‘The Effect of Communism Was Spreading Like Wildfire’
My experience at May Day was unbelievable. I’m a middle school student who was recently introduced to PLP. From the moment I saw red flags, the noise of chants accompanied by hundreds of people was incredible. I was amazed by people marching, shouting, holding banners along with PLP. I realized why all these people were screaming at the top of their lungs: the effect of communism was spreading like wildfire. May Day was created to admire and appreciate the effort of workers that make up the world we live in. This rebellion is a thing that all workers should join to create a new world and society. I’m proud that I was in that rebellion that represented so much more.
A Middle School Student
Israel-Palestine: Jobless, Depressed, Then Joins PLP
I was personally touched by the article “Pakistan: Workers Fighting Hell of Capitalist Crisis” in the April 11th edition of CHALLENGE. I was especially touched by the story of the young Pakistani worker with a Master’s Degree who committed suicide after being unemployed for over a year after graduating. The same thing almost happened here, in Israel-Palestine, to my fiancée.
I am engaged to a young woman (now 27 years old) who finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 2009. She had a year of job experience in a lab and a lot of motivation to work in the field. But there were no jobs for her, neither in her profession nor in other, even unprofessional, lines of work. Jobless, she had to live off her parent’s savings, which were intended for funding her Master’s Degree.
After a year of unemployment, her self esteem was devastated; she saw herself as a burden to me (then her boyfriend) and to her family. Her mental health deteriorated and she started having obsessive thoughts about her appearance. We tried to look for professional help, but private help was too expensive for us, and the overworked, understaffed, underfunded public system didn’t lift a finger to help her.
Eventually, in April 2010, she tried to commit suicide and almost succeeded; she had to be hospitalized in an intensive-care unit (which, luckily, is funded by the state healthcare insurance here in Israel) for a weekend. This tragic event has finally moved the public system to give a little bit of help — namely, anti-depressants — and moved the National Insurance (Israel’s Social Security) to finally give her disability benefits of 2,200 ILS (around $600) a month. This was not enough to live on, but it did allow her to survive longer on her savings.
Now, in 2012, she is still unemployed, living off the disability benefits and some help from me and her mother. While the medication helps her a little bit, she is still quite depressed and dissatisfied with herself, as the capitalist system was unable to allow her to make use of her talents for the benefit of others.
I must say that she joined PL in May 2010 and is now fighting alongside the other comrades in our club for a communist future. But as long as capitalism survives, she is condemned to poverty and a feeling of uselessness. Today, in May Day 2012, we are fighting for a real future for her and the rest of our generation — a communist future!
Red Grad Student from Israel/Palestine
Veteran PL’er Proclaims, ‘Hail to the Youth!’
I have been in the Party for many years. Lately I have not been able to attend many Party functions. On April 28 I was able to attend the May Day event in Chicago. I was impressed. The youth of our Party ran the event. They did an excellent job. The Party and the working class have nothing to fear with them running the struggle for workers’ revolution. They were very punctual.
Long live PLP. Long live our Party youth.
‘Pathway’ Program Needs Better Class Analysis
In the article “CUNY Profs Slam Racist, Sexist Pathway to Ignorance” in CHALLENGE (3/28), it’s nice to hear about the Professional Staff Congress’s stand against CUNY Pathways. However, this one seems to be a struggle by university professors to keep control over their curriculum and to maintain a certain intellectual prestige in what they teach. Let’s not forget that this prestige was the very thing that Chancellor Goldstein spoke about preserving when he, along with the Board of Trustees, got rid of open admissions a few years ago, effectively beginning the racist purge of CUNY. This “prestige” is what’s keeping a lot of poor, black, Latino, South Asian, and immigrant students out of 4-year colleges at CUNY and is making it harder for students to transfer credits from other schools and community colleges.
I’ve also noticed that a lot of my own professors, who are actually very conservative, have opposed CUNY Pathways, and the reason they’ve done so is precisely to maintain this racist “prestige.” Of course, not all the professors who stand against CUNY Pathways feel this way, but the article fails to see the entire class character of the institution of CUNY. Students need to graduate faster, learn better, and be better prepared. So, there is a contradiction in CUNY Pathways which needs to be better analyzed because it does let students easily transfer credits from community colleges.
A bourgeois education is a lose-lose situation for workers, especially for those among us who are black and Latino. Dismissing CUNY Pathways by just pointing out “the subtle racism of lower standards” fails to see the issue in its racist entirety.
Agent Orange Genocide Hits 3 Million 40 Years Later
Should there be any doubt about CHALLENGE’s defining the U.S. war against Vietnam as genocidal, one need only read a report published in the Nation of Change website written by documentary-producer Jon Mitchell. The genocide was revealed in an interview with Vietnam veteran Larry Carlson (now 67) by The Japan Times and the Ryukyu Asian TV station. Carlson is one of three vets awarded disability payments by the Veterans Administration for exposure to Agent Orange, resulting from handling the storage of the toxic herbicide on Okinawa.
From December 1956 to April 1967 the U.S. military sprayed huge amounts of Agent Orange over the jungles and crops of Vietnam and Laos in its herbicidal warfare campaign to destroy those areas. The Vietnam Red Cross estimates that 40 years later 3,000,000 Vietnamese are still suffering from exposure to the dioxins contained in the herbicide.
The range of death-dealing sickness it caused includes a variety of cancers, skin diseases and diabetes, among others. It is also fetotoxic: children died in the womb and 150,000 are now suffering from these illnesses while others have been born with crippling defects, both mental and physical. The ground in southern Vietnam where Agent Orange has been stored is still highly toxic. The soil near Danang Air Base has recorded dioxin levels 30,000 times that which is considered normal.
Veteran Carlson said he and other GIs and Okinawan stevedores were exposed to Agent Orange when unloading thousands of barrels in 1965 and ’66 for shipment to Vietnam. It is still present in the soil there. So far 130 of these vets have lodged claims for disability payments but “experts say the number of those exposed could be in the thousands.” Carlson himself says he is “the tip of the iceberg.” His disability payments cover a daily dose of 20 different pills required to control the poisons in his body.
Such a weapon of mass destruction affecting millions is an integral part of U.S. imperialism’s inevitable war-making to dominate the world’s resources, energy and otherwise, and of its global drive to exploit the labor of millions of workers. Only a communist revolution by those millions can rid the planet of these most vicious killers the world has ever known.
PLP College Work Growing
Nine months ago, I joined the NYC PLP college club after a two-year hiatus from political work. Since the club’s formation in September 2011, we have held CHALLENGE sales at the campuses where each of us attend school. As a result, I sell CHALLENGE at The City College of New York (CCNY).
I was nervous about selling on campus because I had never mentioned my political life to any of my friends. I was worried they’d shun me if they knew I was a communist. I ended up telling them and, to my surprise, they were okay with it (although they didn’t fully agree with PL’s politics).
The campus sales have overall been positive. We’ve gone from selling 100 papers a sale to selling 250. Those numbers come from selling on a Friday, a relatively lax day at CCNY. This boost in numbers also come from the extra help we’ve received. Through our sales, we’ve been able to get contacts. One CCNY student who we have kept in constant contact has been selling CHALLENGES with us. He has also come around to our events and is very friendly to our politics. Other students have shown their support by giving donations or taking extra papers for their friends.
I am a part of two campus clubs. The first was the Sci-Fi, Games and Animation (SGA). It’s an uphill struggle getting my SGA friends to read CHALLENGE, but I’ve been able to distribute a few papers and I even have some political discussions. Another group I’ve joined is Leaders Against Systemic Injustice (LASI). Not much is going on because I joined towards the ending of the semester. We are preparing for a forum in the Fall semester. I look forward to being busy in the Fall, as I am part of two clubs, school work, and building the PLP.