Negev, November 30 —Striking back against the Israeli government’s Prawer Plan for “ethnic cleansing” of Bedouins in the Negev, thousands of Palestinian-Bedouin workers and peasants, as well as Jews and Palestinians from the rest of the country, rallied near the poverty-stricken Bedouin town of Hura. The multi-ethnic protestors stood for two hours, facing heavily-armed cops and mounted police and demanded justice, as well as recognition of all Bedouin villages.
I was on my way to our biweekly CHALLENGE sale when one of my comrades informed me about an event Hillel was having in conjunction with the Italian club. “Israeli ambassador on campus at 1pm. SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] is planning to disrupt.” He needn’t say more. Hillel, the largest Zionist campus organization in the world admitted, “Israel is at the heart of Hillel’s work.” It was bringing in an Israeli diplomat Gideon Meir to speak. I gathered my CHALLENGEs and met with SJP and other student organizers on campus. In a classroom of fifteen people, eight of us entered and sat in the back row. We were a group of , North African, Palestinian, brown and white students. While waiting for the racist Meir to arrive, I read the CHALLENGE article (11/27) “Jews, Arabs, Africans Unite: Rip Israeli Rulers’ Racist Neglect, Segregation.” I then passed a stack of CHALLENGEs. “Turn to page five. Pass it down,” I said.
A year that began with a long strike by New York City school bus drivers ended with an even more militant strike by teachers in Mexico, signs that workers around the world are engaging in the kind of class struggle that gives us hope for a future communist revolution. Over the course of the year, workers everywhere showed the power of unity as they fought back against the oppression of capitalism. In Bangladesh, workers once again shut down garment factories to protest starvation wages and deadly working conditions. Students facing violent attacks from their government in Haiti called on embattled New York City university students to stand with them in solidarity, building the international ties we need to destroy the capitalist system.
We just attended a memorial service for a fallen comrade. This inspired us to write about him because his life embodies what it means to be a communist in the Progressive Labor Party (PLP). Hundreds of workers attended his memorial. All friends: from his family, from his childhood, coworkers and fellow church members, from many struggles in which he was involved, and from comrades in PLP.
He attended a local college where he met his wife and PLP. His road to communist consciousness took a turn when he began supporting a strike of immigrant workers. He and his family immersed themselves in that fight. They built relationships that lasted beyond the strike, building bonds of working-class solidarity and friendship.
For those of us around during that period it was a learning moment. We all gained a clearer understanding of what it means to organize for the PLP, to build a communist base and to serve the working class, particularly during a time of class struggle and fightback. It was clear he loved his working-class brothers and sisters.
The strike changed him. He saw how the workers fought hard, faced racist attacks and demonstrated bravery in the face of possible deportations. They emerged from the strike with a short-term reform victory. This reality shook him. He realized that despite the victory, the workers would still be wage slaves, earning very little. They would still live in a world where the working class is divided by capitalist borders and subject to deportation at any time.
It was through this practice of supporting the strike, building the class struggle and a base that he discovered the only way workers could be freed was through overthrowing the capitalist system with communist revolution. It was then that he joined the PLP. We had spent years talking to him about communism and the need for the Party, but what transformed him was engaging in class struggle and becoming part of the fight.
In his two-and-a-half year battle with cancer he continued to be active in the communist movement. Two weeks before he died, he attended a communist leadership school.
His family and the working class have suffered a great loss. Our class will miss his leadership, his commitment and his dry, biting sense of humor. In his honor we must all do more to engage in the class struggle with the goal of serving the working class and building a base for communism. It is the least we can do for a comrade who loved the working class until the end. We pledge to stand by his family and pick up the struggle.
Fifty years after his assassination, John F. Kennedy, a leading instigator of U.S. genocide in Vietnam, still proves useful to war-making U.S. imperialists. As they mobilize for wider wars with their imperialist rivals, U.S. rulers are using the anniversary to revive JFK’s militaristic appeals for “sacrifice” and “service.”
For the working class, this “sacrifice” means mass racist unemployment and cuts in health care, food stamps and other social services. It means more racist police attacks on black and Latino youth, mass racist incarceration, widespread poverty, the intensified oppression of working-class women, and the mass jailing and deportation of immigrant workers. This is the state of rising fascism in the United States of the 21st century.
NEW YORK CITY, November 25 — It’s official. The City University of New York (CUNY) is a repressive organ of the racist capitalist state. Today over 100 students and faculty protested the Board of Trustees’ proposal of the “Policy on Expressive Activity,” which exposes “free speech” under capitalism for the myth that it is. Various networks have been building for this rally for weeks. Progressive Labor Party organized friends at a number of local colleges. Newer members are gaining experience in putting our politics forward at these events.
NEW YORK CITY, November 23 — For the second year, Columbia University (CU) students have been organizing a group, Student Worker Solidaity (SWS), to support workers’ struggles on campus, and they are now beginning to explore racist and anti-worker aspects of CU’s expansion into West Harlem. Last year the students militantly agitated for workers at Barnard (the affiliated women’s college) and for employees of the faculty dining room, who were being miserably exploited by their respective administrations. Partial victories were won in both cases.
Newark, NJ — The struggle over education is sharpening in Newark. In a show of resistance to the Superintendent Cami Anderson’s rule, more than 1,500 education workers forced Anderson to close school for two days this month so they could attend the New Jersey Education Association’s annual convention.
The NJEA is the largest teachers union in the state. Nearly every New Jersey school district closes during the convention — except for Newark. When workers submitted forms to go to the convention, most principals were telling them not to go. Some even told the workers, “I will approve this on paper, but the superintendent told me to discourage workers from going.”
It’s important to take note of the increase in class struggle around the world — but it’s also important to understand that without communist ideas, it can’t lead to the end of capitalism and the racism, sexism and exploitation that feed it. As communists, we must be totally entrenched in the working class and the class struggle, put forward our communist ideas and win workers and students to them.
New York City, November 15 — The fight against militarization and repression at City University of New York (CUNY) is drawing more students and faculty into action. Today a strategy meeting that organizers thought might draw 50, instead brought 120 people to four hours of intense talk about every aspect of the CUNY struggle. There were many new faces: an energetic group of undergrads and grad students along with professors, both veterans and young adjuncts.