North Korea’s latest ballistic missile tests have exposed growing tensions between the U.S. and Chinese ruling classes. On March 6, a week before U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began his tour of Asia to build support in the region, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles that landed within 200 miles of Japan’s coastline. On March 19, North Korea announced the successful test of a new high-thrust rocket engine that “could help with the country’s development of ICBMs—intercontinental ballistic missiles” with the potential to reach targets in the United States (cnn.com, 3/19). Despite pledges to “cooperate” between Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in containing North Korea’s military ambitions, recent developments show how these major powers are building toward war (New York Times, 3/19).
Haiti, March 8—Progressive Labor Party organized a conference and cultural activities on the occasion of International Working Women’s Day in a city in Haiti. Despite driving in rain and flooded streets, several dozen people participated: high school students, women, men, children, and women from many local women’s organizations.
A worker at the Ministry of Women’s Rights and the Status of Women gave an overview of the situation and the struggle of women, pointing to both progress and limitations of women’s movements since 1950 when women in Haiti won voting rights and since 1986, with the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship.
One of the leaders of a women’s organization remarked several times how extraordinary it is for a non-feminist organization to organize such an activity to mark this date.
I Am Not Your Negro is a documentary about prominent Black author James Baldwin, directed by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck. It opens with James Baldwin’s notes about the influential lives of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin then describes himself, detailing who he is not; he is not a militant Black Panther. He is not a Muslim nor a Christian, who have their segregated churches. He says he doesn’t hate all whites for he had a white teacher who took him to plays and concerts. He isn’t in the NAACP, for “shoe shine boys like himself are repelled” from that organization and its elitist, pro-capitalist Black membership base.
That however is the closest we ever get to a class analysis, and the rest of the film shows “whites” as a general mass, without class distinction, to be the oppressors.
LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA, March 18—Today, this southern town known primarily for the college started by arch-racist Jerry Falwell, held its first protest over the next imperialist war! Over 50 Lynchburg residents marched against Trump’s proposed budget that would slash environmental protection and education funding and add over $52 billion to the U.S. war budget.
The Donald Trump administration’s move to replace Obamacare is a move to replace a severely weakened and inadequate healthcare system with an even worse one. The inability of the wealthiest country in the history of capitalism to provide healthcare for the working class exposes that healthcare for profit is incompatible with providing for the needs of the working class.
MARYLAND, March 21—As the city council in Prince George’s County, was debating whether to be a sanctuary city, some neighbors organized a rally and marched to the public hearing to support Sanctuary City status. Some council members seemed to be for it, but many residents were fearful. We need to organize to dispel these fears by building a strong, grassroots network to support those threatened with deportation. Just voting for symbolic sanctuary status is not enough.
MEXICO, March 8—One of the main ideological weapons used by the capitalist class to attack and divide the working class is sexism, particularly the oppression of women workers. Capitalism uses racism to divide the working class into supposedly “different” categories of Black, white, Latin and Asian, or amongst indigenous and non-indigenous. In a similar way, sexism divides the working class into groups of men and women, each with supposed inherent differences beyond what the biological sciences can prove. These so-called “differences” usually all end up saying men are superior in some way. Placing a particular emphasis on these differences between women and men workers intentionally hides the psychological, economic, social and even other biological similarities amongst workers.
Another way capitalists try to divide women and men workers politically is through their efforts to commercialize March 8, International Women’s Day, a day of communist struggle against oppression of women in the capitalist system. This day has an aspect of consciousness and organization that all women and men workers have to honor and rescue.
President Donald Trump’s racist immigration policy escalates a venerable ruling-class tradition of scapegoating and terrorizing immigrant workers. In addition to officially banning workers and refugees from six majority Muslim countries, the Trump administration has promised to increase deportations and detention of undocumented workers—an ambitious goal, given that Barack Obama’s administrations formally removed a record 3.1 million immigrants (Migration Policy Institute, 1/26).
The Department of Homeland Security is expected to double the number of people held in immigration concentration camps, to 80,000 a day. The asylum division of DHS has reported locating 20,000 beds for indefinite detention for asylum-seekers, a 500 percent increase over current capacity (MSNBC, 3/3). Meanwhile, 30,000 Haitian migrants are stranded at the U.S.-Mexico border, waiting to cross (UPI, 2/28).
After a three-year hiatus, the U.S. ruling class is pointing to resume a major military exercise with Egypt. Under the threat of growing industrial and military cooperation between Egypt and imperialist rivals Russia and China, the U.S. bosses are seeking a stronger alliance with the regional power to prop up their increasingly tenuous stronghold in the Middle East.
Bridging the Middle East and Africa, linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, Egypt is central to geopolitics in the region. Its Suez Canal and Sumed pipeline are strategic routes for the Persian Gulf and for natural gas shipments to Europe and North America. In 2013, 3.2 million barrels of oil a day passed through the Canal (Business Insider, 4/1/2015). “With its strategic situation, its cultural influence and a population double that of any other Arab country, Egypt has for three decades now been the linchpin of a precarious but enduring regional Pax Americana” (The Economist, 12/15/10).
The Bronx—“We cannot be quiet. We must fight fascism!”
These were the inspiring words of a Middle Eastern student at our teach-in at a City University of New York (CUNY) campus in the Bronx. More than 500 students and staff crowded into a big hall to better understand the world and make plans to fight back. We discussed organizing against racism, sexism, deportation, mass incarceration, and the ban on Muslim workers. We also got a glimpse of what an egalitarian society might look like as students from all around the world played key leadership roles in speaking, leading the workshops, and organizing the event. The divisiveness of identity politics took a back seat to building a united fightback led by the working class.