Profit System Drowns Workers . . . . Again
Democracy U.S. Style: Musharrafs Reign of Terror
"From Jena to Pakistan, Smash Fascist Terror!"
Top Imperialist Planner Takes Over Biggest U.S. Bank
Bosses Facing Losses Use Cop, Migra Terror Against Workers
U.S. Rulers Boast Of Jailing More Black, Latino, Women Workers
Rout Marine Recruiters, Defend Jena 6, Ally with Workers
Support for Jena 6 Puts Union Lackeys on Spot
Murdering Racist Cops Pump 13 Bullets into Black Teenager
Why the Spanish King Doesnt Tell Neo-Nazi Goons to Shut Up
Workers, Students Slam Columbia U.s Racism
PLers At March Tie Profit System to AIDS Epidemic
Rally Support for Jena 6, Hit Criminalization of Youth
Ford Contract Icing on Auto Bosses Cake
500 Black Workers Wildcat Vs. Racist Transport Bosses
PLP Exposes Scheme to Use School Reform in U.S. War Plans
Storm of Strikes Rock France
Building A Communist Base Using Dialectics
PL History: No Lesser Evil Kennedy Klan Behind Bostons Fascists
Racist Cop Torturers: Chicagos Abu Ghraib
Here the workers are in control
Moving Strike Around PLs Anti-Racist Ideas
Friendship + Politics = Recruitment to PLP
Capitalism Turns Tropical Storm Noel into Mass Tragedy
REDEYE ON THE NEWS
VILLAHERMOSA, TABASCO, MEXICO, Nov. 12 A half million are homeless and there are uncounted deaths from the torrential rains that hit the state of Tabasco for several days all because of capitalisms utter disregard for Mexicos workers. Eighty percent of Tabasco, a state larger than Massachusetts, was under water. Many spent days on the roofs of their houses. Roads, bridges and more than 100,000 homes have been destroyed. Potable water, food, medicine and clothes are in very short supply for tens of thousands of workers and their families who have still not found refuge.
Even worse than the horrific effects of Katrina in New Orleans, such natural phenomena are turned into racist, anti-working class tragedies by the profit system. Most of Tabascos victims were extremely poverty-stricken workers and indigenous people in a country where 40% are jobless and half the population tries to survive on less than $2 a day.
Tabascos local bosses and Mexicos federal rulers are responsible for these deaths, injuries and destruction. "The tragedy of Tabasco could have been avoided with relatively simple and inexpensive measures," said Salvador Briceńo, director of the UNs International Strategy for the Reduction of Disasters (El Universal, 11/3).
Opposition mis-leader López Obrador, who ran against the current president, Felipe Calderon, cynically used the disaster to build his own base of support. He accused the Federal Commission of Electricity of being responsible for the dams overflowing. Normally the dams should be kept 40% to 50% full so there is enough room for more water in case of serious storms (La Jornada, 11/7). But because the state-owned electric company buys 31% of its electricity from private utilities it doesnt need the water power of the main dam. Out of disregard for the lives and safety of the working class, it allows it to be underutilized and therefore remain filled to 94% of capacity. Obrador spreads the lie that nationalist state capitalism, unlike private enterprise, is committed to serving the people.
Although Obrador mobilized millions for his election campaigns, neither he nor the union leaders have organized solidarity among the same masses to demand aid for Tabascos victims. Nor did they expose the real cause of the tragedy, capitalism. While planning for racist exploitation and wars for profits, and aided by its politician and union leader lackeys, the capitalists are incapable of central planning for nor do they care about the needs of the working class.
In 1999, floods in Tabasco were an omen of more extreme disasters like the current one. But government officials, bosses and their capitalist politicians ignored these warnings. Negligence, corruption, militarization and bosses obscene profits have been their guiding principles, not workers needs. Mexican capitalist Carlos Slim, the worlds second richest man, increased his vast stolen wealth from $5 billion to $49 billion in just a few years.
President Calderon has made deals for billions of U.S. blood money. Calderon sent more than 8,000 soldiers to Tabasco, not to help the workers and their families, but to "prevent looting" of his buddies businesses. Calderon wants to protect the state-owned oil company, PEMEX to bring it more under U.S. control. Laura Gurza, coordinator of Civil Protection, rushed to reassure the bosses that, "National security and governability were not at risk due to the catastrophe." Concern for protecting the bosses property came first, workers well-being last.
On the other hand, thousands of impoverished Mexican workers responded immediately, bringing food, water and clothing to the victims. International solidarity saw U.S. workers and many countries bring goods to collection centers. We should organize help for our sisters and brothers in Tabasco, in our shops and unions, our churches and community organizations, our schools and on our campuses.
However, unfortunately all this aid cannot solve the problem, which continues to be capitalism and its drive for maximum profits. Other tragedies will occur because of deforestation, the construction of dams and the poverty forcing workers into neighborhoods endangered by dikes, channels or useless walls.
The best help for victimized workers in Tabasco, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, New Orleans and worldwide is to build the fight to destroy the real root of these disasters, the system of capitalism and imperialism, a system which sacrifices workers lives for profits. We should dedicate our lives to building a communist world where the life and security of workers is primary, the central goal of society. That means spreading CHALLENGE and PLPs ideas which will make bosses, profits and corrupt politicians a sad chapter in humanitys history.
A funny thing happened on the road to the "war on terror and for democracy." Gen. Musharraf, a key ally of the U.S. in this endeavor, declared a "state of emergency," jailing judges, lawyers and many others who oppose his scheme to get re-elected. He even briefly put The Pakistani Peoples Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest. She recently returned from exile as part of a U.S.-U.K. plan to work out a deal with the general to share power. Meanwhile, pro-Taliban-al Qaeda forces control some sections of the country in the North West Frontier and the border with Afghanistan.
There are many reasons behind Musharrafs state of emergency, reflecting a power struggle among different sections of the Pakistani bosses. Bhutto was exiled several years ago, accused of stealing billions when she was Prime Minister. This supposed "voice for democracy" runs her Party as her personal fiefdom, being named its chair for life. The PPP belongs to the same "socialist international" as Tony Blairs New Labor Party.
She and Musharraf represent two sides of the U.S.-U.K. imperialist coin in Pakistan. Her brief house arrest was rumored as a "mock conflict" to give her some credibility among the people. Washington and London want her as a back-up, fearing Musharrafs days are numbered.
U.S. rulers have hypocritically made a big splash about championing "democracy" in Pakistan. This from right-wing neo-cons and liberals who are instituting a police state in the U.S.(See page 2).
The Pakistani military itself is a big business. High-ranking officers have made good personal use of the $10 billion aid the U.S. has sent since 2001. Joshua Hammer recently reported for "The Atlantic" that it owns large stakes in the countrys "banks, cable-TV companies, insurance agencies, sugar refineries, private security firms, schools, airlines, cargo services and textile factories."
Its Intelligence Service (ISI) still owns a big share of the drug business in Afghanistan, where it really never stopped financing the Taliban forces fighting the U.S. and NATO. In the 1980s, when the CIA and Saudi Arabia were funding bin Laden and the Jihadists fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan, the ISI was the main trainer of troops and conduit of money and weapons for the Islamists.
Pakistan is also a nuclear power, with possibly 115 nukes (NY Times, 11/11). The U.S.-U.K. bosses fear these might fall into the hands of the Al Qaeda-Taliban forces. Pakistan is also a key geopolitical country, bordering China, Iran, Afghanistan and India. The U.S. uses the province of Baluchistan to carry out covert operations against Iran. The U.S. would like to stop China from building an important port in Gwadar which would give Chinas ships access to the Arabian Sea, near the oil shipping routes. China is another important ally of Pakistan since both consider India to be a rival in the region.
While a few Pakistani bosses, military officers and yuppies have become super-rich, the working class and its allies are the real losers there. Theyve been victims of super-exploitation and union-busting because of privatization. In the past many had illusions about Bhuttos PPP because it called for some "socialist reforms." But the PPP and Bhutto have proven to be just another capitalist gang. Before partition (independence from the British in 1947) the Communist Party of India had a large base in what is today Pakistan. But repression and its own weaknesses basically destroyed it.
Friends of PLP are trying to rebuild the revolutionary communist movement there. Even though were still small, there are a lot of opportunities now. The masses are fed up with all the politicians and with capitalism, and hate the Jihadists. The communist road is the only way out of this hellhole created by capitalism and imperialism.
NEW YORK CITY, Nov. 5 At the Pakistani embassy here today, fifty people, including PLP members whove been working with Pakistani students at Columbia University, protested the Musharaff dictatorship. Falsely claiming the protesters were "blocking sidewalk traffic," the cops moved them into a pen, but the protest continued. One PL members sign read, "From Jena to Pakistan, Smash Fascist Terror!" The enthusiastic crowd chanted for an hour in Urdu and English.
Much of the protest was highly nationalist. However, PLers advanced the internationalist line of unity of workers in the U.S. and Pakistan; opposing the poison of nationalism with revolutionary working-class internationalism. We will continue to struggle with our Pakistani friends at Columbia while supporting them and their families in Pakistan. (See front page for analysis of events in Pakistan.)
U.S. Bosses Solution for Economic Woes: Police State, Wider War
"We are at a moment of economic crisis, stemming from four key areas: falling housing prices, lack of confidence in creditworthiness, the weak dollar and high oil prices," said Senator Charles Schumer. (New York Times, 11/10/07). He could have added plunging stocks, dwindling sales domestically and being bogged down in the quagmire of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to his list of U.S. rulers woes. Hundred-dollar-a-barrel oil, GMs $39-billion third-quarter loss, the growing subprime foreclosure epidemic and a rapidly-devaluing dollar all cut sharply into the bosses profits. The dominant liberal wing of U.S. capitalists is responding by concentrating control over their own class, increasing racist attacks on workers at home and expanding their murderous overseas oil wars.
Robert Rubin, a leading ruling-class strategist, took over as chairman of the giant Citigroup after it reported an $11-billion subprime-related loss. Rubin is co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Rockefeller-funded think-tank that seeks to steer foreign policy in the interests of the biggest U.S. capitalists. Rubins CFR drafted plans, that Bush ignored, envisioning a massive occupation of Iraq accompanied by a six-million-barrel-a-day oil bonanza for Exxon Mobil and its allies. As Clintons treasury secretary, Rubin helped dismantle Welfare in order to pay for the bombing of Serbia and missile strikes to soften up Iraq. With Rubin at its helm, look for Citi to prove more responsive to the needs of U.S. imperialism.
The current profit slump has bosses squeezing more and more out of workers. Recent auto-industry contracts slash workers pay and benefits by more than 50%, with black workers hit the hardest (see article page 5). This increased racism is making it more difficult to recruit black and Latino youth into the military. Minimum-wage workers today receive 40% less in purchasing power than in 1968. Stepped-up deportations, concentration camp detentions and workplace terror raids force many immigrants to toil for even less than the minimum. Liberals want to increase the pressure. Earlier this month House Democrats introduced a bill that would "strengthen workplace enforcement of immigration laws." Lower wages for black workers and immigrants depress pay rates for the entire working class. In the U.S., 38 million people now live in poverty.
A burgeoning racist police state helps enforce the rulers profit-driven attacks on workers. The 100,000 additional cops Bill Clinton put on the streets have been working overtime terrorizing, jailing and often killing workers. The cops victims are disproportionately black and Latino and increasingly women (see box). Community policing, which uses churches and schools to turn neighborhoods into networks of undercover agents and civilian stoolpigeons, has taken hold in cities nation-wide.
Along with cracking down domestically, U.S. rulers are counting on their (for now) unmatched military to launch a wider war for control of Mid-East oil and export routes to solve their many-sided economic problems. The euro may shame the dollar, but France has no aircraft carrier groups regularly plying the Persian Gulf or South China Sea. Germany has no troops stationed in Japan or South Korea. So now, among presidential hopefuls of both parties, permanent U.S. presence in oil-rich Iraq is a done deal, and debate has shifted to how best to confront oil- and gas-rich Iran.
Hillary Clinton, supporting the U.S. Iraq occupation has said that Iraq lies "right in the heart of the oil region" and so "it is directly in opposition to our interests" for it to become a failed state or a pawn of Iran. Michael Klare, a professor at Hampshire College, wrote in The Nation (11/12/07):
"Senior figures in both parties are calling for a reinvigorated U.S. military role in the protection of foreign energy deliveries....Perhaps the most explicit expression of this elite consensus is an independent task force report, "National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency"...released by the Council on Foreign Relations in October 2006. The report warns of mounting perils to the safe flow of foreign oil...It argues the need for a strong US military presence in key producing areas and in the sea lanes that carry foreign oil to American shores."
U.S. rulers intend to muddle through their economic troubles by exploiting and killing millions of workers. They are getting away with murder, for the time being, without a serious military rival or a mass communist movement to challenge them. But both situations can change.
The U.S. empire is on a long-term collision course with Chinas bosses, whose interests lie in allying with Europe or Russia or both. Such a coalition holds the potential for World War III. Building a base for communism among workers, soldiers and students, we can turn the cauldron of global conflict among the imperialists and their lackeys into a revolutionary storm to smash all war-makers.
The latest report of the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics begins:
On June 30, 2006, 2,245,189 prisoners were held in Federal or State prisons or in local jails, an increase of 2.8% from mid-year 2005.
There were an estimated 497 prison inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents up from 411 at year-end 1995.
The number of women under the jurisdiction of State or Federal prison authorities increased 4.8% from mid-year 2005, reaching 111,403 and the number of men rose 2.7%, totaling 1,445,115.
At year-end 2005 there were 3,145 black male-sentenced prison inmates per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,244 Hispanic male inmates per 100,000 Hispanic males and 471 white male inmates per 100,000 white males.
Our college, which sits amid the remains of a major industrial center, where the wreckage of factories and railroads resembles a carpet-bombed city, has become a battleground for the political commitment of the students. Our main struggles involve the Jena 6 and Marine recruiters.
Campus mass organizations include an anti-war group and some "multi-cultural" clubs. Weve aimed to raise political consciousness among students and campus workers by linking the racist attacks in New Orleans, Jena, Iraq and on immigrant workers to this colleges segregation and union-busting against immigrants here.
I distribute over 20 CHALLENGES, mostly to friends. I also slip papers under the doors where the immigrant workers who clean our dorms store their cleaning supplies.
Recently I saw several Marine recruiters distributing brochures. I made some calls and within 20 minutes we had an angry, multi-racial group of about 12 students ready for action, including some Middle Eastern students and CHALLENGE readers who knew me as a PLer. Everyone else knew and respected me as a communist.
When we discussed the situation, I advocated a confrontational approach, explaining how these Nazis materially aid the mass slaughter in Iraq, and how they use racism/nationalism to divide workers instead of directing them against the real enemy, the profit system. Everyone agreed. We planned to form a disciplined row of people directly in front of the recruiters, with some of us ripping up their literature and verbally shouting them away. As we approached them, the Marines took off! We think a right-winger who had overheard us warned them. Everyone was fired up; spirits were high. One young woman yelled, "were finally doing something!"
The Marines book their space on campus carefully, so weve organized a rapid response plan to demonstrate when they return. We discovered an administrator is working with them. Since some fraternities host a "support-our-troops" week, were working out a little special something for that as well.
In another big struggle, one anti-war organization agreed to hold a series of events to protest the Jena 6 sentencing. I was asked to write a leaflet for that day. I suggested it be written collectively, but people said they had too much homework, so I revised the PL leaflet and made sure people distributing it were comfortable with it. Over 400 leaflets were gone in 90 minutes; the response was overwhelming! Many students asked for more for their friends, and some offered to help distribute even more elsewhere on campus.
That night two campus liberals sent me angry e-mails decrying the leaflet, arguing it was so inflammatory, no one would read it (contrary to our experiences that day). People sent e-mails with the standard anti-communist accusations, questioning who was "pulling the strings" behind our anti-war group, and demanding an apology for advocating "violence."
One of the groups liberals, a virulent anti-communist and self-described "democratic socialist," visited me in my dorm, very disturbed by the leaflet. He said he represented "concerned friends" who wanted to know how I came to write the Jena 6 leaflet. He didnt know about PLP. Then a friend of mine who occasionally reads the paper walked in, unaware of what was happening, picked up a random DESAFIO, and jokingly exclaimed, "Why is there communist propaganda everywhere!?" The liberal grabbed it, glared at me, threw it down and left. (He didnt understand much since he couldnt speak Spanish.)
Until then I had no idea what was becoming of the several issues of DESAFIO I had been slipping into the campus workers cleaning closets. Now I was excited to know the workers had been reading them. When I figured out the workers schedule and met them, they told me they liked the paper, especially the articles about Latin America, and were open to meeting again.
Despite expecting an attack I was still dumbfounded at how quickly things were developing. That so-called socialists visit was a big surprise. I became defensive, which only invited even more attack. My friends, regular CHALLENGE readers, chided me for shrinking back and keeping my mouth shut. They argued, "Why arent you exposing these people for what they are? Theyre just avoiding the issue and everyone knows it!" I realized they were right so we prepared for a confrontation at the next meeting.
There the liberals realized approval of the leaflet was very high. Except for a handful of meager comments, they received no support. Most people were thankful for the leaflet and wanted to know when we were planning something big. My initial reaction was to retreat but I was defended, and told to go on the offensive, both by CHALLENGE readers and non-readers. I learned about reliance on ones base. I had lacked confidence in what I was doing; this struggle really changed my perspective.
As a result, many more people are friendly to the Party. Some are in a newly-formed study group. Well continue linking the Marine recruiters and the Jena 6 struggles to the racist segregation on campus and probe the connections between our schools advanced research labs and U.S. imperialism. Weve raised a campus worker-student alliance.
As we build CHALLENGE-DESAFIO networks out of these struggles, well be on the road to eventually crushing these racist, sexist, warmongering parasites for good.
SEATTLE, WA. Nov. 9 "When you guys write your next article," demanded a Machinist, "make sure you tell everyone that the union holds these conferences [sponsored by human rights and womens committees] to give the appearance of doing something, not to do something!"
Like many Boeing workers, she drew this conclusion after watching the mis-leadership move the Jena 6 support resolution (see CHALLENGE, 10/13) from committee to committee, trying to stay one step ahead of irate, anti-racist rank-and-filers. At this writing the resolution has been kicked upstairs to the district human rights committee after three different struggles at various union meetings and conferences over the last month. Its like the childrens game, "Wheres Waldo."
Meanwhile, some union officials have changed their tune. For the first time any of us can remember, some are admitting that the union must deal with issues like anti-black and anti-immigrant racism. They cynically blame "backward" members for the roadblocks they themselves have erected over the years.
Of course, none of this has stopped the top leadership from calling the resolution-backers "troublemakers." In fact, some lower-level officials have complained about the District Presidents vindictiveness when he demands that no official talk to any in the opposition.
Organizing To Become the Bosses Junior Partners
We shouldnt be fooled into thinking that the leaderships new-found desire to tolerate a discussion of racism is progress. Rather, it recognizes that the union must play a more overt political role in winning industrial workers to support U.S. imperialism.
At one meeting, a Local president called for support of Latin American workers. In the next breath, he linked this to a vicious anti-communist attack on China, which is by no means communist but rather is an emerging imperialist rival.
At a recent conference, the Internationals human rights representative admitted that diversity is necessary to reverse the unions decline (and hence, its usefulness to the bosses). His organizing "formula" calls for blacks to talk to blacks, Asians to Asians, Latinos to Latinos. "Wait a minute!" said one shop steward. "What about actually fighting racism!"
To make the unions goal perfectly clear, the International just endorsed the Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (along with Hillary Clinton, of course) because of his China-bashing and industrial policy. Huckabee won over International president Buffenbarger when he said America must maintain the "ability to fight for ourselves. And that means we have to manufacture our own weapons of defense."
Many are ready to call the current crop of union leaders "sellouts." The truth is these traitors have nothing to sell out. Theyve always fought for the imperialist interests of the biggest bosses.
This period of sharpening imperialist rivalry and the recent relative decline in U.S. strength calls for different tactics. Winning the industrial working class to the bosses imperialist war plans will not be that easy. The complicated game the union leaders are now playing is their response to this challenge. The union is using its network of human rights committees to give the appearance of anti-racism, while effectively blocking any serious multi-racial class struggle.
Its no accident that real anti-racist struggle in the union and on the shop floor has been inspired by revolutionary communist ideas. Our future lies in consolidating and sharpening this struggle and the communist class-consciousness that drives it.
BROOKLYN, NY, Nov. 13 Last night five killer cops unloaded 20 rounds on an unarmed, black, mentally-ill Brooklyn teen, 13 of the shots hitting their mark. Then, after being gunned down, Khiel Coppin, 18, was handcuffed and his lifeless body dragged away by the NYPD assassins and taken to Woodhull Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Coppin was carrying a hairbrush, which eyewitnesses said he dropped when raising his hands in the air in front of the cops, before being cut down in a hail of bullets. Several witnesses reported that the police fired so many rounds that one cop began yelling, "Stop, stop, stop shooting hes down," but they kept firing like they were "playing with a toy."
Coppins mother had tried to have her son admitted for psychiatric treatment before the incident. After a dispute last night, she called 911 in an effort to remove him to get help for his mental illness.
The cops story has changed drastically several times between last night and this morning in an effort to rationalize what everyone else present at the shooting witnessed. But all their stories hinge on the claim that his mother had warned the 911 dispatcher her son "had a gun" a charge the mother denies. Additionally, police are trying to wash the youths blood from their hands by speculating that Coppin was attempting "suicide by cop," a bigoted charge commonly leveled at mentally-ill victims of cop murders.
In one police story, Coppin has a knife, in others he doesnt. In one he drops from a window with the hairbrush under his shirt (hence their "believing" it to be a gun), and charges at the police while reaching under his shirt for the hairbrush, "ignoring orders to halt" but in a different police narrative, he "walks across the sidewalk" to them.
But all witnesses state clearly that he lowered himself from his window to the ground, stood and immediately raised his hands, dropping the hairbrush to the ground. Then police opened fire, murdering another working-class urban youth.
Now, as always happens, liberal misleaders and reformers will try to contain the working classs righteous anger, channeling it instead into their reform efforts like "community policing" and "police oversight" and their election campaigns. But to fight police murders, we cant fall into this trap!
The only way to smash the Klan in blue is to smash the racist system capitalism that uses them to terrorize urban working-class communities. Communism the system of workers power, a society run for need, not profit will sweep away these new night riders and their capitalist masters, crushing them like the cockroaches they are. But for this, we must organize!
Now, more than ever, is the time to direct our anger where it belongs: not into more dead-end reform campaigns designed solely to keep angry workers and youth under control, but into the streets and into our shops, unions, community organizations, churches, schools and campuses.
MADRID, Spain, Nov. 11Neo-Nazis stabbed to death a young anti-fascist in a subway here during a day of protests against racists in the working class neighborhood of Usera. The fascists were rallying against immigrants. The cops protected the fascists and attacked the anti-racists. Racism against immigrants is on the rise in Spain and all over Europe. Neo-Nazi punks are just the goons of mainstream racist politicians blaming immigrant workers for the problems caused by capitalism.
This latest fascist attack took place the same day King Juan Carlos Borbón told Venezuelas Hugo Chávez to shut up at the "Iberoamerican summit" in Chile. He was mad because Chávez was attacking Aznar, the former Prime Minister of Spain, as a fascist (Aznar was one of Bushs loyal lapdogs in Europe, sending Spanish army troops to Iraq as part of the "Coalition of the Willing.") Apparently, Chávez remarks touched a never in the King, who was groomed and appointed to his royal throne by Generalissimo Franco. The King has never told the neo-Nazi goons, like those who killed the young anti-fascist in a Madrid subway, to shut up.
But what really worries the royal highness is that nationalist leaders like Chávez threaten the many billions Spanish-owned companies now invest in Latin America. It is being called the "Reconquista" (Spanish imperialism reconquering Latin America). Spanish companies and banks like energy giants Repsol, Telefónica communications, BBVA, Santander Banks, etc. have now become the biggest European investors in Latin America, and the second largest after the U.S. It is a very profitable market for Spanish imperialist companies. But nationalists like Chávez, Evo Morales of Bolivia, President Correa of Ecuador now threaten these investments making better deals with China, Russia and even India.
That was what really ticked off the King.
NEW YORK CITY, Nov. 10 "Harlem: not for sale! Hunger strikers: not for sale! Our homes: not for sale! Our jobs: not for sale!" chanted a multi-racial crowd of 250 angry community residents, students and faculty marching today on Columbia Universitys main campus and at President Lee Bollingers house.
Protesters gathered at the Low Library to hear speakers express their outrage in English and Spanish over Columbias racist expansion northward into Harlem, displacing 5,000 black, Latino and white working-class residents. Then everyone marched to Bollingers house, rhythmically accompanied by a radical marching band. He wasnt home, but the crowd demanded community residents not be displaced or have a hazardous biological agent research facility near their homes. Student organizers and hunger strikers spoke of Columbias long history of supporting brutal U.S. imperialism and exploitation, responsible for genocide against millions of Native Americans. One explained it was the profit system that made Columbia not give a rats ass about workers and students.
PLP members and friends made several new contacts from Columbia, Hunter and City College. Black and Latino workers eagerly grabbed all 50 copies of CHALLENGE faster than we could keep up. One marcher exclaimed, "Hey, is that CHALLENGE? Give me a copy!" saying that he first encountered PL as a Columbia student participating in the big 1968 strike. We also helped distribute community leaflets exposing the utterly racist nature of Columbias actions and as an institution.
The students have four demands: administrative reform, ethnic studies, community involvement in Columbias expansion into Harlem and core curriculum. In the 1960s and 70s, some colleges instituted such reforms after similar protests. While we support the anti-racist actions of the students, such demands wont change the basic nature of Columbia or of U.S. college education, the essence of which is as racist and pro-war as ever.
There will be another mass protest on December 1. Were working with other campus student organizers as well as raising these issues in the graduate schools. Well also struggle with our friends over the necessity of exposing Columbia and capitalist higher education (with or without ethnic studies) as essentially racist, anti-working class and pro-war.
We must fight for students to accept leadership from the multi-racial masses of workers in Harlem, who have been fighting Columbias racist expansion for decades. We in PLP organize for a worker-student alliance based on fighting racism, imperialist war and all other monsters created by capitalism. Our aim is to fight for a communist society based on need, not profits of a few bosses, like the owners of Columbia.
Washington, DC. Nov. 3 Over 150 residents, students, professionals, and HIV/AIDS activists took to the streets of Southeast D.C., where the rates of poverty and HIV/AIDS are soaring. 150 CHALLENGEs were taken from PLPers by marchers and people in the neighborhood during the event. PLPers argued for communist revolution to smash the capitalist system that has turned AIDS into a worldwide genocidal epidemic.
The chants and signs in todays march attracted support from residents: "When people with AIDS are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!" "Racism means, Fight back!" "Jobs yes, Prison no, HIV has got to go!" Many speakers talked about their experiences with drugs and HIV, calling on the group to end the silence. A PLP speaker identified capitalism as the source of the HIV/AIDS epidemic because it places profit over workers lives.
The march and meeting was organized by the Disparities Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association (MWPHA) and by DC Fights Back. Some communist issues, like the battle for state power, the fight against racist police brutality, and the way that capitalist-induced poverty makes diseases ever more deadly for the working class have been discussed in previous Disparities Committee meetings. Other participants in todays action included the national organizer for the Campaign to End Aids (C2EA) who helped lead the rally, RAP, Inc. (Regional Addition Prevention, Inc.), George Washington University students who led the "Save Lives, Free the Condoms" chant to protest CVSs racist policy of locking up condoms in drugstores in black neighborhoods, and students from the Drug Treatment on Demand group who led the chant, "Treat it to Defeat It" referring to the need for universally available substance abuse treatment. Some members the Young Black Public Health Professional Network and other attendees at the national convention of American Public Health Association joined the march as well.
After the march, participants gathered at a library for a speak-out and food, where they discussed strategies to move the struggle to the next level, including fighting for more affordable housing and long term rehabilitation with jobs and housing.
PLP supports and participates in all these struggles showing that as long as there is capitalismo, the working class and its allies will continue to suffer epidemics, racism and mass poverty, particularly more now in this age of endless wars and economic crisis. In the long run, the best way to fight these evils is rooting out its cause: capitalism. Join the PLP to make sure this happens sooner than later!ng class oppression.
Southern California A multiracial group of students and teachers woke our community college with a rally supporting the Jena 6 and opposing the criminalization of youth in California and nationwide. It was the first public event organized by a new campus club.
Students took turns speaking on the bullhorn for the first time, while others held signs, collected surveys and passed out leaflets all over the campus. Students eagerly took the leaflets, which exposed the racist treatment of youth (especially black and Latin) in court and prison systems. For example, 16-year-old Jena defendant Mychal Bell was originally tried as an adult. He was one of over 7,000 youths confined to adult prisons every year, of whom 3/4 are black and Latin. In California, black and Latin youth are over three times as likely to be tried in adult court as white youth. This attack leads to greater criminalization of all working-class youth.
One speaker at the rally related these issues to problems on the campus, where cops routinely hassle groups of black students who are just hanging out after class. Now we are spied on by new "Homeland Security" cameras. The cops recently called a teacher to warn that a "young Latino man with baggy pants and a shaved head was just seen on camera entering your building." The teacher replied, "Hes one of our students!"
Like many campuses, this one has a large "criminal justice" department that trains future racist cops and prison guards and regularly holds "law enforcement career fairs."
"The schools arent educating kids," said a student organizer, "so they get caught up in things and dont see any options. Then theyre told to go into the military to learn some discipline." She added, "Its a result of capitalism everything is connected." She and several other CHALLENGE readers are forming a study group and plan to invite others to join them.
DETROIT, MI November 7 The new 4-year Ford-UAW contract follows the GM and Chrysler contracts in slashing wages and benefits for new hires and setting up a union management health fund (VEBA) that will take about $20 billion off Fords list of liabilities. Ford workers hired under the new contract will start at $14.00/hour and after two years reach their full rate of about $15.50. With cuts in pension and health care and other benefits, new hires will make about one-third of their senior brothers and sisters.
The union leadership has sunk to the bottom in bailing out the auto billionairesthe legacy these sellouts will leave for future generations. Workers are paying the price of the growing challenges to U.S. auto bosses by the European and Asian competitors, who are building more plants in the U.S. while GM, Ford and Chrysler shut down factories. The worlds auto billionaires shift production to China and India, driving down wages around the world.
After rank and file workers almost derailed the Chrysler deal, Ford and the UAW leadership had to throw Ford workers a bone. Six of the 16 plants scheduled to close were taken off the chopping block temporarily, in order to muster enough votes to ensure passage (although three of the six plants are set to close before the end of the contract). This sent Ford stocks sinking.
An automotive analyst with Lehman Brothers wrote, "Ford may have vowed to keep open underutilized plants," a move that further angered Wall Street which is already unhappy with the auto bosses slow pace of plant closings and slashing wages. Another analyst for Morgan Stanley said the two-tier wage system and trust will save Ford $1.5 billion to $2 billion in cash by 2011, but noted the "absence of additional capacity [factory] closures." (Detroit Free Press 11/7)
As with any "job security guarantee" in auto, all bets are off when the U.S. economy slumps from the crisis in sub-prime mortgages and soaring oil prices. The U.S. auto market is falling sharply with production scaled back for the fourth quarter and next year not looking any better.
After the GM contract was ratified, GM announced it was canceling shifts at three assembly plants and wiping out more jobs with another round of buy-outs. Five days after the Chrysler deal was ratified, Chrysler eliminated another 11,000 jobs, on top of the 13,000 previously announced (one-third of the workforce), justifying the good instincts of those who voted "NO." Thousands of Chicago Ford workers are currently on a three-week layoff and many more cuts are coming, including more buyouts.
Right now, were a long way from reversing these attacks on the international working class. But the response of Ford workers to our modest efforts in this contract fight and around fighting racism with the Jena 6 campaign shows that we are slowly but surely rebuilding the revolutionary communist movement in auto. CHALLENGE distribution is creeping up and there is more interest in what PLP has to say. Most important, personal and political ties are being forged that will lead Ford workers to join PLP and fight for the political leadership of the industrial working class.
CHICAGO, IL, November 1 Five hundred mainly black workers staged a three-day wildcat strike against Cook-Dupage Transportation (CDT). CDT is the largest para-transit supplier in the Chicagoland area and the only union contractor. The other six are non-union. The workers have been without a contract for over two years and are trying to negotiate their first contract since voting in Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1028 in March, 2006.
CDT gets $37 million from PACE, the regional transit authority, every three years. Hundreds of drivers make 4,200 trips every day, carrying the poor, the elderly and the disabled to their medical appointments. Their starting pay is $7.94/hour and tops out at $12.74! The vast majority cannot afford the health insurance CDT "offers." Of 500 workers, not one can afford family coverage.
Racist CDT boss Tim Jans says he doesnt "have a driver worth a $5 raise." CDT now wants drivers to get a Commercial Drivers License to keep their jobs, even though theyre driving small cars and vans and many have been there for years. CDT workers are subject to all sorts of racist harassment, from driving vehicles with dirty seats and seat belts to serving 3-day suspensions while CDT "investigates" complaints against them. They must buy their own uniforms and are told to get them at a thrift store!
CDT strikers are caught in the crossfire of attacks on mass transit and public health. On the one hand, theyre healthcare workers transporting disabled patients to their medical appointments but simultaneously theyre transit workers. If the bosses can sub-contract and privatize para-transit, whats to stop them from privatizing cancelled bus routes or closed clinics? Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus operators and Cook County healthcare workers supported the strikers by either walking their picket lines or distributing literature at work.
These are especially racist attacks in that they target large concentrations of black workers who service even larger black and Latino populations. This fight created an opening to spread PLP among CDT and CTA drivers. More workers are being introduced to CHALLENGE. The struggle continues.
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 12 Last week at the L.A. teachers union House of Representatives (HR), anti-racists fought for the union to support the struggle of the Jena 6 (six black youth victimized by legal lynching); to condemn the racist immigration raids sweeping the country; and to join the struggle to re-open King/Drew Trauma Center, the only public hospital in south L.A. PLers distributed leaflets exposing the imperialists plans to use school reform to build patriotism for widening wars. One-fourth of the delegates received CHALLENGE. Teachers won $1,000 for the Jena 6 defense, but only lip service for supporting the struggle to re-open the hospital. The union leadership guaranteed no debate on these questions, trying to reduce these important issues to pieces of paper.
What was so important to prevent discussion of the immigration raids sweeping our city and terrorizing our students, or the lack of emergency medical care for black and Latino workers here? "School reform," of course. The bosses are using the unions to win teachers to "restructure" the schools to prepare students politically and technologically for war.
The HR agenda included pages about charter schools. Instead of fighting them, the union leadership tried to make an accomodation with them, as Randi Weingarten did with "Green Dot" (charter-schools company that allows a union) in New York. Their main aim is collecting union dues from charter-school teachers. Merit pay paying the teachers most effective in pushing the bosses patriotic agenda more is not yet on the table, but its coming.
The main HR discussion offered the carrot and the stick in reorganizing inner city schools. On the one hand, the superintendent is threatening to put all junior and senior high schools with low test scores into a "Transformation Division" under his scrutiny; to lengthen school days; to institute teacher-proof scripted lessons; to place more arbitrary authority in principals hands; and reduce team teaching.
The "carrot" is the Innovation Division, supposedly allowing teachers and parents to "restructure" their "own" schools. The union leaders tried to sell this option not as the "lesser evil" but to get the teachers support for school reform to do the bosses work for them. The ruling class needs the passion and energy of the thousands of teachers who work in the inner city schools and are committed to serving their students. The Innovation Division is the bosses plan to win these teachers to school reform and to the "diverse" patriotic agenda.
School reform is part of the U.S. ruling classs preparation for what Foreign Affairs magazine calls the "inevitable confrontation" with China and a larger war in the Middle-East. The bosses must re-industrialize the U.S, particularly armaments production. They realize they must compete or risk decisive losses. Therefore, they need school reform: to win teachers and students to patriotism and to refit the schools to train young people to develop, produce and use the latest high-tech weapons. After decades of pushing racist terror, drugs, social neglect and mass incarceration, the capitalist class finds it absolutely necessary to change its educational plans and train a significantly larger sector of its inner city youth.
But, as Karl Marx said, capitalism creates its own grave-diggers. Teachers fighting to serve their students and to resist arbitrary, racist principals and superintendents can unite with their students in rejecting the bosses agenda of patriotic loyalty to the rulers and their wars. Teachers need to teach the truth about capitalism, to prepare students who will be in crucial positions in society as industrial workers, soldiers and teachers to fight to finally destroy this system and its wars for profit. As the school-reform struggle develops, teachers must build CHALLENGE networks to win students and their families to join the Progressive Labor Party and lead the working class to counter capitalisms racist, imperialist wars with communist revolution.
"Now a storm blows up out of France, and the people rise up in their masses,
And your throne is rocked like a skiff in the storm, and your hand loses hold of the scepter."
Frederick Engels ode on the anniversary of the July 1830 revolution in France.
PARIS, Nov. 14 As we go to press, transport and energy workers are on the second day of a strike against President Sarkozys pension reform plan. These workers have joined student protests rocking almost half of Frances 85 universities. At least ten have been shut down, with students occupying campus buildings. They are protesting the new Pécresse law, which gives private corporations a greater say in running public universities and which turns university presidents into minor despots.
On Nov. 8, students marched in ten cities, including Rennes and Toulouse, hot spots in last years successful protests against the CPE law, which made it easy for bosses to fire young first-hires. In Paris and Rennes, students halted rail traffic and called on rail workers to back them.
This support came when unions representing 500,000 rail, Paris commuter train, gas and electrical workers walked out on Nov. 13 in a 24-hour strike renewable by 24-hour time periods. The action is meant to be a longer, tougher and more victorious version of last months unsuccessful strike to defend special retirement plans (see CHALLENGE, 11/14).
Looming is a 24-hour strike by potentially 3.1 million public workers on Nov. 20 to demand higher wages, job creations and the means to serve the people better. On Nov. 8, the bourgeois newspaper "Le Monde" worried that the strike wave might paralyze France. But while the strikes may rock French president Nicolas Tsarkozys throne, only communist revolution can take the scepter out of the hands of the ruling class and put the working class in power.
OAXACA, MEXICO A mass march here on Oct. 27 honored the memory of Brad Will, a U.S. independent journalist murdered by the cops during one of the many militant actions in the take-over of the city by teachers, youth and many other workers. They were demanding the ouster of the fascist governor of the state of Oaxaca.
The APPO (Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca) and members of Section 22 of the Teachers Union organized the march. A contingent of two dozen PLPers participated, distributing communist leaflets, putting up posters and chanting slogans attacking the entire capitalist system.
That evening more than 35 people attended a PLP meeting to watch a video about the mass struggle in Oaxaca. It was followed by a discussion analyzing the results of the movement, concluding that limiting our struggle to reforming the system will never free workers from racist exploitation and poverty. One person asked that if the workers create all wealth, why do we allow the bosses and their government to decide how to distribute it? The response was lack of organization and communist political understanding.
The next day we held a communist political school, with some 30 participants, discussing aspects of Dialectical Materialism. Clear examples helped us understand this revolutionary communist philosophy which explains the real (material) world we live in and shows the universality of things, how there is contradiction (unity of opposites) in everything as well as appearance and essence. One example of the latter was this very struggle in Oaxaca itself: workers and students were "united" with the leadership in the same mass movement (appearance) but the leadership was really selling out what the masses really needed (the essence).
Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious meal and good conversation. Party comrades proposed that these sorts of gatherings be held more often, prompting the youth to say they would be happy to attend the next meeting.
These activities in Oaxaca were a modest success for our Party and really motivated five people coming from elsewhere in Mexico. But it also showed us that we need to prepare more, to strengthen our leadership in teaching and using dialectical materialism. We hope that this experience also motivates other comrades in other areas to strengthen the fight for power for the working class.
(The previous article about the militant campaign against fascism in Boston during the summer of 1975 described successful efforts by the International Committee Against Racism and PLP to advance under sharpening attacks. Leading these attacks was the axis of open racists in ROAR and their not-so secret backers in the liberal ruling class.)
The cozy relationship between ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights) and Bostons liberal rulers, particularly Mayor Kevin White and his pals in the Kennedy political machine offers a still relevant object lesson about the folly of dividing the bosses into "greater" and "lesser" evil categories. ROARs members were open fascists, to be sure, but they wouldnt have reached first base without political and financial backing from the main wing of Bostons rulers. People who hate the bosses current oil war in Iraq and are tempted to vote for a Democrat should take note.
Kevin White had impeccable liberal credentials. Bostons mayor since 1967, he had entered politics as a Kennedy protégé. He was still on excellent terms with ROAR. Six days after ROAR had endorsed his plan to take personal control of the School Committee, ROAR leaders started getting jobs on the city payroll. One was Nunzio Palladino, husband of the notorious East Boston ROAR leader, Pixie, who kept a statuette of Mussolini on her mantelpiece.
In late 1974, White said he would subsidize ROARs opposition to the school busing program. He reminded ROAR of services he had already rendered to the racist movement, including: funding an anti-busing appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court with taxpayers dollars; personally advocating a change in the Massachusetts Racial Imbalance Law, which called for integrating the public schools; and instructing " my staff to assist you as much as possible in staging your rallies."
ROAR could not have survived without White and the rest of the ruling class. The patronage dispensed through ROAR leader and City Council president Louise Day Hicks to the ROAR machine bought the open fascists loyalty to the big bosses and guaranteed liberal candidates a voting bloc at election time. Left to its own devices, ROAR, little more than a gaggle of vicious but inept racists capable of assaulting ten-year-old kids, quickly revealed its feet of clay when having to fight a determined anti-racist opponent. ROAR constituted a significant presence only insofar as it received publicity from the bosses media, protection from the bosses cops, payoffs from the bosses coffers and blessings from the Kennedys.
For example, shortly after thugs in the ROAR-led "South Boston Marshals" had threatened INCAR members with machetes following a televised debate, Ted Kennedy graciously received a delegation of "Marshals" at his posh Hyanisport compound. The chief ROAR goon at the time was one Warren Zaniboni. The Senator told Zaniboni that he recognized that he and ROAR differed over the issue of busing, but that ROAR had a "legitimate" point of view, that it was an organization committed to the principle of "non-violence." Kennedy might as well have added that Hitler was also a pacifist.
The decision to unleash the combined forces of ROAR and the state apparatus on the BOSTON 75 volunteers (see CHALLENGE, 10/31) was made at the very least by forces on the highest level of the Boston city government. By the end of July, the anti-racist campaign had begun to have a telling effect on the citys political climate. The rulers could no longer claim complete mastery of the situation. The schools were due to open in another month. Thousands were responding favorably to the INCAR petition and program. If INCAR and PLP were bold enough to sit in at the Mayors office after being victimized by a frame-up, what might they do next? More ominously from the bosses viewpoint, what might happen if some of the thousands who were signing the petition began to take organized action under the pro-communist leadership of anti-racists?
(Next: The NAACP joins the ROAR-liberal axis during the battles of Carson Beach.)
CHICAGO, IL, October 26 Yesterday a majority of the City Council asked a federal judge for access to the names of hundreds of Chicago cops who have multiple citizen complaints against them for brutality and false arrests. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has lacked a superintendent since April and the current interim chief said that the current scandals are "eroding confidence" in the department. A former FBI official and president of the Chicago Crime Commission said, "Suspicion is running very high as to who you can trust, as far as officers." (NY Times, 10/26)
This follows a series of crises that have rocked the racist CPD, starting with the ongoing investigations into the torture cases involving Jon Burge & Co. From 1973 to 1991, long before Abu Ghraib, detectives under Burges command used what the Citys own lawyers called, "savage torture" to get confessions from suspects. Ninety people complained of the use of electric shock with portable hand-cranked generators, suffocation, burnings on very hot radiators, the use of cattle prods on the genitals, severe beatings and mock executions.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor who convicted Cheneys errand boy Scooter Libby, has taken over after the Countys four-year investigation found a long history of racist torture and brutality against black workers. It also found that Assistant State Attorneys never properly investigated the torture charges and that those who prosecuted the victims are now the very judges denying them appeals! The investigation also found that Mayor Daley, then a States Attorney, knew of the torture complaints and did nothing.
The statute of limitations has run out so the torturers, from Burge to Daley, cannot be prosecuted. The feds are investigating perjury allegations against police and others. The city is spending millions on attorneys, including Burges lawyers, to delay settlement of the civil torture cases.
More recently, the Special Operations Section (SOS), an "elite" anti-drug/anti-gang unit, was dissolved due to its own crime wave of robbery, false arrests, kidnappings, brutality, and murder. One cop is charged with hiring a hit-man to murder another cop who was willing to testify to save himself.
This past August, the police went on a racist rampage and brutally murdered four young men in cold blood, in four separate incidents. West Side workers and youth marched and confronted the police over the murder of 18-year-old Aaron Harrison. PLP was active in this fight-back and met many angry residents. Theyre being invited to this months CHALLENGE dinner.
Last week, two cops were found guilty in a civil case of sodomizing a young black worker with a screwdriver, after having been "cleared" by the Office of Professional Standards. (OPS "investigates" citizen complaints). That will cost the city $4 million. Another jury awarded another black man $2 million for being framed and falsely arrested.
Like many politicians, CEOs, bankers and union leaders, personal corruption has hurt the CPDs ability to implement the rulers plans for war and fascism. To regain control of the police, the City is working with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a "progressive" police think-tank that includes NYPD chief Ray Kelly and LAPD chief Bratton, and follows George Kellings community policing model.
Now Al Sharpton has opened up shop here to maintain control of masses of angry workers and youth, taking advantage of Jesse Jacksons silence about the rise in racist police terror. Sharpton criticized Daley for not handling the SOS scandal. Hes calling for a civilian review board over the police.
But review boards wont stop these racist killer-torturers from doing the bosses dirty work of terrorizing us into accepting a future of wider wars and poverty wages. Review boards wont stop racist cutbacks in mass transit and public health to finance the endless oil wars. The racist murderers and torturers and the entire capitalist system they protect must be destroyed with communist revolution!
I was very much taken with the article in the latest CH ALLENGE (11/14) on the Bolshevik Revolution. Your readers might be interested in the following description of workers daily lives in the Soviet Union written in 1934 by none other than Walter Reuther and his brother Victor to friends in Detroit about their experience working in a Soviet auto plant. This is the same Walter Reuther who returned to the U.S. to later pursue an opportunistic path. He became a vicious anti-communist and sold his soul to the ruling class when he seized control of the auto workers union and became president of the CIO, expelling all communists from their elected positions in the UAW and the CIO. But the words below may have come back to haunt him as he compared workers conditions under Soviet socialism with those under capitalism:
"What you have written concerning the strikes and the general labor unrest in Detroit...makes us long for the moment to be back with you in the front lines of struggle. However, the daily inspiration that is ours as we work side by side with our Russian comrades in our factory, the thought that we will forever end the exploitation of man by man, the thought that what we are building will be for the benefit and enjoyment of the working class, not only of Russia, but of the entire world, is the compensation we receive for our temporary absence from the struggle in the United States. And let no one tell you that we are not on the road to socialism in the Soviet Union. Let no one say that the workers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are not on the road to security, enlightenment, and happiness....
"Here are no bosses to drive fear into the workers. No one to drive them in mad speed-ups. Here the workers are in control. Even the shop superintendent had no more right in these meetings than any other worker. I have witnessed many times already when the superintendent spoke too long. The workers in the hall decided he had already consumed enough time and the floor was given to a lathe hand who told of his problems and offered suggestions. Imagine this at Ford or Briggs. This is what the outside world calls the ruthless dictatorship in Russia. I tell you...in all countries we have thus far been in we have never found such genuine proletarian democracy .
"We are witnessing and experiencing great things in the USSR. We are seeing the most backward nation in the world being rapidly transformed into the most modern and scientific, with new concepts and ideals coming into force. We are watching, daily, socialism being taken down from the books on the shelves and put into actual application. Who would not be inspired by such events?"
Last summer, 120 undocumented, unorganized workers struck the Cygnus soap packaging plant after being threatened with "No Match" [of their social security numbers] letters when they sought a raise. Most of the workers were temps, making between $6-$8/hour, even though they had been there for years. The boss tried to break the strike using all black workers from another temp agency.
In CHALLENGE (10/31), a letter from "A Reader" raised a question about our treatment of the black workers hired to break the strike as "allies of the strikers." A Reader makes a number of good points about class solidarity and scabbing, but misses the main point.
What we did was win the Latino strikers to leaflet the black workers, asking them to support the strike because black and Latino workers are all victims of racist terror. The leaflet told the black workers, "Walk the line! Dont cross it!" This was a major political statement that got a great response on both sides of the line.
The bosses were on the verge of creating a very ugly situation, having repercussions way beyond this little factory. The nationalists played into it, telling the strikers they would win because "black workers are lazy." An 18-year-old black youth had just been shot in the back by the killer cops. We felt the need to build anti-racist unity in this potentially dangerous situation. We felt we could win both black and Latino workers to realize they are allies against the racist bosses, and that all are victims of racist terror, whether its the cops or the threat of deportation.
We met with 12 strikers who agreed and helped to leaflet the black workers crossing the line, even though the "leadership" had called off picketing that day. A number of strikers and one of the black workers are now regular CHALLENGE readers.
We are living in very difficult times. The working class is suffering for the defeat of the old communist movement. Less than 10% of U.S. workers are in unions; there is very low class consciousness; there is one-tenth the number of strikes compared to 1970. The recent auto contracts cut wages and benefits by two-thirds, with little fight-back. "A Reader" is right saying, "There are only two sides to the struggle between workers and capitalists," but there are many contradictions among the workers. We must try to resolve them in our favor. Being mechanical is not an option. Our approach would probably be very different if the strike were at County Hospital or among transit workers, with large, integrated workforces and ties throughout the city.
Finally, "A Reader" says that when workers "go over to the bosses side they must be treated (at least in the short run) as the enemy." Should we have broken out the baseball bats? What about all the auto workers voting for this reactionary contract? What about young soldiers fighting in Iraq? Its complicated.
"A Reader" is focused on winning strikes, a reformist error which wont happen any time soon. We were trying to move the strike around our politics and to fight racism, the main contradiction in the working class. We didnt do everything right, but I think we did the right thing.
Another friend of Cygnus workers
"This is why I like hanging out with you: because there arent too many people I can have a deep conversation with like this," my co-worker Frank told me during a mini vacation together. Frank and I have talked several times at work and we have hung out a couple of times outside the shop and each time our conversations have been more political.
On this trip we spent much of our time swapping stories about friends, family, and work, each time becoming closer friends based on our experiences. Exploitation of workers by bosses always comes up and we often carry the conversation further, discussing the capitalist system, imperialism, fascism, and this time especially, communism.
I am always learning to bring our ideas into a conversation and slowly but surely getting better. However, he was the one to actually bring up communism first. He told me he liked the idea of a collective society where things were produced for need and everyone got their fair share and that his only problem with communism was that he didnt think it was right for someone to receive the benefits of others labor if they werent pulling their own weight. I pointed out that capitalism does exactly that by exploiting our labor power. We also discussed the difference between equal and egalitarian recalling a conversation I had with a comrade a while back.
Not wanting to make the mistake of not being bold enough, I asked him if he would read something on fascism if I brought it to him. He replied that he would take a look at it and tell me honestly what he thought about it. After getting to know him better on this trip I am confident that he will enjoy the reading. I am also going to give him CHALLENGE so he can see that there is a party out there actually working to destroy this system and replace it with a truly egalitarian society based on workers needs.
With more conversations like these Frank and I will build a lasting relationship based on our politics and friendship. My next goal in getting Frank closer to the Party is to make him a regular CHALLENGE reader and distributor to his friends in other shops increasing the size of our CHALLENGE network. I will also invite him to join a study group if he is interested in discussing the reading on fascism with other workers. The ultimate goal of course is to get to know him enough to ask him to be a member of PLP. With the foundation we have built in our discussions even if he says no at first it can open up a whole new struggle with him and help expand the limits.
A friend asked me if I had clothes or canned food to donate for the victims of the floods caused by tropical storm Noel in the Dominican Republic. Thousands of people across the NYC Metropolitan area contributed truckloads of supplies for the many people who lost homes and relatives. It has sparked some good discussions.
My friend, like many others, showed real workers solidarity, helping those in need, even though he suspects much of that aid may very well be stolen by crooked officials or others. But he expects that at least some of it will reach the victims. We discussed how the government in the Dominican Republic and its supporters there and here, are claiming it wasnt their fault so many people died or lost everything. "Blame Mother Nature," or "lets not politicize the situation and concentrate on helping the victims now," are repeated ad nauseum. But nothing can hide how capitalism turns natural phenomenon into mass tragedies.
President Leonel Fernández, running for a third term in the 2008 elections, says hes "modernizing" the country, building a subway in Santo Domingo, the capital city and bringing computers to schools nation-wide. But the fact is his policies similar to previous governments in recent decades have been based on corruption, enriching themselves and the local and imperialist bosses investing there, while doing very little to solve workers basic problems.
There are still victims waiting for help from the 1979 Hurricane David! There are no real safe shelters for victims of natural disasters in a country directly in the path of most hurricanes. Noel also hit Cuba hard causing the worst damage since hurricane Flora in 1963. But despite the island governments many problems, people were evacuated with only one death reported so far.
In the Dominican Republic (and in UN-occupied Haiti), the authorities did nothing to evacuate people living in areas exposed to flooding, knowing full well that Noel was coming. That same night President Fernández gave a televised speech on a scandal based on a loan to the Sunland Company, but neglected to even warn people about the dangers of Noel.
Capitalism is indeed the biggest disaster facing workers.
A Red Immigrant
Troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk of brain damage after being exposed to high-powered explosions .
MTBI [mild traumatic brain injury], caused by blows to the head or shockwaves caused by explosions, has been named in the US as one of four "signature injuries" of the Iraq war, due to the increased use of roadside bombs there and in Afghanistan. The condition can lead to memory loss, depression and anxiety .
The US army says as many as 20% of its soldiers and marines may be at risk of MTBI .
"If the American figures are correct, this is massive, absolutely massive." (GW, 11/2)
Thousands of landless workers, indigenous people and "untouchables" from the bottom of Indian society were on the final leg of their month-long protest march .
Government figures show the average expenditure of a countryside household to be just 500 rupees ($13) a month .
In the rush to industrialise, "weve seen alarming examples of outsiders seizing land on vast scales while the rural poor are denied land. The result will be bloodshed and violence on a massive scale unless [Indias] government acts."
.Extreme leftwing groups have tapped the rising anger in rural areas to wage low-intensity guerrilla wars in 172 of the countrys 600 districts .
The manifesto that saw Ms. Ghandi elected pledged new land-ceiling laws, limiting the size of landlords holdings, and tenancy rights, but none have arrived. (GW, 11/2)
In a sign of the closeness between Ms. Bhutto and Washington, the opposition leader met after a news conference with the American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson. The perception among Pakistani analysts is that Ms. Bhutto is being guided by Washington. "Shes listening to the Americans, no one else," said Najam Sethi, the editor in chief of The Daily Times and a sympathizer to her cause. (NYT, 11/8)
Recent surveys have painted an appalling picture. Almost half a million of the nations 24 million veterans were homeless at some point during 2006, and while only a few hundred from Iraq or Afghanistan have turned up homeless so far, aid groups are bracing themselves for a tsunami-like upsurge in coming years.
Tens of thousands of reservists and National Guard troops, whose jobs were supposedly protected while they were at war, were denied prompt re-employment upon their return or else lost seniority, pay and other benefits. Some 1.8 million veterans were unable to get care in veterans facilities in 2004 and lacked health insurance to pay for care elsewhere. Meanwhile, veterans seeking disability payments faced huge backlogs and inordinate delays in getting claims and appeals processed. (NYT, 11/12)
Career Foreign Service officers at the State Department reacted angrily on Wednesday to the possibility that they might be forced to go to Iraq .
One Foreign Service officer .said ."Im sorry, but basically thats a potential death sentence, and you know it." (NYT, 11/1)