Thursday
May222014

Letters of June 4

Bosses’ Profits Caused Mudslide, Not ‘Act of God’
After a massive mudslide wiped out dozens of homes in Washington State’s Snohomish County, officials lined up to write the event off as an accident of fate. “It was considered very safe. This was a completely unforeseen slide. This came out of nowhere,” said the head of the county Department of Emergency Management. The County Executive and Public Works Director concurred: “A slide of this magnitude is very difficult to predict. There was no indication, no indication at all.” (Seattle Times, 3/24)
Of course these statements were all lies. County officials had known since at least 1950 that this hill — known in government documents and local lore as “Hazel Landslide” and “Landslide Hill” — posed a constant danger of landslides. Landslides struck the hill in 1949, 1951, 1967, and 2006. Geomorphologist Daniel Miller, who wrote a report on the hill in 1999 for the Army Corps of Engineers, told the Seattle Times, “We’ve known it would happen at some point. We just didn’t know when.” Indeed dozens of reports have been filed with the county regarding the growing instability of a hill whose slide zone had increased dramatically over the last fifty years.
So why did the county keep granting building permits to developers? After the 2006 mudslide, Miller revisited the area and was “shocked” to see a new development being built there, “We’ve known that it’s been failing. It’s not unknown that this hazard exists.” In the last days of the housing boom that came before the current economic depression, the desire of the county to give over land to pad the enormous profits of real estate developers was greater than the concern for any of the people who might live in the homes on Landslide Hill.
Now 41 people are dead and two are still missing. The body count will most assuredly rise as more of the area is uncovered. Why did these people die? To increase the profits of the capitalist class. Yet the lack of class consciousness in this country has forced residents to accept this fate with a cynical fatalism. As one resident whose house was destroyed noted, “Nobody was warning anybody” but it was “an unrealistic expectation” to think the county could have done anything to prevent the disaster.
 “That’s like saying the river is going to flood. If the hillsides are going to slough away, they were going to slough away. That’s kind of what happens around here.”
The working class deserves better. This disaster could and should have been avoided. No homes should have ever been built on this unstable ground. The Snohomish mudslide is proof that capitalism cannot and will not provide for the working class.
Red Beard   

PatRIOTism: Rulers’ Poison that Kills Millions
What gives you a feeling of patriotism?
Patriotism: devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country, national loyalty.
Internationalism: a policy of cooperation among nations.
Internationalism: a policy of cooperation among workers of all nations.
I prefer the latter.
There is a RIOT in the middle of Patriotism.
As an anti-war fighter for most of my adult life, patriotism is not one of my strong points. I always feel uncomfortable standing up in public for the National Anthem. All countries need patriotism in order to fight wars. Bosses need blind obedience from their youth to lay down their lives. Many wars are fought to control the oil or the pipelines. The beneficiaries of these wars are big oil companies like Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, BP and others on Wall Street.
In the beginning of a war, patriotism is a mile wide in all directions but it is only a fourth of an inch thick.  At the sight of hundreds of body bags, the patriotism evaporates quickly. So the rulers of all countries must build up nationalism constantly.
Our children in schools are taught the Pledge of Allegiance very early on. In high school and college, we hear the National Anthem before sporting events. If you do not stand, you risk being ostracized. At professional sporting events, we are subjected to the same things.
Even at the Stockton Symphony, many stood up when patriotic music was played. The song may have been “Stand up for the USA.” Then the performers “The Texas Tenors” wanted to recognize all the veterans who had fought in the wars to make “our country free.”
Many social gatherings are turned into nationalistic propaganda gatherings. There is no mention of innocent workers and women and children worldwide being slaughtered for oil. We are fighting in an imperialist war for the rulers to control the assets of other countries. Imperialism sees the working class, foreign and domestic, as the enemy.
It is very hard for me to be patriotic, to view myself as an american in the same boat with other americans such as bank presidents, Wall street executives, and generals who plan wars executions and evictions every day.
I identify with bus drivers, construction workers, teachers and other workers in Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine. I view myself as a member of the international working class.
Veteran

Thursday
May082014

Letters of May 21

Rulers Allow Racist Murderer to Roam Free
When white racist Frazier Glenn Miller murdered three innocent people in Overland Park, Kansas, on April 13 the media generally described him as a “mad, lone-wolf gunman,” but he was anything but. While the ruling class spends millions spying on innocent Muslims, infiltrating Mosques, moving against participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement, setting up police Red Squads to attack communists in PLP and placing tens of thousands on no-fly lists, somehow they missed racist Miller. But with Miller’s history, he would be hard to miss.
According to Kathleen Belew, a history fellow at Northwestern University, writing in the New York Times (4/16), Miller was “a central figure of the white power movement…outspoken about his hatred of Jews, blacks, Communists and immigrants.” That movement “forged…strongholds not only in the South, but also in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, California and Pennsylvania.”
Miller served 20 years in the Army, including as a Green Beret, and in 1979 “took part…in a deadly shooting of Communist protesters in Greensboro, N.C.” The next year “Miller formed a Klan-affiliated organization in North Carolina…known as the White Patriot Party….paraded his neo-Nazis, in uniform and bearing arms, up and down streets….[and] also burned crosses. By 1986, Miller’s group claimed 2,500 members in five southern states.”
Miller “received large sums of money from…a white power group in the Pacific Northwest to buy land and weapons to put his followers through paramilitary training….[and] paid $50,000 for weapons and materials stolen from the armory at Fort Bragg, N.C., including anti-tank rockets, mines and plastic explosives….”
“The leaders have robbed armored cars, engaged in counterfeiting and the large-scale theft of military weapons and carried out or planned killings.” Yet somehow the FBI, Homeland Security, big-city police departments spying on Muslims and anti-war protesters and the State Police never went after Miller and his racist, fascist movement. Of course, now they are forced to prosecute him for his recent open murders in Kansas.
Obviously Miller was no “mad, lone-wolf gunman” but rather a neo-Nazi/Klan/white supremacist organizer of hundreds, if not thousands in his racist movement. Imagine if some Muslims or Black Panthers or communists had been organizing paramilitary training using anti-tank rockets, mines and plastic explosives! The bosses’ state apparatus would have come down on them like a ton of bricks. But somehow Miller “fell through the cracks.”
Is there any doubt that the ruling class will look the other way and allow — if not encourage — neo-Nazis like Miller to roam free to spread their racist filth while going all-out to attack, prosecute and jail opponents of their system?
Old-time Red

Heroin: Bosses’ Medicine for Capitalism’s Misery
On top of the myriad of problems this crisis-ridden capitalist society breeds, there’s now a heroin epidemic, and it’s not confined to distressed cities like Detroit. In fact, it has spread to the coalfields of Western Pennsylvania. On May 2, according to a Johnstown news story, a dozen people overdosed on heroin in 72 hours in the Johnstown area. Considering the relatively small population, that’s a lot of people, and didn’t include the number of people who used heroin but didn’t overdose.
Counselors and doctors were interviewed and gave their views on what was wrong. However, none mentioned the fact that the Johnstown area is severely economically depressed. When the mines closed and the steel mills shut down, this area went into a tailspin and today there are hardly any decent-paying jobs. Actually, there are barely any jobs of any sort and there is a growing number of permanently unemployed.
The existence of a heroin epidemic is certainly no surprise, given that desperation is rampant and people are searching for an escape from all the crap the system is throwing at them on a daily basis. Also, it’s not surprising that the crime rate is rising. People’s backs are against the wall and some respond by robbing a bank (which is infinitely less criminal than the billions the bosses steal from workers in profits made off our labor).
Of course, the capitalist ruling class would rather see people using heroin than developing class consciousness, let alone communist consciousness. Capitalism has nothing meaningful to offer workers, and some, faced with this hopelessness, unfortunately become drug addicts.
Only a communist future can free the workers from this dark night and usher in a society where the workers will rule and there will be decent and meaningful jobs for all. If a worker might fall and for some reason begin to use drugs, every attempt would be made to rehabilitate this person and find a place for him or her in the communist system.
PLP is working to win workers to communism when such afflictions as heroin abuse will become things of the past.
Red Coal

May Day ‘A Joy’ — PL’s Ideas Key to Workers’ Problems
For the last couple of years I have read CHALLENGE and some of the Party’s literature. Even though I agreed with the concept of communism, I was skeptical due to what I had learned from history about communism and its leaders. Since I was angry at society and its misleading ideas, I thought I had to lean towards black nationalism, which I never really agreed with, because I knew it was just another form of racism.
I finally attended my first May Day this year, and I have to say, it was a great experience. The march was great, everybody chanting out of joy and disgust, plus it was great exercise. Mostly joy that it’s May Day and disgust because of the capitalist society that we still have to deal with. I’ve always had my qualms about the government and the injustices that go along with it, long before my friend introduced me to CHALLENGE and the Party. In fact, I was a victim of some of those injustices, so I can definitely identify with the Party’s ideas. I’ve lived in this neighborhood where the march was held my whole life, and I can see the changes due to gentrification and how people are just struggling to live here.
The May Day feast was great, the food was delightful, and the entertainment was very informative. People playing music, reciting poems, acting, speeches, it all had a very positive message to it and was just amazing. I would definitely attend next year. I just like the unity and strength that’s involved. Before that, my friend usually had given me issues of CHALLENGE, and that is a gift in itself. It is filled with great information and vast perspectives, and I will definitely continue reading it. I’m also interested in attending study groups to learn more about the Party’s analysis on world politics. I also want to learn more of how communism can fix the problems of the working class in an egalitarian society.   
Friend of PLP

Saturday
Apr262014

Letters of May 7

GI Rebellions Turned Guns Around in Vietnam War
Eleven people — teachers, a nurse, two EMT workers, and a professional actress — watched, discussed, and were motivated by “Sir! No Sir!”, the terrific film about how soldiers organized against the Vietnam War. This was an unprecedented period of GI resistance and rebellion, a time when the U.S. generals could no longer count on soldiers to fight their imperialist war.
All of us were inspired by the brave acts of rebellion, including the Presidio Mutiny in which 27 military prisoners in the San Francisco stockade held a sit-down protest over prison conditions. The soldiers were sentenced up to 16 years in prison. Other soldiers announced their refusal to serve in Vietnam and were also sent to prison. Entire units in Vietnam refused to fight.
The film showed how rebellious soldiers put out underground newspapers and established antiwar coffeehouses, which became centers of antiwar organizing. Entertainers like Pete Seeger, Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Country Joe McDonald and others performed free antiwar shows to tens of thousands of enthusiastic soldiers and sailors.
Since the history is kept hidden from most people, here are some of the facts:
Between July 1, 1966 and December 31, 1973, there were 503,926 “incidents of desertion,” (U.S. Department of Defense).
A thousand Vietnam veterans, some in wheelchairs and on crutches, marched in Washington, DC in 1971 against the war. Many threw their purple heart medals and bronze stars at the Capitol building. Hundreds spoke at campus forums and rallies, countering the lie that soldiers supported the war. In fact, a 1975 survey revealed that 75 percent of veterans opposed the war.
Sailors sabotaged the engines of ships destined for Vietnam. Antiwar sailors on three huge aircraft carriers — the USS Constellation, the USS Coral Sea, and the USS Kitty Hawk — formed an organization called SOS (Stop Our Ships/Support Our Sailors). Thousands of crew members signed antiwar petitions, published antiwar newspapers and supported crew members who refused service.
There were 551 reported incidents of “fraggings” — grenade attacks by soldiers on their officers. This number didn’t include rifle attacks on unpopular officers.
We then discussed the contradiction facing military planners: a volunteer army tends to have more motivated and gung-ho soldiers, but there aren’t enough to fight a major imperialist war. A draft gives them the numbers bosses need, but at the risk of having many more disgruntled and rebellious soldiers and sailors. “Sir! No Sir!” shows it’s possible to win large numbers of soldiers to rebel against fighting imperialist wars.
People often ask how it’s possible to have a revolution in a country where a powerful military and police force exist to suppress it. “Sir! No Sir!” shows that soldiers can and will reject the roles that have been assigned to them, and they can turn the guns around and fight for what’s in their class interests.
We invited our friends to PLP’s May Day celebration.
A reader

Minimum Wage and Maximum Exploitation
My son is an organizer for a major union out here in Western Pennsylvania. Currently, he’s very involved in the “Fight For Fifteen” campaign, which is a reform struggle to win a raise in the minimum wage to $15/an/hour for fast food workers and others. I’ve discussed this question with my son and others.
It appears that many workers support this raise, which itself is barely enough to survive on. I think we should be involved in this struggle, while putting forth our communist analysis. I think it’s clear that raising the minimum wage will do next to nothing to eradicate wage slavery and we must explain this to fellow workers.
I would use this analogy. Suppose a plantation owner in the south reduced the hours slaves were forced to work from 14 to 12. Would this mean the slave system would become more humane? I think not. Would the lives of the slave have improved due to this? Hardly at all. Some may think this analogy doesn’t hold water, but I think it contains a kernel of truth.
Then there is the question of the cost of living, which will inevitably rise alongside the minimum-wage increase, negating the raise for the low-paid workers. In fact, due to inflation the current minimum wage is actually worth less than 50 years ago.
As we know, it took a bloody Civil War to overturn the slave system and it will take a communist revolution to uproot capitalism and wage slavery, the only real solution for very exploited low-wage workers, as well as for all workers. I would be interested in hearing other views on the minimum-wage question.
Red Coal

Expose Nazi Lies about Katyn Massacre
April 13 is Katyn Memorial Day. This is the day that Polish nationalists and anticommunists commemorate the alleged murder of 22,000 Polish prisoners of war by the Soviets and Stalin in1940. Problem is that it did not happen!
This is an anticommunist lie. It was invented by the Nazis in 1943, and taken up by all the capitalist powers during the Cold War. In 1990-1992, two fanatic anticommunists, Gorbachev and Yeltsin “admitted” Soviet guilt. I myself, a researcher, believed it for a few years. Then, for a longer time, I was agnostic, believing that we just can’t know; there’s too much conflicting evidence.
But now we know this story simply cannot possibly be true. I published the reasons why in the journal Socialism and Democracy last August in the article titled, “The ‘Official’ Version of the Katyn Massacre Disproven? Discoveries at a German Mass Murder Site in Ukraine.” (See http://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/furr_katyn_preprint_0813.pdf for a copy.)
It wasn’t me who made the discoveries that utterly disprove the Katyn story. Polish and Ukrainian archeologists did that. They found things they never expected to find, and certainly hoped no one would ever find. And now they are keeping quiet about it. Yes, the Poles, the Ukrainians, and the Russians too, are keeping this secret. This — the biggest World War II-related discovery of the past several years — is simply hushed up. It is a real “conspiracy of silence.”
Katyn Memorial Day, April 13, is a good day to tell the world: “Stalin Is Innocent! The Soviets Are Not Guilty of Killing 22,000 Polish Prisoners of War!” This isn’t going to stop the anticommunists. Of course not!
Since when have anticommunists cared about the truth and evidence? Capitalist Poland has spent at least $500 million on hundreds of memorials all over Poland, and three of them in Russia. They aren’t going to allow a little thing like historical truth spoil their wonderful anticommunist orgy!
So we should do our best to spoil it for them. Today is a good day to tell the world: “The ‘Katyn Massacre’ Is An Anticommunist Fraud!” Spread the word!
Soviet History Researcher

Thursday
Mar272014

Letters of April 9

Plea Bargaining A Ploy in U.S. INjustice System
In the U.S. criminal injustice system, plea bargaining is far more common than convictions based on evidence.
Two articles in CHALLENGE (3/12) described struggles at Chicago Transit and DC Metro, respectively, against the firing of, or failure to hire drivers and mechanics who were convicted of a felony. The pretext given by the two transit systems is “protection of passengers.”  But PLP in both cities have exposed the falsehood of this claim by showing that there is no evidence that they pose any such danger.
PLP has also shown that the transit policies are extremely racist, since the number of people convicted of felonies among black and Latino workers is disproportionately higher than for white workers. This is due to the outrageous racism in the injustice system in which far more black and Latino workers are arrested and convicted of felonies than are white workers, though the same injustice also affects many white workers, and indeed others.
However, one vital point must be added to these otherwise excellent articles. The DC article stated, “...more black and Latino workers...are arrested and convicted at higher rates [emphasis added].” It is important to recognize that to be convicted of a crime does not mean one was found guilty by either a judge or a jury based on evidence presented in a trial. The technical legal definition of conviction includes plea bargaining, in which the accused is coerced into confessing to a crime of which they were actually innocent.
Some day the international working class, under communist leadership, will make this criminal system pay for their outrageous “crimes against humanity.”  But we should never assume that someone who has a record as a felon was ever convicted based on evidence in a trial — as they will be the first to tell you, and in most cases truthfully so. The odds are overwhelming that they were coerced into a confession — almost 20 or 30 to 1.
How does this coercion work? It arises from an indication by the prosecutor that the accused is going to be charged with an even greater crime that carries a much longer sentence, if not the death penalty. This is done frequently, even though the prosecutor knows fully well the person is innocent of this greater crime. This vicious ploy is used to force a confession to a lesser crime, in order get it over with quickly without the need for a time-and-money-consuming trial.
Of course, even in the course of a trial many innocent workers are convicted because of a combination of false evidence planted by police, prejudice on the part of judge and/or jury, and/or an incompetent or uncaring public defender or other defense lawyer, among other possible reasons.
Convictions by trial are, in fact, very rare in the making of felons, on both the federal and state levels. A majority of prisoners turned into felons are put in that position not on the basis of trials, but rather of plea bargains. In fact, an article in the Wall Street Journal (9/23/12), titled “Federal Guilty Pleas Soar As Bargains Trump Trials,” reports that in 2011, 97 percent of federal cases were resolved through plea bargains rather than trial convictions. The Bureau of Justice Assistance states the same approximate percentage applies at the state level.
Plea bargains are a trick used by prosecutors all over the U.S, who — with impunity and without fear of retaliation from the working class (in the absence of a revolution) — can accuse arrested workers of any crime they choose to invent, with punishments that involve many years in prison. When caught red-handed, they claim that they do this to unclog the overstressed court system in the face of huge numbers of arrests by cops. But they mainly use such methods to increase their numbers of convictions in order to advance their own political careers. They even use false accusations and plea bargaining against their political rivals for office. Civil rights lawyer Harvey Silverglate’s 2009 book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, fully describes this unstoppable criminality by prosecutors.
We are well aware that cops plant evidence all the time in order to obtain convictions or, more often, to promote fear-inspired plea bargaining. Funding of police departments is proportional to the number of arrests and “convictions,” which is falsely taken as a measure of need — the more arrests the more money allotted. But the equally criminal behavior of prosecutors is less known publicly.
It is futile to expect justice from a racist system. The racist courts clearly do not function in the interest of the working class. There will come a day when the working class will demolish the bosses’ injustice system.
Saguaro Rojo

Bosses Stamp on Food for Workers
We have to be aware that the problem of food stamps has been cooking for some time now. The principle ingredients are government privatization and government politicians.
The end result is a stew in the form of reduction of resources for families of low income while, at the same time, the rich and their politicians line their pockets and fill bloated stomachs. They are not in our shoes and will never comprehend our necessities.
I believe that we shouldn’t wait any longer. We have to defend our rights day in and day out and support the less fortunate. We are people and not animals and that as part of the working class, we have the right to demand respect.
Enough with abuse of power: we want a real change, not the usual lies. We will not stumble over and over again with the same false promises. We are fighters and as fighters, we will continue to fight fascism here.
Red Cook

Get Off Rulers’ Treadmill
September 13 will forever be remembered as when Mexico’s corrupt parties such as the PRI, PAN, PRO and PT, the number one loyal servants of the capitalists, showed us once again the kind of politicians we have here. This is the future that awaits us and our children of the working class unless we rebel.
The teachers are not intimidated because they have confronted this problem with sharp struggle that has given them the force and courage to face this and raise their voices for their rights.
If we don’t fight to make a change we will continue on a treadmill  from one generation to the next. All of us exploited by capitalism need to leave as an inheritance to our children the defense of our rights in this country.
Let’s make a call to the working class worldwide to always unite in support of each other in the fight for social equality and for communism .
Where there is unity, there is a solution!
Internationalist

Forward to Clean Up the Garbage of Capitalism
Re: “The Mass Fight Against Public School Privatization in Mexico,” Oct. 16, 2013:
I am a mother involved in the fight for a better education for my kids and other students who have suffered from a mediocre education filled with obstacles keeping them from advancing.
The government complains about the reaction and protests from the teachers and community but because of their lack of respect they leave us no other option. They want to keep us as puppets and take away the right to our opinions. They defend privatization not just for the schools but for everything that affects the working class. Now is the moment to act and unite our forces.
We know that the political parties in Mexico are self-serving and corrupt. They ascend their throne without caring that the poorest and hardest workforce of their country should suffer from hunger and lack of medical attention while the bosses and their politicians enjoy the profits stolen from all the citizens.
I invite every person that is suffering all this — do not stay quiet! Everyone can raise their voice to be heard because there will always be someone to support you and together we can clean up all this garbage. Don’t surrender. Let’s continue forward.
Anticapitalist Reader

How Racism Spoils Baltimore Food Market
Recently, the Baltimore Sun has been writing about the Lexington Market, which is a large public marketplace that’s been there since 1782. The Sun’s recent coverage about the market has been one-sided, and borders on being racist. The reportage about the Market has focused almost exclusively on negative things, talking about “middle-income shoppers who abandoned” the Market, and “hoped-for” shoppers who currently avoid it “whether because of discomfort with the setting, dissatisfaction with the offerings or both.”
But that’s not how the Lexington Market seems to me and many of our friends.
I am a teacher at one of our city’s public high schools. Each year, for more than three decades, I have taken my English students to Central Pratt Library for a full day kicking off the work on their research papers. For many of those years, at lunchtime, we have walked to the market. Just last month, we conducted one of these scholarly field trips, with about 100 students, and, as usual, we had a really nice lunchtime experience. In fact, students from another school happened to be there at the same time, officially on stage, performing in honor of Black History Month. Many diners enthusiastically watched the performances from the second-floor seating area.
Of course, like all things, the Market could improve. It would be nice, for example, to be able to buy unsweetened iced tea, not just the sugary variety, as part of the delicious “half-and-half” beverages which are locally unique and mixed-to-order at one of the Market’s customer-friendly stalls.
I went to Lexington Market recently for lunch with a former teaching colleague, now retired.  While waiting for at a stall, I got into a conversation with the gentleman in front of me.  He recruits  at local high schools for Hampton University.  He joined us for lunch. The Market was bustling, and we had to look hard to find a table for three.
A young man passing by noticed our grey hair, tapped one of us on the shoulder and, with a sincere and respectful smile, said, “There’s a lot of wisdom at this table!”  It was quite a tribute. The young man was black; we three elders were a multi-racial group, two black and one white.
 It seems to me that what the recent Sun articles are really saying is not that too few people go to Lexington Market, but that too high a percentage of the diners and shoppers are black. It reminds me of the racial make-up of the teaching force in Baltimore City. When I began teaching in the 1970s, the vast majority of public-school educators in Baltimore were black, serving as great role models for our predominately black student population.
Now, however, utilizing large numbers of teachers from Teach-for-a-Minute (the program’s real name is Teach for America, but the nickname is more accurate) and by other means, the forces controlling our city have significantly reduced the percentage of black teachers, who have dwindled to being a minority of the staff.  This unfavorable transformation has been engendered purposely even though 84 percent of our students are black.
Are The Sun and its owners now seeking to racially transform Lexington Market? Is that what this is really all about? If not, why are stories like mine, about years of good experiences at the Market, largely absent from The Sun’s coverage?
Baltimore PL’er

Lack Valid Criticism on Syria
In the letter (3/26) entitled “Syria Editorial Misleading,” the two comrades seem to have overlooked or misunderstood most of the points made in the 2/12  Editorial.
First, the letter says that the word “capitalist” is not mentioned even once in the article when, in fact, it appears twice, and in the very first paragraph.
Second, in the next-to-last paragraph, the letter says the article is weak in pointing out how shifting imperialist alliances only aided the needs of the ruling classes. However, the article’s title, “Syria: Centuries of Repression, Division and Exploitation” and most of its content are devoted to how colonial and imperialist powers have done exactly that.
Finally, in the last paragraph, the letter says the article omits an explanation of internal class conflicts in Syria or any other Middle East country. On the other hand, the article discusses the role of the “Communist” Party in the internal politics of Syria and the region and how nationalist, religious and ethnic divisions have led to workers fighting other workers against their own class interests.
The letter makes a correct point that it would have been better if the article had said “The French rulers” instead of “The French,” but that doesn’t negate the lack of validity in most of the criticism. Our Party’s growth depends on our ability to promote criticism and self-criticism. More collective discussion by letter writers and editors is needed.
A Comrade

Saturday
Mar152014

Letters of March 26

Need to Take a Stand Against Racism
At lunch recently, one of my coworkers related some of his experiences working in Saudi Arabia.  He said that he worked for a private employer who employed several hundred workers.  His boss would seize their passports and demanded to be paid whenever they needed their passports to travel to neighboring Dubai or to visit family in India, where many were from.  He said that he experienced many instances of racist discrimination because some Saudis disliked darker-skinned people who were non-Muslim. His brother, who still lives in Saudi Arabia, was in a minor car accident in which the other driver was a native.  The driver beat his brother and fled, and when the police arrived they did nothing to help.  It seems that immigrants are discriminated against all over the world.
This reminds me of another lunchtime conversation in which several coworkers were making disparaging comments about Middle Eastern and Arab immigrants to the U.S.
One said that they manipulate the system by getting LINK cards (gov’t. assistance) while driving expensive cars and owning businesses.  Another worker said she helped a neighbor from the Middle East do his tax return, and that his wife makes tax-free income by cleaning houses; while he is a truck driver.  She stated they were able to buy an expensive house because his employer, who is also from the Middle East, exaggerated his income.  I did not say much to this.
After conveying this discussion to my comrades, they suggested that I should have said that the same false ideas are pushed about black and other dark-skinned workers under capitalism. These racist ideas permeate the working class to keep us divided and to keep the rulers in power.  The main manipulators of the system are a small group of capitalists who profit from exploiting labor power throughout the world.  They are responsible for profiting while workers suffer from poverty, racism and constant wars for world domination. 
I was reminded that in order for the working class to make progress toward achieving a communist future, I should make a plan with my coworkers to take a stand against the racist conditions we face every day on the job, including understaffing, cutbacks and lack of equipment.  This letter represents a first step in that direction.
Red Worker
Seeger Went Only So Far in Opposing Rulers
I believe that the letter/eulogy in the March 12 issue of CHALLENGE is a “bit” too optimistic about Pete Seeger and his “contributions” to the struggle to destroy capitalism. In his late youth and early adulthood, Pete played an active role in many union-organizing campaigns. His overall approach was to “embarrass” the ruling class into seeing the “errors of their ways.” But this strategy has never worked and never will. It is to Seeger’s credit that he recognized the inhuman essence of “free” enterprise.
However, Seeger never went beyond this, even after being blacklisted by the entertainment industry and after the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) called him to “testify” at one of their circus “hearings.”
I, too, was a fan of Pete Seeger and it was very difficult and very sad when I realized that he had abandoned the fight that helped to inspire me to join the Progressive Labor Movement in 1963 and the Progressive Labor Party in 1965. To understand the depth to which Seeger had sunk, consider the letter in the NY Times shortly after his death.
The letter-writer recounted that Seeger had been invited to perform at the local high school and the right-wing elements in the community attempted to prevent his appearance based on his earlier support for workers and unions as well as his opposition to the War in Vietnam. As things turned out, the crude attempts to prevent Pete from showing up were soundly defeated. However, to the letter-writer’s delight, the evening began with Seeger singing The Star Bangled Banner. Clearly, he wanted to show that he was a “loyal American, just like you and me!”
J Red
CHALLENGE Must Expose Exploitation of White Workers Too
I must make a criticism with regards to something the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) in general and CHALLENGE “did not say” in regards to our sister and brother workers who are white. In the CHALLENGE editorial of February 12, 2014, the editorial says, “These conditions fall mostly on black, Latino, and Asian workers and youth because of the racism intrinsic to capitalism. Without racism, and the divisions and super-exploitation that stem from it, the profit system could not sustain itself.”  While we all can agree 100 percent that nonwhite workers are super-exploited and super-oppressed, what about white workers?
From reading this and other CHALLENGE articles, you would hardly know white workers had any problems under capitalism. This is only going to confuse readers because white workers are also oppressed —political economy clearly illustrates that white workers are oppressed in terms of relative exploitation, while in terms of absolutes nonwhite workers are super-exploited by the bosses. While black and Latino workers’ living standards have deteriorated, white workers standard of living has also fallen.
For example, now new autoworkers work for about $14-an-hour across the board, down from about $30-an hour. Racism has helped lower the wages of already exploited white workers. The Party, i.e CHALLENGE, needs to do a better job in pointing out the plight of white workers, as we want to win them to see fighting racism is crucial and to communist revolution along with our nonwhite sisters and brothers internationally.
As someone who has been living in Indianapolis for seven months, I have seen that whites too have many issues due to the horrors of capitalism. In downtown Indianapolis the majority of homeless workers are white. In many of the suburban schools where I work, white students are being sugarcoated the message “of serving in the military,” but not being told exactly WHO benefits,  (the U.S. bosses) and at what costs to these future soldiers.(Suicides, being maimed, homeless). 
To quote comrade Karl Marx, “Labor in the white skin can never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded.”
Indiana Red
CHALLENGE comment: Our comrade is absolutely correct in saying that white workers are exploited by capitalism. No worker is immune from capitalist
exploitation. However, we have repeatedly said in article after article involving workers’ struggles that white workers are hurt by the racist divisions in two ways: in cuts in wages, health insurance, mortgage, foreclosures, among other attacks. Secondly, we’ve always made the point that the racist super-exploitation of black, brown, and immigrant workers is used as a club to threaten white workers’ conditions and drag them down. In fact, we point out that racism divides and weakens the whole working class.
Syria Editorial is Misleading
Comments on the back-page article on Syria (2/12/14 issue)
This impressively sweeping article was very informative about the history of shifting rivalries among various imperialist nations over Syria and the Middle East in general.  The major imperialists (capitalist-ruled nations) were at first Britain and France in the early 20th century, and after World War II the US and the Soviet Union (later Russia, already becoming state capitalist by that time).
We would add, however, that the way of describing the various imperialist ruling classes is unintentionally inconsistent and misleading.  Sometimes the ruling classes are described as “rulers” or “imperialists,” but other times the name of the nation they rule is substituted.  For example, instead of saying (next to last paragraph, column 1), “The French were harsh colonial masters in Syria” this would be better stated as “The French rulers were harsh...”  After all, given that France was, and is, a capitalist society, the French working class was subject to that same harsh rule.
It is important for all readers to realize that such terms as “The French” instead of the “The French rulers” was nothing but a shorthand way of saying the same thing.  But unless it is stated as “rulers” or “imperialists,” or even “capitalists” (a word that doesn’t appear even once in the article), it risks reinforcing the idea – one that we are all taught from birth – that countries that call themselves “democracies” act as a unit.  This idea implies that the responsibility for the actions of any nation’s ruling capitalist class is placed squarely on the shoulders of the workers of that nation, along with those who rule our lives.  We cannot remind readers too often that all nations are divided into classes with opposing interests, even if doing so makes an article longer or more repetitive.
We would also emphasize explicitly a couple of other points that are only implicit in the article as written.  The first point concerns the way that alliances among various rival imperialist rulers of different nations are always temporary and keep shifting as the rulers find their circumstances changing.  Another way of putting it is that there is no honor among thieves, and all alliances are merely ways of satisfying the immediate goals of each capitalist ruling class.
A second point to be emphasized is that the article, perhaps to fit it on one page, omits explanation about the internal class conflicts in Syria or any other country in the Middle East.  What effect these internal class conflicts have had on the successes or failures of the rival imperialists in reaching their goals is left unexplored.  An even more likely reason for this omission is that we have yet to research this area enough, so our knowledge of it is still poor.  It is, however, a vital area to be explored in the future.  We all have a lot to learn.
Two Comrades
Racist Cover-up Proves Cops Murdered Kyam Livingston
Recently-revealed documents prove NYPD cops are lying about the death of Kyam Livingston in custody last July. Kyam Livingston was a Brooklyn mother arrested for allegedly arguing and becoming violent with her grandmother. She died after being held for many hours in a cell at Central Booking, despite suffering from intense stomach pains and diarrhea. Her family has been campaigning against the police cover-up ever since, and holds monthly demonstrations.
According to her fellow inmates, when they brought Livingston’s deteriorating condition to the cops’ attention, one approached the cell and said, “Shut the f**k up, or we’ll lose your papers.” Livingston curled over in intense pain for over seven hours.
The NYPD claims Livingston died in an ambulance en-route to Brooklyn Hospital Center on July 21st. But when the Livingston family’s lawyer wrote to the hospital asking to see the ambulance reports for her, they replied, “We are unable to comply with your request at this time for the following reason(s): We show no treatment at this facility for the dates of service you requested.”
No records? No treatment? If the hospital has no records for Livingston whatsoever, it proves the NYPD lied about getting her medical attention. It suggests the cops didn’t even bother placing any 911 calls, and that she virtually died at Central Booking.
But there’s more. Media reports keep referring to Kyam as a “drunken woman.” But officers first took her to Kings County Hospital after her arrest, and her chart there does not show any blood, urine or breathalyzer tests taken. The second page of that report also featured instructions to officers to “get prompt medical attention if any of the following [symptoms] occur.” The list included “increasing upper abdominal pain.” It is apparent the pigs in command ignored those instructions.
And if Kyam was truly drunk upon arrest, why is her toxicology report negative for all ethanol and basic drugs?
Overall, these reports show there is a massive cover-up going on. More importantly, it shows the racist, sexist mindset that permeates the Ideological State Apparatuses surrounding our lives. The media smeared this woman as drunk, despite no facts to back that up. And even if she was drunk that day, that will never justify how Livingston died. Police officers treated her as if she wasn’t even human, or even deserving of any medical care.
A black woman’s life under capitalism will always be undervalued! It’s about time we put a permanent stop to that, and all forms of exploitation people of color worldwide endure on a daily basis.

Red Journalist