Cultivating Communist Middle School Students
We recently held our fourth middle school study group session, which is led by a multiracial group of women. The study group is made up of three PLP parents of middle schoolers and five 11- and 12-year-olds. There are also another four to five students who have been to at least one of the study groups.
So far we have discussed metal detectors in schools, the Islamic State and the Paris attacks, racism and white privilege, and sexism. Six of these youth also recently attended our east coast Cadre School (see previous issue of CHALLENGE). At the discussions, we always have lots of good snacks and plenty of silliness, but I’m always impressed at the ability of these young people to analyze the world.
The following is the way one of the 11-year olds summed up our discussion on sexism: “Sexism is just a tool the upper class uses a lot to make the lower class feel ‘suckish’ and bad. Lots of people don’t really understand what is happening [when they act in sexist ways] but they need to, because when they do, it will be a step towards beating the upper class”
We then made plans for how to fundraise and make banners for May Day. All of these young people always help to remind me that our future in building a communist revolutionary movement is bright!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Comrades Struggle, Learn Together
This past president’s day weekend PLP had a very successful communist school. Nearly 20 comrades and friends from Los Angeles and the Bay Area came together to discuss leadership, criticism and self-criticism, and our political work. Over the course of three days and serious (and at times intense) discussion, we made several advances.
Saturday morning began with a welcoming breakfast followed by a reading and discussion of leadership. Afterwards we broke out into groups and discussed the nature of leadership in the world and in the Party. We concluded that while some comrades might be asked to be leaders, in fact leadership is an active process. The comrade leaders must “step up” to the leadership role. We discussed the role of the leader in a Party club (which is the initial organizing body in the Party) and discussed how a club leader must struggle to understand and help encourage each club member’s work.
That afternoon, we transitioned to a discussion of our work and working in the mass movement. Many of us have not fully embraced working in mass organizations like unions, churches, and community groups. As we discussed the need to fully engage ourselves in our mass organization, some comrades realized that we had treated this work in a mechanical way. Just going to meetings and participating in activities is not the same as being actively engaged in the life and struggles of a mass organization. We need to entrench ourselves in our mass organization in order to successfully wage political struggle. Our main self-criticisms were that anti-communism and individualism were holding us back.
The next day, we discussed a work report from a recent PLP publication. We discussed how to emulate the work of this comrade, who really made his base his family and immersed himself in the struggle over decades. While taking great inspiration from the work report, it was pointed out that there was little discussion of the role of the PL club in the work report comrade’s struggles. Having healthy clubs to struggle with comrades and strive towards objectivity help all of us to succeed.
That afternoon, we discussed criticism and self-criticism, which is a way the members evaluate and learn from their struggles and mistakes. This was an undertone of many discussions. We discussed whether criticism and self-criticism sessions were rare or whether they should be more regular. Some comrades argued that we cannot limit criticism and self-criticism to formal events when leadership is changing or when things go poorly. We should see each club meeting as a time for criticism and self-criticism. We should discuss work, the world and internal party matters and discuss them from the perspective of criticism and self-criticism. Self-reflection, honesty and openness should be the goal in every party struggle.
Struggles inside the Party are necessary for the health and growth of our organization and our readiness to lead the masses.
Monday morning we concluded by discussing our May Day plans and ensured all the actions required to build for our May Day celebrations. In the end we all seemed to leave more motivated to build for a successful communist May Day!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Don’t Fall for Bosses’ Racist ‘Model Minority’ Trap
I normally distribute CHALLENGE every week at a mostly Black college or outside a train station in a West Indian neighborhood. Whenever people hear me say, “Fight back against racism!” they eagerly take the paper with a “thank you!” or fish through their pockets for any money they can muster to donate.
Today was different. Because of the explosion of antiracist fightback at Brooklyn Tech, I distributed the paper with the front-page article about this school’s fightback. Stocked with 350 CHALLENGEs, three comrades and I stood by the train station that many students use to get to the school. Whereas papers normally fly out of my hands, I was lucky to get even one person out of twenty to take it. Some of the mostly Asian and white students even rolled their eyes when I said, “Fight back against racism in our schools!” as though I was wasting their time or exaggerating the racism that Black and Latin students experience every day.
I was enraged by their indifference for their fellow students. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my Asian friend at Yale University, where there was a recent eruption of antiracist fightback. I asked her what she thought about everything going on, and she said:
“I was struggling between my sympathy and desire to stand with all the people of color who were protesting their treatment, and the fact that I’ve been brought up to stay out of any such issue. My parents always said to keep my head down, and many other Asians come from similar backgrounds. The weird concept of the “model minority” makes it feel unnatural to step out of line and protest racism, since the racism we experience is covert.”
This conversation with my friend and today’s CHALLENGE sale both reminded me of the way the bosses divide Black and Latin workers from Asian and white workers. They make some white and Asian working class believe that racism doesn’t affect them, or that their struggles are in contradiction with those of Black and Latin workers. They are fed lies that if they keep quiet and don’t fightback, they can get their own piece of the capitalist pie. The bosses push this bogus concept of the “model minority”—the stereotype that Asians, specifically East Asians, are the docile “good” workers that don’t fight back but only work hard and “do well”. The model minority myth is used to further anti-Black racism and divide the working class. It also silences the very real racism Asian workers face in the U.S.
In reality, Asian and white workers are exploited and oppressed worldwide, just like Black and Latin workers. Moreover, as long as we maintain racist divisions, every worker sees lower pay and fewer benefits. Our fight is not against other workers, but against the bosses who impoverish us. There is no doubt that Black workers are the most oppressed and exploited workers around the world, but we all suffer under capitalism. Asian, Latin, Black, and white, workers of the world unite!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Challenge Shouldn’t Use Slang
The recent language used in CHALLENGE articles has caught my attention and it should be changed. I believe that as left-wing militant, scientific, communist members of PLP we should be as professional as we can be. So we should limit the use of slang in the newspaper as much as possible.
“Turnt up” and other slang should be limited or not used at all. It sets the wrong kind of image. While slang is very popular among working-class youth, some people don’t even know what it is saying. I am not saying let’s be all academic so please don’t take it that way. I am just saying we should be careful about slang and limit our use of it.
Editorial response: The problem of audience and language in CHALLENGE is primarily not about professionalism vs. colloquialism. CHALLENGE has the most heterogeneous readership in the world; we try to reach nuclear physicists and the kid who was pushed out of school at age 13. In Talks At The Yenan Forum On Literature And Art(1942), Mao Zedong explains the main problem in the literature/art/cultural front is one of being one with the masses. How well do we know the working class? How well does our literature clearly reflect the language of the masses?
Under capitalism, the language and discourse of the ruling class is considered proper and normal, while what the working class speaks is considered bad. If using “Turnt Up” sets the “wrong” image, i.e. the image of Black and Latin working-class youth, we need to reevaluate what kind of language we value.
We strive to be a mass paper, one that truly reflects the rich, lively language of the masses. To solve this problem, we need more people—from academics to nine-year-olds writing for, distributing, and reading the paper. Our main task is to be entrenched in the masses, and the paper’s content and style will follow. For real.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The Anti-Racist Friendship of Boxers Joe and Max
There is an interesting historical sidelight of a point in the excellent review of Black communist writer Richard Wright’s work (CHALLENGE, 2/24). It mentions Wright’s take on the reaction of Harlem workers to Black heavyweight champion boxer Joe Louis’s 1938 victory over Nazi Germany’s Max Schmeling, who had two years earlier defeated Louis when he (Schmeling) was heavyweight boxing champion.
It turns out that Schmeling was not only a reluctant representative sent by Hitler to defeat a Black boxer (Louis), but, apparently unbeknownst to them, he was a political opponent of the Nazis. He and his wife had helped hide some Jewish children from the Nazi mass murderers in Germany, at great risk to his life and hers. Furthermore, he and Joe Louis subsequently became fast friends for life, an unusual interracial friendship in those days, at least outside of the Communist Party USA.
Their story is told, as well as any story is ever told in a US production, in a 2002 TV movie titled “Joe and Max,” which I thought was worth seeing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Cultivating Communist Middle School Students
Communist School: ‘One of the Happiest Moments in my Life’
Below is a sample of letters written by participants at a communist school. It was a first for many. Students as young as nine years old to workers in their seventies studied the origin of racism and how build a multiracial movement (see article).
It was very fun. I like the study groups we had and that my group and me made a remix of “Rude” by Magic! and changed the lyrics to be about fighting back. I also like that we learned the history about racism and where and who made it. I liked that people of all ages and races came together and had a great time together, like playing basketball. I really enjoyed this weekend and hope to come next year.
I love to be around other people who believe that we need to fight for a new world. We cook, clean, live, hangout, and eat together. Every aspect of the weekend is a little glimmer of what living in a communist society would be like. I’m a single parent, and through the weekend, many people helped and cared for my daughter as their own, helping me participate more in workshops and activities. I loved seeing my students making friends and participating in workshops. This generation will change the world, and going to communist schools like this help bring us one step closer.
I had quite an experience. I communed with like-minded people. We lived together, cooked together, cleaned and learned together. I loved it. I feel stronger than I have felt in a while. I can see my views clearer with my comrades. I joined the Party!
When a comrade opened this weekend’s cadre school asking what a “cadre” was, the first thing I thought about was our Party in Haiti. I’ve never been to Haiti and never met the comrades there, but I feel like I know them and am close to them through their articles and letters in CHALLENGE.
One of our comrades said that in Haiti, their word for “cadre” translates from Kreyol as “cultivator,” meaning a cadre is a communist leader who job is to “cultivate” comrades and the masses to become revolutionary leaders.
That’s the best definition of cadre I’ve ever heard and the best description of this weekend’s cadre school. Multiracial, multigenerational comrades and friends fermenting on how to wage mass revolutionary struggle for communism—while cooking together, chopping wood for our fire together, and daring to open and trust each other with a bit of our personal lives together cultivated a rich weekend and more nails in the bosses’ coffin.
On the last day, we welcomed several new comrades to the Party. Our comrade who initially asked about what a cadre was gave one of several moving speeches about what the weekend meant to him. We left the weekend planning how to cultivate many more comrades, and hoping the articles and letters they write reach and inspire comrades in other places we haven’t been to, and haven’t met yet.
After joining the Party last November in Ferguson, my commitment to fighting for communism has become primary in my life. With this increased level of work came more responsibility and opportunities to practice leadership alongside fellow Party members.
As a workshop leader at my first cadre school, I learned a lot about how we as Party members must always establish the left in any given situation. This experience also pushed me to better understand the Party’s line and sharpen my analysis. My commitment to the Party, fighting for communism, and identification as a member of the international working class has never been stronger and I would like to thank the PLP and its members for constantly pushing me to be a better comrade. This weekend was inspiring!
I’m convinced. As a fellow comrade who joined the Party in late 2013, it is understood that it takes practice and consistency for one to grow into the movement (working class struggle). Although I joined the Party already, coming to the cadre school has given me the growth needed to gain a better grasp of who I am, who I was before I joined, and where I was going with my fellow comrades.
It is without a doubt that my convictions are stronger and I am clearer about what communism means for my fellow workers and me.
I am clearer about my stand against all of the oppressive forces that exists in this beautiful and terrifying world—I know my stand is our stand and we come together knowing we are as diverse as we are similar and our unity makes us very powerful…I’ve never been with so many genuine people as I am as of this moment.
There is more work to be done.
I thought I knew the actual history of racism, but I only knew bits and pieces. This weekend I completed the puzzle. The only way to fight racism is to come together and fight as a team. Getting together and discussing ideas is a great way to start. I am considering becoming a PLP member; I just need a little more time and reassurance.
As much as possible under capitalism, we try to create a more communal society by cooking together, cleaning together, playing together, and making decisions together. That is by far my favorite part of every cadre school. It gives me hope and confidence in our communist future.
My experience as a high school educator and parent this weekend was one that fills me with gratitude that I am surrounded by such a dedicated and thoughtful band of comrades fighting to make our world a communist one. The anti-racist fight we are engaged in at school is strengthened by the class-consciousness this weekend’s event has helped to build.
This year was so different than any other because I felt like I improved my knowledge on racism more than any other year. I made friends very easily. I was glad because it’s like they accepted me even if I’m in middle school and they were so nice. Overall I had a lot of fun and I can’t wait for next year.
I have learned so much and it gave me a big purpose in life, a goal in life that I am going to chase and catch. I enjoyed talking to a lot of the people about communism and world peace and it’s these conversations I never was able to have with others except for my teacher, who is in PLP. These conversations were intellectual and very fun. One of the happiest moments in life.
I am not a very open person, but I was able to open to these people here. So now I am starting to become a communist. When I go back home, I am going to try to convince a lot of people that I meet and talk to from potheads and suicidal people to philosophical people to understand how to change the world. I really can’t wait until the revolution happens and when it does, I will do whatever I can to contribute or even lead the revolution.
It was inspiring in that it’s showed the ability of the working class to analyze and critique the capitalist system. The discussions showed we workers can see through the capitalist lies.
The cadre school was truly an enlightening experience. We analyzed Lerone Bennet’s “The Road not Taken” and traced the early efforts of the bosses to divide and conquer by enacting laws designed to purposely divide white, Black, Latin, and Asian, and indigenous workers. Identity politics are a liberal ploy used by self-interested leaders in Black, Feminist, and LGBT groups to formally gain a their stake in capitalism. This sick preoccupation with “privilege, and “supremacy” only serves to blur the relationship between race and class.
Identity politics is not only divisive and poisonous, but are also disingenuous, and do not offer any real solutions on combatting racism. Analyzing these pieces gave me tremendous insight and confidence in understanding what racism is and how it hurts the working class. Best of all I had a chance to bond in song, games, laughter, and teamwork with a multicultural and diverse camaraderie. This is my vision for the future and society and I believe that joining PLP gave me a taste of what a progressive anti-racist communist society looks like. No matter what the bosses do to attack and distract they couldn’t kill our multi-racial unity.
Though the opportunity to have fun activities beyond politics is great, I always relish those dialectical discussions. We talked about “white privilege” and “feminist” theory. One high school student not in the Party vehemently disagreed with our line. But though she wasn’t receptive, we must stay tuned in to how the bosses mislead workers into these fake-leftists movements.
One small critique I have though is that we shouldn’t be immediately asking students after the school if they want to join PL before giving them some time to think about it. Becoming a communist is a huge step, one that lasts for life. People shouldn’t make such decisions so fast unless they’ve been around for sometime. Just my two cents. Can’t wait to be back next year!
This retreat was exciting. It’s always exciting to be around comrades. I’m not as active as I would like to be, but coming to events (cadre school, summer project, and May Day), I am refreshed on Party ideas and politics. From this event I learn that being involved does not mean coming to every event or study group. But, spreading the word, introducing students on campus to Party ideas, etc. I hope to attend the cadre school again and spread PLP ideas to the working class.
You can stop translating here.
If you read beyond this point, only translate letters that you think MUST BE IN THE PAPER
As always for me, it was an inspiring, educational, and reassuring experience. Hearing and watching young people take leadership in both organization and ideas reminds me every time that we can and must have confidence in the working class to lead society.
We tackled the sometimes-difficult ideas around white privilege theory. But by grounding our discussion in documents that show the origins of racism, it became clearer to many that the only “privileged” under capitalism are the bosses.
Several students from my school participated and hearing their thinking and learning from this weekend leaves me inspired and excited for the potential back home.
The future is bright!
The cadre school was led by young comrades and brought together middle school, high school, and college teachers and students. We also had young workers. The collective work, and the struggle to understand why we need to work together in multiracial unity to fight racism and to fight for a better world was tremendous.
It was a privilege to be here.
It’s been a very eye-opening experience. I got a glimpse of new perspective that I feel like everybody should be exposed to, to give the sense of understanding or belonging. Despite people’s views on communism, this trip could give them a better understanding because this is a topic that’s very misunderstood. The discussions we had was intellectually stimulating, which could give another person a new outlook.
There was stepping. There were fighters.
There were students. There were workers.
There were children. There were parents.
There was fightback. There was struggle.
We spent a weekend living collectively, the way it used to be. The way it will be again someday. We cooked together, ate together, we played together. We made ourselves believe that what we are fighting for — a world where we live as brothers and sisters — is worth fighting for.
This wasn’t a utopia. We argued. We felt things good and bad. But this was real. So rarely do we have the chance to see ourselves in all of the different people we encounter. Bonded by a common goal—fighting racism—we found hope in each other.
Nothing can be more terrifying for the bosses than workers and students, parents and children, Black and white, Arab and Asian, fighting together. Knowing that they are the same. We still have a world to win, but this weekend reminded us of what victory will look like. Power to the workers!
It was inspiring to see the commitment of a large group of people coming to fight against racism, sexism, and oppression of gay/lesbian workers: the ideological weapons used to separate and conquer the working class. Being surrounded by a diverse group of like-minded comrades has served to reinvigorate my efforts in growing the movement against police terror and all of the byproducts of the bosses’ system. It’s time to fight back!
I spent the weekend with some of the most genuine, kind, respectful human beings who’ve dedicated their lives to fighting for communism. At the end of my stay, I find myself wanting to share this same kindness, morality, and respect for my fellow class that I’ve been shown. I want to be a voice for my community. I want to make a difference. I want real change; not in the form of reform, but one that sparks a revolution in the minds of the masses of the working world. So, with that having said, I have decided to join the fight for communism.
“Nothing to run from is worse than something”
A new young leadership has taken over from the last round of “young leadership” and showed that the idea of communism will continue to advance. The Party continues to inspire me, to grow, to be the calling edge against capitalism, and will be the shovel wielded by us to bury it once and for all. Once again, I am renewed, recharged, and proud to be a communist member of the Progressive Labor Party.
The communist movement and our Party are growing! We were able to see that racism as we know it today has not been around “forever” as the rulers of the world would have us believe. And as one comrade said, “Anything that has a beginning can have an end.”
Also, we worked hard to understand the way that racism is a form of super-exploitation. The bosses exploit the entire working class, but they also deliberately create inequalities inside the working class to divide us from each other and extract a ton of extra profit.
But now they are trying to convince the Black working class that certain workers they want us to call “white” are “privileged.” This is just a cover for them to keep their viciously racist system alive. No one who is exploited is privileged. And only when we unite the entire working class – Black, Latin, Asian, white, Muslim, Christian, Jewish – can we truly defeat the racist, exploitive capitalist society they have created.
This weekend was an inspiring advance in the monumental, historic struggle. Long live PLP and the fight for a communist world free of racism!
This was an experience. I feel like we wasted so much time trying to explain why we shouldn’t focus on white privilege and saying we need to focus on the bigger picture instead of the 5 minutes it would have taken to say, “We don’t believe it should be called a privilege but white privilege as we understand it today does exist.”
It really disappoints me that this group is so caught up in the big picture they hardly have a concept of the basic units contributing to it.
I came to the cadre school this weekend to learn more about the PLP. I took away what it means to be an agent of change. To discuss racism is more than theory of what divides us—but it’s about uniting and following through. The solution to ending racism does not end with fixing who leads or is in charge—it ends with an entire overhaul. Change should not be to better just yourself but to better a society. And that is a pretty cool thing to be a part of.
Where Bosses Fail, Workers Lead
A common question or doubt made towards a communist future goes like, “How can we expect workers to run society, without some group of people working exclusively as management, and receiving more to do so?” In the middle of an especially challenging shift in the hospital, I observed a powerful lesson we can use to respond to that question.
I work nights as a nurse, and my unit is almost always busy. Nurses at my hospital are not represented by a union. And though unions are hardly a guarantee to create safe or acceptable working conditions, non-union work places allows the bosses to run operations at a bare minimum and not expect any major repercussions. The nurses and auxiliary staff are forced to take on more and more patients as admissions come, which compromises patient safety and burns us workers out.
A common issue that we encounter on my unit is a lack of nurse assistants. Nurse assistants perform basic but important care tasks, such as taking vital signs, cleaning patients up, and answering call lights. If they’re not staffed for each shift, the registered and licensed nurses pick up these tasks instead, in addition to their typical workload.
The management on my unit is constantly assuring us that they’re going to hire more of these assistants for nights, but months have passed with us being regularly understaffed. Far from demonstrating any managerial expertise, the bosses show their complete failure to plan for the needs of our class. And it goes beyond the character of just a few managers; under capitalism it is essential that a hospital or a business maximize profit and cut costs, over securing human needs.
This particular shift was very exhausting and unsafe. There was just one nurse assistant scheduled for the 12-hour shift, and the whole staff barely sat down all night, moving from room to room. There was a strong potential for us to give into the stress, and begin fighting among ourselves. But it never happened. What I witnessed instead was us workers– women, men, Black, Asian, Latin and white – cooperating, communicating and offering help as we skipped breaks and did what we needed to do to care for our patients. Workers on the front line, not expecting anything extra for their efforts; just working together to make our lives easier and safer.
This is just one of countless examples of workers doing what needs to be done, despite the miserable social and economic conditions created by the capitalist class. Our responsibility as a communist Party is to shine a light on these demonstrations of working-class solidarity, and use it as living proof that we don’t need a parasitic group of “elites” to organize society. More often than not, workers know what they need to work and live. We just need to constantly struggle to show that the future that we all deserve can only be guaranteed under a communist society.
Republicrats Push, Protect Racism
Many believe that electing more Democrats and Black and Latin politicians will make things better, that social programs will improve, and racism and sexism will decrease. Looking at Maryland, a democrat state through and through, we can see this is false.
Out of the past eight governors of Maryland, 6 were Democrats. Two-thirds of the State Senate and House of Delegates are Democrats. The racial demographics of the government match the demographics of the state: 30 percent of representatives are Black, as are Marylanders. The same trend occurs within county governments, too.
Yet CHALLENGE (2/10) exposed Maryland’s intense racism. The Maryland Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights provides the strongest legal protection for police out of any state. Moreover, Maryland has a large number of Black kkkops, and Black workers are still targeted and terrorized. In fact, 78 percent of the victims that Black kkkops shoot are Black (Jacobin).
No matter what party or race, it is clear whom politicians and police serve: the capitalist class. Black and Democratic politicians have no interest in protecting the working class—Black, Latin, Asian, or white—from police terror. The bosses who need racist police terror to protect private property and keep workers, especially Black workers, in line and scared to fight back. That is how they can keep making profits off our backs.
Let’s not get conned by the next so-called left-wing, Black, Latin, or woman candidate. History shows that none of these make a difference in outcome for the working class. We must instead join PLP and fight for communist revolution!
Communists Led the Creation of Weekends Off
Sometimes we may overlook how mass communist-led working-class action has affected the lives of millions of workers. I particularly liked the CHALLENGE editorial (2/10) about Flint—“Capitalism Toxic for Working Class” — when it referred to the historic battle of Flint autoworkers in the Great Sit-Down Strike of 1936-1937. Incidentally, six of the seven members of the Flint Sit-Down Committee who led the strike were communists.
This Flint battle was part of the communist-led struggles for unemployment insurance—organizing 800,000 workers into the National Unemployment Councils, union recognition for four million workers into the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations), and the 40-hour work-week. Actually it was the communists who produced something which tens of millions now take for granted: weekends off.
Before the 40-hour week, the overwhelming majority of workers endured six- and seven-day workweeks, and, for a great many, 10- and 12-hour days. The 40-hour week—mostly based on five eight-hour days—meant two days off. It also forced the bosses to pay time-and-a-half for overtime, even double-time for some.
The bosses and their president Franklin Roosevelt did not “grant” this out of the goodness of their hearts. Roosevelt was out to save the capitalist system, which was mired in the Great Depression with its revolutionary potential for the working class. Unfortunately the Communist Party, whose members led this massive movement, did not point the working class in the direction of communist revolution. It was partly influenced by the international communist leadership that incorrectly championed a united front with so-called “progressive capitalists.”
Of course, as capitalists do with all working-class reform victories, they chip away to wipe out the results of such victories, so today there are tens of millions who work more than 40 hours a week, more than five days, and are cheated out of overtime pay through various subterfuges. This is especially true for the racist practices directed at millions of undocumented immigrant workers. And with the connivance of pro-boss union misleaders, they have reduced the trade union movement to a shell of its former self, virtually wiping out the millions who had joined the CIO and avoiding strikes like the plague.
Capitalism by its nature has always operated in this way, grudgingly giving in to mass working-class action and then using its state power, its mis-direction into the election circus and its buying off of misleaders of these formerly militant movements to take back what the workers have won.
That is why the Progressive Labor Party is correct in our drive to organize millions into a mass revolutionary communist party to overthrow this brutal profit system and establish a worker-run communist society, eliminating bosses and profits altogether.
Workers Dump on Trump
Our collective is responding to the Progressive Labor Party’s call for action to fight anti-Muslim racism! Friends joined a group that invaded a Donald Trump rally to disrupt it. Another friend reached out to people she knew in her building who made racist slurs against Yemeni staff. She began a campaign posting signs of support in the entrance hall of the building.
Working with a synagogue that has forged an ongoing relationship with a Muslim congregation, we are building Jewish-Muslim working-class unity to fight racism. Their youth groups have begun doing joint social service projects together. Just last week, they co-hosted a holiday celebration of solidarity. One PL’er was part of a conversation with a young rabbinical student and a Muslim high school student. The Muslim student was angry because he wanted to study aeronautical engineering but feared he would be branded a terrorist who would blow up planes! The rabbi-to-be was appalled at the racism and pledged to fight this kind of bigotry throughout his career.
Another PL’er met with a leader of a regional denominational organization to explore ways to promote interfaith congregational solidarity throughout the state. They then appeared at a press conference to oppose anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant racism. Little by little, we are building solidarity with Muslim workers and students.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Gas is ‘Leviathan’ of Syria Civil War
It was inspiring to see our comrades from Israel write an article titled “Israeli Gas Deal Pumps Racism, Nationalism” in the previous issue (1/13). However, the article left out an important piece of information. The Eastern Mediterranean coast, also called the Levantine coast, is a major cause of the Syrian Civil War. The rights to this vast reserve of natural gas was a point of conflict that has led to the imperialist proxy war going on in Syria between U.S. and Russia.
Israel, U.S.’s proxy, has actually provided medical assistance to the fascist groups such as Al Qaeda fighting against the Syrian regime because they see that regime as their greater enemy! The Alawite coast of Latakia is where Syria has a border on the aptly named Leviathan gas field.
The map that went with the article left out that Syria is to the north of Lebanon and thus a major player in the Leviathan scramble. The PLP’s Challenge blog reported on September 1, 2013 that:
The imperialist rivalry between the U.S. and Russia also stems from the U.S.’s desire to enter into the natural gas market. Russia already has a stranglehold on Europe’s natural gas markets, and the U.S. would like to loosen their grasp. [According to the U.S. Geological Survey government agency], there are 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in the Levant oil basin.
Unsurprisingly, 1.) Syria’s coast is part of the economic zone that would have the liberty of exploiting this gas and oil bonanza 2.) Israel is already exploiting it 3.) The Israel, U.S., France, Saudi, Turkey, and Qatari axis is feening to dominate this field. Russia has no interest in letting this field fall into the hands of the U.S., thereby allowing their rival to weaken their influence in Europe. Lebanon does not want to outright challenge Israel, and so is using their state apparatus to “protect the peace” in Lebanon, while actually supporting Hezbollah’s backing of Assad. If Assad is preserved, then they will have a better chance at renegotiating their rights to the oil and getting a bigger slice of the natural gas bonanza. If Israel wins, then they can still negotiate since it was a proxy force doing the fighting.
Once again, oil is the driving motive for the U.S. to prepare for war and murder the working class. The PLP does not support the butcher Assad nor his fascist sexist puppet master Putin. We know that neither is a friend to the working class and we will do all that we can to build communist revolution and class struggle in their countries. The USSR and Syria were once beacons and havens for communists. We know that as PLP grows in the Middle East, we will bring communism back to the forefront.
I hope that this information helps. For more blog articles or to submit articles, comics for the blog, visit www.challengenewspaper.wordpress.com/
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Anti-Muslim Racism is Anti-Black, Anti-Arab
We the Party in Haiti discussed the last two editorials (11/25 and 12/9) and they are good. We think that we should clarify something for the working class. First, anti-Muslim racism is racism against both Black and Arab workers. Historically, many oppressed workers and youth have converted to Islam. And the imperialists from the eastern hemisphere use them to fight on the side of their own bosses against the Western imperialists. ISIS playing on workers’ alienation and the anti-Muslim racism are both really an attack on the working class.
There is a more than a hint of repartitioning the small capitalist countries, whose rulers take sides, either for Russia and China or on the side of the U.S. and France.
Some oppressed workers, weakened by reformist ideas and the collapse of old communist movement in the last century, enter into the ranks of eastern terrorists against the western terrorists through the ideology of Islam.
We’d like to add something on the question of taking power and the electoral system pushed by the bourgeoisie. Democracy is an alienating doctrine in that it fools workers into thinking they can take power through taking over the government. In reality, the bosses use democracy to pacify and disarm us. They also use elections to push their capitalist ideas on the working class. Elections are also a means of sharing or dividing power among the bourgeoisie. There is a class dictatorship at play among the bourgeoisie for example, in the U.S. and in France among the openly fascists and the liberal bosses.
Here in Haiti, what’s going on worldwide economically and politically really interests us. We know we should be writing more on how to strengthen our communist politics and multiply the number of our members to build a real mass Party. We will conduct inner-Party struggle to guarantee more writing in the coming year and beyond!
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Nationalism Hurts All Workers
I recently came back from a trip to Israel, a country built with the myth that it would be of Jews, by Jews, and for Jews where Jewish people could prosper. I know the Israeli state’s existence is only possible because of the ethnic cleansing of workers in Palestine and that it is built on a foundation of anti-Arab racism. So, I expected to see non-Jewish workers and youth living in oppressive (to put it lightly) conditions. Indeed, I found this to be true.
But I didn’t expect to find Jewish workers living in terrible conditions. They were living in apartments barely large enough to sleep in. They were working overtime and barely affording to pay rent and eat. I saw people sleeping in the streets, begging for money. I saw all the same things I see in the United States. Though Arab and African immigrant workers are absolutely the most oppressed and exploited, it is a myth that Jewish workers live in luxury.
Seeing this society reminded me of the conversations I have with friends about creating an “all-Black society.” Many prescribe to the idea that if Black people band together to help each other and create their own society, things will be better for them. My experiences in Israel prove this ideology to be incorrect. Our unity to fight racism must be based on class, not race.
Israel is a society based on their race/religion, and it has only hurt the working class. There is still poverty, exploitation, and racism—lots of racism. Nationalism has been tried and failed many times over. It is a road to failure for the international working class. The only way to build a society that works is to unite based on class and smash capitalism worldwide.
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Liberal FDR’s Nazi-Style Camps
In the December 23 issue of CHALLENGE, the letter “Racist FDR No Friend of Workers” did a good job of attacking president Roosevelt’s image as a pro-working class president. However, it did leave out one of his most racist and fascist actions, which is especially important for us to expose in the current political climate. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, FDR issued an executive order to forcefully remove all people of Japanese descent throughout the U.S, from their homes and force them into concentration camps. They were packed twenty-five people to a room built for four, limited to 45-cents of food per day, had no plumbing, insufficient medical care leading to outbreaks of dysentery and tuberculosis, and were kept in by armed guards prepared to shoot anyone who approached the fence.
Trump’s calls for the rounding-up and imprisonment of Muslim workers are no different from Roosevelt’s racist attacks on Japanese workers. But make no mistake: his rhetoric is not just right-wing hysteria. Roosevelt was an epitome of the Democratic Party. Racism and fascism are essential tools of the capitalists to keep workers divided from each other and loyal to their national bosses, to see workers across the world as their enemies. It is all part of a scheme to build for imperialist war.
Therefore, it makes no difference whether a Republican or Democrat is in office, the result is the same: more racism, more exploitation, and more attacks on workers. Whether Trump or Clinton wins the election, they will both follow this long legacy. Fight racism from all of the bosses’ mouth pieces!
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