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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.

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