Letters of October 30

Building A Revolutionary Party in L.A.
Progressive Labor Party held the first of a series of fundraising dinners to support the organization financially and to help develop Party members capable of leading the working class in the struggle to build a revolutionary communist movement.
A mix of forty students, teachers and professors, and public health, industrial and transit workers attended the event, raising a significant sum. The fundraiser began with a screening of the film “Seeing Red” which documents the role of communists in building the U.S. labor movement and leading class struggle, which resulted in reforms such as Social Security, unemployment benefits and the 40-hour week.
A speaker then discussed the struggle at a local clinic to build a union among public health workers. He pointed out how important it is for us to learn from the mistakes of the historical communist movement. He specifically talked about the need for a party with an ideology that moves workers beyond reforms to a revolutionary communist outlook. The next two speakers provided an international perspective on PLP’s work. One comrade provided an update from PLP’s growing work in El Salvador. Another comrade analyzed U.S. intervention in Syria from the perspective of PLP in Israel/Palestine.
Finally, a comrade concluded with a discussion of the recent international communist school in New York and a future summer project in Los Angeles, emphasizing the importance of financially supporting these leadership-building activities. All in all, this was a successful activity and just one of many such events that could help our Party to grow.
The  Los Angeles Reds  
PL’ers Expose Real Story of Syria Civil War
During the Syria crisis, when the war hawks Obama and Co. began to threaten military action against  Assad’s government for the use of chemical weapons, PL’ers who work in a mass community organization in the Latino working-class neighborhood of Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY immediately requested the opportunity to give a workshop in one of these committees. Surprisingly, we were given the green light to give a half- hour workshop on the current Syrian crisis.
In the workshop we explained the history of the use of weapons of mass destruction in wars by the U.S. against civilian populations such as in World War II against Japan and during the Vietnam war. We also used a map of the world to point out the rivalry of the U.S. and its allies vs. Russian/Chinese allies for the control of natural resources and in this particular case, natural gas and the pipelines for it. We explained that there are two proposed, competing gas pipelines: the South Stream Pipeline and the Nabucco Pipeline. We said this conflict is all about the bosses’ push for control of natural gas and its profits.
We received some good feedback from the community organization members, and they did have questions. The workers were surprised that nothing that we mentioned in our workshop was discussed in the U.S. media, such as natural gas and the pipelines. It made sense to them since according to the U.S. media Russia was also involved in the conflict. But the workers’ main concern was a possible war with Russia and World War III. War is always a horror for the working class, and so the bosses always have to build political support and nationalism with lies in order to get the working class to fight their wars. Workers understand very well who will benefit from these wars and who will suffer.
The following day we got feedback from the leaders of the community organization, who had not been too happy with our workshop. They told us that the organization is not worried about  issues that people cannot control, such as the conflict in Syria. These leaders basically indicated they are primarily concerned with actions such as voting and supporting liberal politicians. This is very hypocritical, since they always claim they are not a political organization. But we know all too well that it is led by the Democratic Party so they are always pushing members of the organization to vote for their candidates.
We followed up the workshop with a PL study group with some of our friends who are interested in learning more of the Party’s communist analysis. They said they wish we could have more workshops such as the one on the crisis in Syria. One of the women at the study group believes that Assad is an evil man, because he murders  his own people. We then questioned how is Assad any different than Obama who is closing down hospitals and also killing his own people.
The study group helped sharpened our communist analysis with our friends, bringing home the idea that capitalism will always bring war and suffering to the working class so the ruling class can profit, and that the only solution is a communist revolution.
Communist Organizers

How Racism Rules the Schools
After relocating to Indianapolis, Indiana I am now a substitute teacher at charter schools teaching kindergarten to middle school. Even in this experience, one can see rotten capitalism and why parents and teachers should join PLP to fight for a communist future.
On my first day, I taught third graders at a racially segregated (nearly all black students) school because their parents could only afford living in this one neighborhood. (There are multiracial charter schools in the suburbs where middle class parents live.) If these black workers were not  paid lower wages by racist bosses, they would be able to live in less racially segregated communities.
It was quite an experience teaching young minds. I really like this new career. I have had numerous assignments. One was in a racially segregated mostly white neighborhood where the parents had more money. (Capitalism tries to divide workers by “race” and money.)
My most unforgettable school was terrible beyond words: It was a charter school for emotionally troubled  kids who were kicked out of other school districts. These children were violent, and the administration put me in the school’s “Intensive Support Room” which was a horrible jail-like facility. It was socializing kids for the REAL jails! It even had two holding rooms (cells) for students. There was even a cop there. I hated it.
When I volunteered for the assignment, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I will never go back to that school again. Putting kids in school jail is not a solution to their “bad behavior.”  These kids are unstable due to capitalism and poverty and are having an extreme reaction to it!  (Marx did say, “being determines consciousness.”) Kids like that were cared for after the Bolshevik and Chinese Revolutions, which instead of punishing them, treated them better than oppressive capitalism.
I would like to learn more about Marxist educators. Capitalism is bad for not only kids, but also their parents. The only way out is through communist revolution led by PLP. 
Indiana Red

Syria’s Massacre of Refugees from Palestine
Working-class unity towards a communist revolution will end the nightmare in Syria.
The mainstream media in the West have hidden the fact that since the conflict there began, the people suffering the most are Arab workers from Palestine who’ve been refugees in Syria since the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing and fascist colonization of the historic territories of Palestine.
According to several reports, the protest turned into an armed struggle mainly due to Western imperialist intervention along with the reactionary regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey and the repressive attempts to crush it by Assad’s regime itself.
Since that process began, the Arab workers from Palestine have been treated as a “fifth column” both by the regime and the insurgencies. Both sides commit massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps. Probably thousands of innocent workers have been murdered amid a severe shortage of water and food. Moreover, due to the heavy battles in the refugee camps, the humanitarian aid agencies have been evacuated.
In addition, it seems that both the insurgencies and the regime have adopted the notorious slogan: “Smash the Palestinians and save Syria.”
Politically, it seems that the new governing formula in a future Syria will be divide and rule among the various religions and ethnicities there.
This nightmare can be ended only by uniting all workers, no matter their ethnicity, and formation of a mass revolutionary communist party which can join the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle in the Arab world and the working class worldwide. That political force can be built from the grassroots resistance movements inside Syria and with international working-class solidarity. One of the first crucial steps of the revolutionary party is to end the massacre of the workers from Palestine. This will be the most stable foundation to realize the right of return of these refugee workers.

Columbus Mass Murderer
This month, the U.S. and Western capitalists will celebrate Columbus as a great navigator and “discoverer” . But history shows he was a genocidal mercenary who was financed by stock-holding capitalists and a Spanish kingdom in which two percent of nobility owned 95 percent of all land. Columbus was promised ten percent of the profits from gold, silver, slaves and the governorship over stolen lands. The Catholic Church in Spain that had expelled all Jews and black Africans (Moors) supported the genocide of millions of native people who practiced “godless” communist sharing of goods and land. The total populations on some islands like Haiti were eliminated and black African slaves had to be brought in to work the mines and plantations. The Indian population north of Mexico when Columbus came was ten million and by 1776 was reduced to less than one million.
Capitalism has used mass murder and slavery for the primitive accumulation of capital that has financed endless wars and exploitation leading to today’s worldwide imperialist slaughter. Capitalism has also produced a revolutionary working class with the potential to end the horror that is capitalism when they organize for communist revolution.
Old-Time Comrade


Letters of October 16

Act to Short-circuit Electric Co. Robbery

In the eastern part of the State of Mexico , thousands of workers are terrified with home foreclosure notices if we do not pay the electrical energy company.
After Felipe Calderon Hinojosa dissolved the company Luz y Fuerza del Centro,  thousands of workers in the Mexican Electricians Union (SME) took to the streets. The cost of the service has increased and worsened. Four years later, SME workers are still struggling to get their jobs back.
Many families were deceived by television and the press, which are subservient to capitalist interests. They believed the lies of the PAN government that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) will provide better and cheaper service. The media claimed that SME workers were the cause of the poor service, but today we realize that the bosses and their ruler are evil and liars.
Since then, the CFE have been threatening workers, seizing their houses , cutting off the supply or even jailing them, if they do not pay the hiked price. Many working mothers have become sick and some have even been killed.
Some have chosen to hide behind laws, but it was not enough because the laws serve the bosses. The Office of the Defense (CJF) defends bosses and refuses to punish the CFE. The Solicitor is appointed by the president of the PROFECO (Office of the Federal Prosecutor for the Consumer). The president Peña Nieto serves the interests of bosses against workers. Politicians and rulers are not our friends; they are our class enemies. The laws and courts have never ruled in favor of workers; they always protect the boss.
Due to the constant threats that workers suffer, on Wednesday, July 31, more than 200 users, mostly women are organizing against these bosses. We should support them with more militant actions and organization, such as marches and sit-ins in front of the CFE and PROFECO. PLP members and friends attended the meeting and distribute 75 CHALLENGEs.
As CHALLENGE readers , supporters and members of the PLP can strengthen the the struggle to stop the attacks and physical and psychological threats by the CFE. We must point out the root, capitalism, that constantly threatens the lives of all workers. We must unite to destroy the capitalist system. We must fight for a society that truly meets the needs of workers — a communist society of equality.
Mexico Worker

Fast Food Strikers Give Bosses Indigestion

Impressive; that’s the only word I can use to describe a rally that took place at a McDonald’s Restaurant in New York City.  I was very moved by the group of workers, trade unionists, and members of the community who marched to the restaurant chanting slogans and then, in a surprising move, occupied the restaurant where they remained for a while, calling on workers to join the strike.
After a while they left but continued their rally in front of the restaurant, still chanting their slogans, to which they added one that I’ve heard for the first time in this type of struggle: STRIKE, STRIKE, STRIKE! After a while, the restaurant workers came out and actually called a STRIKE.
I believe this was a small preview of what will happen when the international working class unites under communist leadership to overthrow this brutal capitalist system and its bosses, and then establishes a communist system with workers’ power in our hands.
A Red Fighter

Israeli Rulers Used Arafat to Oppress Palestine

September 13 marked the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, signed as a “Declaration of Principles” at the White House between Israel’s Yizhak Rabin and Palestine’s Yasser Arafat and hailed by U.S. president Bill Clinton as ending the bloodshed between Israel and Palestine. Actuality, backed by the U.S. ruling class, it continued Israeli oppression of, and violence against, the workers and farmers of Palestine.
Fifteen months before the 1993 Oslo Accords, an election coalition led by Rabin’s Labor Party ended the 15-year reign of the right-wing Likud party. The new administration promised to reach an agreement with the Palestinians within nine months and for the first time sought a political alliance with the parliamentary members of the Communist Party-led HADASH — Democratic Front for Peace and Equality — although the latter was excluded from the coalition administration itself.
However, the Shas religious party soon limited its support of Rabin so the latter asked HADASH to support him in a parliamentary Vote of Confidence. HADASH agreed, to ward off return of a Likud administration, and to encourage a turn in the official policy towards Israeli-Palestinian peace, equality for Israel’s Arab population, a struggle against unemployment and respect for the social rights. HADASH followed the old communist movement’s “lesser-evil” politics — that is, preferring Rabin’s neo-liberal economic policy of budget cuts and tax hikes over the Likud party’s more extreme neo-liberal economic policy and resistance to peace with the Palestinians.
Reasons for the Oslo Accords
Israel’s rulers were finding it difficult repressing the First Intifada, a popular uprising of the masses of Palestine. Although Arafat initially rejected this uprising, he was brought back to Palestine because Israel realized it had to replace direct colonialist rule of millions of Palestinians with a neo-colonialist (indirect colonialist) Palestinian Authority led by Arafat. Direct occupation cost Israel millions, and also many soldiers’ lives, and increasingly exposed Israel as a colonialist state. (This, of course, was the same Rabin who had ordered the Israeli military “to break the bones” of the Palestinians in the First Intifada.) He now preferred a Palestinian Authority to repress the masses of Palestinians “with no Supreme Court and no Betselem” (critics of Israel’s policy in the West Bank and Gaza).
A wider geo-political reason for the Oslo Accords was the U.S. bosses’ desire for a “peaceful” Middle-East, allowing it to invest in its local markets and exploit its workforce and natural resources without interruption. The continued conflict between the Zionist movement and the Arab world was a stumbling block for U.S. economic and political interests.
Therefore, the Oslo Accords were accompanied by the Paris Accords, which essentially used the Palestinian Authority to get workers in Palestine off street protests into low-wage sweatshops, many owned by U.S. and European capitalists.
Meanwhile, HADASH’s previous support for Rabin degenerated when, in July 1993, his administration launched a wide-ranging military operation in Lebanon, including a naval blockade and the destruction of 75 villages by Israeli “Defense” Force (IDF) air raids, turning tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians into refugees.
The Rabin administration, representing mainstream Israeli rulers, stuck to the Oslo Accords despite demonstrations by far right-wing Zionists, and even forcibly repressed them. Far-right violence climaxed in Rabin’s assassination in November 1995. Coincidentally, Benjamin Netanyahu, today’s Israeli Prime Minister, rode the wave of anti-Rabin demonstrations to bash the government and pave his way to power.
Problems with the Oslo Accords
In the years following the Oslo Accords, many acts of terrorism killed hundreds of Israeli citizens while Zionist fascists murdered scores of Palestinians in the 1990’s. Meanwhile, the IDF continued its terrorism against civilians in the West Bank. After several years of simmering conflict, in October 2000 the Second Intifada erupted, virtually destroying the Oslo Accords. Workers in Palestine found themselves slaving away for starvation wages in factories owned by U.S., Western European and Israeli, investors (such as in the Erez Industrial Zone). “Peace” brought slavery, not prosperity for the working class. Additionally, Fatah, which became the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party, merged with the Palestinian ruling class (the Sulta).
Direct Israeli occupation was replaced in 20 percent of the West Bank by the neo-colonial Palestinian Authority. It forcibly crushed strikes and uprisings and forced workers to bow down to the factory owners of the joint industrial zones, as well as to the capitalist Sulta. In the rest of the West Bank, Israeli occupation continued unhindered, with Palestinian rule of small enclaves within it.
Following the Second Intifada came the proliferation of checkpoints and roadblocks inside the West Bank and the separation of Palestinian workers from their job-sites and families. Israel continued to hold most of the areas containing Israeli settlers, and soon expanded them. Israel controlled most of the West Bank (and, until 2005, part of the Gaza Strip).
The Palestinian Police received small arms from Israel and turned them against Palestinian workers when they dared rise up. Israeli rulers have forcibly erased the possibility of Palestinian Authority “control” of the West Bank and Gaza by erecting and expanding settlements and “Jewish-only” roads between them, deep into the West Bank. Zionist “peace” retains most of the lands grabbed by Zionism since 1948.
Even if an independent Palestinian state were established in the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip, its workers would continue to suffer from economic oppression. The lands of the deportees of 1948 will be retained by the State of Israel, which stole them initially. There would be no “independence” from U.S., Western European and Israeli investors, who will use these workers as cheap labor.
Israeli workers also continue to suffer, whether under Zionist war or Zionist “peace.” The essence of Zionism is capitalist control (especially U.S. and Western European) over Jewish and Arab workers. The capitalists prepare us for more wars, amid the intensifying conflict between imperialist powers. For the working class there’s no hope in a world dominated by capitalism. We must seize our destiny and replace capitalist oppression with communist liberation and working-class rule from the Jordan River to the Sea as one stepping stone towards a free proletarian world.
Red Housekeeper from Tel-Aviv


Letters of October 2

Rulers Streamline Schools to Get More Bang for their Buck
I teach at a community college in Massachusetts. Every year before classes begin, the administration holds an all-college meeting. It reveals the state of the class struggle at the college as well as the local bosses’ agenda.
The faculty and staff continued a pattern of passively colluding with management by failing to assert ourselves as a force with our own interests. The ruling class, however, is ramping up its agenda: competition among colleges, vocationalizing the curriculum, and winning allegiance of faculty and staff.
For ten years, the college has had an ineffectual president. Last Spring, in a bold move coming straight from the Governor’s office, he was fired. The new president seems to be a very efficient technocrat with a background in developing curriculum for industry. The first “challenge” she talked about was complying with regulators.
The state government will no longer tolerate “sloppiness,” which in the past, sometimes worked to the benefit of the students (i.e., waiving tuition/fee deadlines, allowing students to take courses outside of their major requirements). The new president is also moving full steam ahead partnering with industries (hospitality, health care, and transportation) to develop tailor-made academic programs and high school. This would enlarge the vocational mission of public high schools and public community colleges.
Invited as a special guest to the meeting was Matt Malone, the Secretary of Education from the Massachusetts State House, speaking directly for the governor and mayor. They take their marching orders from business think-tanks, like the Boston Foundation and the Business Council. In a very compelling speech, dramatically walking among us to break down the “us/them” walls, he said, “I ask for your hand as a team player. If we don’t do it here [inspire people to carry out the agenda] nothing else matters.”
 Malone implemented changes that will help students “succeed in the global economy.” Privatizing is one way Massachusetts is desperately competing for investment as the national economy continues to slow down and more good-paying jobs are outsourced or replaced by technology. But if you want to really know what’s going on, “follow the money.” The austerity budgets allocated for the Massachusetts community colleges (a third less than in 2001) exposes Malone’s promises as empty for the vast majority of our students.
PLP has always said that it will be liberals who usher in U.S. fascism. Well, this is the change we were witnessing. One of the earmarks of fascism (capitalism in crisis) is the capitalist class more directly running the government. Another is centralization. As the crisis of capitalism intensifies, they can no longer tolerate the crazy-quilt chaos in their schools and colleges.
Streamlining operations to get more bangs for their buck is what the capitalists are demanding. To whatever degree education and critical thinking existed at the community college level, it is rapidly being transformed into training, pure and simple — narrow skill sets that serve industry.

Some faculty and staff were skeptical. This is good, but not good enough. As a group, we need to get clear that these ruling-class reforms are serious attacks on our students, and we can be a force that pushes back. We need a vision of a humane and equal world where workers’ lives are truly valued. Reading and writing for Challenge can help develop this consciousness among us.

A loyal reader   

The Deception of Cuba
I was in Cuba recently and the truth remains sad to witness workers’ lives. I am aware there is no socialism, yet I expected to see a better life, more so after Fidel and his party assaulted U.S. imperialism.
Sexism is rampant. Women sell their bodies , but not as openly as in other capitalist countries. Workers’ wages are laughable, as it only covers very basic needs. The means of production are not used in the interest of the working class, therefore there is unemployment.
Racism is a given under this system. Workers suffer discrimination and some are entitled to almost nothing. The food is for the tourism sector, and eating meat or selling it lands you in jail. Workers and families who do not belong to the party are also discrminated against. Far from having recreational facilities, they don’t even receive funds to improve their homes. Their homes look like ruins, contrasting with the neighborhoods of politicians.
Talking to several workers in Cuba revealed they are dealing with the capitalist nationalist discourse. They do see it is very difficult to change their situation. Also, the cult of personality of Fidel Castro has led them to believe that Fidel has lost power and authority and thus the revolution has deviated because of its leaders.
Workers in Cuba are generally interested in politics and are less influenced by capitalist ideology, but are influenced by music. They are very friendly and have a great sense of family unity and camaraderie among workers. Leaving Cuba is almost impossible due to costs and bureaucratic obstacles.
I talked to some, explaining that we must fight for communism. I introduced them to PLP. We have a program that our class should organize society and rule our own destiny. Revolution will be made by us, the working class, not the usual opportunists. The Cuban revolution since its inception made too many mistakes — wages, the market economy, the division between manual and mental labor, and failure to destroy the capitalist state.
I gathered workers, asked them to recognize our ideas and they must work to organize millions here and worldwide to destroy capitalism — that is what workers in Cuba need.
Red Colombia Worker

Editor’s note: The problems described by the writer — racism, sexism, prostitution, wage differentials — are among those endemic to state capitalism, which is what now exists in Cuba. Its source stems from, among other things, the Castro leadership following the Soviet example of socialism, which retained much of the baggage of capitalism, such as the wage system with its built-in divisive differentials, along with the cult of the individual in glorifying Castro. While some of its reforms produced advances like its medical system, the absence of any fight for communism left it with the only option of trying to reform capitalism — an impossibility. This led it to openly encouraging a cardinal element of that system: private property and profits and all the ills that they produce.

Applying Dialectics A Complex Task
I am concerned about the letter in the 9/18/2013 issue of CHALLENGE that criticizes the editorial in the 9/04/2013 issue. The letter-writer claims that the editorial violated a principle of dialectics that the internal is primary. Specifically, the writer felt that the current war in Syria was/is “caused” by the Syrians, themselves, rather than “outside” forces such as the U.S. and Russia. The writer bases this judgment on the extreme poverty of the majority of the Syrian population and the incredibly harsh and atrocious character of the government.
It is certainly true that the Assad government is a brutal dictatorship of a small number of wealthy Syrians dominating the vast majority of the population. At the same time, I don’t believe there is a viable communist movement in Syria that is leading a rebellion. In the absence of such leadership as well as the refusal of the “rebel forces” to embrace even socialist reform, let alone communism, it seems clear to me that this conflict is another in the long line of surrogate wars between the U.S. and one or another of its capitalist rivals, in this case Russia.
This does not mean that the principle of dialectics that the internal is primary is wrong. In the long run, this principle is quite correct. In the case of Syria, a communist revolution will not occur until the vast majority of the populations (the internal) understands and supports communism. However, in the short run, the capitalists (both “domestic” and “foreign”) now have the power to impose their will on the working class. As a result, right now the external capitalist class is the primary factor in the Syrian conflict.

Of course, our Party’s response to this is to INCREASE the fight for communism, not wait until “things get better.” In fact, the only way that “things will get better” is if the struggle for communism continues, during the “good times” as well as the “bad times.” Applying the very general principles of dialectics to a particular situation is never easy. It is incumbent on all of us to be aware of this and to help each other learn how to apply it.

A Comrade

Bosses Are Masters At Defrauding Workers
Here is a perfect illustration of the way capitalism works. The bosses and their government never stop finding ways to enrich themselves while exploiting the workers.
The 50 workers at the brickworks in Remchi, Algeria, a town of 47,000, haven’t been paid for three months. After appealing in vain to the local and national authorities, they blocked the highway to publicize their situation. Still no official response.
The brickworks was privatized on the cheap in 2004, with the complicity of the local and national authorities. The purchaser never paid more than $91 million of the $916 million sales price. At the time, the factory employed 150 workers.
The boss ran the factory with no respect for the workers’ health and safety. His only aim was maximum profits. He never paid his taxes, nor his suppliers nor his gas bill, which now stands at $85,500 for natural gas and $49,000 for electricity. He now lives in neighboring Morocco with his stolen wealth and the factory has been shut down for six months. The workers, with families to support, have nothing.
No wonder the only solution is communist revolution.
A Friend in France

Lessons of the Movie Salt of the Earth
We watched the 1950’s movie “Salt of the Earth” on the bus ride from Downstate Hospital in Brooklyn to Washington, DC to attend the memorial for the famous 1963 March for Jobs. The hospital workers on the bus, mostly black women, were really impressed by the many stories in it. There was lively booing and cheering as the miners’ wives were put down because of sexist stereotyping in the ‘50s only to rise up, win the day and change their husband’s ideas with their successful and militant picket duty.
In our year-long and continuing struggle to keep Downstate open and stop layoffs, we are up against the might of the whole power of the state in New York, stemming from Governor Cuomo on down. In the movie we saw practical applications for the working class.
Cecilia: “it was great when, after the judge made it illegal for the miners to picket, the women and children took over picketing for months and organized even in the jail, despite early objections from their husbands. Nothing could stop them, from beatings to injunctions. It showed me that we need to show more of these kinds of movies on these trips to build up our spirit.”
Georgia: “it was so good I want my son to see this; he needs to understand this history.”
Violet: “it shows how evil the managers are and that the worker’s struggle was really life and death in the mines. Conditions today are getting worse and we are heading towards that period of working conditions. We are nearly back there.”
Mimi: “The movie was REAL. It showed that our working-class progress in last 50 years is so slow it can be measured in nanometers. Minimum wage has fallen behind.  The bosses are still oppressive. The struggle must go on and we must muster the spirit and tenacity to keep up the fight. The movie was uplifting and educational. I will watch this movie again and recommend it to teach that we can win if we unite and fight.”
Red hospital workers


Letters of September 18

Internal Class War Missing from Syria Editorial
The editorial on Syria in CHALLENGE (9/4) was very good describing the external forces involved in the Syrian conflict, but fairly weak when it came to describing the internal forces. The article states:
“The U.S. dispute with Russia has killed more than 100,000 workers in Syria over the last two years.”
I’m sure this wasn’t the intention, but this implies that the U.S. and Russia caused the civil war, and entirely ignores — as does the whole editorial — the internal class tensions and the oppressive nature of the ruling regime. The opposition to Assad didn’t begin because the U.S. ordered it. In fact, the U.S. and the Israelis were quite comfortable with Assad in power.
I think it’s a big mistake to even imply that a civil war of this magnitude is the result of external contradictions rather than internal ones. Syria is an oppressive and exploitative capitalist state, a mixture of state and private-owned businesses. Beginning in the early 1990s, Syria began an economic liberalization that greatly increased the size of the private sector, with notorious nepotism and corruption. Mami Makhlouf is the first cousin and close friend of Bashar al-Assad, and owns Syriatel, the country’s largest mobile phone company. Makhlouf has investments in banking, real estate, insurance, construction, tourism and a five-star Damascus hotel.
The workers, small farmers and tradesmen in Syria have every reason to rebel against the Assad regime. A few years ago, the UN reported that 11.4% — 2.2 million people — lived in extreme poverty, having less than $2 per person per day. In 2007, a third of the population was living in poverty. And it’s gotten worse in the last few years, as the government has reduced subsidies on fuel and food while housing prices have risen. Unemployment is extremely high.
We need to analyze carefully the nature of the rebel leadership, which appears fractured. The U.S. “leftists” who unreservedly support the “revolution” don’t do that. Nor do the ones having “Hands Off Syria” rallies with pictures of Assad in abundance as they dismiss all the rebels as Islamist fanatics.
It’s pretty clear that Obama is nervous about the possibility of a rebel victory, which is why the CIA has kept large weapons out of rebel hands. No modern president has gone to Congress to get approval for a missile attack! It’s pretty clear that the U.S. ruling class is divided over how to handle Syria. Rulers’ support for a land invasion is virtually nil, and there’s lots of opposition to any type of armed assault. They prefer an outcome in which Assad steps down and some of the favored rebel leaders (the pro-U.S. ones) become integrated into the ruling regime.
CHALLENGE should state clearly that we support the right of the masses in Syria to overthrow their oppressors. However, a revolt that doesn’t put the working class in power and dismantles capitalism will only replace one set of oppressors with another.

No Vacation from Class Struggle
This summer, I vacationed at the South Haven, MI, home of my brother and his wife. He insisted we attend a film and forum on “The Atomic States of America.” South Haven is within the 10-mile radius of the Palisades Nuclear Plant, one of the oldest and least-maintained of the 104 plants in the country. Release of tritium from Palisades has leaked into groundwater for weeks, with uncontrollable accidents.  
Tritium damages human DNA, but published studies say that’s “all” the effects are. Tritium has a half life of 12 years and is released into Lake Michigan on a DAILY basis.* One billion dollars a year is spent by the Nuclear Reactor Commission (NRC)  to oversee this hazardous way of generating electricity. Overall, $350 billion is spent by the government every year on nuclear energy, whereas a paltry $300 million is spent on renewables, such as wind-generated energy.
More information came out last month from the Fukushima nuclear disaster rated 7, the highest in severity, along with Chernobyl. It’s common knowledge now that 300 tons of polluted water have been escaping from the plant since March of 2011, a fact the Tokyo Electric Power Co. had kept under wraps for 2.5 years. The cleanup promises to be much more dangerous since the spent fuel rods removed from Unit 4, which was not operating, rest in a pool containing plutonium and cesium. If released, they would be the equivalent of about 14,000 atomic bombs.  
As recently as last year palisades has experienced leaks which exceeded the code case limit, in bathroom and auxiliary building catacombs (where workers crawl to repair and inspect). Entergy-owned plants make up the bulk of the dozen on the “most-at-risk” list that includes Palisades, FitzPatrick, Vermont Yankee, Indian Point and Pilgrim plants. Entergy is famous for buying up plants and letting them decay.
The end of the film discussion centered on the most vulnerable reactor pressure vessel in the U.S.: Palisades.  All spoke of their concern that activation of the emergency core cooling system — the last line of defense against a reactor core meltdown — could cause, ironically, a catastrophe.  They claim that suddenly injected cold water could lead to a Loss of Coolant Accident core meltdown and spew radioactivity onto the environment.
If anyone thinks the Government will protect our health, check out the plant at Braidwood, IL. It got permission from the NRC to continue operating one summer when its cooling water hit 102 degrees, even though the plant is supposed to shut within six hours if the water temperature exceeds 100.  
Regulations and standards mean nothing when profits are involved. I asked what the profits were at the average nuclear power plant and learned that it’s$1 million a day! It’s no wonder that under a profit system, court rulings and government regulations protect corporations, and secrets are kept from the public.  
Petitions, statistics on cancer clusters and projected deaths bring no pressure to reform capitalism. Only a united working class is powerful enough to revolt for a communist system where profits do not rule over people. For more information I encourage readers to visit the radioactive waste watchdog site: Beyond Nuclear.
A Red Vacationer Welcoming a Dose of Reality

Haiti: Capitalism Foments Prejudice Against Homosexual Workers
We have thousands of young people here suffering a criminal level of unemployment and thousands of people dying of hunger, while the working and peasant classes are sunk in extreme poverty — and the high-living bosses under the protection of the so-called government exploit both the workers and our natural resources for their private benefit.  Then, on July 19 in Port-au-Prince, we see thousands of middle-class and working-class people taking to the streets to demonstrate against the legalization of gay marriage.
The question of sexuality must be addressed.  It is not, however, the fundamental or primary problem in society.  The problem of our society is capitalism, the source of poverty, racism, crime, immorality, and stealing.  It’s not gay marriage we should be struggling against, but capitalism.
The struggle the working class must wage is the class struggle — one that will liberate the world from inequality, poverty, hunger, sexism and all the other problems stemming from exploitation and related to individualism.  The struggle of the working class is the struggle for communism.
Some workers think that homosexuality is immoral, a product of capitalism, and should be eliminated by abolishing the capitalism which is its cause.  That view is simply an age-old prejudice.
This march in Haiti by religious reactionaries against gay marriage was followed by several gay-bashing assaults in the capital. Violent witch-hunts against those of us in the working class who are gay are typical of fascism, starting with the Nazis. The recent anti-gay legislation by the fascist Putin regime in Russia was followed by the kidnapping and murder of a gay teenager by neo-nazis.  Lethal gay-bashing and murder are also common practice among U.S. right-wingers.  It is disgusting that there are still 76 countries where homosexuality is a crime.
From a scientific point of view, homosexuality is simply one common variant of human sexuality, neither good nor bad in itself, simply a minority, but normal, human behavior. Around 10 percent of the population is gay — as many in the working class as in other classes, as many in places where we are claimed not to exist at all (as used to be said, falsely, in some African countries) as in the West, where a few liberal changes in official anti-gay have been made through struggle.  Examples are the 1980s ACT UP campaign for AIDS treatment in the U.S., and the similar Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa begun in 1998, both with many lessons for campaigns for workers’ health, and both obliged to overcome official state homophobia.
But gay people have been stigmatized in the interests of the social control of various ruling classes long before, up to, and including, the rule of capitalism. Discrimination against homosexuals is part of sexist ideology in general.  It remains to this day yet another divide-and-conquer technique of the ruling class. Bourgeois morality, though loosening on this question, still mainly follows the ancient prejudices against homosexuality. Prejudice against homosexuals is completely anti-scientific and reactionary and communist morality will abolish it along with all other forms of sexism.  
But the Marxist tradition itself has suffered from this prejudice, and all workers should get involved in fighting it.  A new communist society will have the opportunity of sweeping away all such ancient myths.  Clearly that will require intense reflection and education in cultures and milieux where anti-gay ideologies and practices — like other forms of sexism — has been deeply entrenched and normalized, and that is a task for communists to take up in our long march to revolution and freedom for the entire working class.
Haiti Comrade

Problems with Quotating Malcolm X
   The article quoting Malcolm X in CHALLENGE (9/4/13) seems to make a few leaps in logic.
Readers are asked to substitute “capitalist” for the use of “white” to truly understand what Malcolm really would have said on the basis of how he felt after he returned from his pilgrimage to Mecca in June 1964. However, at the time he made his remarks criticizing King and other moderate and Christian civil rights movement leaders, he was a minister of a different religion (Nation of Islam) from King’s, a religion led by a corrupt charlatan. Malcolm was a spokesman for that religion for quite some time.
   When we study the history of the period, we have to carefully analyze why our Party viewed Malcolm more favorably than it did King, et al., in the mid-1960s. We admired Malcolm because his voice was one of genuine anger against U.S. apartheid, and he advocated violence rather than peaceful resistance. Stokely Carmichael and the Black Panthers were influenced by Malcolm. They also called for violent struggle. Many of us in favor of revolution admired that part of what Malcolm and Stokely were saying. In the wake of the Harlem Rebellion, we agreed with the idea that revolutionary violence was necessary, and we supported militant black nationalism.
   By 1969, however, our Party put forward a rejection of all forms of nationalism.  Part of that rejection was based on our learning that nationalism means allying with the capitalists of one’s own nation or ethnic group. This analysis has helped us understand revisionism in all its forms — whether in Vietnam, China, or North Korea.
    We have even stated that the Soviet Union’s use of nationalism to rally the Russian people against the Germans was a mistake. It is unfortunate that identifying with “one’s own people”— nationalism — seems to be easier for people to comprehend than internationalism, particularly when they’re faced with racist attacks. It is worth noting that the Soviet Union also endorsed establishing the state of Israel.
   Your article concludes by saying, “It’s a good start to march for jobs and human rights, but we cannot stop there.” No one knows where Malcolm would have stopped because he was murdered in 1965 before his thinking could evolve further. What we do know is that, by 1970, the ruling class began aggressively promoting and funding nationalism in the form of ethnic studies programs in U.S. universities. This was done to buy off black and Latino youth and intellectuals and to divert them from Marxism-Leninism. That sounds quite a bit like the Kennedys buying off moderate civil rights leaders with federal programs, which Malcolm condemned.
   I think we have to be careful about quoting Malcolm X and presenting him as a source of wisdom. It may carry the seeds of opportunism in the form of trying to gain favorable attention from angry African-Americans with nationalist feelings. Using “Malcolm X Speaks” as a way of introducing his remarks suggests that we view him as a thinker from whom we can learn a great deal.  We can admire Malcolm for his courage and sincerity, but we have to be wary of presenting him as a powerful thinker.
 Red X

What ‘Freedom’ Marches?
Some of the marchers at the 2013 50yr anniversary of the 1963 Washington “freedom” march tried to carry signs about the new Jim Crow and ending mass incarceration of predominantly black and Latino workers and youth but they were confiscated by march officers. And days later Obama spoke critically of those who still protest racist exploitation as denying the great progress that’s been made in civil rights.
But oppression is worse today because you don’t need KKK white sheets and police water hoses when capitalist-controlled politicians and a captive media are silent while the bosses are allowed to create more racist poverty, unemployment  and disfranchisement than all the tactics of segregated facilities and police dogs combined.
The main purpose of both Washington marches was to take the struggle against racist oppression out of the streets and put it into the courts, as SNCC leader John Lewis was prevented from saying at the 1963 march. That march not only banned militant speakers but controlled the sound system which could immediately be switched off to play gospel music if anything militant was being said.
The only positive feature of the recent 2013 march was the presence of workers with CHALLENGE and its message that only communist revolution can end racism.
1963 Marcher

Woody Guthrie Novel Hits Home in  Mexico
The CHALLENGE article about Woody Guthrie’s novel (7/17/2013) made me question a few things. I work in a small community that’s part of a state in central Mexico. This is a rural area where the majority of folks come from a farm-working background.  They grow corn and kidney and lima beans as basic staples for survival.    
As in other parts of the world, however, these small parcels of land cannot cover the cost of clothing, decent housing, health and education. Capitalism has forced many workers to leave our town and look for construction work in Mexican cities or in the imperialist U.S. Wives and children are often left behind. In other cases, children stay with their grandparents while their mothers work in other homes for a salary.
Under capitalism, social relations are defined by private property and the wage system. The owners of the means of production (factories, mines, arable land) are the capitalist bosses. These bosses, by definition, are incapable of producing any wealth. That’s why they need us, the working class. Our only possession is our labor power, which we sell to the capitalists.  The capitalists sell the products of labor and expropriate the wealth produced by the workers from which they gain surplus value — the difference between the wages paid to the workers and the actual value of their labor.
Capitalism promotes the idea that we must work hard to get ahead. That’s what most people in this town do, like our class brothers and sisters throughout the world. In our community, in addition to people’s subsistence farming of corns and beans, they also grow potatoes and carrots for sale at the market. These crops are treated with agro-chemicals produced by large corporations, such as Syngenta, Bayer, and DuPont. These chemicals damage the health of the workers and pollute the soil, water and air. But this is no concern for the owners of these corporations.
Because the process is expensive, from planting to harvesting, many small producers need bank loans to invest in their production. Often these folks lose everything. Yet they continue making efforts to survive under capitalism, when the reality is that under capitalism we cannot survive!
Capitalism is a system that must generate profits. It can never respond to the needs of the working class. Capitalism serves the interest of the ruling class, a handful of bosses and their servant state apparatus.
In this region, although communist ideas are undeveloped, we have people with the potential to spread these ideas among large numbers of people. We have the potential to mount a struggle to provide for the needs of our class instead of producing profits for the bosses.
Though we need to be bolder, we have kept up the struggle against capitalist ideas and the harm they cause. Often we talk with people here about the damage caused by chemicals and the need to make changes in how we produce foodstuffs to make them healthier, using organic farming techniques developed by workers.
Organic agriculture, however, can flourish only when the profit system is abolished through communist revolution, and is replaced by a society run by and for the working class.
The more we fight for communist ideas, the deeper the hole we’ll be digging to bury the capitalist system of wages and put an end to all types of exploitation. We are one class, the international working class. We need one party, the Progressive Labor Party, to lead the workers of the world to fight for communism.
Mexico Red


Letters of September 4

My Road to Becoming A Communist
I am a communist. Typing those words feels so odd. So wrong. So right.
Recently, I attended a communist school run by the Progressive Labour Party. I walked in with my mom and her friend, who I was angry at for getting us into all of this. Communists are crazy. I thought communism was impossible, extreme, and unjustified. I was sure I was a socialist. All we need to do is help out the poor a bit so that everybody has food, a place to live, healthcare, education, and the like. We live in such a rich country, why can’t we manage that?
As I went through the various workshops, I was so conflicted. Things they were saying were so logical. Their goals agreed with everything I believed in. And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to admit I was a communist. Something about the word just made me feel wrong. Though I never agreed with senator McCarthy, [fascist anti-communist, persecutor in the 1950s] I still accepted that communism is a terrible infection that needs to be cured. Plus, these people were advocating for violence. Brutal, blatant violence. I have never been comfortable with violence.
And yet, I couldn’t stop returning to everything they had right. The simple, clear concept of dialectical materialism. The racism and sexism resulting from capitalism. They were right. Communism was the only solution. And yet, I couldn’t be a communist. I talked to my mom’s friend about some of my conflicts. Human nature is selfish. Communism can never work for that reason. He calmly asked me, “Why shouldn’t we strive for the best system?” I wasn’t sure. I responded that it was bound to fail, so why try? I think part of me was selfish. I don’t want to have to sweep floors or clean up. More than anything, though, I could not fight the negative stigma of communism. Or rather, I didn’t want to.
On the last day of the school, people went up to the stage and praised all of its great things. The first speaker said she had just joined the Party. That one line would not let go of me: “I realized there was no other way.”
I slowly came to terms with who I am. One night, I watched a documentary about the war on drugs titled The House I Live In that was life-changing. I saw how the ruling class had changed drug laws over time to stay in power and systematically disenfranchise, oppress, and obliterate minorities and the poor. It all clicked. It all made sense. I decided to write this after watching the movie because I can now say with conviction that I am a communist.
I still struggle with certain aspects of communism, as well as the Party. However I now feel safe to explore and am no longer afraid of communism. I don’t want to conceal who I am, but I also know that persecution and judgement is a reality for many people who go down this path. I also feel especially alienated from my peers, because they are so upper-class and it angers me that they are so blind.
Despite my ongoing inner conflicts, I know I have chosen the right path. I know the road ahead will be long, lonely, and trying, but it is worth it. I now know I must not settle. I must fight for the best future there can be, and communism is the only way down that road.
Editor:  Welcome to the communist movement!  We hope you are able to help your friends understand that communism is not only possible but really the only way out of the abyss of capitalism’s wars, racism, sexism, and destruction of the environment. We are confident that millions of workers will join you in this quest for liberation. We hope you will join our Party and bring its ideas and struggles to the many young people with whom you interact. Remember — urgency and patience are the dialectical requirements for building the revolutionary movement!

Junk Food Hurts Working Class Most
Because capitalists need to make maximum profits, the capitalist system cannot provide for people’s most basic needs. As long ago as 1845, Frederick Engels described how capitalists were adulterating food to boost their profits. (See his book, “The Condition of the Working Class in England.”) Proof that nothing has changed comes in an inquiry just published by the French health ministry.
It seems workers in France eat more sugary junk food than other social classes. An earlier 2010 study had found that, on average, 42% of the children of factory workers drink soda pop four times a week, while only 20% of the children of executives do.
As a result, the working class’s health is worse than other classes. The latest study says that by age 6, 30% of the children of factory workers have already had at least one decayed tooth, compared with only 8% of the children of executives. By age 15, the figures rise to 58% and 34% respectively.
In addition, the study holds junk food responsible for obesity. In kindergarten, the children of factory workers are 3.6 times as likely to be obese as other children.
Capitalism has been poisoning workers and their children with junk food for centuries. Obviously, reforming capitalism is impossible. Only a revolution which establishes communism can produce to satisfy people’s needs, not to boost profits for an exploiting class.
A friend in France