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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.

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