CHALLENGE, May 10, 2005

Advance the Revolutionary Communist Spirit of May Day

Liberals’ Rumsfeld-Bashing Masks Their Wider War Plans

Drafting Immigrant Workers and Youth

Machinists’ May Day Resolution Builds Anti-Racist Internationalism

Internal Political Struggle Is Primary

Union Misleaders Split On How to Respond To May Day Resolution

Dialectics Show Garment Workers Essence of Liberals’ Attack on Immigrants

Seattle: 20K Workers and Students March Vs Anti-Immigrant Racism

Workers’ Struggles Have No Borders


‘We’re Not Criminals, We’re Workers and We’re International!’

Students Walk Out; Racist Cops Riot; PL’s Ideas Take Hold

Red Flags Trump Nationalist Flags

Don’t Rely on Bosses’ Law to Save Workers

Need More Humor, Youth Stories in CHALLENGE

Column Errs on Wages

Strike-Breaking Boss Takes Transit Workers for A Ride: But Not in His $260, 000 Ferrari

Red Eye On The News

Movie Review: No Good Intentions Behind Imperialist War

Cooperation Comes From Our Struggles, Not Our Genes

Under communism: Will There Be Borders?

Advance the Revolutionary Communist Spirit of May Day

May 1st — May Day — was born in the heroic struggle for the 8-hour day when 350,000 Chicago workers went out on a general strike on May 1, 1886 and shut down the city. At the 1889 meeting of the Second International — a working-class organization patterned after the First International led by Karl Marx, founder of communism — the world’s workers decided to honor the Chicago strikers by mobilizing as "one army, with one flag." May Day had begun. Ever since, with communist leadership, it has symbolized workers’ demands and class interests, united in the fight against, capitalism.

But by the 1950’s, most "communist" parties had abandoned these principles. Union leaders — becoming lieutenants of the bosses — either renounced May Day or stripped it of its revolutionary character.

The Progressive Labor Party, formed in the 1960’s, picked up the red banners of May Day in 1971 in the U.S. and has organized May Day marches throughout the country every year for 35 years, to unite workers around eliminating wage-slavery, racism, sexism, nationalism, and imperialist war, and advancing internationalism, for workers’ power. PLP members and friends organize contingents in May Day marches in many other countries as well.

Capitalism is the source of racist exploitation and wars for profit. We can end this only by fighting to destroy the profit system with communist revolution. May Day represents this aim, marching with the red flag of the international working class.

This year union and "immigrant rights" mis-leaders and the Catholic Church have called for marches on May 1st for "immigration reform." They will be led by the flag of U.S. imperialism, that has slaughtered workers worldwide for 110 years (see Red Eye page 7) on behalf of the profits of U.S. bosses. These ruling-class agents seek to win immigrant workers and all workers to working, fighting, killing and dying for U.S. rulers in their widening wars for world domination against their imperialist challengers.

But we, the working class — workers, students and soldiers, immigrants and citizens the world over — have no stake in the imperialists’ genocidal wars or in their source: capitalist exploitation. We, and only we, who produce all value, have the power to change the world. Not by voting for capitalist politicians or supporting capitalist laws, union hacks’ promises or bosses’ flags, but by organizing workers in the factories and schools and soldiers in the military, by uniting Latino, black, Asian, Arab and white workers to fight for workers’ power, communism.

With communism, workers will fight and produce to meet the needs of our class, not for bosses’ profits. Unlike socialism (which maintained wages and reverted back to capitalism), communism will eliminate wages, bosses, borders and wars for profit. Our principle will be "from each according to commitment, to each according to need."

The bosses are planning wider wars to maintain world domination. We need to build a mass distribution of CHALLENGE newspaper and a mass PLP. The working class needs to organize to turn those wars into class war, to fight for communism. That is the true message for May Day, 2006.

Liberals’ Rumsfeld-Bashing Masks Their Wider War Plans

Many people who rightly hate Bush and his Iraq oil war support recent calls for the firing of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Bush, Rumsfeld & Co. are mass murderers, who the working class would punish as war criminals if we held state power.

Uniting with ruling-class factions that want to can Rumsfeld is a serious mistake. The anti-Rumsfeld forces among the bosses and their military brass aren’t "lesser evils." Their goal isn’t peace but rather far wider, deadlier war than Bush, Rumsfeld, & Co. are capable of fighting. When the big bosses get into a tactical squabble with each other, we have nothing to gain by uniting with any of them.

The source of the current dissatisfaction with Rumsfeld and chorus of demands that he be axed come from retired Army and Marine generals like John Batiste, Gregory Newbold, Paul Eaton and Tony Zinni, each of whom has helped spill large quantities of working-class blood in various U.S. imperialist military adventures dating back to Vietnam. Their main political support comes from Eastern Establishment liberals, whose real gripes against the Bush administration concern its failures to mobilize the U.S. population and military for a home-front police state and a long-range future of widening imperialist wars.

Both the generals and the liberal media have made a big deal about the Bush-Rumsfeld team’s "incompetence" in Iraq. But this is just a cover for a much bigger, deadlier issue. Bush-Rumsfeld took office trumpeting a military strategy known as "effects-based operations," a half-baked theory according to which, "with the careful employment of military power, wars can be conducted more efficiently with fewer bombing sorties and fewer casualties." (Wall Street Journal, 4/17)

The promise of low casualties helped the Bush gang push the illusion that the human cost of the latest oil war, at least in U.S. lives, would be low. And a relatively small number of ground troops would cost less economically than the number originally planned for the second U.S. invasion of Iraq. This would allow the Bush gang both to start a war while continuing to give tax-break goodies to their pals.

But it’s not working, and that’s Bush-Rumsfeld’s main sin in the liberals’ eyes and the main reason for which their media have been demanding Rumsfeld’s head. Rumsfeld invaded Iraq with 150,000 troops after getting Bush to fire Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki — who had requested 350,000 — and Army Secretary Thomas White, who had backed Shinseki.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a fiasco. A stable pro-U.S. government is not in sight. Amid widening civil war, Exxon Mobil et al. can not contemplate investing billions in the Iraqi oil industry. The Council on Foreign Relations (the leading Eastern Establishment foreign policy think-tank) had predicted that it would take "many years before oil production…would come up to pre-war levels." (April 19 interview with Leslie Gelb, CFR President Emeritus) And this was based on deploying 350,000 U.S. troops. Therefore, in the liberals’ view, Bush-Rumsfeld have seriously jeopardized U.S. imperialism’s dream of using Iraqi oil to strengthen its leverage over Chinese, European and Russian competition. Finally, the Bush crew’s Iraq mess is playing directly into the hands of Iranian oil bosses.

From the standpoint of Rumsfeld’s liberal critics, Rumsfeld’s failure in Iraq is just the tip of the iceberg. At stake is "fundamental disagreement about how wars should be fought." The New York Times gave retired Major-General Eaton a forum to tongue-lash Rumsfeld for his "unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower." (as quoted in the WSJ, 4/17)

Workers and others, particularly those who voted for the liberal Democrats in 2004 and intend to keep voting for them in 2006, 2008 and beyond, must learn what this means. The liberals are not taking Bush and Rumsfeld to task for going to war but rather for going to war with a losing strategy. If the liberals had had their way, not only would 350,000 troops at a minimum be stationed in Iraq, but plans would also be in place for millions more to occupy the entire Persian Gulf. Ultimately, U.S. rulers will need to do this — and the bloodletting will not stop there, because the other imperialists will inevitably retaliate and a third world war will result.

This development is not imminent, but the long-range scenario can not be avoided, because imperialism always leads to war. The key issue for our class isn’t which side will win the current tactical row between Bush-Rumsfeld and the liberal bosses but rather how we can build our own forces in this protracted period of war and fascism.

On the surface, things may appear grim for us. But we have an enormous advantage, and as the situation sharpens, it will give us many opportunities. Rumsfeld’s belief in technology over manpower is fundamentally a recognition that the U.S. working class is not ready to fight for the bosses’ oil profits and world domination. The liberals think they can remedy this problem, but we are not so sure. The "Vietnam Syndrome," U.S. workers’ reluctance, bordering on militant hostility, to kill and die for the rulers, is far from dead. Restoring the draft will only aggravate their problem, but they will have to do this sooner or later. The liberals can and will murder many people, but inspiring tens of millions to fight against our class interests is another matter.

Our Party can turn the bosses’ strategic weakness on this front into a mighty political force for communist revolution. It will take time. There will be casualties and defeats, but our side will eventually triumph. Dispelling illusions about the liberals as "lesser-evil" alternatives to more obvious killers like Rumsfeld and Bush remains a key task at all stages of this process.

Union Hacks’ New Service:

Drafting Immigrant Workers and Youth

Liberal U.S. rulers, in ever-increasing need of fresh cannon fodder, are trying to steer swelling immigrant protests towards U.S. patriotism and military recruitment. That’s why liberals went ballistic when more Mexican than U.S. flags appeared during the first round of rallies. The New York Times (3/30) warned, "Latino advocates...would do well their ancestral flags for the Stars and Stripes." Organizers of subsequent events made sure that the red, white, and blue flew high.

As the mounting attacks on Rumsfeld [see front page ] indicate, U.S. rulers require hundreds of thousands more soldiers today and additional millions down the road. Current troop strength can not secure Iraq, let alone Iran, for Exxon Mobil. Pentagon long-range planners are "preparing for a possible military conflict with China," (Wall Street Journal, 4/20). Consequently, U.S. imperialists are pinning a big part of their recruitment hopes on immigrants. No wonder a Times editorial (4/12) said it "was enough to provoke tears...when the thousands on the [Washington] Mall recited the Pledge of Allegiance."

The Service Employees International Union, led by Andrew Stern, has played a leading role in organizing immigrant protests. As a trustee of the Aspen Institute think-tank, Stern helps formulate U.S. imperialist strategy alongside war criminals like Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara and Madeleine Albright. Stern envisions unions functioning as draft boards funneling immigrants into the army. "Why not make a two-year commitment to national service one pathway to legalization?" he wrote in, "United We Serve." "Union leaders and employers together could identify eligible current and future workers for screening." This book, published in 2003 by the Brookings Institution, presented various liberals’, including Bill Clinton’s, approaches to mobilizing manpower for widening armed conflict.

Stern’s proposal meshes with the Dream Act, an immigration "reform" bill pending in Congress. It grants young immigrants legal residency in return for two years of military service. But the rulers’ troop shortage is so severe that they’re actually considering a program that makes enlistment a requirement for immigration. Speaking for the Council on Foreign Relation, U.S. imperialism’s top think-tank, Max Boot supports the Dream Act but "would go further by opening military service not only to immigrants already here but to those who would like to come here" (Los Angeles Times, 4/12). "It would make it easier for the U.S. armed forces to fill their ranks...if the recruiting pool were expanded from 295 million Americans to 6.5 billion earthlings," says Boot.

Pro-imperialist union, community and church leaders have hoodwinked immigrant and non-immigrant workers into endorsing the Dream Act and other exploitative "reforms" that go against their class interest. Many groups backing the demonstrations have, like Stern, direct links to the ruling class. The Center for Community Change and the National Immigration Law Center, for example, get funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. And the Catholic Church, which has been prominent at the rallies, now obeys U.S. imperialists more than it does the pro-European Vatican. A few years ago, bishops, like Los Angeles’ Cardinal Mahoney, serving anti-U.S. French and German capitalists, repeatedly decried the U.S. embargo, bombardment and invasion of Iraq. But now that abuse scandals have put the bulk of its wealth in the hands of U.S. courts, the church has resumed the "God and Country" patriotism it preached in World War II. Facing Supreme Court-backed judgments totaling $1 billion and the threat of criminal prosecution, Mahoney spouted the U.S. imperialist line to the National Catholic Reporter (4/14), "Carrying Mexican flags in a demonstration for immigration reform in the United States is stupid. Take out the Mexican flags and give everybody an American flag. That’s what this is about, making people citizens, for God’s sake." By "citizens," Mahoney also meant "soldiers." Read "J.P. Morgan Chase’s" for "God’s."

Risking deportation, jail and getting fired, millions of immigrants have shown great courage by demonstrating against blatant Homeland Security fascism. But the alternatives liberals offer are no better; they lead straight to the barracks, the battlefield and an early grave. Redressing the exploitation of immigrants ultimately requires a revolution, under the red flag of communism, that destroys the national borders capitalists put up to protect their profits by force.

Machinists’ May Day Resolution Builds Anti-Racist Internationalism

"This is big," warned a Machinist after hearing the shop steward report on the preceding night’s May Day debate at the union meeting. "You guys have things stirred up down here [on the shop floor], but the big boys [in the union] will side-step and keep a lid on it like they always do."

"Not after last night!" vowed the shop steward.

For the first time in anybody’s memory, issues of May Day, anti-immigrant racism, how racism hurts all workers, general strikes and the anti-worker role of the systems’ laws have taken center stage at two successive union meetings in this key aerospace local. It is been driven by an increasing widespread debate among the rank and file inside plant gates. The posting and distribution of 150 in-plant flyers and an equal number of CHALLENGES helped spread the word about an unprecedented union resolution to "support workers’ action on May Day," calling for "unity … [of] all working people." Veteran CHALLENGE sellers and readers struggled amongst themselves and with their co-workers to endorse the resolution, while some new Machinists distributed pro-worker and communist literature for their first time. The next step — in what many agree must be a long-term struggle — is for these rank-and-file leaders to become new CHALLENGE sellers, May Day marchers and Progressive Labor Party members.

Faced with this rank-and-file pressure, the union misleaders couldn’t just make this resolution — which condemned "anti-immigrant racism" and declared "an injury to one is an injury to all" — go away. After a fierce debate at the day-shift union meeting, the best they could do was get the motion tabled until the following swing-shift meeting.

That meeting was easier to control. Instead of a few hundred attendees, it only had scores, almost entirely paid union officials and appointed shop stewards. Even so, 44% endorsed the resolution. An equal number (mostly shop stewards) abstained, conflicted because they hadn’t participated in the preceding shop-floor discussions, which had occurred almost exclusively on day-shift locations where our base worked.

Internal Political Struggle Is Primary

For at least 50 years, the union leadership pushed narrow trade union, even xenophobic politics. This has saturated the minds of workers. However, for over a decade our CHALLENGE networks have answered with our communist-inspired anti-racist, international working-class politics. The huge pro-immigrant demonstrations recently, despite the "official" leadership’s rotten politics, gave us an opportunity to up the struggle for communist class consciousness, first by struggling with and then mobilizing our network sellers and readers.

Notably, black CHALLENGE readers stepped up among this mostly older white workforce, being among the first to sign on to the resolution. "We know what it’s like to be stuck in the low-wage jobs," said a couple of African-American machine operators, struggling with others to join in.

Throughout these sharp debates at the union hall and on the shop floor, new forces responded to our advanced Party line. "What I’m worried about," said a young Latino union member, who spoke at his first union meeting, "is that they’ll set up a path to legalization that legalizes exploitation."

"We are a union," he continued, in support of the resolution. "We’re about making sure people have jobs that don’t subject you to such blatant exploitation."

Revolution: The Only Way To End Exploitation, Racism, Imperialist War

The fact is that capitalism is based on exploitation — the more the better for the bosses. Trade unionism’s motto is to get a "fair share" for workers. Not very likely as the bosses are forced to pay for more — and more expensive — oil wars to defend their imperialist domination!

"After defending the empire, there’s nothing left for health care and pensions," said one machinist at lunch the next day. Usually he’d then go on to blame Bush. This time he concluded that, "You can change the president, but the system remains the same."

He is on to something: capitalism must go! Our victory in the last few weeks and the coming summer of struggle must be measured in winning workers to this revolutionary communist outlook. That is exactly what we will be fighting for at our communist May Day marches and dinners on April 29 and in our workplace contingents on May 1.

Union Misleaders Split On How to Respond To May Day Resolution

Part of the union staff, steeped in decades of xenophobic (fear of outsiders, ie. immigrants) politics, just wanted to crush our anti-racist, internationalist May Day resolution.

Others, seeing the weakness of the present-day labor movement, were embarrassed by this blatant anti-working class, racist stance. As a white woman shop steward said disgustedly after one meeting, "To tell the truth, I think it's racial. After all, we are talking of mostly Latino immigrants here." Of course, the "liberal" hacks were not embarrassed enough to stick their necks out in support of real anti-racist, international working-class solidarity.

Stung by the drastically falling percentage of unionization in basic manufacturing, these pro-boss, class-collaborationists reasoned serving the biggest imperialists — by endorsing the McCain-Kennedy path to legalization — was the way to go. They hoped to demonstrate they could deliver a more stable workforce of millions of low-wage immigrants for the weapons factories, while helping to recruit immigrants' sons and daughters as cannon folder for the bosses' imperialist wars. In this way, they hoped to insure their position as management's junior partners. Nonetheless, years of scapegoating immigrant and foreign workers undermined their ability to bring their base along.

Dialectics Show Garment Workers Essence of Liberals’ Attack on Immigrants

LOS ANGELES, April 24 — In preparation for the big pro-immigrant march here, a group of workers distributed general leaflets in the main garment district where thousands work in hundreds of sweatshops.

In my factory, I talked to many co-workers about the need to participate in the march. When I gave leaflets to my co-workers, one offered to help pass them out. He also put some in the bathrooms. The leaflets linked our exploitation to the war in Iraq.

At the break, three workers discussed the march, one giving his opinions based on the leaflet. He asked me if I had read the leaflet. "What it says is true," he continued, "this whole movement is just a trick by the politicians for their benefit."

"But we should participate," I interrupted, "not just to get legal status, but because the streets are ‘schools’ where workers can learn to fight in their own interests." As an example, I related the history of May Day.

Two days later, PLP distributed leaflets outside the factory. This communist leaflet was posted on the bathroom wall by a worker who understood its content and importance, substituting it for the workers’ committee leaflet which was also on the wall.

Thirty workers marched, leading to exchanges with various workers. With four of them, I’ve started discussing dialectical materialism — Marxist philosophy — after one had asked me if I thought a worldwide revolution was possible. I answered "yes." I described what workers in Russia and China had accomplished and asked if they had heard of dialectical materialism. One of the workers nodded, but didn’t remember what it was. I emphasized the need to study dialectics to understand how things change.

The appearance and essence of this immigrants’ rights movement is important for workers. "From far away the water looks blue, but when you get close, what’s its color?" I asked. When they replied that up close it was not blue, I said the same thing was happening with this movement — when examining it "up close," it is not in our interests. Being among these workers every day, I am having great experiences which bolster my confidence that we can make a revolution.

The day I gave them CHALLENGE, one of the four workers with whom I eat lunch started reading part of the editorial aloud, while workers at the nearby tables listened.

Discussions about the contradictions between rival imperialists are deepening. More workers are reading CHALLENGE regularly. I’m trying to win them to come to May Day.

Workers’ Struggles Have No Borders

Seattle: 20K Workers and Students March Vs Anti-Immigrant Racism

SEATTLE, WA., Apr. 10 —Angered by attacks on immigrants, 20,000 workers and students marched in downtown today. Like scores of other demonstrations nationwide, the numbers were bigger than expected. The politics were the same: welcoming immigrants to an 11-year "legalization" process and a patriotic, slave-labor cannon-fodder future for the bosses’ imperialist dreams. As if to emphasize the point, farm owners gave thousands the day off to demonstrate.

Nonetheless, many thought the "genie was let out of the bottle." Workers and students responded enthusiastically to the 900 PLP communist leaflets and more than 100 CHALLENGES sold and to our signs calling on the demonstrators to "Smash all Borders, Workers of the World Unite." and to "March on May Day."

The struggle now shifts to the worksites and classrooms where our political advances will determine whether the working class will eventually reject the dangerous leadership of the liberal bosses and their union and church allies and instead fight for multi-racial unity and workers’ power. (See above article on the struggle in a key aerospace union local.)

Steel Strikers Seize Plant, Rout Mexico Cops Who Kill Two Workers

LAZARO CARDENAS, MEXICO, April 21 — In a sight unseen in Mexico and many other countries for years, workers occupied the Sicartsa steel plant and repelled a combined attack by 800 federal and local cops attempting to break their three-week strike. The plant is owned by Villacero, the country’s biggest producer of steel bars and wire rod.

The cops killed two workers and injured and arrested many more but the steelworkers are still holding the plant. Some cops were also injured in the battle. The workers had struck and occupied the plant since April 2 to protest the federal government’s plan to impose a pro-company union leadership, using the excuse that the current leadership was corrupt.

Cops toting guns and carrying tear gas entered the rear of the plant at 7:00 AM, initially surprising the 500 workers who were expecting them at the front. But the workers regrouped and fought back, using heavy machinery against the attacking cops. They burned down the company’s administration building and destroyed 30 company vehicles. Two hours later, the workers using sticks, stones and steel rods routed the cops.

Other workers helped the strikers, including 1,000 wives and relatives who organized a march against the attack. Mittal Steel workers struck immediately and went to help their fellow workers repel the cops’ assault.

Michoacan governor Lazaro Cardenas Batel also ordered state cops to attack the workers. The governor is a member of the liberal Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) party, whose presidential candidate Lopez Obrador — touted as "a friend of the workers" and the answer to Vincente Fox, Mexico’s current right-wing president — is favored to become the country’s next President. The Sicartsa steelworkers have a long tradition of militancy. They’re trying to stop the bosses’ growing union-busting campaign. When the government privatized steel plants and coal and copper mines in the 1990s (aided by union hacks), the Sicartsa workforce sank from 8,000 to its present 4,000, while wages and working conditions plummeted — many of these workers ended up working for non-union contractors. The strikers are now demanding that all charges be dropped against the 60 facing jail for the fight against the cops. They are also demanding the resignation of Secretary of Labor Francisco Salazar, accusing him of trying to impose the new union hacks. They also blame him for the recent murder of dozens of miners at Conchos Pasta due to high methane gas levels (the miners are members of the same union).

Their fight-back is admirable, once again demonstrating that industrial workers play a key role in fighting the bosses’ attacks. But much more is needed. Workers like these and worldwide must turn their struggles into schools for communism. We must learn how to build the kind of communist leadership and movement needed to wipe out the bosses once and for all.

Bosses’ System Great for Talk -Show Traitors, Not for Immigrants

LOS ANGELES, April 24 — "Don’t hurt this great country that has given you everything," say the popular radio announcers "Cucuy" (Renan Coello) and "Piolin"(Eddie Soto) about the boycott organized for May 1. The biggest bosses are using them to impose their politics of patriotism, pacifism, and slave-labor poverty. They spread anti-communism, warning workers "not to pay attention to the communists," that they should "respect the bosses and not support the boycott."

Before the huge March 25 march against the racist law HR4437, they told workers to wear white shirts and carry U.S. flags. But these bosses’ agents are not alone. They’re joined by the union mis-leaders, "immigrants’ rights" groups and the Catholic Church hierarchy.

We workers have no reason to be grateful to the U.S. bosses and their government. Should we thank them for having tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of workers in Central America in the last 30 years? For their support for, and training of, the death squads who forced tens of thousands to flee those countries, leaving families and friends behind? Thank them for the U.S.-supplied weapons used to slaughter those who fought the ruling classes in their countries of origin?

Thank them for imposing the policies of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) which, together with the Mexican banks, have starved to death thousands of Mexican workers and have forced millions to leave their families in search of a miserable, exploitative job?

Or how about thanking them for the thousands of immigrants who have died crossing the borders and thousands of women who’ve been abused during this journey? Or for the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq? Not to mention the extermination of Native Americans and the enslavement of millions of black workers brought in chains from Africa, killing untold numbers on the way.

Be grateful for what? For poverty wages, police terror or the hated Migra?

The bosses have never given us anything. The few benefits some workers have gained are the fruit of the blood and struggle of millions of workers in the past. Like May Day, begun with the fight for the 8-hour day, these struggles were waged mainly by immigrant workers and communists at that time.

These announcers and the lieutenants of the liberal bosses have no shame when asking that we thank those who exploit us, and those who would use us as body bags in their plans for wider imperialist wars and more fascism. Our struggle must be to organize our class to build a communist revolution, where we will not thank the bosses, but instead we will bury them and destroy their class for all the crimes they have committed against the workers of the world.

Retirees Debate Immigration Issue; Cite Class Basis for Attacks

NEW YORK CITY, April 11 — The monthly meeting of about 30 retired city workers erupted into an emotional debate on immigrant rights. Our plan had been to discuss the State Taylor Law. However, the massive demonstration for immigrant rights changed our focus.

This group meets monthly at the offices of our old union local. The union provides an enjoyable lunch while we hear a guest speaker. Today it was the vice-president of grievances and legal services.

We’ve been discussing this fascist anti-worker law for several meetings since the December strike of NYC transit workers. Many view this law as part of the general attack on all workers. Several workers were interested in building a movement to end this oppressive law that outlaws public-worker strikes and mandates fines for both individual strikers and the union. (Currently, Roger Toussaint, transit union President, is serving ten days in jail for violating the Taylor Law. See page 7)

Prior discussions had featured workers’ actions to defeat this law, such as building strike solidarity or expanding future walkouts towards a general strike. Today’s meeting involved the law’s rules and interpretations the courts have used in applying the law. While useful, it lacked the passion of earlier discussions.

After the guest speaker left, the simple question of who attended yesterday’s rally opened the floodgates of ideological struggle. Rick said he had attended to honor his parents and grandparents who had emigrated from Eastern Europe seeking a better life. Sol countered that if his parents had not fled Europe they would have been killed by Hitler’s storm troopers, but he felt that immigration was a "complicated issue." He believed immigration laws must be obeyed. Lynn responded that immigrants are entering the U.S. because of conditions where they had lived. She said they had little choice.

Carol shot back that the U.S. must control its borders so terrorists will not attack us. Ron pointed out that the 9/11 hijackers had entered the U.S. "legally" and would not have been stopped by walls or increased immigration raids. He bitterly pointed out that his wife had been forced to leave this country and spend years waiting for documents that allowed her to resume her life with him. Maria said that immigrants must obey the rules. Manny stated that imperialism causes the conditions forcing working people to leave their home countries seeking a way to survive.

As chairperson, I spoke last, saying I thought the issue was not so complicated if viewed on a class basis. Internationally, workers are facing a race to the bottom in terms of wages, benefits and living standards. The same attacks facing U.S. workers are occurring worldwide, only worse in many places. I advocated standing with our class brothers and sisters.

I then related my vacation visit to southern Arizona. My wife and I were hiking in a mountainous region with a group of bird watchers, watching birds flying north to their summer feeding and breeding grounds. Our group encountered some empty water jugs and bags left by immigrants also heading north. Several hikers uttered anti-immigrant slurs. I responded by wondering why they were so happy seeing birds who had flown across the border while disparaging human beings who had done so for the same reason — survival. The racists among the hikers had been shamed into silence. My fellow retirees applauded my story.

Rutgers University Forum Exposes Homeland Security Police-State Action vs. Immigrants

NEWARK, NJ, April 11 — Amid nationwide mass demonstrations against racist attacks on immigrants, 250 law students, undergrads, immigrant workers and others packed a classroom at Rutgers Law School here to discuss the Sensenbrenner bill (HR 4437), the McCain-Kennedy proposed law and many other issues.

The speakers included a lawyer and a legal worker from a local immigrant advocacy center and an undergrad who suffered fascist treatment by Homeland Security agents and Middlesex County Correctional (MCC) guards. The undergrad, having lived in the U.S. since she was 6, was at an Immigration Office to adjust her status and get her green card when she was informed of an old deportation order she knew nothing about. She was immediately arrested, told she would be deported to Sierra Leone (she was born in Ghana), and taken to MCC, a county jail also being used as a facility for long-term detainees. There she was strip-searched and subjected to vicious sexual harassment. She was released after a week, but still faces further proceedings.

The speakers from the advocacy center opposed both HR 4437 and McCain-Kennedy. They agreed with one audience member who said McCain-Kennedy would set up immigrant youth for the recruit-starved military. However, the speakers advocated non-violent resistance to racism and fascism.

In contrast, one audience member described how anti-racists had disrupted a Minuteman organizing meeting in Bridgewater, N.J. last June. She passionately called for workers and students to fight back against the vile racism of the "Minute-Klan." She also urged participants to celebrate May Day by fighting for the unity of citizens and immigrants.

Workers from a local day-labor center also gave short talks, speaking eloquently in Spanish about the low wages and difficult working conditions on their jobs, and the hard times faced by many immigrants trying to enter the U.S. They said that the U.S. is "a good country," that they only want to work and support their families.

The genesis of borders is the capitalist nation-state. The big rulers, through their wars and imperialist domination, cross and sometimes redraw these artificial lines when it suits their profit purposes. While these bosses’ actions are deemed perfectly legal, workers crossing these same lines to prevent their families from starving are labeled "illegal aliens," and are viciously exploited. This, in a nutshell, is the source of capitalism’s "immigration problem."

Many at the forum did not oppose the idea of borders, nor did they see the current period as one of growing fascism. One participant did link the use of anti-immigrant terror to the super-exploitation of immigrant workers.

The upsurge in activity around these issues gives PLP increased opportunities to explain our politics to all our friends. One hour-long lunchtime discussion at work the day after the forum was a good start. We must show clearly the differences between the immigrant workers in these marches and the mis-leadership which wants to push them into the dead end of supporting liberal Democratic Party warmakers and their agents inside this movement. This will enable us to show that only a society without bosses, without borders, is good for all workers — communism.

California Teachers Condemn ‘Reform’ That Militarizes Immigrant Youth

CALIFORNIA — The California Teachers Association, the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the LA American Federation of Teachers Local 1021 have all recently passed resolutions opposing any immigration reform that hinders workers’ ability to organize or that pushes youth and workers into the military as a path to legalization and citizenship. PLP supports this fight to expose the liberal imperialists’ immigration "reform" while we simultaneously encourage soldiers to organize against imperialist war.

In an area meeting of a local teachers’ union, a resolution was put forward to support actions on May 1st and to recognize this day as the International Workers’ Day, one celebrated worldwide except in the U.S. Opposition arose with remarks like, "You people can’t bring this sort of thing to our union"; "We must stay away from the political"; and, "Even Cesar Chavez had problems with illegal scabs."

But there were also statements of support, like, "May 1st is celebrated around the world"; "The struggle against anti-immigrant racism affects our students as well as many of our parents"; and, "I support the resolution."

Someone explained that Cesar Chavez had failed to organize all workers, documented and undocumented alike. He recognized the bosses’ borders and patriotism, a losing strategy for the working class.

One person requested a secret ballot vote. The question was called and voting began first on whether it should be a secret ballot, producing only one favorable vote. Then the balloting on the resolution itself lost by only five votes, but a lot of people were glad it was raised.

This struggle gives us an opportunity to explain to teachers and students May Day’s revolutionary history and the reasons PLP revived it. It is part of the fight to build workers’ unity for revolution, to destroy the profit system and build a communist society where we share the fruits of our labor to meet the needs of the international working class.

Brooklyn High School Students’ Walkout Resists Racist ‘Security’ Rules

BROOKLYN, NY, April 22 — Chants of "What do we want? Cell Phones!" and "Racism means fight back" rang out through a neighborhood here when hundreds of high school students walked out of the Secondary School for Law, Journalism and Research last week, attacking the cell phone policy reinstated the day before. Within two days students wrote a call for a walkout, made signs, called the media and composed chants. Although there was much excitement and support for the action, some guidance counselors and teachers threatened students with revoking all their credits if they walked out. Cops arrested five students and harassed many more, attempting to scare students away, but their racist tactics failed.

Some teachers and students criticized the walkout, arguing that banning cell phones is no big deal. Others argued that students get as angry about the war, for the lack of textbooks or anti-immigrant attacks, as they were about the newly-enforced cell phone policy.

Although there’s some truth to these criticisms, actually those issues are not unrelated. Attacks on the working class in Iraq, on undocumented workers and on students are all necessary parts of living under a capitalist society. For U.S. rulers to retain their number one super-power status, they must carry out imperialist war abroad to secure oil and its trade routes and instill fear at home. They send youth to kill our working-class brothers and sisters overseas, do random searches on subways, detain Muslims in prisons for years without trial, and search students every morning before school, all in the name of security. The only security they’re worried about is that of their own profits and power.

These are the main points all parents, teachers and students need to learn in this struggle. Capitalism will always maintain repression. Any resistance to it is a great step forward. These students showed the administration and the NYPD that they will not bow down to cops’ racist terror.

We in PL will continue to expand this fight to other city high schools. We will organize and demand that the charges be dropped against the five arrested students. Most importantly we are organizing a contingent from the school to march on May Day and continue the long struggle to destroy capitalism.

LA Health Workers Pro-Immigrant, vs. War

LOS ANGELES, March 25 — Massive opposition to the Sensenbrenner Bill HR4437, united a group of health workers at L.A. County Clinic. People from different backgrounds wanted to participate in this huge march, but not everyone could, so they signed a letter of support and donated money for a banner that said, "Health Care Workers Pro-Immigrant and Against the War in Iraq." Patients, nurses, doctors and technicians marched, but whoever couldn’t go were represented by the group holding the banner.


‘We’re Not Criminals, We’re Workers and We’re International!’

The recent uproar over the racist proposed Congressional anti-immigrant legislation provides for the expansion of PLP’s base in the working class. On April 10 thousands of workers in our city joined those marching in protest elsewhere.

Early on, PL members helped organize the student-led university walkout and activities leading up to the city-wide march. Working closely with other campus organizations, PL’ers propelled working-class issues to the forefront. We pointed out that the "alternative" McCain-Kennedy Bill and Dream Act were just as much an attack on immigrant workers as the Sensenbrenner Bill.

These ideas filled our signs and speeches, making the walkout one of the most anti-racist events ever at the university.

While the student-led rallies were largely pro-working class, the LULAC-led rally heavily promoted the bosses’ nationalism. LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) brought congressmen and other capitalist gangsters to rally support for the "alternative" bills and to encourage marchers to wave American flags.

Many workers, however, were not fooled by LULAC’s nationalism. One worker’s sign read, "We’re not criminals, We’re workers. And we’re international."

Despite LULAC, PL members along with other students, soldiers and workers continued to promote international working-class solidarity. While LULAC encouraged workers to chant "Si Se Puede" ("Yes we can") we helped lead more revolutionary chants — "Las luchas obreras no tienen fronteras!" ("Workers’ struggles have no borders!").

We had many good discussions with students, soldiers and workers from across the city. Some of the new folks received and helped distribute CHALLENGE. Many are now interested in doing more to fight for the working class.

The march showed both the ruling-class hopes to mobilize the working class behind a pro-war "reform" agenda, and their fear of mobilizing workers. In this case, the federal immigration court along the march route was closed, its doors bolted three hours before the march started, even though the LULAC leaders made no effort to target these centers of ruling-class oppression.

Meanwhile, workers’ and students’ response to PL’s ideas showed the possibilities for us if we advance our activities within this reform movement. PL must continue at the forefront of the fight against anti-immigrant racism, and to bring communist ideas to the heart of those struggles.

Southern Red

Students Walk Out; Racist Cops Riot; PL’s Ideas Take Hold

As CHALLENGE reported (4/26), numerous walkouts have occurred in high schools nationwide, protesting the current anti-immigration bill H.R. 4437. My school was no exception. The day the walkouts were scheduled, one of my students showed me a flier calling on the students to march through the building at 8:10 AM. I was unsure about the impact; it seemed somewhat unorganized. Was I surprised!

I announced the walkout in my first period class, explaining the two immigration bills (Sensenbrenner and McCain-Kennedy), and telling my students I would support them if they walked. Sure enough, at 8:10 the march passed my classroom and about half my students walked out. After marching through the school for about 20 minutes, they rallied outside in the "quad."

I spoke to the students who hadn’t left about anti-immigrant racism. The majority are black; many thought the struggle didn’t concern them, unfortunately a prevalent attitude. Some who had gone to the rally told me later that the black and Latino students were almost totally separated during the action and many black students didn’t really know what was happening. But in my classroom, we had a pretty good discussion about the source of racism and why people must unite to fight it. When I talked somewhat about class consciousness, a few of my students were very receptive.

That’s when things started to intensify in the "quad." My classroom windows face this area, so my class had a running commentary on events outside. As first period was ending, the principal was trying to convince students to return to class. The students refused. They wanted the administration to open the gate so they could march on the streets. (Some high schools actually marched all the way to city hall!) The principal said that would be very dangerous. She encouraged them to "write to their congressmen" instead.

Meanwhile, in the "quad" some Latino and black students were fighting. In about 10 seconds, 20 riot squad cops "miraculously" appeared, marching into the middle of the "quad" in full riot gear! Naturally, some students got scared, started running and were arrested.

Suddenly our school was labeled as having a "race riot" and was put on lock-down! This means the school is under police occupation and no one can leave their classroom for any reason. The rallying students were "escorted" back to their first periods watched by the LAPD. That day, the entire school spent more than five hours in their first period classrooms, without food, water or bathrooms. The police even refused to allow water to be distributed because the water bottles "could be used as weapons." Talk about fascism!

These attacks will happen increasingly as the ruling class moves for stronger control over the working class, in preparation for more imperialist wars and fascism. The huge marches recently are being dominated by nationalism and patriotism, but the bosses must resort to fascist measures to control these angry students. Simultaneously, this creates opportunities for PL’ers as it did for me at my school.

This event resulted in discussions about racism in all my classes. Three of my students have taken CHALLENGE and come to a study group. I’ve started a multi-racial unity club on campus with another teacher’s help. We all must take advantage of such opportunities as the class struggle intensifies. After seeing fascism’s effect on my students, I for one will work extra hard to get rid of this system — the sooner the better!

Red Teacher

Red Flags Trump Nationalist Flags

In my small city several meetings have planned for immigrants’ rights reform. Over 40 people attended the first one for the march on April 10. I received wide support saying the struggle should be multi-racial. Two others supported this and another said we shouldn’t bring Mexican flags. I said we shouldn’t bring any national flags.

The weekend before the march I invited some other PLP members to speak with my friends about current issues at a meeting at my house. I had made 25 small red flags and asked people if they’d be willing to carry one during the march and pass out extras. We discussed the liberals’ tactics of building U.S. patriotism and pushing youth into the military. We also discussed the significance of the red flag as the one representing the international working class. They all agreed to carry red flags.

The meeting was called for two hours, but one friend stayed much longer and then helped write a flier for distribution at the march. It exposed the open racists and the liberal rulers, attacked imperialist war and said our only flag should be the red flag. This friend and her husband were regular CHALLENGE readers before I lost contact for a while after switching jobs over a year ago. In the last few weeks I’ve started sending her the paper again. She eagerly came to my house for this meeting. She mentioned that at a recent gathering with her dance group everyone agreed not to bring any national flags to the march. She said they discussed the significance of national flags and all opposed the spread of nationalism and patriotism. No doubt she played an instrumental role in that decision.

At the march not one minute passed before people were approaching me to ask if I was handing out the red flags I carried. All the extras were given out. I had to send some people away empty-handed. Five others helped distribute 1,000 fliers. They went quickly in the crowd, estimated at about 10,000. I will be inviting all those who helped in this effort to PLP’s May Day.

While the liberal bosses are leading this movement, many in it can see that we workers don’t owe our allegiance to any bosses’ flag or any boss, but instead to the international working class and its fight for liberation and communism.

Young Red Mom

Don’t Rely on Bosses’ Law to Save Workers

On the March 29 CHALLENGE article about anti-Muslim racism, those racist Danish cartoons and their censorship: communists must ask themselves just who will be doing the censoring. Obviously, in this case, it’s the capitalist state, which has no intention of combating racism. I’m opposed to any capitalist censors or bans on anything, as more than likely it will be used eventually against the working class and its organizations. In reality, the only force that can battle this anti-Muslim racism is the working class.

Recently, Austria sentenced far-right British "historian" David Irving to three years in prison for claiming the Holocaust never happened. Should communists support the actions of the Austrian capitalist state? I don’t think so.

Firstly, these sorts of laws will be used against the working class and possibly anti-racists. For example, I attended a unity coalition meeting on the question of passing laws against hate groups. A list of such groups in Pennsylvania was passed around, containing the usual fascists — the Klan, the Aryan Nation, Church of Identity, etc. However, the Sharps — anti-racist skinheads — were also on the list.

The capitalist state has no interest in fighting fascism, as fascism is all about capitalism with its "democratic" mask removed. Fascism’s main target is the working class. Under a true workers’ state, I’d support laws against fascism, racism and other workers’ enemies. But it’s unwise to support the actions of the capitalist state to pass laws against and/or even censor fascist-type groups, as in the final analysis, this will all come back to haunt the working class.

Red Coal

Need More Humor, Youth Stories in CHALLENGE

(This letter was received by a comrade and is followed by his response.)

I really appreciate you keeping me up with CHALLENGE. I pass it to my friends to read also. We all feel your articles are compelling, thoroughly researched, well-documented and well-written. And we all agree with your premises. We feel, however, a little humor (Doonesbury-like or a timely political cartoon) could help lighten up the tone of the paper.

It’s time for communism to speak directly to and mobilize the young. With U.S. immigration issues affecting young Latinos and Mexicans, the French controversy over employer’s right to hire and fire the young and the young worldwide dying in global wars, youth are beginning to see the hypocrisy of power. They’re becoming aware, disenchanted and angry with the status quo and beginning to realize that leaders in ALL countries willingly sacrifice their young for short-term profit, power and political gain.

But the young must be spoken to in their own language; add a weekly column to CHALLENGE written by a young person showing youth perspectives. Discuss timely issues, the possibilities of the draft and how they affect youth.

Focus also on sexual politics, how women’s rights are being eroded, lost and/or women’s rights as victims right on down….job security, inequality in promotions, etc. A weekly column written from a woman activist’s view would be good.

State the facts; the facts are bad enough told straight. We believe without the rhetoric or the old party line they would be more powerful and appropriate today. The rhetoric leaves many with bad connotations of possible past communist transgressions. Whether the transgressions are true or not, this attitude is deeply entrenched capitalistic propaganda.

Lastly, we admire you all for your passion, compassion and untiring work for all of us. You are very admirable. I hope our suggestions and comments don’t offend or anger you. They came from our hearts. We, too, are ready for change.

Southern Friends

RESPONSE: Thanks for your very thoughtful and honest letter. It’s obvious all of you have been reading CHALLENGE closely, and that your letter represents that careful study. We definitely want to encourage this in our readership.

Although our Party is a very serious organization, and the paper’s tone reflects that seriousness, we agree with you about the value of humor. We do see humor, like all culture, as political. We try to convey humor through political cartoons, and occasionally in Red Eye on the News or in an article. However, we could always use more. We invite you and other readers to contribute to this process.

Hopefully, the last several issues of CHALLENGE, with articles on the mass demonstrations against anti-immigrant racism, and the mass uprising against the CPE labor law in France show how seriously we take issues that especially affect young people. After all, the future of our Party rests with the youth, particularly with black, Latin, Asian, immigrant and female young workers, soldiers and students. As we integrate more young people into the Party leadership, and into the production and distribution of CHALLENGE and other PLP literature, we expect to have more of the kinds of articles you mention. Meanwhile, our paper needs to address the older generations, many of whom still contribute valuable knowledge and experience to the revolutionary process, including young people’s political development.

You’re also right requesting more articles on the special oppression of women workers, and about sexist ideology and practices. However, as stated in the review of "North Country" (4/26), unlike feminists we believe male workers should unite with female workers to fight this oppression and sexism, just as white, black and Latino workers need to unite to fight racism. Therefore, we wouldn’t run a "women activist’s" column or a "black activist’s" column; rather we’d run more articles about workers, men and women, black, Latino and white, fighting for their common class interests against sexism and racism.

Lastly, there are times when our rhetoric is inappropriate to a particular article. However, the reason our Party’s line comes across so strongly in CHALLENGE is because we’re appealing to the most advanced and militant sectors of society. Some may be "turned off" (for now) because of the sharpness of our attacks on all aspects of capitalism. But we believe in the long run many more people will eventually see the truth of our views, especially as fascism and war intensify. We believe that only a mass party imbued with PLP’s politics, and steeled in class struggle against the enemy will be capable of the very difficult task of seizing power away from the bosses and beginning the revolutionary communist transformation of society. Our paper’s tone reflects the necessity for, and the urgency of, the actions that can and will lead to those changes.

Column Errs on Wages

Several points in the "Under Communism" column (4/26) on communism and wages are either wrong or at least unclear. It says that "Marx discovered one type of transaction in which value was not exchanged equally, namely wages in exchange for labor power." Marx’s claim was just the opposite of this, that the worker may well receive the value of his labor power (that is, the cost of minimally maintaining himself). But the worker won’t get the rest of the value he or she produces. The column seems to aim at the unfairness of the wage bargain. Marx’s point (in "Wages, Price and Profit," for example) is that all wages enrich the boss and oppress workers. He says the only fair wage is no wage, that is, elimination of the wage system.

A second point about what communism means is also incorrect. It says:

"[Workers’] ‘payment’ over the long term would be in the form of the labor each family contributed to the collective good, whether it is growing food, manufacturing, means of transportation, clothing, houses, etc, or providing some services such as health care, schooling, parks, etc."

This suggestion, that people must pay with their labor, is at least misleading. People who are very old or in poor health don’t have to "pay," and people who can do a lot will be expected to do it, even if they don’t need to draw very much from the common supply. Paying through labor, even if you put it in quotation marks, is a concept left over from the wage system; it isn’t real distribution according to need. It downplays the need for political struggle for greater commitment of those who are able to produce for the good of the whole working class. Under communism, the incentives to work will be mainly political, and the massive, collective struggle to get that commitment will be an important part of the struggle to win and build communism.

A Comrade

CHALLENGE comment: The reader is absolutely correct on both points. The column’s writer meant to say, "Marx discovered one type of transaction in which value was not exchanged equally, namely in exchange for labor," not labor power, as the rest of the article makes clear.

Strike-Breaking Boss Takes Transit Workers for A Ride: But Not in His $260, 000 Ferrari

NEW YORK CITY, April 24 — A judge has used the bosses’ notorious strike-breaking Taylor Law to send Roger Toussaint, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100, to jail for ten days after the militant rank and file forced a strike, breaking that law back in December. Toussaint’s been jailed despite the fact that he betrayed the strike, helping the bosses end it with a sellout contract. Obviously this wasn’t enough for the rulers. But it hasn’t stopped his "counterpart," Peter Kalikow, Chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), from adding to his stable of dozens of Ferraris by purchasing another one — a 612 Scaglietti, 540 horsepower, with a V-12 engine for at least $260,000.

Kalikow is not quite ready to join the millions of New Yorkers riding the crowded subways and buses nor the thousands of transit workers who spend most of their working lives underground running the trains.

Kalikow is insisting that the unresolved transit contract go to arbitration to try to screw the workers even more. But meanwhile he ordered the car’s body and interior of this latest Ferrari changed to his specifications, raising the price to close to a third of a million bucks. Kalikow’s hard line against transit workers contrasts sharply with his housing dozens of Ferraris in a secret climate-controlled underground garage in a building he owns near MTA headquarters.

These bosses make Queen Marie Antoinette ("let ’em eat cake") look like a do-gooder. But Kalikow and the system he represents will eventually also get their guillotine.

Red Eye On The News

High-Schoolers plan Bush war-crimes trial

A few weeks ago, when a class of seniors at Parsippany High School in New Jersey prepared for a mock trial to assess whether Bush has committed war crimes, a media tempest ensued….In Tennessee, the Chattanooga Times Free Press thundered in an editorial: "That some American ‘educators’ would have students ‘try’ our American president for ‘war crimes’ during time of war tells us that our problems are not only with terrorists abroad."….

During the 1980s, Robert Parry covered U.S. foreign policy for the Associated Press and Newsweek…. "In a world where might did not make right," Parry wrote in a recent piece, "George W. Bush, Tony Blair and their key enablers would be in shackles before a war crimes tribunal at the Hague, rather than sitting in the White House, 10 Downing Street or some other comfortable environs in Washington and London."

Over the top? I don’t think so… (Norman Solomon, Creators Syndicate, 4/2)

Insurance profits come before health care

There is almost no chance of universal coverage happening anytime in the foreseeable future.

Health insurers made $100 billion in profits last year, and industries of that size are just not legislated out of business… (NYT, 4/2)

US pal is the real Mid-east nuclear rogue

…Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is an alarming prospect, but very little attention is paid to the most obvious, immediate reason why: that there is already a Middle Eastern nuclear power, Israel, insistent on preserving its monopoly. So the crisis has been foreseeable for decades.…

…In nuclear terms in the Middle East, Israel is the original sinner. Non-proliferation must be universal: if, in any zone of potential conflict, one party goes nuclear, its adversaries can’t be expected not to….

Moshe Sneh, a leading Israeli strategist,…said: "I don’t want the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to be held under the shadow of an Iranian nuclear bomb." As if Arabs haven’t had to negotiate under the shadow of an Israeli bomb these past four decades. (GW, 4/20)

110 years of imperialist murder by U.S.

"Overthrow" is the history of forcible regime changes by the United States and its local allies over the past 110 years, starting with the undermining of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, passing through Cuba (1898), the Philippines (1898), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954) and elsewhere, and ending with present-day Iraq.

Kinzer has written a detailed, passionate and convincing book…

In the case of Cuba, the decision in 1898 to betray the Cuban rebels against Spain and impose American hegemony on the island fueled an anti-American nationalism that continues…

…The ugliest was the overthrow of the democratic socialist government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in Guatemala in 1954 and its replacement by a military dictatorship representing the interests of the local oligarchy and the United Fruit Company. The result was…Communist insurrection and a savage American-backed military campaign of repression that cost the lives of more than 100,000 Maya Indians — something that in other circumstances would certainly have been described in the United States as genocide.

…The American establishment is…over and over again, first in the cold war and now in the "war on terror"…covering its actions with the same rhetoric of spreading "freedom" and combating "evil."

As Kinzer writes of the Iranian hostage crisis, "because most Americans did not know what the United States had done to Iran in 1953, few had any idea why Iranians were so angry at the country they called ‘the great Satan.’"

They still don’t. (NYT, 4/16)

Troops increasingly opposed Vietnam war

In "Sir! No Sir!," Mr. Zeiger remembers… [the Vietnam War] veterans whose struggles against it are too often forgotten….

The image of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran…the important fiction that opposition to the war came strictly from outside the military…. [was] later cooked up by Hollywood and other revisionists. This film shows that as antiwar sentiment gathered strength in American streets, a parallel movement seized the armed forces….

Soldiers were fed up and up in arms…

Desertions were on the rise, as were fraggings, named for the fragmentation grenades lobbed at superiors by their own men. By 1974 the Defense Department would record more than half a million incidents of desertion since the mid-60’s. (NYT, 4/19)

Movie Review:

No Good Intentions Behind Imperialist War

"Why We Fight" is a documentary on the relationship between the U.S. government, its military and the arms industry. The movie argues that the U.S. is out of control with a massive military-industrial complex and an empire stretched beyond reason.

The movie is flawed in three major ways:

First, it creates the impression that the U.S. was a democracy before it was corrupted by the military-industrial complex, and that President Eisenhower was a good leader, struggling to rein in greedy capitalists. This ignores that: (A) the main section of the current U.S. ruling class (the Eastern Establishment) was already taking control of the U.S. government in the early 1900s; and (B) the U.S. was only a "democracy" for the property-owning, capitalist class.

Secondly, the movie doesn’t explain that the U.S. ruling class invaded Iraq because it needs to monopolize the strategic power of oil — dictating its supply, transportation and pricing. It argues that the neo-conservatives were behind the war in Iraq and exposes various neo-con, pro-war think-tanks. However, it completely ignores the fact that the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution — key liberal, Eastern Establishment think-tanks — are behind the war in Iraq (and the next war in Iran?). The multi-lateralist members of the Eastern Establishment disagreed with the neo-conservative, unilateralist members over when and how to wage war in Iraq. The multi-lateralists wanted to use many more troops, bring in more allies, work more through the UN and spend more time trying to win domestic support for the war through the humanitarian lie of "helping Iraqis." While they disagree over tactics, both wings know U.S. rulers must control Mid-East oil in order to protect their superpower status and profit empire against challenges from imperialist rivals, particularly China.

Thirdly, the movie’s most serious flaw is its argument that the main reason the U.S. government spends trillions on military activity is sheer corporate greed. That is, the reason why the U.S. fights wars is because weapons companies are driven to make profits from armaments production. This is simply false. The U.S. government accounts for half the world’s military expenditures — a huge percentage of the federal budget is devoted to military activity — because U.S. imperialism has a driving need to maintain its profit empire throughout the world in the face of increasing inter-imperialist rivalry.

The film fails to report that since the 1970’s U.S. bosses have been losing market share to their rivals: Europe, Japan, Russia and China. It didn’t explain that imperialism — capitalist competition on a global scale — inevitably results in war.

This movie is not anti-war. It merely opposes misguided or "poorly-waged" war. When Senator John McCain says in the film: "[Eisenhower] was worried that priorities are set by what benefits corporations as opposed to what benefits the country," he means arms companies’ short-term profits contradict the long-term need of the U.S. ruling class to field an effective, powerful fighting force which these rulers need to defeat their rivals in future wars. McCain and the movie are only complaining about the excessive or corrupt aspects of U.S. imperialism. They think the U.S. military is bloated with overpriced military contracts with armaments companies which make ineffective weapons, jet fighters or warships.

The movie wants to discipline the bosses who get too greedy. Today, the main wing of the U.S. ruling class is disciplining all capitalists, an aspect of fascism.

The bosses are worried. They need middle-class and working-class people to support fascism here and die for U.S. imperialism abroad. They need to win them to war and fascism through fear and pseudo-humanitarian lies. This movie is part of this deception.

The movie does show that the U.S. military has killed many innocent Iraqis and that Bush lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction as the excuse to invade Iraq. But this is already known by millions. It’s up to us in PLP to give people the full analysis of why capitalism breeds imperialist war and fascism and why peace is impossible under this profit system.

Cooperation Comes From Our Struggles, Not Our Genes

The article (3/29), "Chimps and Humans: Cooperation is the Link," makes the important point that selfishness is not a necessary or "natural" part of human nature. However, it’s a mistake to say cooperation is "natural" and inherited.

The recent German study cited in the article demonstrated that chimpanzees cooperate. That’s an important observation about animals that are evolutionarily close to humans. Jane Goodall’s studies have reported this about gorillas in the wild. She and others have also shown that apes use tools. But they’ve also shown that gorillas and chimpanzees can be violent towards one another, carry out murder and cannibalism, protect territory and engage in dominant-submissive behavior (with "alpha-male" leaders). Does this mean, therefore, that violence, territoriality and social hierarchy are "natural"? Hardly.

The biological basis of social behavior — the real "link" between chimps and humans — is the highly-developed brain and certain other physical characteristics: having an apposing thumb and forefinger, which makes grasping and manipulating objects much easier, as well as walking upright. These biological features, especially the brain with its mental capacity known as thinking, allowed early humans to engage in increasingly complex forms of labor and ultimately create ancient societies, like Egypt, for example, which certainly did demonstrate social cooperation. Consider the cooperative labor — not to mention the thinking involving mathematics, chemistry and physics — it took to build the pyramids. But ancient Egyptian society was also filled with violence, war and sharp class differences.

There is nothing "natural" about cooperation. It has no gene. What is natural and inherited is the biological basis of social behavior — the brain, apposing thumb and so on — which creates the potential for cooperation, but also creates the potential for many other kinds of social behavior, including selfishness. It’s taken thousands of years of social activity — including labor, class struggle, and the creation of ideas (like those about communist revolution and cooperative living) — before human society attained the potential for worldwide communism. (See Frederick Engels, "The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man.")

The notion that cooperation is natural or inherited is attractive on the surface. But it’s really another example of biological determinism, the general set of ideas that says social behavior — cooperation, selfishness, war, racism, sexism, whatever — is in our genes. (Sociobiology is a recent example of this reactionary view.) PLP has been fighting biological determinism for many years. We should continue this struggle with our friends, on the job and at school, and in CHALLENGE.

A Comrade

Under communism: Will There Be Borders?

The short answer is "No, what for?" Borders are a device used by bosses to make it possible to exploit the labor power of workers. They will have no use to the working class after workers around the world have defeated the bosses, freed ourselves from capitalism and organized ourselves into an egalitarian, sharing communist society.

Borders are relatively new. They didn’t always exist, and they haven’t always been where they are today. For example, before Europeans arrived, hundreds of Native American Indian tribes across North America, each with their own language and customs, had no borders. They hunted and gathered or grew food, and occasionally fought over the exclusive rights to use sections of the landscape, but borders were never drawn — even when their home bases were relatively fixed. They also forged agreements to share regions.

Even Europe only developed national borders in the last few thousand years of human existence, though humans have been around for tens of thousands of years.

Fixed and drawn borders arose only when societies became more complex, developing the ability to store a surplus not needed immediately. Rather than everyone having to spend most of the day finding or producing food, a surplus allowed a differentiation of labor. Surpluses also made it possible for some people to do less work and to manipulate others through superstition, magic or religion. This led to class divisions in society that are still with us worldwide thousands of years later, even though the relationship between exploiting and exploited classes has gone through various changes of form — slavery, feudalism, capitalism.

Ruling and exploiting classes developed a need to possess land for the wealth that could be produced or stored on it. So they developed borders and forced slaves and poor peasants and workers to fight and kill each other to expand one ruling class’s borders at the expense of another.

Today the entire world is divided into nations with basically fixed borders that rarely shift. Ruling classes use borders, among other reasons, to try to confine workers to different sections of the earth (nations). This makes it easier for the bosses to exploit our labor, mainly by making us believe in and fight for "our" nation — nationalism or patriotism. Many workers, meanwhile, struggle to escape those boss-imposed borders in order to find work and survive.

The U.S. bosses and their media refer to undocumented immigrants by the curt racist term "illegals." But the determinants of what is and isn’t illegal depends on which bosses outmaneuver the others. After all, the present border between the U.S. and Mexico was established in the mid-1800’s when U.S. President Polk declared war to steal from Mexico’s bosses what is now California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Shortly after this so-called Mexican War, in 1853, the U.S. government bought for pennies the southern part of Arizona below the Gila River for the railroads. The war, along with that "purchase," established the current border.

No politician in either the U.S. or Mexico has ever opposed the existence of borders, despite differences on the details. Whether they call for a thousand-mile fence or a welcoming "guest worker" program, they all want borders in order to facilitate exploitation of workers. When the conservative/reactionary McCain and the liberal Kennedy can cooperate to offer an immigration bill, it’s clear that liberals and conservatives agree on the maintenance of borders. They’re two sides of the same capitalist coin.

Current demonstrations by millions of workers and youth against the various border bills in Congress are dominated by a nationalist orientation, organized and fostered by the capitalists (see CHALLENGE editorial, 4/26, page 1). They reflect two factors: (1) immigrant workers and youth are angry over victimization by racist attacks, labeled "illegal" while forced to work on slave-labor jobs for poverty wages; and (2) the liberal section of the ruling class wants a new law enabling it to enforce social control over immigrant workers in order to maintain low wages— especially in factories producing war materials. They also dangle citizenship over mainly Latino youth as a lure for them to join the military to fight the bosses’ oil wars.

Recent mass protests — by immigrant workers, students and their allies — make a fatal mistake by carrying national flags of either the U.S. or of their countries of origin. Communists declare that workers and their struggles have no borders. The goal should be to destroy those divisions separating us by nationality, and to unite us as one world’s working class. On May Day, and every day, the only flag we should wave is the red one, representing the international working class. Our chants should be "Workers of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains!"

The future destruction of all borders by workers worldwide is not just a pipe dream. During World War I, soldiers from several warring countries stopped shooting and fraternized with each other, over the objections of their officers. In the build-up to World War II, workers from many countries volunteered to fight in Spain against the Nazi/Fascist-backed forces of Franco. Such international working-class united action is PLP’s goal.