115,000 Protest Anti-Immigrant Protest
Workers of the World, Unite!
Rulers Dump Harvard Prez When His Pro-War Agenda Flops
Demonstrations of 800,000 Rocking French Government
3-Day Student Strike Hits Baltimore School Closings
Link Iraq (Iran?) War, Katrina, McCain-Kennedy to Racism
Anti-Muslim Racism Preparation For Expanding War
PL Teacher Wins School Anti-Racism Award
Venezuelas Chavez plays the China card
Workers Must Give New Boeing CEO A Lesson in Class Values
Sikorsky Using Scabs to Break War-plant Strike
Book Review The New Imperialism: Is it Failing?
UNDER COMMUNISM: The Origins of Capitalist Wealth (Part 1 of 3)
Liberals Tactic: Carrot-and-the-Stick
Adjuncts Struggle Part of A Bigger Fight
Are We Selling Communism to People?
Colombian Army Tortures Own Soldiers
Good Riddance to Milosevic
CHICAGO, IL, March 11 Yesterday more than 100,000 immigrant workers marched against the racist "Sensenbrenner bill," HR 4437, which makes aiding undocumented workers a crime. They demonstrated their strength and willingness to fight back and their potential to become a mass base for communist revolution. They gave PLP a warm embrace, buying over 1,000 CHALLEGES and taking about 3,000 May Day leaflets. Any doubts about the need to immerse ourselves in the mass movement in order to fight for communist revolution were erased.
The Democratic Party showed its influence among immigrant workers who had to listen to speeches by the Governor of Illinois, the Mayor of Chicago, a U.S. Senator, numerous Congressmen and many more Democratic Party politicians. These racists are hoping to herd immigrant workers and youth to the polls in November for a future of long wars, low wages and fascist terror. Theyre building support for the McCain-Kennedy bill which would hold out the "promise" of some undocumented workers getting citizenship while deporting those unemployed for 45 consecutive days and using immigrant youth as cannon fodder in the bosses imperialist oil wars.
They pushed U.S. nationalism with a vengeance, leading chants of "USA, USA," among workers and youth who face extreme oppression, terror and exploitation from these same bosses. A young woman said, "Theyre trying to destroy the little class consciousness that immigrant workers have." She was right. The rally was organized by the politicians and the media aimed at immigrant workers, and backed by the bosses. Over 100 factories gave workers the day off (most without pay) to attend the rally and thousands of students walked out of school.
On the other hand, PLP gave workers and youth the chance to express their desire for so much more. The leadership led the chant, "Somos Todos America (We Are All America)." PLP led the chant, "Las luchas obreras, no tienen fronteras (The workers struggle has no borders)." They tried to drown our chants with "Si Se Puede (Yes We Can)." We chanted, "The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated!" They chanted, "We Want Papers." We chanted, "We Want Power!"
Every time PLP members made speeches attacking capitalism and imperialism, the crowd around us grew and many workers bought CHALLENGE. One young man came to us and took a bundle of papers to sell them in the crowd. Others helped us translate our speeches and chants.
While the battle of ideas was sharp, it was far from equal. The ruling class is leading this movement with their own imperialist aims. PLP must bring much more of a mass base to the struggle to have a more significant impact. For example, had we brought a few hundred Ford, postal and Cook County health care workers under our leadership, along with a few hundred more City College, Chicago State and high school students, and even more from community groups and churches, we could have had a more profound impact on the rally, and on those we brought to it. "Workers of the World, Unite" could have echoed through downtown Chicago. Thats our goal. We must fight harder to build the Party where we are, and bring that force to bear on mass actions like this.
As it was, our actions did have a good effect on those we reached and on our members who reached them. Tonight about 50 high school and college students and teachers held a dinner to build the circulation of CHALLENGE and plan for May Day. One highlight was a report from a student from Chicago State University about her experiences at the rally. It was the first time she had ever sold CHALLENGE in a mass way, and she was impressed at how willing the workers were to buy and read it. She said at first she was scared, "but soon, it came natural." We raised about $500 and everyone left with May Day tickets to organize for May Day.
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 7 Over 15,000 workers, mostly Latino, marched against the racist anti-immigrant bill HR4437, which would criminalize all those who help undocumented workers doctors and social service professionals as well as employers. PLP and Metro workers from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 joined this militant throng, distributing 200 CHALLENGE-DESAFIOS and 200 Spanish-language flyers that called for international working-class revolution and the need to fight all forms of racism.
The workers response was terrific we underestimated how much literature we could hand out. We spoke as communists who believe borders are a capitalist creation dividing us as workers. They agreed enthusiastically. We also distributed PLP buttons: one had the universal "stop" symbol over "Minuteklan" and the other had a fist with "Obreros contra el racismo" ("Workers against racism"). Our signs read "Workers of the world, unite!"; "Local 689 supports ALL workers!"; and "Obreros, unidos, jamas seran vencidos." (trans. workers united will never be defeated!)
A group of middle schoolers visiting from Michigan were marveling at the sight of the protest. Their teacher asked us to explain the event, so we enlisted a Mexican sister, who spoke passionately: "We all want to work and take care of our families. We work just as hard as anyone else; just because we came across the border . . . [without papers ed.]doesnt make us terrorists!"
A comrade added, "Were all immigrants this bill is a bosses racist divide-and-rule trap!" The new sister turned to that comrade and said, "I never thought of it like that before. Thats great!" This sparked a long conversation with this woman and her friends and family.
This was a real working-class protest, rather than the middle class, mainly white students and professionals one sees at anti-war demonstrations. We swam in the sea of the workers!
But while the protest expressed the working classs anger against racist attacks, it also showed the dangers of the liberal Democrats and their allies in the mass movement. Theyre trying to channel this anger into mass support for U.S. pro-war patriotism, especially through the McCain-Kennedy bill (see letter page 6 and CHALLENGE front page, 3/15).
As an example of this, the march misleaders tone was conciliatory, liberal and reformist. First came prayers for the politicians "to listen to our calls for justice." Then liberal politicians James Moran and Kweise Mfume (who is cynically trying to grab the Latino vote in his Maryland senate race) spoke. They mirrored the line of the areas largest Spanish-speaking radio station which called on all listeners to "bring U.S. flags, and leave your countrys flags at home; today were all Americans." One misleader even urged workers to extend a peaceful, conciliatory open hand instead of a clenched fist of resistance. This patriotic message is aimed at preparing Latino youth and workers to fight and die in the U.S. bosses wars.
With this liberal nonsense, its no wonder that march participants eagerly took our literature faster than we could hand it out. The workers loved our messages of "La Clase Obrera no tiene Frontera!" and, "The workers, united, will never be defeated."
Workers admired our militant stance against the racist "Minuteklan." They IDed these fascists as the CazaMigrantes (migrant hunters) who have harassed and shot undocumented immigrant workers to stop them from putting food on their tables. The workers listened attentively to our history of fighting the Klan, the Nazis and the Minutemen in places such as Valley Forge and New Jersey. The next step is building a stronger base locally to fight against the anti-immigrant fascists, from Herndon to Hyattsville, to continue exposing the liberals, and to recruit these bold immigrant workers to PLP.
U.S. rulers had high hopes for Larry Summers as president of Harvard University. He would make it a leader in advancing U.S. imperialisms ever-expanding war agenda. Summers indeed fostered reams of war-related research at Harvards graduate schools but failed to accomplish job number one: winning support for the military among undergrads and their professors. Summers was abrasive and lacked certain social skills. But what really thwarted him was the decades-old, but still powerful, ideological monster that the rulers had created to stifle campus protest against their Vietnam War.
At that time, thousands of students, led partly by the Progressive Labor Party, were attacking universities ties to imperialist genocide. PLP spearheaded the take-over of Harvards administration building. We won many students there and elsewhere to a revolutionary communist outlook. Terrified by the specter of Marxism, Harvards leaders soon copied by other institutions began to push dead-end identity politics.
They launched a Department of African and African-American Studies. Students could major in Ethnic Studies or Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Harvards goal was to have students view the world as anything but a conflict between workers and capitalists that leads inevitably to revolution.
But the rulers paid a high price for campus peace. They sacrificed patriotism. Students at Harvard and other liberal arts colleges no longer joined the military in significant numbers. Class-conscious students kicked officer training programs (ROTC) off campus in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, its a pro-capitalist, liberal faculty that hinders ROTC. Harvards official catalogue reads, "The current federal policy of excluding known lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals from admission to ROTC ...is inconsistent with Harvard's values." It warns students away from "the military services," which "may impose limitations on the freedom of speech."
With the U.S. in a period of intensifying war, the imperialists on Harvards governing Corporation brought in Summers, known for his toughness and loyalty to their cause, to rectify the situation. As former President Bill Clintons Treasury Secretary, he had helped dismantle Welfare in order to fund the bombing of Serbia and Iraq. One of Summers biggest backers was Corporation member James Houghton, a director of both Exxon Mobil and J.P. Morgan Chase, top beneficiaries of the Pentagons adventures.
Summers immediately antagonized several black studies teachers into quitting. He then turned his sights on feminists, proclaiming that women are innately less able than men at math and science. After Sept. 11th, Summers urged students to enlist. Last year, he presided over the first ROTC commissioning ceremony at Harvard since the 1960s. But the faculty continued to vote against Summers proposals to re-constitute a full-scale ROTC program.
Summers did what he could. Under him, the Kennedy School became an important factory for U.S. Middle East policy. The Government department churned out dissertations like "Preparing for War: The Dynamics of Peacetime Military Reform." But the rulers need much more. They yearn for the days when Princeton provided the army with 400 officers a year, Columbia graduated more ensigns than Annapolis, and Harvard Yard was a sea of uniforms. That goal remains distant. Just recently, the Pentagon had to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court to force colleges to admit recruiters.
Liberals may gloat over Summers fall. But its not necessarily a victory for the working class. His replacement, Derek Bok, is no peacenik. Bok won his imperialist epaulets in the Vietnam era, when, as dean of Harvard Law, he steered the school away from anti-war protests. The rulers difficulty in militarizing the colleges benefits us only if we use it to rebuild a mass campus movement with a communist political line.
(ROTC is only one part of the story. Coming articles will examine Harvards other contributions to the rulers police-state-and-war agenda.)
PARIS, March 15 The confrontation between the anti-CPE movement and the government is sharpening. [The CPE (Contract for First Employment law) would bring a drastic increase in job insecurity and unemployment, especially for youth.] French President Jacques Chirac and the president of the MEDEF (the bosses association) yesterday backed the CPE, shoring up support for Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. Yesterdays anti-CPE demonstrations saw large numbers of high school students entering the conflict at the side of university students and another violent protest at the Sorbonne University.
On March 7, at least 800,000 demonstrators twice as many as on Feb. 7 marched in cities nationwide. The successful worker-student mobilization enlarged the movement enormously. Within two days, the number of struck universities jumped from 22 to 38. (Of 84 universities, 46 are on strike today.)
On March 9, students occupied the Sorbonne for the first time in 20 years and the second time since May 1968. In the wee hours of March 11, club-swinging riot police using tear gas brutally expelled them. Education minister Gilles de Robien justified the attack with a bald-faced lie, claiming that students at the Sorbonne had viciously assaulted a handicapped person. (A handicapped person was injured at a different university when a crowd panicked.) In reality, Robien and the government are concerned because an occupied Sorbonne symbolizes the May 1968 student demonstrations that sparked a historic general strike which shut down the country.
Although student and trade union leaders say their goal is to force the government to abandon the CPE the way the Edouard Balladur government was forced to abandon the "SMIC Jeune" (youth minimum wage) in 1994, journalists and the "experts" they interview are drawing comparisons with 1968. The French Establishment is beginning to feel the heat.
On March 10, three university presidents asked the Prime Minister to abandon the CPE. For days, some members of the MEDEF, had been hinting that the CPE is "not really necessary." But Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has staked his presidential ambitions indeed, his political career on ramming it through.
To try to regain control of the situation, Villepin went on television on March 13, blowing hot and cold. For the bosses and his right-wing supporters, he talked tough, saying Parliament had enacted the CPE and he was going to enforce it. For young people and workers, he came on all conciliatory, offering cosmetic changes and saying that labor and management could "cooperate" to make the CPE work. And, like the bosses agents worldwide, he played the nationalist card, claiming the CPE is necessary to preserve French-style capitalism, which supposedly is "gentler" than the U.S. style!
The trade unions say theres nothing to negotiate the CPE has got to go. High school and university students were scheduling bigger demonstrations on the 16th, and a second joint worker-student demonstration is looming on the 18th, called by a dozen trade unions and student unions.
As increasing numbers of students and workers join the anti-CPE struggle, it is becoming more radical. Its a movement that can be something more than merely a stepping stone in the career of sellout labor leaders and politicians. (Remember, the current front-runner among Socialist Party presidential hopefuls, Ségolène Royale, said last November that the young anti-racist rebels in the housing projects needed to do a stint in the army "to teach them some discipline"!)
The anti-CPE movement needs to become a place where workers and youth learn that capitalism is not the solution to our problems capitalism is the problem.
The fruits of scabbing, racism and uniting with bosses instead of other workers are coming home to roost for 32,000 Northwest Airline workers. The company told a bankruptcy court that it needed $1.4 billion in concessions from its unions to be able "to compete" in the industry. This came after a whole series of pay cuts, mass layoffs and under-funding pensions by $3.8 billon, beginning ten years ago.
To avoid a bankruptcy court judges nullification of their contracts, the leaders of the pilots and flight attendants unions agreed to tentative settlements slashing jobs and benefits for 5,600 pilots and 8,500 attendants. Northwest announced it would be laying off 4,000 flight attendants by hiring low-wage replacements from China and India on international flights. Rather than uniting to organize these non-union workers, the union immediately denounced "use of foreign nationals," making the latter the enemy, not Northwest bosses who use one set of workers against another. Angry rank-and-file pilots have voted 92% in favor of a strike.
All these company attacks follow a strike of 4,400 Northwest mechanics and cleaners last August against a 50% cut in jobs and 26% in wages. The company smashed the walkout by hiring thousands of scabs while the unions of flight attendants, pilots and machinists crossed the mechanics picket lines to keep Northwest operating, breaking the strike. The machinists actually took some of the strikers jobs.
Of course, the independent mechanics-cleaners union (AMFA) didnt exactly help themselves by trying to build public support by attacking undocumented workers, instead of uniting with them. Its flyer said union mechanics are U.S. citizens who "can pass FBI background checks," citing FBI arrests of "27 illegal aliens working for TIMCO, one of the biggest outsourced shops using false papers." This flagrant racism implying that undocumented workers are a terrorist threat played right into the bosses hands. The same fascist Homeland Security police they embrace are prepared to break any strike the bosses say "threatens the national interest."
Meanwhile, the pilot union president called the give-back settlements a "painful but necessary part of a successful restructuring" in order to facilitate "our emergence from bankruptcy as a proud and profitable airline." This rank class collaboration will do nothing for the thousands of Northwest workers either dumped on the street or victims of wholesale wage and benefit cuts.
These attacks on Northwests workers are a product of capitalism innate need for maximum profits, cutting competitors throats vs. going under, combined with the union leaders defense of the system by foisting such concessions on the backs of the workers. And if the workers dont go along, the bosses courts just use their bankruptcy laws to void the union contracts altogether.
These attacks are occurring within a U.S. imperialist war drive to protect its control of much of the worlds oil. In doing so it is responsible for the mass murder of millions of workers. It is in workers interests here to unite against these imperialists and defend their brothers and sisters worldwide.
Capitalism is constructed to enforce exploitation of the working class. And if workers become suckers for the bosses ideas scabbing and blaming "foreign nationals" they will be defenseless against the bosses attacks. Working-class unity both within the company, within the industry, and worldwide organizing strikes of ALL airline workers would put the bosses on notice that the workers refuse to take the attacks lying down.
But in the final analysis, the real victory workers can gain from these struggles is building a communist leadership to destroy capitalism and fight for a society without bosses and profits. Then workers who produce all value can make the decisions collectively on sharing that value they produce, according to workers needs. This is our Partys goal. Joining PLP is the best answer to capitalisms assault on the international working class.
BALTIMORE, March 7 U.S. rulers are cutting costs everywhere so they can compete economically in the world. This "race to the economic bottom" is behind cutbacks in schools nationwide. Here the bosses plan to close 15% of the public schools to "save money"! The outraged Baltimore PLP club joined hundreds of fighting students in a bold three-day strike, led by the Algebra Project (AP), a mathematics tutoring organization that advocates anti-racist direct action.
The Baltimore Sun reported that "chaos erupted at the school Wednesday [the strikes first day] as students tried to leave for a protest . . . and found doors blocked by staff" but "about 100 students got together and ran out the front door" in what one student described as a "bums rush." The strike was on!
Over 400 Baltimore City high school students demonstrated at the State Education building across from the local arena, demanding that Superintendent Nancy Grasmick hear their demands. She refused, and the strike intensified.
On Thursday, Mayor Martin O'Malley and his cronies, fearful of the strikes impact on his prospective run for Governor, called in AP representatives to make a deal that would head off a City Hall rally the next day. But the AP turned this meeting around, demanding O'Malley sign a list of pledges to improve the schools. He refused. AP leaders condemned his position, and then shifted the rally to City Hall on Friday. They promised more actions if their demands were not met.
The students bravery in carrying out a three-day strike bodes well for the future. But we should have no illusions that mere pressure from the masses will lead to good schools. Capitalism requires that we be mis-educated, trained to be cogs in their profit-making machine, rather than creative human beings.
Capitalist schools will never provide real education for us. Even if OMalley makes a few improvements, education will remain racist and oppressive. We must never lose sight of the burning need of our class for communist political power so that we can educate ourselves properly in egalitarian, collective, internationalist, anti-racist and creative values.
Recently, about 40 students attended a forum on racism at a Southern California college campus. Presenters discussed the racism linked to the Iraq (and potentially Iran) war, the Katrina disaster and anti-immigrant groups like the Minutemen.
The first speaker reviewed racism in todays Iraq war, highlighting the parallels between the medias build-up of fear and the bloody U.S. invasion of Iraq. He explained that anti-Arab racism grew as war grew closer, the same thats happening with Iran today.
The next speaker discussed how the Katrina disaster affected the poor working-class black residents of New Orleans. She exposed the governments failure to fix the levees in the first place, and the absolute disregard for those too poor and unable to leave their homes. However, she noted that true cooperative efforts saved many refugees, showing how working-class collectivity is the only way to fight such conditions. She also linked what happened to the victims of Katrina to the war budget, saying, "We think theyre separate, but theyre not."
The final speaker discussed anti-immigrant groups and legislation, including the Minutemen and the conservative Republicans (represented by the border-militarizing Sensenbrenner Bill), as well as the bosses liberal policies the Dream Act and the McCain-Kennedy bill. He said that while McCain-Kennedy might appear benevolent to some, in fact its just as much an attack on the working class. It creates a "process" toward legalization for some workers, while simultaneously limiting their ability to legally organize since among other things it allows deportation if one is unemployed for 45 consecutive days. He then said we should fight racism by opposing the Minutemen, and exposing the true nature of bills such as McCain-Kennedy.
A PLP member linked fighting racism to the idea of revolution, which sparked a heated discussion. Some in the audience held a nationalist view of change; others called for small reforms or electoral politics; but others saw the urgent need to build a revolutionary movement. While one audience member said racism only affects black and brown workers, another explained the ways racism attacks the whole working class.
The event was a huge success. CHALLENGES were sold, contradictions were sharpened and money was raised for the anti-racists arrested in Garden Grove for opposing the Minutemen. Some left with a new understanding about the possibility of smashing racism and the oppression of the working class by fighting for communist revolution. Many became interested in getting more involved in campus struggles, and were impressed with the multi-racial unity of the student club sponsoring the event.
The campus is an important area where we can support anti-racists and fight racism. Its important that we participate in such forums and rallies that support anti-racism while at the same time explaining how both the Sensenbrenner and McCain-Kennedy bills are attacks on the working class. Though such events might seem like small steps, participating in them is an integral part of the process of building PLP to fight for communist revolution.
In early March, a group of PLPers drove some distance to a southwestern school to participate in a protest against racism, fascism and imperialism. The racist "College Republicans" campus group was unveiling the racist cartoons published in a neo-Nazi Danish newspaper which depicted Muslims and the prophet Mohammed as terrorists. The College Republicans were encouraged by the United American Committee (UAC), a nation-wide, right-wing racist group dedicated to building support for the "war on terror" and combating "Islamo-fascism."
We carried CHALLENGES and signs reading, "Cartoons in Denmark, slums in France, Detentions and Bombings made in the USA ALL imperialists are racist!" Two others: "Racism against Muslims is used to justify mass murder for oil profits!" and, "Racism against Muslims is an attack on all workers and students worldwide!"
We joined about 500 demonstrators, organized by the campus Muslim Student Union, with much support from Muslim community groups. Most signs praised Mohammed, but many others attacked racism and raised questions about "free speech" and responsibility. There were chants against racist hate and also chants praising Mohammed. Men and women were separated in the crowd.
Many people stopped to read and comment on our signs. Some thanked us for coming and bought CHALLENGE. One woman looked at the sign about mass murder for oil profits and said, "Thats the bottom line, isnt it?"
At one point, march security told us to stop distributing CHALLENGE. We refused but did it more cautiously, approaching people who clearly liked our signs.
Most speeches were religious, praising Islam and expressing anger at attacks on it. Some said free speech came with responsibility. One speaker said the racist assault on Europes Jews began with racist cartoons.
Two members of Mecha (a Latino campus student group) spoke, saying they were there in solidarity; that Latinos in the area were targeted by anti-immigrant racists; that Muslims were also the targets of racism; and that it was important to stand together to oppose all racism. They received a great response.
Then a speaker from a campus anti-war group attacked the cartoons racism, saying racism against Muslims and Arabs was encouraged to try to win youth to fight in the Mid-East for U.S. imperialism. He said that this racism led to the tortures at Abu Ghraib. He called for a united international fight against imperialism and the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism used to justify it, and an end to the war in Iraq. The crowd cheered him very enthusiastically.
Then a speaker from a Muslim community group said the previous three speakers were "just as guilty of hatred" as the College Republicans! But the response of the crowds vast majority indicated they didnt agree.
Our modest PLP contingent continued distributing CHALLENGES about 75 in all. We were the only group linking the fight against racism and imperialism to the need to destroy their source, capitalism, with communist revolution, rather than seeking to replace one set of oil profiteers with another.
Inside the auditorium several students attacked the racism of the "exhibit," calling for unity against anti-Muslim racism and the war. When they were kicked out, the crowd outside cheered them.
Although the 500 students and their supporters did not close down the College Republicans racist display, still it was important for many people to receive the message that a united fight against racism and imperialism must go hand in hand.
Since 1985, Ive been active in my local unions Bilingual Education Committee, in which I was part of a group that produced 2,000 large signs saying, "Were teachers, not immigration agents. No cutbacks!" They were displayed in 90% of the classrooms at my school as well as in schools and at marches city-wide. Due to PLPs work in the union, and at international conventions in which our friends in the Committee defended the Party and have fought together against racist attacks on black, Latino and Asian students I was given the committees Friend of Bilingual Education award at its annual conference.
In my few words of appreciation, I used as context the current fight over immigration policy. The union has passed a motion supporting college students who were arrested in a demonstration in Garden Grove against the racist Minutemen. The locals budget committee has recommended a union donation of $1,000 to their defense fund.
I said that I had moved that motion in the unions House of Representatives, but that it was also important not to run from the open racists into the arms of the liberal politicians, such as those proposing the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill. This bill, which many see as a lesser evil, will establish a new bracero program for industrial workers and will be part of pushing our young people into what is increasingly a "green card army."
I said that instead of trusting politicians of either party, we must build a movement of workers, students and soldiers who will fight for a world in which there are no borders that stop workers trying to feed their families, where everyone will be multi-lingual, because it will be all one world.
Since many of my friends are so worried about the Minutemen and the current Sensenbrenner bill (H.R. 4437) in Congress that theyre willing to support the McCain-Kennedy bill [see article above Ed.], I wasnt sure how they would respond to my remarks. I shouldnt have worried. In fact, people approached me to say they agreed with what I said and appreciated my remarks. Many are friends who have been reading CHALLENGE, and with whom we have been working for many years.
All this shows that when weve been working with people, distributing the paper and fighting side by side, we can confidently expose both the open and the liberal racists and imperialists. Rather than being isolated, we can receive enthusiastic support for the alternative of a united fight for a world without borders.
(This concludes the series on Venezuela, written by a Party member who recently spent time in Venezuela and Brazil. Part II reviewed how Peron, a similar "populist" to Chavez, paved the way for fascism in Argentina, and how Chavez makes deals with U.S. Big Business even as he "challenges" U.S. imperialism, touts nationalism as against internationalism, and has now begun to play up to Chinas bosses.)
The struggle over resources will bring the worlds working class bloodshed and devastation. Wars will be fought to benefit a few at the cost and terror of working people. The rules of warfare havent changed. Position papers from the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution, two most influential think-tanks among a small shark tank of powerful policymakers, clearly show that Chinas strength, economically and militarily, has been a top priority for assessment and speculation. In addition, consider the following:
The U.S. trade deficit with China is $162 billion and rising, creating anxieties among U.S. bosses who fear Chinas ability to flood the U.S. market with cheap consumer goods, cutting their profits, as well their worry over Chinas ownership of hundreds of billions in U.S. treasury bonds with the potential to sell them or call them in.
China leads the regional defensive group Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with Russia a member and India an observer to cooperate and address security concerns in Central Asia. Last June, Rumsfeld openly questioned the reasons behind Chinas arms build-up and modernization despite "no clear enemies." Since the Soviet Unions collapse, the U.S. military has extended into previously inaccessible and resource-rich Central Asia, building tensions with Russia and China. In the past two years the SCO has successfully pressured the U.S. to pull its troops out of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, a significant victory for the Chinese and Russian bosses. Militarily and internationally, Russia and China have been strengthening ties; and especially now theyre allied in blocking the U.S./Europes aim to punish Iran for nuclear research.
China has aggressively and persistently pursued firm alliances and trade agreements with Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, has established the China-Arab Cooperation Forum and warmed up considerably to Iran. Despite Chinas overwhelming reliance on coal (66%), Chinas booming steel, aluminum, and cement industries, driving its export economy and construction explosion, demand reliable oil supplies. With its total support for African nationalist movements in the late 1960s and 1970s, China has built solid alliances in Africa, where, fittingly, all of Chinas allies are oil-producing nations. However, these nations are small potatoes, compared to the immensely larger reserves in the Persian Gulf and Mid-East, under the current hegemony of the U.S. military. China will tap these fields to fuel its economy to its full potential, since no other region can match its future demand.
Now enter Latin America. Brazil has unmatched technical expertise in oil and natural gas exploration. Chavez has promised to open the Orinoco Belt containing the worlds largest estimated reserves of heavy crude oil. His state-owned oil company, PDVSA, is developing the technology to extract even greater reserves of super-heavy crude, which lie frozen underground. Chavez and Colombia are jointly building an enormous pipeline to provide the Chinese exclusively with oil.
Evo Morales, Chavez good pal and president-elect of Bolivia, is sitting on vast mineral resources and the second-largest proven reserves of natural gas, after Venezuela, in the region. Morales has publicly stated his desire to trade with China, denouncing the U.S. as a purveyor of terrorism and announcing his support of Chavez "anti-imperialist crusade." How much longer will Chinas incursions into the U.S. ruling classs "backyard" be tolerated until there is open confrontation between the U.S. and China?
The working classes and their allies worldwide should view these "left" presidencies in Latin America in general, and Venezuela in particular, as nothing but a new class of astute bosses who can see the writing on the wall and will prostitute their nations resources and workers to the highest bidder.
Workers in both Venezuela and the U.S. must forge solidarity with each other and with the super-exploited workers throughout the former colonies and the world in a demonstration of workers power. This solidarity knows no borders; there is only one working class and one world. The increasingly violent attacks on workers everywhere require the construction of one party.
PLPs unswerving adherence to internationalism is a crucial component of the Partys efforts which now are producing seemingly small quantitative results but will yield huge qualitative consequences when conditions are ripe. The communists, the only progressive force in society fighting for a world where humankind is allowed to flourish beyond its predatory phase, must focus and consolidate every victory made. Now, everything matters.
(For the latest economic indicators issued by the Venezuelan Central Bank: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=1857)
ORLANDO, FL., March 15 General Counsel Douglas Bain, introduced by the new Boeing CEO James McNerney Jr., lowered the boom at the companys annual executive retreat. "Bain rattled off the federal prison numbers of two former [executives]. These are not Zip Codes, Bain snapped. With McNerney looking on in clear support, Bain warned the audience that many prosecutors believe that Boeing is rotten to the core." (Business Week, 3/13)
McNerney followed up by circulating a video to all employees asserting that "there is no contradiction between values and performance." In essence, McNerney has been given the green light to super-exploit us workers (performance) as long as the company doesnt soak the government for the expensive killing machine the bosses need to defend their empire in more and bigger wars (values).
Values, like every other moral judgment, carry with it class content. The bosses value imperialist domination and efficient exploitation. We value international solidarity of the working class so we can understand our potential for revolutionary power. Never the two shall meet!
The bosses business press criticized former CEO Condit as "too aloof." His successor, Stonecipher, was too concentrated on the bottom line. Just to make sure McNerney understands his job, William M. Daley brother of Chicagos mayor and, most importantly, chairman of the Midwest region for JPMorgan Chase was appointed to the Boeing board of directors.
The rest of the board is also "under the gun." As of May 1, every director will stand for "election" yearly. Long hailed a great reform by "progressive" elements in the Machinist union; these annual elections only ensure that the biggest investors like the big bosses at Chase can guarantee that their imperialist priorities get top billing.
On February 23, we got a taste of the performance part of the equation. The company announced that a non-union outfit from North Carolina, New Breed, will be in charge of all parts logistics for the new 787 Dreamliner work formerly done by higher-paid union members.
This announcement sent the union president, Mark Blondin, into apoplexy. His whole strategy vis-à-vis the 787 was to shower the company with $3.2 billion in workers money for the privilege of keeping the 787 assembly line in Everett. WA. "Were not going to get any jobs out of this," he admitted at a recent union meeting. "Its not partnering and Im mad."
"What! He didnt know he was partnering with crooks?" was the reaction in the shop when union members heard that Blondin wante+d to know if we were "with him."
The week before, Boeing and other workers gathered to see the documentary, The Corporation. The liberal producers of this movie advocated more government regulation of corporations, which they contended were "psychopathically" centered on "the bottom line." According to that logic, McNerney would be their hero!
Only communist values can answer the bosses plans for increased exploitation of our class to finance their imperialist wars. Communists put the interest of the working class above all else. We never partner with our bosses, only with other workers. We aim to end this bloody cycle of war, exploitation and more war the only way possible with communist revolution. Let McNerney and his ilk choke on those values.
STRATFORD, CONN, March 13 On Feb. 20, 3,600 teamsters struck Sikorsky Aircrafts main plant here, joined by workers at three other Connecticut locations and another in West Palm Beach, Florida. The main issue is cuts in healthcare benefits. "This isnt only about us," striker Bruce Peters told the NY Times (3/3), "This is a nationwide problem."
Sikorsky has begun a strike-breaking effort, bringing in scabs. The company produces helicopters and critical military parts used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite all the patriotic garbage pushed on these workers, in this era of endless wars, even reform struggles like strikes by relatively high-paid workers over health benefits objectively clash with the rulers war effort and their drive for maximum profits.
The contradictions involving such workers was revealed in striker Peters statement that, "Its not our fault were out here." The workers are finding out that patriotism leads to scabbing and strike-breaking. Meanwhile, Sikorsky president Steve Finger is not exactly "sacrificing for the war effort" between salary, bonuses and stock options, he has $220 million rolling in.
Given the crucial role that such industrial workers play in capitalist war-making, our Party considers it vital to win such workers to revolutionary communist politics.
Imperialism can be a difficult process to understand. "The New Imperialism" (Oxford University Press, 2003) by City University of New York anthropology professor David Harvey is useful in helping to explain how different aspects of imperialism work, but has little insight into how to end it, a task for revolutionaries in PLP.
The book opens by discussing Iraq, but it was written before the second U.S. ground invasion began. So he deals with questions like: What political/economic forces pushed the U.S. to go to war? Is invading Iraq a sign of weakness or strength? This leads to the book's larger issues: How does the contradiction between individual capitalists and the state play out in practice? Why has capitalism been able to survive the crisis of overproduction? Was primitive accumulation a process that just jump-started capitalism and now largely ended, or is it still essential as an ongoing process?
Much of the material assumes a reader's familiarity with basic ideas and concepts of Marxism-Leninism. Harvey uses typical academic language - which may be unfamiliar to many workers - and needlessly long sentences with many clauses and parentheses. Yet, more than ever, workers need to understand the system we live in and why we need to destroy it. Sections of this book could be useful in study groups to readers at all levels of understanding. The effort is worthwhile because the concepts and arguments concern concrete and practical matters.
One of the best chapters is called "How America's Power Grew." It describes how U.S. capital rose compared to rival capitalist powers since the 1870's, and explains many current changes in the U.S. and global economies.
Harvey's analysis shows why so many U.S. industrial jobs moved overseas in the last 40 years. Beginning in the 1960's, competition from Russian, German and Japanese capitalists led the U.S. to dramatically outsource its manufacturing base and focus instead on finance capital.
Harvey sketches the imperialist logic behind privatizing and deregulating "public" institutions since the mid-1970's. Energy deregulation, bank mergers, companies with fake profits, the dot.com expansion and collapse, ending welfare, gutting services to workers, and even the current housing expansion and coming collapse all make sense in the context of global capitalist competition.
Harvey even shows that U.S. consumerism is more than just a distraction for workers alienated from labor. It's been essential to absorbing much of global capital's product glut for decades. The credit and lending industry allows U.S. workers, who have relatively little, to buy more than workers in other countries. The industry is also a source of profitable reinvestment in itself. Other chapters describe the various ways capitalists try to save themselves from utter economic collapse.
On Iraq, the author concludes that the U.S. attacked it out of weakness, in order to maintain dominance during the global crisis of overproduction. The overseas U.S. manufacturing base is vulnerable to takeover, its financial power is unsure, and the amount of consumption may be insufficient to prevent a long-term global depression. But U.S. military power overwhelms most of the world's conventional armed forces and U.S. rivals are more dependant than the U.S. on Mid-East oil. U.S. rulers' strategy in Iraq, Afghanistan and much of South Asia aims at controlling the oil spigot in order to dominate the economies and armies of U.S. rivals.
Little is new here. PLP has been advancing much of this for years. But Harvey covers a lot of important theory and history in very succinct broad strokes, helpful in understanding the gist of current events. He also outlines the main trends affecting U.S. capital for the century; how U.S. capitalists have managed to avoid the economic crashes rolling through much of the world; and why the U.S. may be unable to manage this in the future.
Besides being difficult to read, a major drawback is the author's outlook toward workers. Harvey is what U.S. academics call a "Marxian" - meaning his point is to describe the world, not change it. (To academics, trying to end capitalism, and class society in general, is "Marxist.") To Harvey, the dictatorship of the proletariat, one of the workers' greatest tools in suppressing the bosses and eventually ending class oppression, seems "less and less relevant."
In his history and theory, Harvey under-emphasizes workers' struggles in shaping world events. He has little, if any understanding of the potential power that the working class possesses. Harvey says China is setting the trend for capitalist development today but doesn't even discuss the reversal of workers' power there. How can you comprehend how "communists" have emerged 7as a leading capitalist power without understanding workers loss of power in the Cultural Revolution?
The book is significantly flawed, but recognizing these weaknesses can be helpful. Further criticism of Harvey's analysis can help workers understand how we can smash imperialism, not just think about how it works.
How often has someone told you "communism sounds great but it can never work because selfishness is part of human nature"? Recently the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Leipzig, Germany published a study of chimpanzees (NY Times, 3/3) demonstrating that cooperation one of the hallmarks of being human has existed for millions of years, even before the human and ape lineages divided.
The scientists series of experiments with chimpanzees clearly showed their predisposition to cooperate. Chimps are the closest living relative to humans, sharing a common ancestor who lived about six million years ago. Both the chimpanzees and humans may have inherited this trait from this common ancestor, but humans have developed more sophisticated cooperation. Scientists believe this may have occurred in order to avoid being exploited. Psychological tests have shown that humans tend to cooperate with people who have cooperated with them in the past, and avoid offering help to those who have not helped. "Chimpanzees," says the study, "are willing to help even when they are not getting a direct reward."
The fact that the Times publicized this study may be related to the "cooperation" the U.S. capitalist class is pushing "lets all work together to make our country great." That is, to control the Middle East, run the world and keep profits rolling in.
This science reinforces our own views as communists, learned through the study of history, that workers armed with the tool of dialectics and the knowledge of what is right for their class will fight for their class, overcoming the capitalists whose selfishness and greed are UNnatural qualities. Workers unite in order to fight exploitation by the ruling class. Thats whats natural, not the opposite.
The belief that people are inherently selfish and greedy feeds cynicism, keeps people from fighting back, reinforces red-baiting ("communists are only in it for themselves"; "they just want the power") and is simply untrue.
Try this out in a conversation the next time someone says "its human nature to be selfish"!
(Part 1 of a 3-part series)
The dominant myth claims that capitalists become rich through "hard work, cleverness and dedication," and therefore they "deserve" their wealth. While textbooks portray the "Robber Barons" of the late 1800s as a "dishonest" group of capitalists, theyre labeled "exceptions." And the capitalist media daily report "dishonest" capitalists or politicians, like Ken Lay of Enron, or Texas Congressman Tom DeLay. But again, theyre portrayed as "exceptions."
The schools and media say most capitalists are "honest." By reporting "exceptions" they pretend to give an accurate view of reality. And by punishing a few, the capitalists hope to boost our confidence in their "justice" system.
The reality is that massive theft and genocidal murder were the main sources of what Karl Marx called "primitive accumulation" of capital. The original accumulation into a few hands enabled these thieves and murderers to organize large-scale factories, mines, farms and banks. This form of accumulation still occurs. For example, the U.S. military seizes the oil fields of Iraq, while murdering hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and their parents, as well as thousands of U.S. and British working-class youth.
When textbooks do give examples of primitive accumulation, they conceal the fact that these events formed the necessary starting point for todays capitalist exploitation. This includes the genocide and/or enslavement in the 1500s of natives of the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America by the Spanish and Portuguese conquerors as well as the French in Haiti. Other European nations and Japan murdered and enslaved millions and stole their raw materials, mainly through the organization of colonies in Africa, India, the Middle East and other parts of Asia. Since the 1600s, what was to become U.S. capitalism depended on: (1) genocide against Native (North) Americans to steal land; and (2) theft/kidnapping of millions of African women and men for use as slaves on U.S. plantations.
By the late 1800s, the entire world had been colonized by European, Japanese and U.S. capitalists. Since then, theyve been fighting wars under many guises to rob each other of these colonies. This ushered in World Wars I and II, and continued with Korea, Central America, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Massacres of millions over resources, such as in the Congo and Rwanda fought with weapons supplied by the U.S. and France are disguised as "tribal conflicts." The wars in the former Yugoslavia , Afghanistan and Iraq actually represent endless occupations, with more yet to come, leading inevitably to WW III.
Modern wars are portrayed in histories and films as wars for "freedom" and "democracy," against terrorism or communism. Following WW II, the War Department was renamed the "Defense" Department.
Whether war or peace, "honest" capitalists make profits every day by stealing a portion of the value our labor adds to raw materials. Marx discovered this hidden source of profit and explained it in his monumental three-volume work, "Capital." Schoolbooks ridicule Marxs ground-breaking theory of wage, price and profit to hide it from the working class. The profit-makers hope to prevent us from understanding that the drive for profit is the motivation for global theft and genocidal wars. The result of this devastation is not just widespread death and destruction but worldwide poverty, starvation, sickness and misery. Inequality is the hallmark of capitalism, and it continues to intensify day by day, year by year.
(Part 2 will discuss the history of redistribution of wealth: why it cannot achieve equality and why collective ownership is necessary. Part 3 will show how abolition of money and wages will be the beginning of a long process to build a workers society and destroy the power of capitalism.)
One cant read the daily paper without noticing articles debating the handling of immigration. Sectors of the ruling class disagree on how to deal with the overwhelming integration of immigrant labor in important areas such as construction, agriculture, manufacturing and health care.
Theres a side that applauds anti-immigrant groups such as the Minutemen for terrorizing undocumented workers and for trying to win over other workers with patriotic propaganda. Rep. Sensenbrenners HR 4437 criminalizes anyone who supports undocumented workers in any way. The other side, the liberals, acknowledge the vast, super-exploitable pool of labor undocumented immigrants represent, and then tease workers with "immigrant-friendly" legislation, such as the McCain-Kennedy bill and the DREAM Act.
As an undocumented student-worker in the U.S, Im very familiar with the carrot-and-stick tactics of liberal politicians as well as the overtly racist attacks condoned by many conservatives. I grew up disillusioned with one side and scapegoated by the other. The idea of democracy rang false and hollow to me.
With time, I realized that workers who were "citizens" were just as anonymous and essential to the economy as myself. Ive seen military recruiters lure my friends with false promises only to have them fight in imperialist wars. Ive seen people my age juggle several shifts in order to attend college. I know workers who silently nurse toothaches and suspicious-looking lumps because they cant afford to go to a clinic. This is what "citizenship" and "democracy" look like from up close.
Given all this, its absurd to be enchanted with the promises advanced by liberal legislators. If one scrutinizes the McCain-Kennedy bill, its obvious that workers are being told not to organize for fear of being deported. The DREAM Act steers most undocumented youth who lack the resources to go to college to the battlefield in order for the bosses to secure corporate profits in the midst of inter-imperialist rivalry.
By exposing capitalisms exploitative nature, its possible for workers to understand that anti-immigrant raids in the southwest and state-sanctioned strike-breaking in New York are essentially the same. Theyre both examples of the bosses attempts to impose their will on workers in order to maximize their profits. The racist and nationalist rhetoric and practices that prop up capitalism drive a wedge between "immigrants" and "native" workers, but this shouldnt stop us communists from building a movement.
In our discussions with all workers regarding immigration and other issues, we should not only use our experiences and CHALLENGE to expose the ruling classs ulterior motives, but we should also make strong connections indicating the shared condition of the entire working class. Only with a high level of class consciousness can we engage in a shared struggle toward creating a communist society.
At my community college, the union is fighting for a small reform eliminating the hated policy that subjects adjunct faculty to piece work (getting paid per student if they are teaching low-enrolled courses). Were now debating whether to broaden the campaign by relating it to the war budget and cut-backs nation-wide or to keep it narrowly focused on our college. The activists, mostly adjunct faculty, have had very interesting discussions.
Everyone agrees this little struggle IS part of a bigger fight, that the oppression of adjunct faculty emanates from the militarizing of society and the crisis of U.S. capitalism. Some feel, however, that well lose support if we make this link, that it will seem like we dont really care about winning full pay for adjuncts. This argument needs to be seen for what it is anti-communist, and wrong based on the assumption that communists and others who want to transform society are dishonest.
It is precisely by broadening the struggle that more people will be motivated to become involved. Most faculty and students agree that class inequality is increasing dramatically in the U.S. and that the war in Iraq is wrong; however, they dont see in their own lives an effective way to fight back.
If this "local" fight is seen as a way to fight the war budget, the attacks on working-class students, and the grinding down of the working class, theyd be more motivated to get involved, not less. A narrow approach keeps people swirling around in the soup of immediacy. Students may absorb the narrow struggle as, "Sure these adjunct faculty should get their full salary. This college is so screwed up. Im going to leave for another college." Full-time faculty may think, "These poor bastards. Im glad its not me."
The bosses love it when we take one struggle at a time, without looking at the big picture, because they can keep us divided. This is the classic way that trade union hacks have served management keep workers focused on their narrow bread-and-butter demands rather than whats happening to the whole working class. Communists, on the other hand, build communist class consciousness as the best way to win not merely the little reforms, which the ruling class can reverse as long as they hold power, but the big transformation of society communism.
A Red Fighter
There are fundamental differences about what people think is communism and communist agitation. Amazingly, theres so little discussion about these differences in CHALLENGE. Comrades, lets clarify what is communism!
In the March 1 CHALLENGE, something stood out that has continually bothered me: so much of the approach to the workers and our allies seems to be based on narrow self-interest. Theres so much concern about contractual takeaways, two tiers, retirement cuts, job security. The "political" issues, like the war and the crisis of capitalism, are mostly framed in terms of how they affect these issues. The Boeing article, on page 4, ends, lamenting the war because "it squanders our youth and our retirements." The long transit letter (that correctly criticizes CHALLENGE for not clearly spelling things out about the connection of capitalism to the workers economic problems), has that same outlook: winning transit workers to oppose the imperialist war by appealing to self-interest and clever arguments and analysis about how the bosses are using us to pay for the war.
I dont agree with any of this strategy or politics of "selling" people on communism and resistance. Communism is not about offering the workers a better deal than the capitalists. It is about sacrifice and commitment on behalf of others. Our youth and our workers are important, of course, but it sends the wrong message in practice when were not clear that they are no more important than others around the world. Down with nationalism and unionism of this kind! I think we should be starting with the interests of everyone, especially the Iraqi or Sudanese people that are getting killed in the goddamed wars, (for which our society has a certain collective responsibility, due to all the indulgence and gluttony that we passively accept and participate in) or of the people that dont even have jobs, or the homeless. Thats communism to me, concern for others dammit, not some extension of the union and their historically protecting only stupid, poisonous seniority and the lucky few that have something . . . the ones, by the way, who should be thinking about how they can share some of their privileges rather than pathetically hoarding the crumbs they receive from the capitalists.
Its almost like we are so immersed in capitalism that we do things in a capitalist way. We gear our programs to the interests of those who have rather than those who dont, those who dont have any credibility or respect or names.
Maybe the problem is that too many of the veteran communists and former radicals, me included, have too many of the benefits and retirements that are still left. Were not supposed to be retirement planners; were supposed to be revolution planners, fighters on behalf of all of our suffering brothers and sisters, just like those 200 communist cadre that were sent into the Warsaw Ghetto by the central committee of the CP of the USSR, knowing they were likely to die, so that a stand could be made and a message sent to the Jews and the rest of the world on behalf of loyalty and regard for one another. How do we begin to emulate the courage of John Brown and the multi-racial fighters at Harpers Ferry who knew that their seemingly desperate resistance to slavery could help to ignite a war for equality which we are starting to understand hasnt really been finished to this day? Who is going to set an example of concern for others and prepare us for the coming battle if we continue to give in to the selfish, me-first stuff that we have all been brainwashed with?
I believe theres a vast, irrepressible power one of communist concern for others waiting to be unleashed within the working class. Its as yet hiding beneath the surface, like all great social movements do prior to their eruption, and its leaders may be unknown to us and even to themselves. But they are waiting for the emergence of communism on a higher, less materialist plane.
CHALLENGE comment: We thank the writer for raising these issues so sharply. We dont think that becoming immersed in workers struggles in order to be in a position to win them to see that their problems are ordained by capitalism and the ruling class that enforces it is "selling communism" by "offering a better deal than capitalism." Ruling class attacks are daily creating more "have-nots" out of the "haves." (A recent NY Times editorial noted that U.S. workers are a lot worse off than the statistics make them out to be.) Should we not fight plant closings or health-care rip-offs?
Our goal is fighting for the political leadership of the workers, moving them out of the treadmill of reform onto the road to communist revolution. We concentrate on industrial workers at the point of production and on those in the military, both of whom are crucial to winning that leadership. Industrial workers, many of whom are now "the have nots" low-paid, super-exploited immigrants produce all the surplus value upon which the system depends.
No, we should not "promise" workers that such a revolution will solve all their problems right away. In fact, we maintain that revolution will probably occur out of world war, which will wreak havoc and so much destruction that most who "have" will suddenly "not have" we will more likely have to share scarcity before we share any abundance. That process leading to world war is already taking place with every capitalist attack on workers worldwide, including in the U.S., growing out of capitalisms inter-imperialist rivalry.
Of course, workers in Iraq, the Congo and elsewhere throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia are a lot worse off on average than workers here (although there are millions here way below the "average": Katrina victims, undocumented immigrants, millions of unemployed, those murdered by racist police brutality, to name a few). But we attempt to show how all these attacks are related internationally, and theyre all caused by a system based on profits. Communist concern for workers everywhere is expressed in CHALLENGE through our consistent reports of attacks on workers and their fight-backs throughout the world, not just in the U.S. Which is why were trying to build one Party in as many regions of the world as we can.
Our concerns are not limited to so-called economic problems. Our constant hammering away at racism and its effects on tens of millions of victims, our support for and participation in rebellions, our leadership in attacking the Nazis and the Klan, is all evidence of that. But we also show how racism drags down the lives of ALL workers, even as it worsens the lives of its immediate victims the most.
We have been exposing imperialisms onslaught on workers worldwide throughout PLPs existence, from Vietnam to Iraq. And we organize among soldiers and sailors, attempting to win them away from being used as instruments of imperialist profit-makers, against not only their own class interests but in the service of killing millions of their brother and sister victims of these wars.
Red Rider raises many other points which we could respond to: like the liberal argument that most U.S. workers benefit from imperialist wars instead of the big bosses and the tiny aristocracy of labor union hacks, that somehow workers and youth will "emerge as communists" out of thin air instead of communist organizers bringing these ideas to them, and so on. We welcome more readers letters on this important subject.
Since Plan Colombia began under President Clinton, the U.S. has given billions in military aid to Colombias army, increasing it after 9/11, as part of the "war on terror." President Alvaro Uribe has become Bushs best ally in Latin America. His "hard line" was supposed to smash the countrys large guerrilla movements, but it hasnt worked.
Last month, the Colombian army, known for its corruption and cruelty, was involved in a scandal which exposed its true nature even more. Army chief Gen. Reynald Castellanos, along with two other generals and several high-ranking officers, was forced to resign. Because of defeats by guerrillas? No, because of the torture of 21 soldiers by their own military instructors.
The beatings, tortures, burning with hot rods and sexual abuses in this "exercise" occurred in late January in the Tolima Departments VI Army Brigade Instruction Center. The victims ended up in the hospital. Radio Caracol obtained and broadcast the official medical report. However, the soldiers relatives took the initiative to expose this cruelty. These are poor, working-class families who send their sons to the army as a way to get "military cards," key to getting jobs here, even low-paid ones.
Many arent surprised that the army tortures, but not its own soldiers. People say if they do it to "their own," imagine whats done to guerrillas, workers and students who oppose the government. Others compare the militarys torture methods here to those of the CIA and Pentagon in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc. After all, there are over 1,000 U.S. military instructors here (under Plan Colombia or "Patriot Plan" as its now being called).
Since Uribe took power, 14 generals have been ousted some because under their commands theyve lost big battles with the guerrillas; others because of corruption (at least those who were caught). Gen. Gabriel Ramón Diaz. head of the II Brigade, was dumped after "one ton of cocaine was lost in the Atlantic," according to El Tempo, the leading bourgeois paper here.
General Castellans, known as a "strategist," is being replaced as army chief by Gen. Mario Montoya Uribe, known for relying mainly on brute force. In 2002, he led the Anti-Narcotics Batallion of the Three Corner military base, central to Plan Colombias "fight against drugs." Basically, the Pentagon built this base. Along with the one in Manta in neighboring Ecuador, its crucial to U.S. military intervention in the region.
But the U.S. and Colombian government strategy has a problem: terror and brute force havent worked. Militarily, its been unable to defeat the main guerrilla force, the nationalist FARC. Most of FARCs soldiers are much more committed than Colombias which generally dont want to serve. For a while, Uribe claimed success, but last year the army suffered one defeat after another.
For workers, the Uribe government has meant more misery, paramilitary terror and union-busting (see letter on Bavaria workers, CHALLENGE, 3/15). This May Day we in PLP will bring to the workers and students here the only solution to this capitalist hell: fight for communism.
It's an on-going tragedy that fascists like Milosevic die either from natural causes or at the hands of other bosses (there are rumors he was poisoned), not at the hands of the working class Mussolinis fate, machine-gunned and hung by his heels by communist-led Italian partisans. Milosevics a prime example that "the enemy of our enemy is NOT our friend." During the endless Yugoslav civil wars, Milosevic and the other nationalist butchers in the Balkans provided a convenient moral scratching post for the hypocrites in the U.S., UN and NATO ruling classes. But they deserved their reputations in helping the imperialists to split up the former Yugoslavia and to initiate ethnic cleansing, bitter partisan warfare, foment racism and perpetrate mass rapes.
As revisionist as Yugoslavias "communist" originator, Joseph Bronz Tito, was, his regime did keep the lid on ethnic rivalries and managed to diminish them. Tito established his base of support during a multi-national fight against the Nazis. But he was the first one to join the Western imperialists in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His "self-management" scheme for workers in factories built capitalist relationships instead of communism. After Tito died and the Soviet Union collapsed,, neo-fascists like Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, and Ratko Mladic stepped into the nationalist void with a bloodthirstiness and greed that was possibly only exceeded on the local scale by the pseudo-rebels in the Congo, Rwanda and in Indonesia in 1965.
Of course, all these conflicts are at least partially fueled by larger imperialists like the U.S. and European Union, who cause more damage and death far more often and on a global scale. But that should never blind us to the incredible carnage caused by the local fascists of Yugoslavia and other smaller countries, whether those fascists are nationalist, religious or both. Its really sick when some will actually call for defending, or on occasion supporting, the local fascists that oppose U.S. rulers or NATO, as Milosevic did.
Even with the decline of his regime, though, the working class in the Balkans still must deal with a shaky bourgeois "democracy" and the lingering after-effects of racist war, with the imperialists pulling the strings. They need a real multi-racial, cross-cultural communist movement, as do we all.
Elections help bosses fight off unions
The business backed group was trying to discredit the most successful strategy that unions have used to try to reverse a decades-long slide in membership.
That strategy is known as card checks, a process in which companies grant union recognition once a majority of workers sign cards saying they favor a union....Unions say companies often prevent fair elections by firing and intimidating union supporters .
"Under the National Labor Relations Act, the election process in the United States has turned into a meat grinder for workers .Each year 20,000 workers are fired or retaliated against for supporting a union."
A study last year by professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that during unionization elections, 30 percent of employers fire pro-union workers and 49 percent threaten to close work sites if workers unionize.
The National Labor Relations Act .gives employers the right to insist on elections .
"A worker can join a church or synagogue or the Republican Party by signing a card," Mr. Raynor said. "Thats how people join organizations in the United States. The idea that workers cant join a union by signing their name is ludicrous." (NYT, 3/11)
Evil acts are spurred by God-quoters
For centuries, we have been told that without religion we are no more than egotistic animals fighting for our share, our only morality that of a pack of wolves; only religion, it is said, can elevate us to a higher spiritual level .
This argument couldnt have been more wrong: the lesson of todays terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God .
Fundamentalists do what they perceive as good deeds in order to fulfill Gods will and to earn salvation; atheists do them simply because it is the right thing to do.
US doesnt want to collect $ from Big Oil
The...administration has cut spending over the last five years for what it calls "compliance and asset management" the job of verifying royalty obligations even as it has sharply expanded oil and gas leasing .Auditors typically recover three times as much money from underpayments as they spend on auditing. (NYT, 3/1)
Ablest workers doing fine? Fed chief lies
about income equality,[Ben Bernanke] declared that "the most important factor" in rising inequality "is the rising skill premium the increased return to education .[higher salaries]"
I think of Mr. Bernankes position which one hears all the time, as the 80-20 fallacy. Its the notion that the winners in our increasingly unequal society are a fairly large group the 20 percent or so of American workers who have the skills to take advantage of new technology .
The 2006 Economic Report of the President tells us that the real earnings of college graduates ctually fell more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2004 .
So who are the winners from rising inequality? Its not the top 20 percent, or even the top 10 percent. The big gains have gone to a much smaller, much richer group than that .
Between 1972 and 2001 .income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, thats not a misprint.
The notion that its all about returns to education suggests that nobody is to blame for rising inequality.
The idea that we have a rising oligarchy is much more disturbing. It suggests that the growth of inequality may have as much to do with power relations as it does with market forces. Unfortunately, thats the real story. (Paul Krugman,NYT, 2/23)