As global conflict approaches, they need leaders who can win the working class to the ideals of "service and sacrifice" that prevailed during World War II. Today's middle- and upper-class Ivy League products aren't doing the job. They tend to pursue narrow, selfish interests like getting rich or, if rich already, indulging in wasteful pastimes. So Harvard and its growing list of imitators seek to train a few misleaders from working-class backgrounds for influential positions in government, business, education, law, medicine, the clergy and (the bosses' fondest dream) the military.
Final approval for ending early admissions came on Sept. 11 from the university's governing board, led by Robert Rubin and James Houghton. Rubin, who heads Citigroup, the biggest U.S. bank, is vice-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Rockefeller-organized think-tank that drew up plans for invading and occupying Iraq with massive force and criticizes Bush for deploying too few troops. Rubin preceded Summers as Clinton's treasury boss. Houghton, a CFR director, sits on the boards of both Exxon Mobil and J.P. Morgan Chase, imperialist firms that benefit greatly from U.S. war efforts.
Summers understood this priceless payback for two-bit "generosity" in 2004 when he abolished tuition for students of parents making less than $40,000 (since raised to $60,000). In recent decades, Harvard had accepted some talented working-class students but saddled them with "work-study" (bright, poor students scrubbing the toilets of privileged, mediocre ones) and exorbitant loans. Summers knew that degradation and debt might not make working-class alumni particularly loyal to the ruling class.
Before, during, and after World War II, Harvard president James Conant insisted on the SAT test as key to a U.S. "meritocracy." "Merit-based" access to the Ivies catapulted working-class children into positions of authority in the rulers' apparatus, including military commissions. Conant boasted in 1933 that "any man with remarkable talents may obtain his education at Harvard whether he be rich or penniless...." But history lays bare "reformer" Conant's true class allegiance. He led the development of two of U.S. imperialism's most feared civilian-targeting terror weapons: the atomic bomb and napalm.
Make no mistake, the rulers don't mean to replace the well-to-do completely or even largely at the elite schools. Nor do they intend to open higher education to the bulk of the working class, but rather to only a tiny percentage. It won't work. President Franklin Roosevelt was able to win workers to his World War II agenda not by ennobling a few workers but because the communist movement, which then led millions, mistakenly joined a "united front" with the ruling class to fight fascism. (The communists didn't recognize that workers and bosses had different interests in fighting the Nazis.)
No such situation exists now. The vast majority of young workers lack leadership and can expect only a low-paying dead-end job, unemployment, jail, or a stint in Iraq or Afghanistan. It's our Party's task to organize workers in their own class interests. We need to keep on exposing lethal ruling-class traps, like Harvard's latest scam.
"It is beyond me why Democrats haven't asked President Bush why -- if he really believes that the struggle against radical Islam is comparable to the war against Hitler and that "staying the course" in Iraq is essential to a victory in the war on terrorism -- he hasn't mobilized the country to maximize the American war effort.
"Instead of lowering taxes, why hasn't he raised them to pay for this "life-and-death struggle"?
"Why hasn't he reinstated the draft to increase our troop strength? Why hasn't he instituted draconian measures to free us from our dependence on Middle East oil?
"Why has he refused to change his policies or leadership to correct his administration's obvious mistakes so that it can fight the war more effectively?
"If President Bush really believes what he says, he is scaring us without really calling us to action."
With Navy helicopters flying menacingly overhead and the Army threatening to attack with tanks and special forces, there is fear, but even more, there is anger and hatred against the politicians, police and the capitalist system.
A few weeks ago, on one of the many seized radio stations, a complete CHALLENGE article was read about the struggle in Oaxaca. Thousands heard about the need to build a base for communist revolution.
A PLP poster pasted on the walls in the center of Oaxaca proclaims, "We support the teachers' struggle...A system that can't provide education or decent jobs must be destroyed with a communist revolution." Posted at the beginning of the 4-month teachers' strike, it is still there.
The city continues to be occupied by the teachers, farm workers and workers in general, organized by the teachers' union (SNTE, Section 22) and APPO (Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca). The militancy and bravery of the workers are immense. Many people go to their homes after work to prepare food and coffee for those who are living in and guarding the encampments. Meetings and discussions at different levels occur at all hours among the 70,000 teachers and hundreds of thousands of supporters from the entire state of Oaxaca who've joined this struggle.
Harassment by State police and death squads has been constant. A fascist mobilization of 2,000 police and busloads of soldiers in surrounding towns are preparing to attack if the teachers and the APPO leaders refuse to agree to the government's deal by an Oct. 4 deadline. The government claims it is offering some concessions if the teachers and supporting workers end the occupation.
No matter how this struggle ends, capitalism will remain. The teachers have a great responsibility to develop the new waves of young students who will go to the factories, fields, classrooms and, importantly, to the army with the red ideas of taking power and running society in the interests of the workers. -- there's no "intermediary" road. Large sections of the army, along with city workers and farm workers, must be won to the fight for workers' power. A majority of the soldiers being mobilized are sons of these very workers and farm workers, sons who went to schools where they were taught by the very same teachers now on strike.
As the poet and revolutionary Flores Magon declared, "A heart and a gun aren't enough." Workers need to fight for revolutionary communism. Members and friends of PLP are organizing -- and must continue to organize -- actions in unions, schools and factories to support the struggle here. We are one international working class.
The PLP has the opportunity to grow out of this struggle, as long as we fight for the idea that the only solution to workers' problems is to get rid of all the bosses and their politicians. (See articles pages 3, 4.)
The U.S. government's hypocrisy is further exposed by its stonewalling and often outright refusal to help tens of thousands made seriously ill from inhaling the deadly toxins in downtown NYC, after being told it was "safe" to return.
The U.S. ruling class used the heightened nationalism following 9/11 to launch long-standing plans for invading the Middle East, first Afghanistan and then Iraq. With racist disregard for the lives of Muslim workers, the U.S. massacred about four times as many Afghan workers and 85 times as many Iraqi workers in these wars and occupations than the 3,000 killed on 9/11. At least 200,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, plus nearly 30,000 Iraqi troops and 2,700 U.S. GIs.(1) Millions of Iraqi workers who managed to survive lost family members, homes, health and access to food/water. All this so Big Oil could secure the Middle East's second largest oil producer and control the faucet of energy flowing to Europe and China.
The drive for maximum profits inherent in capitalism has always led the bosses to fight for power globally. U.S. conservative and liberal -- Democrat or Republican -- rulers only disagree on how best to organize the bigger wars the U.S. bosses need to maintain their dominance.
Through bombing and invasions, U.S. imperialists have targeted Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Kuwait, Panama, Iraq, Libya, Grenada and Lebanon, to name a few in recent years (see website for fuller list).(2) They recently added thousands to the death toll through support for Israel's attack on Lebanon (Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid). U.S. bosses are the only ones to have dropped nuclear bombs, killing over 300,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW II when Japan was ready to surrender.(3)
Each death wrought by U.S. imperialism deserves as much mourning as the lavish dedications given those who perished on 9/11. Each worker this system has killed had a name, a family and a life stolen from him or her. The rulers' racism that treats "foreigners and non-whites" as expendable defines capitalist warfare's mass murder as merely "collateral" damage.
Internationally, capitalism is a system of deadly consequences that fails to meet working peoples' most basic needs, especially across Africa and much of the underdeveloped world -- 28 million working-class children die each year from easily curable diseases and another 17 million die from malnutrition.(4) Racism guarantees pharmaceutical and food bosses high prices and maximum profits over these millions of dead bodies. Still further, capitalism manufactures products that intrinsically have negative effects on workers and our health, such as cigarettes, drugs and munitions. Under capitalism, workers die so bosses can thrive.
Within the U.S., the world's wealthiest country, a half million people are homeless, and thousands more are threatened with homelessness due to rising rents and racist gentrification. Such gentrification in New Orleans is the aftermath of the murder and displacement of thousands of black workers to provide a more profitable financial order. Meanwhile, growing fascist repression, characterized by racist police terror against black, Latino, Arab and Muslim workers, endangers ever more lives. And now Congress has legalized torture as a method of interrogation.
We must remember the millions of revolutionaries in China and Russia who died fighting the Nazis and Japanese fascists to defend their own society, not the profits of capitalists. The current communist movement -- while learning from their weaknesses -- stands on the shoulders of these revolutionary workers.
Communists strive to share society's benefits and burdens, including those produced by war. During WW II, for instance, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's own son was captured and perished in a Nazi concentration camp. Compare that to the children of U.S. politicians who provide token military service at most.
Every day the working class takes casualties from capitalist wars for profits; perish from curable diseases; are drowned in the wake of broken levees; police and money-hungry gangs shoot us; we're poisoned by cigarettes or other drugs pumped into our communities. The Progressive Labor Party is organizing workers in many countries to build a communist movement. As the bosses start ever more wars at our expense, workers led by PLP must organize to destroy them and their murderous system. That's the only way to end once and for all the daily terrorist attacks on our class!
(3) Asahi Shimbin, "The Spirit of Hirshima," Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
When the UN General Assembly was meeting on the crisis in New York, eight PLM members managed to avoid security and sat in the audience. At the appropriate time, they rose from their seats and with two members on each end warding off UN cops, the six in the middle unfurled a big banner with the "Hands Off Cuba" slogan, creating a huge stir throughout the hall. Eventually they were kicked out. It set a good precedent for PLP's future militant anti-imperialist actions
Since it occurred on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, it became known as the "Yom Kippur Rebellion."
(We invite readers to contribute to these historical articles.)
Three hundred people were peacefully arrested for sitting in the street blocking traffic. Union leaders of UNITE-HERE, the LA County Federation of Labor and the "Somos America" ("We are America") coalition worked with the police to "choreograph" it. Many workers agreed that the staged arrests were nothing more than a "show."
Personal information of volunteer arrestees was given to the police in advance. "The police are workers just like we are," said UNITE-HERE leader Maria Elena Durazo, head of the County Federation. "We should cheer for the police because they're here to protect us!"
But when workers strike, the cops' role is to beat and arrest them while protecting scabs and the bosses' profits, stolen from exploited workers. Government is not "neutral"; it's a tool of capitalist class rule. Registering workers to vote is "democracy's" scam; it hides the class dictatorship run by the bosses.
Our PL leaflet stated, "Arrests staged for the media will not stop racism, exploitation, or wars for profit. For that, we need the long-term fight for workers' power with communist revolution."
Workers were glad to support striking Oaxaca teachers, responding to our PL flyer inviting them to demonstrate on their behalf. PLP sold 200 CHALLENGES and distributed 900 communist leaflets. Students from Mecha and from a nearby Catholic University also gladly took our literature.
One union activist grabbed our sign reading, "No Deportations -- No Slave-Labor Bracero Program -- No Green Card Army for U.S. Imperialism." "I'm taking this," she said, "and bringing it home with me." Another worker borrowed a sign, "La Clase Obrera No Tiene Frontera" ("The Working Class Has No Borders") and walked backwards with it so other marchers could learn the new chant as his co-worker led it over a bullhorn.
When racist Minutemen showed up, Durazo declared that "the Minutemen aren't our enemy"! PLP'ers and others chanted against these fascists who were protected by cops on horses while Durazo's monitors told people to ignore the racists. But some workers joined PL-led chants against the police despite monitors telling them to stop.
Today's action marginalized the hotel workers themselves. Official posters said, "I am a human being" -- signs with specific grievances against the hotels were left back in the union office.
This demonstration exposed the liberals as paving the way for fascism. Durazo and other "new cold-war liberals" are playing a deadly role in the labor and immigrant movements, fighting for a cadre of loyalists to work for the bosses. These misleaders tell workers the organizing campaign is to win a little more money, health benefits and "respect." But their real goal is winning workers and students to passivity, to support the police and "comprehensive immigration reform." They want to build patriotism while keeping workers in poverty and taking their youth to fight widening imperialist oil wars for the bosses' profits.
"Experts" cited by the LA Times crow that "the close cooperation with law enforcement reflects a more powerful and mature labor movement." But it's actually designed to make the bosses more powerful, not the workers. They tell workers to rely on religious leaders, politicians and the media instead of on their potential strength as a class.
While workers involved in this campaign haven't openly broken with the rotten leadership, our patient and consistent work will build a base for revolution and win many to oppose their class-collaborationism with communist politics. PLP'ers and our friends are fighting to expand the distribution of CHALLENGE-DESAFIO and other PLP literature through networks we build within these boss-led organizations.
Other activities are also building a base for PLP. Mike led a group of 689 members at the ATU Canadian-American conference that challenged the idea of solving workers' problems through electing politicians.
Conference speakers were fixated on electoral politics as the strategy for the workers' movement. Members from different locals shared stories of supporting different candidates, who, once elected, attacked the unions, but they still stuck to the idea of changing society through elections (Just like the "anti-war" politicians who always wind up voting for the bosses' war budget).
Other speakers analyzed the decline in union membership and skyrocketing healthcare costs. A 689 woman declared, "They all have the right idea of the problem, but no solution!" She said that all politicians have the "same agenda" and that we should not support any of them.
The annual crab feast kicking off the PLP union campaign was a huge success with 70 people attending (our biggest turnout in 20 years) including 20 Metro workers.
A Howard University student inspired the listeners with a talk about New Orleans. She provided a clear class analysis, focusing on the need to change the entire system. She also compared the destruction in New Orleans to capitalism's devastation of parts of Chicago and D.C. One Metro worker said, "My wife is now determined for all of us to go down there."
Mike and other candidates spoke on the need to build the workers' movement by relying on the workers, not politicians. One young comrade declared, "We need more class consciousness!"
Other workers are already taking the lead. One young comrade has hosted two cookouts, drawing many Metro workers, some seriously committed to the campaign's ideas and others interested in communism. Twenty-five Metro workers (including many young ones) came to the first one and all took CHALLENGES. Some youth were uncertain about distributing the paper at a "social event," but the workers welcomed this exposure to communist politics. The paper sparked many great discussions, especially around New Orleans and the racism of capitalism. Metro comrades are now able to follow up with these new readers.
Primarily older workers, retirees and Metro workers attended the other cookout. One young worker who had attended conferences with Party members but had never discussed our ideas one on one, stayed afterwards to discuss communism and revolution.
The struggle around the union election will intensify as the self-serving opportunistic right-wingers sharpen their knives and their lies. Win or lose the election, the PLP is already winning at Metro because of our growing base and the growing class consciousness of the workers.
The rally was endorsed by PLP and some phony "leftist" groups. One positive result of the leadership's refusal was the absence of support for the Democratic Party. The pickets' chants expressed strong, pro-working-class sentiments at times. The speeches, however, ranged from one given by a PLP'er -- explaining the need for communist revolution to solve workers' problems -- to rambling talks by other groups. CHALLENGES and PLP leaflets were distributed and some contacts were made. The rally was broadcast live to a Oaxaca radio station so workers there could receive the support instantaneously.
The effort to get the union hacks involved did force UFT President Randi Weingarten to write a letter of support. Now members of UFT'ers to Stop The War will bring a resolution to this month's Delegate Assembly to demand substantial support -- money, a letter-writing campaign and an article in the union newspaper. PLP members will distribute a leaflet explaining the need for communist revolution and for international workers' solidarity.
More importantly, we'll bring this campaign into our schools. While leaflets were placed in teachers' mailboxes, and the issue was raised at one school's union meeting, we didn't fight to bring co-workers and students to the rally. One issue needing more struggle in this campaign is winning people to more open advocacy of anti-imperialism.
This was Andres Lopez Obrador's reaction to a September conference in Banff, Canada, of top political, military and corporate leaders from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. They discussed integrating the North American defense systems, national security, immigration, military production and control over the continent's energy reserves. This "Deep Integration" was first formulated in 2005 by "The Independent Task Force for North America," sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, the top think-tank for the main wing of the U.S. ruling class.
At a rally in Mexico's Pemex City in the oil zone of Tabasco, Lopez Obrador called the above-mentioned meeting a plot to "design a new Mexico," privatizing its energy sector. When he said that Pemex -- Mexico's state-run oil company -- was not for sale, thousands cheered. This increases his popularity among Mexico's masses and widens the divide among its rulers, reflected in their dogfight over the presidential election's results -- mainly a dispute over Pemex's privatization. This in turn is driven by sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry, rising fascism and preparations for world war. The fight among Mexican rulers pits the sector wanting integration into "Fortress North America" versus those seeking better deals with other imperialists.
At stake is the fate of U.S. imperialism as the dominant world power -- based since 1945 upon its strategic control of oil, resting on the four pillars of Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Venezuela. The 2001 U.S. invasion of Iraq accelerated the erosion of this strategy. It exposed U.S. military weakness, emboldening nationalist forces in energy-rich countries like Iran and Venezuela to thumb their noses at U.S. rulers and look for better deals with U.S. rivals. It further destabilized the Middle East, possibly jeopardizing future guarantees of safe delivery of gas and oil to themselves, much less to their allies. Thus, "energy security" is now the major concern of the world's bosses.
Add to this scrambling for oil China's ever-growing thirst for energy to maintain its economic growth and Russia's emergence as the world's main energy broker, it's a situation that eventually only war can resolve. No wonder U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gave a key speech to this meeting on "military-to-military cooperation." Present were the U.S. commander for NorthCom (in charge of homeland defense), the Canadian Minister of Defense, and representatives from Lockheed Martin, Chevron, PEMEX and Suncor Energy (a Canadian oil and gas giant) and dozens of other high-ranking participants.
Further aggravating the U.S. dilemma, from 1970 to today its domestic oil production sank from 9.4 million barrels of oil daily (mbd) to 4.7 mbd, while consuming over 20 mbd. At this rate, the U.S. would run out of oil in ten years. Currently, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela are the four top exporters of oil to the U.S. But some Canadian bosses are making huge energy deals with China; Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly unstable; Venezuela is drawing closer to China, Russia and Iran; and if Mexico doesn't invest in exploration to discover new fields, it will run out of oil in ten years. Therefore, the urgent need of U.S. bosses to privatize PEMEX, supported by Felipe Calderon, the newly-elected president, and his gang.
Yet, Slim and Obrador do agree on investing heavily in refineries and petrochemical plants to create jobs and to use the $15 billions saved annually to finance the exploration guaranteeing PEMEX's future revenues. Obrador, however, wants PEMEX to continue its more than 40% contribution to the federal budget and even use some of it for social control programs, a la Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. A Slim-Obrador agreement would constitute the most powerful and dangerous enemy of Mexico's working class.
Alongside this vultures' squabble is the rising militancy of Mexico's workers, in mass struggles in Atenco, the Sicartsa steel mill and Oaxaca, producing an explosive situation. There is danger that politicians like Obrador might channel workers' anger into a movement supporting Slim or another gang of Mexican bosses in their dogfight (or side with one or another imperialist butcher seeking world domination). But there is opportunity for PLP to take our message of communist revolution more consistently and boldly to the working class -- participating in class struggle, building a base, expanding our CHALLENGE networks and recruiting new members. Mexico's workers must not be trapped into choosing between U.S. bosses' or local bosses' ownership of oil. Oil and all resources and value produced by workers must be in our hands, benefiting our class. We must destroy the bosses' nationalism with workers' internationalism by joining and building PLP and fighting for communism.
A woman from Oaxaca reported how teachers there had repelled a goon attack and that military academy students had joined the teachers' march.
The crowd applauded a statement from PLP in Oaxaca declaring that all capitalist politicians -- Mestizo, indigenous, democrat or right winger -- guarantee the exploitation of the working class and therefore workers need communist revolution. Many asked for CHALLENGE. The demonstrators sang "Venceremos" (We will win) and the "Internationale."
In both the U.S. and the U.K., the executive branch has marginalized the legislative and judicial branches of government and acquired near-dictatorial power. Golub cites a series of British laws from 2003 to 2006 which allow the Home Secretary to use a star chamber to lock people up, undermining the right of habeus corpus. And Parliament almost passed a "law for the abolition of Parliament" this year.
In the U.S., "the executive branch...engages in preventive wars, [and] kidnaps, tortures and indefinitely imprisons, without trial, anyone who has been identified by presidential decree as an `illegal combatant.'" Moreover, the White House's military tribunals constitute "a parallel `judicial' system."
Golub derides President Bush's assertion that fragmented, stateless al-Qaeda is trying to "establish a radical Islamic empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia" as laughable, except that such warnings are made to justify establishing a dictatorship that was decided on before 9/11. He says Congress and the judiciary have slowed but not stopped the process.
But Golub has no clue as to why this is happening. He sees it as part of "a blind neo-free trade and neo-conservative advance" to impose "regressive social `reforms' and increasingly repressive disciplinary and security measures" on society. This move to "sovereign dictatorship" is supposedly the fault of Tony Blair and George Bush, who are both apparently inspired by an obscure early-20th-century reactionary German political theorist, Carl Schmitt. (Can anyone imagine Bush reading the works of Carl Schmitt?)
While Golub lays all this on Bush & Co., he fails to see that the liberal/Democrat wing of the U.S. ruling class also wants absolute control over the working class, but only differs on tactics. They've voted for virtually all of Bush's proposals, only "opposing" those parts that would eliminate their own cushy jobs or that are so blatant that they make it more difficult to win workers to support a police state and imperialist war.
As PLP has explained, the move to fascism (a word Golub politely refrains from using) is imposed by ruling classes around the world as the only way to discipline society while preparing for world war.
To Golub's credit, he includes France among the "countries [where] barely legitimate executive branches have been governing for years without -- and often against -- popular approval." However, his article's emphasis on developments in the U.K. and the U.S. may feed "patriotic" anti-Anglo-Saxon fears in France, which could help the French ruling class justify its own drift to fascism.
Communist revolution is the only way for the workers of the world to do away with capitalism and the fascism that it produces.
Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada of Fort Lewis, the first U.S. military officer to refuse to serve in Iraq, told a packed audience that if soldiers realized what the U.S. constitution meant they would throw down their weapons -- "no president could ever again initiate a war of choice." It was the one of the few calls for soldiers to organize against the war but was still wrapped in liberal "democratic" reformism -- the solution is in the constitution (the system).
A sizeable contingent from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) attended the conference. They were multi-racial, had a growing female membership and have invaluable first-hand experience in Iraq. Many reported their disgust upon returning from Iraq and seeing U.S. youth preoccupied with the superficial trappings of "American Idol," MTV and pop culture. Other IVAW members criticized IVAW itself for confining its campaign to the war in Iraq, ignoring the war in the streets of working-class inner-city neighborhoods where some IVAW members were born and raised.
However, many in the IVAW leadership encourage voting for "anti-war" candidates, political lobbying, and bolstering their images in the capitalist media. Several IVAW members have formed a political action committee to back candidates that say they will bring the troops home. And one IVAW member said that organizing to stop the war from the top down (electing people to office) is just as important as organizing from the bottom up.
Most at the conference are honestly motivated by wanting to see a world free of sexism, racism, and imperialist war. To achieve such goals, Progressive Labor Party is uniting workers, students and soldiers worldwide to make revolutionary communist war on the bosses. Violence can be oppressive and destructive when used by the ruling class to protect its profits -- from the genocide killing three million in the Congo, to the murderous war in Afghanistan, to the war between Hezbollah and Israeli rulers (killing workers on both sides), to the murder of striking workers in Oaxaca -- but it can also be liberating and constructive in the hands of an organized working class to destroy the oppressive system of capitalism. Relying on the bosses' old tricks of electoral politics or fighting for reforms to make capitalism "work better" will never free workers from the chains of the bosses' system.
Communists in PLP see the handwriting on the wall. While we may not agree with Stewart's politics, we know her conviction and jailing will embolden the bosses' government. It will scare some opponents of this system, lawyers and others, away from vigorous advocacy and action. That's exactly what the ruling class wants as it prepares for more and wider wars to control oil and defeat its imperialist rivals.
The latest Kafkaesque twist in this case came in response to Stewart's motion to suppress evidence that may have been obtained under a wiretap by the National Security Agency (NSA). The prosecutors filed a "secret" response to the motion with the judge. They sent a hit man who specializes in "secrecy" issues to tell the judge that no information in the government's response should be divulged to the defense lawyers. The judge has reserved decision.
Stewart's conviction was payback for her many years of successfully representing unpopular anti-government clients. During the trial, she was cross-examined about her anti-capitalist views. In his closing remarks, the prosecutor equated Stewart's advocacy of the need for violence to overcome capitalist-inspired racism and sexism with Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.
At least 75% of the evidence at trial was offered against Ahmed Sattar, a paralegal who accompanied Stewart on prison visits to her client, Sheik Abdel Rahman. Sattar did have extensive ties to the right-wing fundamentalist Islamic Group (IG). The evidence included wiretaps of 85,000 separate faxes and conversations over a period of seven years, and a videotape of Osama bin Laden supporting the Sheik. Stewart knew nothing about Sattar's close ties to IG, but her motion to have a separate trial for herself and the interpreter -- who also went on the prison visits -- was denied. Stewart has repeatedly said that she rejects IG's politics. The interpreter was also convicted although all he did was translate.
Unfortunately many, including Stewart, have illusions about how fast fascism is growing in the U.S. and worldwide. In fighting to overthrow the capitalists, revolutionary communists discount this reality at our peril, and the peril of the working class.
These illusions are somewhat reflected in an appeal for leniency that Stewart wrote the judge on September 26. In it she says, that in representing a convicted terrorist, "a lawyer might need to tread lightly....My only motive was to serve my client as his lawyer. What might have been legitimately tolerated in 2000-2001, was after 9/11 interpreted differently and considered criminal. At the time I didn't see this. I...understand it now." She also wrote that, "Those who know me best, as a mother, a family member and a lawyer, know that I am not a terrorist." (NY Times, 9/29)
This case presents PLP and the working class with an opportunity. Despite mass protests against the invasion of Iraq, millions who still support it today have become convinced it was a war to control oil. Many more are seeing through the lies behind homeland security and "anti-terrorism" laws. The Stewart case shows why workers must go beyond reform to smash the bosses' class dictatorship.
PLP members have been working hard to activate anti-fascist workers within unions, churches and community groups. An important action would be a mass mobilization of many workers, students and soldiers on October 16 to support Stewart. A rally will be held at 8AM at Centre and Worth Streets in Manhattan, followed by a mass presence in the courtroom at 9AM for the sentencing.
It was the 6th annual march of Brides against Domestic Violence honoring Gladys Ricart, who was murdered by a jealous ex-boyfriend during her wedding ceremony with another man.
Although there has been a slight decrease in domestic violence in Upper Manhattan -- just one murder this year compared to two last year and 2,732 reported cases of violence, 18.8% less than last year -- there are still too many.
The politicians who joined the march are part of the problem. They usually support many of the cutbacks imposed by the bosses to pay for their endless wars, affecting working-class women and their children. In effect, domestic violence is caused mainly by the sexist nature of capitalism, where women are seen as sex objects, "inferior" to men, as well as a source of cheap labor.
With such open repression, some might think our comrades should have an "easier" time recruiting workers to PLP. While this open fascism exposes the brutal nature of capitalism to workers, providing opportunities to advance communist politics, it's also extremely dangerous. One wrong move could mean death, frightening many workers into passivity. Many are caught in a frantic struggle just to put food on the table. Some comrades must walk half a day to make a meeting; families share one issue of DESAFIO.
In our press and our meetings, we often remind ourselves that historically the communist movement has grown under any and all conditions. With all their limitations, our comrades in this country prove the truth of that slogan.
During one get-together I asked what they thought about DESAFIO, and if they had suggestions for improvement. They replied that DESAFIO was a big hit with their base because besides its great politics, it was written so clearly. They also loved the paper's internationalism. Their one criticism was not enough articles about Latin America, which was given as a self-criticism. They promised to write more about their struggles and lessons of how to build the Party under such fascist conditions.
With hard work, and our truly revolutionary solution for the problems inherent in this exploitative, racist system, we will surely destroy capitalism with communist revolution.
According to U.S. propaganda, a democracy is a government elected by the people and for the people. Well, not exactly. The NY Times Bangkok correspondent reports in an article entitled "Thailand Reinterprets the Rules of Democracy Again" (9/21): "The generals billed it as a pro-democracy military coup, and although they had ousted one of the most popular prime ministers in Thailand's history, most commentators here tended to agree." The Times continues that the coup was "non-violent" because the deposed Prime Minister was out of the country.
Deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra was unpopular among certain sections of the Thai ruling class and lost the support of the King. Shinawatra was also corrupt and was recently the target of "pro-democracy" protests. But he was also hated by some bosses because he had tried to institute social reforms never seen before there -- a cheap health care system, some development programs in rural areas, etc. This made him very popular among the people. But, as usual, reforms under capitalism never last too long.
However, his bigger sin was apparently his lack of success against Islamist groups in the country, part of U.S. imperialism's "war on terror." Some 1,000 people have been killed since 2003.
An Internationalist Comrade
This became fairly apparent recently. One department became particularly chaotic, with too few teachers to cover classes, including regents classes, most of which still have no textbooks and won't get any until next month -- maybe. Some teacher schedules were changed up to six times and room changes are still occurring. There are flagrant violations of the union contract, with all kinds of pressures on the teachers to produce lesson plans, decorate their rooms, etc., amidst this mess. Some students left their classes upon learning their teacher was being switched...again!
Suddenly, things got so bad that ten teachers in one department became physically sick and couldn't report to work. The administration must have thought it was organized since they plastered the names of the absent teachers in several offices and demanded they teach some fascistic discipline lessons that were slated to be taught the day before. We would like to think that at least they're concerned about students preparing for their regents, but that's not the case whatsoever.
We are learning valuable lessons every day about how fascism is growing in the schools and how we must do much more to oppose it. Filing grievances and organizing union meetings, while necessary for us to participate in, will not cure our problems. We must continue to build Progressive Labor Party amongst teachers, parents and students as the beacon of the working class for a future where some day there will be real education!
The young people realized that political awareness starts with experiences like this one in New Orleans. This motivated them to share their experiences with their friends, to help them develop politically and care about the tragedy for these workers.
Upon discussing what we accomplished, they realized that their own political development as leaders was the most important one. In these volatile times, this kind of response from young people should give us all hope for the future of our class fighting back.
Recently a comrade reported on his trip to New Orleans. A slide show depicting the destruction still existing there inspired all who sat and listened. Days of planning led to an event commemorating the one-year anniversary of Katrina. We aimed to unmask the racism still prevalent a year later, exposing the harassment and lack of aid for black workers trying to rebuild their homes. Workers, local students and teachers worked side-by-side preparing for the event.
We erected a booth with banners reading, "Stop the War on the Poor in New Orleans." We distributed leaflets and accepted donations for Katrina survivors, giving donors buttons saying, "Make Levees Not War" and "FEMA Kills."
We reached many students and had some good conversations. A National Guard soldier related his New Orleans experience and disagreed with the leaflet's statement about the Guard harassing the city's residents. He said he only wanted to help them.
We quickly explained we were not attacking individual soldiers such as himself, but rather the military institution. We said New Orleans residents told us these complaints directly. We also gave examples of individual soldiers who showed true compassion for workers and residents despite the constraints of the uniform, stealing bottled water from military barracks for volunteers helping to rebuild homes there.
We tried to explain the contradiction between the military's role in protecting rich people's property and the natural impulse of working-class soldiers to help their brothers and sisters rebuild their lives. He thanked us for clarifying our position and we shook hands in solidarity.
Another student, disturbed about the Blackwater mercenaries sent to and still present in New Orleans, wondered who they were. We replied that -- just like in Iraq -- New Orleans had become a testing ground for establishing a police state. He began to understand the similarity between the war on the workers in Iraq and the harassment of workers in New Orleans. Throughout the day, many more were made aware and won through such conversations.
Overall our efforts advanced both the politics of our group as well as the student body. Collectively we spread awareness of the harassment and neglect of residents of the lower 9th Ward, linking the struggles of New Orleans workers to workers everywhere.
We also exposed capitalism as the root of the racism and inequality in New Orleans, and won more women and black and Latino workers to the struggle for social justice. We plan on repeating such activities with the students, workers and soldiers we met.
Our job as PL'ers is to direct the general concern for social justice into an international struggle for communist revolution. The success of the button sale shows that most students, workers and soldiers want to help other people in any way possible. By participating in fundraisers and similar events, we're able to initiate dialogue about the roots of inequality with those around us, leading to the possibility for change.
A young comrade
Commemorating the first anniversary of Katrina, our group of comrades organized a slideshow presentation and discussion about our recent trip to New Orleans. Many attending were new friends we had met at a recent university fundraiser for Katrina survivors. Others were workers and students we know; many have received CHALLENGE.
Rather than lecturing, our goal was to create dialogue, keeping it loose to encourage commentary.
The presentation provoked wide discussion. We had a great exchange about how the fascism in New Orleans following the hurricane symbolizes fascism's growth nationwide (like the proposed 700-mile electrified border fence aimed at Mexican immigrants). Further, we directly connected capitalism's racist practices at home with imperialism abroad. Coincidentally, the 9/11 anniversary was the day after. We discussed nationalism and how New Orleans shows that bosses and workers don't share the same interests.
One new friend, a history teacher, linked racism in New Orleans to that seen in public education. He described the government's racism in breaking its promise to help black workers there to reclaim their homes as a mirror image of their false racist promises of increased aid for black students in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). With several teachers attending, this was a particularly important connection. PL teachers joined in and provoked a much broader discussion of how capitalism spawns policies like NCLB.
Although the group's politics were mixed, the discussion demonstrated that students and workers possess an intimate and basic understanding of inequality under capitalism. Comrades were enlightened by the comments and understanding of our student and worker friends, while our friends were able to further develop communist ideas.
Currently we're working with these friends on other political issues around the city. Since this event we've had promising follow-up conversations and plan to continue them, along with similar future events.
Giles reported all of this to his union. The union filed an academic freedom grievance, and shortly afterward Giles was told by Roosevelt that he would receive no more assignments. This October 16, 2006, the day before his grievance goes to arbitration, members of his local and other locals of the Illinois Education Association (IEA) are organizing a forum/town hall meeting called "Academic Freedom Under Fire." This will be held at Roosevelt University, 18 S. Michigan Avenue. Union locals, professional organizations and student groups have been urged to attend.
This racist attack on Douglas Giles and his students is linked to the bosses' need to secure control over world energy resources. The liberal Rockefeller wing of the U.S. ruling class uses Democratic and Republican politicians, labor misleaders, and academic "experts" to win us to support their wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran (coming soon). Douglas Giles refused to toe the pro-imperialist line and Roosevelt U., supposedly a bastion of liberalism and pro-labor sentiment, dealt with him swiftly. Instead of taking his department chair to task for her racist attacks on Palestinians and Muslims, they actually defended her comments as an "academic discussion" in which she was "defending her position passionately."
On October 16, it will be interesting to see how Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association (NEA), Giles' parent union, will address the forum. Reg is a former president of the IEA and an alumnus of Roosevelt U. Will he link the attack on Giles and his students to developing fascism in the U.S., and to the imperialist "war on terror" abroad? Or, will he simply bemoan the unfortunate actions of his alma mater and urge us all to vote Democratic on Nov. 7?
As a wild guess, we don't expect Reg Weaver will agree with PLP and call for revolution to end capitalism, the cause of fascism and imperialism. That's a job for us -- members and supporters of PLP. The attack on Giles and his students has provided us with an opportunity to open the eyes of our co-workers and our students to the real motives of their "friendly" liberal politicians, labor leaders, and school administrators. Let's guarantee the presence of Challenge and sharp political discussion at the October 16th forum.
The UN's special investigator said torture was "totally out of hand" and might even be worse now than under Saddam Hussein. (GW, 10/5)
The US-based Edmonds Institute has published a report listing more than 30 examples of western medical, horticultural and cosmetic products that it said were "pirated" from Africa. (GW, 9/26)
Greece suddenly found itself 25 per cent richer yesterday after a surprise upward revision of its gross domestic product, the fruit of a change to national accounts designed to capture better a fast-growing service sector -- including...prostitution and money laundering. (FT, 9/29)
His death was by no means an isolated one....
Across the country in desperate pockets like this one, 17,107 farmers committed suicide in 2003, the most recent year for which government figures are available....
...86.5 percent of farmers who took their own lives were indebted -- their average debt was about $835... (NYT, 9/19)
"After three years Iraqis have less power in their homes than under Saddam. Hospital neonatal units lose electricity, and doctors watch children die... (NYT,10/5)
...cuts in taxes for the wealthy have accounted for a large part of the surge. Twenty-five years ago there were only 13 billionaires on the list... (GW, 10/5)
...Justice O' Donnell's campaign accepted thousands of dollars from the political action committees of three companies that were defendants in the suits. Two of the cases dealt with defective cars, and one involved a toxic substance....
...Every justice in the 4 to 3 majority had taken money from affiliates of the companies. None of the dissenters had done so, but they had accepted contributions from lawyers for the plaintiffs.
Justice O' Donnell voted for his contributors 91 percent of the time....
The justices almost never disqualified themselves from hearing their contributors' cases.
...30 states are holding elections for seats on their highest courts this year. Spending in these races is skyrocketing, with some judges raising $2 million or more for a single campaign...(NYT, 10/1)
"Eyes Off the Prize," Carol Anderson's fully-researched account of the post-World War II anti-racist movement tells a cautionary tale. It chronicles how the NAACP, the largest anti-racist organization of the time, was led astray to support U.S. imperialism at the expense of oppressed "minorities." Unfortunately, Anderson refuses to follow the logic of her own research: that capitalism needs racism to survive. Her anti-communism blinds her to the only viable solution: communist revolution.
The NAACP's capitulation has hogtied anti-racist forces up to the present day. Lined up against this sellout stood the black left. W.E.B Du Bois and William Patterson, supported by the Soviet Union and the U.S. Communist Party, attempted to frame the fight for racial equality in terms of international human rights. "Human rights," according to Anderson "had the language and philosophical power to address not only the political and legal inequality that African Americans endured, but also the educational, health care, housing and employment needs that haunted the black community."
Du Bois led the mass campaign to bring the "elegant" and incontrovertible NAACP human rights petition "An Appeal to the World" before the newly-formed United Nations. Patterson followed up with the equally persuasive Civil Rights Congress petition We Charge Genocide. The U.S. State Department and their agent at the U.N., Eleanor Roosevelt, conspired to squash these petitions and persecute the authors.
The State Department enlisted the NAACP leadership in this crusade. Executive secretary Walter White, along with Roy Wilkins and Thurgood Marshall, orchestrated Du Bois' expulsion from the very organization he helped found. Under their leadership, the NAACP refused to defend Du Bois and Patterson (and their friend Paul Robeson) against these attacks.
Even the president of the Indiana State Conference of NAACP Branches, Willard Ransom, criticized the `Progress Report" for hypocritically claiming that the standard of living for blacks approached that of whites in the face of horrific violence against blacks and for supporting imperialist exploitation.
Bowing to U.S. imperialism, the NAACP from now on would limit its fight to civil rights, abandoning more expansive human rights. "Civil rights, however," writes Anderson, "did not then and does not now have the language, the tools and the means to address the systemic issues that haunt black America." The civil rights focus on legal and voting rights, not social and economic rights, suited the propaganda needs of the U.S. Empire.
On the other hand, the human rights campaign exposed imperialism. Du Bois, Patterson and Robeson served the anti-racist cause well, facing expulsions and persecution with courage. The black left's revolutionary communist vision showed how to end racism, inspiring their political work. Their principled opposition to the prevailing politics of the biggest anti-racist reform organization of the time is worth emulating. This was symbolized by Du Bois officially joining the Communist Party in 1945, saying becoming a communist "was the logic of my life."
Dismissing revolution, Anderson puts too much faith in the pious pronouncements of international bodies. Ironically, her reformist ideology leads her back to the same red-baiting for which she condemned the NAACP leadership. To her, the black left's "courage and intellect could have made a lasting, significant contribution," if only they would have jettisoned their communist sympathies and allies.
Perhaps Anderson dismisses revolution because she never considers the power of the working class. In truth, the politics of our class will determine everything. If we are to end this racist scourge, we must struggle for tactics -- as did the black left -- that advance the revolutionary will of the working class.
Some 10,000 demonstrators rallied in front of Parliament calling for "a new 1956," the anti-communist rebellion against the then pro-Soviet government. Gyurcsany's party formed from members of the old pro-Soviet ruling class who have now become free-market capitalists. When the Soviet bloc collapsed 16 years ago, Hungary's government-owned industries were grabbed cheap by local bosses from the old state-capitalist system and by imperialist corporations.
On Monday night, Sept. 18, thousands of demonstrators went to a TV station demanding publication of an anti-government statement. Police tear gas and water cannons repelled the protestors, but after lengthy street battles they seized the station for several hours. Their anti-communism was evident in their damaging a monument in front of the station honoring the Soviet Red Army that liberated Hungary from the Nazis. The right-wing FIDESZ Party --which ruled from 1998-2002 -- and its fascist goons were trying to take advantage of the situation to build anti-communism.
But the fact is that the ruling Socialist Party and their buddies in the Alliance of Free Democrats, are as much free-marketeers as the right-wingers. Gyurcsany's coalition government continued the same capitalist policies of the previous right-wing government. The rulers' harsh austerity measures against workers are required by the Maastricht Treaty in order to introduce the Euro by the year 2010 and put Hungary in the Eurozone economic sphere. These attacks include price and tax increases, wage cuts, payments for medical services, higher charges for college students, and so on. A PLP'er asked a woman who returned to her native Hungary last year how she found it. Her first reaction: "I have never seen so many beggars." This is the essence of capitalist "democracy," where workers are made to pay for the bosses' economic plans no matter who runs the government.
Hungary is now basically dominated by German and Austrian capitalism. (Hungary was part of the old Austrian-Hungarian empire which, along with Germany and Turkey, fought France, Britain, Tsarist Russia and the U.S. during World War I.) But Russia still has much influence in its economy.
About 80% of Hungary's natural gas is imported from the Russian Federation. Moreover, Hungary is a decisive hub for Russian gas supplies to Balkan countries like Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. During last January's Russo-Ukrainian gas supply crisis, Hungary was, as expected, among those countries that suffered immediately from a gas shortage, ended only by a deal between Kiev and Moscow.
Russia's president Putin plans to expand its Gazprom company's European network by using Hungarian territory as a gateway to reach southwestern Europe. So if an openly anti-Russian government comes to power, Hungary's energy needs might suffer Moscow's wrath.
The anti-communist rebellion against Gyurcsany' s capitalist lies shows once again that when workers follow pro-boss leadership, they ultimately side with one group of rotten bosses against another equally rotten gang. Workers in Hungary and internationally need real communist leadership, one based on learning from the achievements and mistakes of the old communist movement. Without it, workers will always be used by different sets of bosses.
(Part II, October 14 CHALLENGE, exposed the political battle emerging in the bosses' mass organizations that's trying to win the working class to a war agenda, specifically the Machinists union campaign to ensure that U.S. arms factories can produce the weapons the rulers need for possible future wars with Russia and/or China.)
The "new liberalism" discussed in previous articles does not rule out fascism. Quite the contrary, it paves the way for fascism with an ideological attack centered on racism, nationalism and support for imperialist war. New liberalism wants the reform movement to generate political acceptance of, and sacrifice for, bigger wars to defend the bosses' empire.
This presents a contradiction. Some worksites have unions. Many workers, students and soldiers still look to reformist organizations, despite mixed feelings. "New liberalism" will maintain mass organizations even as the bosses consolidate the fascism necessary for their imperialist war plans.
We resolve this contradiction by participation, not absenteeism. The central question is how we participate.
We'll be unable to stop the march down this road, or even impede its progress, unless we win rank-and-file political rejection of the reform leadership. To accomplish that, many more must be inspired by communist politics. As Lenin said, those communist politics must be brought from outside the reform struggle.
We could risk becoming unwitting stalking horses for the bosses' imperialist plans if we allow reform to dominate our struggle. We (temporarily) might make these organizations seem more legitimate to workers. But we'll never develop the necessary flexible tactics unless we truly realize that these reformist organizations represent the class enemy.
The current struggles against new liberalism illustrate a general truth: reform and revolution stand in dialectical contradiction to each other: reform will never spontaneously lead to its opposite, revolution.
CHALLENGE editorials must continue to expose the bosses' plans for bigger and bloodier wars and emphasize our class outlook opposing racism while combating nationalist poison. Articles reporting class struggles should echo these communist-inspired politics, not building reformist and capitalist illusions present in these class battles, but answering them with communist ideas. Writing and discussing these articles develops leadership among newer, younger comrades and friends and helps veteran members as well. But all this is meaningless without robust networks of CHALLENGE sellers and readers.
Communist Revolution: Only Answer to Imperialist War and Fascism
As the bosses consolidate this "new liberal" fascism necessary for their imperialist war plans, PLP and our class can do something new. Unlike the old socialist movement, we say communist revolution -- not a "united front against fascism" alongside non-existent "good" capitalists -- is the only viable answer. We're beginning to do this, consolidating some -- not enough -- new black and Latin communist industrial leaders:
* LA transit workers' increased CHALLENGE distribution makes the worksites
"comfortable for communist discussion";
* The new Washington, D.C. Metro transit union leader spends "much of his time selling and mobilizing CHALLENGE readers and sellers" which supports our political work in the union (see page 3);
* New aerospace workers led our workers conference;
* Veteran non-union garment workers brought scores to the recent immigration marches under the banners of our anti-imperialist politics;
* Groups organized around CHALLENGE entered the last Boeing strike inspired by our anti-racist, internationalist communist vision;
* Chicago hospital workers confronted their union mis-leadership over anti-immigrant racism;
* An East Coast teacher used a CHALLENGE network of over 50 readers to recruit ten new members to PLP, which in turn increased the network to over 100.
These modest examples, and others, help forge a politically-motivated working class which can answer imperialist war and fascism with communist revolution. Winning political leadership is difficult with many twists and turns. The fight is long-term. Nonetheless, this vision is worth a lifetime of struggle.