Dems Aint No Doves
Rumsfeld Out, But Workers No Better Off
Beware Liberals Like Spitzer Bearing Pro-War Reforms
PLers Building Base for Communism in D.C. Transit
Chile: Miners Solidarity With GM Strikers Paying Off
Pakistan: PLers Expose All Bosses, Aid Quake Victims
Salvador Hospital Strikers Block Streets, Confront Cops
Oaxaca: Reform Capitalism No Solution for Workers
Back Oaxaca Struggle
Cops Save Minutemen From Anti-Racists Wrath
Red Ideas Make Headway at Public Health Convention
Racist French Rulers Use Terrorist Lies to Fire Airport Workers
Oil Resources Behind Darfur Deaths, Wars in Africa
Liberals Petition Misleads Anti-War GIs
Need Alternative to Liberals' GI 'Appeal'
Danger, Opportunity in GI Movement
Wider Wars Behind School Reform
Medical Murder: From Hitler to Israel to U.S.
Campus Action Exposes Justice Roberts
The Deaf Must Unite With Their Class
Book Review: Short-Circuiting Soldiers Political Potential
God Save The Queen Because The Working Class Definitely Shouldnt!
The newly-won Democratic control of Congress is being hailed by many as a win for everyone. While workers and soldiers are distraught over the war, the Democrats have slithered into public consciousness as the "anti-war" party. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and not one worker should believe any of these snakes as they make grand plans for the future of U.S. imperialism.
The main wing of the ruling class, the Rockefeller/Eastern Establishment, is angered by the Bush administrations bungling of the war which has lost the hearts and minds of the working class. They understand that after 9/11 the Bushites had a perfect opportunity to win millions of U.S. workers to goosestep to their imperial whims first with Afghanistan, then with Iraq. But in the last five years, the recruits have not flocked to fight for the U.S. Instead, the body bags have piled up, and lives of workers here have increasingly worsened as the bosses move jobs to cheaper markets and steal from healthcare and pensions.
In the build-up to the Iraq war, some Democrats fought for a multilateral solution that would involve bosses from U.S. "allies" in the occupation. Instead, Bush and his neocons thought they could bully their way into controlling the entire Mid-East, first Iraq, then Syria and Iran. This unrealistic goal dismissed any possible opposition from their rivals in Europe, Russia and China, not to mention within the U.S. With its "Shock and Awe" war, this administration thought it could scare the world to its knees.
U.S. bosses are now trying to figure out how to chart a course in Iraq without losing its oil and military bases, and regroup for more effective imperialist wars for control of the regions resources. They have called in Rockefeller old-schoolers James Baker and Lee Hamilton to help them with their fumbled war and control rising imperialists like China and Russia.
Historically, Democrats have never been any more "anti-war" than Republicans. During World Wars I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Presidents were Democrats. During the 1990s, Democrat Bill Clinton enforced sanctions and continuous bombing of Iraq that claimed the lives of more than half-a-million children and bombed the hell out of Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, he dismantled welfare and created fascist slave-labor Workfare. Under this "first black president," the prison population exploded, jailing millions of mostly black and Latino men, while putting 100,000 more cops on the streets.
The bosses need the Democrats now to get U.S. workers and soldiers to wave the U.S. flag. Rahm Emanuel, a Congressman from Illinois and former Clinton policy advisor (pictured above with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer), has declared that "we need a new sense of patriotism and responsibility that unites us in a common purpose again." In "The Plan," Emanuel proposes that the Patriot Act be used to promote "universal civilian service" to guarantee that "all Americans . . . serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation, and community service." Although he claims this would not be a draft, its intention is to win workers to becoming a Gestapo-like force for the ruling class, "citizens who can meet the needs of the nation at home."
During the Cold War years, the bosses could win many workers to the illusion that the U.S. was the greatest country in the world. The challenge for them now, as they fight to stay on top, is to have an army of millions who support U.S. imperialism and fascism at home, especially because they know they must spill workers blood to guarantee their profits in the short and long term.
Workers and soldiers must not be won to these misleaders. At every opportunity, communists should expose the lies and actions of the liberal rulers and their tools. They pose a greater danger to our class than open fascists because they pose as "friends of the workers," aided by their lieutenants running the labor movement. These liberal Democrats cast a line baited with false promises of universal healthcare, education and jobs for all; hoping that workers will swallow their poisonous ideology when we bite at those few reform crumbs they offer. The liberals can only guarantee that capitalism will continue and pave a new road to fascism for years to come.
The Progressive Labor Party advances what communism means: fighting for one flag, one class, one party. No concession should be given by workers to the capitalists. Only the working class, organized with communist politics, can turn the war plans of the bosses into a revolution for a society answering workers needs.
Drenched with the blood of hundreds of thousands of working-class Iraqis and Afghans, Donald Rumsfeld deserves our hatred. But his recent ouster, like the Democrats electoral triumph, should bring no cheers. In no way does it change the objective conditions underlying U.S. military action. The global rivalry for profit that requires U.S. rulers to wage oil wars while preparing for World War III is only sharpening. Rumsfelds replacement, Robert Gates, could, in fact, prove a more lethal warrior. He more directly serves those U.S. capitalists who have the greatest need to defend their empire by armed force. With Gates in charge, the liberal imperialist Establishment wing of U.S. capitalism tightens its grip on war policy.
Hand-picked by former secretary of state James Baker, a JP Morgan and Exxon Mobil heir, Gates is part of the Iraq Study Group (ISG). Anticipating Novembers anti-Bush vote, the ISG cooked up bi-partisan Iraq "solutions" that actually entail stepping up the killing. The liberal New York Times endorsed an ISG option in its November 12th editorial, "one last push to stabilize Baghdad.... [t]hat would require at least a temporary increase in American and Iraqi troops on Baghdad streets." The U.S. butchered thousands when it tried to "stabilize" Fallujah a year ago. The carnage in Baghdad, twenty times more populous, would be all the more horrifying.
Many call Gates a hypocrite because he, as a CIA agent during the 1980s Iraq-Iran war, supplied information to Saddam Hussein. But this episode only proves his loyalty to the Establishment. At the time, its cynical strategy for controlling the Mid-East and its oil was to weaken both Iraq and Iran by encouraging each side to slaughter as many of the others citizens as it could.
Gates is an important cog in the Establishments policy-making machine. In 2004, with Zbigniew Brzezinski, he co-chaired the Council on Foreign Relations Iran Task Force. Bankrolled by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and overseen by Exxon Mobils Mid-East advisor, Suzanne Maloney, it concluded that the U.S. must treat Iran as a perpetual rival. Iran, it said, competes head to head with the U.S. for energy supplies and politico-military influence in the region and is forging worrisome ties to China, Russia and Western Europe. But, recognizing U.S. military powerlessness due to troop shortages, the Gates panel urged a course of "selective engagement," a combination of talks and threats, for now. Gates unwritten but obvious conclusion was that the U.S. must marshal larger forces.
Failure to even attempt to reach that goal doomed Rumsfeld. He represented a large sector of U.S. capitalists unwilling to subordinate their bottom line to war needs. They included small businesses, domestically oriented firms, and executives at huge companies who did not fully grasp the long-term game plan. [See Spitzer article, page 2] After the election, the imperialists seem to have the upper hand. We cannot predict just how they will try to organize their sorely-needed mobilization. But the Democratic Leadership Council, led by re-elected Hillary Clinton, is already pushing for compulsory national service and an immediate addition of 100,000 soldiers.
Under such circumstances, real political victory for workers lies outside the polling booth in building a working-class communist party that can eventually put a revolutionary end to the profit system and the endless wars it causes.
Eliot Spitzer, New York States governor-elect, is one of the top cops in a rapidly hardening financial police state. Facing a near- and long-term future of ever costlier combat, U.S. rulers need to impose wartime discipline on their fellow capitalists. Under the liberal pretext of "corporate reform," Spitzer, as the State attorney general, forced hundreds of companies, large and small, to comply with U.S. imperialisms agenda. His efforts in the countrys capital of finance have had nationwide impact. For example, Sarbanes-Oxley, the federal law that requires a strict auditing of corporations, resulted largely from Spitzers dogged application of New York laws in the service of U.S. imperialism.
Spitzers prosecution last year of insurance giant AIGs boss Maurice Greenberg, for example, has major foreign policy implications. Spitzer drove Greenberg out of his chairmans suite by charging him with improprieties in managing a family foundation. But, in the rulers view, Greenbergs real crime was his ties to Chinas bosses, with whom AIG has a sweetheart deal. It alone can operate wholly-owned subsidiaries in China. Greenberg is a director and big funder of the Council on Foreign Relations. With tensions between the two nations mounting, Spitzer discredited "soft-on-China" forces at U.S imperialisms most influential policy think-tank. His investigation into bid-rigging had already booted Greenberg's son Jeffrey from his post as chief executive of insurance broker Marsh & McLennan, which also has extensive operations in China.
A full-scale U.S. war effort will require centralized government control of finance and industry. Knowing that, Spitzer doesnt shy from swatting down the most prestigious firms and families when they clash with broader ruling-class interests. He slapped a $2-billion fine on JP Morgan Chase for its involvement in the Enron scandal and a $2.6-billion one on Citigroup for aiding WorldCom. Enron had imperiled U.S. capitalism by cornering the West Coast gas market and temporarily withholding energy from entire towns and factories, including war plants. In WorldComs case, Spitzer helped the rulers wrest a big chunk of the U.S.s strategic communications infrastructure from Bernie Ebbers, a politically unreliable upstart with few ties to the Establishment.
Spitzers shaping up of wayward corporations goes hand in hand with a wartime crackdown on workers. In purging China hand Greenberg from Marsh & McLennan, Spitzer greased the way for Michael Cherkasky, his old boss at the Manhattan DAs office, to become Marshs CEO. Cherkasky heads Kroll, a firm that specializes in homeland security fascism and became a part of Marsh in 2004, while Spitzer was prosecuting Marsh. Kroll advises the government on border control. It sifts bank data for terrorist activity.
The Supreme Court chose Kroll to oversee the Los Angeles Police Department, which has a habit of provoking rebellions inconvenient for war-bent rulers. Kroll took on William Bratton (now LAPD Police Chief) as a partner during his brief private sector stint. Among Krolls many police department clients, he spread Brattons "community policing" gospel, which calls for a network of pro-cop stool-pigeons based in churches and other local organizations. Spitzer himself has helped institute Bratton-blessed, cop-led Neighborhood Watch programs across New York State.
Spitzer now promises to rid the State Capitol of lobbyists who sell policy to the highest bidder while ignoring the capitalist classs greater needs. The New York Times, endorsing Spitzers "clean-house" campaign, invoked Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt and Nelson Rockefeller, Establishment imperialists all, as models for him to follow. Spitzer heeds his masters voice. His transition team includes Peter Goldmark, longtime head of the Rockefeller Foundation. Pro-war "reformer" Spitzer is no better than the rest of the wolves in sheeps clothing let loose by the election.
In the summer of 1963, the year-old Progressive Labor Movement (PLM) forerunner of the PLP defied the U.S. government and broke its ban on travel to Cuba. Fearful that the Cuban revolutionary experience had great appeal to U.S. youth, especially black and Latino workers, and might spark revolutions throughout Latin America, the Kennedy administration wanted to isolate Cuba with an economic boycott (still in force) and this travel ban. Anticipating the U.S. rulers invasion plans, the PLM had distributed tens of thousands of leaflets, held street rallies and unfurled the first "Hands Off Cuba" banner in UN galleries. (See CHALLENGE, 11/1)
After the U.S. Bay of Pigs invasion failed miserably, PLM boldly announced it would break the travel ban. Of 500 students who applied, 75 were chosen and planned to fly to Cuba via Canada. But the latter government, in collusion with the U.S., refused a landing permit for the plane.
Then, figuring the FBI, CIA and State Department would send agents into our ranks, we publicly announced a plan to go via Mexico, even telling that to the student applicants. But actually, we flew thousands of miles to Europe and back to Cuba, just 90 miles off the Florida coast, duping the U.S. spy agencies.
Upon returning, the students refused immigration officials demands to hand over their passports. More than 50 PLM members and friends were hauled before a Grand Jury and either cited for contempt or indicted on "conspiracy" charges, facing up to 20 years in jail. A national campaign was launched to defend the student travelers.
The best answer to the attack was organization of still another trip, with 84 of 1,000 applicants going. After a fight that went all the way to the Supreme Court, all charges were dropped. Many students joined the PLM during this struggle and PLM emerged as a new vigorous force in the emerging Left movement in the U.S., which later helped propel PLP into the forefront of the anti-Vietnam War struggle.
All this occurred at a time when the newly-organized PLM viewed the Castro leadership as socialist revolutionaries. However, eventually Castro became a supporter of the state-capitalist Soviet Union, impelling PLP to understand that Castro could not be viewed as a revolutionary communist.
Nevertheless, breaking the travel ban in that era did carry out the maxim, "Be bold; dare to struggle, dare to win!"
WASHINGTON, D.C. Nov. 13 The election campaign for a PLP-led slate of officers is heating up here in Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689. The transit industry is of strategic importance to U.S. working-class struggle transit jobs cant be outsourced, like steel and auto. When transit stops, as in the NYC 2005 strike, the economy and profit-making are severly affected. Therefore, building PLP at Metro and in other basic industries is of critical importance.
While theres growing militancy in transit nation-wide, theres still too little communist leadership to channel this militancy in a communist, class-conscious direction. Nevertheless, transit unions in Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have all fought militantly to resist cuts and maintain living standards despite the bosses determination to drive them down.
Here in D.C., the bosses are especially vulnerable to transit strike action. It would disrupt the economy, especially if led by communists. It could be seen as a rebellion and harshly attacked by the bosses state power cops, National Guard, even the Army, the courts and jail threats and subject to media lies.
A strike would shut down the U.S. government and military headquarters at the Pentagon, and lead to escalating repression by the bosses. Communist leadership in the union can prepare workers for such a development, and fight now to build industry-wide and city-wide solidarity to up the ante in the class struggle. Such sharpening struggle would be welcome, since it would provide fertile ground for masses of workers to see the need to smash the entire capitalist system and replace it with workers power and communism.
The key step towards this goal is the choice, by more and more workers, to join PLP and help build the long-term struggle for revolution, using their strategic position at Metro. The San Francisco transit workers union elected a PLPer Recording Secretary. The Metro union here elected a PLPer President. Hundreds of delegates at the international ATU convention cheered the floor speeches of revolutionary workers. Thousands of New York City transit workers braved fines and jailings in a bold strike last year, and continue to thirst for militant and possibly even revolutionary leadership.
Transit workers have demonstrated recently that theyre beginning to understand the power in their hands and the need to use that power for their class. But only with the leadership of PLP will such potential be translated into a revolutionary force.
(For up-to-date developments in Local 689, check out the website http://www.atulocal689.org/)
ARICA, Chile, Nov. 7 Over 150 GM strikers marched through this northern city last week, after 97% of the members of the Union of General Motors Workers rejected the companys miserable "final offer" and walked out. The workers are demanding an immediate 8% raise; a back-to-work bonus of 1 million pesos (US$1,900); and abolition of a work-rule change affecting current seniority and work assignments that would force workers to perform more than one job. Flexible work-rule changes and the use of subcontractors attack the job security and lower the wages of all workers, part of the bosses plan worldwide to make workers pay for the effects of their fierce war-like competition.
A union leader told La Estrella de Arica, a local daily: "They are lowering our wages every day. A few weeks ago GM brought in 90 workers at a monthly wage of 170,000 pesos (US$323), well below the norm of 220,000 pesos (US$ 418)." For the first time since it opened in 1970, GM hired women but at the lower wage-rates.
In contrast to its slump in the U.S. and Canada, GM has doubled last years production of pick-up trucks in this plant to 30 units per day. Since September, the company began producing the new 2007 Chevrolet D-Max pick-up truck, very much in demand by the countrys growing copper-mining industry here because of Chinas heavy need for copper as well as for export to Venezuela. So workers are demanding a bigger share.
In solidarity, the La Escondida miners union helped the autoworkers in their negotiations with GM. The GM workers had supported the miners recent 25-day strike. Mostly owned by the UK-Australian BH Billiton company, La Escondidas profits have risen 153% to $1.1 billion.
Workers from Detroit to Arica need more of this kind of solidarity to counter GMs and all bosses "divide-and-rule" tactic which weakens workers struggles. Even more, workers must learn the need to build an international revolutionary movement to end capitalisms wage slavery. Thats PLPs aim. Join us!
(The following is a report sent to CHALLENGE from comrades in Pakistan.)
Pakistan is a paradise for terrorists now that the government has signed an agreement with the fundamentalist clerics to keep them in their federally administered tribal area, Waziristan. However, U.S. forces are doing whatever they think will aid their survival in Afghanistan. The fundamentalist leadership claimed that U.S./NATO forces attacked that religious school (madrassa), killing 84 and injuring many more in Bajure.
It is very clear to workers that these terrorists are strengthening the capitalists, enabling them to remain in this territory. These terrorists, who the CIA, Saudi Arabia and local bosses organized, trained and financed to fight the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, now have another task to protect capitalism in this region by spreading divisive prejudices and producing chaos in this society, using suicide bombers to kill innocent people.
The murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti devastated Balochistan. Nationalist forces actively destabilized the government, attacking public places, killing security personnel, organizing demonstrations and detonating bombs, grenades and missiles. Insurgency in Balochistan is not new. Nationalism is its driving force there are more than 12 parties/groups fighting for their "turf." One is the Baloch National Liberation Army, engaging in military operations.
Feudalists are very strong in Balochistan also. The government claims theyre opposed to development in this region and therefore are spreading terrorism to discourage investment there. The feudalists and the government are battling for control of Balochistans huge resources. In this military fight between feudalism and capitalism, the capitalist bosses seek an empire with their own conditions but feudalists want a piece of the pie.
The governments Privatization Commission is taking huge kickbacks by actively selling all the factories under state control to various capitalists.
Recently it virtually gave the Pakistan Steel Mill (PSM) to these private exploiters, strengthening their control over huge industries, to counter any working-class revolutionary struggle.
The PSM, completed under the former USSR in 1978, cost 25 billion rupees but was sold for 30 billion, although the currency exchange rate is now six times higher! Just before privatization the management spent 500 million rupees for new vehicles and 200 million on its roads a nice gift for the new bosses. In three years, PSM reaped 20 billion rupees profit but is being sold for 21 billion while owing the workers 23 billion. No wonder the workers fear being fired. (Current exchange rate is 60.7 rupees to one U.S. dollar.)
Pakistans political parties are fighting for control. If barred from the government, fundamentalists threaten other bosses with terrorism that would harm U.S. interests in this region. The Muslim Leagues oppose anyone who rules on behalf of U.S. imperialists. The Pakistan Peoples Party is trying to convince the U.S. bosses that it can easily fulfill their agenda because they have the masses support. The revisionists (fake leftists) are indirectly doing the bosses dirty work while advocating "socialism."
The government has banned teachers unions in Sindh and fired their leaders. We must fight to win many workers to the need to join the fight for communism, because without a Party truly working for communist revolution they cannot eliminate these capitalist rulers.
The bosses are using the union leadership fakers to protect their profits. The union leaders are being bought off with homes, cars and money. Many workers who seek better wages and conditions fear being fired if they oppose this leadership.
Its been more than one year since the devastating earthquake that killed 80,000, injured over 135,000 and left more than 3.2 million homeless across Pakistani-administrated Kashmir and the northwest province. Yet, because of the lack of planning, nepotism, dictatorial dealing with humanitarian organizations and corruption, the government has still not provided shelter for all the homeless. More than 80% are still in tents, facing problems like protection and security.
Although the government is supposedly compensating the homeless, this process is so complicated it leaves survey teams open for bribery. The poverty-stricken with no money for bribery have received nothing.
PLP has collected money, food and other needed items from our friends and delivered them to these deserving people. PLP has exposed the bosses who want to keep everything they can collect from the donors in the name of the affected people. Communism is the only system which can assist people in any emergency, free of discrimination.
We are determined to expose the crisis of capitalism in Pakistan, analyzing the world situation and aiming to win millions into our ranks, to lead an international communist revolution. All the evils of capitalism that exist here high prices, no health facilities, education or clean water, fundamentalism, political chaos, exploitation in factories, harassment, inequality, injustice, nationalism, sexism and racism give us the opportunity to build PLP. We are the real fighters against capitalist oppression worldwide, having the capability of uniting the working class into a single international communist party PLP.
In Pakistan the geo-political and socio-economic conditions provide fertile soil for our struggle against the exploiting ruling class, helping us to recruit new workers into our Party.
SAN SALVADOR, Oct. 27 The 125,000 workers of the Social Security Institute Union (STISS), striking for a $100 monthly raise, have paralyzed operations of clinics and hospitals. When the Order Maintenance Unit police (UMO) took over the hospitals, the strikers responded by taking control of the surrounding streets, blocking the capitals main thoroughfares and paralyzing traffic. This led to a confrontation between the police and the workers. By today, even more hospitals and clinics had joined the general strike.
The government has offered $20 a month. Nolasco Perla, director of the Social Security Institute (ISS), said these workers "are some of the best-paid workers in the country." While he may be one of the best-paid, earning $5,250 a month, most workers receive only $300.
"We hope that, when president Tony Saca returns to the country, he will reason with the director of Social Security," said the union leader. One doctor then declared, "These reforms will not solve the lack of medicine and instruments in the hospitals, even less so with our leaders sold out to the right-wing."
The strike is 15 days old and jurisdiction is now in the hands of the Ministry of Labor, an institution controlled by the ARENA Party fascists. They, as always, declared the strike illegal, provoking even more ruthless attacks, including salary cuts, jailings and police repression.
The workers are displaying courage and determination, inside and outside the hospitals, confronting the police and the sellout leaders. They deserve a better future and better strategies for struggle. Therefore, we are redoubling our efforts to build CHALLENGE networks to become the basis for new struggles, not only for $100 raises but for revolutionary struggles for a communist society where all the power and everything we produce will be for the working class.
OAXACA, MEXICO Nov. 15 "Even though were returning to teach, the struggle continues, mainly our revolutionary struggle," said a teacher here. She says that most of the States teachers (in small towns and rural areas) are returning to schools to begin classes and talk with their students and parents about the five-month struggle.
Hundreds of thousands marched on Nov. 2 and a week ago hundreds fought the federal troops and repelled their attack on Radio University. But this week the troops have reopened the UABJ (Benito Juárez Autonomous University).
In this city there is still uncertainty because of the repressive conditions. Thousands of local and federal police and paramilitaries occupy the city. Its not known exactly when teachers will return here.
Meanwhile, APPO (People of Oaxaca Popular Assembly), with many internal divisions (more next issue) continues demonstrating and threatens to erect more barricades and organize mobile brigades if Governor Ruiz doesnt step down. It has formed a state council with over 260 leaders of organizations, including the teachers union (SNTE Section 22) to draft a new Oaxaca constitution as a way to pressure the state and federal government.
PLP continues to struggle for our politics to shatter the illusion that there can be a pro-worker "reformed democratic capitalism" (as "the peoples President" López Obrador and his PRD party proposes as an alternative to PAN, the ruling party, and its allies in the PRI, the Party of the hated Oaxaca governor). López Obrador and his PRD, which has met with the APPO leaders, wants a capitalism that invests in programs for social control (as pushed by the World Bank), including investing in education and oil infrastructure. They say its "more efficient" and better at winning workers to sacrifice for the "national interests" in effect, for the entire capitalist class. The PRD represents a sector of Mexican rulers who seek deals (including over profits from the government-owned oil company Pemex) with China and other imperialists rather than exclusively with U.S. bosses. Workers have nothing to gain by taking sides in this bosses dogfight.
The federal troops are in Oaxaca to guarantee the dictatorship of capital. Our aim is to show how the massive fight-back can become a school to build a mass PLP and fight for the dictatorship of the working class: a communist society without any local and foreign bosses and where workers needs are the only priority.
NEW YORK CITY
Nov. 13 100 teachers and students organized by the Professional Staff Congress union at CUNY (City University of New York) held a spirited rally today here in support of the striking Oaxaca teachers. Many leaflets and CHALLENGES were distributed.
"Fraternal and revolutionary greeting to the teachers of Oaxaca whose organization and courage in confronting capitalism we admire," declared a teacher here in El Salvador. "Capitalism impoverishes and exploits teachers worldwide."
Weve discussed the struggle of the Oaxaca teachers in meetings with hundreds of teachers, based on the ideas of class struggle, internationalism, exploitation under capitalism, and the need for communist revolution. In some meetings we proposed to support the teachers in demonstrations and in articles in the teachers union newspaper ANDES. PLP, using CHALLENGE, has linked this struggle to the fight among the imperialists.
"We wont forget that the teacher who is fighting back is also teaching," said another teacher here. Weve been in the streets marching with these same slogans and now its our class brothers and sisters in Mexico who are in struggle. Teachers play a key role in the fight against capitalism. Theyre trained to teach the ideas of the system to keep exploitation and oppression alive. But when they decide to teach the ideas of struggling for a communist society, they become a powerful force.
They can help sow the seeds of revolutionary ideas to millions of future workers and soldiers, those who will be in the forefront of organizing a communist revolution.
From El Salvador to Oaxaca, the working class has no borders!
Comrades in El Salvador
MAYWOOD, CA., Nov. 11 Hundreds of angry anti-racists confronted the racist Minutemen today when they demonstrated here to protest the citys status as a "sanctuary" for undocumented workers. A huge police presence protected the Minutemen from anti-racist anger meting out severe punishment. Many said angrily that if it were not for the cops, they would give the Minutemen what they deserve.
A group of youth hung one of several effigies of KKK-Minutemen from a lamppost as the crowd cheered. Although the cops eventually took it down, the crowd beat the other effigies.
Many joined lively chants against the Minutemen and the cops, including, "Este puno si se ve los obreros al poder!" ("See this fist workers to power!") as they shook their fists at the Minutemen and the cops.
At one point a supposed "demonstrator" began handing out Mexican flags (there was only one such flag before that). He was quickly identified as a Minuteman trying to divide the crowd, creating an image of anti-racists being loyal to the flag of the Mexican bosses. People yelled "Saquenlo" ("get him out of here"), chased him and threw his flags on the ground. One anti-racist demonstrator was arrested. The crowd became angrier and taunted the cops.
A PL comrade passed the hat for the arrested anti-racist fighter. Spectators and demonstrators contributed $300 on the spot. The arrested mans friends thanked us as we chanted "Same enemy, same fight, workers of the world, unite!" Over 200 CHALLENGES were distributed (all we had). The red PLP flag of the international working class waved proudly throughout demonstration.
BOSTON, Nov. 13 While last year's annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia produced a noisy demonstration, PLPs "quieter" one-on-one activity this year can prove more valuable in the long run.
There was some action this year like when the Boston cops (complete with police wagon) shut down the activists breakfast and Katrina slide show. Or when we dodged Convention Center Security to keep distributing flyers after being chased from several locations. But such moments were not the most important ones for building PLP.
A more passive atmosphere this year possibly resulted from delegates hoping a Democratic Party Congressional majority would end the Iraq war and boost funding for public health. (The elections occurred right in the middle of our meeting.) But PLPers from five cities sought conversations with friends ready to move somewhat beyond electoral politics. We made some real progress with some.
One friend who had e-mailed a comrade a reminder to file his absentee ballot before leaving for Boston ended up subscribing to CHALLENGE and to The COMMUNIST magazine. She had only seen the paper once but because of joint efforts in anti-war activity with this comrade for the past two years she was confident enough to seriously consider the Party's ideas and literature. Our relationship will continue after the Convention.
Advocating communist ideas in a mass way made possible other conversations. A Party flyer that laid out the Democrats war plans (using their own website) was passed out before the opening plenary, attended by thousands. Party speakers raised various aspects of the Partys line at the podium in various sessions or from the audience. These included the need for soldier rebellions against imperialist war and the need to build a multi-racial movement to fight racism.
Other Party ideas such as the need to violently combat the bosses attacks to bring about fundamental social change were raised individually. One such sharp exchange with a good friend ended with the comrade asking, "So, do you want me to stop sending you the paper?" "No," the friend replied, "I don't agree with everything but keep sending it." Then the comrade was given a $40 donation for the sub and postage. The struggle continues.
PARIS, FRANCE, Nov. 10 Last week the Roissy deputy prefect announced security clearances had been withdrawn from 72 Muslim airport workers over the past year. As a result, most of the workers lost their jobs. This racist attack was underscored by an Oct. 21 statement by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Referring to the loss of security clearances by an initial group of 43 workers, he said, "Theres no question of it being a case of us just not liking their faces. There are precise grounds which led us to forbid their presence at the airport." But it seems the workers "crime" is very precisely their faces or their religion.
The context of this attack goes back four years ago when Jacques Chirac was re-elected French president in a campaign in which all candidates beat the law-and-order drum. Now next years presidential election has probable candidates Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and right-wing "socialist" Ségolčne Royale again spotlighting "crime" and "terrorism." In the background, as inter-imperialist rivalry sharpens, the French bosses are looking to discipline workers with new repressive measures. This racist attack on these 72 workers, mostly baggage handlers, can eventually be used against many of the 80,000 workers at the Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport Pariss largest single employer.
Most of these workers are accused of "being connected" to Salafism, a branch of Islam. ("Le Figaro", 11/10) The deputy prefect, Jacques Lebrot, claimed the workers had "fundamentalist tendencies that are potentially terrorist" and were linked to "the Islamic scene."
Right-wing deputy Alain Marsaud swiftly called for a law to speed up revocation of security clearances. Before becoming a deputy, he was a board member of the scandal-ridden Compagnie Générale des Eaux, whose chairman was fined one million euros for lying.
When eight workers sued to force the prefect to disclose the evidence against them, it revealed the weakness of the governments charges. On Nov. 8, the government restored security clearances to two workers, and today the court conveniently declared it had no jurisdiction in the case. The dossiers compiled by the central unit for "fighting terrorism" (which Marsaud headed in the 1980s) will remain secret.
No wonder. The police interviews, which French law requires before a security clearance can be revoked, dont seem to have been very professional. The newspaper "Le Canard enchaîné" (11/8) revealed part of the procedure. Karim K., holding a security clearance for ten years, was asked: "Do you feel comfortable living in France?" He ought to he was born here to a French mother and an Algerian father! When a cop suggested that his Saudi Arabia trip wasnt for sight-seeing, Karim replied that he had gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca and asked if the police were going to question all Christian workers who had gone on a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Security company employee Hervé B. is a French convert to Islam. In March 2005 his company congratulated him for having intercepted firearms. Last April, he was part of the security team protecting Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy but still lost his security clearance.
The French bosses past laxity regarding corruption and air security exposes their hypocrisy. After the 9/11 attacks, Air France contracted with the Pretory guard company for in-flight security. Of 648 guards employed on France-U.S. flights, 173 had a police record and 20 had done hard prison time. ("Le Canard enchaîné," 11/18) Not so surprising, considering Pretorys personnel recruiter had been sentenced to a 17-year prison term for armed robbery! And last July Air France boss Jean-Cyril Spinetta persuaded the judges not to charge him with money laundering and misuse of company property because it would hinder Air Frances merger with KLM!
Unfortunately, Roissy airport workers unions are pretty spineless. A Nov. 7 inter-trade union meeting agreed only to publish a joint leaflet; have their respective lawyers "work together"; and have a delegation meet the do-nothing minister for equal opportunity, Azouz Begag. They couldnt agree on strike action and tabled the matter until the next meeting, Nov. 17.
The airport workers need to follow the Modeluxe laundry workers example (CHALLENGE, 11/1 and 11/15). Their one-week sit-down strike which united all workers, French-born and foreign-born, documented and undocumented forced the Essone department prefect to grant residence and work permits to ALL 20 of the undocumented workers.
Comparing the experiences of the Roissy and Modeluxe workers, its clear that winning workers demands doesnt go through the bosses courts, but rather through workers unity at the point of production. Ultimately, eliminating the bosses courts, prefects and ministers will abolish capitalist exploitation once and for all.
Wars are spreading throughout Africa
Somali Islamist movement fighters clashed with the interim government on Nov. 11 for the second time lately. "Militant groups and 11 countries are funneling the military aid needed for a full-scale war into Somalia, widening the threat of conflict into the Horn of Africa and beyond " (Reuters, 11/10)
In Kinshasha, Congo, armed clashes erupted between supporters of President Kabila and his opponent in the recent presidential election, Vice-President Jean Pierre Bemba. Kabila is ahead in the elections second round. Over four million people have died since war erupted in the Congo in the late 1990s, involving many nearby countries.
In Darfur, the violence continues between government-supported militias and their opponents in the South of Sudan.
Said the Observer (London, 11/12): "This epidemic of war is as destructive as those of AIDS and malaria. But the chief fuel to this flame is not an innate aggression by Africans, as many commentators suggest. Tragically, in most cases, it is the blessings bestowed by nature on the continent and the strong desire of economically powerful outsiders to get them. Ethnic and religious rivalries are real, but too often serve as a smokescreen." (The Observer, Nov. 12).
For example, in Sudan the fighting is said to be among "Arabs and Africans" (both groups are African and black). But its oil thats really behind it. U.S. bosses, black politicians and many liberals like actor George Clooney are focusing on the deaths in Darfur, but the reality underlying this "concern" is the China National Petroleum Corporations purchase of the rights to Block 6, the largest oil and gas field still controlled by the central Sudanese government, which lies mostly in Darfur.
"Production costs are believed to be a bargain, 22 cents a barrel, and with Rolls-Royce Marine reportedly supplying tens of millions of dollars worth of pumping equipment this summer Block 6 production is alleged to have risen from 10,000 to 40,000 barrels a day," says the Observer. "Earlier this month Chinas President Hu Jintao spoke forcefully in support of Sudans right to sort out Darfur as it saw fit, while his oil-thirsty country is now Sudans main military supplier. The signals from Chinas recent summit with African leaders are that the Chinese will only push harder in future to gain their share of the spoils."
The conflict in Somalia is also labeled a religious struggle between Muslims and Christians (Ethiopia supports the interim government, opposed by a Muslim coalition). But whats unpublicized is that the Ogaden region bordering Somalia sits on an unexploited gas field. The Malaysian oil giant Petronas has bought three concession blocks there. Ethiopas rulers fear a resurgent Somalia will seek to annex Ogaden. The areas likely coming war is, in part, gas-powered.
The racists, who blame it all on African "savagery," point to the slaughter in Rwanda. "But there, too," reports the Observer, "one of the most under-reported tensions behind the conflict was the shortage of valuable grasslands." French and U.S. imperialists fight over resources also had their hands in this massacre.
The wars in the Congo were fought over diamonds, cobalt, gold and other precious minerals (with many imperialist companies financing the fighting). The wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia were again for diamonds, financed by foreign companies.
(A future article will review how many U.S. companies and investors from George W. Bush to liberals like Clintons former U.S. ambassador Andrew Young had their hands soaked with the blood of the millions whove died here, and how the only way out of this slaughter is to build an internationalist communist movement to break with all forms of tribalism, warlords and imperialists.)
A subcommittee of my peace group builds support for anti-war resisters inside the military, along with groups like Iraq Vets Against the War and Military Families Speak Out. We were excited about the "Appeal for Redress" for military personnel to tell Congress to end the war, but there was much in it we disliked. The petition says nothing about getting out of Afghanistan or anywhere in the Middle East. Some of us wouldn't want to ask anti-war military personnel to self-identify as "patriotic Americans proud to serve the nation in uniform." Such language sets soldiers up for the next war - maybe, someone said, for World War III.
We created a "pledge" calling for ending the war and occupation of Iraq and everywhere else. It asks soldiers to follow their conscience and refuse to commit war crimes or fight for the corporate empire. Some were nervous about such strong language. Others are very enthusiastic and plan to take a mass approach with the pledge. Some members of the peace group dislike that; one leader is pushing the Appeal. The group has adopted our Pledge but this struggle will continue.
Working on the Pledge has provoked some sharp and useful political discussions in the committee, in the whole group and in private conversations. Taking it to friends in other groups, and directly to those most affected will spark even more discussion.
It will help this struggle if CHALLENGE is more consistent about the danger posed by liberals within the military anti-war movement.
The letter "GI's Begin to Opt Out" (CHALLENGE, 11/15) correctly states that "the ruling class is preparing a trap. The Democrats have a more sophisticated plan for waging imperialist war." Exactly for that reason, the same article is wrong to describe the "Appeal for redress" as a "blow to the solar plexus" of the military brass. Top brass were among the first to say that "staying in Iraq [with the Bush administration strategy] will not work" (in the words of the Appeal.) The group "West Point Graduates Against the War" declares, "the deceitful connivances of the current administration have resulted in a war catastrophic to our nation's interests." The Appeal's patriotism and reliance on "our leaders" in Congress push the identical lie that working-class soldiers have the same "national interest" as the imperialist rulers. We must sharply counter this lie or we, too, run the risk of leading troops into the Democrats' pro-imperialist trap.
Wherever there are people angry about the war, we can fight for aspects of revolutionary ideas, like international working-class consciousness and refusing to obey orders that are against our class interest.
The article "GI's begin to Opt Out" (CHALLENGE, 11/15) is very true and a good sign that many soldiers are against the war and want it to end. That shows there's lots of potential in directly working with soldiers. But I was disturbed by the article's claim that the "appeal for redress" signed by 1,000 soldiers was "hitting the military brass like a blow to the solar plexus." I'm confident we can explain the errors of patriotism in the appeal to soldiers. However, the article gives too much credit to the appeal, sponsored by liberals with strong ties to the ruling class.
The liberal politicians' agenda is to manipulate the anti-war anger of soldiers, using patriotism to set them up for the next war. One thing must be clarified: capitalism needs war. Politicians scream "let's get out of Iraq" because things are utterly ugly and they see no way to win with the current plan. There is definitely a need to end unjust, imperialist war; however, there are other places these same politicians would gladly send troops.
Any appeal that begins with "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform," betrays the justified anti-war anger of soldiers. We should expose the goals of the liberal rulers. As soon as we can win over our base, we should propose an alternative statement for soldiers that's not patriotic. Sending petitions to Congress is fruitless and we should not confuse soldiers by encouraging them to send polite complaints to government officials.
The writer calls the appeal a "blow" and at the same time calls for communist revolution. The latter is an enormous blow. The article does acknowledge the sophisticated plan of the liberal ruling class accurately. We might not be able to get 1,000 troops to sign on to revolution now, but by criticizing the appeal and encouraging an alternative, we will make significant advances.
Red Iraq Vet
It's good to see the considerable activity and discussion about PLP's work with soldiers and their families. The recent article (CHALLENGE, 11/15) on the "Appeal for Redress" reflects the ongoing fight to build the Party within movements and struggles led by the ruling class. For us they contain both dangers and opportunities.
The "Redress," like virtually all organized class struggle in this period, is simultaneously a "blow" to the bosses and a temporary victory for them. The Oaxaca strike and rebellion, the supportive demonstrations by U.S. AFT chapters, the activities by Military Families Speak Out and IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) two organizations formed by AFL-CIO and Democratic Party operatives all provide opportunities to build a base for communist ideas in them while we're involved in whatever struggle is being organized. At the same time they're all led by the ruling class for the purpose of mis-leading workers. This is true regardless of whoever these groups' nominal local leaders are.
The Redress reflects rank-and-file soldiers' discontent with an imperialist war. Currently that discontent is being organized into a petition campaign led by the liberal rulers.
Given that the Redress is happening and over 1,000 soldiers have signed on to it, the main question is how we can take advantage of this development. Naturally, to the extent soldiers are following the liberal bosses, the Redress represents continuing victory for the capitalists. It's only when soldiers and workers can break away from following these enemies and follow communist leadership that the nature of the struggle can change.
This is true in one way or another short of communist revolution about every strike and struggle, no matter how militant or anti-imperialist the slogans, although the latter can raise class consciousness.
It would be an error not to participate because it is patriotic, any more than we would say don't participate in a strike or pro-immigrant demonstration just because the union or community group leads a march with an American (or Mexican) flag or recites the Pledge of Allegiance. Appealing to Congress builds as many illusions and creates as much opportunity as demanding a raise or amnesty or a new governor. What matters is what we do to build the Party in any of these struggles.
We should support the soldiers signing the petition, out of class solidarity. At the same time, as an organization, we should do what the writer says in criticizing the patriotism and raise more militant and politically sharper points, win people to communism and recruit to the Party from many angles, from within and without, loudly and one on one.
If people get soldiers to sign other statements, that's great too. To do all these things we must get deeply involved in this struggle and stay involved in every way possible.
As teachers in a PLP-led study group, we take teaching seriously. We want the best learning environment to teach the truth about class struggle and to prepare our students to fight for communism. They need to be able to read, write and think critically using historical knowledge, analysis and dialectical materialism.
But the schools are designed to serve the needs of the ruling class. This contradicts the ILLUSION that schools are an agency of upward mobility, that reforming capitalist schools would give working-class kids a better life. We want students to have a better life, not to drop out or do drugs, but we know that school reform is not designed to improve life for working-class kids.
Twenty years ago Party teachers helped fight for books, clean classrooms, pencil sharpeners. In those days, as long as we had our class under control, nobody knew or cared what we taught. Things have changed. It would be a mistake to mainly concentrate on the same old fight for better conditions; we must recognize the changing needs of the ruling class in the current crisis. There are now millions of dollars in additional funding, standards, standardized tests, small learning communities, and many more books. Obviously, the oldest school buildings in black and Latino communities still have moldy classrooms and falling-down ceiling tiles. In the growing imperialist crisis, the rulers need to pay closer attention to the inner-city public schools.
The ruling class wants to standardize instruction so that students receive a basic educational level of competence in reading, math, science, and social studies. They are particularly concerned with "the very poor, who drop out of high school and are therefore ineligible for the military." ("Was Kerry Right?" LA Times Op-Ed 11/3). It is precisely to prepare for wider war that the bosses are reforming education. Their rivalry with emerging imperialist powers is accelerating, and the ruling class needs to organize every aspect of society, including the schools, to lay the preparations for inevitable conflict.
Every major liberal think tank and foundation has united in this endeavor. A 2005 New York University report titled "With All Deliberate Speed", quotes retired Army Generals worrying about the high dropout rate harming military enrollment and predicts that the U.S. will need 14 million more college-trained workers by 2020, mostly to work in the war industry. A capitalist class that has spent decades pushing a racist program of drugs, social neglect and mass incarceration now faces the absolute need to change its educational plans to recruit, win and train a significantly larger sector of its inner-city youth.
One education reform has been the move to small schools which are often "school to work" programs (which serve the needs of industry), service-based programs (which train kids to be cops or otherwise serve the system) or "social justice" schools. The latter involve some of the most committed activists, but are an important part of the liberal rulers' plan to win the working class to patriotism and loyalty to the system. In these schools we spend a lot of time in meetings with our colleagues. There, and with our students, we try to expose the illusions fostered by community projects to register voters, the liberal patriotism that misdefines the fight against racism as "expanding who is an American" and the environmentalism that asks students to blame themselves for global warming. But most importantly, we fight to expose the bosses' need for war.
This month's Rethinking Schools magazine article by liberal apologist Alfie Kohn bemoans the bosses' plan to win global competition by "sending children home with packets of worksheets." He asks why we can't be allowed to educate kids to be enthusiastic and proficient learners, instead. Unlike the idealistic Kohn, we communists see that war is on the capitalist agenda and school reform is part of that. We need to expose this and win students, parents and teachers to fighting, not to reform public education for WWIII, but to build a movement to turn the bosses' war into a revolutionary war for workers' power. Only in a communist society can Kohn's dream of enthusiastic, proficient learners become a reality. Working-class students will be motivated to learn by fighting to organize society to meet our class' needs rather than to kill and die for the bosses' profits.
The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., has been presenting an exhibit entitled "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race." It finally agreed, after much opposition, to bring this exhibition to the country that created the Nazis, and show it in Dresden. It was the rise of pro-Nazi groups in Germany today that convinced the Museum to do so. The exhibition displays some 400 documents, objects and photos of how Hitlers fascist regime tried to create a "master race." Doctors and scientists played a key role, murdering thousands of children and adults considered "unfit to live" once they were catalogued as mentally ill or physically disabled.
Prior to the "Master Race" plan becoming a deadly killing machine, a joke pervaded Germany on how the "Nazi Pure Aryan" was "blonde like Hitler, tall like Goebbels and slim like Göring," Nazi leaders who were dark-haired, short and fat. But it was no joke. From 1939 to 1945 euthanasia killed 5,000 German children and 200,000 adults. It was part of the Holocaust slaughter of millions of "subhumans."
"It did not happen overnight," said Antje Uhlig, the exhibitions director. She told the Mexican daily La Jornada (10/25): "Using the social prejudices already in place and based on the Eugenics movement, the Third Reich used research in human genetics to decide which human being was valuable and which one was not "
The Nazis popularized the eugenics theory British scientist Francis Galton wrote in 1883. His ideas spread internationally, including to the U.S., using horse-breeding principles to "improve" the human race through artificial selection of "the fittest." In 1930, the Dresden Hygiene Museum (site of todays exhibition) opened on the subject of human sexuality. After Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, it became the cornerstone of Nazi medical propaganda.
Upon the Nazis seizure of power, they enacted a law "guarding" against genetically inherited diseases, the judicial basis for euthanasia and the Holocaust.
While the law forbid abortions for Aryan mothers, whom the State idolized, still some 400,000 men and women with any one of nine Nazi-defined "hereditary illnesses" were sterilized, all according to "law."
Many doctors and scientists used this and other laws to execute horrendous human experiments. Joseph Mengele, the "Angel of Death," was the best-known of these doctors for his experiments at the Auschwitz death camp. But there were many others. Even before the war, Paul Nietzche, a Dresden psychiatrist, advocated death for the "incurably ill." He started the euthanasia program "Aktion T-4" after the 1939 invasion of Poland. It began with new-borns and then expanded to include adults. Doctors and nurses were ordered to register disabled children with genetic defects. A prestigious Berlin pediatrician, Ernst Wentzler, was one who had the final decision on who was to be killed. One picture in the exhibition shows a health crew smiling to the camera in a crematorium.
This exhibition of the past is very much related to the present. Copying the Nazis, four senior Israeli doctors were just arrested for illegally experimenting on thousands of elderly and mentally disturbed patients including some survivors of Nazi concentration camps! without their consent. Thirteen patients died during or shortly after one experiment.
Today, in the U.S. cutbacks in social and health services, racist medical practices and the drive for maximum profits by hospitals and HMOs has caused the deaths of untold numbers of people who cannot afford medical care here. The bosses bribe many medical professionals to participate in these attacks, giving them relatively higher living standards than other hospital workers and most workers. Communist medical professionals have a long history of fighting the rulers racist attacks and strive to unite with other healthcare workers.
Nazi medical science was no aberration, but a product of a racist war-making profit system, which easily can be repeated here.
An online version of the exhibition can be seen at: http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/deadlymedicine
An irate patient
Recently chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts visited my college campus. His lecture was considered by many faculty and students to be a high point of the fall semester. What these people seemed to forget was that Roberts is not above politics; he was picked by Bush and confirmed by both parties in Congress to advance the interests of U.S. imperialism abroad and fascism at home. He is presiding over a court, which has signed off on the torture of innocent people in Guantanamo, and all over the world; which may soon seek to limit a womans right to abortion; and which seems determined to usher in the re-segregation of public schools.
At first I wasnt sure whether people on my campus would be open to a demonstration attacking such a respected political figure. At our first meeting, only six other students came. It was a good opportunity for us to discuss how the Supreme Court functions to legalize fascism, racism and sexism. On the day of the demonstration, we came prepared with anti-fascist chants, soon 35 students and towns-people joined the demonstration. It was a good turnout for a school that is often considered apathetic. We distributed CHALLENGE and leaflets, and we learned that even small private colleges have people who want to ally with workers if they are given the chance.
Since a comrade reported on the situation at Gallaudet University, the protesting students have won their battle to force the university trustees to dump their choice to succeed the retiring president.
This was a real victory for the students, but their movement contains serious contradictions. As the comrade reported, they want American Sign Language (ASL), to be primary at Gallaudet. ASL is a very different language from English and does not have a written form (the comrade did not realize this). Some of these students reject other forms of communication used by deaf people, including simultaneously signing and speaking, as incompatible with their notion of deaf culture. As the comrade rightly notes, this is a kind of identity politics, like feminism or nationalism, that separates its proponents from workers in general by emphasizing the "difference" of being deaf instead of concentrating on building class unity against the capitalist culture which does oppress the deaf in special ways. The many other deaf people, who need or prefer to use speech or English-based signing as well as ASL, are attacked as less pure and the capitalists who profit from all divisions within the working class are let off the hook.
I am myself a deaf person who lives in the mainstream (where I must use speech and lip reading to communicate). I admire the fierce energy of the Gallaudet protesters, which could go a long way toward overcoming the real, physical barriers that separate those without hearing from those with, and intensifying the common struggle against capitalism and its evils. I am saddened that far too much of that energy is being diverted into dead-end, even more isolating identity politics.
Nigerias workers rely on armed force
Last week militants seized more oil workers, one British and one American. More that 50 have been kidnapped this year .
The conflict has degenerated into a crisis threatening to halt oil production in the worlds eighth-largest oil exporter. Production this year is down by about 600,000 barrels a day .
"If we dont use violence, we can find it difficult for the government and the companies to attend to our needs," said Earnest Tonye, a young militant in Port Harcourt. "It works. When you are quiet, nobody cares about you if you are dying."
At the heart of anger is what they see as decades of exploitation. Last year the Nigerian government earned about $45bn in oil revenue while more than 70% of Nigerians live on less than $1 a day. (GW, 11/16)
Capitalist-run world swims in sewage
Every year, more than two million children die of diarrhea and other sicknesses caused by dirty water and a lack of "access to sanitation."
More than a third of the worlds people 2.6 billion have no decent place to go to the bathroom, while more than a billion get water for drinking, washing and cooking from sources polluted by human and animal feces.
At any time, almost half the people in developing countries have one or more of the main illnesses associated with inadequate water and sanitation .They are plagued by diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, trachoma and parasitic worms .
"Life-saving investments in water and sanitation are dwarfed by military spending," (NYT, 11/10)
Who are the worst terror-killers?
The overwhelming majority of people killed or maimed by cluster bombs are civilians and a significant number of those are children, according to an unprecedented study .The full extent of the damage caused by unexploded "bomblets" will probably never be known, it says .
Cluster bombs have been used in most major conflicts since Vietnam. Nato aircraft dropped them over civilian areas during the Kosovo conflict, British forces fired Israeli-made cluster weapons around Basra in 2003, and the Israelis fired them at Lebanon this summer .
In some areas of Iraq casualties from cluster weapons account for between 75% and 80% of all casualties. (GW, 11/16)
Voters know theyre just flipping a coin
Many voters, however, were willing to take a chance on unknown quantities.
In St. Louis, Floyd Butcher said he was not aligned with either party but would vote for Claire C. McCaskill, the Democratic challenger to senator Jim Talent.
"Im sick of hearing Talent lie about McCaskill and sick of hearing McCaskill lie about Talent," Mr. Butcher said. "But weve had Talent for years now and we know that he did not do a lot for us. McCaskill may be just as bad, but at least we dont know that for a fact." (NYT, 11/8)
Demand for profit = world hunger
Figures from the UNs Food and Agriculture Organiastion (FAO) show not a reduction but an increase of undernourished people since 1996. The figure, now at more than 850 million, is testament to how current global policies are consigning the hungry to stay hungry .
The report says that neoliberal economic policy has encouraged the elimination of small-scale food producers. Farmers and indigenous peoples are seen as "residues" of history whose disappearance is inevitable .
The message of the report is that small-scale farmers the majority of growers in the world want radically different policies from those being promoted by their governments. The call is for policies to start from the perspectives of food producers and consumers rather than the demand for profit. (GW, 11/9)
They work to save legs if youre rich
Economically and socially marginalized groups get the shortest shrift in the amputation lottery. Among diabetics in North America, Hispanics and African Americans are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely than whites to undergo lower limb amputations. (NYT, 11/7)
Unemployment low? This crowd says no
A new candy store that would be opening in Times Square needed workers. Starting pay was $10.75 an hour.
But by midmorning yesterday, a huge, swelling discontented crowd of job seekers was filling the air with curses.
The crowd put a human face on jobless statistics at a time when the citys unemployment rate, 4.5 percent in September, was the lowest since 1988.
Several thousand people mostly young, black and Hispanic had shown up to apply for fewer than 200 positions, only 65 of them full-time jobs. They came, they said, because of a phrase that had leapt out of the advertisements for the jobs: "on-the-spot hiring." But there were too many people clogging the sidewalk outside the building on Eighth Avenue between 35th and 36th streets where the company was conducting interviews, and everyone was abruptly told to go home and mail in the job applications .
Many had arranged for baby sitters, traveled from other boroughs and New Jersey, and lined up as early as 1 a.m., . (NYT, 11/4)
Book Review: "Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance during the Vietnam War," By David Cortright, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2005
The new edition of "Soldiers in Revolt," David Cortrights 1975 survey of the Vietnam era GI movement fits well into U.S. rulers plans for a larger Army with Nazi-like commitment to prepare for bigger and bloodier wars ahead. As more and more workers, students and soldiers oppose the war in Iraq, Cortrights ideas will be used to mislead the anti-war movement.
"Soldiers in Revolt" chronicles an impressive sequence of GI revolts, but then distorts these insurgencies with identity politics, faith in democratic reform and patriotism.
Soldiers Fight Back
Hundreds of thousands of troops rebelled during the Vietnam War with 250 anti-war, anti-racist committees and "underground" newspapers distributed illegally on bases and ships, in stockades and on the front lines.
The "less sophisticated, often violent means" [Cortrights words] soldiers employed were even better. Outraged by the beating of a black soldier, the Ft. Bragg stockade erupted on July 23, 1968. Black and white GIs held out for over 48 hours before surrendering to armed troops from the 82nd Airborne. In early November 1972, the U.S.S. Constellation witnessed "the first mass mutiny in the history of the U.S. Navy." We should all be so "unsophisticated"!
As Cortright reveals, the Pentagon admitted 47% of active-duty soldiers participated in organized resistance or rebellion during the height of the GI movement in 1970-71. The imperialists worse nightmare would be soldiers won to revolutionary communist class-consciousness leading widespread Armed Forces rebellion.
But even the descriptions of rebellions must be read with care. The Progressive Labor Partys single mention vastly downplays our military work. Knowing better, U.S. counter-intelligence officer Taylor testified (House Internal Securities Committee, Vol. II, 1972) that "other organizations were being overshadowed by . . . PLP in the 6th Army."
Cortright distorted the Partys work in the mass anti-racist fight-back at Ft. Lewis led by three comrades, black, Latin and white. His nationalist and identity politics led him to describe the struggle as mostly whites supporting blacks, while maintaining "blacks normally stood alone in resisting racial abuses."
In fact, we built a multi-racial group (a slight majority were black) that fought racism and genocidal war on a class basis. Fifty CHALLENGE readers, writers and sellers, with the aid of thousands of leaflets and pamphlets, spread the word: racist attacks hurt all GIs! The brass did "their best to scare white GIs away from fighting racism," according to an internal PLP report. "We succeeded in gathering some of the most militant, serious fighters, black, Latin and white around the Party by concentrating on the fight against racism." A number eventually joined.
Cortright pushes "democracy," devoting 85 pages to his plan to secure a volunteer army based largely on democratic reforms. "Voluntary recruitment can only work in a democratically structured armed force ."
Within those 85 pages, only one paragraph criticizes imperialism. The anti-racist struggle is reduced to "proud young blacks fight[ing] for their rightful share of democratic freedoms." PLP, on the other hand, exposed capitalist democracy as a bosses dictatorship founded upon racism and imperialism. Soldiers experiences made them sympathetic to this analysis.
Cortrights analysis has developed into a sophisticated defense of a "benign" U.S. imperialism. His August 2002 article "Stop the War Before it Starts" (The Progressive Magazine), favors building a movement that "ride[s] the patriotic wave and offer[s] forward-looking solutions that uphold the best traditions of American democracy." He raised more than $300,000 for Win Without War, promoting it as "mainstream and patriotic." He bragged that ads and press releases featured an American flag. Its mission statement began with "We are patriotic Americans " ("A Peaceful Superpower: the Movement against War in Iraq")
The biggest imperialists finance Cortright. He heads the Fourth Freedom Forum funded by the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
The new edition of his book contains a postscript in which he advocates a legalistic approach, explaining how he tried to sue the army. He further describes the new liberal coalition he wants to build to reform the army.
Cortright knows how the "Vietnam Syndrome" can affect soldiers. Hes already pushing GI "anti-war" petitions (for redress) to Congress starting once again with "As a patriotic American " His patriotism sets up soldiers for the next war, preempting class consciousness.
PLP will continue military organizing to win soldiers to wage revolutionary class war against the imperialist warmakers, recruiting soldiers to the workers side. A revolution to smash this racist, capitalist system requires the active support of vast numbers of troops. Political friendships made in the military will help pave the long road to communism. "Soldiers in Revolt" may be worth reading for the stories of GI unrest, but Cortrights politics, then and now, make a mockery of these brave soldiers struggles.
I watched the movie "The Queen" with a friend from work and her reaction was "you know, Mrs. Blair in the movie was right, the Queen definitely does freeload off of the people with thirty million dollars in taxes coming in to support her." As if all capitalists dont! The toilets in the Hilton hotels are scrubbed by underpaid workers not Paris Hilton. Whether absolute monarchy or bourgeois democracy, workers maintain the rulers thrones and mansions!
"The Queen" covered the time period shortly after Princess Diana died in 1997 and Tony Blair assumed the position of Prime Minister of England. Like another movie out right now, "Marie Antoinette," these movies are just trying to humanize workers oppressors, while ignoring their daily crimes against the working class. Even though around the world racist police terrorize, beat and kill workers regularly, the bosses want us to shed tears when one of them dies.
During her lifetime Princess Diana called for many reforms such as reducing the spread of AIDS, uncovering buried land mines in war-torn countries, and providing aid for starving children. While she was practically elevated to sainthood by the capitalist press, Diana was nothing more than a liberal apologist who thought charity and photo-ops would cure the working class of those above-mentioned ills. Her supposed heart of gold captivated many workers, but all the actual gold she wore had been extracted by suffering mine workers around the world. When she died workers lost little more than a wolf in sheeps clothing.
In Europe, many monarchies consolidated their wealth with the capitalists as they came to power and now are collaborators with the ruling class. In Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth advised Tony Blair. Far from a figurehead, she uses Blair as a messenger and enforcer for the agenda of the entire ruling class. You see this in the movie when Elizabeth questions Blair on his plans. The scene ends with the conversation trailing off as he mentions education reform, not getting into how Blair has pushed the imperialist war in Iraq and racist attacks on Muslim workers.
Tony Blair listens as Elizabeth concludes that the people needed their Queen to be there for them and that she is well known for keeping her feelings private. The message of the movie is that heads of state (be they queen, prime minister or president) cry just like we cry and that they are really people too. However rulers dont cry because handcuffs dig into their wrists, nightsticks sting their cheeks, or their relatives die from poverty!
For the most part power and privilege have taken on a new appearance; the people who wield them dont have crowns on their heads, just suits and flags. Yet no matter which master sits on top, workers will get screwed. Capitalism, feudalism, and slave societies all have concentration of power in the hands of the few at the expense of the masses. Tony Blair may have been part of the "Labor" party, but the working class only finds itself laboring endlessly for the profits of the ruling class. It is up to the working class to seize power through communist revolution and establish a system based on everyones needs.