Letters of December 20

Healthcare Worker and Marie Fired In Retaliation
Marie Trinidad, a respiratory therapist, was fired from Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. She worked there for seven years and was active in a petition drive demanding more staff and equipment, which she helped present to the board of directors at their annual meeting. This struggle resulted in a temporary improvement in the number of staff and more equipment was purchased by the respiratory care department, as well as some staff members getting a raise. But the reforms won under capitalism (i.e. the dictatorship of the bosses) are temporary. Working conditions have deteriorated; heavier assignment loads are regularly piled on fewer workers.  When bosses are faced with economic crises they attack workers, and especially workers who fight back against oppressive working conditions.
Marie was given an especially heavy assignment one night. Her assignment was to cover the 5th and 6th floors, as well as the busy emergency room of a trauma center on a hot Saturday night. She called the supervisor to complain, because the shift had been left short staffed. Management had switched another therapist’s weekend and had not replaced her, which left the shift with four instead of the customary five therapists. During her busy night, Marie was occupied working amongst the three areas, and notified the charge therapist that she was unable to respond to several calls because she was occupied on the various floors.
The supervisor came in from home and sent Marie home without explanation. The next night, Marie came to work but was almost immediately sent home again without explanation. The next day a group of workers confronted the president of the hospital to find out why. All he offered was a weak promise to “look into the matter.”
Following this, the respiratory manager demanded to know why she went to speak with the president, but assured Marie that she would be paid for the time she was sent home. But instead, the following Monday, Marie was fired for “refusal to perform assigned duties.” In reality, she was fired for complaining about working conditions and retaliation for going over the manager’s head and complaining to the president.
PLP is organizing to help Marie get her job back. Several workers have questioned why she was fired and have written letters of support. The manager has tried to silence workers by telling them not to talk about what happened.
This is an example of how workers have to stick together and fight for our class, the working- class. We are the class that produces all goods and services, and the ruling-class is the class that exploits and oppresses us. What side are you on? Join PLP and build the fight against the racist and sexist bosses!
DC: Thanks for Fighting Racism Dinner
Today November 18 makrs  the 32nd Thanks-for-Fighting-Racism Feast was held in the Washington, DC – Baltimore area. This celebration is a PLP answer to Thanksgiving, which unfortunately celebrates the genocide of Native Americans.
This year, over 70 anti-racist fighters—Black, Latin, Asian, and white--assembled to report on their struggles and share a spectacular feast. Students from Howard University’s HUResist reported on their battles against former FBI Director James Comey and on their engagement with the working-class members of the community surrounding the University. A Baltimore activist in the struggle for justice for Tyrone West, who was murdered by racist cops, reported on the ongoing, weekly actions against police brutality in Baltimore.
A worker who participated in the PLP contingent at the Charlottesville anti-Nazi protest reported on our successful activity there, while another comrade gave a stirring speech about the need to build the PLP as a revolutionary party in order to have the means to make a communist revolution, the solution to all aggressions by capitalism.
A highlight of the night’s event was the report that we had raised $900 towards the legal defense of the Anaheim 3 who had boldly confronted the knife-wielding Klansmen and were arrested instead of the Klan. Invigorated by the strong ties made at this event, the anti-racists pledged to re-double their efforts against racism in this increasingly dangerous time for the world’s working-class.
Howard Student Continue to Resist FBI Director Comey
The students in HUResist at Howard University in Washington, DC, USA have continued their activism this semester. After shutting down former FBI Director James Comey at the university’s opening convocation (see CHALLENGE, 10/11), they have continued to bird-dog him as he continues his year-long Howard University appointment as the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy.
The University has tried numerous dodges to limit student access to Comey, but the students have succeeded in challenging him at every event where he speaks. Comey shows both his arrogance and ignorance when challenged by the students.
When asked why, under his watch at the FBI, the reward for the return of Assata Shakur doubled, he said he didn’t know anything about that. When asked why he supported the racist “Broken Windows” theory of policing and the phony “Ferguson effect,” he claimed he didn’t know about those things either.
In short, he refused to respond to the tough questions the students asked, further clarifying that the University had no business honoring this ruling-class jackal by appointing him to a prestigious position. Brushing Comey aside, the students are continuing their efforts to build an alliance with working-class members of the surrounding community who are threatened by gentrification and poverty.
They are engaged in developing a local food pantry and surveying local residents to determine what the next steps should be for HUResist. At their recent food distribution to the homeless, they witnessed a case of police brutality. Stepping up, they filmed it and joined in a formal complaint to the police department. The struggle never ends!
Hurricane Maria and Access to Meds
Hurricane Maria, that devastated Puerto Rico, is not just a catastrophe for our Puerto Rican working-class sisters and brothers, but also directly for workers in the mainland U.S.
Many pharmaceutical companies, to reap the benefits of extra-low wages, had located themselves in Puerto Rico, in order to 1) pay the lowest wages possible, 2) enjoy weaker, if any, regulations against pollution and worker safety hazards (that are rarely enforced anyway), 3) decrease their corporate taxes—in short, to enhance their profits off the labor and endangerment of the working class.
In addition to the devastating destruction of homes and lives faced by our Puerto Rican sisters and brothers, the drug factories in PR also suffered significant direct storm damage. And just as the working class there is experiencing storm-caused shortages of electricity and clean water, so are the drug factories, though theirs will undoubtedly be restored sooner.
One vital medical product is saline, in which all sorts of medicines are dissolved and administered particularly in hospitals. But manufacturers of saline were among those encountering damage, resulting in a shortage of saline in mainland US as well as Puerto Rican hospitals.
No doubt there are many other medicines that are in short supply as well. This is one way that the working class suffers from the bosses’ globalization.
Capitalism truly kills, and not just our fellow Puerto Rican working-class mates. The old International Workers of the World (IWW) slogan, “An injury to one is an injury to all,” is not just an attitude that can unite the working class and not just true through indirect pathways, but is literally true in many situations.
All workers need to come to understand that when one portion of our class anywhere in the world, including in the same country, suffers, we all suffer, often directly as well as indirectly. The main thing blocking that realization is the very same racism that the capitalists resort to when they aid Puerto Rican storm victims even less than they aid mainland working-class victims. Racism is the enemy of us all and the friend only of our capitalist exploiters and oppressors.


Letters of December 6

Texas: Anti-Racist Movie Night
About 65 Unitarian Universalists and friends came together at a local movie house to screen the documentary film PROFILED. After screening the three-part series Race: The Power of Illusion earlier in the year, the UU Social Justice Committee has made a commitment to educate and engage church members in fighting racism. We have scheduled regular film screenings, small discussion groups, and have taken on the responsibility of preparing a service dedicated to fighting racism.
Unitarian members and guests responded well to PROFILED. They remarked on the powerful stories of the racist violence that is still woven into the fabric of our everyday lives.
One viewer noted how racism divides white against Black workers, intensifying racism and forming a major obstacle to worker solidarity. Several viewers and committee members decided to continue discussing the historical roots of racism in the U.S.
They chose to read Lerone Bennett’s The Road Not Taken, a work specifically referred to in the documentary. In addition, proceeds from the screening were sent to UU members in Santa Monica for their legal relief fund, along with a letter of support and solidarity for the UU members who fought the KKK in 2016.
 While many Unitarian members still see themselves as “allies”—not directly impacted by racism and involved in class struggle—with each action and discussion, we are showing how the fight is one and the same for an antiracist society. We will continue to fight alongside our fellow UUs, winning them to multiracial unity and the fight for communism.

‘I am For It’— Reflections of College Conference
The following are reflections shared by some students and professors from campuses in the South Bronx who attended the College Conference (see page 5).
The diversity of folks was great. I was really impressed. I am a college student who works the night shift as a cleaner at a local college. Although I had not slept, I made it my business to attend the meeting so I could learn more about these ideas. It was an awesome experience.
I really enjoyed my workshop. Students from community colleges and private colleges attended. They exchanged ideas and talked more about how to organize on their campuses. We talked about the worker-student alliance and its historic significance.
I have been thinking about what a world without a class hierarchy would actually look like. I am very new to the ideas of communism, but am definitely interested. I found myself engaged in the workshop and want to learn so much more. If communism is a world where we are all equal, I am for it.
My workshop gave me the chance to share my personal experiences about fighting racism. As an immigrant student and worker, I have dealt with a lot of hardships and discrimination, and this was a great place to reflect and talk about my experiences. I got to meet new people and hear their ideas as well. I am so glad I went.
It was a great experience to see many new young leaders come forward. The welcome address was given by a new student leader from the Bronx who was electric. The workshops were led by some new student leaders and they did a solid job. The panel touched on some really good points and was pretty interesting. We ended the evening with a lively Cuban dinner and got to know each other better. Power to the working class!
PLP leadership at APHA
The struggle at the American Public Health Association over police violence was inspiring, as many young activists were engaged from across the country. Working with the Black Caucus of Health Workers in a forum on police brutality in 2015 started the ball rolling as several new militant young public health students jumped into the resolution process. Last year a young PLP member suggested having a rally, which was a great success and contributed to the temporary passage of the resolution. This year there were no questions about having a rally at the convention and new fighters played a leading role while a seasoned PL member diverted the convention center security and police’s attention. At the opening session, the APHA plays the Star-Spangled Banner. Like at the NFL football games, PLP members and friends took a knee, much to the delight of those around them! During the preliminary hearings on Haiti and police violence resolutions PLP members sharpened the audience’s understanding of the barriers raised by the Joint Policy Committee in moving progressive resolutions forward.
In the Governing Council hearings the APHA leadership resorted to lies and innuendos to discredit the resolution to the larger membership. One member of the executive council said that the police violence resolution contradicted 21 other APHA policies. When challenged by a PLP member he could not name a single policy and the PLP member encouraged him to go back and do his homework before talking further with the activists. We also struggled with liberals, both Black and white, who disagreed with the resolution. Mostly though, they want to continue to work closely with the police and not antagonize the Trump racists. PLP will continue to expose the role of the police under capitalism as agents of social control for the ruling-class. For four years we have put out a special “Challenge” explaining more about capitalism, the anti-racist struggle and the need for communism. We have an expanded group of public health students and workers meeting with the party around these ideas. Winning more students and professionals to understand this analysis will move the struggle forward even more and open the door to revolutionary action.  
A Visit to a Friend in Prison
This weekend, some comrades and I went to pay a visit to a young friend in prison. Micah is skinny man in his early twenties who was attending college and always full of jokes. Across the cafeteria table on his designated seat, he looked like a uniformed student whose peace was stolen from him. We talked over sour candy and Sun Chips.
I have never been to this prison before, but the atmosphere was familiar. We were greeted with metal detectors, a morning dehumanization process Black and Latin students go through daily before class. From the interrogation lights, the tiles and lines across the floors, chairs, colors of the walls, to the rules and behavior, prison felt like school. The too-young Black, Latin, and white faces in the cafeteria could easily be mistaken for a high school cafeteria. Both schools and prisons are ruled by intimidation, laws and violence. Schools prepare a section of working-class kids to be prisoners and de facto slaves—to assume the position. Both attempt to rob the potential of fightback, militancy, and working-class creativity. If youth are willing to break the bosses’ racist laws for individual motivations, do they pose a higher threat to the bosses’ system? Are they more likely to break the bosses’ laws for the whole working class? How threatened the bosses must feel, that even when they have our youth locked up, they continue to tear away at the prisoners’ dignity.
Micah said, “We watch over ourselves. We don’t need the guards. I thought I had to be scared of the inmates. In reality, it’s the correctional officers.” Even in the grimmest corners of capitalist decay, working-class collectivity prevails. The prisoners do not tolerate stealing from other inmates. When PLP says the workers will rule society, it just means we will have the decision-making power, and we will choose what’s best for our class as a whole. Inmates watch out for each other against the threats of the guards.
Don’t get me wrong. Class-consciousness today is low and prisoners are no exception to the dark night. Micah gets harassed for not being “Black enough” and for his high literacy skills. But he has learned to stand up for himself, make friends, and still keep his sanity. Someone stole his copy of revolutionary poetry by Langston Hughes. He saw that as a good thing. He is sharing his copy of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.
Justice will be restorative under communism. To say the least, the working class, through collectives, will seek to rehabilitate and reincorporate offenders into society. We live in a world where the president rob families of their livelihoods by deporting them back to deadly conditions like in Haiti and El Salvador, yet it’s our class who are called derogatory names like “criminals” and “convicts.”
Next time we go visit, we’ll bring Micah another copy of Langston Hughes’ revolutionary poetry.
NFL Protests, Olympics, and Need for Multiracial Unity
In the article “NFL Take-a-Knee Protests,” about NFL players protesting racism, an important part of the description of the current and historical struggle in sports was left out:
Currently, various white athletes have taken stands in support of their Black brothers’ actions. At the 1968 Olympics, on the medal stand, silver medal sprinter Peter Norman—a white Australian, in solidarity with sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos-wore a badge in support of  the Olympic Project for Human Rights. After the final, Smith and Carlos told him what they were going to do. He said, “I’ll stand with you.” Carlos said he expected to see fear in Norman’s eyes. He didn’t: “I saw love.” Norman attached the badge, as a symbol of anti-racism, to his tracksuit before mounting the podium.
Both Smith and Carlos were punished by the U.S. Olympic Committee, under pressure from the International Olympic Committee and its pro-Nazi American president Avery Brundage. Norman, although his medal was not stripped, suffered ostracism and severe criticism in his native country, still engaged in its ‘White Australia” policy discriminating against aborigines. When Norman died in 2006, Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral and spoke eulogies. As is often the case AFTER the death of a fighter against racism and injustice, in 2012 the Australian government recognized Norman for his athletic achievements and Olympic protest with an “Apology” passed by the Australian Parliament.
Norman is an example of an individual white person standing in solidarity with his Black brothers, against racism. Progressive Labor Party has participated in and led countless multi-racial actions against racism. When describing such fightback, whether current or historical, we should always emphasize multiracial unity as it is the only way to defeat racism.


Letters of November 22

Trigger-happy Cops Fear Workers’ Revenge
The Howard University article (CHALLENGE, 10/11) correctly rejects the racist “Ferguson effect” – the false claim that cops are “fearful of...public criticism for being too violent and therefore [are] avoiding confrontations with criminals” (Washington Post, 9/22). However, cops do fear being killed in confrontations that they provoke, through stop-and-search, traffic stops, and other harassments.
Cops kill workers – Black, Latin, and white – at an annual rate four to six times the rate they are killed, and the death rate among cops has fallen by more than 2/3 in the last 30 years (BBC, 7/18/16). Moreover, more than twice as many cops are killed by white than by Black working-class men, a fact hidden generally by the mass media (NY Daily News, 5/11/16). Fear makes cops trigger-happy—shoot first, investigate later – and shoot not to disarm but to kill, for fear of missing the target.
Capitalist rulers and their armed state, particularly police departments, should be filled with fear—fear that masses of workers whom they exploit and oppress will rise up and send our wage-slave masters to well-deserved graves.
During the centuries of U.S. slavery, countless revolts by enslaved Africans kept the slavocracy paralyzed with fear, producing vicious attempts to terrorize their forced laborers into submission. Extreme violence and terrorism is the usual response by rulers to the real, and often actualized, threats of overthrow and executions invited by subjugation to savage servitude. Many laws were passed in Virginia and other slave states in a race to out-terrorize those who kept the slavocracy terrorized—in addition to extra-judicial and unpunished killings of their rebellious victims.
Cops’ fears, combined with racist attitudes that consign Black workers to subhuman status, is a deadly mixture that leads to the judicially sanctioned shoot-first-investigate-later approach. Prosecutors and judges usually exonerate cops for ostensibly defending themselves when cops claim they feared for their lives. Cops even get away with planting guns on their dead victims to support those claims.
Given the extreme exploitation under capitalism, and equally extreme oppression to make that exploitation possible, it is no wonder that cops and their masters are fearful of the working class, and not just of Black workers, but of white and all other workers as well. There is fear on both sides, but only the cops are allowed to kill without fear of punishment, and generally without fear of public criticism.
Can there be any doubt that in this tense standoff between our exploiters and our class, the only solution for the working class is to end the standoff by terminating the existence of the capitalist system that demands exploitation and oppression, as well as state terrorism, for its survival. We invite all workers to join PLP to hasten the day of victory for our class.
Capitalism: An Unnatural Disaster
The editorial (9/27) correctly identified the issue that the flooding in South Asia, West Africa and the U.S. is caused by capitalism’s uncontrolled growth and the anarchy of capitalism. Another aspect of the anarchy of capitalism is the  catastrophe of climate change, caused by hundreds of years of anarchistic capitalism. The floods and hurricanes are from warming oceans creating much greater rainfall from hotter oceans. The fires are caused by years of drought due to global warming.
Climate change is a class issue. Working class folks, and those who are targets of racism are the first and most severely impacted by drought, hurricanes, floods and fires, in part because of racial and class discrimination in housing. The contradictions of capitalism mean that the system cannot stop, slow down or reduce the burning of fossil fuels, which is the main cause of climate change. The profit system requires exploitation to the hilt, or is replaced by competitors. The capitalists must be overthrown by force to stop climate change.
The consequences of burning fossil fuels are palpable today; millions are displaced and killed. In the longer-term future, the habitability of the planet is in doubt. It is certain that capitalism cannot solve the problem; communism is the only answer.
The bosses have tried to take over the environmental movement and claim, “we’re all in this together.” The bosses always try to get in front of movements as they did with Black Lives Matter to mislead the fight against racism. We see the trick the bosses are trying to pull. Climate change is a class issue as highlighted by the movement led by indigenous-led workers against the Dakota Access Pipeline. That movement is an example of the power of multiracial unity against racism and capitalist exploitation.
The Progressive Labor Party’s responsibility is to overthrow the rotting capitalist system. One of the contradictions caused by capitalism is climate change. We must lead that fight.
Two More Battles Before the Spanish Civil War
The editorial (11/8) about Catalonia refers to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) as “the opening battle of World War II.” It was the opening battle within Europe, but two earlier armed conflicts, one in Asia, one in Africa, also led to World War II: The Japanese invasion and occupation of Manchuria (Sept 1931) and the Italian invasion and annexation of Ethiopia (Oct 1935).
Individual Heroes Do Not Make History
When we describe the history of our communist movement, we should avoid slipping into the error of the “cult of the personality”, just as we avoid it in describing PLP’s own history of struggle. The backpage article on Bolshevik history (CHALLENGE 10/25) was the cult of the personality personified and contradicts our opposition to the “cult.”
Lenin and Stalin are made the “heroes” of the pre-revolutionary working class and Bolshevik struggles, with the rest of the Party and the working class just the supporting cast. This kind of cult approach leads to the capitalist historians’ mistaken “great men make history” which in practice is just as sexist as the name implies, as well as being a gross insult to the mass of workers who in the end were the force that smashed the rulers of imperial Russia and established working class rule.
Leadership is important in all struggles—those who are at the moment most dedicated and disciplined and who have the greatest understanding have an obligation to lead the way. The greatest obligation of that leadership, though, is to continually be developing more communist leaders, particularly among the youth who are our future.
From our earliest days, we have been committed to collectivity and confidence in the power of the working class to understand and lead the fight for communism. We as a Party collectively move our understanding and practice forward. Workers learn from communists and communists learn from the working class how to struggle for and win a new egalitarian world of workers rule.
Any individual glorification detracts from a commitment to and reliance on the working class to rule. We struggle for a mass party of millions, for the idea that every worker will become a leader of the revolution.


Letters of November 8

An Interview with a Carwash Workers Organizer in NYC

What’s happening with the carwash workers?
I’m keeping workers united to fight off the bosses’ bribes and lies to decertify the union. By NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] pro-boss rules the boss has 90 days before the contract expires to get 30 percent of the workers to agree to decertify.

 What are the workers demands now?
The workers who do specialized cleaning want an enclosed space where they can work inside to avoid extreme weather conditions in summer and winter. Also the bosses force workers to use dangerous chemicals without proper protection as “required” by the Dept. of Health. Workers want holiday pay and regular scheduled hours.

 How big is the carwash?
There are 46 workers working 2-12 hour shifts at a grueling pace. They are mainly Latin, undocumented workers. And of course, the bosses are profit driven racist exploiters. The contract is weak in a number of areas. Self-critically we organizers need to work better to train the rank and file to defend the contract and fight for their health and safety.
How much change or reform is possible under capitalism for the carwash workers?
Under this system I don’t think there will be significant change in the carwash industry. The size and nature of the workforce and the separation into small shops limit the workers’ capacity to fight back. But given these limits workers have fought back against inhuman conditions and to organize the union over many weeks in outside weather, as long as five months. The workers have been united and courageous, giving leadership to the whole working class. Critically the union leaders have not organized powerful support, but rank and file workers from different industries have been 100 percent supportive.
In the future the working class must overthrow capitalism and take power. Do you agree?
Yes, because that is the only way that we can ensure that brutal capitalist exploitation will end. Without a doubt I think workers would be open to revolutionary communist ideas. It’s our job to begin these discussions with them, using CHALLENGE newspaper, which can be read out loud depending on the workers’ literacy levels.


University of Maine Students March against Racism

Washington, D.C. October 1—Students from the University of Maine (UMO) drove to Washington, D.C. to join the national March for Black Women for racial justice. Students from Howard University’s HUResist also attended. The March for Black Women merged with the March for Racial Justice, protesting state violence, police terror and racist murders, at the U.S. Department of (In)Justice. The march ended on the National Mall, condemning institutional racism.
Anti-racist fighters launched the March for Racial Justice after the acquittal of the Minnesota cop who murdered Philando Castile. Their goal is a national mobilization against racist police terror. The March for Racial Justice was a nationwide protest in 18 cities, from Los Angeles to New York City, from Olympia, Washington to Dallas, Texas and Tallahassee, Florida.
The March for Black Women focused on denouncing “the propagation of state-violence and the widespread incarceration of Black women and girls, rape and all sexualized violence, the murders and brutalization of transwomen and the disappearances of our girls from our streets, our schools and our homes.” Organizers of this “march within a march” believed that it was vital to highlight the centrality of Black women in the oppression of racism and in the leadership of the resistance to it.
A supporter of the PLP who organized the UMO student contingent shared the following account of the day:
During the early part of the day, beautiful people of different identifications (class, sex, race, age, students, workers) stood together to listen and learn from women speakers who covered topics such as racism, sexual and domestic violence, hurricane relief, white supremacy, systemic racism, patriarchal constructs, transphobia, homophobia, and xenophobia.
We hit the streets, it was powerful, like every time I set foot on the streets of DC in solidarity with brothers and sisters who are tired of oppression. It was amazing to see the freshmen women of my group from UMO, wide-eyed and amazed because it was their first protest. It was great to be able to show them what direct action looks like. Taking the streets and disrupting traffic is powerful because it raises awareness. Will it change things in a day? No. But it may spark fire in the heart of many people to give their time and energy to this revolution.
I was moved to tears when everyone took a knee and then people started yelling, “Black women stand up!” I am moved to tears now writing it. The struggle of Black and Brown women is so real and so much of a burden to carry.
Personally, I made it a point to incorporate anti-capitalist chants. At one point I climbed a marble wall and chanted through my loudspeaker, “Hey hey, ho ho, capitalism has got to go!”
 As I chanted I got louder, more passionate and a lot of people were pumped. People were either wondering what capitalism had to do with this march or they were “real woke” and knew exactly why I was so furiously yelling with my fist in the air. I saw people jumping up and down with me chanting against capitalism. I believe in the good things coming. I believe people are getting ready and are ready for change, real change, the change that will free future generations.
Her account of the day shows the importance of collective action against racism, but also demonstrates the limitations of the current leadership of these movements. The speakers in the morning condemned many of the ills of capitalism, but failed to call out the capitalist system, the wellhead of all of these forms of oppression. Capitalism’s insatiable lust for profits above all and at all costs spawns myriad oppressions to divide sections of the working class against others, both to extract maximum profits and weaken our ability to fight back.
Fortunately, this comrade took it upon herself to make this connection herself with her own “rally within the rally”, heightening the consciousness of hundreds of participants in the march, and showing the way forward to her fellow UMO students to liberation through communist revolution.


Walking through Mexico City after Earthquake
In one of the hardest hit neighborhoods around Roma and Condessa, Mexico City, several buildings collapsed during the earthquake and many more were damaged to the point of being uninhabitable.
Many deaths were the result of people trapped in buildings. Walking around the neighborhood a couple of days after the quake was both traumatic and inspiring. Many streets were blocked and yellow tape blocked off buildings at risk of collapse.
Two parks in the neighborhood were being used as makeshift refugee centers for people left homeless.
The city bureaucracy was overwhelmed by the disaster, but the neighborhood was full of young volunteers. Donated water, supplies and informal meals were being passed out everywhere you looked. Many neighborhood restaurants were giving free food to volunteers and refugees. Calls would go out, literally shouted in the street, for carpenters or other skills. From time to time, self-organized brigades of volunteers would run from one area to another as news of a new building collapse would spread.
Even in this, the hardest hit area, only a few square blocks, there was also “regular” life trying to go on as people who were able to returned to work and businesses reopened amid the streets teeming with machine gun armed soldiers. Many restaurants were filled with people and in the vast majority of the city there was little or no visible damage. Get out of the neighborhood and you could almost forget there was an earthquake.
Among the collapsed buildings were several new ones, including the school in another neighborhood where 20 children were killed, built after the codes were changed to require them to be earthquake resistant. But business came before people’s lives and bribes and willful ignorance let the codes get ignored in many cases.
Not shamed by their collusion with the criminal developers, the ruling class is trying to undue some of the positive collective response by building patriotism among the young volunteers. Mexican flags are appearing across the neighborhood even as the victims are still being removed and people without the money to properly repair their buildings have to decide whether to take the loss or risk living in a weakened apartment building. Flags will not hold those buildings up when the next quake comes.
The city is promising money to properly fix up buildings, but it seems impossible to believe that the distribution of the funds will be better than the corruption filled system that was “ensuring” new buildings were safe to begin with.
Call For Action After Capitalist-Caused Disasters
The otherwise excellent editorial on the devastation of Puerto Rico by racism and imperialism left out one important point. It is necessary for communists and other class-conscious workers to be involved in the struggles to survive disasters like the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. We must lead the class struggles that will develop as local and national bosses try to profit off of the reconstruction and gentrification that almost always follow these disasters.
Progressive Labor Party organized in Texas and New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In Texas, we were part of the relief efforts for our brothers and sisters that were forced to relocate from New Orleans. In New Orleans itself, we organized a months-long project the summer after Katrina. Scores of Party members and friends participated in the process of clearing debris and rebuilding in working class areas like the Lower Ninth Ward, while exposing the limits of reform and the need for revolution. PLP has done similar things in Pakistan and Haiti.
On my job, I proposed to my co-workers that we raise money for relief efforts for Puerto Rico. We are setting up a small committee. I have also called for a demonstration condemning the racist failure of Trump and U.S. bosses to provide for the needs of workers there. These kinds of activities give us opportunities to raise communist ideas and build international solidarity with workers worldwide.
Trump’s Sick, Racist Move
President Donald Trump used the term “sons of bitches” to describe the mostly Black NFL player’s protest against Black oppression. The move is designed to whip up nationalism and racism against Black people in the United States. It is a sick move by a sick leader of a sick system.


Letters of October 25

Learning to Fight in St. Louis
After kkkkop Jason Stockley was acquitted for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, the working class of St. Louis rebelled (see front page). A small collective led by PLP recently joined the struggle in solidarity. These are their letters.
For some of those on the trip to St. Louis, it would be their third or fourth time visiting from Chicago since Ferguson. This was my first time.
Upon arriving, we checked for news. The first article that came up from a “St Louis” Google search was an article reporting a banner drop at the Cardinals vs. Brewers baseball game before we had arrived in the city.
The banner depicted a cardinal wearing a jersey with “#Expect Us” in place of the team name. In the cardinal’s hand was a sign that read “Racism Lives Here” with the script “Stop Killing Us!!” written below the image. Afterwards, workers took the streets to show their continued discontent with the murders of black workers in the city. Sure enough, tensions were still high, and workers were demanding justice for father and soon-to-be husband Anthony Lamar Smith.
The next day, we arrived at the City Justice Center and met with a member of a grassroots group Lost Voices. They said they had been waiting for two comrades that had been assaulted and mishandled by kkkops the night before.
We made a friend with whom we talked about the notion of black workers being considered three-fifths of a person. We had discussion about how the 13th amendment states that no person can be held as a slave unless they are a criminal.
There were other workers who welcomed us with open arms. One worker had familiarity with the party. He spoke of revolution on the bullhorn. He had said that they “were not a charity” and that money is not what they wanted. In contrast, we attended another community event of churches and charities, and all they wanted was money.
We also visited Ferguson where the majority of rebellion took place after the murder of Mike Brown in 2014.
During dinner with a local friend we made earlier, we discussed reformism and revolution. There was criticism towards how the organizers are approaching the fightback. Some saw non-violent protests as the way to fight without being met with violence from the kkkops. There is talk of reform. Some mentioned revolution, but the overarching solution the workers had was to alter the current system instead of creating a new one.
A lot of self-criticism took place during this trip in regards to my participation in fightback at home. I look forward to being able to have more time for involvement in the fightback after graduation.
Workers wear many faces and come from many places. The struggle is all the same though. We saw the same fight against racism, sexism, and classism in St. Louis that we've seen in Chicago. However, it was still a fresh and informative experience.
A community leader showed us around. We had good conversation with him even though we didn't really get to explain our ideas for a better world as communists. Instead, we understood our role as guests and listened. Eventually, he mentioned there was going to be a Black Lives Matter protest at a shopping mall. We arrived to the mall and saw protesters inside the mall shouting "black lives matter!" so we tried to join but the doors were locked.
As we were looking for new friend, protesters started leaving the mall and closed off the intersection outside the mall. There was a small group of leaders at the center of the protest chanting, along with about 40-50 chanting along with them. Towards the end, we all formed a huddle in the middle as one protester gave a speech. "We can't be separated in the fight. Neither of us are allies. We are all brothers and sisters. We will continue fighting racism no matter the opposition." What a way to end the trip.
Driving down St. Louis, we saw two tents in front of a courthouse jail. There was a cloth banner with “Shut it Down for Justice because Black Lives Matter” painted on it. Youth and older men gathered to talk about the prior night while their eyelashes painted white with mace. Chests showing taser marks. Two older white males with long beards walked by with their baseball hats and shook hands with one of the older black protesters. I feel it was a conversation to try to understand the other side.
They were waiting for their reverend to come out after the prior night of marching. The cops separated the reverend and crushed his glasses. The two men who tried saving the reverend got maced and tazed. One of the guys had traveled from California and brought his emotional support puppy, which apparently also got maced.
The protesters passed around flyers for a community block party organized by all the churches in the area, free food for anyone, haircuts for the large amount of homeless youth, live music and lots of welcoming people. In a way, it seems like the community helps itself out, it’s great, but it’s probably done out of need. A man was talking to us about how he had started wanting to help with one thing and it ended up turning into a mentoring program for the youth teaching them how to read.
In conclusion, I feel as if we should contribute and support efforts in this area.