The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has unmasked the racist and anti-working class nature of the U.S. bosses and capitalism and imperialism in general. As this is written, over 20,000 residents of New Orleans , the vast majority black, have taken shelter in the city's Superdome. The dome's roof has leaked and inside it is wet. The people there have little to no food or drinkable water. Since three levies broke, the water continues to rise. The people are desperate.

Clearly, when the evacuation order was given on Saturday in plenty of time for some, it meant, “Those who have cars and can afford to leave, leave now. Others fend for yourselves.” The rulers knew that the infrastructure of the area was in serious disrepair, that New Orleans is below sea level and that a disaster was about to occur. Money for repairing the infrastructure had been spent instead in waging imperialist war. The city could have used public buses to take those who didn't have their own transportation out of harm's way. But this is capitalism where workers' lives are expendable on the altar of racist profits!

War Budget + Katrina = Deadly

In Early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Army Corps of Engineers said was needed for repair work at Lake Pontchartrain , according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

In June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana , told the Times-Picayune: “It appears that the money [to work on the levees and dams] has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq …”

The news media whined about “looting” by people who have no other way to get the food and water they desperately need. With 150,000 troops in Iraq securing the US bosses' oil profits, there certainly weren't enough National Guard troops to help in this emergency. The National Guard of Louisiana had complained before the hurricane hit that many of its vehicles and equipment needed for rescue work were sent to Iraq .

Workers Need Food and Shelter, Not Martial Law

But now, while in the past help for victims of natural disasters was done through the Red Cross, the federal emergency agency (FEMA) is taking control. And Martial Law is being imposed in some areas. This is another sign of the militarization of civil society.

Progressive Labor Party calls on workers, students and allies to demand that the workers of New Orleans be evacuated and taken to safety. We support efforts to bring aid to the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi . But even so, hundreds have died and many more will be sick, injured and die. These victims should be added to the tens of thousands of dead and injured in the Iraq war for oil profits. The storm was a product of nature, but its disastrous affects are a product of capitalism. Let this human-made disaster cause many more to decide that a system that exists only for the profit of a few bloodthirsty bosses shouldn't exist. Sure, they'll cry crocodile tears and now, too late, try to bring in some relief to some of those affected. But no matter how much they try to lie and say “we're all in this together. We're all Americans,” they have just shown yet again that we are NOT all in this together! Racism and exploitation of the working class are built into this system. In times of crisis, they stand in stark relief for all to see. We're in a life and death battle against the bosses. It's their profits or our lives.

We should not risk our lives to defend their profits in Iraq or anywhere else. We should pledge to fight to destroy them and their system no matter how long it takes.

Hurricane Mitch left death, disease, and homelessness in its wake in Central America . Hurricane Katrina is doing the same in Louisiana and Mississippi . Capitalism is the biggest disaster for the workers of the world. The long term battle to destroy it with communist revolution for workers' power will not be a picnic. But capitalism is the worst disaster! Workers' revolution is the only way out of this capitalist hell!

Issued by Challenge, revolutionary communist newspaper of Progressive Labor Party