Marching Behind Liberal Rulers Is Death Trap for Workers
Why Liberal Warmakers Nailed the Hammer
Hundreds March vs. War Profiteer and Democrat Ally
CUNY Students Indict Karpinski As War Criminal
PLP Politics Needed To Win Immigrants Away From Liberal Fascists
ALL Workers Must Unite to Fight ALL Bosses
FBI Terror Trial
CA Teachers Challenge Pro-War California Democrats
Fight Racist Anti-Immigrant Occupancy Law
Worker-Student Unity Forces French Rulers to Back Down; Struggle Continues
Anti-Racists Hit Anti-Black, Anti-Latin Minutemen
Cold War 2: Russia, China vs. U.S.
CHALLENGE Articles Internationalize Class Struggle
Fantasy Stories Aid Childrens Imagination
Pinks New Song A Breath of fresh air
On the March 25th Immigrant March in Los Angeles
North Country Exposes Oppression of Women, But Not Its Source
RED EYE ON THE NEWS
Hard Struggle And Shedding Illusions The Road To Communism
UNDER COMMUNISM :How Will We Achieve and Maintain Economic Equality?
Millions upon millions of workers and youth have been pouring into the streets in a series of megamarches for immigrant rights in large and small cities across the country. The working-class immigrants participating in these demonstrations honestly want to fight the racism they suffer in their daily lives in jobs that treat them like semi-slaves. But the leaders and organizers of these marches have something very different in mind.
The ruling class needs millions more troops to act as an oil-protecting army and millions of low-wage workers to produce the weapons of war in super-exploitative factories (and now Iran is on their hit list). They see these 12 million immigrant workers and youth as a huge source to fill their needs. So the liberal Democrats Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Charlie Rangel, Al Sharpton, LA Mayor Villaraigosa along with the Catholic Church, the corporate-supported Spanish-language media and union misleaders and even right-wing Republicans like John McCain who have spoken at and supported these marches are building this movement to spread pro-war patriotism (waving American flags, shouting "USA, USA." They want to create illusions that somehow theyre less racist than the gutter racists like Sensenbrenner and the Minutemen. The only difference between these liberals and the gutter variety is over how to best super-exploit immigrant workers and use their youth as cannon fodder in the endless imperialist wars they are planning.
These liberal rulers need pro-fascist social control of this work-force and their youth, which is why theyre backing the McCain-Kennedy bill which would put the millions of undocumented workers in a state of indentured servitude and to not "make trouble" for 11 years in order to become citizens. Deportation will be hanging over their heads for over a decade.
The liberals are more dangerous precisely because many workers and youth think they are their friends. But workers and youth must understand the hard lesson that if you rely on "lesser-evil" bosses to lead our battles, we will end up dying for them.
PLPers were able to bring revolutionary, anti-racist, working-class politics to these workers, distributing tens of thousands of leaflets and CHALLENGES. We must do much more to win these and all workers away from the deadly illusions of relying on their exploiters. (See reports on our different activities in various articles in this issue.)
CALIFORNIA, April 9 On March 25, millions of workers and youth marched against the proposed HR4437 anti-immigrant bill. Two days later, tens of thousands of students walked out of school. Responding to this, the Schools Superintendent urged teachers to organize teach-ins about immigration reform and about students rights and responsibilities, although what he really wanted was to forestall another walkout. At many schools, teachers took this seriously and organized teach-ins. The following is a report about one of them.
As we entered, we saw a slide show with comments like, "Do you really know why youre walking out?" "An injury to one is an injury to all." And, "How can building a wall bring us together?" interspersed with photos of past student walkouts, including those here on March 27.
The bosses mass media try to pit black workers against immigrants, blaming immigrants for higher unemployment in the black community. This assembly, organized by a group of mostly young teachers, black, Latino and white, placed immigration in a broader context. Pictures, movies and photos showed past student struggles, in the civil rights movement in the South, in the Chicano blowouts of 1968 and other student movements internationally.
The bosses try to limit immigration as just an "Hispanic issue." We watched a video clip showing African immigrants crossing into Spain. Someone said that as long as colonialism, imperialism, racism and capitalism exist, workers will migrate to places where they can survive. The immigrant in the video, risking his life searching for a better life, said he didnt see himself as "illegal," but that the world is for all of us. Many students echoed his sentiments.
In two assemblies, a lawyer talked about students rights and how they would defend students who got tickets for walking out. Part of the assembly discussed the bills before Congress and explained about how the "lesser evil" McCain-Kennedy Bill would create a new bracero program, allowing immigrants into the U.S. temporarily, with no rights its "long road" to legalization is more illusion than reality. They also analyzed the Dream Act which uses patriotism to push immigrant youth into the military.
The student comments were the most exciting part. Those who had walked out and marched downtown said it was their social responsibility, responding to the famous remark by Martin Niemoller, "First they came for the communist, I did nothing because I wasnt a communist. . . .Then they came for me and there was no one left." One student said she had stuck up for a special-needs student facing attack by two other students, and linked it to the need for solidarity against all attacks.
This became one of the main themes of the debate how does the working class improve its situation? Some students said they had to look out for themselves, that an education is the only way to get ahead. Others declared that its not enough to look out for yourself, that you have to fight for the working class. Students said they marched for their parents, who work their fingers to the bone.
About three-fourths of the students are Latino and one-fourth African American. Many are immigrants or the children of immigrants. A growing number are Afro-Belizeans. Some African American students repeated the bosses propaganda that blames immigrants for unemployment or overcrowding. But many more said its important that black and Latino students stick together against racism: "We all live in the same community. We all go to school together. We have to stick together to fight for a better life for all of us." Several students said its important for the whole working class to stick together and fight these racist attacks.
When some students attacked those who marched and demonstrated, saying their only responsibility was to get an education and get ahead, another responded by declaring she was proud to have helped leaflet with PLP in the big march downtown. Still another said, "As the youth of the working class, we have a responsibility to continue fighting and not be discouraged by the principals or the police or any consequences that would make us not want to fight in the future." She invited everyone to march on May Day.
This assembly will help all those involved to take more seriously the need to fight against racist attacks on immigrants and all workers. It will help our PLP club build for a great May Day, to help our class organize for revolution in the face of the bosses growing racism and plans for wider imperialist wars.
NEW YORK, April 1 Tens of thousands of immigrant workers marched today across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the racist Sensenbrenner Bill (HR4437), which criminalizes undocumented immigrants and those who help them. PLPers also marched, giving political class content to some chants, changing "The People United Will Never Be Defeated" to "Workers United;" and "Un Pueblo Callado No Será Escuchado" ("a Quiet People Will Never Be Heard") to "Quiet Workers Will Never Be Heard"). We also chanted "Las Luchas Obreras No Tienen Fronteras" ("Workers Struggles Have No Borders") among others. We also distributed 14,000 leaflets and 1,000 CHALLENGES.
Our multi-racial group provided a small antidote to the rotten nationalist politics of the Democratic Party hacks (Charles Rangel, Adolfo Carrión, Guillermo Linares, Nydia Velasquez, etc.) and the religious tone of some of the church leaders who organized the march (like conservative Democratic Party hack Rev. Ruben Diaz). We also called on workers to march with PLP on May Day, the international working-class day.
While the march showed the anger of millions of immigrant workers nationwide who want their dignity respected for the hard work they do (at very low pay), it mainly reflected illusions many of these workers have. The leadership pushed the politics of U.S. patriotism ("were all Americans"). Some banners read, "We Are Not Terrorists," insinuating anti-Arab racism. This is exactly what the McCain-Kennedy alternative Senate bill means: win immigrant workers to be docile servants of the main wing of the ruling class which needs them as cheap labor and cannon fodder in their endless imperialist wars.
The march consisted mainly of newly-arrived immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries. The lack of multi-racial unity was visible. There were small contingents of Asians and black English-speaking Caribbean immigrants, and a very small presence of Dominican and Puerto Rican workers, with South Asian taxi drivers honking support while the marchers crossed the bridge. But the 50,000 undocumented Irish workers in the NYC metropolitan area were missing, along with the many Haitian workers. The unions did nothing to mobilize their multi-racial membership. This lack of multi-racial unity played into the hands of the gutter racists like Sensenbrenner and the Minutemen, as well as the racists in the mainstream of the U.S. ruling class.
Our revolutionary communist politics must make a bigger inroad among these anti-racist marchers and among all workers, to break the hold these liberal and not-so-liberal racists have on these marches.
By forcing Tom DeLay (Republican Congressman from Texas and former Majority Leader) to resign from Congress last week, the liberal Establishment weakened a serious hindrance to its war agenda. While the media focus on his shady deals with lobbyists and fundraisers, DeLays most grievous sin was obstructing U.S. imperialism.
To finance ever-widening military efforts, U.S. rulers require significant monetary sacrifice from all capitalists (in addition to the sacrifice of workers blood). DeLay, however, represented business interests just beginning to acquire wealth and power and thus unwilling to part with a penny of their profit for any reason. DeLay, himself the founder of an exterminating firm, championed tax cuts benefiting upstart bosses.
Dubbed "the Hammer," DeLay fought ruthlessly to slash taxes on capital gains (quick profits) and eliminate the estate tax. Whacking him hamstrings the petty capitalist voter base that helped put Bush in the White House and to which he still panders.
Following the Bush-DeLay cuts, federal tax rate trends today are well below 30%. Franklin Roosevelt hiked the top rate over 90% during World War II. Liberal imperialist JFK kept it there. With the Pentagons budget now soaring past a half trillion dollars, DeLays demise will have a big effect on future tax-policy votes.
Having failed to win a constitutional amendment against tax increases in 1998, DeLay spoke out against Clintons bombing of Serbia the next year. His faction saw the liberals conducting and planning increasingly costly warfare that would cut into its bottom line. When U.S. ground troops followed the bombers, DeLay became a prime mover in Clintons impeachment.
Three years later, insisting that the second U.S. invasion of Iraq be done as cheaply as possible, DeLay successfully led congressional forces urging early action with only 150,000 troops. The Establishment, including the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations and many top generals, had wanted a longer build-up to a more heavily-armed force of at least 300,000. DeLay is paying dearly for the Iraq fiasco.
DeLay is also atoning for peddling state power to anyone with a big enough checkbook, a practice the rulers can ill afford in wartime. They want the imperialist interests of J.P. Morgan Chase and Exxon Mobil steering the government, not the casino operators implicated along with disgraced DeLay lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Along with cracking down on lobbyists, the Establishment has tightened up campaign financing, to the DeLay factions disadvantage. By courting small-time bosses bearing big bucks, DeLay ran afoul of the McCain-Feingold law that strictly limits contributions by corporations and individuals. Jay Rockefeller had championed this bill in the Senate. Financing from liberal billionaire George Soros greased its passage. The law tilts the electoral balance back in favor of the Establishment, which can use the media, unions and other institutions it controls to push its candidates.
Hypocrisy hangs thick around McCain-Feingold. Rockefellers have personally purchased high offices ranging from the governorship of Arkansas to a West Virginia senate seat to the vice-presidency. U.S. Rockefeller wealth and influence has catapulted into power countless family protégés, like Kissinger, Carter and Clinton. Soros imperialist Open Society foundation has bankrolled pro-U.S. election candidates internationally, from Poland to the Ukraine.
The DeLay scandal forms part of a more general ruling-class housecleaning in Washington. Conservative Josh Bolten, a former executive at ultra-Establishment Goldman Sachs, has replaced Andrew Card as White House chief of staff. Treasury secretary Snow is thinking of quitting. Leading waiters-in-the-wings are bankers from you guessed it Goldman Sachs. Liberal Democrats, including a large contingent of militaristic veterans, are confident they can unseat DeLay-style conservatives in Novembers congressional elections.
Emboldened liberals, says the Washington Post (4/5/06) "are doing the rain dance, whooping it up, high-fiving, backslapping, spiking the ball in the end zone. Tom DeLay's announced departure...is practically a national holiday." The New York Times April 5 editorial gloated over "The Fall of the Hammer." But DeLays trouble does not do the working class much good. It reflects a concerted effort by the biggest U.S. capitalists to discipline their entire class even as they impose a police state on workers necessary for intensifying (eventually global) military conflicts.
Like Germanys Nazis in the 1930s, U.S. rulers need a war economy and single-minded war politics. We need to build a PLP-led communist movement that can survive this period of growing fascism and lay the groundwork for a wartime revolution.
PASADENA, CA., March 19 "Parsons Profits, People Die Stop the War!" chanted hundreds of area residents marching through the Old Town business district today, marking the third anniversary of the Iraq war. They targeted the Pasadena-based construction and engineering firm Parsons, whose huge contracts in Iraq include building new prisons there. Marchers also targeted the local office of Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff who has consistently voted billions for the war and who co-authored the USA-PATRIOT Act; he regularly gets large campaign contributions from Parsons.
Passers-by eagerly took leaflets and applauded as marchers chanted, "Old Town, Baghdad, New Orleans Stop the Racist War Machine!" Leaflets distributed to the marchers by student members of "Students and Educators to Stop the War" explained that the "war machine" is imperialism; they linked it to the racist "immigration reform" proposals before Congress.
Predictably, media coverage focused on the four candidates running against Schiff who attended the rally. The tension between militant anti-imperialism and electoral politics led to some very good discussions during and after the event about the nature of the system and how to fight it. While many peace activists are still mired in the swamp of liberalism, its clear that many others hunger for the kind of analysis and direction PLP can provide.
QUEENS, NY, March 20 "Today I really felt like we were on the offensive," declared an anti-war CUNY student after PLP members and anti-war activists attacked Janis Karpinski, the commanding general at Abu Ghraib prison during the torture scandal.
Karpinski spoke at a panel on "Women and the Iraq War" sponsored by the Womens Studies program at Queens College. Karpinski, one of the few women generals, took the fall for other officers higher in command and was demoted.
Although this may reflect sexism in the military, it doesnt mean shes innocent. Karpinski worked as a targeter for the bombardments of the Gulf War, and was the first woman to lead U.S. troops in a combat zone. She shares responsibility for the blood of 100,000 civilian Iraqi workers during the current invasion and occupation. She was also in command of 16 other Iraqi prisons. If she was anti-sexist, shed be challenging the beheadings of unveiled Iraqi women by the "coalition forces" the U.S. military has established.
During her talk, some people stood up with signs, one reading, "There Are No Innocent Generals In Imperialist Oil War." Two young PLers disrupted her for several minutes, demanding she take responsibility for her actions and exposed her as a war criminal. They noted that she only publicly exposed the torture of Iraqis after she was demoted, and that most of these jailed "insurgents" are people who simply took a loaf of bread to feed their families or stayed out past curfew. Although some in the audience asked them to quiet down, many others nodded in agreement. As a result, during the question/answer period, some were able to confront her more directly. She actually ended up meagerly condemning the war as "illegal."
Its not often were able to attack these people in this format, when we actually encounter the scum whove committed such abominable crimes. It was important not just because we exposed her to others, but also because we become stronger when we stand up against these criminals. One faculty member who held up a protest sign described it as "transgressive and exhilarating" to confront her. A student who attended the panel is now meeting with a PL study group.
Maybe next time well get to give her a Fascist Of The Year award.
Recently liberal organizers of the March 27 Los Angeles demonstration against HR4437 (Sensenbrenner anti-immigrant bill) announced plans for a follow-up boycott. This campaign to mobilize immigrant workers represents the liberal bosses need to win them, their children and workers in general to their imperialist and increasingly fascist agenda of war and "sacrifice for the good of the nation."
The capitalist media praises this misleading of the working class as the "rebirth of the civil rights movement." This push to win workers minds represents the intensifying contradictions for U.S. capitalists and an aggressive ideological offensive against the working class. While the recent nationwide demonstrations against HR4437 present the threat of workers being won to nationalism and the U.S. imperialist agenda, its also an important opportunity to turn the bosses offensive into a vehicle to spread communist ideas and build the Party now in every area.
Its no accident that the follow-up "Great American Boycott" is set for May 1. We can expect the liberal bosses will continue to try steering immigrants away from our politics and into the military and low-wage factories. U.S. rulers want these demonstrations to emphasize the American flag and citizenship. Thus, they hope to follow Nazi Germanys model of nationalism to mobilize for imperialist war. With the DREAM ACT, the McCain-Kennedy bill, a guest worker program (the "carrots" ) and the threat of the Minutemen and the Sensenbrenner bill (the sticks), the bosses plan to secure this source of cannon fodder and slave labor for their current and inevitable wars. But while the ruling class is keeping the focus of the recent demonstrations mostly patriotic and reformist, its a double edged sword.
The walkouts by 45,000 working-class high school students following the March 25 demonstration provide a good example of how the bosses mobilization of workers can produce unintended consequences, with opportunities to expand the reach of PLP and communist ideas. The students booing and heckling of the mayors attempt to cut their demonstration short telling them to return to school was not in the bosses plans.
Many workers and students are weary of capitalist politicians after years of broken promises, both here and their country of origin. For a large majority of these working-class students, as well as for many of their parents, these walk-outs and demonstrations represent their first conscious political acts. Their enthusiastic responses to CHALLENGE, PLP leaflets, and communist speeches in the streets indicate their revolutionary potential. They havent been won to a clear ideology; theyre among the most exploited members of our class, open to our leadership and winnable to our communist politics over time!
Many of these students will probably soon be in factories one in four manufacturing workers is Latino. The 20% of all "undocumented" workers already in manufacturing are the parents of these students. This movement comprises mostly workers positioned to play a vital role in the rise and triumph of communism. Its in their interest to smash the capitalist system that labels and treats them as "illegals." Cynics said theyd never come out of the shadows to fight, fearing deportation, but capitalism is proving once again that it creates its own grave-diggers.
But what are so many diggers without shovels? These demonstrations prove that the most exploited and oppressed workers will stand up and fight if they believe in the cause. But what will be their cause? This question defines the work PLP faces now. We must put communism onto the table. After all, they cannot fight for a cause they do not know.
How can we do it? First, we need to make CHALLENGE the mass media that gets them into the streets by building our distribution everywhere we can, with our friends and their friends, with our co-workers and their families. We also must continue to find and develop potential leaders, strong organizers who will build the Party; this means patiently finding ways to meet more and more workers, on the job, in the unions, and in some of the reform mass organizations involved in these demonstrations.
We should take advantage of the fact that millions of workers are talking about this issue. We can organize house forums and dinners to discuss immigration with co-workers and friends, exposing the capitalism behind racism and imperialist war. We can organize lunch-hour discussions and anti-racist committees in our factories, schools, churches and barracks.
Such committees could organize workers for the "Great American Boycott" on May 1, or for future demonstrations, dinners, house forums, or lunch-hour discussions mentioned above. There are many creative ways of carrying this out to expand the Party. We should seize this time of political tension and enthusiasm to bring communism to the workers, make new friends for the Party and win those who are already friends to become members.µ
A Red Industrial Worker
(son of immigrant workers)
LODI, CA., April 4 The ruling class is fighting hard for the hearts and minds of the working class here. Theres a "war-on-terror" trial, full FBI racism against the Muslim community, and falling wages and living conditions for immigrants and U.S.-born citizen workers alike. Lodi is part of Californias breadbasket. The battle over which immigration policies will best drive down wages in the fields is playing out in the Republican Congressional primary between current Rep. Richard Pombo (11th District) who voted for the Sensenbrenner bill (HR4437) enforcing outright terror against immigrants and ex-Congressman Pete McClosky who supports the "carrot" approach of the McCain-Kennedy proposals.
These political attacks have provided opportunities to spread class consciousness, anti-racism and internationalism. Communist ideas and practice are alive and well in Lodi.
At the planning meeting for the March against HR 4437, I described the demonstration against the Minutemen and arrests at Garden Grove, CA. A group of students from the University of the Pacific, and some unionists and a few retired union members were present. Eighteen people received the Anti-Racist Legal Defense Fund pamphlet. I discussed all the immigration bills, noting that even the McCain-Kennedy bill was aimed at bosses profiting from controlled, cheap immigrant labor ("guest workers"), with little offered to the workers.
The March 25th anti-racist march in Stockton was impressive and inspiring, uniting us as brothers and sisters. I made and carried on high signs saying, "Las Luchas Obreras no tienen fronteras" (The workers fight has no borders) on one side and "Obreros unidos jamás serán vencidos" ("The workers, united, will never be defeated") on the other.
The people around me were reading the signs and chanting them loudly. On a few occasions when passing restaurant and garden workers standing on the side of the march, the marchers broke into a spirited, "Las luchas obreras no tienen fronteras." The workers on the sidelines thrust their fists in the air and joined the chant. We were comrades; we were getting the message out.
The second chant produced disagreement. My friends an Iranian, a Japanese language professor from Eastern Europe and a local activist and I were chanting, "Obrera/os, unidos, jamás serán vencidos!" Other marchers behind us chanted, "El Pueblo unido jamás será vencido" ("The people, united, will never be defeated") or "La raza unida jamas seran vencido."
In conversations (and in a letter to the local newspaper), I was able to raise international and multi-racial workers unity. Its better to invite WORKERS to join our fight, regardless of background. If youre only inviting "La raza" (Latinos or Mexicans) to unite, youre dividing your forces in trying to win battles against the rulers on the education or healthcare fronts. If youre inviting "El Pueblo" (the people), this could include the exploiters (the oil bosses and the brass who make war in Iraq).
If our ranks are open to all workers (who produce all wealth), we become an invincible anti-racist force. Imagine our ranks swelling if we had had black healthcare and transit workers or Muslim farm workers from Lodi and the San Joaquin Valley, white construction workers and representatives from the oil workers in Iraq or Iran. We all join the Latin workers in OUR fight against all the racist immigration laws, whether carrot or stick, that attack all workers, each and every one of us.
The FBI and local authorities put two Pakistani Lodi men on trial under the racist "Patriot Act." A local newspaper headlined, "Terror Deputy Living in Lodi? FBI informant testifies he often saw al Zawahri at local mosque." This claim was ridiculed by local Pakistani Muslims and even terrorism experts nationwide. "What would he be doing here? Were Pakistani," said shop owner Mohammed Shoaib. "If there were an Egyptian speaking Arabic, somebody would have seen him." Most of the estimated 2,500 Muslims in Lodi speak Urdu or Pashto, two major Pakistani languages." We don't know whats coming next. Maybe he'll say he saw Osama [bin Laden] in Lodi or Stockton."
There are fantastic tales of "training in terrorist camps": "An underground room in a different province of Pakistan where 1,000 masked men, including Americans, fired machine guns, swung curved swords and learned to pole-vault across bodies of water." The FBIs terror campaign in the Muslim community here is using a high-paid informant ($217,000) as its main witness, and "confessions" made with coercion.
One juror, excused after a few weeks, "said outside court that the government had not proved its point and expressed skepticism about an alleged confession that a prosecutor described as the meat of the case. Beyond a reasonable doubt that hasn't been proven." (SF Chronicle, 3\22\06)
The FBI cant even win "hearts and minds" in the ideologically-controlled atmosphere of the courtroom. They may succeed in railroading these two men, but seeds of doubt are everywhere, waiting for communists to harvest them.
SACRAMENTO, CA., March 26 Delegates at the annual convention of the California Federation of Teachers (CTA) got a lesson on the limits of liberal trade-unionism this year. CTA leaders organized a delegate march to the State Capital on March 24 behind State Treasurer Phil Angelides, a Democratic Party candidate for governor, for a thinly-disguised campaign rally. However, they totally ignored a march of thousands of workers for immigrant rights the very next day just a few blocks from the convention hotel. At least a dozen delegates joined this march on their own, but unfortunately no effort was made to organize a CTA contingent.
The CTA leadership typically uses up a lot of convention time promoting and endorsing Democratic Party candidates (and congratulating itself). This year a group of delegates, led by members of U.S. Labor Against the War, challenged the endorsement of incumbent Senator Diane Feinstein and several Democratic congressional representatives mainly because of their ongoing support for the Iraq war. To the leaderships dismay, the convention voted to withhold these endorsements. However, important resolutions on "opposing exploitative immigration reform" and other anti-racist issues were tabled for "lack of time."
CTA events are very "democratic" in form, so its tempting to see them as a chance to "move the organization to the left" through the resolution process. However, the CTA an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers is fundamentally committed to working within the limits of capitalism and its bogus electoral process, which supports current moves for patriotism and wider wars. As members push these limits, the leadership will increasingly push back. For example, when a floor proposal arose to refuse endorsements to ANY candidate who supported the war, the leaders squealed, "We cant do that!" and made sure it failed.
CHALLENGE readers who attend such conventions need to prepare more carefully to bring aspects of PLPs analysis to other delegates, and to mobilize action around them. This opportunity exists every day at our own schools and campuses. Its important for more people to be reading the paper; the potential for this exists.
If the union leaders reformism goes unchallenged, it consigns millions to a future of murderous imperialist war and racist exploitation. However, anti-war and anti-racist activists who read CHALLENGE can constitute the basis for a mass fight to destroy the war-makers with communist revolution.
HYATTSVILLE, MD, April 10 As millions march to fight national anti-immigrant laws, a fight has begun against a local version of xenophobia (fear of foreigners) in Hyattsville, an inner-suburban town outside Washington, D.C. The Hyattsville City Council, with visions of transforming the city into a yuppie-style "historic district," is trying to implement an "overcrowding" ordinance to prevent unrelated people from living together. The unspoken goal is to reduce the towns growing Latino and African population by forcing unrelated roomers out of houses.
For six years, the multi-racial "Bridging Cultural Gaps" book club has met here and has taken up this issue. Club members have met with other residents, distributed hundreds of leaflets, and built opposition to the law at public hearings in every ward. The book club members are regular CHALLENGE readers and have discussed PLPs ideas for years. Some will march on May Day.
Thirty years ago, Hyattsville was composed of white working-class families. It has become increasingly diverse with Africans, Latinos, black Americans and yuppies moving in, the former two groups often with large extended families and social networks. Yuppies control the City Council. They tried to pass this law under the radar screen, but word got out, and in January angry residents came to the required public hearing and denounced the bill. One worker took the floor to say that if it got passed, it would bring the Minuteman and she didnt want that!
Now it appears that even the local newspaper is reporting that the Minutemen in Prince George's County are planning to expand into Hyattsville. One resident declared, "You warned us about this in January, and it's true!"
The book club invited CASA (Central American Solidarity and Assistance) of Maryland, which has played a big role in mobilizing the immigrant demonstrations, to help, but their organizer has done little, so the book club will continue to take the fight to the Council. The club is circulating a petition and leaflet demanding the City Council withdraw the bill. It must pass the bill a second time to become law, but people are determined to stop it by relying on Hyattsvilles multi-racial working class.
Last year, the City Council in Manassas, Virginia, passed a similar law, but was forced to withdraw it under fire from the local residents and an ACLU threat to file a lawsuit. In nearby Herndon, Virginia, there continues to be a big fight over a day-laborer center. The Herndon City Council established one despite efforts by the Minuteman chapter to stop it. But they continue to harass the day laborers. The Minutemen have recently expanded into Maryland and are harassing day laborers in Silver Spring, Maryland. Theyre planning to start actions in Langley Park in Prince Georges County and will doubtless start action in Hyattsville if this bill passes.
By taking on these local racist attacks, the PLP can build a base in unions and communities to roll them back, and from this process build international, multi-racial unity. Thats the foundation to win the political leadership of these workers away from the liberals and nationalist misleaders who channel their anger into the agenda of endless Wars and Fascism.
Workers read CHALLENGE during march in Costa Mesa on April 1st. When union leaders led the chant "USA, USA!," others answered "Las luchas obreras no tienen fronteras" (Workers struggles have no borders) While Teamster Union leaders tried to keep them from speaking, nonetheless others (who we didnt know) spoke attacking imperialism and the McCain-Kennedy bill as well as the Sensenbrenner bill. Many workers eagerly bought CHALLENGE.
PARIS, April 10 Workers and students in France won one of their main demands today when Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced that the CPE provision of the "law on equal opportunity" would be replaced with measures "to help minority youth get jobs." The CPE would have allowed bosses to fire young workers for no reason during a 24-month trial period.
This partial, temporary victory was achieved through active worker-student unity and militant direct action. It also has a distinct anti-racist character. Despite its "equal opportunity" name, the law is distinctly racist. The Movement against racism and for friendship among peoples (MRAP) said that both the CPE law and lowering the age of apprenticeship to 15 are intended to shunt minority youth into dead-end jobs. Virulently racist policies like this ooze from the capitalist system, because the bosses make super-profits both from the super-exploitation of minority workers and from the way this super-exploitation drags down wages for all workers.
The anti-CPE movement began on the mostly-white campuses, but in recent weeks increasing numbers of minority youth from the housing projects began joining the demonstrations. They were March marshals in the April 4 demonstration in Paris. This growing unity was one of the elements forcing the government to back down.
Student-worker unity was also a big factor. It put over 2.5 million protestors into the streets on April 4 only because of widespread worker support. More workers were joining the movement. The chief editor of the bosses newspaper France Soir observed that union leaders were prisoners of the rank and file, who wouldnt allow them to cut a deal.
Student protest escalated, aimed at disrupting the economy. Highways and railroads were temporarily blocked in dozens of cities, as were two seaports, and Orly airport in Paris. The head of the French bosses association squealed that the student actions, combined with the effects of the November revolt in the housing projects, were endangering the French economy.
Students actively sought worker support, especially from the rank and file. They leafleted the Peugeot-Citroen factory in Saint Ouen. In Toulouse, 200 students demonstrated at a shopping center to protest the insecurity of part-time supermarket workers. And workers responded warmly.
Workers and students united to blockade the Airbus factory in Toulouse. On April 8 in Rennes, students blocked access to the Rennes-St. Jacques postal sorting station. When the police charged and violently dispersed the students, the postal workers walked off the job in a show of solidarity. The bosses media could hardly find a car driver or train passenger willing to condemn the disruptions.
The eight-week long struggle was inspiring youth and workers throughout Europe. Dozens of European trade unions sent solidarity messages to their French counterparts. French embassies were picketed as far away as Buenos Aires, Argentina.
But the bosses and their government see these events only as a temporary defeat. Capitalists here need more worker insecurity (the call it "job flexibility") to compete with their worldwide rivals.
But the only way for workers and students to win a real victory will be to break with the fake "leftists" and union hacks and turn the struggle into a school for revolutionary communism.
Both the unions and the student movement here emphasize that this reform struggle is not over. The CPE decree still allows small businesses to fire workers of all ages for no reason during the trial period. Students across France voted today to continue blockading their campuses until the government withdraws the whole law.
President Jacques Chirac looked ridiculous by simultaneously promoting the law while telling the government not to enforce it. The right-wing UMP party tried to get the student and trade unions to sell out in closed negotiations. In the face of rank-and-file multi-racial unity and worker-student unity, it failed.
Workers and young people in France learned and showed the world that the bosses attacks can be challenged. Now its necessary to develop communist leadership for the real victory, to destroy the bosses system.
MUNSTER, INDIANA, March 25 About 35 black, Latino, Asian and white students and workers from Chicago and Indiana mounted a militant protest against the racist "IFIRE" organization, an Indiana affiliate of the racist, anti-immigrant Minutemen. IFIRE has been protesting a local banks giving loans to all qualified borrowers, which includes immigrant workers without official immigration documents. The anti-racists drew participants from a local Catholic church, students and workers from Chicago, including PLP members, and students from Indiana colleges. Our militant counter-protest completely neutralized the racists.
Most of the time we circled them with our signs, our chanting drowning out their message, distributing flyers exposing their racism while calling for working-class unity. A scuffle broke out over a racist sign one of the IFIRE group was waving. He charged into the middle of our group and assaulted an anti-racist. Big mistake! After warning him several times to stop, the scuffle ended with him on the ground and getting treated for "cuts and bruises" by an ambulance crew.
But the importance of our protest goes beyond one racist getting what he deserved. The 35 anti-racists got to see just how racist these anti-immigration groups really are. IFIREs website and literature claim "Its not about race," but their language was viciously racist against Latino and black working-class people. After the event a local campus group received a threatening e-mail from one of the IFIRE members filled with racism against black people. It linked to a neo-Nazi website with a cartoon joking about a black man being shot in the head.
The anti-immigrant forces are not "about jobs" but about racism. These groups are allied with hard-core Nazis and use this issue to expand their fascist base. The biggest Nazis, the liberal super-rich capitalists, will use these groups to attack all workers as their crisis worsens.
In addition, many of our anti-racist protestors for the first time in their lives participated in a face-to-face militant protest against fascists. It was an important experience in training our forces for bigger battles to come on the road to communist revolution.
This process is putting theory into practice; it is one of building multi-racial unity, including between black and Latino workers. The capitalist media is working overtime to try to turn us against each other in every possible way. It is also a process of building trust, of learning to organize and of actually fighting back. The demonstration accomplished all this and strengthened the anti-racist movement and the PLP.
Were all enthusiastic about organizing similar actions and expanding our movement by bringing a large group to our May Day celebration this month. We must and will combine long-term base-building, militant action and careful organization to forge a revolutionary communist movement to destroy forever this capitalist system of racism and war.
In last issues article, we noted that Russias ruling class was not the first in history to commit political suicide when it allowed the former Soviet Union to implode. The old state capitalist system that ruled there was not useful for the Russian bosses. They needed to eliminate whatever gains Soviet workers had retained from the communist-led era. After Yeltsin and his mafia almost blew away the new plan, becoming a servile lackey of the U.S., Putin and his gang took power and began turning things around.
Russia still has a lot of problems a declining population, turmoil in Chechnya and so on. But in recent years the Russian economy has significantly recovered: registering budgetary surpluses for five consecutive years, accumulating foreign-currency reserves of $180 billion, making its debt repayments ahead of schedule and beginning to integrate into the world capitalist economy.
Accompanied by an entourage of 1,000, on March 21-22 President Vladimir Putin visited China to launch "The Year of Russia In China," signing about 30 mainly economic agreements. China looks to Russia for supplies of arms along with oil and gas to fuel Chinas rapidly expanding economy.
After meeting with his counterpart, Hu Jintao, Putin said a new gas pipeline system the Altai could be built to deliver gas from western Siberia to China. Another system would deliver gas from eastern Siberia, altogether totaling 80 billion cubic meters annually.
Russia has the worlds largest natural gas reserves and is the second largest producer of oil. It now supplies only 5% of Chinas oil imports. The pipeline deal will enable China to achieve its target of doubling the proportion of gas in its total energy consumption in four years.
India is a key part of the U.S. bosses plan to weaken Chinas growing power in Asia, so Beijing and Moscow are also trying to use their energy resources to woo India away from U.S. bosses. Last year, India was granted observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) of Central Asian states (dominated by China and Russia). An SCO meeting held in Kazhastan last year gave the U.S. a deadline to close its Central Asian military bases.
Last year, for the first time in many decades China and Russia held joint military exercises on Chinas coast, as a warning to Taiwans rulers; Beijing still considers Taiwan part of China. Russia and China plan similar exercises next year on Russias southern border (the Caucasus).
As stated in the last issue of CHALLENGE, U.S. bosses have begun to react against Russia and China with what many are calling a New Cold War. So 16 years after the implosion of the Soviet Union, the "peace era" championed by many apologists for world capitalism has turned into endless wars, from Iraq to Afghanistan to the Congo to the Balkans to the Caucasus. The super-exploitation of workers worldwide has increased.
We in PLP must redouble our efforts to show workers and youth that as long as capitalism exists, "peace" means death and wars for workers. The only road out of this imperialist hell is to rebuild the international communist movement and fight for a world without any bosses, from Beijing to Washington to New Delhi to Moscow.
The letter on "Developing Writers for Challenge" did exactly what it talked about doing: helping workers from all countries realize that the struggle for communism is international. It also explained the importance of writing about our struggles so we all can learn from them.
Ive been struggling with my co-worker, Chris, about reading the paper. Hes been receiving it for a while but I had a hunch that he wasnt really reading it. So I tried something new. An article from our Salvadoran comrades seemed like the perfect thing to show him. When I asked him what he thought, he asked, "They have this over there?" I said, "Yeah, were in a lot of countries. In different languages, too." Ive told Chris that before, but until he actually read it in the paper, it never really set in.
Writing for the paper is essential, just as our comrade said, not only because it helps other workers realize the struggle for communism is international but also because it helps us become better communists by writing about our activities and therefore better understanding them.
The way we write for the paper is also important. Im glad to have seen these comrades writing more because Chris and I thought the style was very good. We hope to see more articles like this in the future.
A Red industrial worker
Concerning the column on how children will be raised under communism (CHALLENGE, 3/15), the author contends that capitalism teaches children to enjoy fantasy and that under communism children will be taught about the objective world. I dont think reading fantasy is bad. I believe it helps children develop their imagination. My nephews are big fans of the Harry Potter books, which is not all that bad.
Some fascist Christians claim these fantasies teach magic and witchcraft. But most young people who read fantasy understand its just that fantasy. I myself read fantasy novels and watch the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films.
Actually I was the only working puppeteer in the coal fields for years and have had a lot of experience entertaining children. My show, "The Wacky Woods Puppet Theatre," played in elementary schools, church festivals, Christmas and birthday parties, womens shelters, hospitals and a detention home. It was based on fantasy with a message and also relied on, and encouraged, the childrens participation. Most of my hand puppets were animals but I also had two witches. I wrote the story of many of my shows but also did "Hansel and Gretel" and Dickens "Christmas Carol."
I often thought puppeteering would be my job preference in a communist society. I would base my shows on fantasy with a good message, such as the need for cooperation, anti-racism or respect for handicapped people. I really love to entertain children; they make the best audience and are so enthusiastic about it all.
I think fairy tales will always be around. Perhaps new ones will emerge and children will enjoy them. Other than that, I thought the column made good points.
CHALLLENGE COMMENT The editors of the UNDER COMMUNISM column respond: We agree in general with the writer and apologize for putting down fantasy without qualification. This was partly a reaction to particular fantasies, such as the get-rich-quick of Cinderella and the underlying racism of The Lion King, etc. Fantasy and imaginative play among children has a useful role in childrens learning about the real world and about relationships. It can also have a useful role among adults, if only for relaxation and recuperation. Its mainly when fantasy is presented as reality or contains racist, sexist or patriotic (nationalist) messages that it harms the working class children and adults alike.
As CHALLENGE said in response to my letter, "Selling Communism," (3/15), whats needed most of all is for more readers writing what they think communism is. Ive tried to promote this discussion. Frankly, I feel a little over my head and want to know what others think.
As CHALLENGE says, organizing must be focused around industrial workers and the military, and that allowing the capitalists to continue taking more and more surplus value (in the form of reduced wages, benefits and jobs) without a fight would be disastrous. Im not for abandoning industrial concentrations or for not fighting layoffs. I am suggesting that agitation be more deliberately aimed at creating communist consciousness and a spirit of internationalism. "From each according to commitment, to each according to need" should be primary everywhere in political work. As CHALLENGE has written numerous times, revolutionary ideas wont just grow spontaneously.
I think it was important that CHALLENGEs response clarified how bad things are for most U.S. workers. I kind of overlooked that, though I completely agree, in the course of describing how bad things are for others worldwide. However, in no way did I try to say that U.S. workers, or any other workers, benefit from imperialist war. Thats a big leap from saying that we must do more on behalf of others, or that some of us are spoiled.
However, my generation grew up in the post-WW II era learning that we should not, as a class, stand idly by while others are attacked, wherever and whenever. This doesnt mean that PLP is not trying to arouse us to stand up to the capitalists, which it is and always has. It just means that, in my opinion, we could encourage a different emphasis in regard to internationalism, stressing an all-for-one-one-for-all loyalty that is sorely lacking in the world.
I did not say that communists would just appear out of the blue. I agree totally that cold-blooded, careful, long-term, professional planning and assessment is the only way to recruit a mass and invincible revolutionary party, if thats whats being suggested.
Today, in a capitalist society so horrendously sexist and degenerate that the song "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas is regarded as merely the latest straw in a field of poisonous wheat, a little of cultural anti-sexism manages to squeeze through. Compared to the constant objectification of women thats a centerpiece of most music videos, this years February single by Pink, entitled "Stupid Girls," is a badly-needed breath of fresh air.
"Stupid Girls" is not what its title might seem. Pink is not calling women and girls stupid; shes calling the sexist, superficial society surrounding them stupid. The video opens with an impressionable little girl sitting in a TV recliner, while in the ether around her an angel appears by one side of her head, a devil on the other. The girl switches on the TV, and the video shows us whats wrong with societys treatment and portrayal of women. This is pretty daring for a mainstream music video.
At the videos conclusion, the "devil" element, presumed to have been advocating all of the above, is vanquished by the angel. Ultimately, the little girl decides that instead of playing with dolls, shell play football and learn music, rejecting the other sexist elements.
The song is not much more than an indictment of superficiality. Instead of advocating the collective unity of workers to fight sexism, it follows the dominant line of individualism, only this time its in the form of "independence" from "stupid things" and concentration on a career, on deeper personal fulfillment and on developing intelligence. These goals dont challenge the system. You can be an individualist and still believe them. In fact, Pinks song is in many ways akin to the many forms of ethnic nationalism that also recognize the awful superficiality of capitalist culture, but approach the solution on an idealist "get-back-to-your roots" level.
Still, this single is a mainstream example of even a moderately anti-sexist message, and perhaps just as importantly, a pop tune that briefly made it into the Top 20 as well as produced a pretty well-done video meaning it has been, and will be seen by a wide variety of people, including, most likely, many of the working-class people we want to recruit to PLP.
I invited some fellow workers to the march, Asian workers who speak Spanish. We translated some signs from Spanish into mandarin Chinese, saying, "Asian, Latin, Black and White, Workers of the World Unite." We've known these workers for several years and today was a great opportunity to develop a sharper political struggle with them.
I also won my brother's respect who's opposed my political ideas. I was greatly surprised that he was organizing his co-workers. He called to ask me for leaflets which we passed out at his shop. Several of his co-workers went with us to the march. The consistent work over several years brought good results.
Since then we've discussed the actions. I'm learning that political struggles always have some positive results. Soon we'll meet to plan to get even closer to these and other Asian workers.
PLP garment worker
I was impressed with the number of people at this march. I had never been in something like this. My group totaled 12 people. It was important that they are part of my communist political base.
Among the signs we made the most popular said, "Workers United will never be defeated." Our group led chants like "Las luchas obreras no tienen fronteras" (Workers' struggles have no borders.)
It's three days after the march and I'm still in shock at the responsibility I took. For the first time I led a group by myself. When I arrived at our meeting place, there were about 30 people who came from a leaflet handed out by a group of garment workers. First I wanted to leave, but instead I welcomed everyone and gave a speech about why workers are forced to immigrate, distributing a few leaflets and practicing a few chants.
Then our group rode a public bus to Los Angeles. On the bus were more workers headed to the march. I gave them leaflets and talked about the march.
At the march many things happened that caused me to think revolution is possible. The workers saw each other as class brothers and sisters, helping each other with children, sharing water and food. We tried to stay and shout the same chants together. The most surprising thing was the reaction of the people.
On our return ride, we chanted "Long live the Workers of the World!" and people chanted back, "Que vivan!" With a lot of mutual confidence people were inviting others to dinner. There were fellow workers from China on the bus, with signs written in Chinese saying, "Asian, Latin, black and white, workers of the world, unite!" I invited them to May Day.
Today is a great day to be immigrants! Better still, to be a member of PLP!
This march in LA on March 25 has been an emotional day of personal and community growth with so many people united to demonstrate against the fascist anti-immigrant laws! Today all the immigrants of the world, with our politics, were represented here, when immigrants in the U.S. confront the world's most powerful and fascist bosses.
It was very inspiring to witness the masses' anger, going beyond the bosses' leadership. The call was for 10:00 AM but people started arriving the night before. By 8 AM 100,000 people were assembled.
At other times our club, friends and families have participated as a group, but this time every member gave leadership in his or her community. This was an important step for personal leadership development. Generally as a group, we tend to depend on decision-making by one or two people. But this time each of us put into practice what we've learned and took leadership, even if previously we doubted our ability to do so. We're leaders of PLP who know that the truth of the working class is universal. A leader who has the truth on his/her side will always find support for slogans that advance working-class struggle, like "Workers of the world, unite!"; "La Clase obrera no tiene frontera" ("The working class has no borders"); "The workers united will never be defeated." These truths unite and invite class struggle. Today we gave leadership to massive groups of immigrant workers who easily identified with other workers in their same struggle.
Today, although alone, we went as leaders and more than ever as PLP members who moved many workers to the line of class struggle we proclaimed.Congratulations to immigrant workers! To Workers of the world! To PLP!
CHALLENGE comments: The comrade's enthusiasm and actions are inspiring. A note of caution, however. While immigrants marched against racism, some of the most powerful and fascist bosses in the world are encouraging these marches for their own imperialist ends. Along with uniting with angry workers in struggle, we need to warn them of the plans of the biggest imperialists who are actually calling for more of these marches. Of course, their slogans are "si se puede" ("Yes, we can do it") reform capitalism and "USA! USA!" At our actions, we need to explain what these bosses and their friends in the media, including the Spanish-language media, have in mind.
Its been 30 years since the first class action sexual harassment case and the same super-exploitation of workers still exists. The bosses use racism, sexism and nationalism to divide workers and weaken their ability to fight back. "North Country," recently released on DVD, starring Charlize Theron as Josey, follows the true story of Lois Jenson, a leader in the fight against sexism in Minnesotas coal mines. The movie traces her exodus away from an abusive husband, to her parents house in a mining town. Against her coal miner fathers wishes, Josey gets a job at the mine.
There shes confronted with sexist co-workers. The hostility towards the women miners takes the form of numerous acts of harassment and even sexual assault. When Josey challenges the boss about the situation, shes fired. She takes her case to court and pleads for support from her female co-workers. The movie ends with an emotional courtroom scene in which Joseys family and both female and male co-workers stand up for her.
Capitalism creates the sexism that Josey and many other women face. In the movie, this manifests itself through the special oppression of women workers, abusive personal relationships and harassment at the workplace. The capitalist need for maximum profits drives the bosses to super-exploit some workers to isolate them from the rest. They do this also by driving down wages of some workers which impels other bosses to follow suit to compete.
In the movie, the women were divided from the men and paid less. This leads the men to react with, "They are taking our jobs." In 1975, the time of the Lois Jenson story, when jobs in Minnesota mines became scarce, hostility towards women worsened, blaming them for job cuts.
Josey experienced sexism all her life raped at 16 by her high school teacher, later beaten by her husband and then harassed on the job. Abuse is used to terrorize women and prevent them from becoming powerful working-class leaders. In Joseys case, it prevented her from connecting with her father, one of her co-workers. Josey, like the women employed in sweatshops at the border (maquiladoras), was degraded by being forced to get a pregnancy test as a job requirement. The bosses dont want to hire pregnant women.
In "North Country," the bosses use sexism to divide the workers, just as they use racist deportations and nationalism to divide immigrant and citizen workers. Similar to the current "solution" offered immigrant workers, the movie says reliance on the capitalist government and the courts will somehow eliminate racism and sexism.
Joseys lawyer disagreed with her desire to take the boss to court, saying, "Its an illusion to think all your problems will be solved in the courtroom; the reality is even when you win you dont win." Similarly, even if workers defeat the anti-immigrant bills, the bosses will still use racism and terror to weaken the working class and divide it to stop a united fight against our true enemy, capitalism.
In the final courtroom scene, Joseys lawyer says, "What are you supposed to do when the ones with all the power [the bosses] are hurting the ones with none .You stand up and tell the truth, you stand up and help your friends; even if youre all alone, you stand up."
The workers certainly have great potential power, but we must organize with other workers to stand up together against the bosses. CHALLENGE is our truth and we need to share it with the rest of the working class. The worlds workers are our friends; we must stand up and fight with them for communism!
Liberal author says layoffs terrible, but
The layoff, Mr. Uchitelle argues, has transformed the nation. At least 30 million full-time American employees have gotten pink slips since the Labor Department belatedly started to count them in 1984. But add in the early retires, the "quits" who saw the layoffs coming, and the number is much higher .To Mr. Uchitelle, layoffs in one way are worse than the unemployment of the 1930s. At least then, most of the jobless came back to better-paid, more secure jobs. Those laid off in our time almost never will .
The heart of Mr. Uchitelles book is his detailed, wide-ranging reporting. He is present, taking notes, while .One mechanic ends up running a water taxi for tourists. Another goes into maintenance. Others find jobs "throwing boxes" at Federal Express .
It nettles Mr. Uchitelle that even the center-left politicians have said so little about this trend or have done so little to stop layoffs .Mr. Uchitelle particularly blames Mr. Clinton .
In this retelling of American history, Mr. Uchitelle is baffled by the collapse of any serious resistance to these mass layoffs .
Still, in a brief concluding chapter, it is unclear whether Mr. Uchitelle sees any good solutions now (NYT, 3/29)
Sellouts didnt work: GM jobs down 75%
What if you could go back in time and show union workers and leaders that since 1985, the number of hourly factory workers at G.M.s American plants would fall to just 113,000 from 457,000?....
Giving new meaning to the term "labor-management cooperation," union leaders and General Motors executives joined forces years ago. However unwittingly, they have been working hand in glove ever since to wreck the place. Bringing G.M, to its knees is a big job, after all, and neither side could have done it alone .Its enough to make you wonder if we might have been better off with more old-fashioned labor strife. (NYT, 4/2)
US paid Latino thug to fight communism
A Judge in Miami found a former Honduran Army colonel responsible for killings and kidnappings in Honduras during the 1980s and ordered him to pay $47 million to several torture victims and surviving relatives of the dead. Judge Joan A. Lenard found that the colonel, Juan López Grijalba, served as chief of an intelligence unit known as Battalion 3-16, which received money and training from the United States. The unit, organized as part of the Reagan adminstrations effort to stop the spread of Communism in Central America, was responsible for systematic abuses against civilians suspected as subversives. (NYT)
US-Euro imperialists trap Africa in poverty
To the Editor:
The World Bank, controlled by its United States and European majority, helps trap Africa in its low-growth role as exporter of raw materials, and the worst poverty is found in refugee camps created by civil wars against thugs who were armed and aided in return for cooperation with American military, covert and mineral operations: Savimbi in Angola, Mobutu in the Congo, Doe in Liberia, Barre in Somalia and Nimeiry in the Sudan. Todays American aid to regimes that cooperate with the "war on terrorism" plants the seeds for the civil wars, and the poverty, of the future. (Caleb Stewart Rossiter, The writer teaches in the School of International Service, American University) (NYT, 4/2)
GIs go to Canada to escape Iraq service
Hundreds of deserters from the US armed forces have crossed into Canada and are seeking political refugee status arguing that violations of the rules of war in Iraq by the US entitle them to asylum. A decision on a test involving two US servicemen is due shortly and is being watched with interest on both sides of the border. At least 20 others have already applied for asylum and there are an estimated 400 in Canada out of more than 9,000 who have deserted since the conflict started in 2003. (GW, 4/6)
Liberal Mass. health plan will rob workers
To the Editor:
The new health insurance law in Massachusetts is in effect a new tax on what should be as free as public education. It forces individuals, by government decree, to put dollars directly into the pockets of insurance and drug companies and H.M.O.s.
The fear of "socialism," in the form of single-payer health insurance something most working Americans favor is the excuse politicians use to protect the profits of their big business contributors. The so-called compromise touted by Massachusetts legislators shortchanges working people as usual.
That "government subsidies to private insurance plans will allow more of the working poor to buy insurance" is an outrage. People who by definition are poor will be force by law to spend some of their small income on what a civilized society should guarantee them as a right.
Not good enough (NYT, 4/9)
The CHALLENGE series, "Under Communism," has produced a number of instructive, thought-provoking articles. The ones devoted to the forging of communist class consciousness in the heat of class struggle are particularly useful and inspiring.
Among the best are the pieces about the achievements and ordeals of Soviet women pilots in World War II, revolutionary upsurge in post-World War II Poland, and the elimination of syphilis, prostitution and schistosomiasis in China. These stories and the political lessons flowing from them belong to working-class history. Future generations of communists can learn invaluable lessons from them, and the series has made an important contribution by setting the record straight.
However, some of the other articles "How will we eliminate racism?"; "How would disasters from hurricanes like Katrina be avoided?"; "What will prisons be like?"; "What will science be like?"; "Will you have your own toothbrush?"; "How will children be raised?"; "How will we achieve and maintain economic equality" could unwittingly lead to dangerous illusions about the conditions likely to prevail for a long time while the worldwide revolutionary process unfolds.
The objection here is less to the points these articles make than to the ones they dont make. Discussion of the above questions must account for the character of the present period and the strong likelihood that the foreseeable future holds many years of turmoil, war, class struggle and destruction. These are the conditions under which the revolutionary process will unfold and under which masses will be won to communist consciousness and to our Party.
History teaches us that communist revolution occurs in the wake of imperialist war, which produced the Paris Commune, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Chinese Revolution. Even the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution erupted during the so-called "Cold War" and U.S. imperialisms anti-communist aggression in Southeast Asia.
We dont yet fully grasp the implications of this history. The most instructive example for our future organizing should be the two wars the Soviet Union had to fight immediately after the October Revolution in 1917. The first, often called the "Civil War of 1918-24," had an important component of civil war: the former capitalists and Czarists within Russia tried to smash Soviet state power. More pointedly was the support these counter-revolutionaries received from 17 capitalist countries that had just finished fighting each other in World War I. All these capitalists united to invade the fledgling U.S.S.R. and, as Winston Churchill said, to "strangle the infant in its cradle." This "War of Intervention" failed miserably, but it had created enough disease, famine and violence to cause 4.5 million working-class deaths.
The "infant" survived, and the Soviet working class proceeded to build socialism, with all the triumphs and errors our Party has frequently described. The worlds imperialists didnt give up. They allowed and helped a defeated Germany to re-arm with the specific mission of succeeding where the "War of Intervention" had failed. The bosses of Britain, France and the U.S. viewed Hitlers main job as the destruction of Soviet socialism. But Hitler double-crossed his pals, leading to a two-front European war, which overextended the Nazis. Nonetheless, 80% of Hitlers armies were engaged on the "Russian front." The main casualties were 27 million Soviet working-class dead and millions more wounded.
We must remember this history when discussing fighting racism, building a penal system, reacting to natural disaster, distinguishing between individual and social property, raising children, advancing science or promoting economic equality under communism. It will be a long, long time before we can remotely conceive of accomplishing any of these goals, absent periods of raging class struggle and war. This series doesnt explicitly deny this estimate. But it barely mentions it and therefore seriously miscalculates it.
Lets imagine a scenario for revolution in the U.S. Suppose that over the next 10-20 years, U.S. imperialism becomes further embroiled in a military occupation of the Persian Gulf. The bosses will be forced to restore a military draft. The wars will widen, and the destruction and casualties will eventually far surpass even those in Vietnam. The rulers will need a much sharper police-state crackdown domestically. Class struggle will erupt in the teeth of fascist repression. Our Party will learn to recruit and to grow under far more challenging political and physical conditions than we face currently. Simultaneously, antagonisms will drastically sharpen between the U.S. and all other imperialists. These contradictions will lead to armed struggle, eventually pitting U.S. bosses against virtually all the others, led most probably by the Chinese, Russian and European blocs. Its difficult to see how this Third World War could avoid a nuclear confrontation.
We cant predict the timing of this scenario. It may not be imminent, but is on a somewhat distant horizon, and the bet here says its inevitable. But were only discussing the conditions most likely to lead to revolutionary upsurge and the potential seizure of power in the country we now call the U.S.
Suppose the Party recruits millions under these circumstances, during mutiny within the military and revolutionary class struggle on the home front, establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat here. This will occur amid economic devastation and destruction. People will have to learn to share, to fight racism, to punish counter-revolutionaries, to raise children, to advance scientific knowledge, and so on, under wartime conditions that have never prevailed in this country and are likely to last for years.
This period will probably be that long because making revolution and seizing power will be just the first of many arduous challenges. The hardest part will undoubtedly follow. Suppose we succeed under these conditions. How will the bosses of other countries react to Proletarian Dictatorship in the U.S.? History teaches us to expect another, probably far more destructive version of the "War of Intervention" in Russia mentioned above. So we would have to prepare mentally, politically and practically for an era of war, revolution, counter-revolution and international armed struggle against counter-revolution.
None of the questions raised by our series "Under Communism" is irrelevant or unimportant. But we make a dangerous error if we imply that for a very long period ahead, the answers to them will come in any context different from the one sketched out here. As our Party often says, our job is not to warn about peace.
This estimate should not discourage us or make us pessimistic. Communists dont fear the truth, and the truth is that the international class of imperialist rulers will stop at nothing to preserve its rotten, murderous profit system. The truth is also that history confirms the working classs potential to take their best punch and turn it into its opposite. Workers will absorb and act upon the profound revolutionary lessons the CHALLENGE series correctly endorses. However, we must fight hard to shed all illusions about the conditions under which communist consciousness and power will develop. Struggle, sharp struggle, very far into the future, remains the crucible from which a new humanity and a new society will emerge.
Great opportunities await our class and Party. We have the potential to make the most of them, but only if we take full account of the challenges we will face.
Part III of three parts: The Abolition of Money and Wages
"Money is the root of all evil" might better be said, "Money and wages are the roots of all evil."
Money developed as a means of exchange in early markets, where craftspersons or farmers sold their products and then wandered elsewhere in the market to buy food and other things they needed or wanted. This presupposed that each transaction involved equal amounts of value. Money permitted fairness in each exchange. However, simultaneously over time, money lent itself to unequal accumulation by some people at the expense of others.
But Marx discovered one type of transaction in which value was not exchanged equally, namely wages in exchange for labor power. He proved that the exchange value of labor power was different from the exchange value of the product of labor. The value of labor power was determined by the necessities of life that it took to keep the laborer alive and in shape to work every day. The value of the product of labor, on the other hand, was the value of what the laborer produced every day, which in general far exceeded the value of what it took to keep her/him alive and working each day. Marx referred to the difference between the two as "surplus value."
The swindle that Marx unveiled was that the capitalist employer pays the worker wages for her/his labor power and then seizes the product of that labor and sells it, reaping far more than the worker is paid. The difference is the capitalists profit, which is pocketed by the capitalist as pure theft of labor from the worker. The neutral word "profit" hides the underlying theft, and money keeps this robbery invisible.
Commonly, some of this profit is distributed to other capitalists in the form of interest to bankers for loans; to landlords for rent; and to the owners of raw materials or machinery necessary for the original capitalists production. Thus, many capitalists take part in this swindle of the original bosss workers. (For a full explanation of this hidden swindle, see the PLP pamphlet "Political Economy: a Communist Critique of the Wage System," available at www.plp.org.)
If, under communism, people worked for the welfare of the working class as a whole following the principle "from each according to commitment, to each according to need" necessities of life could be distributed without money. Working people could go to a distribution center for food, say, and receive whatever the family needed. Their "payment" over the long term would be in the form of the labor each family contributed to the collective good, whether it be growing food, manufacturing, means of transportation, clothing, houses, etc., or providing some service such as health care, schooling, parks, etc.
Accumulation of money, acquired as wages, foils this collective attitude. PLP has identified the retention of wages in the Soviet Union and China as the chief factor that undermined the political resolve of the working class, focused workers on their own immediate income instead of on the welfare of the collective, maintained the basis for differentials among workers income, weakened their hold on power, and led directly to the return to capitalism. (See PLPs "Road to Revolution IV" for a fuller explanation, available at www.plp.org.)
Today, members of PLP who write and edit CHALLENGE, sell the paper (below cost) at workplaces or in neighborhoods, organize meetings and demonstrations and carry out many other aspects of building a communist party, do so for no money. Under communism, those leading comrades who have to travel or meet frequently to sustain the overall development of society would receive no more than needed to sustain the average working person or comrade.
To summarize this series: (1) capitalism arose through massive theft and genocidal murder and continues these crimes against humanity to this day; (2) the solution to the poverty, starvation, sickness and misery produced by capitalism is collective ownership of productive wealth, not the redistribution of it in small packets; and (3) abolition of money and wages is necessary for the working class to hold on to political power once it is seized through revolution.
Of course, the economic development toward this goal is not automatic even when workers take power. In order to serve the interests of the working class, communists must fight to make these politics the property of the entire working class internationally, and even before the revolution is won.