Standing Up for Communism
A recent experience reaching out to Chicago workers about a police murder has shown me again that communism is strong, and nationalism is weak, and a tool of the bosses.
I went to Polk and California on the west side of Chicago to participate in a community demonstration against the police murder of a young black man two days before. I live only a few blocks away but Ogden Ave has become a dividing line in our area between black families on the north and mostly Latin to the south. I didn’t know anyone in that community and didn’t know who else from the Party would be there.
I wore my May Day T-shirt from last year, with “Workers of the World Unite!” on it. I had Challenges and leaflets explaining the events in Ferguson, Missouri. When I got there, before the starting time, there were people sitting on their front porches and sitting and walking along the sidewalk. I offered them Challenge and the leaflet. Almost everyone was hungry for information and analysis. One young fellow began reading the leaflet out loud. I waited as he read the first few paragraphs.
When he got to the line I liked, and which I felt separated us from the liberals, I emphasized it: “that the rebels were not mistaken, they pretty much had their enemies in their sights and met them…” It made me wish that segregation was not so strong in Chicago — it’s kept me from having much chance of meeting these people any other way.
After a while, another PL’er and I were confronted by a guy who said he was a Nation of Islam nationalist. He said that he and the black community could never be free following a European style philosophy, and demanded that we stop distributing literature. I challenged this idea, but a local political leader or undercover cop was watching, and I thought they might be setting up an incident. I walked away towards my car, but as I went I continued to hand out literature. The nationalist confronted me again, and I decided that since I had no base on this block, I decided to put my literature away for awhile and see how things developed.
More and more people kept coming. More Party people arrived and some of them began getting out literature as well. This same nationalist fellow confronted one of them like he had me. He talked back like I had but he held his ground and never put away his literature. Speakers started, more people were coming, and we marched to the police station soon after. I went to get my literature and got all of it handed out. People were friendly and glad to see us there and welcomed our class perspective. I liked pointing out the Challenge article on the back page which read, “No Cops, No Crime” about China in the early revolutionary days of the Cultural Revolution.
On our way back to the car, a young mother and her daughter stopped my wife and me and said that they had been trying to get in touch with some group and gave us her email address.
So nationalism is weak. Communism is strong. We have a lot of work to do to win black workers to the Party.
The feeling of cynicism and apathy, which so commonly afflicts those who understand the path our world is heading for, had me in its grips for a long time. I wasn’t losing hope, but I wasn’t exactly looking forward to anything either. But when I made the decision to go down to DC (see page 5), to show support for my comrades there, I knew it was the right one. The five-hour bus rides were full of laughs, sleep and serious deliberations on the way back.
I asked the highly technical question: “Why is everyone in PL so… chill?” I’m sure there’s a good answer — the type of people who will dedicate their lives to revolution tend to have a deeper understanding of things. Those who are critical of the world around them are probably critical of the sh*t they do. But for now I’m just enjoying the fact that even though some of these people I haven’t seen in months, and some of these people I’ve only just met, there’s still the mutual connection it seems only comrades can have.
The political work was sharp. Older comrades did an amazing job of supporting younger leaders. There were a few wrenches in the works, mainly people touting nationalist, black economy ideas. There was also a fire alarm during the panel discussion. It ended wonderfully, with a rally, working-class fists and voices from the neighborhood going up in solidarity.
DC was a place where some new perspective was gained about what it means to organize. From the students there who shared the lessons they’ve learned, to just getting out and having a rally, it reminded me of what our communist world will look like. As I step back into my capitalist world with increasingly meaningless obligations, that even as I write I’m pushing up against, I’m inspired once more to work towards a communist world that now seems much more possible.
NYC Red Student
Struggles from the Underground
The time has come to address a primary issue that many of us face and which we are silent about. This key issue is how to keep ourselves in line with our principles when facing capitalists in our careers.
As for my experience, I struggle daily with it. I am a part of the capitalist aspect of a non-profit, and I find it very hard to cope when I attend financial conferences and grant meetings. In a room full of the ruling bosses, I feel as though I am injected with toxins as I shake hands with the one percent and politicians. “Wooing” them becomes an objective for me as my goal is geared towards assisting my superiors to recoup funding, or advocating for potential new funding in order to keep our project functioning.
At those moments, I feel as though I have compromised myself and that I am going against our Party’s strong core principles. But here is the silver lining for me: the struggles of the workers (both employed and unemployed) who are our clients seeking our help at the non-profit out-weights it all. Seeing how tired and hopeless our brothers and sisters and potential comrades are changes my perspective. Fighting to keep our doors open for our brothers and sisters is the driving force and it prompts me to see this struggle in a new light.
I see this dilemma as working with other comrades in disguise collectively to ensure that the safety nets of the working people remain protected. This is a primary opportunity to share our Party’s objective and introduce them to a new way of living.
What has surprised me in my journey during my first year as a communist is how I have been able to reshape the mind of my trusted manager/friend, thus having him express the same shared beliefs without me pushing. Seeing how my manager/friend has evolved as the struggle of the workers at our project has increased, and how his beliefs have change to being somewhat in line with what we believe in is a small victory to the advancement of our Party. It’s only a matter of time before we can build a movement that will encourage people to fight for a new society of communism that works for the benefit of all peoples.
La lucha continua! Power to the working people!
End Racism from Belize to the U.S.
The Eric Garner march in August was important to me because it was the first time I was able to be a part of something I was angry about something that’s in our community. That was my first time taking a stand and putting it out there that I’m going to fight for what I believe in.
When I was eleven months old my dad was killed by a cop and instead of being treated and instead of calling EMS, they put him bleeding in the back of the cop car and took him to the precinct and let him die. They figured he was just another street kid. My father was 21; he was here in New York while I was still living in Belize.
I lived there until I was sixteen. It’s a really beautiful place, a jewel. But in the working-class neighborhoods it’s all about gang wars over drugs. The government calls these little “truce meetings” with the leaders of these gangs, take pictures and looks good, and a few days later more people are shot. The cops are all bribed by the gang leaders and you fend for yourself.
Most people work for the tourist industry. Others work in the banks. Other people make extra money carving beautiful wooden statues of our national bird out of wood to sell to the tourists. Opportunities for education are bad and it comes down to money. In high school I wanted to study biology and chemistry to become a doctor, and I realized that only the rich can do that.
There’s no healthcare in Belize. Most people take the two-hour bus ride to Mexico to the hospitals near the border. Poor people have to go there because the Belizean dollar is stronger than the Mexican peso. Forget about it during a medical emergency, and every child grows up knowing to not go to the hospitals in Belize because they’re for the rich.
Racism is in Belize in every way possible, and when I came to the United States it was a shock because I thought it would be completely different, but it’s just the same. In Belize, politicians tell people what they want to hear and make promises, and have these puppets come to the neighborhoods where people are outraged and calm everyone down and to trust the government, just like after Eric Garner. After a police or gang shooting the cops claim to be “interviewing” the suspects they arrest but they’re all on the payroll and their mentality is, “Let them all kill each other so we don’t have to do anything.” It’s just like how the NYPD treated my father.
I used to think I would never go back because there is nothing for me there. Belize is such a small country, and it’s like no one else in the world cares about what’s going on there. How can you live in a place where every day you don’t know if you’re going to die or not, if you or your kids can just walk outside into a crossfire? But I see what’s going on everywhere and it makes me angry, and people in Belize need to know there’s an organization fighting back. Now I would go home and see if I can make a difference.
I’m excited to go with the Progressive Labor Party to Ferguson if I can. I don’t think people in Belize know that there are places where people are fighting back. For me, Ferguson would be an experience to see people standing up and fighting instead of being divided and struggling alone.
EMT from Belize
Standing Up for Communism
FIGHTING AND LEARNING IN FERGUSON
During the Ferguson October weekend, we practiced building with the working class. We learned so much from each other, but more from the workers in Ferguson. We learned from the courage of the youth in Lost Voices, who lead hundreds in daily marches to the Ferguson police station with PLP chants like “Mike Brown means we’ve got to fight back,” and their own “Who do we want? Darren Wilson! How do we want him? Dead! He left Mike Brown? Dead!”
On Saturday, we watched a documentary about Lost Voices with the members of the group, and had a sharp conversation with some of them about the direction of Lost Voices. One member thought we should vote, but we struggled with him over the need for a violent revolution for communism because the capitalist ruling class will never allow an election to overthrow a system that works for them! They listened.
In the middle of this, we suddenly heard that someone was being harassed by the police outside. They were harassing a black member of Lost Voices who had pulled up in a car driven by a young white worker. The car had an out-of-state license plate. Dozens of us poured outside, surrounded the police cars and started chanting “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” That became “FTP! F*ck the police!” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! These racist cops have got to go!” We sent them packing. The cops saw our strength and took off in a full retreat.
The working class has power and once we flex our muscles, the rulers don’t stand a chance.
★ ★ ★ ★
My morale about this weekend was low before we went door-to-door selling CHALLENGE, because I was cynical about the effectiveness of going door-to-door. I was wrong.
The police harassed us within 30 seconds of arriving at the first apartment complex of almost completely black workers. When we spoke to a black Vietnam veteran, he told us some things about life in this apartment complex.
Children can’t even bounce any type of ball without police harassment;
People can’t leave their porches without the police stopping and asking where they were going;
St. Louis County Police began really moving in after Mike Brown’s shooting, so now they get harassed by the Ferguson PD AND the St. Louis County PD.
We talked with several more workers and everyone was happy to receive CHALLENGE and thanked us. When we went to a nearby apartment complex, the reaction to CHALLENGE was awesome, and people were even more receptive to our ideas. One of the conversations we had was with a young mother and her child, a high school student. They were excited when we articulated our vision of communism, especially when they thought about life without the police and landlords.
Everyone we spoke to was very turned on by our ideas.
★ ★ ★ ★
The trip to Ferguson that I made with my comrades taught me about commitment to our Party, and what commitment to the international working class means.
Almost everyone in our PLP contingent was fighting off some type of fever or respiratory infection, but no one complained. Not once. We knew the work we were doing this weekend was important for the international working class. We marched in the whipping rain and we called for armed revolution loudly and proudly. In between the sharp discussions analyzing our objectives and our plans, we marched, chanted, distributed our literature and CHALLENGE. We engaged other workers and students politically with so many positive reactions it even surprised us a little. And then we regrouped, took care of each other, bought more medicine, made criticisms and self-criticisms, and did it again. And again.
The person that taught me the most about commitment, however, was one of the leaders of the Ferguson rebellion. This 24 year-old male black rebel from Ferguson, who has two children, had this to say: “We got to fight back. Is that even a question? We don’t have the guns and tanks like they do but when we were all in the street together, confronting them you know, we felt like we could take over the world. And you know what? All of those people who came in and told us to calm down, they ain’t fighting. And then we saw people like y’all from all over the world coming and supporting us and we knew we were right... I’m doing this for my kids so they don’t have the life we had. I want my kids to grow up proud of me. I want them to say “daddy was a freedom fighter.” That’s what this is. We fighting for freedom.”
★ ★ ★ ★
PLP’s actions in Ferguson October reminded us of the power of internationalism. Along with CHALLENGE, we delivered a hand-written letter. Youth respected that veterans from the U.S. Navy sent a letter of solidarity to Ferguson rebels. They respected that comrades sent the message, “All the way from Haiti, we understand what your struggle is all about. Just like in Ferguson, the criminal cops massacre youth.” They respected that comrades from Mexico wrote, “We honor Michael Brown and all youth terrorized and murdered by capitalism.” To win the fight against cops and capitalism, the fight must cross, and finally demolish, national borders. These greetings and their reception show how potentially powerful PLP’s line “Smash All Borders” and “One world. One class. One Party” can be.
Too often, we underestimate the power of our politics. Ferguson October was as much a test of PL’s line as it was a test of PL’s young comrades. PL youth have learned a lot from the masses this weekend, mainly that workers are willing to fight for communism. Two Chicago students actively defended us when pacifist Unitarians tried to attack our bullhorn. In another case, students took up the chant, “They can’t stop the revolution. ‘Cause the only solution is communist revolution!” Upon hearing it for the first time, one woman-student replied, “Oh, I guess I can get down with that,” and co-led the chant with the PL’er.
These fightbacks aren’t just happening in the streets. For six days, protesters occupied the St. Louis University’s clock tower. Hundreds had turned a march into a sit-in, which turned into an occupation. Students and residents connected the racist cops in the streets to the racist policies on campus. Antiracist fighters clashed with racist pro-Darren-Wilson Cardinal fans and outside Busch Stadium.
In a flashmob, a dozen of mainly black and white protesters sang “Which Side Are You On” and unfurled a banner of Mike Brown at a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In the words of the flashmob fighters, “justice for Mike Brown means justice for us all.” Justice for Mike Brown requires an overthrow of not only the cops, but the masters of this state: capitalists. Ferguson is polarizing everyday people — including our friends, classmates, co-workers — to choose between siding with workers’ struggles to siding with the bosses and their ideas. Ferguson has set a new standard for what fightbacks should look like in the States. We are eager to bring these lessons back to our campuses, workplaces, and mass organizations!
★ ★ ★ ★
The Ferguson October Weekend of Action was a great opportunity for us to show our solidarity with the people of Ferguson. It was great witnessing the movement happening there. The major players behind the protests understand that the system is not working — and it never will. It was our job and will continue to be our job to make it known that only a communist society can put an end to police brutality, wars, poverty, all the ills that capitalism breeds.
Despite what the ruling class often portrays, people were generally receptive to what we had to say. The working-class youth in particular listened to us, collected CHALLENGE and joined in our chants. They encouraged our presence. The tide is indeed changing.
This trip also provided great opportunities for myself and my comrades to learn the ins and outs of organizing. At times we were frustrated but we challenged and supported each other to make this trip a success. For me, our involvement in the Ferguson Weekend of Action is just a glimpse of what our Party can do to bring forth a communist society.
★ ★ ★ ★
Last Saturday, three busloads of workers from Chicago joined the anti-racist protest in St. Louis against police brutality. On the bus and at the march, we distributed CHALLENGE and supported the enthusiastic chants.
CHALLENGE and the idea that we need a communist revolution were well-received, especially by the young workers and students. In fact one of the popular chants included “the whole damn system is guilty as hell”. Some, but not most, joined our chant, “the only solution is communist revolution.” We have a lot more work to do before that is a popular chant, but we will get there.
The PLP “Wanted for Murder” poster was quite popular. It is possible that the Ferguson Weekend will mark the beginning of a new anti-racist movement, but it’s too soon to tell. We do know that PLP will continue to immerse itself in and help lead these and other anti-racist, anti-capitalist struggles. I feel lucky to have been there.
★ ★ ★ ★
Earth and Workers Over Bosses and Profits
I attended the people’s climate march in NYC on September 21. More than 400,000 people came out on the streets to demand immediate action from the U.N. The misleaders of the march called for all-class unity, saying that the rulers and workers are all in it together. But we aren’t. Climate change is a class issue, and it is another failure of the capitalist system. But it is important not to dismiss this movement as boss-led and “middle class.”
Many workers and youth at the march did understand class issues. Most placards were hand-made, not the printed ones of the march misleaders who are capitalists and politicians. Marchers raised signs calling for “System Change, Not Climate Change,” “Stop Corporate Greed.” A huge mannequin of a greedy boss with a cigar was labeled “CEO.” Chants attacked Obama and the U.N. Others had the blame-the-people line that walking or riding bicycles can stop global warming.
The anti-capitalists and radicals were kept in the last staging area (namely the back) of the march, so that their posters wouldn’t get on TV. Most participants hoped for immediate action from the world’s leaders at the UN. This can’t happen because the world’s leaders serve the capitalist class. We have an opportunity to build the revolutionary movement by reaching out to those who understand that the problem is the system, not ignorance or the bad habits of workers.
The march was multi-racial but had few black workers. While the march was sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the strategy was to demand action from the world’s rulers. We must rely on the working class to effect change. There was little understanding that the only way the oil industry will relinquish their huge profits would be by revolutionary force. That said, there is a great deal of hate for the oil bosses, and concern that our children’s future is being robbed from them, opening the door to discussions and struggle with anti-climate change activists about the nature of the capitalist system.
The earth is being poisoned by carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH3), and is warming up to unprecedented levels. Global warming is entirely caused by carbon and methane emissions and deforestation, resulting from the short-term and long-term profit goals of major industries. This is not a natural cycle, but a disaster resulting from the energy system set up by the oil, coal and gas industries, and supported further by the auto industry and governments. The system has forced workers into automobiles so that they would use oil and create profits for the oil industry. The emissions from automobiles, coal and oil-based power plants, and even cattle raising (methane) have raised the levels of greenhouse gases so that the oceans are warming, and the Earth’s ice caps are melting.
The oil bosses run the show worldwide. They fight wars for oil in the Middle East, murdering and dislocating millions of workers. If there’s a war, to find the cause, find where the oil is. It is a mystery how the oil bosses can justify the destruction of the earth to themselves, but it doesn’t matter. They are out of control and are destroying the habitability of the earth for humans.
Banking on EBOLA, and AIDS
In the early 1980s, I first became aware of Ebola about the time I was first paying attention to the looming AIDS crisis. I was teaching Biology at a southern university and must admit that AIDS was more of a concern because it was here in the U.S. and Ebola was an ocean away. The AIDS crisis diminished as people became more aware of how to prevent it and the scientific community developed “high tech” drugs to deal with it.
Ebola became quite unmanageable by the mid-1980s. I remember reading an article about how the disease was out of control and how European doctors had fled the continent and left the African doctors to deal with it. The article went on to describe how the African doctors drew the blood of the survivors (there are always survivors of all infectious diseases) and extracted the serum. They gave the serum to those infected and crisis was averted. This was a “Low Tech” means to deal with the problem.
When the new outbreak of Ebola occurred I assumed that they would take the same approach as the one that was successful in the past. They didn’t seem to utilize this technique. When two U.S. doctors were stricken with the disease they used “High Tech” medicines to cure them. There were only three doses of this medicine and the U.S. doctors got the last two doses. When a Liberian man came into the U.S. with the disease, they didn’t use the High Tech medicine on him and he died. Soon after the African man died, the U.S. doctor who survived volunteered his blood to save a U.S. cameraman. Was it to spin down the blood and produce serum high in antibodies for the Ebola virus? The details weren’t given.
AIDS and Ebola have a lot in common; both are affecting the continent of Africa with devastating consequences. The medicines produced for both of these diseases are far too expensive to have a real affect on the spread of these diseases. AIDS is rampant in Africa!
Capitalism requires expensive “High Tech” solutions for all maladies that confront mankind! If the rich Pharma/healthcare bosses can’t make a buck on it they will allow a whole continent to perish!
Under communism we will utilize the best strategies to confront challenges to our health. This was done after the Chinese revolution when the people eradicated all disease-carrying flies in Shanghai! They also eradicated syphilis by education and penicillin. Only a health system driven by the need to prevent disease and not by the need to produce profits will serve the working class!
Students United in Anti-racist Struggle From NY to Boston
This was the first time I took part in a panel or went to Boston. I felt very pressured when I first walked in the room at the community college. There were about 20 people from the Pizza and Politics club waiting to hear about our Petraeus struggle at CUNY. I spent the whole bus ride writing about what I would say at the panel.
I didn’t expect to be as scared as I was, but when I started speaking all the nerves got to me. I spoke about the rallies we had, how we gained supporters and how the struggle affected me. The next stop we made was at a university where the outcome wasn’t as big. We spoke to this student who seemed to really be intrigued. He said he would show the College Conference fliers to his friends. We returned to the community college to participate in an event about Ferguson.
Boston has a lot of colleges and doing some sight-seeing was cool. I liked hearing about the history of Boston’s struggles. I learned how PLP really impacted Boston from different events like beating up the KKK. I saw Harvard University and realized most students there were white and those at the community college were mostly black. I enjoyed my time in Boston and my first time being on a panel. For my first time, I think I did good and I look forward to other panels.
★ ★ ★ ★
I was lucky to be one of the comrades chosen to visit Boston from New York on Sept 25. At first, I was reluctant to go. It ended up being a delightful and inspiring experience. Initially, I was intimidated at the prospect of speaking on the Petraeus campaign we conducted at CUNY: I wasn’t sure what I would say, or how I would say it and whether it would be interesting or helpful to folks there. But our comrades went out of their way to engage and accommodate us. On top of that, their work in the colleges is going well and their members and friends were no different.
To learn from and engage with other comrades is always a good experience. To give and take leadership from the working class is always a good idea. Only by doing these activities will we ever gain experience for class struggle. What we shared can only make our practice stronger, our ideas sharper. Our friends at the community college told us of their struggle against armed police on campus, and how they fought back against administrative repression. They encouraged us to be bold in our actions and to move forward; to always fight to win. We emphasized the importance of building ties and organizing within a Party.
We also learned from veteran comrades and learned the history of Boston and PLP. It was a humbling experience. Particularly interesting was the Party’s experience in 1975 in fighting fascists and racists at Beacon Hill. PLP had a significant influence on Boston, by fighting for workers and against racism. This influence will never be acknowledged by the bosses, so it was good to hear our side. All in all, Boston is in good shape, and I know we will be hearing more good news from them in the future. I will treasure the connections I made and experiences I had. I will move forward as a renewed comrade!
NYPD, KKK, How Many Workers Did You Kill Today?
“F—k your assimilation! We want our liberation!” On August 23 in New York, 4,000 people crowded into the Staten Island area where the cops of the One-Two-O Precinct strangled Eric Garner to death. The multiracial crowd slammed the cops, the in-justice system, and racism. The chants were exactly the opposite of liberal Sharpton’s/De Blasio’s/Obama’s absurd message of peace, calm, and surrender to racist killer cops. PLP was there with a flyer with a one-word heading: “Rebellion.” Some PL’ers marched with their mass organizations and some took the opportunity to introduce chants in the more militant sections of the march such as “NYPD KKK, How many kids did you kill today?” “How do you spell racist? NYPD.” “How do you spell terrorist? NYPD.”
These chants come out of PLP’s immersion in recent years with the families of Ramarley Graham, Shantel Davis, Kimani Gray, and Kyam Livingston, victims of the NYPD’s reign of terror.
Eric Garner’s murder site was a quiet neighborhood of working-class homes and mom and pop stores, a place where you understood people were poor enough to need to buy cigarettes by the ones and twos, as Garner occasionally sold them. (Calling this illegal when the tobacco industry legally makes billions by killing people with lung cancer tells you much of what you need to know about the justice system.)
“We have our little economy here,” a resident marching with us explained, and the cops’ “broken windows” policy of attacking minor “crimes” is just a plain invasion, a provocative aggression to keep people in terror of the armed force of the state. That violence is a need of the capitalist state to prevent rebellion — but when they use murderous violence as in Staten Island or Ferguson, they also expose their racist intent and produce the very rebellion they hope to contain.
The job of communists is to lead this mood towards revolutionary insight into how capitalism oppresses us and how to free ourselves. The popular cry for “justice,” for example, comes straight from the heart of our grief and rage and seems natural and right; but it misses the fact that it is those who hold power who commit these racist crimes and they will not punish themselves for what they deliberately do: kill us indiscriminately especially if we are black and brown.
As communist thinking takes hold on this new generation of rebel workers, the true name of the class that oppresses and kills us will ring out loud and clear and the last thing we will want to do is make peace with it.
The fact of people’s desire for justice, a justice worthy of the name; the fact of their hatred of racism and their warmth as we marched, black and brown and white strangers, together; and the fact of their just rage, I — once again — have no doubt whatsoever that we in PLP and communists like us anywhere in the world always have the potential of organizing revolution. Esta lucha va llegar/A la guerra popular. This struggle will lead to a workers’ war. The seed of communist revolution is in these marchers’ hearts. It correctly reflects their reality and their urge to change it. We must nurture that.
Change Will Come
The Howard University student government, through its Political and External Affairs Committee, organized a busload of 50 students to go to Ferguson during the Labor Day weekend. Participating with militant young demonstrators in the midst of a wrenching racist attack that still continues today led many of the Howard students to step up and continue the struggle. Several of the students received copies of CHALLENGE during the Labor Day march in Ferguson, learning for the first time about the need to fight for communism.
One of these students spoke at the annual PLP crabfeast, with dozens of transit workers and others present. A few excerpts from her speech indicate the power that participating in sharp struggle can have.
“When I first saw the image of Mike Brown shot down on the ground, chills...ran through my body. “Here, we go again!”...the sad truth is in America what more can we expect. I never thought that I would end up in Ferguson, Missouri protesting...The magnitude of my efforts didn’t fully hit me until after I walked by the burnt-down QuikTrip gas station. In that moment, snapshots of the community in anger and rage clouded my head as if I was back in elementary school flipping through the pages of a Civil Rights history book in the library. It’s crazy to think that all the things I’ve read in books, saw in photos, movies, and television about protests for peace and justice was actually unfolding right in front of my big, brown eyes of fury.
As I walked into the massive crowd of protesters holding signs, posters, and protest-inspired t-shirts, I felt overwhelmed with satisfaction that a change was going to come, a change is going to come, and our efforts today are only bridging the gap of justice and racial equality . . . Looking back on my experience in Ferguson, Missouri, I can honestly say that it has been a humbling, life-changing, and monumental experience. I always knew I had a voice, but after this trip it has given me a purpose to no longer hold myself back and be a catalyst of change for the greater good ...”
Barbarism = U.S. Imperialism
Barbarism by definition is something others do but not the accusers
The beheadings by ISIS on video of two U.S. journalists have been called “barbaric” by U.S. officials. While these vicious and murderous actions certainly were barbaric (savagely cruel, exceedingly brutal), one of the most difficult lessons for us to learn is not to take sides in situations where both sides are our enemies.
The charge of “barbarism” usually refers, first, to something someone else does and, second, to something rare enough that it isn’t accepted as normal practice. Beheadings haven’t been all that popular since the French Revolution of the late 1700s. At that time they were not widely regarded as barbaric. Today, grisly murders by many means, committed by capitalist ruling classes and their minions, have become so commonplace that we are often blinded to the fact that their essence, if not their appearance, is barbarism.
To take just a few modern examples, what must we call the recent murder of black teenager Mike Brown, who had his hands up, in Ferguson, Missouri, by the cop Darren Wilson? What about the more than 400 similar murders of young men, almost entirely black or Latin, by U.S. cops every year – more than one a day?
What about the ratio of Palestinian civilian to Israeli civilian shelling deaths of several hundred to one? And again, refusing to take sides between two groups who are both our enemies, Hamas is just as guilty as the Israeli government and its U.S. backers.
What about the massive bulldozing of tons of dirt by juggernaut U.S. military machines to bury hundreds of fleeing Iraqi soldiers during Gulf War I in 1991? Or the simultaneous shootings by U.S. troops of soldiers trying to flee or surrender, gleefully called a “turkey shoot” by one racist soldier? Was this not barbaric as well?
What about the sanctions against Iraq by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton that prevented medicines and foods from reaching the Iraqi working class for years, and that reportedly killed a million and a half civilians, half a million of whom were children? And what about Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s terming these deaths “a price we’re willing to pay”? Is the wanton murder of a million and a half people somehow less barbaric than the beheadings of two, based on the racist premise that Iraqi lives are worth less than U.S. lives?
When the Nazis freely practiced collective punishment during World War II, murdering entire villages as a reprisal for the assassination of a Nazi officer, it was called “barbaric” by U.S. media. But the same collective punishment is called “justified” when practiced by the U.S. military.
For a few centuries, barbarism characterized the entire exploitative, profit-making, colonial relationship between the U.S. and European countries and various conquered peoples. Barbarism at the hands of the world’s capitalists is the condition of the world today. It will remain so until the world’s working class turn to their communist leadership in PLP and throw the barbaric capitalists and their entire barbaric system into the sea with triumphant finality.
U.S. Humanitarian Hypocrisy
The CHALLENGE issue of 09/17/14 was particularly good; most interesting were the articles on police killings of citizens and the article of the SWAT team breaking and entry. The United States for some time as been a police state; a place of violence and terror, and unfortunately is forced on the whole world. Life for so many people around the world is one of misery, exploitation and depravation because of U.S. policies.
I have come to think that the U.S. has been and is involved in any internal conflict wherever it happens. They foment and arm, sometimes, all sides to create a very unstable and unsafe environment. As I read the United Nations reasons for why ISIS must be controlled, my thought was the reasons completely described the actions of the U.S. in so many countries. I believe U.S. imperialist policies of violence and military force around the world results in groups fighting back to survive and more violence. And now the military is being sent to Africa to combat Ebola; is this different than the military sent to occupy Haiti after the hurricane?
UN and Celebrities Blowing Hot Air
That was the consensus of a group of seniors, some over 80, who had walked the entire route of the New York City People’s Climate March of over 400,000. The seniors were voicing their opinion of the September 24 United Nations summit on the environment which was addressed by Presidents, Prime Ministers, national delegates and even movie stars who, collectively, once again claimed progress in preventing climate disasters that have continued to wreck havoc on the world’s people.
“All those speeches are just blowing hot air into global warming” they said. Instead of announcing if anything was being done to stop the massive corporate exploration for fossil fuels and government subsidies to the fracking and pipeline industries, which is like bringing cigarettes into a cancer ward, the UN gives us a movie star like Leonardo DiCaprio. He told the UN, “I pretend for a living, but you do not,” implying that delegates could really act to reverse climate change. What a sellout! It’s as if the UN delegates are not the biggest actors for capitalist oil and gas interests whose profit priorities are destroying the earth.
I noticed many signs at the March saying the system must change and signs that said capitalism was that system. I added that only worldwide revolution can eliminate capitalist bosses and their pollution, wars, unemployment and poverty. Only this will save the earth and the people who depend on it.
Colombia, Salvador, Mexico, U.S. PL’ers Move Ahead at Communist School
We had a PLP Communist School in Bogotá, Colombia, in which comrades from El Salvador, Mexico and the United States, as well as friends of the Party, participated.
We saw the political development of comrades and friends, and in particular that of the youth, who showed great enthusiasm and commitment. There was also criticism and self-criticism due to some shortcomings in the reports as well as in the organizing, outreach and propaganda work.
We must highlight the work taking place in Mexico, with families studying dialectical materialism, comrades’ supporting workers’ struggles, and recruiting members to the Party.
In terms of ideological debate, “base-building” and “reform and revolution,” all the comrades made good contributions, emphasizing the need to be part of workers’ struggles. We can recruit new comrades and support workers struggles, by making communist politics primary. We can win the working class to see that taking power is the only solution.
We established responsibilities for everyone when they return home, highlighting writing for CHALLENGE more regularly, participating in youth organizations, and providing leadership to workers’ struggles. We must denounce local and international abuses of the criminal capitalist system — with its racist, sexist, nationalist policies and thirst for profits realized through the wage slavery and extreme poverty of the working class.
We concluded the communist school with an evaluation based on self-criticism. We assessed the work done and committed to our full potential to continue growing as an international Party and consolidating our communist political line, so that we can put an end to the capitalist nightmare with a worldwide communist revolution.
Depression, Racist Cop Terror Pervades Western Pennsylvania
This story will not appear on the bosses’ nightly news, which tries to justify racist murder or beats the war drums for U.S. imperialism or attempts to put us all to sleep with one inane story after another. I have lived in the coalfields of western Pennsylvania for many years, during which time I’ve viewed developments in this region from a revolutionary communist perspective.
In the 1980’s, we witnessed what was called the deindustrialization of this country. It was then that scores of mines shut down and steel mills were closed. This eliminated decent-paying jobs and spurred rampant unemployment, underemployment and low-wage jobs. Their effects continue and the conditions of daily life under this declining capitalist system grow worse with each passing day while poverty intensifies.
Some turn to petty crime and others to drugs. Of course, these things victimizing mostly poor people are nothing compared to the crimes perpetrated by the U.S. bosses. However, the local news programs act as the “crime report,” showing pictures of people who supposedly robbed a store or sold drugs. The small coal town of Nanty-Glo (which means streams of coal in Welsh) is severely economically depressed, with growing poverty and even hunger. There are now attempts to establish food banks to deal with this problem.
Meanwhile, racist cop terror has raised its ugly head and, as CHALLENGE has pointed out, this is the hideous face of the growing fascism and racism in the U.S. In Pittsburgh, a 20-year-old black man is on trial, even though he was shot five times by a cop during a traffic stop, leaving the young man paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. The cops say he
“resembled” another man who was wanted by the police for some crime. At the trial, the young man stated that the cop who shot him said that he hoped the n***** would die.
I think this upsurge in racism and cop terror is the most important issue confronting all workers, and it’s imperative that the communist message on this be given to all workers.
Concerning the coal fields, the high point of life right now seems to be the Friday night high school football games and the fans are not mean-spirited. It’s all done in fun and gives workers a release from all the problems capitalism is throwing at them. But what we all need in order to halt this growing fascism is the politics of the revolutionary communist PLP.
‘How I discovered PLP…’
I met the Party through a close nursing school friend, which led to my participation in her club, getting invited to a study group, and having the chance to discuss different ideas. We read Political Economy: Capitalist Ideas Chain the Workers, chapter 4, was a good read that caused me to experience annoyance, impotence, and anger to discover how the capitalist system is strategically designed to divide and repress the working class.
I also learned to analyze the way economics and politics are connected, and the importance of knowing how and in what ways the bosses invest money so that I can understand how this affects workers’ lives.
The experience of being part of a study group is enriching because it provides us with the knowledge to understand the root of our problems, which motivate us to keep on studying and later to put that knowledge into practice through collective work.
Racist Apartheid Explodes in Ferguson
At a recent discussion group I described the media report of a 90-year-old Jewish woman Holocaust survivor, Hedi Epstein, who was arrested in Ferguson, Mo., protesting against the execution of Michael Brown. She said the conditions there reminded her of the Israeli apartheid system she witnessed in Palestine.
One person said she was shocked at the military appearance of the police with snipers, dogs, gas, rifles pointed at protestors’ heads, and the many wounded with rubber and pellet bullets while armored vehicles rammed into crowds to break up protests. I said the cops’ storm trooper tactics and later use of the National Guard was probably due to police chief Tom Jackson who was replaced by a black cop when the 90-percent white police force failed to stop the protests. According to media reports, Jackson had been sent to Israel to receive training in crowd control. Israel has a long history of training police in genocidal tactics, from racist South African apartheid police to Israeli fascist police who have been torturing and imprisoning Palestinians for 70 years. One of the racist tactics is flooding the media with reports of “outside agitators” and “terrorists” infiltrating protests. The U.S. capitalist rulers, who had been making billions from racist apartheid conditions against blacks in the 1960s, reacted to the Civil Rights movement by “disappearing” and murdering “outside” student volunteers who went to the South.
When the people protest the execution of Eric Garner by NYC’s racist police on Staten Island, all the guardians of the profiteers like FBI informer Sharpton, police commissioner Bratton, Mayor de Blasio and Cardinal Dolan gather to protect their profits from poverty wages, exploitation and apartheid neighborhoods. They are assuring their Wall Street bosses that no disruptions or resistance to fascist police tactics will be tolerated.
While Obama, who has prosecuted and imprisoned more reporters and whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, and the Pope were “horrified” over the execution of a reporter in Syria, there has not been one word of outrage from them over the daily stop-and-kill executions of black youths in the streets across the U.S. The only reason the media responds to these crimes is because workers take to the streets. But our chants must become, “Capitalism can’t be fixed, we need communist revolution.”