Letters of March 6

What it means to join?
I recently attended my first official meeting with Progressive Labor Party (PLP) in New Jersey and afterward made explicit my intention to become a party member. On the car ride home, a comrade asked me what joining the Party meant for me, in both a practical and ideological sense.
This was, and is, an important question to consider, as Karl Marx and many other communists have and continue to ask what the relationship between anti-capitalist study and action is. As a scholar and an industrial laborer, it is a problem never far from my mind.
So the question, ever present, pushes me to consider joining the Party as the first step toward an answer: a method by which I continue to marry my communist education and communist action.The Party is an organized community that acts as both a resource for important information on the dynamics of class antagonisms and a tool for organized revolutionary action.
Joining the Party means access to veteran comrades; their thoughts and experiences in protest, worker organizing, writing, and thinking. It means access to important thinking by the likes of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. At the first Party meeting I attended, we ate good food, listened to productive debates about organizing workers within academic and labor unions, sought and received feedback on our efforts within liberal and reformist mass organizations, made plans for presenting at conferences, and heard reports on and plans for international organizing around migrants at the Mexico-U.S. border and in Puerto Rico.
I left feeling connected, informed, and ready to make moves. So joining the Party also inevitably means friendship and community, and the assurance that radical political critique and response not be without comradery and joy. Finally, joining the Party is an important source of accountability and duty—two aspects without which no revolution can be successfully carried out. Making the commitment to myself and our comrades to carry the Party line out into the world is to render the revolution real, and begin our necessary escape from the easy compartmentalization of our thinking and working lives. The capitalist world would have us believe that we be one or the other: thinker or worker.
We are inundated with liberal, centrist, and right-wing depictions of workers as happily thoughtless, with either extremely narrow or zero concerns, incapable of analysis or disgusted by it. Workers don’t care about the mechanisms of exploitation, they say, they are primal beasts of immediacy: too dumb, too needy, too racist to ever understand or care.
This kind of compartmentalization of the worker from the thinker and vice versa benefits only the bosses, who require our alienation from ourselves and each other to maintain their exploitative power. It is our job to read these divisive tactics for what they are, to refuse the easy dismissal of our ability to understand the mechanics of our exploitation at the bosses’ hands, and ultimately, our ability to combine our learning and working selves so that we might collectively plan, resist, and overthrow their system of oppression.
Being a member of PLP means embracing and trusting the proletarian class in spite of capitalist propaganda. It means sharing with and learning from workers and party members. It means committing to daily intellectual and political struggle. It means transforming the propositions of communist theory into worker-centered action.
Membership gives my comrades and me the necessary confidence of community, so that we can feel empowered in our responsibility to raise class-consciousness in ourselves and others, to disrupt and obstruct capitalist exploitation of workers, and to build toward communist revolution.
NJ water struggle exposes Baraka’s racism
I have been involved in the fight for clean water in Newark, NJ. This fight has exposed how the liberal Democratic politicians are truly the enemies of the working class. Self-proclaimed “radical” Mayor Ras Baraka not only initially tried to cover up the lead in the water for three months, but now he refuses to admit that the problem is bigger than originally stated.
His latest attack is on the residents of the East Ward. Despite evidence that homes in the East Ward are affected with lead, he continues to deny workers filters for their homes. When confronted about it at a town hall meeting, he said that he doesn’t have that data. His new Head of the Water Department contradicted him. He admitted that there were high lead levels, but he said that one of the levels was high because a disgruntled former employee of the city used a pencil to create high lead levels. He repeated that lie twice before someone told him that pencils have graphite, not lead.
The good news is that a movement is starting to grow. A group called the Newark Water coalition lead by young Black and Latin activists in the city shows a lot of potential. We will continue to fight to organize workers to see that it is our right to clean water. More importantly, this struggle will mean breaking ties with some of these Democratic politicians. We’ll keep CHALLENGE informed as changes happen.
A worker, a fighter, a friend
The news of the death of a member of our mass organization and our base, took us by surprise and also his wife who now remains alone and without any kind of support. They had to leave and go back to their country of origin about a year and a half ago, because they could not get a job here, due to their age and of a work accident that also lead to his death.
During a small tribute that we did in our weekly meeting in the mass organization, all of us who knew this fellow agreed that he had demonstrated great leadership in the small struggles and small victories of our mass organization, particularly against wage theft and racism.
Almost all of us who spoke during this small tribute agreed, that huge portions of the working class spend their entire lives working, under regimes of exploitation and racism, without the right to vacations, remuneration for overtime, under conditions often subhuman without being able to travel inside or outside the country, due to lack of documents to see their loved ones, and in the end after a work accident, losing the ability to find work.
The bosses evict workers as if they are animals without the right to anything and without being able to continue working with dignity, and do not receive severance for so many years of sacrifice. As in the case of this friend of ours who in the end also had to pick up cans, and bottles while limping on his leg, in order to survive. He and his wife were ill and in the end they felt forced to return to their country empty-handed with the hope of seeing their closest family members on the last days of his life.
This worker had participated with us in study groups and had accompanied us on some May Day marches. He was convinced that the working class united could achieve many things and although he did not become a member of the Party, he did agree that our ideas were the right ones to destroy capitalism through a communist revolution, the seizure of power and the construction of a communist society that will give us equality and solidarity and where we would share all the goods produced collectively.
At the end of the meeting, the spirit of workers  solidarity was once again demonstrated in a humble fundraising effort. The money we raised was given to his wife, to cover some funeral expenses.That is the true spirit of struggle and solidarity of the workers and that in the end will lead us to total victory against capitalism and imperialism.
An unexpected act in a play about asylum
Recently I attended a play at a liberal church that depicted an actual court hearing for an immigrant seeking asylum. The case involved a woman with a visa and a green card married to a U.S. citizen.  She was given a voter registration form to sign when applying for a driver’s license, despite the agent having viewed her non-citizen credentials. She then assumed she could vote and did so, after which she was successfully prosecuted by Homeland Security. In the second act, taking place several years later, her conviction is reversed on appeal. The final act in the play involves a judge, standing on the same level as the audience of several hundred, performing a citizenship ceremony and urging everyone to stand and participate, which almost everyone did. The citizen induction is dominated by promises to defend the interests of the U.S. with arms or by whatever other means are requested.
Since I was sitting near the front, I quickly went to the mic as soon as this was over and said that as good people,we should evaluate the U.S. government’s actions in the world–ranging from killing thousands of workers in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Honduras and many other countries to the killing of Black and other workers by the police on our own streets–and ask to whom we should be loyal. Better to the workers of the world than their killers. I received booming applause and quite a few positive comments. Even the director approved and agreed they might add a post-performance discussion every night. I only regret that I had not thought to bring any Challenges with me.
Comment in editorial: next war in Iran?
In the CHALLENGE (1/23) editorial “Liberal Terrorists and the Next War,” Richard Haas is quoted saying the next major U.S. war will probably start in Iran. This is significant because it points to the underlying volatility of the world situation as the U.S. empire is increasingly challenged.The main wing bosses blew a collective gasket when Donald Trump announced the retreat from Syria; their response of trying to maintain the status quo with 2000 soldiers only highlighted that the U.S. rulers have few options and they are all, from the bosses’ point of view, bad.
The U.S. ruling class is increasingly cornered and divided. It is rapidly losing control of the Middle-East after 20 years of war, facing aggressive rival imperialists in China and Russia. All this increases the likelihood of major war, possibly starting as a pre-emptive measure by the U.S. bosses in a gambit to stop their steadily declining world position. The Iran situation is a potential flashpoint because the Iranian capitalists have become one of the de facto victors of the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Adding a strengthening Iran to the volatility only increases the U.S. ruling class’ desperation.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump, Haas, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Senator Lindsey Graham and company are fighting it out in a battle to hold onto their interests in a deteriorating situation.  
Their in-fighting will most likely be resolved by increased fascism in the U.S. as the main wing tries to discipline the smaller bosses in preparation for wider war. World war in an age of nuclear weapons is not only massively destructive, but unpredictable and wildly chaotic. The bosses of any of the capitalist powers will not be able to either predict or control what happens.
Yet they are heading there all the same.As a class, we have to decide if we will continue to stand by the bosses in their genocidal folly or have the confidence in our class to fight for and build a communist society out of the rubble of the bosses’ failed system. Building PLP today is the way forward.
Workers don’t need socialism
In the State of Union address, Donald Trump, attacking socialist politicians, said the United States will never be a socialist country. The U.S. is one of the largest socialist governments for the rich in the world. The U.S. government gives trillions of our taxes to lower the tax rate of the rich. It gives hundreds of millions of our taxes to bail out crooked banks that created a recession, wrecking millions of workers lives for which not one banker went to jail.
“Our” government gives billions of our taxes to subsidize rich agricultural bosses. “Our” government has ended most safety regulations of air and water, saving rich corporations billions while polluting the environment.
But there is always capitalism for the workers, featuring inequality, austerity, homelessness, the worst health care among developed nations and the largest jail population in the world. Workers don’t need socialism, which in the end is state capitalism.
Workers need to destroy that system and fight for communism, which is based on the needs of the working class.


Letters of Nov 7

Health workers, take a stance against U.S. imperialism
As the American Public Health Association (APHA) prepares to meet in San Diego from November 10 to November 14, the world is witnessing more brutal and flagrant disregard of international conventions in war zones. The murder of journalist Khashoggi in Turkey at the Saudi consulate is the tip of the iceberg of the violence supported by the United States through its provision of military support to Saudi Arabia and Israel, among others (see editorial, page 2). Public health workers can challenge this development by supporting a late-breaking resolution at the APHA convention that calls for “An End to Attacks on Health Workers and Health Facilities in War and Armed Conflict Settings.”
The resolution notes the increased murder of health workers in the Middle East and Africa and calls upon the UN Security Council to investigate recent attacks on health workers by Russian and Syrian forces in Syria, Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza, Saudi Arabian and UAE forces in Yemen, and armed militia groups in DRC and CAR. It links the U.S. support of Saudi Arabia and its allies to the deaths of civilians in Yemen and calls for an end of US assistance in refueling planes used in bombing. It calls on the U.S. government to restrict arms sales and political support to perpetrators of attacks on health care services.
Public health workers have sought to increase support for oppressed populations and refugees and can now call on the U.S. to reinstate funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides health care, education, and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. As communists, we understand that the imperialist battles over control of the oil reserves of the Middle East continue to kill thousands. A likely expanded war will kill millions more. We call upon our friends in public health to take a stand against imperialist war and growing fascism and brutality that provides no safe haven for health workers and patients and is proving devastating to the global working class as a whole.
Colombia: construction worker explains political economy
The biggest problem suffered world-wide by the working class is unemployment, low wages, and the struggle to find work.  It represents the greatest contradiction between the ruling class and the proletariat, and also the greatest potential to build our party through recruitment and class struggle.   
 I work in the construction industry, which is considered by economists to be one of the pillars of the bourgeois economy and is a source of enormous value added by the labor of workers.  It is there where 250 workers have their lives and health consumed by 12-hour work days, without proper safety, job security, or social benefits.  They are asked to work at their maximum to construct products that will satisfy the stylistic whims of the few bosses who have the hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in each apartment; a value created by the life and labor of workers who sweated for a few meager dollars.
Meanwhile, the cost of the force of our labor is actually worth less every day (about $250 monthly), as the army of unemployed grows and favors the racist bosses’ system that can afford to pay whatever it likes.  Here in Colombia, this is depressed even more by the currently unfolding drama of mass migration by our brothers and sisters from Venezuela.  Their necessity for survival has obliged these proletarian brothers to offer their labor cheaper still, further devaluing the cost of labor.  These decreases affect the needs of our families, while the bankers and exploiters line their pockets even more.
This was all discussed by more than a dozen comrades, who took advantage of the potential created by the discontent of many workers in this area.  While workers of all ages engaged, it is especially important for the young workers who will be the gravediggers for this racist system of wage slavery.  In these discussions we are both educator and student, teaching and learning about the needs and hardships suffered by our class.  Our guide is the unrivaled tool CHALLENGE, which actualizes, molds, leads, and creates the class consciousness for a future where these sufferings will be a thing of the past.  We must organize our communist international party with millions of workers, students, soldiers, and farmworkers to lead a revolution; the necessary step to constructing a communist society.  This is the only way to end the problems of our class worldwide and put a finish to the dark night of capitalism.  
The contradiction of the union demands
I recently particiapted in a rally led by the Professional Staff Congress, the union representing faculty and staff working for the City University of New York (CUNY). Their demands include better pay for adjuncts, greater benefits, and more full-time positions. CUNY, considered a tool for working-class social mobility, currently survives by exploiting adjunct (part-timers) labor so as to maintain the  profits raked in by the Board of Trustees; the chancellor who lives in a luxury apartment  the on the Upper East Side, one block away from my alma mater Hunter College—all while a depressing percentage of educators live off of food stamps.
Their demands struck a personal chord for me. I grew up as a child of immigrants only slightly above the poverty line, with fears of unemployment, lack of healthcare. The salary of $3,000 per course deterred me from pursuing my dream of becoming a philosophy professor. Instead, I took the slightly-safer path of becoming a school teacher.
As I listened to the union president, I was struck by several contradictions illustrating the shortcomings of reform work, shorcomings that bore similarities to the fight for a $15-minimum wage. Yes, of course workers deserve a living wage REGARDLESS of the work they do. But, just as the fight for $15 was met with mass layoffs and increased utilization of technology in the form of kiosks, an increase of pay and full-time positions will be positive for those who receive it but will also be met with a decrease in available employment overall. This is one of the consequences of reform under capitalism. There is no such thing as a gain for the whole working class.
Neither Wall Street, where the rally was hosted, nor the CUNY Board of Trustees care about education. Though the PSC’s message had some validity, it was a salient reminder that so long as the wage system and profits exist, there can be no dignity in the pursuit of knowledge and education. Reform work does not contain long-term solutions; at best, it brings about short-term concessions. It does so by co-opting working-class energy that could otherwise be geared toward building for revolution, as illustrated by the PSC leadership associating itself with the energy of the rallying cry for “7K or strike” without actually committing to it.
Within the last week, though, numerous campus chapters of the union have signed on to commit to a strike. This was inspiring news for me because as a member of Progressive Labor Party, it was an impetus to give revolutionary leadership in these campus struggles.
Build a base across imperialist borders
Recent articles in CHALLENGE, including the October 10 editorial and the report on the worker-student movement, highlight the importance of China for revolutionaries everywhere in the world. Although the U.S. economy, when measured in nominal exchange rates, is still a bit larger than China’s, when measured in actual purchasing power the Chinese GDP (gross domestic product) surpassed the U.S. in 2014. While the U.S. economic output in such things as banking and insurance services is still the world’s largest, Chinese manufacturing is now 1.5 times the size of the U.S. The Chinese industrial proletariat, the largest in the world, is intensely exploited and increasingly militant. The mixture of renewed interest in real communist politics among youth in China’s campuses and in the ranks of the workers is a potentially explosive mix that worries China’s ruling class.
In the 1960s the Cultural Revolution in China was pushing the limits of workers’ power, putting pressure on the new capitalist ruling class growing up inside the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).The Chinese ruling party, then as now, still called itself “communist,” despite the obvious facts. After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the ruling bureaucrats of the Chinese government and “Communist” Party carried out a series of dramatic reversals in policy, promoting private ownership of factories and farms and exploitation of workers for profit. In other words, they embraced capitalism step by step until now they are a major capitalist economy in the world. The CCP’s claims of being a party of the workers are increasingly scoffed at by workers and students.
Inevitably China has also become a rising imperialist power, following the pattern described clearly a century ago by Lenin in “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.” War between competing empires is on the horizon.During the 1960s, young communists, including some in a newly founded revolutionary communist party called Progressive Labor Party, intensely studied the left-wing ideas and actions of the most promising revolution of their day, the Cultural Revolution in China.
Some even learned Chinese so they could communicate with like-minded communists. Today, with the imperialist governments of China and the U.S. on a collision course, young revolutionaries in and around PLP should study events in China more closely than before. Young PL’ers can build relationships with students from China. Some may even want to study in China, learn Mandarin or Cantonese and make friends with students there who share an anti-imperialist and internationalist outlook. Building a base across the national borders created by the capitalists has never been more important.
Protest Kavanaugh, kourts, and kapitalism
CHALLENGE is our tool for building a communist revolution. On the afternoon of October 4, members of the Legal Services Staff Association (LSSA) and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA), along with others, rallied against the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Another comrade and I were at the Foley Square New York rally where participants raised militant antiracist, antisexist and antifascist chants. The chants and the rally itself were directed specifically against Kavanaugh and U.S. President Donald Trump and their open attacks against women, Black and Latin workers, immigrants, and the entire working class. Many protesters have fallen for the lies that the present terrors being inflicted on the working class are all because of Trump and his supporters.  There is a lack of understanding that Republican and Democratic politicians all serve the ruling class and that simply switching from one group of politicians to another will not benefit us.
But at the same time, some protesters are searching for real solutions to the problems we all face. At the rally, 37 people (about half the people there) took CHALLENGE. As we involve ourselves in struggles, and distribute our papers, we create opportunities to win more workers to the communist outlook of Progressive Labor Party.


Letters of October 24

My high school class speech: fight for what’s right
I am a high school student in the tenth grade and I’m taking Global History. This year my teacher started out by giving us a project. The class was divided into assigned groups—(a) people who believed that enforcing the war on drugs was the only way to help control violence in Mexico, (b) those who wanted to legalize drugs as a reform to end the violence, (c) and those who believed a revolution was the most beneficial solution to ending the violence in Mexico because changing the whole system would be the only solution. I was assigned to advocate for legalizing drugs. Part of the assignment was to stand in front of my peers and convince them that we could rely on the Mexican government to make this reform to improve the lives of workers.
As I was sitting down to write my speech the night before, I realized that I was really upset that I would receive a grade for trying to convince my classmates of something I really disagree with. I knew that if I did what I was asked to do, I would have to say that the Mexican government was good and that capitalism was the fix.
So I decided to possibly sacrifice a good grade and give a speech about what I really believe. This is what I wrote and presented to my class the next day:
“I would first like to start out by saying that I do not at all agree with the idea that our system only needs a couple of tweaks in order to prosper. It shocks me that some people in this class are being forced to argue that the war on drugs was okay and find evidence to back that statement up. I realize that it is always good to see and recognize all the arguments that people have made in the past, but the proposal that keeping a capitalist system the same and starting a revolution against it to make life better are made out to be both equally reasonable arguments, infuriates me. One of the arguments I am supposed to speak about is legalizing drugs and making them more accessible. All this is doing is encouraging people to cope with the corrupt system they are forced to live under, and that is no fix. The only true solution is a revolution. Although that is what I am supposed to be advocating, I will not stand here and try and convince my peers that we should settle on a system that exploits us, whether it’s in Mexico, or in this country. Daily, I am forced to navigate through a system that I disagree with, like walking through racist metal detectors, so this is not about me trying to be difficult. When I finally get the opportunity to speak out about our society, it’s my responsibility to share my true beliefs with my peers. I will never conceal my true thoughts and contradict my morals for the sake of a grade. I have no issue with voicing my opinion and will gladly continue to do it throughout the year. Because of these reasons, I feel uncomfortable reading the paragraph I was assigned to write out loud and will politely ask for it not to be. Thank You.”
After reading this aloud I looked up and noticed that some of my classmates were confused and others were shocked and their jaws dropped. Then my teacher stood up and clarified to the class that I was protesting by refusing to do my assigned work and instead was advocating for revolution. Then the class clapped.
Later, we were asked to vote to see what option we thought was best and unlike his other classes, in mine almost every student voted that a revolution was the best option.
This helped me see that speaking up is really important to do. How will people learn about revolution if we stay quiet about it? How will the working class know what is best for us if the bosses’ opinions are the only ones we hear? It is our job to advocate for what we think is right.
At first, I contemplated not reading this to my peers because I was afraid of the consequences, like a low grade. But I realized this was a small price to pay and know that others have paid a much higher price, like their lives, for standing up against capitalism. In the end, this was an immensely impactful learning experience for me. I was lucky to have my teacher’s support in the end and I did get a high grade. He told me he appreciated that I turned my protest into a learning opportunity for all students.
In the future I may not be so lucky getting an honest teacher who supports real learning and student initiative. Whether or not I got a good grade, I was able to educate my peers, and myself, which is something that no grade, no matter how high, could have done. I believe that if something is important enough to you, pursue it, no matter what the outcomes may be.

Voting is a farce
Our PLP club in New York is circulating a flyer related to the upcoming elections here in the United States of North America.
In this flyer we pointed out that the “vote is a farce” that will never fight against capitalism, the true cause of all the bad things that happen in the world. These elections try to hide the racist character and the genocidal wars that imperialism promotes to seize basic resources and the domination of territories at the hands of the Allied bosses in their misdeeds.
In our club, we are very active and aware of the reality, but when approaching friends of a non-profit organization, where we are activate, we feel great concern since most of them do agree with these elections, because they believe in the lesser of two evils, that being the “democrats”, that they will solve their problems. They do not understand that both Democrats and Republicans are the same coin with different faces.
Finally, we invite all the workers of the world to read and distribute our newspaper, Challenge and fight for a world free of exploitation and racism. The mentioned flyer distribution is happening in friendly communities of the Party.

On the job talk: Republicrats guilty of deportations
I’ve been having conversations with clerical and custodial workers at my library job. I’ve been trying to get to know the staff, who are mostly Black and Latin. We’ve briefly had conversations about current events, mostly about gentrification, which is on the rise in this particular neighborhood where we work. While we were bonding over how tough it is getting to make ends meet, we started discussing the rise of hate groups in the surrounding areas and the rise of fascist attacks on workers under Trump’s racist administration. I commented that this was nothing new: it wasn’t just Trump, since both sides play on workers’ fears of immigrant labor. I said that Democrats are also guilty of this. My co-worker agreed and said, “Yeah, look how many people Obama deported.” When I gave my co-worker the actual statistic, they commented that there were no politicians or mainstream media speaking up for immigrant workers at that time. Then I steered the conversation to then-president Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill that increased the mass incarceration of Black and Latin workers. This is why many didn’t trust Hillary Clinton when she was running for president.I said that presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama laid the foundation for president Donald Trump’s current policies and that Democrats are not as innocent as the media wants us to believe. The politicians are basically telling us to pick our poison. We both laughed in agreement. This is just one of a handful of co-workers who I will be getting to know better and eventually turning conversations like these into collective actions.

Trumpeting of great economy conceals capitalist failure
President Donald Trump’s boasts about the “great economy” are applauded by the media’s constant acceptance of what are really phony reports of the “lowest unemployment rates” — especially “for Black and Latin workers.”  These are totally biased figures manipulated by the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS headline jobless U-3 rate of 3.9 percent counts as unemployed any worker who has been looking for a job within the four weeks prior to the survey. (For Black workers, that figure is 6.6 percent). After that, workers who have been unemployed  for more than a 4-week are dropped from the jobless figures, and become labeled “discouraged workers” — the U-6 rate, now nearly 8 percent — which never sees the light of day. And for Black workers that rate is double, 16 percent. Actually jobless figures for Black youth 18-24, the unemployment rate in most major metropolitan areas approaches 50 percent.
Finally, those unemployed for more than a year are dropped from the labor force figures altogether. The ShadowStats firm has computed that total jobless rate at 21.4 percent. And none of this includes workers on welfare who would seek jobs if they could afford day-care for their children. Nor does it include 1.5 million workers enslaved in the bosses prisons who if released, would swell the jobless figure even higher.
And as far as “prosperity” for the working class, there are the several million workers who, unable to pay their mortgages due to being jobless, lost their homes beginning in the Great Recession of 2007-8. Not to mention the lost wages during these extended periods of unemployment and the unpaid wages for all the work done mainly by women in raising their families.
So the real nature of the “great economy” for the working class overall, and its special oppression of Black and Latin workers, is a far cry from “prosperity.”
Only the overthrow of the capitalist profit system, on which unemployment, racism and sexism is based and thrives, and the building of a communist society that abolishes profits, bosses and the divisiveness of the wage system, can free the working class from all this exploitation.


LETTERS of August 29

The time I was an individualist vegan
I recently participated at a Summer Project in Mexico. This was my first trip out of the U.S. and it was an eye opener. I liked that the members came from the heart of the working class.
I remember a time when my sister and I smashed bread with cups. We called it bread cookies cause there was no other food to eat. This lasted for a couple of years until we were able to consistently afford real food. But we did have clean water, heat, and electricity.
Mexico was a shock because I never experienced the desperate conditions that the working class has to face here. I learned how Mexico is the highest consumers of Coca Cola, mainly because of its ability to kill any bacteria in its path. The water is un-drinkable due to its high levels of contaminates. The only way to get clean water is buying bottled water.
Yet, knowing this wasn’t enough. I’m vegan, so I don’t eat meat or cheese. During our trip to our comrade’s houses I was nit-picky about the food. Though the local comrades made a wonderful spread of food for us, I spoke to the cook about preparing another dish without meat and cheese. Feeling bad about not being able to satisfy my “needs,” they made me a special bowl of pasta soup.
At another comrade’s house, we ate pizza, which is considered a type of luxury food only eaten during celebrations here. I ate the pizza and felt upset about abandoning my diet. So, I complained about the lack of tomato sauce on the pizza.
Afterwards, my comrades spoke to me about how individualistic my attitude had become. They told me how they don’t have a lot but refusing the food—the best that they can offer—is like a slap in the face. The pizza was the best they could afford.
Another comrade broke it down further for me. He said, “if they had gold they would offer it to us. That is what food represents. It’s a way of uniting and being accepted.” 
I felt horrible. I didn’t realize what I was doing. I’ve been feeling isolated from people, being the only person who didn’t speak Spanish.
 It’s interesting how the ruling class uses language like they use borders—to divide us. My comrades said they should have spoken to me about all this before the trip. I agreed. Another comrade added, “We can’t expect you to know the cultural differences here. It’s a learning curve.”
When I see my comrades again, I will apologize for my behavior.
This trip opened my eyes to the reality that sharing across culture is a way of uniting with the working class. Being a vegan is important to me but not more important than the working class.
See page 3 for article about the Mexico Summer Project
73-year memorial of Hiroshima
August 6 marks the day the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. Three days later, the U.S. bosses dropped another one on Nagasaki. Once again we remember that the horrors of U.S. imperialism did not begin with Trump—from president Truman (who ordered the A-bombs and genocide), Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton (who started the war on immigrants, the war on welfare, mass incarceration), Bush II, to Obama (who ordered more drone strikes than all previous presidents combined and deported more people than all previous presidents combined, and did nothing to stop the recurrent murders of black people). It’s not Trump. It’s capitalism.
For seven decades, U.S rulers have tried to justify the A-bomb attacks by maintaining they were needed to force Japan’s surrender and avoid a U.S. land invasion and a million U.S. casualties. In reality, Japan’s rulers were ready to surrender before Hiroshima. The true purpose was to warn the then-socialist Soviet Union that the U.S. had a new and devastating weapon, and was ready to use it against any threat to the U.S. imperialists’ world dominance. The obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki signaled the beginning of the Cold War between capitalists in the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
To this day, only the U. S. rulers have used nuclear weapons in war. It remains for the international working class to mete out justice to the most murderous criminals the world has ever known.
How we built solidarity after my sister received a death threat
Recently my younger sister experienced the terror caused by deadly capitalist culture. She is one of a group of high school friends who were threatened with death by a deeply disturbed fellow student. Feeling left out of their group, he reacted violently on social media promising to bring a gun to school to kill them. Police were called to the school and the young man was arrested—thankfully, he was not killed.  And it is doubtful that he will receive the ongoing help and treatment he so drastically needs.
The most important development through this horrifying time is that my mother is in communication with several other of the parents involved. Some of them are working to take turns accompanying the students to afterschool activities to guarantee their safety.
My church has offered to provide support and to secure a space near the school where families and their supporters can meet regularly. It is through this kind of solidarity that working people secure both survival and fightback.
To advance this work, six of us from the church helped to develop and participate in a teach-in called “Beyond Gun Control.” High school students largely led it. We made contact with two of them who had led a walkout from their school on the day of national action this earlier this year. They are involved in a peer mediation program to help resolve conflicts in their school before they reach the dire level at my sister’s school. We are exploring a way to develop this kind of program, without cops, in other schools.
I protested JP Morgan Chase, financier of concentration camps
I participated in a march and civil disobedience with a community organization that “defends” the rights of workers. This march was to protest in front of the home of the multimillionaire owner of JP Morgan Chase, who finances the construction of private prisons (modern concentration camps).  Immigration and Customs Enforcement is separating thousands of children from their parents and detaining them in these camps.
The youth and adult participants were angry and determined, but peaceful. Some participants delivered boxes of letters to the bank’s boss, Jaime Dimon. We, members of PLP, know that this type of disobedience is theater because it shows the system’s false democracy.  We were direct participants in this action where people were arrested for blocking the street and locked up for more than two hours. We have to return to court by the end of the year. When I was being arrested I confronted the police, saying “why are you detaining me instead of this capitalist criminal.”
 In my mind I saw a sea of ​​thousands of working class fighters taking over the streets or a bridge at the beginning of rush hour. I know that only then would we be strong enough to close down the street.
We know that this type of community organization is used by the authorities that want to numb our consciousness and paralyze our anger. We must not stop fighting until we win workers power.
Chicago’s anti-gun violence march orchestrated by liberal bosses
I attended a march to protest the violence in the form of shootings and homicides which mostly occur on the west and south sides of Chicago. At least 1,433 people have been shot and 246 homicides have occurred so far this year (Chicago Tribune, 7/11).  
This is reflective of a capitalist economy that disinvests in predominately Black and Latin areas of the city. These areas have high unemployment, lack of resources, and poorly funded schools. With few resources and opportunities, gang activity is common, maybe because of a large police presence.
The march plans were well-publicized on TV and the newspapers, and thousands came out to protest by shutting down the Dan Ryan Expressway, a main thoroughfare of the city. Progressive Labor Party (PLP) members and friends participated in the march and distributed hundreds of CHALLENGE. The marchers were multiracial, multigenerational, women and men who want the shootings to stop (see CHALLENGE, 8/8). Many carried signs with pictures of loved ones killed by police and gangs . Chicago is well known for police killings and has had to pay out millions of dollars to the family members of their victims.
Sure enough, on this day there was a large police presence, including Eddie Johnson, the Chicago chief of police. Johnson was seen to be walking hand-in-hand with Reverends Jesse Jackson and Michael Pfleger, a well-known priest from the south side who has protested the violence on a weekly basis.
This leadership of the march emphasized that the march would be peaceful and therefore “lawful.” Jesse Jackson has as history of trying to keep a lid on workers anger, and Pfleger’s role has been to keep workers from rebelling by trusting the system to solve these issues. The Mayor and the Chief of Police’s main role is to prevent uprisings of the workers.
The bosses will tolerate peaceful protest as long as their power is not challenged. But real change will not come without rebellion and communist revolution. The law is an instrument used against the working class; as long as we are peaceful very little will actually change for us. That is why the bosses’ agents will take leadership of any mass movement and lead it to passivism, to prevent revolution.


Letters of July 25

Ecuador: home workers in struggle for a union
In Ecuador there is an organization of women workers that has been trying for over a year to gain legal status as a union. Even though we have done everything required  and given in all the paper work, we have been denied our right to unionize.
In the Unión Nacional de Trabajadoras del Hogar y Afines (UNTHA) there are mostly women, but also men who work in homes, taking care of children or older adults. The union recognizes the value of the labor of these workers and demands that people be given the rights other workers have, in the public and/or private sphere. Every time a professional leaves the home to go to work, their family and home are taken care of by a homeworker. She will take care of the home, just as any other professional does their work outside the home.
The right to unionize is much more than just asking the government’s “permission”. To fight with dignity for the needs of workers requires an organization recognized by the government to be able to demand their labor rights, won through the long history or working class struggle.
On March 2017, after a tough political dialogue with some representatives of the State, and through taking over the offices of the Ministerio de Relaciones Laborales (MRL) in Guayaquil, UNTHA was given the recognition it so greatly deserves. We finally are recognized as a Sindicato (Union).
Today we feel strong and powerful, because becoming a union is only the first step in this struggle. We want to make our own struggle visible. At the same time we need funds to begin the process of education on labor rights and occupational health for the workers in our union throughout Ecuador.
Families Together protest: workers interested in abolishing capitalism
PLP and friends in Washington, DC participated in the “Families Belong Together” protest here on a blisteringly hot day on June 30. Many thousands were enraged by the unspeakably racist and fascist immigration policies of the Donald Trump administration. We distributed a flyer based on the editorial in CHALLENGE (7/11), engaged protesters in conversations about the need for revolution to defeat capitalism, and invited them to join our PLP study-action groups.
A PL’er spoke to two young Latin women who agreed that capitalism was the problem and were interested in learning more about communism as an alternative. An Asian woman she spoke to was particularly interested in the abolition of the wage system. She encouraged us to continue to be pro-active and not give in to cynicism.
A bilingual veteran PLP member who had been inactive for 15 years came to help distribute flyers. She felt that it was time to re-engage. Another PL’er ran into an old friend, who shared her involvement with an ecumenical Sanctuary group that includes 70 faith-based organizations committed to protecting immigrants. The mass group has many workers who can be potentially won to communist politics.
The signs at the march overwhelmingly focused on Trump. Several antiracists were excited to talk about the fact that deportations and baby jails are not new and are not unique to Trump.
But politicians, clergy, and liberal reformers dominated the demonstration; the main chant was “Vote him out.” There was a gratifying moment when the march paused outside the Trump Hotel. A chorus of “boos” shook the plaza in front of the hotel, which continues to make millions of dollars for president Trump from lobbyists, international politicians, and industrialists.
The working class needs an ever-growing communist movement that will sweep aside all Democratic and Republican politicians, target the billionaires behind them, and lead the working class to power. Perhaps some people we met at the march will be part of that revolutionary process.
Support of Israel exposes liberal bosses’ hypocrisy
This letter is in response to “Antiracists protest Israel’s virulent fascism in Gaza” (CHALLENGE, 6/13).
Bravo to the workers who took to the streets of NYC in May to protest the “barbaric slaughter of Gazan demonstrators.” New York City is home to a liberal elite and one of their biggest blind spots is Israel.
Many Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama supporters proudly stand by pro-Israel policies. They seem unable to critically think about the conflict in the Middle East, paralyzed by the fear of seeming anti-semitic.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers marched in solidarity for stronger gun control laws but the number of people calling to control the guns of Israeli soldiers murdering young men and women is miniscule.
Who decided that the lives of Parkland’s teenagers were more important than those of Palestinian workers? American Imperialists did.
We know that Donald Trump is a racist and fascist who puts all workers’ lives in danger. But liberalism and nationalism are equally as fatal and will only be defeated by an international working class revolution.
I applaud the workers of Jewish Voice for Peave, and their fellow antiracists, who boldly told the liberal elite that they would not stand by quietly as their fellow workers were murdered for profit.