Challenge August 2 2006

From Mumbai to Lebanon . . . US Iraq War Fiasco Causes Endless Bloody Crisis

2,000 Arab-Jewish Protestors Slam War

‘Butt’ Heard ‘Round the World Exposes Racism at World Cup

PL’ers Spark Fight on War, Immigration ‘Reform’ at NEA Convention

UAW Leaders ‘Choice’ to Auto Workers: Unemployment Now, or Later

Oaxaca Teachers’ Strike and Miltant Class Struggle

Unite Against Guest Worker Slavery

Collective Clean-up — A Microcosm of Communism

Miami Arrests Signal Mass Racist Terror

Brooklynites Protest Ratner Housing Rip-off

Education ‘Reform’ Masks Aim for Schools to Serve Ruling Class Even More


India’s ‘Miracle’ Enslaves 6-year-olds

Workers Seeing Through Capitalism’s Illusions

Steel Bosses Fight Dog Eat Dog

Immigrant Airport Workers Study Red Ideas

Mexico Electoral Fraud: Millionaires Vs. Millionaires

UMW Reform Fight Fertile Ground for PLP

Non-Profits Build Fascism


Forward to Communism: In the 1930’s Soviet Union, Many Workers Organized for Communism Rather than Socialism

Liberal Bosses Showing Their True ( WAR ) Colors

From Mumbai to Lebanon . . . US Iraq War Fiasco Causes Endless Bloody Crisis

Israel’s raids into Lebanon and Gaza have killed hundreds of non-combatants, as of July 14. Terrorists’ bombs killed 200 commuters in Mumbai, India, on July 11. North Korea had test-fired seven missiles in Japan’s direction the week before. While rooted in separate regional rivalries, these acts and threats of mass murder all reflect increasing challenges to U.S. imperialism’s supremacy.

Among the U.S.’s foes here, however, there are no good guys, just capitalists seeking a bigger piece of the profit pie for themselves. Hamas’s leaders, for example, despite being underdogs, are perfectly willing to lob rockets onto children to maintain control of the Palestinian Authority’s cheap labor racket, once run by Arafat.

Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s ties to Iran, not their seizure of Israeli soldiers, motivate Israel’s massive assault on Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. In the past, Israel settled such kidnappings through prisoner swaps, including the exchange of 436 Hezbollah supporters for a single Israeli intelligence agent in 2004. But now, with Iran’s ayatollahs threatening to wipe Israel off the map and developing the nuclear means that could threaten Israeli’s nuclear monopoly in the region (Israel has more than 200 nuclear weapons), Israeli rulers have decided to strike pre-emptively. They deliberately provoked the hostage-taking to furnish phony grounds for crushing the Teheran-backed forces in their midst. Although Washington bankrolls Israel’s war machine with $3 billion a year, the Israeli brass moved apparently without U.S. approval. The gunslinger hired to patrol the heart of the U.S. oil empire is once again proving highly unreliable.

Iran’s newfound boldness towards Israel stems from Bush’s bungling in Iraq. The Wall Street Journal (7/14) reports, "The Iraq war has made Israel significantly less safe....Iran has used the conflict to project its influence across Iraq and the Persian Gulf region." The Iraq fiasco also underlies the "world’s sole superpower’s" relative powerlessness in the crisis. "With U.S. troops tied down in Iraq...the White House has little desire for a broader regional conflict that could bring a head-on clash with Iran right now." (WSJ, 7/14) Along with Iran, the big winners here are Russia, which is helping Iran build its nuke program, and China, Iran’s top oil and gas customer. For now, the U.S., though a pariah in world opinion, must counter Iran’s rise through diplomacy. Exploiting U.S. weakness, Russia and China recently killed "a U.S.-backed [UN] measure demanding that Iran stop enrichment activities and threatening sanctions and the use of armed force." (Bloomberg News, 7/12) Iran’s buddies succeeded in substituting "a package of incentives."

No matter who perpetrated the Mumbai massacre, it sets back U.S. plans to enlist India as a bulwark against Russia and China. As various sources blame Kashmir-based Islamists and Pakistani intelligence, tensions heighten between India and Pakistan, shifting India’s focus toward nuclear-armed Pakistan and away from its blossoming love-fest with the U.S. Bills that would bless "atomic trade" between the U.S. and India await passage on Capitol Hill. India-British-U.S. Mittal is concluding its takeover of Europe’s Arcelor, making Mittal the world’s largest producer of steel, crucial to both industry and war-making.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) focuses its July/August issue of Foreign Affairs on India with articles like "India and the Balance of Power" and "America’s New Strategic Partner?" But the Boston Globe editorialized (7/14) that the train bombers’ goal may have been "to punish India for entering into a strategic alliance with the United States." Along with its rosy forecasts for the subcontinent, Foreign Affairs warns, "the dispute over Kashmir could still spark a war between India and Pakistan." The CFR website highlights an article predicting nearly 3 million deaths at the outset of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

In return for $2 billion in aid since 2003, North Korea allies with China, just as U.S. rulers had hoped Israel would serve them, but both these "junior partners" also have their own interests as well. "With the U.S. preoccupied in Iraq, China embarked on a quiet policy of self-interest: to strengthen North Korea as a ‘buffer state’ between China and South Korea. China does not want the North to collapse, and for U.S. troops to fill the vacuum and appear on its northeast border." (Christian Science Monitor, 7/10)

China contributed generously to the creation of the long- and longer-range Korean missiles that help tie up over 100,000 U.S. ground troops in South Korea and Japan and make the entire U.S. Seventh Fleet unavailable for Mid-East action. China’s Korea strategy buttresses its ongoing plan to challenge the U.S. for control of Persian Gulf oil.

We should not conclude that the U.S., handcuffed militarily at present, will shy from war. Quite the opposite. Even before the recent escalation in killing in Iraq, the CFR boasted that the U.S. campaign was slaughtering "between fifty and a hundred a day." (CFR, 6/15/06) U.S. rulers know they have much more to do — seizing the entire Middle East and its oil and preparing to take on China and Russia. Their problem is mobilizing the nation to do it.

One tack they’re trying is anti-Arab racist militarism. (See page 5) But that appeals only to a segment of the population, like the gang of U.S. soldiers — the leader a born-again Christian — who raped an Iraqi girl and then killed her and her family. The rulers are also trying to promote Al Gore’s environmentalism to promote the government as savior and protector. [See article next issue.] But the Green Movement doesn’t produce the killers the bosses need. The Vietnam Syndrome, essentially mass opposition to profit-driven wars, continues to haunt them.

Organizing soldiers to join workers and students in the fight against U.S. imperialism is the main way to fight U.S. war-makers, not relying on U.S. capitalist rivals like Hezbollah or Iran or China. This latest Middle-East explosion has the potential to escalate at some point into a much wider war. This will accelerate the bosses’ need to militarize society and put more "boots on the ground." It is incumbent to raise, and oppose, this looming attack on the working class in unions, campus groups, churches, parent associations, and all other mass organizations.

As the world’s bosses create one crisis after another, the opportunity for us to mobilize millions in a revolutionary communist movement against the profit system’s endless wars lies open.

2,000 Arab-Jewish Protestors Slam War*

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Israel supports the war-making rulers. On July 16, some 2,000 Arab and Jewish anti-war demonstrators rallied in Tel Aviv to protest the Israeli bosses’ military strikes in Southern Lebanon. Police arrested three protesters, claiming they were holding a demonstration without a permit. (NY Times, 7/17)

According to YNet, an Israeli web service, the protesters, who marched from Hen Boulevards toward King George Street, chanted slogans such as "Olmert agreed with Bush: War and occupation"; "Stop the war monstrosity"; and, "Say no to the brutal bombardments on Gaza." They also accused Defense Minister Amir Peretz (a Labor Party leader who joined the government) of murdering children in Gaza, and recited: "Peretz, don’t worry, we’ll be seeing you at The Hague." (Site of the war crimes tribunals)

Hours after the attack on Lebanon began, 200 demonstrators picketed Peretz’s Jerusalem office. Also on July 16, a smaller protest occurred in the Haifa Central Train Depot where a Hezbollah rocket had landed shortly before.

‘Butt’ Heard ‘Round the World Exposes Racism at World Cup

Just like in the U.S., racism is growing across Europe, especially against immigrants, and a major expression of it was seen by more than a billion people watching the recent World Cup of Football. The racist attack on France’s star football player Zinedine Zidane proves once again that whenever racists spew their filth they’re protected while when anti-racists fight back, they’re condemned by the rulers’ media.

In the Cup finals, Zidane, playing his last professional match, was ejected when he flattened the Italian player Marco Materazzi. Italy went on to win the Cup in penalty kicks and immediately the pundits denounced Zidane for a "classless act." But of course, as in many such incidents, there’s appearance and there’s essence.

Zidane was reacting to the most revolting racist attack by Materazzi. According to a transcript recorded by an employee of FIFA (Federation of International Football Association), Materazzi called Zidane a "big Algerian shit." The French anti-racist organization SOS-Racism said Materazzi also labeled Zidane a "dirty terrorist." And a Brazilian TV station that hired lip-readers to watch the video of the confrontation reported that Materazzi called Zidane’s sister "a prostitute."

Less noted was the grabbing, kicking and fouling of Zidane all game long by Italy’s defenders. Said French defender William Gallas, "The Italians did everything they could to provoke Zidane." (NY Post, 7/11) Obviously their racism was designed to get Zidane to explode, with the hope that it would get him ejected and give Italy a better chance to win the Cup — which is exactly what happened.

Lately it was reported that Zidane is saying the attack didn’t involve racism; rather it was "personal," against his "manhood." Whether this is because Zidane feels that labeling it a racist attack will reduce his corporate sponsorship earning power or because the French government is pressuring him to play down the racism for fear of sparking the kind of anti-racist rebellions that erupted last fall, the fact remains that there’s too much evidence to indicate racism is at the heart of it.

Racist insults by right-wing fans against non-white players are very common throughout Europe. Soccer in Italy itself "has a long history of racist behavior…. Materazzi’s father…managed Lazio, an infamously right-wing racist club…[whose] players openly have used the fascist stiff-arm salute at games." (NY Post) Materazzi will be playing for Lazio this year. Its "fan club, The Ultras, are notorious for their Fascist-friendly politics" and "have members in Italy’s extra-parliamentary far right…. The group has frequently used racist and anti-Semitic banners, one…50-foot banner [saying]…their opponents were a "team of n------." (Dave Zirin’s weekly column; available by e-mailing:

Now, "during post-game festivities, Roberto Calderoli, the former minister of reform and a member of the right-wing National Alliance Party,…[said] Italy had vanquished a French team made up of ‘Negroes, Communists and Muslims.’" (NY Times, 7/12)

In a recent match in Sicily, Messina’s star African player Marc Zoro picked up the ball and walked off the field, protesting the racist chants raining down on him. Many of his opponent players showed support for him, except one who yelled, "Stop that, Zoro, you’re just trying to make a name for yourself." It was none other than this same racist, Marco Materazzi.

Zidane himself, whose parents immigrated to France from Algeria, grew up poor in Marseille’s housing projects and was often taunted for his Algerian roots. It was this kind of racism that sparked last year’s youth rebellions in France. Zidane "has sparred verbally with Europe’s far-right political machine for more than a decade. He is an outspoken anti-racist on a team…[that] stands up against bigotry both inside and outside the sport." (Zirin) Zidane was ejected twice "for striking foes who had taunted his religion or ‘race.’"

Given all this, the "butt heard ’round the world" was only a token of what pro-fascist racists like Materazzi really deserve.

PL’ers Spark Fight on War, Immigration ‘Reform’ at NEA Convention

ORLANDO, FL., July 12 — Last week, almost 10,000 teachers and educational professionals met here at the Convention of the National Education Association (NEA). PLP members have raised — and won friends to — communist ideas at these meetings for many years.

This year the PL contingent’s key issues to discuss with teachers were imperialist war, immigration reform policy, the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and support for the teachers’ strike in Oaxaca, Mexico. While we raised the need for that support, we lost control of the motion, and were unable to include language saying that the PRD candidate for President of Mexico, Lopez Obrador, would not solve the problems faced by teachers and students. But the convention did act in international solidarity by voting to send $10,000 to Section 22 of the teachers’ union in Oaxaca to help with the medical bills of teachers and their supporters attacked by the police.

Through distribution of more than 2,000 leaflets and 200 CHALLENGES, discussions and floor activity we argued that inter-imperialist rivalry — the main contradiction in the world today — must be seen as the primary reason for the fights over immigration and education reform. We explained that the U.S. ruling class is worried that its industrial base and troop levels here are dismally low for their future imperialist needs. (A colleague from the Peace and Justice Caucus told one comrade she would like to send her daughter to work with us to learn what communists do.)

We noted that war and fascism are the order of the day now; that both the McCain-Kennedy and Hagel-Martinez immigration reform acts are attempts to win immigrants to patriotism and, through the DREAM Act and similar language, compel immigrant students to enter the armed forces to obtain "legal" status. We addressed this on the floor and also in our state delegations and caucus meetings. Many teachers were totally unaware of how the DREAM Act pushes immigrant youth into the military, and were interested in PL’s ideas on the Act’s link to widening war and inter-imperialist rivalry.

We fought to include international solidarity with Iraqi teachers, students and parents in the motion calling for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, leaving no bases behind. The Convention didn’t consider this motion, although a voice vote clearly supported doing so. In both this vote and in the discussion of the DREAM Act, the NEA leadership used parliamentary maneuvers to ensure that the Convention would not discuss main issues putting the union in opposition to the Democrats and the liberal bosses.

We attacked the role of the Broad and Gates Foundations in preparing schools for war, as well as the broader implications of NCLB, saying that under capitalism all educational reform legislation, serves the ruling class’s need to train loyal soldiers and workers for imperialist war. Again, delegates thanked us for connecting the dots, and explaining the links between these issues.

Hundreds of delegates read leaflets with these positions, but we also discussed them with our close friends over dinner, at which delegates — both PL’ers and friends — reviewed our political ideas and convention strategy to implement them at the convention. This work here reflects years of activity in our union locals.

Our co-workers attend these conventions to fight attacks on their livelihood and on public education. Teachers nationwide, including from rural states in which we have very little contact, go to these conventions looking for leadership. Many are open to our point of view. The convention allows us to spend more time at social events and during boring floor speeches better acquainting ourselves with teachers from home and from around the country, and engaging in more political discussion with them. As the crisis of capitalism sharpens, more of these teachers can be won to join PLP in fighting for communist revolution as the only solution to this system of war, racism and exploitation.

UAW Leaders ‘Choice’ to Auto Workers: Unemployment Now, or Later

DETROIT, MI, June 27 — At the United Auto Workers convention in Las Vegas, June 11-16, the union leadership rewarded itself with pay hikes while giving auto bosses over $15 billion in wage and healthcare concessions from active and retired workers and agreeing to the possible elimination of more than 40 plants and 80,000 jobs. GM and Ford market share has dropped and UAW membership has sunk to one-third of its former peak. While GM and Ford close plants, Honda, Toyota and Mercedes are opening new non-union shops in the U.S.

While about 2,000 delegates and staff let the good times roll, 12,600 at Delphi and 35,000 at GM were abandoning ship, taking buyouts and early retirements negotiated by the union. Meanwhile, a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved Delphi's plan that could eliminate nearly all 33,000 U.S. hourly workers within six months. At the convention, former UAW President Doug Fraser said that the "beauty" of the buyout agreement is that "it leaves it up to ‘personal choice.’ That way, it doesn’t look like the union is 100% on the side of the company."

"Personal choice" under capitalism means unemployment now or unemployment a little later.

More than one-third of all U.S. GM and Delphi hourly workers will be gone by the end of the year, allowing GM to beat its target of cutting 30,000 jobs in North America more than two years ahead of schedule and reducing its production capacity to reflect its shrinking U.S. market share. The job and health care cuts for retirees and other sweeping measures will save GM $8 billion annually after losing $10.6 billion last year.

In April, UAW Vice-President Bob King told a conference sponsored by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank that the union "made a conscious choice to put aside the adversarial approach. We believe adversarial relationships drive manufacturing jobs out of the country." (Detroit News, 4/20) Next summer, he will "put aside the adversarial approach" and lead the contract bargaining at Ford. He also tried to stop a picket line at Ford World Headquarters over the firing of some black engineers. He said, "We don’t need that kind of publicity. We’re trying to sell cars." Union "leaders" turned car salesmen!

Replacing King as VP in charge of National Organizing, Terry Thurman is the former director of Region 3 in Indiana and Kentucky. It was in Indiana that Chrysler sold a parts plant to Metaldyne, and King and Thurman teamed up to force workers into accepting more than $10/hour pay cuts so that Metaldyne would "recognize" the union.

Black workers and youth in Detroit, Flint, Toledo and other cities have been devastated by the retreat of the U.S. auto bosses — driven by capitalism’s inherent competition for maximum profits — leaving behind crumbling schools, few if any public services, poverty and police terror. Racist unemployment for black workers is still double what it is for whites, and the income gap is growing.

Capitalism’s contradictions and inter-imperialist rivalry cannot be resolved at the bargaining table — ultimately only by imperialist war. The union leaders want us to follow the Democrats to bigger and deadlier wars. For the international working class, the only solution is communist revolution. We will prepare for the 2007 contract talks by expanding the base of CHALLENGE readers and distributors and adding layers of class struggle and personal ties.

Oaxaca Teachers’ Strike and Miltant Class Struggle

OAXACA, MEXICO, July 10 — The teachers and the workers here are writing one of the most militant pages in the history of class struggle in this Mexican state. The fight for better living conditions and against Governor Ulises Ruiz — signified y the mega march of 500,000 workers supporting the striking teachers — showed a desire for a minimum of dignity for the workers of Oaxaca. But our struggle must be for everything because we the workers create everything.

Oaxaca’s teachers face great obstacles. The federal government won’t grant teacher demands for higher wages despite reaping millions from rising oil prices. Oaxaca’s teachers’ movement has the potential to affect workers’ wages nationwide. A wage hike for Oaxaca teachers could spark similar demands from more than a million other teachers and from tens of millions of other workers. This would wreck the bosses’ and politicians’ plans to maintain current starvation wages. Capitalism and its government exist to exploit the working class.

That’s why mass support is needed from their fellow teachers and other workers across the country. Workers in the fields and the cities must stand in solidarity with this struggle. We’re all part of the same working class and affected by this struggle. There are no isolated problems or solutions. The attacks on the Oaxaca teachers are an assault on the entire international working class.

The workers in the area must understand that using the vote to "punish" the PRI and PAN parties for their dirty role in repressing the Oaxaca striking teachers only benefits another part of the entire capitalist election scam, the PRD. The root of our problems is this whole profit system in which the governments and its electoral parties faithfully represent and defend the bosses’ interests. They hardly care about the welfare of the working class.

As workers our main objective in these struggles must be exposure of these forces since their main function is to divide the working class and legitimize its exploitation. Our main job — be it teachers, miners, factory workers or farm workers — must be to organize the entire exploited class to destroy this capitalist system with communist revolution, led by the Progressive Labor Party.

Our participation in these class struggles is crucial to achieving this. We, the working class, don’t need anyone to rule over us, since we are the only ones who create wealth. We can change the world and establish workers’ power.

PLP members stand in solidarity with the Oaxaca teachers and with the rest of the struggles of the international working class.

Unite Against Guest Worker Slavery

July 12 — We live in a diabolical country in a diabolical time, and New Orleans has become a laboratory for crushing the working class in the U.S. The rulers are importing "guest workers" to do the jobs low-paid black workers had before Hurricane Katrina.

If they don’t substantially lower our wages, they won’t be able to compete worldwide. If they don’t win us to fight their wars, they won’t be able to stay top imperialist dog. We must help people understand that the working class needs to unite and fight racism against black and immigrants workers, and against imperialist wars. Eventually workers will have to take matters — and power — into our own hands by fighting for communism: a world with no exploitation, racism and endless wars.

The Democratic Party and some immigrant rights groups are promoting the H2B or Guest Worker program. What guest workers face in New Orleans is a window to the future they want for everyone.

XXXXX Hotels  recruits unemployed workers from Peru, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic, workers who see an opportunity to work for maybe ten months at U.S. wages and send money home to their struggling families. They’re told that for an up-front investment of $5,000-$10,000, they will get the necessary papers and transportation. They sign long contracts written in English, agreeing to work for $6.39 per hour for 60-80 hour a week with time-and-one-half for overtime, totaling $25,000. They’re promised rooms in the hotels where they work, with swimming pools. They borrow the up-front money and plan to work very hard.

But upon arrival they’re charged $50 a week for a bunk bed in a room with four workers designed for two and no pool access. The rent plus $8 per meal (about four hour’s labor per day) and employee taxes are deducted directly from their paychecks. They pay into Medicare but have no healthcare coverage. They are moved frequently from hotel to hotel and have no phones to contact their families. They get 24-40 hours of work per week ($6,000-$10,000 for the contract). They work, eat and sleep under the eye of the boss. If they leave, they’re automatically "illegal" and can be deported. When they eventually return home, they’re still in debt for at least the original $5,000 -$10,000. This forced labor is slavery!

Other immigrants are working all sorts of jobs under similar conditions. Day laborers hang around building-supply stores and street corners, hoping for a day’s work. XXXXX Hotels rents these workers cots in their parking lot for $50 a week. Before Katrina this city was 70% black. Now, immigrants work on construction sites and on sanitation crews and do landscaping for less wages than black workers used to earn.

The bosses want black workers to blame immigrants for "stealing" their jobs. But many black workers understand that the same bosses who left them to die are now preventing them from coming home while bringing guest workers into the city.

There are many lessons to be learned from the fascist laboratory that is New Orleans. The main one is that this city can also be a place to build a mass integrated, international PLP. Our Summer Project here in this epicenter of racism is energizing our members and friends, winning new recruits and developing more leaders, especially among black and Latin youth.

Collective Clean-up — A Microcosm of Communism

The New Orleans government has warned that it will completely demolish all homes not gutted by August 29, the anniversary of Katrina. The city’s poorest areas, including the hardest-hit 9th Ward, ironically have the highest number per capita of completely paid-off homes of any area in the U.S. So, in order not to lose them completely to government bulldozers, the owners are highly motivated to gut their ruined houses of moldy walls and water-logged furniture, the only way they can be repaired and made habitable.

But a gutting crew costs $6,000, plus repairs. Residents will need to use their pensions (if any), savings (if any) and Social Security for rebuilding materials, which have doubled in cost since Katrina. Meanwhile, there’s nowhere to live, since homes are unsafe until gutted. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) temporary trailer parks provided after Katrina are literally concentration camps — surrounded by police forces — and too far from people’s homes or jobs, whatever few jobs are available. Residents say the lack of FEMA funding and scarcity of trailers has made FEMA a "four letter word not to be used."

Not only are government bureaucracies like FEMA incompetent, but rebuilding projects have been deliberately designed to fail. Grossly inadequate one-foot-thick new levees built in working-class neighborhoods are in blatant contrast with levees half-a-football-field-thick built to protect commercial areas, the French Quarter and the Garden District’s rich mansions.

Volunteers, mostly young people, from all around the country, donate their vacation time from high school and college.Five to twelve in a crew perform this serious task. The work is truly "from each according to commitment" since both men and women wield sledgehammers; the heavy lifting requires teamwork. First, the appliances and flood-soaked beds and sofas are carried to the curb. The stench of maggot-infested food and refrigerant flow from refrigerators. Volunteers suffer nausea, often vomiting, and must bear the continuous smell of mold until the walls are demolished.

We wear heavy work boots, donated Teflon suits, masks, goggles, rubber gloves under work gloves, in 100-degree heat and virtually 100% humidity, producing instant sweat, immediate mold smell inside the mask and fogged goggles. Yet, we are in this as a unit. We work as one: carrying and pushing, the whole crew lifting sodden, plaster-filled carpets together. Then some break the sheet rock with sledgehammers, others with crowbars and others climb to the second floor to kick down the ceiling, the molding and the ventilating system and fans. Almost everything goes into wheelbarrows, pushed through sludge to the street. Insulation is lifted from between the frame. We remove the last of the clothing — still on hangers — the cookware from kitchen drawers and the soaked books and teddy bears.

Then hundreds of nails are tediously removed from the frame, sometimes taking two days. The floors are then swept clean.

One volunteer said this process of working together was a little like building communism: always listening when someone asks for help, taking breaks when needed for water and meals and working for as long as needed.

The way we share the sandwiches, the food at the volunteer shelter, cooking there and cleaning collectively, gives us a glimpse of a future society. The willingness and motivation to work hard for the common good, and completely without pay, shows us that many people are made of the "right stuff" for communism.

Mass Sale of CHALLENGE At Housing Complex

On a recent trip to New Orleans to participate in the fight against racism — to help Katrina victims move back home — a group of PLP’ers sold CHALLENGE at a local public housing complex. Residents received us warmly. They had made a militant struggle to re-enter their homes and now live under the threat of being forced out by capitalist shock troops — cops and the National Guard. We developed contacts among the residents, who wanted to know more about PLP. A local bodega agreed to take a bundle of CHALLENGES regularly.

We raised many aspects of our revolutionary communist ideas with volunteers as well as residents, but we need to achieve a more mass distribution of CHALLENGE. Some of us were working under conditions we were unaccustomed to, but this main task sometimes got lost in all our other activities.

This project is good training in trying to emphasize revolutionary ideas as opposed to liberal reform, especially as fascism grows throughout the U.S., helping us learn how to function in fascist-like conditions.

A Project Participant

Miami Arrests Signal Mass Racist Terror

The arrest of seven young black men in Miami for allegedly plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago is the latest stop on the U.S. rulers’ road to fascism. The U.S. Attorney for South Florida, R. Alexander Acosta, told the media that these confused young men had "developed a hatred of America." Yes, they probably did hate the racist and oppressive conditions experienced by millions of black workers and youth in ghettos nationwide. That’s now become a terrorist crime, punishable under the fascist Patriot Act.

Photographs of these black men, some Haitian immigrants, some in dreadlocks, were plastered on every major newspaper’s front page. Ten years ago, the headlines would have read, "Predators" or Wolf Pack." Today they’re branded as "terrorists" and charged with having planned an event as big as 9/11, all to inspire racist terror in the population.

The racist rulers need fascism to mobilize the population for bigger and deadlier wars, and to crush any potential resistance to their increasing attacks on workers. These arrests reflect the merger of the racist "war on crime/war on drugs," which imprisoned over one million black workers and youth, with the "war on terror."

Those arrested are from Miami’s Liberty City section, a ghetto of mostly black workers with high unemployment, plenty of racist police terror and the scene of numerous rebellions. Dozens of federal cops in fatigues with automatic weapons swarmed over the neighborhood. Bush’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claims these young men swore an oath to Al Qaeda, and planned to wage "a full ground war against the United States." (Miami Herald, 6/23)

However, the Herald also says, "[A]fter sweeps of various locations in Miami, government agents found no explosives or weapons." And according to one defense attorney, an undercover FBI agent was the only person who ever claimed any connection to Al Qaeda. Those arrested didn’t have the money to buy cars, radios, uniforms, guns or boots. According to the indictment, they allegedly asked the FBI agent for $50,000 and gave him their shoe sizes.

The FBI has a long history of infiltration and cold-blooded murder. In the 1960’s, FBI informers inside the KKK, acting on orders from their FBI handlers, participated in the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young black girls, and in the murders of Civil Rights workers, from Viola Liuzzo to Goodman, Cheney and Schwerner. In 1980, an FBI informant was in the lead car of a KKK caravan that killed and wounded about a dozen members of the Communist Workers Party in Greensboro, N.C.

In the 1970’s, FBI agents played a major role in the trial of the "Panther 21" in NYC. Like the Miami 7, the "Panther 21" were on trial for "planning" to blow up the NYC subway, the Bronx Zoo and other sites. At the trial, FBI infiltrators, some actually leaders of the Panther Party, testified that they in fact, had "planned" everything and couldn’t get the "21" to cooperate. The "21" were acquitted, but the exposure of the degree of infiltration quickened the Panthers’ downfall.

The FBI, Homeland Security, local "Red Squads" and other cops are all busy making plans to attack and undermine any threats to the ruling class, real or imagined. The main antidote to police infiltration and provocation is to have solid personal/political ties among many workers and youth. Having a mass base for PLP makes it harder for "strangers" to appear and suggest something crazy. And when they do, they will stand out like a sore thumb. Our response to this fascist attack should be to work harder to build a mass PLP.

Brooklynites Protest Ratner Housing Rip-off

BROOKLYN, NY, July 10 — My church’s Social Club hosted a panel discussion on a massive, controversial $3.4 billion development project called Atlantic Yards, to be built in the center of Brooklyn. All but one speaker opposed the project even though 40 proponents were invited. The opposing speakers presented a horror story of the destruction of the neighborhood at taxpayers’ expense, to benefit corporate developer Bruce Ratner. They exposed secrecy, lies and false promises of jobs and affordable housing. The way this project is being jammed through against popular will is one sign of growing fascism.

Atlantic Yards encompasses 22 acres for a New Jersey NETS basketball arena, seventeen 40-story luxury buildings and a showcase "Miss Brooklyn" building shaped like a 62-story wedding dress! The project will destroy a working-class neighborhood. Vehicular traffic would increase 50% while the main arteries are now at 100% of capacity. There are no plans to increase already overcrowded subway lines in the area.

For Ratner to seize thousands of existing households, the Supreme Court had to redefine "eminent domain" — "commercial gain" rather than public good "now rules over personal property." The proposal is in the State Legislature’s hands, by-passing city regulations.

There has been no popular input, only closed-door meetings. Other contractors were barred from offering bids. Ratner has bought off opposition groups like ACORN with large donations. They and others say they believe Ratner’s claim of "making progress" and "improving the lives of the needy," by his commitment to 3,800 permanent "minority" jobs and 1,800 affordable housing units. But Ratner won’t commit to numbers in writing, and his track record is the opposite. Because there is an affordable-housing component, the project gets heavy State subsidies and Ratner gets the billions.

One panelist charged that the affordable housing would be built off-site, belying the dream of some workers receiving the same housing benefits as the rich by living next door. Another speaker declared there is no future here, just minimal jobs.

The room was filled with anger at the process allowing this project, and also great appreciation for those who are tirelessly trying to stop it. DDDB (Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn) has 400 active volunteers. Local community papers, musicians and movie celebrities have voiced opposition.

But a friend asked, "What’s PLP’s view on this project?" We say this struggle rips the mask off the so-called democratic process, where billions of public monies are funneled to greedy capitalists, a clear example of fascist assault on working-class needs. As long as capitalism exists we can expect more such assaults.

Currently we probably don’t have the strength to halt this luxury housing scheme built at working-class expense, just as we can’t stop Halliburton profiteering from "cleaning up" New Orleans or Iraq. It may be that more powerful capitalists will stop Ratner because they can’t afford to give this petty contractor billions, needing to fortify their position while being chased from Iraq to China. The ruling class makes the decisions because they have State power. A victory in this struggle is winning our friends to understand that logic and debate will not stop capitalism. We need workers’ power and communist revolution to wrest state power from the bosses; therefore, we need to win our friends to see that they must join PLP to strive towards this goal.

Education ‘Reform’ Masks Aim for Schools to Serve Ruling Class Even More

Modern war, when unleashed on a world scale, is total war. It requires detailed preparation by the state or government. The current quest by the liberal wing of the U.S. ruling class — the Rockefeller-led grouping - for domination of the world’s oil —reserves is not yet war on a world scale. They themselves say it could require 30 years of war. Since no major imperialist power besides Britain has signed on to it, it could unleash world war at any time — one launched by an imperialist power which, while dominating in military hardware, is rapidly losing its industrial or manufacturing prowess. In short, there’s a certain desperation in this quest.

"Meet Donald Fisher," says the San Francisco Weekly, "the private billionaire with unprecedented sway over ordinary San Franciscans’ lives." Fisher is the retired founder of GAP stores. According to Forbes magazine his family fortune places him among the world’s top 120 billionaires.

So far, he’s donated some $46 million to the 52 Charter schools organized by KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program). In addition, KIPP received some $7.9 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Joined by venture capitalist John Doerr, Netflix launcher, Reed Hastings and the California Teachers Association (CTA), Fisher also backed a California State ballot initiative that requires school districts to provide free facilities to charter schools.

According to Business Week (6/26), Education Secretary Margaret Spellings claims, "Business is becoming the voice of reform." The magazine lists the main contributors: the Gates Foundation is the largest (even before Warren Buffet’s "donation"), followed by the Eli Broad Foundation, the Milken Family Foundation, the G.E. Foundation and companies like IBM.

This effort contains a division of labor. The Walton Family Foundation concentrates on providing low-income families a choice among schools; the Milkens on training and retaining teachers; the Gates push small schools and technology; and the Broad Foundation trains District Superintendents, senior management, newly-elected school board members and even parent groups.

Co-ordination on this scale is not spontaneous. Yet where and when these decisions were made remains an unreported mystery. Therefore, it’s easy to underestimate these foundations’ grip on education. Take the Broad Foundation for example: it has trained Superintendents or senior executives in 38 school districts; placed senior management trainees in 15 major districts; and trained 109 new school-board members in 29 districts representing some 2.7 million students. In addition, they fund grass-root parent groups.

Much of this "reform" is aimed at winning and mobilizing working-class parents and students, especially black and Latino families in the big cities, to support "better education" with the sinister underlying plan being to win them to support the racist, imperialist U.S. bosses, the source of the very racism that continues to viciously attack these same families.

Advisors to the Broad Education Foundation include United Federation of Teachers union President Randi Weingarten and CTA President Barbara Kerr. They urgently tell us, "We are convinced that as a country we face a crisis of epic proportions, one that threatens our economy, our democracy and our very standard of living."

What emerges in this orchestrated rule of foundations is a strengthening of the direct dictatorship of capital. Communists have always pointed out that "democratic government" is primarily a mask hiding the actual class dictatorship of capital. It is a mask, though, that in normal times serves the real function of allowing the various factions of capital to argue out their differences, gaining or losing advantages through legislation. For them that’s "the rule of law."

But at other times — notably in war economies or severe economic crises — they choose varying degrees of a more direct and unified class dictatorship of capital. Today, foundations and grant-giving are the mechanisms for this direct control. Like its twin, immigration "reform," school reform represents a sharpening of class dictatorship in preparation for extended war, and sooner or later, world war.

(Next: How the bosses fight to change the world views of students and their parents and win their allegiance to U.S. imperialism.)


India’s ‘Miracle’ Enslaves 6-year-olds

Mumbai, India, made the news when terrorists attacked commuter trains recently, murdering over 200. Mumbai is touted as India’s financial center, representing the country’s supposed "capitalist miracle." But the fact is India remains one of the world’s most exploitative and poorest countries. Mumbai is no exception.

India’s weekly Frontline Magazine (3/25-4/07, 2006) reported on child bonded [slave] labor in Mumbai, stating:

"Maharashtra state is officially child labour-free but the exploitation of children continues in Mumbai, the state capital.

"Bits of fabric, gold threads, glitter beads and tiny fake pearls are some signs that invariably guide you to the dens of misery called ‘zari factories.’ Steep staircases lead to a trapdoor, which open into hovel-like rooms that house the zari units. Until recently, boys between the ages of six and 14 were found kneeling at low work-tables sewing beads and coloured threads on to vast lengths of fabric. There are thousands of these factories in Mumbai spread across not just Govandi but other slums such as Dharavi and Madanpura.

"The boys work 20-hour days, seven days a week, in dingy minute-sized rooms…. [with] hardly any ventilation and the floors are grimy. Each room has a small smelly bathroom located in one corner. Another corner serves as a basic cooking area. They sleep, bathe and eat in this same room. They are given two meals a day and, if lucky, two cups of tea. ‘It’s a life of wretchedness,’ says Satish Kasbe, a social worker with Pratham, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works in rescue and rehabilitation of child labour.

"The boys are rarely allowed to leave the room. If they must, they do so with an older boy who is a karigar (craftsman). And if they are lucky, the owner takes them on an occasional Sunday outing. Sometimes the owner locks the trapdoor, to open it only the next morning. Some rooms have two trapdoors. So if there is a raid, the children are shunted down the other one, which is then covered with a workbench.

"‘When we return the kids, we ask the parents why they sent them,’ says Kasbe. Many say they cannot afford to look after them. Some believe that by sending the children they save them from a miserable life in the village."

Again, when the rulers talk about "capitalist revival," they mean more misery and super-exploitation of all workers.

An Internationalist

Workers Seeing Through Capitalism’s Illusions

Recently, when paying for a doctor visit, the clerk behind the counter expressed outrage at my being charged $60 for a two-minute follow-up consultation, where the doctor merely said, "Everything looks good." She said she thought the fee was ridiculous since I was a "cash-paying" customer and had already paid a large sum for the original visit.

Frustrated by the lack of medical insurance for herself and her young daughter — despite having a full-time job — she said she was struggling to pay for just food and shelter, let alone for the high cost of healthcare. She had been covered by Medi-cal but the government canceled it. Now to get any medical assistance she must qualify for welfare.

Feeling helpless with this lack of options, she told me that "the system certainly doesn’t work for us." A simple statement, but very revealing of the frustration and helplessness most workers feel struggling daily to survive under capitalism.

As imperialist rivalry sharpens abroad, the bosses’ fascism at home grows, too. Capitalism forces all workers and their families to pay — financially as well as with their lives — for the ruling class’s oil wars and profits. Examples of these abuses are visible in every aspect of capitalist daily life. That’s why it’s important to find the communist ideas behind every-day problems and constantly raise communist politics, wherever we might find ourselves.

I couldn’t help but relate this incident to a recent anti-Minuteman counter-demonstration I attended in the downtown garment district. A small group of anti-racist activists confronted a handful of Minuteklan racists yelling racist slurs and trying to intimidate a crowd of shoppers and workers. The workers’ anger was clear; some joined the activists.

After the protest, one worker approached us, asking for more leaflets for his co-workers. He was irate about the racists holding a march in downtown, where mostly immigrants work and shop. He couldn’t understand why some would scapegoat immigrant workers by saying things like, "they’re taking our jobs," when he sees the opposite in his daily life. Immigrants, he thought, are forced to "take" jobs paying poverty wages, in conditions sometimes three times as hard as citizen workers. Although not defining it, this worker saw the faulty logic in blaming fellow workers for the bosses’ racism and exploitation. Immigrant labor doesn’t "steal" jobs, but instead bosses use racism and nationalism to justify the super-exploitation of immigrant workers — as well as workers abroad — and to get citizens to blame their fellow working-class brothers and sisters.

He then told us about an Immigration Service (INS) raid at a nearby sweatshop. The INS (now under Homeland Security) tried to arrest several workers. Word spread quickly. By the time the agents tried to leave, workers from other factories had surrounded the building, ready to challenge the agents. Frightened by the large crowd and seeing the potential power of these workers, the agents released those they had detained and left.

The two events, although seemingly unrelated, indicate workers are frustrated with a system that claims to meet their needs but actually exploits, terrorizes and vilifies them! We must make these connections. The belief that by "doing your part," contributing to and complying with the bosses’ system, you will get rewarded is simply an illusion. Increasingly workers worldwide are running into the dead-ends of capitalism and imperialism. What isn’t an illusion is the potential power workers possess as a class to change society. We must fight to reveal the communist truths in every one of capitalism’s evils in order to build a movement and a Party that will make the power of workers an actuality.

A Comrade

Steel Bosses Fight Dog Eat Dog

The CHALLENGE editorial about "Sharpening Imperialist Dogfight" (6/21), clearly exposed the increasing challenges to U.S. imperialism, the growing threat of war and the urgent need to build a mass PLP. In part, it focused on the struggle between Mittal Steel and Russia’s Severstal steel giant to acquire Arcelor, the giant European steel company. At the time of the writing, Severstal and Arcelor had a deal and CHALLENGE correctly pointed out the growing isolation of U.S. imperialism and the growing ties between France, Germany and Russia.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the bank. It now appears that Mittal will get Arcelor for $33 billion, making it by far the biggest steel company in the world. The New York Times (6/26) reported, "The fight for Arcelor was closely watched around the world, as it evolved into a clash between two major forces shaping the world economy: the ascendancy of India and China as sources of new business models and ambitious new companies, and a rising tide of protectionism in the West, fueled by anxiety that new competition will erode a way of life.

"‘These are all tremors of the fact that the world system, which has been maintained by the United States and Europe, has suddenly got to adjust to the rise of China and India, and it ain’t going to be easy,’ said Kishore Mahbubani, a former Singaporean ambassador to the United Nations."

CHALLENGE implied that because Mittal is "backed by U.S. and British based investors," it is more an asset of U.S. imperialism while the Times views it more as part of the rise of Indian and Chinese imperialism. This further underlines the point that CHALLENGE made about the growing threats to U.S. imperialism, which will inevitably lead to World War and if we build a mass PLP, open the door to communist revolution.

A Reader

Immigrant Airport Workers Study Red Ideas

Airport workers are responding to revolutionary politics. We have been fighting racism and sexism on the job, and now we’ve begun a PLP study group among mostly immigrant workers from Africa. They’re really on the ball, with many questions for the Party.

Since these workers emigrated from Africa, amid so much poverty, war and AIDS, it’s only fitting we study imperialism first. We’ve been discussing why the U.S., with only 6% of the world’s population, uses about 50% of the world’s resources. This outright thievery by U.S. bosses is enforced either militarily, as in Iraq, or by pro-U.S. flunkies, as in Africa. The study group agreed that workers starve in places like Africa because local capitalists work hand in hand with the imperialists.

We’re studying from CHALLENGE, from the book "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa" by Walter Rodney, and even from the bosses’ newspapers. We also noted how the imperialists use racism against the world’s workers. The current sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry is leading to World War III; only communist revolution by the international working class, led by a mass PLP, can destroy imperialism.

Over the coming period we’ll study dialectical materialism, the struggle against racism and sexism, and the fight for communism.

Red Airport Study Group

Mexico Electoral Fraud: Millionaires Vs. Millionaires

On July 16, 1.5 million people rallied in Mexico City to protest the fraud their candidate López Obrador suffered in the July 2 presidential elections. Millions of workers believe that López Obrador and his PRD party would reduce their poverty.

During and after the election, the big millionaires of the Business Coordinating Council said they would continue meeting in order to see the matter to its conclusion. The week before the election they paid for radio and TV spots telling people not to be fooled and to "keep what has been accomplished."

These bosses are at war with their counterparts who support López Obrador. He believes the reforms capitalism needs cannot be implemented without a tiny loosening of the noose they've tied around our necks.

The bosses supporting PAN candidate Calderón have fought to prevent López Obrador's millionaire supporters from winning the election. The dogfight continues as the PRD demands a recount before leaving the decision to the Electoral Tribune.

As PLP has said, the workers have nothing to gain from supporting one politician over another. However, the bosses continue to swindle millions of workers, who participate in politics only by choosing one oppressor over another.

Unfortunately, past revolutionaries opted for the "lesser evil" until finally abandoning the path of revolution altogether.

Now we must take the communist banners to all the exploited and oppressed who feel frustrated by the probable electoral defeat of the PRD.

The bosses who support López Obrador are not lesser evils. They merely have different tactics in their war against the working class. They want to use small reforms in order to win workers' loyalty to that sector of Mexican bosses who seek more independence from the U.S. imperialists. But no matter who the bosses are, their loyalty is to their profits - always at the expense of the working class.

In coming protests, we invite workers to march with PLP. The working class can only be truly conscious when it organizes itself as a party. PLP has that goal. Join us!

Comrades from Mexico

UMW Reform Fight Fertile Ground for PLP

The July 19 letter from "Red Industrial Fighter" (RIF) questions my view that miners would struggle for a United Mine Workers (UMW) local. RIF wants to know why I reached that conclusion, asking, concerning my claim, "Is it just because of the increased exploitation and oppression or have plans been made?"

But U.S. labor history demonstrates that miners, and workers in general, are more than willing to fight their oppressors. I don't think miners and other workers will continue taking this bosses' class war on their living and working conditions. If U.S. workers are unwilling to fight oppression and battle for a union, etc., then communists are up shit's creek without a paddle. In other words, we would be forced to re-evaluate our whole perspective which relies on the position that oppression and exploitation breeds working-class resistance. Without this resistance, we will have one helluva job winning this apparently defeated working class to communist revolution. If the miners and other workers fail to mount fight-backs, independent from the bourgeois state and parties, how and where will we intervene with red ideas?

Therefore, I support any miners' battle for a union since this would provide an opening for such intervention. Also, I still believe it's better for miners to have a union then not. Think about it: suppose the only job one could find was in an unsafe, non-union mine in backwoods Appalachia where you witnessed fellow miners lose their lives? Suppose you knew next to nothing about communism (and can't arrive at communist consciousness spontaneously; if that were possible, there would be no need for a revolutionary party)?

But suppose you did possess trade union consciousness and wanted to organize a UMW local, and were prepared to fight for it? If this was the only way you knew to fight your oppression and the exploitation, wouldn't this be a positive development and one that communists would support? If these miners are unwilling to become involved in a fight-back, then what hope is there to win them to revolution?

Consider: prior to the 1905 Russian Revolution, Russian Orthodox priest Father Gapon organized his Assembly of Factory and Mill Workers of St. Petersburg, a reformist working-class organization. Several thousand workers joined. Initially, the Bolsheviks denounced Gapon, but then Lenin fought to win the Bolsheviks to intervene aggressively in this movement. It only makes sense. If you want to win workers to a revolutionary position, you must meet them where they're at. In many ways, it was positive that the Gapon movement existed, since it opened the door to Bolshevik agitation.

Eventually, especially after Bloody Sunday when the Tsar's police slaughtered 1,000 workers, others began to listen closely to the Bolsheviks. Russian workers attempted to fight their oppression by joining a reform organization, and this involvement in Gapon's group led to the openness of workers to revolutionary Bolshevik ideas. As Lenin knew, there is a relationship between reform movements and revolution. That's why he wrote, "Left-wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder."

Take the immigrant rights movement. Its leadership is rotten to the core and is attempting to steer it in the wrong direction. Still, the emergence of this movement is a positive development since it made it possible for PLP communists to aggressively intervene.

RIF wants to destroy all reformist illusions. I would contend that if miners fail to rise against their oppressors and exploitation, even in a reformist fashion, then communist revolution might just be an illusion. From a study of miners' history and my own personal experience in the coalfields, I think they will fight back and I would welcome and support them.

Red Coal

Non-Profits Build Fascism

Today, non-profit organizations in the U.S. help build fascism by inhibiting working-class consciousness of the need to destroy the profit system with a communist revolution to build a society where everyone shares the hardships and the wealth. Instead, they push the Big Lie that you can improve capitalism if one makes a patriotic sacrifice through donations. They also hide continuing cuts in welfare, retirement plans, legal aid, migrant worker assistance and other programs. Even more important, now they’re administering the government’s new openly fascist projects.

For example, the Catholic Church is a major sub-contractor to the U.S. government, helping supervise many new concentration camps — "juvenile facilities" — in which undocumented youth are held before deportation. Many good people work in this youth program, believing that at least conditions are slightly better for the imprisoned youth because they’re no longer held in the adult lock-ups. But the number of such youth crossing the border and being arrested is skyrocketing. Meanwhile, the church and many decent social-worker types are enabling it to happen by helping run the jails. These people think they’re improving capitalism but instead they’re building 21st century fascism.

Another example: the government is hard at work imprisoning and deporting many undocumented workers while planning to import many more in slave-worker capacities — "guest worker" or "temporary worker" or "blue-card worker." Meanwhile, it has allocated millions of dollars to various non-profits to stop "trafficking in humans," women, young girls and youth brought into the U.S. for prostitution and slave labor. Yet, in six years these programs have helped less than 200 people escape. In reality, the program is a sham to deceive people into believing that at least the U.S. is protecting women and children even as it imports huge numbers of undocumented workers to face wage slavery.

Actually, non-profits are private versions of "national service," which U.S. capitalists talk about using to restore the military draft. They ask people to sacrifice to help do "good things" while really strengthening the U.S. war machine. Simultaneously, they conceal the worsening living standards which allows the rulers to divert profits and taxes to pay for the war effort. Even though people employed in the non-profits oppose exploitation and might be anti-war, big shots from the corporate and legal communities run these outfits. Liberals sitting on local non-profit boards of directors are very committed to the Democratic Party and electoral reform, another reason why the non-profits will always serve the interests of their capitalist masters.

However, volunteering and working in these organizations can be very important, since these are the remaining organizations — besides schools, unions and churches — which the rulers still permit to exist while creating a fascist war machine.

The clients of these non-profit organizations and the decent-hearted, pro-working-class people employed in them can be organized to fight back. Many are ready to do just that. But it is crucial to develop that desire into the need to join PLP and organize a revolution to destroy capitalism. It’s becoming easier to explain that fighting for reforms in a non-profit will soon see funds cut off and workers fired. But, if one fights back and builds PLP simultaneously, it will enhance the ability of workers to rise up and destroy capitalism. The goal of communism, a sharing society, where exploitation and bosses are banned, is what many people in non-profits already want.


US torture is an old story to Latinos

The recent United Nations report that the United States military is torturing detainees at the Guantánamo military base is profoundly troubling….

…U.S. government-sanctioned brutality [is]…not surprising to the people of Latin America. Since 1946, the United States has put its official seal of approval on torture by Latin American militaries at the Army’s School of the Americas (SOA). There, the United States has trained more than 60,000 members of Latin American militaries in torture, psychological warfare, interrogation, and counterinsurgency…..

SOA graduates are integral to the …suffering of thousands at the hands of the Somoza regime in Nicaragua, the systemic torture under General Ríos Montt in Guatemala, or the atrocities that continue to be committed by the Colombia military. (

Imperialism gives marines grim mission

"We go out and kill these people," said Captain Del Gaudio, the commander here.

"I define success as continuing to kill the enemy to allow the government to work and for the Iraqi Army to take over."

That day seems a long way off….

One of the "habits of mind" drilled into the marines from posters hung up inside: "Be polite, be professional and have a plan to kill everyone you meet." (NYT, 7/5)

Liberals also want US to rule the world

…America’s difficulties are tied to deeper forces than the acts of a single president. There is not much daylight, after all, between Bill Clinton’s "indispensable" nation and Bush’s insistence that "the only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world."

…The country’s military, economic and cultural sway is overwhelming. Neither Clinton nor Bush favored retreat, strategic or moral….

Any American president must now confront a central question: How should power unprecedented in its international scope be exercised so as to minimize the alienation it stirs…. (NYT, 7/16)

Neo-Nazis joining Army in race-war plan

A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racial hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military….The numbers could run into the thousands….

"We’ve got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad…."

Neo-Nazi groups like the National Alliance …sought to enroll followers in the Army to get training for a race war….

"Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces….

An article in the National Alliance magazine Resistance urged skinheads to join the Army and insist on being assigned to light infantry units….

"…As trained infantrymen, you will join the ranks of the Aryan warrior brotherhood." (NYT, 7/7)

Need cheap labor? Just fill your prisons!

…In the…northeastern corner of Louisiana….the prison system converts a substantial segment of the population into a commodity that is in desperately short supply — cheap labor….

There is little in the state rules to limit potential for a sheriff to use his inmate flock to curry favor or to reap personal benefit.

"If you talk to people around here, it is jokingly referred to as rent-a-convict…."

Many here view the inmates essentially as commodities, who can be returned behind bars after the agricultural season is over, and the need for labor is reduced.

"Good thing about it, wintertime you can lock them up — put them in cold storage,"… (NYT, 7/5)

Top brains’ miracle solution to poverty!

It is a group drawn from the upper echelons of New York City’s business, nonprofit, academic and social services sectors….

For the last four months, the group has been focused on solving a perplexing riddle: the problem of rising poverty in a city as wealthy as New York. They analyzed data about who is poor in the city and why….

The thinking behind them has narrowed to a central notion: the solution to poverty is employment. (NYT, 7/17)

Hey, how did Buffet get all that money?

When the world’s second-richest man gives most of his money to the world’s richest man we do well to count our spoons. Warren Buffett has given $31bn to Bill Gates to add to his $29bn foundation. Gates replied with a quote from Adam Smith on the virtue of philanthropy. He omitted another quote from the great man, that merchants "seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public". (GW, 7/13)

Forward to Communism

In the 1930’s Soviet Union, Many Workers Organized for Communism Rather than Socialism

In the late 1920’s, following World War I and the failed attempt to destroy the first workers’ state, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) knew that Germany and the other imperialist powers were preparing a renewed attempt to destroy the revolutionary USSR, an attempt that became World War II. To defend workers’ power, the CPSU had to increase industrial development.

Until then, the so-called "New Economic Policy" had allowed private trade and given rural capitalists (kulaks) control over the food supply. To prevent the kulaks from starving the workers, collectivization put agriculture in the hands of the peasants.

As part of the first Five Year Plan, the CPSU mobilized millions of workers and peasants to build new factories from scratch. Many worker "shock brigades" committed themselves to high production targets.

Initially, the rapid expansion caused a sharp drop in workers’ standard of living1 — with food rationing and scarce housing — and production was often disrupted. In response, many workers pooled their wages in "communes" and "collectives." Communes distributed wages equally or by family size, while collectives paid skilled workers somewhat more, though even collectives limited the wage spread. Organized by the rank and file, rather than the CPSU leadership 2, they contained many CPSU members and recruited many from shock brigades.

Communes were often explicitly intended to develop a new communist form of labor 3. From 1929 to 1931, they expanded rapidly, reaching over 7% of the industrial workforce. Meanwhile Party publications criticized them for undermining the policy of "material incentives" — especially higher wages for skilled workers – saying they were inappropriate for the current level of industrial development.

At a Party Conference in June 1930, Kaganovich, a CPSU leader, attacked the "excesses" of those who wanted "complete collectivization of the shops," though some delegates defended the idea 4. Party publications said communes should only be formed if they advanced labor productivity 5, but available facts showed that workers in communes and collectives were very productive 6.

This conflict arose because, rather than constructing communism, the line of the communist movement then was to build socialism first — but now we see that socialism turned back into capitalism since it is a system that tries to combine workers’ political power with a capitalist wage system. They thought communist labor organization required a much higher level of industrialization and was something for the very far future.

Thus, the CPSU rejected rank-and-file initiatives for communes. Rather, they tried to solve production problems such as workers’ frequent job changes by increasing skilled workers’ pay, instead of winning people politically to communist policies, and fixing the shortages of housing and consumer goods.

In June 1931, Party leader Stalin, representing the majority of CPSU leaders, spoke against "the ‘Leftist’ practice of wage equalization," blaming it, rather than the low level of political understanding, for frequent job changes by workers 7. Still missing the point (which history has taught PLP was the main one), he admitted that, "In order to retain the workers in the factories we must still further improve the supply of goods and the housing conditions of the workers."

Believing that the only way to convince workers to acquire greater skills was to pay skilled workers more, Stalin said, "We cannot tolerate a situation where a locomotive driver earns only as much as a copying clerk." With this speech, the CPSU put an end to the communes and collectives in Soviet industry. Moreover, they were never re-introduced, even after industrialization. Worse yet, increasing wage inequality failed to prevent frequent job changes 8.

We have much to learn from the fierce commitment of Stalin and the other CPSU leaders to strengthen the worker’s state and defend it from the onslaught of World War II fascism looming within a decade. However, with hindsight, PLP can see that material incentives (like wage inequality), even when combined with political struggle and commitment, laid the basis for the later return of full-blown capitalism in the USSR.

Although the commune movement did not develop further after 1931, we in PLP have learned from those many Soviet workers who wanted communes — and from the Cultural Revolution in China when many workers and students advanced the idea of political rather than material incentives — that communist organization of society should not be put off for the future. Hindsight shows that, on this score, those CPSU rank-and-filers were right and the leadership was wrong.


(1) Lewis Siegelbaum, "Production Collectives and Communes and the ‘Imperatives’ of Soviet Industrialization, 1929-1931," Slavic Review, vol. 45, no. 1, 1986, p. 66; Hiroaki Kuromiya, Stalin’s Industrial Revolution: Politics and Workers, 1928-1932, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 228-235.

(2) I. Zaromskii, "Production collectives — new forms of the organization of labor," Labor Questions (in Russian), 1930, no. 4, pp. 18-29; Siegelbaum article cited above; Lewis Siegelbaum, Stakhanovism and the politics of productivity in the USSR, 1935-1941, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 46-48.

(3) Zaromskii, p. 18; Siegelbaum article, p. 68.

(4) Siegelbaum article, p. 69.

(5) Zaromskii, p. 27.

(6) Siegelbaum article, Table 4, p. 78.

(7) J. V. Stalin, "New Conditions — New Tasks in Economic Construction. Speech Delivered at a Conference of Economic Executives, June 23, 1931," Problems of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1976, pp. 537-539.

(8) Vladimir Andrle, Workers in Stalin’s Russia: Industrialization and Social Change in a Planned Economy, New York: Harvester Press, pp. 126-176.

Liberal Bosses Showing Their True ( WAR ) Colors

U.S. rulers have a serious ideological problem. Intensifying international conflicts require them to rally the nation for ever widening wars. But recruiting shortfalls and growing opposition to the Iraq fiasco reveal a public insufficiently motivated by the Bush gang’s crude "Dead or Alive" rhetoric. The liberal wing of U.S. capitalists thinks it has the answer. As recent books show, it involves racism, Democrats and militarism.

Peter Beinart, a Brookings Institution protégé, has just written "The Good Fight: Why Liberals—and Only Liberals—Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again." First, says Beinart, the "war on terror" should become more specifically a war against "jihadist terrorism" or "salafist totalitarianism." While careful to mention that Islam has some good aspects, Beinart demonizes anti-U.S. Arabs and Muslims as backward and morally inferior.

Promoting the view that Muslims’ lives are essentially worthless, he excuses the U.S. for "killing [Afghan] the process of installing a vastly more humane government." (p. 172) Beinart updates the racist contempt of the U.S. commander in Vietnam who declared, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." His take is, "America could not have built schools for Afghan girls had it not bombed the Taliban first" (p. 197). Beinart "forgets" to mention that the bombing killed hundreds of non-combatants, including schoolgirls.

Liberal Democrats, says Beinart, should embrace racism and reclaim their identity as the "Party of War." They should make jihadism what Soviet "communism" was during the Cold War—Public Enemy No. 1—the party’s prime focus. (U.S. rulers used the term "communism’ long after the Soviet Union had reverted to capitalism.) Beinart’s greatest heroes are Presidents Truman and Kennedy who convinced much of the public that invading Korea and Vietnam would safeguard "freedom."

Beinart assigns today’s Democrats the task of winning the nation to a crusade of genocidal ethno-religious cleansing, followed by military occupation, throughout the world’s main oil regions and shipping routes. "From the Middle East to Southeast Asia, from the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, the United States may need to enter stateless zones, capture or kill the jihadists...and stay long enough to begin rebuilding." (p. 196)

The key to renewing greatness, says Beinart, is for liberals to adopt a warrior culture that welcomes and even glorifies killing and dying in service to the U.S. empire. He decries "anti-imperialist liberals" who "have been tempted by the hope that humanitarian methods could fully substitute for violent ones." (p. 197) He lambastes as cowards some liberal Democratic donors who said they could not support the capture or killing of Bin Laden if it "would cost the lives of 500 to 5,000 U.S. troops." (p. 197)

Through its Progressive Policy Institute, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC — the party’s Clinton-Lieberman wing) has published "With All Our Might: A Progressive Strategy for Defeating Jihadism and Defending Liberty." It puts more stock in humanitarian fig leaves for war than Beinart does but, like him, insists on militarizing society, and especially the Democratic Party itself. One chapter, "Reconciling Democrats and the Military" calls on liberal politicians to "appreciate...the warrior ethos." Democratic leaders, it said, should be veterans, or at least have veterans as top staff members. Until they implement a "national service" smokescreen for a draft, politicians should encourage youth, including their own children, to enlist.

"AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country" comes from Kathy Roth-Douquet, a DLC member and Clinton aide, and Frank Shaeffer, an ex-Marine novelist/artist discovered by Peggy Rockefeller. Its chief focus, which the other two books also emphasize, is fully restoring ROTC in Ivy League colleges. Larry Summers got fired for not getting this job done at Harvard. Presiding over a Harvard Yard ceremony in which nine graduates of a non-credit, off-campus ROTC program received commissions, Summers said "we still have some ways to go." Now that’s an understatement. Fifty years ago Harvard graduated hundreds of officers every June.

Summers’ and the rulers’ unfinished business is our opportunity. Among the millions not supporting U.S. imperialism’s wars, we can spread the idea — inside and outside the military — that there is a far better fight to be waged: the lifelong struggle to build a working-class party with a revolutionary, communist outlook, the PLP.