got home, he told his wife, "Our people should just stop riding the buses." That weekend, in a frenzy of activity, organizing, mimeographing, leafleting, and preaching, urging blacks to boycott Montgomery buses, the stage was set for Monday morning, when "the buses rolled through black Montgomery, empty." The bus boycott was born.
The next day 500 people showed up at the court hearing for Rosa Parks. It was the largest mass protest in modern Alabama history. The city's black leadership met to form the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). Nixon headed up the organizing of car pools, taxis and just plain walking for blacks to get to work.
Although Martin Luther King, Jr. had just arrived in Montgomery as minister of the Holy Baptist Church, he was goaded -- much to his surprise -- into heading the MIA. Given his pacifism, King was anointed as "America's answer to Mahatma Ghandi," but Nixon said, "I figured on pushing him out so far that he couldn't run away." The boycott was to last 13 months, until the Supreme Court outlawed segregated seating on public buses.
Many more anti-racist actions flooded the South, including armed self-defense groups in North Carolina and Louisiana, as well as various reformist groups leading non-violent actions. However, it took the violent black rebellions from Harlem -- in which PLP'S CHALLENGE became the "flag" of the rebels in the streets -- to Detroit, to Newark to Cleveland to Los Angeles to really shake up the ruling class and begin to win jobs and break down some racist barriers. When Memphis' black sanitation workers struck against racist conditions, King was sent there to cool things down, but he fled a militant march which had turned into a mini-rebellion. Reformist leaders managed to dampen many of these protests -- but working within capitalism meant they could never end racism. The profit system thrives on racism and it will not end until capitalism is overthrown by communist revolution, eliminating bosses and profits, the source of racism,
Still, Rosa Parks should be remembered as a heroic black working-class woman who bravely stood up against the system's vicious racism. Yet it still exists across the country for black and Latin people in double rates of unemployment, infant mortality, job discrimination, lousy schools and housing, all netting the bosses super-profits, as the latest layoffs in auto and other basic industries take away any gains made in these militant struggles.
They put on a great show professing to laud her defiance of racism while they themselves continue to support the Democratic Party, the author of the Clinton racist wipe-out of welfare which disproportionately affected black and Latino working people, and the racist Clinton immigration "reform" law which also made life miserable for immigrant workers.
And for Bush to extol her is the height of hypocrisy. His presidency has contributed to more racist laws and actions that exploit black and Latin people which bring down the living conditions of white workers as well. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts in social services especially affect black and Latino workers, not to mention the racist slaughter of Muslim people in Iraq. The latter was also part of Clinton's "legacy" in bombing that country for the eight years he was in office, and the Democrats who all voted to authorize Bush's invasion of Iraq.
When the final history of the struggle against racism is written, the memory of those who fought and died against Jim Crow segregation and racism will long outlast these hypocritical murderers who benefited and fostered from these evils of capitalism.
We received a warm reception going door to door and standing at busy intersections. In barely three hours, we distributed more than 160 CHALLENGES, hundreds of PLP leaflets and got the names, addresses and phone numbers of interested workers and youth. Our message of fighting racism and destroying capitalism was well received. Some people gave donations for CHALLENGE and took extra copies for friends and family. One woman asked for a stack of leaflets to distribute at work.
When we arrived at noon, the streets were virtually empty. An 8:00 PM curfew had been lifted days before but the streets were under constant police patrol. However, people didn't fear speaking with us about the rebellion and the conditions leading to it.
The rebellion erupted in an integrated neighborhood called Polish Village. The bosses' press reported a bar and a house being burned down as well as a Seven/Eleven being looted. However, the bar was torched because of a long racist history of hostility towards black residents, who weren't welcome there. The looted store had drawn over 160 complaints of mistreatment against blacks over the past two years. Finally, the house that was burned to the ground is said to have belonged to the racist who contacted the Nazis and was responsible for them coming to Toledo in the first place.
About 120 workers and youth were arrested in connection with the rebellion and curfew violations. The police still have outstanding warrants for others.
The decline of the U.S. auto industry has ravaged Toledo with mass racist unemployment and cutbacks spawned by the war budget. Over 40% of black youth live in poverty. One woman said she's been looking for a job for over a year while trying to support two teenagers.
When those mass layoffs hit the auto industry, the rulers tried to use the Nazis and Klan to divide the workers and thereby weaken any potential fight-back. In the 1960's, mass rebellions had the Nazis on the defensive. In the 1970's and 1980's, PLP led a total of 100,000 anti-Klan, anti-Nazi demonstrators throughout the U.S. wherever these racists raised their heads.
Now there's talk the Nazis are planning to return here. Black and white workers and youth will not tolerate these racists in their community. The militant anger of these workers and youth represents a good sign for the building and growth of a mass fighting PLP.
While coalition leaders who organized an opposition rally -- including leaders of MAPA (Mexican American Political Association) -- tried to keep counter-demonstrators far away from the racists, many said "let's go confront them" and moved as close as they could get. Even after the coalition leaders led anti-racist demonstrators away from the racists, members and friends of PLP, along with members of MeCHA (a Chicano student organization) and others, led the crowd back to confront the racists.
We led chants like, "La clase obrera no tiene frontera" ("The working class has no borders") and, "The cops, the courts, the Minuteman, All a part of the bosses' plan!" Our speeches to the crowd linked the racist Minutemen to the rise of fascist attacks on all workers and to the war in Iraq. About 60 CHALLENGES and 300 PLP leaflets were distributed, all showing the need for building unity to end racism with revolution.
Before the rally, at debates within MeCHA at some area schools, one MeCHA leader opposed joining the demonstration, stating that, "We shouldn't be reacting to these people. It's reactionary to confront them. We should be doing our daily work and not be diverted." But another member totally disagreed, saying the racist vigilantes must be confronted and, when possible, stopped by a united working class. "It's more reactionary to refuse to confront them," he said.
Many MeCHA members went in carpools together. They confronted the racists and helped take leadership. They now see PLP in a new light. This gives us the obligation and opportunity to initiate more mass discussion about the growth of fascism in the U.S. and how to build a movement to fight it. This will lead to more mass struggles against the racist MinuteKlan, fascism and the war in Iraq, and to the growth of a mass, revolutionary communist PLP.
The students' resolution explained the history of racism in terms of employment, police brutality, and housing as ongoing attacks on New Orleanians, and that Katrina was just the climax of this process, one which is continuing with the government's plans for -- and racist exclusion from -- gentrification of the city.
The resolution won resounding support from other AI student and local groups. It's part of a continuing effort by the Howard chapter to turn AI's attention towards fighting racism. AI's general meeting in Portland, Oregon is the next stop in securing passage of this important anti-racist initiative.
The Howard students sponsoring the resolution are all CHALLENGE readers and agree the paper needs a wider distribution. During the trip they discussed how to make that happen, in classrooms and among friends. This points the way forward, while the struggle within AI will help us learn better how to win even more students to revolution.
AI's limitations are clear. Seymour Hersh (a major speaker) gave a moving talk about the war in Iraq, attacking both Democratic and Republican leaders for being pro-war. But when queried about alternative political strategies for fighting against the war and racism, he only offered the hope that grassroots groups like Moveon.org could grow in strength and generate better candidates for future elections.
However, "better candidates" won't solve the problems of imperialism. The system requires racism and war to survive; militancy and revolution are needed to destroy its capitalist roots. AI would reject this approach out of hand, so AI members who see the need for revolution should consider a lifelong commitment to PLP, to raise the revolutionary flag in whatever jobs they enter or organizations they join after leaving college.
The discussion-based conference featured four topics: how racism affected the outcome of Hurricane Katrina, HIV/AIDS and the healthcare crisis, the war in Iraq and the state of the labor movement. The daylong meeting showed how communist leadership could create an open environment of struggle, ideas, learning and strategy. About 15 Metro workers participated, joined by a group of allied public health workers.
A militant young worker kicked things off with a powerful, energetic poem about the dismal state of the capitalist world and the absolute need to fight back. A Metro worker pointed out that Katrina shows the bosses don't care about our health. We must rely on ourselves to stay healthy and help each other to make time to see the doctor and demand service. Exercising, no smoking and eating right should be our watchwords.
A public health worker then led a discussion that followed, with emphasis on creating a campaign to stop AIDS (among 41 major cities, D.C. leads the nation in the number of new cases of infection --one in 20 people lives with HIV/AIDS in D.C.). Metro workers took buttons and flyers to spread the word about the upcoming D.C. rally by the Campaign to End AIDS and to plan for new ways to combat the epidemic in our neighborhoods. One worker declared that the bosses don't care about stopping the AIDS epidemic because, with millions unemployed (especially black workers), to them workers are disposable.
Another Metro worker then led a discussion on the war in Iraq, highlighting oil company profits and how their stock has skyrocketed due to the war. He said we can best honor the troops who imperialism has killed by awakening our fellow workers to the horror and injustice of this war, and the continuing wars that will occur under capitalism. A worker declared that we need to make the war unprofitable for the bosses to stop it. The speaker then played a short excerpt from Martin Luther King's speech opposing the war in Vietnam, showing the parallel need today to address the linked issues of racism and poverty at home and racist imperialist war abroad.
Another Metro worker then gave a presentation on the racism apparent in Hurricane Katrina. She spoke on New Orleans' future, predicting high-cost housing that will make the city "better, which means [for the rulers] making it whiter." The workers were disgusted with the government's blatant disregard for lives. The speaker passed around a poster she and a comrade had made that showed the disparate impact of Katrina on the white and black communities.
The union president (a PLP'er) concluded the conference with a brief history of the labor movement, focusing on its decline due to the leadership's shift away from class struggle and towards electoral politics once communists were purged from the unions. He stressed the need for the labor movement to fight racism and imperialist war.
Then workers stood with their fists in the air as they sang "Solidarity Forever," a class-conscious song that was an inspirational ending to this excellent conference.
The ruling class is attempting to destroy workers' healthcare benefits --won through decades of struggle -- so they can afford their imperialist wars and maintain profits. The rank and file must guard against any leadership sellout as has occurred in the airline and auto industries. All workers, especially in this predominatly black and Latin city, should back the strikers as they attempt to beat back the bosses' latest assault. An attack against one is an attack against all.
In this period of increasing U.S. fascism, oppression of the working class is increasing. Jobs, pensions and wages are being cut or eliminated altogether, to help pay for the bosses' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (See CHALLENGE, 10-19-05.) This onslaught now includes teachers and other education workers.It is a racist attack that falls heaviest on the overwhelmingly undereducated black and Latino student body, leaving them with the "choice" of a minimum-wage job (if any job at all) or joining the military to fight and die in bosses' imperialist wars, killing other workers.
City bosses have been demanding more work for the same or slightly more pay, essentially a bribe to go along with the racist educational system. Teachers have repeatedly been blamed for students' failures -- while the DOE and the rest of the ruling class are really at fault. But if teachers and their union don't fight for the students, they, too, bear responsibility.
Using the dead end offered the students, the ruling class responds by sending military recruiters into the schools to convince the mainly black and Latin students that the military is their only option. Meanwhile, most education workers struggle under difficult conditions, but don't see that the problems they have on the job are tied to the problems the students have getting an education.
Some in the union claim this contract will help the students because it will be easier to oust "poor and abusive" teachers. They also say the extra work-time, which will be packaged into 37_-minute blocks of "small-group tutoring" will help students prepare for state exams. But others say the extra hours and days will tire teachers, and that increasing their student load will make it more difficult to reach all of their students. The contract doesn't address working and learning conditions, and neither side has made that an issue.
The UFT focuses on "fighting" cases in the courts, and even when a case is "won," no force compels the city to carry out the court's orders. Significantly, the contract will nullify teachers' rights to grieve letters placed in their file. Therefore, they'll be unable to challenge that letter, meaning supervisors will have a free hand to write up anyone who dares to open their mouth.
The union has been losing at Steps 2 and 3 in the grievance procedure, revealing the weakness of the leadership. The answer is not to dump Step 2, as has been done in this contract, but instead to organize ourselves to win those grievances, both within the process as well as through mass militant action outside it. Since the union leadership picks which grievances are taken to Step 3, workers will have lost any real right to grieve.
The sellout UFT leadership claims this is the best that can be done in the current anti-union environment. But the answer is not to surrender to the bosses' attacks -- the UFT leadership constantly tells workers not to fight while relying on endorsing one politician after another, the very same politicians who push these sellouts. With that kind of leadership the DOE can start planning the next round of its demands and give-backs.
There is growing mass opposition to the contract, reflected in the rallies at the DA and at UFT headquarters. Many teachers opposing the contract do so for good reasons: they want better teaching and learning conditions. But just defeating the contract will not produce those changes. The struggle must take place in the schools, and must include the understanding that these conditions and contracts only stem from capitalism, which is well served by their education system. Only the overthrow of the bosses' profit system can lead to real education. Communist leadership must unite parents, students and education workers, to turn this short-term battle into a real "school for communism," winning these working-class forces to become part of a mass PLP fighting for that goal.
At the same meeting, the union leadership endorsed the NYC Democratic mayoral candidate, Fernando Ferrer. It also proposed changing the union's name to 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. This adds healthcare workers from Maryland, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts, creating an opportunity for the leadership to involve more members in the capitalist-run political system. It also partly compensates for the many hospitals in arrears in payments to the benefit fund, which includes workers' pensions.
The 1199 SEIU healthcare workers face huge problems. Since 1996, 32 hospitals in New York State have closed, mostly in poor areas. Recently, St. Mary's Hospital in Brooklyn, located in a black community, shut its doors, laying off 1,000 workers. 1199 put on a "show," pretending to stop the closing, but in reality the leadership agreed with the elected officials, along with the racist hospital bosses, that St. Mary's was not profitable and therefore should be closed.
The union also represents thousands of home health care aides, mostly black and Latin women, earning from $7 to $10 per hour, with limited health care coverage. Agencies that employ these workers charge Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance companies between $30 and $40 an hour for these services and keep the difference, netting huge profits. The 1199 leadership has failed to mount a militant campaign for higher wages and full health care coverage, equal to members' rates in hospitals and nursing homes. The leadership's passive approach weakened the workers' struggle.
Yet for 73 years, 1199's involvement in capitalist reform politics has spent millions of members' dollars to elect Democratic or Republican politicians who represent the bosses' profit system. This has proven deadly for workers, the majority of them black and Latin.
Endorsing Clinton for President only allowed him to abolish welfare and institute slave labor "Workfare" programs, forcing former welfare recipients to replace unionized workers and "earn" their welfare checks at a rate well below the legal minimum wage. They endorsed Pataki who cut millions of dollars from health care, helping to close those 32 hospitals during his reign.
Now they're spending huge sums to elect Ferrer, mobilizing members to canvas door to door, establishing phone banks to remind members to register and then vote. But no matter who is mayor, both candidates' "promises" will never meet the needs of working-class families.
Under capitalism, political parties exist first, to serve individual groups of bosses pursuing their particular profit goals, and second, to mislead workers into backing politicians that represent these profit goals with the illusion that the "right vote" makes the U.S. a democracy.
Workers must fight against a union leadership that defends and supports the bosses' capitalist system. They must unite workers across all borders to wage war against capitalist exploitation.
Local 1199 union workers are always fighting to keep whatever benefits we now have, waging battles against the hospital bosses, their using agency workers to do union work at lower rates, their short staffing, and their violations in patient care. We in PLP must increase our activities among these workers, distributing more CHALLENGES and spreading our political ideas which will help eradicate the basis for capitalist exploitation that creates all these problems.
The City University of New York (CUNY) today is a political battleground, and the struggle is sharpening. The university is a harsh boss to its workers (especially adjuncts), and an aggressive cop and military recruiter to its students. It trains the city's workforce for wage slavery, and its curriculum is mostly a propaganda machine for the capitalist system. The cost of imperialist war in Afghanistan and Iraq has U.S. bosses scrambling to wring more money out of workers and students by concessionary contracts and higher fees, so the economic attacks at CUNY are worsening.
Political attacks are also escalating, as the system reorganizes its universities for racism, fascism and war. Recruiters -- protected by the administration -- exploit the economic draft, deceiving students with offers of tuition money to kill and die for imperialism. The administration, backed by cops and the courts, represses counter-recruitment and anti-tuition students at CCNY, Hunter and Hostos Community College. Others like Borough of Manhattan C.C. are put forward as training facilities for Homeland Security. David Horowitz's fascist academic group ABOR -- the mislabeled Academic Bill of Rights outfit, with its classroom spies in Students for Academic Freedom -- tries to muzzle progressive teachers at Brooklyn and Queens Colleges. Racism continues to exclude masses of youth from CUNY and instead sends them to prison or the military. CUNY has dismantled the developmental courses at senior colleges that once helped students left unprepared by the racist public school system.
CUNY, like the entire system, is not all-powerful. Contesting the bosses' national interest and ideology, some of its 200,000 mostly working-class students and 20,000 unionized faculty and staff are fighting back against these economic and political attacks. Some are beginning to look for allies: K-12 teachers and students, the adjunct unions at New York University and the New School University who are preparing to strike, and transit workers whose contract expires in December.
Can these forces stop the escalating annual tuition hike being voted on by CUNY's Trustees on November 21? Can they make CUNY a base for a more militant worker-student alliance against imperialist war? Win a better union contract, showing the way by busting the anti-strike Taylor Law? Can they deal with the racism that divides us here and makes many believe the lives of Iraqi workers are not as worthy of those of GI's? It's long odds, but the moment may be ripe to try.
The PSC actively seeks student allies, saying correctly that its working conditions are the students' learning conditions. The new leadership elected in 2000 has opposed the war and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, defended immigrant students and those on welfare, and fought for remedial courses, open admissions and free tuition. Students too are beginning to organize, a few joining counter-recruitment groups, opposing tuition hikes and supporting the PSC. A student-faculty-staff alliance is becoming possible.
Can the PSC go beyond the limits of liberal reform unionism? If the PSC sticks to its guns, and if it unites effectively with masses of students, it will be poised to advance even under heavy attack from the city and state bosses. PLP student and faculty/staff members at CUNY think three things are necessary to make this advance. First, unity in the workers' ranks; second, solidarity with students and other unions (by-passing their sellout leaders); and third, class consciousness, understanding that we are in a class war, and need to expand every struggle to more and more workers if we are to counter the bosses' use of their state power. None of these three communist principles is easy and we're far from attaining them yet. (Three subsequent articles will elaborate on these principles and try to show their application at CUNY.) We aspire to win political leadership for PLP's ideas through joint struggles in which they prove their worth in practice. We aim to build a mass party at CUNY that energizes and leads the struggle.
The U.S. labor movement is taking big blows industry after industry. Decades of anti-communist, pro-boss union sellouts have left workers disarmed on all fronts. Universities are not "ivory towers," benign and isolated from the rest of society; they function to reproduce capitalism.
Recently, a student stood up in a large lecture class and said: "What we really should be talking about is revolution. Who's with me?" About half the room applauded. This shows the potential of building a mass revolutionary movement among CUNY students, who represent many nationalities and ethnic groups, the basis for an international worker-soldier-student-alliance to fight racism, imperialist war and a police state. (More next issue.)
Students stormed the meeting chanting, "Si Se Puede!" ("We can do it!") and confronted the managers, vowing that students and workers would stand united against their attacks. Some dining workers at the meeting started pounding on the table, backing the students. Management resorted to threats, and later called the campus police.
Forced to leave the meeting, the students surrounded the building, chanting, "Obreros, Unidos, Jamas Seran Vencidos!" ("The workers, united, will never be defeated!"). Many workers later joined the main demonstration organized on the main campus.
The dining workers and groundskeepers are attempting to kick two subcontractors off the campus and become regular employees, working directly for the university. This would raise their wages and benefits under the union contract already in place for other campus workers.
For months, students, working closely with local AFSCME union organizers, have been speaking to and struggling with the dining workers and groundskeepers, building a strong worker-student bond. A formal campus-based group was organized, calling itself the Student-Worker Alliance. Some of the active participants have struggled with other students and workers, broadening the issues of the union campaign. The outsourcing of labor in the U.S., mostly the racist super-exploiting of immigrant workers from Mexico and Central America as well as black workers, is the product of U.S. capitalism's growing political and economic crisis. Because of the war in Iraq and sharpening rivalry between U.S. and other imperialists, the bosses are cutting wages, benefits and pensions to secure profits and fund their war simultaneously.
The alliance between workers and students on campus is getting stronger. Many workers as well as students are beginning to realize the power they have to confront the bosses. Some are also seeing the limits of trade unionism. Many are seeing the connection between the cutbacks on campus and the devastating war in Iraq. With intense struggle, the unity we're building could grow into a strike against the outsourcing of workers, the attacks on students and the war in Iraq. That would send a powerful message about the possibility of uniting to win the long-term fight against these attacks.
Some in this struggle are beginning to see that PLP's communist politics are the road forward: to smash racism capitalism must be destroyed.
Ten years ago there were 2,100 full-time faculty members at Massachusetts' 15 Community Colleges; today there are 1,700. Those 400 were replaced by adjuncts. These full-time positions are some of the millions of decent jobs lost to the next generation of U.S. workers. The adjunct faculty are among the 46 million without health benefits in the U.S.
At RCC this has an added racist character. As a college that serves black, Latin and Asian students, most of whom are immigrants, it has been victimized by the State's racist neglect over decades. RCC is in a continual budget crisis, contributing to the administration's attempts to cut costs off the backs of the adjuncts.
Today, 7 of 10 faculty in the community college system are adjuncts, and growing. This is the elephant in the living room staring us in the face -- a powerful bosses' strategy (used in every industry) designed to both save labor costs and divide the workforce. However, in general, neither faculty unions nor student governments are fighting it, essentially because of the destruction of class consciousness and working-class solidarity that plagues our class.
The RCC chapter of the state's community colleges is fighting the inertia, cynicism and fear that grip its membership. Like workers everywhere, the faculty/professional staff has become passive, conditioned to allow legislators, union misleaders and local "progressive" black politicians to advocate for them. Many full-timers, focused on their retirement, have illusions that they will be able to escape the full wrath of capitalism in decline. Adjuncts, meanwhile, have been terrorized into silence.
The immediate future of the class struggle at RCC will depend on winning more faculty and students to see that the fight to protect their working conditions and education is part of the broader working-class struggle. This is what PLP is trying to do by selling CHALLENGE and raising class politics at the school.
Federal labor law does not automatically recognize the right of unions to bargain for retired workers. Labor specialist Thomas Kienbaum said, "The UAW cannot bargain on behalf of retirees. So the only way you are going to bind every retiree to the agreement is through a court order."
The complaint, filed in the name of two retired auto workers as representatives in a class action on behalf of half a million retired autoworkers and their families, requested a permanent injunction against GM unilaterally terminating or modifying retiree health benefits. But this was all window dressing, since an agreement had already been reached. The real purpose, as a GM spokesman said, was to "bind retirees together so that there is no doubt the settlement applies to all of them." A UAW rep said, "It's strictly part of the approval process. It's the way things have to be done." GM issued an official statement that said, "GM and the UAW agreed...that the UAW would seek court approval."
If the federal judge rules that the UAW is the legitimate legal representative of the retirees and sanctions the agreement, it will be a new low in the union's defense of the bosses, stripping retirees and their families of any legal defense against being sacrificed in the name of "global competition."
These are the same retirees who, for the previous four decades, fought like hell and struck numerous times to wrench these benefits from GM, who produced tens of billions of profits for GM, the same retirees who built the union in their working lives, who gave up wage increases to win these benefits. But now they're forced by the class collaborationist UAW misleaders to sacrifice all this on the altar of profits. Could there be any further proof that capitalism is a system which has the destruction of workers' lives built into it?
The letter writer challenges us to shed our illusions about U.S. imperialism's viciousness. Even the notorious liars at the Pentagon admit nearly 27,000 Iraqi casualties (New York Times, 10/30). We all know there are many more. It stands to reason we must smash the capitalist system that breeds this imperialism.
There can be no thought of accomplishing this without large sections of the military won to the side of revolution. Many contradictory ideas weigh on the minds of today's troops. Winning them is not for the faint-hearted. Nonetheless, the overwhelmingly preponderance of our experience, both historical and current, points to the potential for revolutionary growth -- even among those who joined for more "patriotic" reasons.
History is filled with examples of the working class turning the bosses' armed forces to our side. The bosses hide this history from us. Check out PLP's web page for past articles on troop rebellions. We should definitely study this history. We can win soldiers again with the correct combination of perseverance and confidence in working-class troops.
The D.C. Operator asks, "What can we do about it?" Revolutionary youth must "sign on the dotted line" to win fellow soldiers to anti-imperialism and revolution. We can struggle with the many soldiers we know from CHALLENGE sales, high school classes, our relations, etc. True, there are serious dangers, but also the greatest of opportunities.
It's far worse than that, and the implication that the rich and their government should care is misleading. In fact they do care -- they're basically glad when large groups of workers starve, die from disease, commit suicide, get destroyed on jobs or in disasters -- or are "just" worked to death. Then there are far fewer people to protest the U.S. rulers' rape of the world, here and abroad. The rich have shipped out millions of industrial jobs to poor[er] countries. But the working class is and always will be here, and is the one force that can stop the rich in their tracks. (Don't look for answers from liberal politicians.) So if hypertension wipes out ever greater numbers of black men (and women and white workers and others too), why should the rich do anything but smile? Then they don't even have to pay a dime in unemployment or social security benefits.
The rich and their government like to call the U.S. the "one superpower." But with all their arrogance they know there's a bigger superpower that must, to save themselves, learn of their power to wipe out the murderous capitalists -- that's the international working class. When we rise up, the murderers will be wiped out for good.
The longer it takes to organize the working class and their allies against the rich, the more people they will have killed.
North Country Red
Sick of listening to the DJ, I rounded the corner and lo and behold, looking back at me were over 50 glowing plasma big screens featuring videogames of all kinds. Hordes of students stood mesmerized. One particular game stood out. Commanding four screens alone, "America's Army" promised a real Army-like combat experience to its players. Its caption read, "Empower yourself -- Defend freedom."
So there I was, at the crossroads of capitalism. To my left, a corporate monopoly soft drink corporation pushing its product on students, solidifying the image in their minds that Mountain Dew = party and fun! And to my right, a videogame aimed at allowing students to "experience" the Army, and at the same time, ideologically duping them into supporting the very military violence that facilitates the larger profit-making adventures of corporations like Mountain Dew.
People do not naturally gravitate toward things like Mountain Dew. Capitalism could not function if it didn't continually trick people into buying its products. Further, it couldn't survive without the military occupations that rob the wealth of other countries and funnel it back into the coffers of the capitalist U.S. ruling class. The very people that the ruling class kills with its products, it sends to die in its military.
Eight of the children in my Sunday School class came with their aunt (a comrade) and their mother. Several made posters on the bus stressing anti-imperialist slogans like "US Out of the Middle East" and "Support Soldier Rebellions." These contrasted sharply with the demonstration's liberal anti-Bush line. Church interns made signs for us to wear with the names of Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers killed in the occupation. This led to many good discussions, especially as I distributed CHALLENGES apart from our group.
Prior to and after the demonstration our members and some close friends saw a powerful play about a Vietnam vet from Detroit. This led to excellent exchanges linking racism to imperialism. I think we'll be recruiting a friend who has read CHALLENGE for years but only began organizing with us this summer, and was deeply impressed by our work around Iraq and in our immediate response to the contradictions raised by Katrina. Our Party leaflet distributed three days after the flood destroyed New Orleans greatly sharpened our struggles to bring people to D.C. We now have four more people taking the paper and interested in our study group.
But let's face it, her husband François Mitterrand, like all Social-Democrats and other "friends" of the workers (like Bill Clinton) were in the forefront of neo-liberalism. Mitterrand never stood up against U.S. imperialism because he never dared to depend on the working class. And that's because he was running France in the interests of capitalism.
It was Mitterrand who broke with post-World War II "welfare capitalism." It was under Mitterrand that, for the first time since WW II, profits began growing faster than wages.
When Mitterrand was Minister of Justice during the Algerian insurrection, he agreed to subordinate the French judicial system to the military establishment. Concretely that meant sanctioning torture. Someone I know was a soldier in Algeria then. He told me they would make an Algerian "suspect" bend his knees and assume a position as if sitting in a chair. Then they inserted the neck of a wine bottle in his anus. He had to remain in that position, neither standing up nor squatting down. As his legs began to give out, the wine bottle would be pushed further and further up his rectum. He had the choice between splitting, ripping his rectum and talking, and if he knew anything, betraying his comrades.
The French "Communist" Party, the ultimate in phony communists, withdrew from Mitterrand's coalition government because it didn't want to be blamed for participating in his program.
Mitterrand was a government official under the Vichy Nazi-collaborationist regime. He only jumped onto the De Gaulle bandwagon when it became clear that the days of the Vichy regime were numbered.
A Friend in France
Two Peruvian subcontractors -- Gesegur and Gun Supply (both linked to retired military and intelligence officials and to high officials in the Toledo government) -- are hiring hundreds of former cops and soldiers for duty in Iraq. They've paid the Peruvian army $400,000 to train them and provide them with ammunition for target practice.
They're paid $35 a day (cheap compared to mercenaries from the U.S., Israel, Europe and South Africa) and get other small benefits plus insurance which only covers "on-the-job" personal injury or death, not if they're blown up "off duty."
These two subcontractors work for Triple Canopy, an Illinois-based "security company." The U.S. military uses many more of these "Mercs Corporations" to "privatize" imperialist war-making.
According to the Peruvian daily La Republica (10/29), up to 700 Peruvians are already in Iraq. The newspaper also reported that Gesegur's owner is the brother of Ramiro Mendoza, chief fund-raiser for President Toledo's re-election campaign.
The other subcontractor, Gun Supply, also contracts with CNI (Peru's National Intelligence Service), and has sold ammunition to President Toledo's security guard, even though they're officially members of the National Police, and therefore should be armed by it. Gun Supply's owner is the son of retired Col. Jorge Mendoza, now security chief at the U.S. embassy in Lima.
Most of these mercenaries had become unemployed after no longer being needed by Peruvian rulers to fight the now-disappeared Shining Path guerrillas. Some of their relatives are afraid for their lives and for the rotten "life insurance" they're getting from Triple Canopy.
However, in many towns on the route north, Mexican workers respect and sympathize with their Central American brothers and sisters. For example, hundreds of workers travel atop a cargo train going from the south to the north of Mexico. Many die trying to climb onto the moving train. Others fall asleep due to fatigue and fall off. This is the "train of death." But amid these adversities, many Mexican workers express their solidarity by bringing food, water and clothes to those on the moving train, wishing them luck in gaining their goal.
Capitalism and its insatiable thirst for profits impoverishes workers worldwide, leaving many jobless. Thousands must emigrate from poor countries to the imperialist nations of Europe and the U.S. But when it serves the class interests of the capitalist rulers, they decree this "illegal," that labor has no freedom to travel between nations, that the only power possessing this freedom is the capitalist exploiter.
As long as imperialism exists -- now euphemistically called neo-liberal and globalization -- in any form, the workers will continue uprooting themselves seeking work. Neither the European Union nor the U.S. will totally reject them. U.S. bosses view the workers who actually make it across the U.S.-Mexican border as the strongest youth, able to survive this trial by fire, while hypocritically attacking them to conceal the roots of the problem. They need such workers in their industries, farms and imperialist army.
PLP also sees great revolutionary potential in these millions of emigrating workers, who can play an important role in the struggle for communism worldwide. Their experience with capitalist oppression and the struggle to survive, combined with communist ideas, can help convert the workers' "train of death" into one for the bosses and their system.
We workers in Mexico must organize protests against the Mexican "Migra," demanding they stop persecuting our brothers and sisters from Central America, Korea and China, many of whom have been arrested here recently. We must expose the bosses' hypocrisy and unite all workers to fight for abolition of all borders.
Communism would provide freedom of transit for all areas liberated by the working class, strengthening the links among our class to continue fighting against all the vestiges of capitalism, which, without doubt, will persist for some time.
Comrade in Mexico
The "pact" was negotiated after the huge Oct. 7 general strike. The bosses blamed that one on "older workers" wanting to retire early. But the latest strike drew a huge number of 20- to 30-year old workers who see the new retirement law of " work till you drop" as an attack on them. Many bosses and union leaders couldn't believe two general strikes could occur so quickly, since it's been a decade since the last one.
The latest general strike began with wildcats in the big southern factories. Then Volkswagen workers -- Flemish and Walloon -- struck for 32 hours, followed by a strike in another big factory to the North.
Workers are angry not only at the retirement law but also at capitalism's general attacks here, as well as those suffering throughout Europe and the world. The bosses and their media are mad at the union hacks because they can't control the workers as much as in the 1970's and '80s.
Workers must seize this moment to break with the union hacks and politicians -- particularly in the Socialist Party -- and to unite both of Belgium's regions to fight the wave of anti-immigrant racism now blanketing Europe. Workers must refuse to pay for the European bosses' plans to drive down their conditions in the name of competing with the U.S. and other imperialists.
I seem to recall a certain photograph of our current defense secretary shaking hands with this criminal... (NYT, 10/21)
...Communications intercepted by the N.S.A. the secretive eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, were falsified so that they made it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash. President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the suppose attack to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but most historians have concluded in recent years that there was no second attack....
...Government historians argued that it should be made public....Higher-level agency policy-makers...were fearful that it might prompt uncomfortable comparisons with the flawed intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq... (NYT, 10/31)
This year, about 14 percent of new Army recruits were black, down from nearly 23 percent in 2001.... A study commissioned by the Army last year also concluded that more young blacks were rejecting military service because they opposed the war, or feared dying in it....There is broad agreement among military experts that if black enlistments continues to fall, it could create long-term manpower problems for the Army. (NYT, 10/26)
According to a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of some 30,000 impoverished residents of the rain forest, this massive, long-term pollution has ruined portions of the jungle, contaminated drinking water, sickened livestock, driven off wildlife and threatened the very survival of the indigenous tribes, which have been plagued with serious illnesses, including a variety of cancers....
Crude oil was also spilled in the jungle, millions of gallons of it.
Disasters of this kind, involving poor people in remote areas of foreign countries, tend to stay low on the level of awareness of the American news media. The suffering tends to go unnoticed by the outside world. (NYT, 10/20)
*Hurricane Katrina victims still awaiting federal aid
*South Florida voters confused by octopus-shaped ballot
*Capitol Hill intern indicted for refusing to have sex with congressman
*51st state to be named "Halliburton"
*New study: Diet and exercise keys to weight loss
*Gas prices top $20 a gallon; GM introduces 4 mpg SUV
*Only 2 percent of registered voters cast ballots
*Microsoft patents zeroes[and] ones (NYT News Service, 05)
His book about this experience...For God and Country is an indictment of the sloppy assumptions and religious and cultural blindness that he charges US officials frequently reveal...
...Yee writes that it was commonplace for testosterone-charged military police to goad detainees by poking or kicking the Muslim holy book, and he even names a Connecticut army reserve unit that he says took particular relish in doing so. Hundreds of detainees ended up demanding that their Qur'ans be removed from their cells to reduce the chances of desecration, but officials declared the books must remain; inmates who refused to grasp the Qur'ans when they were returned through slots in cells doors were physically attacked, he writes.
Yee tried to get Guantánamo officials to change their handling of both Qur'ans and detainees which, he writes, led to the investigations of him. Soon he was in solitary confinement....
...All the charges were ultimately dropped. (Washington Post)
Much of the used computer equipment sent from the United States to developing countries for use in homes, schools and businesses is often neither usable nor reparable, creating enormous environment problems in some of the world's poorest places.... The unusable equipment is being donated or sold to developing nations by recycling businesses in the United States as a way to dodge the expense of having to recycle it properly....
...An average computer monitor can contain as much as eight pounds of lead, along with plastics laden with flame retardants and cadmium, all of which can be harmful to the environment and to humans. (NYT, 10/24)
(Note: Co-author Saulnier says in the book's introduction that it was published in France rather than the U.S. because several big U.S. publishing houses -- although initially enthusiastic -- later said they couldn't obtain "legal clearance." Others objected to the accusations of criminal killing, while "progressive" independent publishers objected to the descriptions of Marine sex life as "too crudely honest.")
"... I fired. I watched the bullets hit the demonstrator right in the chest ... I found a new target right away, a demonstrator on his hands and knees, who was trying to get away as fast as he could. I quickly aimed at his head ... I wanted to continue shooting and I kept saying to myself: `My god, there's got to be more of them.' It was like eating the first spoonful of your favorite ice cream. You want more."
How does an ordinary young man get turned into a merciless killer? Sgt. Jimmy Massey thinks the Marines have got it down pat. He should know. Massey spent 11 years in the Corps, as a recruit, a recruiting sergeant and a participant in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
According to Massey, the Marine Corps' recipe is to recruit vulnerable young men and brutalize them so they will kill without any second thoughts. As long ago as 1947, Army historian S.L. Marshall said the military needed to "free the rifleman's mind in relation to the nature of his target."
To do that, Massey says, the Corps begins by targeting men who were raised by single mothers, and who need to prove themselves. As a recruiting sergeant, Massey found intelligent men who "came from broken homes and were loaded with problems" to be "easy prey." He was also in cahoots with the local district attorney to offer small-time criminals and drug addicts a choice between prison and the Corps.
Once in the Corps, Massey writes, the men are brutalized not only by military training but also by the whole Marine culture. They become fans of music and films that push the image of the noble barbarian -- Rambo and Conan the Barbarian, among others. In 350 pages, Massey evokes 13 bands and 14 films.
He says drinking and violence are also part of the culture. On one drunken spree in Okinawa in 1993, one of Massey's buddies disemboweled a stray dog and drank its blood. "I can honestly say that Marines are monsters," Massey writes. "Nobody is safe when there are Marines around."
The macho Marines culture is also hostile to any meaningful relationship with a woman. According to Massey, sexuality in the Corps is a whirl of pornographic magazines and films, group masturbation, group sex with prostitutes, some homosexuality -- and periods of impotence. "I had become insensible to any romance, to any sensuality," Massey writes. "For me, love was just `slam, bam, thank you, ma'am.'"
Finally, Massey says, the Marine Corps teaches soldiers to scorn civilians as wimps.
According to Massey, the Marines behaved like an invading barbarian horde during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His unit's first mission was to seize "the crown jewels," the Ar Rumaylah oil fields. The workers were rounded up, hooded, and packed off as "prisoners of war."
As they advanced on Baghdad, Massey says U.S. soldiers shot up abandoned Iraqi bases and equipment with depleted uranium munitions, spreading enough radioactivity to "slowly kill off the Iraqis, one after the other." At the deserted Al Rashid base, the Marines devastated everything and then crapped on the overturned desks and bookcases.
At one point, Marine intelligence officers used Massey's unit as gunmen to neutralize the armed guards at a wealthy Iraqi's house, and then seized "huge quantities of cellophane-wrapped American dollars and Iraqi dinars." It's clear that Massey believes the officers pocketed part of the money, but didn't share it with the enlisted men.
Massey's unit despised the Iraqis, calling them sand-n-----s and ridiculing English-speaking Iraqis who asked for information or help. Massey overheard one Marine express the general sentiment: "These f-----s aren't human. We're gonna blow away their gene stock so they'll never be able to reproduce ever again."
All this forms the backdrop to the massacres of unarmed civilians Massey describes. Killing is compared to having an orgasm and being in nirvana -- an echo of the feelings of Nazi storm troopers, as set out in Klaus Theleweit's two-volume study, "Male Fantasies."
According to Massey's co-author, Natasha Saulnier, "The portrait of the Marines painted by Jimmy bears witness to the success of the American strategists." But, she continues, the battlefield success -- soldiers who do not hesitate to kill -- comes at a high price for the soldiers themselves. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one in six Iraq war veterans suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome -- in plain English: intense, life-long feelings of guilt.
Massey describes how guilty he and other soldiers felt after the killing frenzy: "Schutz just stared at the dead Iraqis. When I got close to him, I heard him muttering: `I know I killed him. I know I killed him...' I felt bad for him."
This is not inevitable. Soldiers need to know that the U.S. ruling class wants to turn them into mindless killing machines, but that soldiers have to pay too high a price. Most rank-and-file GI's come from the working class and are turned against their class by the rulers' armed forces. Thousands of Marines were part of the rebellions inside the military against the Vietnam War, including a massive black Marine rebellion against Klan forces at Camp Pendleton, California. Winning the GI's to defending their class interests means turning them against the brass and the interests of U.S. imperialism.
It's not surprising that Massey couldn't find a U.S. publisher for his book, which is presently only available in French (a Spanish translation is to come out early in 2006).
`I WAS A RACKETEER FOR CAPITALISM . . .'
(In 1933, Major General Smedley Butler, a 33-year Marine veteran, was in the center of a fight between two U.S. ruling-class factions: the Roosevelt liberals and the conservative right-wingers -- somewhat similar to the current dogfight.
There were many pro-Hitler forces in the U.S. in those years, including such luminaries as Henry Ford and Charles Lindberg. The NY Herald-Tribune (May 22, 1932) ran an editorial entitled "Fascism for America," saying "each `race' has originated a fascism to meet its crisis of the moment." In fact, U.S. rulers were more worried about the threat to their system by Soviet communism than by German fascism until they realized that Hitler actually threatened Western capitalism. And they didn't actually launch a Second Front in Western Europe until 1944 when they feared that the Red Army, already having wiped out millions of Nazi troops on the Eastern Front, might go all the way to France.
In 1933, General Butler testified before a Congressional committee about having been approached by a group representing the J.P. Morgan-DuPont-Wall Street banking interests to lead a fascist military coup to overthrow the Roosevelt presidency. Fearing the liberals' approach to handling the Great Depression would squeeze their profits, this fascist group promised Butler unlimited financial backing and 500,000 soldiers to march on Washington. Butler refused. The Congressional committee concluded that his testimony was true, but no prosecutions followed.
It is during such ruling-class dogfights that the truth sometimes comes out.)
Following is an excerpt of a 1933 speech by General Butler:
War is just a racket....It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses....
When the dollar only earns 6% over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100%. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
...The military....has its "finger men" to point out the enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism....
I spent most of my time [in the Marine Corps] being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism....
I helped make Mexico...safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street....I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912....I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested....
I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
In the Atlantic Monthly magazine (Dec. 1959), Mills described "thought remolding" this way. "The communists know that only if people are truly persuaded of the justice of (their) position will they release their spontaneous and creative energy and cooperate not from necessity but from conviction." Physical violence would not produce sincere changes in thinking, the main objective of imprisonment.
She continued, "In serious cases where criminality is involved, thought-reform and punishment are combined but the essential aim remains redemption through criticism [her emphasis].... Reform by labor goes hand in hand with reform through study in rehabilitation of prisoners [and] the right to labor comes only after a certain level of reform through study has been achieved."
In group study, she explained, prisoners were not free to be silent. Merely parroting answers was not acceptable. Those who resisted or lacked sincerity faced tou-cheng (struggle) from the rest of the group, "a humiliating combination of loud criticism...and -- very rarely [her emphasis] -- minor violence." Criticism was the primary method of change, with self-criticism more important than criticism of others, a method used by PLP since its founding in the early 1960's. Intellectuals proved the most difficult to redeem.
Ostracism from the group was the worst punishment. Group study was effective because people have an essential need to belong, to achieve and maintain emotional balance. In this way, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) convinced people from various social classes, both in and out of prison, that it was right that China should be made new and strong [PLP does not agree with this nationalist position -- Ed.], and that opposition to the CCP bringing medicine, schooling and security to half a billion peasants was wrong and not to be tolerated. They convinced millions to resist the U.S. aggression in Korea in the early 1950's. They convinced millions that women should be emancipated and guaranteed equality with men.
Mills explained the use of carrots and sticks. The strongest stick was the general sense of social guilt that developed as prisoners engaged in group criticism, worked side by side with the others and were allowed visits to collective projects outside the prison. The carrot might be the right for the prisoners to work unguarded on a dam or a bridge or on something else needed by the people whom they had wronged. This contribution to social welfare became a kind of joyful freedom.
Mills stated in an interview with Edgar Snow in 1962 that "even strong-willed persons who might never bend before force alone did undergo slow, stage-by-stage, and finally dramatic and wholly convincing transformations." ("The Other Side of the River," by Edgar Snow)
Contrast this with prisons under capitalism, in which rehabilitation is a rare exception in the U.S. injustice system, while brutality against prisoners and preventing unemployed workers from endangering capitalist state power is the rule (see CHALLENGE, 11/2/05).