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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.

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