Wednesday
Feb162011

LETTERS of March 2

U.S. Rulers Pulled Strings of Puppet Egyptian Regime

There is one more lesson that we can learn from the rebellion in Egypt. The role of the U.S. ruling class in Egypt reveals that the U.S. remains the most reactionary, oppressive force on the planet.

The U.S. military at the JFK Special Warfare School and Center at Fort Bragg trained Hosni Mubarak and his planned successor Omar Suleiman. The Egyptian secret police, who for decades have tortured and murdered dissidents, were trained by the FBI at their facility in Quantico, VA. The weapons that were used by police forces to kill 300 Egyptian protesters and injure thousands more were manufactured in the U.S. And Boeing subsidiary Narus was kind enough to sell the Mubarak regime software that monitors Internet and cell phone communications and singles out dissidents for retaliation.

The people in Egypt have forced Mubarak to step down. As the U.S. ruling class tries to install a new puppet government under the false guise of democracy, they are going to try to spin their role in the Mubarak dictatorship. Obama & Co. are pretending to be innocent bystanders in this whole affair who just “wish the best for the Egyptian people.” Workers in the U.S. should stand in solidarity with workers in Egypt and oppose the racist U.S. imperialists who torment workers all over the world.

Red Beard

The Bosses’ State: A Machine Oppressing the Working Class

With all the media focus on democracy in the Egyptian mass movement, we should keep clear what the state is. In 1919 Lenin gave a lecture to workers which is one of the best short treatments of the state (V.I. Lenin, “The State,” in Marx, Engels, Marxism, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1951). What he wrote about the state in slave societies helps us grasp that the form of the capitalist state is not the key thing; the key thing is the essence of the capitalist state:

“The state is a machine for the oppression of one class by another, a machine for holding in obedience to one class other, subordinated classes.  There are various forms of this machine. In the slave-owning state we had a monarchy, an aristocratic republic or even a democratic republic.  In fact the forms of government varied extremely, but their essence was always the same: the slaves enjoyed no rights and constituted an oppressed class; they were not regarded as human beings.”

Similarly, if the form of the state in Egypt changes from a semi-monarchical, fascistic, rigged democracy to an open democracy like Denmark’s, what has changed?  The form of the state.  But you would still have the essence of a capitalist state, as you do in Denmark: “a machine for the oppression of one class by another,” guaranteeing capitalists the freedom to exploit workers and coercing workers to accept their exploitation.

But that’s not the way the bourgeoisie writes history.  Lenin again: “In every course on the history of ancient times…you will hear about the struggle which was waged between the monarchical and republican states…But whether a monarchy was instituted or a republic, it was a monarchy of the slaveowners or a republic of the slaveowners.”  Similarly, if capitalist Egypt were to be run as the most free and open democratic republic ever, it would still be a democracy of the capitalist class.

The media follow bourgeois historians in emphasizing the struggle over the form of the state in Egypt.  It’s the role of Marxists and especially revolutionary communists to point out that the essence of every political struggle of our day is over capitalist exploitation of the working class, in Egypt as everywhere else.  That struggle means smashing the capitalist state as a “machine for the oppression of one class by another” and instituting the state-form called the dictatorship of the proletariat, a machine for violently uprooting capitalism and suppressing the capitalist class out of existence.

 A reader

 Capitalism Destroys Health; Racism Pulls Trigger

In the excellent Feb. 16 CHALLENGE article “Building PLP Means Choosing Life – Racist Healthcare Murdering Kids,” the next-to-last sentence correctly says: “We are forced to sit and watch as our children are killed before our eyes by treatable diseases like asthma.” 

It should be added, with perhaps more force, that “...our children are killed before our eyes by preventable diseases like asthma.” Asthma is certainly easily treatable if one has access to medical care. But we should never forget that medical care is mainly for the purpose of patching people up after damage is already done. It’s the initial damage that is the problem, and capitalism, not nature, is the cause. 

Medical care, as the article suggests, is kept at the minimum level necessary to keep workers healthy enough to produce profits for the bosses. It’s purpose is not keeping us healthy enough to enjoy a long and productive life for the benefit of our own class, as it would be under a communist, working-class-run system.

Children and their parents who live in fear of the next asthma attack do not deserve this life-distorting outrage. Asthma is mainly caused by polluted air. Pollution comes from both public and private sources, and even the private sources, such as cigarette smoke, are ultimately public under capitalism. Parents who smoke around their children are unwittingly contributing to their children’s development of asthma. But it’s the cigarette company executives who smile all the way to the bank.

Indeed, a recent international study estimated that cigarettes cause an extra 600,000 deaths a year from second-hand smoke. There is good reason to believe that this is a gross underestimate.

Added to this scourge, and more than doubling it, are the tons of poisons that smokestacks from fossil fuel-based industry and power plants spew every second of every day. It is estimated that coal emissions alone cause two million unnecessary deaths around the world annually from asthma and other respiratory and heart disease, and up to 50,000 per year in the U.S. alone. That’s mass murder with a vengeance. And the people who are forced to live the closest to such deadly fumes are more often black, Latino, or Native American, making it racist mass murder.

And still worse, particularly for our children and grandchildren, is the global warming that fossil-fuel emissions cause. The increasingly deadly weather extremes emerging this winter in Europe and the Northeast U.S. are only one of the results. (See the Winter 2010 article in The Communist magazine on global warming for a more complete discussion, available on the PLP website.) As the healthcare article said, building PLP for working-class communist revolution means choosing life over capitalism’s mass murder.

Saguaro Rojo

Fascist Afghan Gov’t Ravages Women

The Afghan government just announced plans to bring shelters for women running away from family violence and forced marriages — now operated by international and local NGO’s — under control of the Women’s Affairs Ministry.

Two years in the making, the new rules have been initiated by fundamentalists in the Karzai administration, who view the dozen or so shelters for abused women (opened in the past eight years), as encouraging women and girls to abandon their traditional roles and “dishonor their families.” At worst the shelters are said to operate as brothels.

If passed into law, runaways would go before an eight-person panel to decide their fate: jail, be returned to their family, or allowed to live in a government-controlled shelter. They would undergo a physical exam for virginity.

Shelter supporters claim domestic violence is cultural (not criminal!) and their struggle is to change the culture and the laws that support it. During this admittedly slow process they need to provide victims with a safe place. But corruption is a fact of life today in Afghanistan and laws are meaningless when government officials arbitrarily make decisions based on bribes or family connections.

Friends of PLP in Afghanistan know that the fight has to be for more than a change of law or so called “traditional customs.” Culture masks the source of the oppression of women: the capitalist system and the patriarchy that is its mainstay. Women’s role is as the lowest-paid (often unpaid) laborers in that hierarchy.

Control of women by husbands and brothers mirrors the control over the whole society by the wealthy few and hides the fact that the capitalists who control Afghan society use the subjugation of women to divide men and women, whose class interests are the same.

The struggle for emancipation of women is inseparably bound up in the entire struggle of all workers, men and women, against capitalist exploitation and for a communist society. In the 1980’s, when “culture” included equal rights for women, and a Marxist government with communist ideas was in power (with all the faults and errors of its leaders), Afghan women — and men — made tremendous steps forward along that road.

A reader



Thursday
Feb032011

LETTERS of Feburary 16

Duvalier ‘Return’ Part of Latest Subjugation of Haiti

The return of the fascist dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier provoked these comments from friends in Haiti:

1. Hello comrades: This bizarre apparition is not just a surprise but also a trap set for most Haitians. It’s not a “return,” as they pretend, but rather a ruse to create a political diversion. In all the tap-taps [informal taxis] since his return, it’s the only subject of conversation. Why this injection of a troubling factor into the worsening crisis?  What does the future hold for the people? These are questions to ask and to answer.  We might say that it’s a bit of theater, directed by the international community and the government in power, to further confuse the political situation

2. Duvalier’s return is certainly put in place by president René Préval, with an eye to distracting Haitians’ attention from the electoral crisis. He wants to put the brakes on mobilization by the organizations and political parties aiming at chasing Préval from power.  The French government and MINUSTAH [UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti] have participated in setting up this return.
Even before his arrival in court, everyone knew that the government was going to install him in a luxurious mansion in Port-au-Prince.  Yesterday, the Minister of Justice saw to everything: air conditioning, furnishings, a generator, etc. We should expect nothing positive to come out of this business.

3. When the old dictator Jean Claude Duvalier surprised us by returning after twenty years of exile in France, he was applauded by a crowd chanting slogans like “If Jean Claude had been here things would not be like they are.”

The political crisis that Haiti is experiencing goes back a long way before Préval.  A look at the current administration reveals the fingerprints of Duvalier all over it: what we are living through now is merely the sequel of the project of dictatorship of the Duvaliers, under the auspices of the U.S. for the massive destruction of the living sap of Haitian life.  Or, better put, for the re-colonization of Haiti by the U.S.

After having been slaves of the French we became slaves of the U.S., and paid a lot of money to show our gratitude.  Some of our Haitian brothers were sold into slavery to other countries by our governments, including those of the Duvaliers.

We must be aware that the Duvaliers were fine servants of the U.S., as they were of France.  After twenty-five years of political babbling, this return of the ancient Dictator of Haiti may be just more groping around by the international community to see if it can still count on its old watchdog in Haiti.

Friends in Haiti

Cancer Kills Comrade Who Fought Rulers’ Sick System

A very good friend and comrade who was once active with PLP died from brain cancer on January 20. He was in his early 60s and leaves a wife and two adult children. Ironically his professional work was research into both the many causes of cancer and methods of prevention. However, he knew that the primary underlying cause of all cancer is the miserably unhealthy environment that capitalism produces, as well as its horrible stress-inducing working and living conditions. Stress, among many other harmful effects, interferes with our immune systems’ abilities to defend us against cancer and other illnesses.

To me personally, his dying is very, very sad. It only goes to show yet again what a killer capitalism really is. The vast majority of cancers are preventable with healthy working and living conditions and environment. The horrors of capitalist health care are nothing compared with the horrors of capitalist health.

When another comrade was in her dying days from breast cancer over a decade ago, her husband commented on what a plague this cancer was. I think we still don’t comprehend just how much of it is caused by capitalism, and tend to assume — without meaning to and hoping to escape the pitfall — that since cancer preceded capitalism it is just a natural part of life. That just isn’t so. Before capitalism, science simply hadn’t yet discovered much about how the environment and conditions of life contribute to ill health. Of course, everyone has to die some time, but, under different circumstances, life expectancy can easily well exceed 100. Under the best of conditions in today’s world it is at least 20 years less than that, and under the worst it is at least half a century less.

As all of us age, more and more of our friends, family, and comrades are leaving us. Life and death keep evolving. I can only take some comfort in knowing that in PLP we are working toward those circumstances that will not only extend all human life but make it worthwhile and fulfilling. This indeed was the comfort that sustained our comrade through his illness.

Saguaro Rojo

Inspired to Fight Exploitation in Haiti

On December 7, violence, rioting, and police and UN terror in response to election fraud caused my trip to be rescheduled. So we ended up being there during a very historic time, on the anniversary of the earthquake. To be in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, January 12th was a profound experience on many levels.

Profound was the connection I felt with the Haitian community and myself.  It discounted my belief that I could never relate with people from much poorer communities.  I had assumed that so-called Third World communities, having been through much more hardship and devastation than I would ever see, would not respect my own plight. It could not have been further from the truth, as we were both from working-class communities and had lots more in common than not.  It was a pleasure to collaborate with the Haitian student and union activists.

Profound was the devastation that still lingers from the earthquake. The UN and NGOs maximized their efforts not to reconstruct. Instead, they established 40 free trade zones so that multi-national entities can exploit Haitian labor.  With the state having very little power, Haiti has been left in the hands of international business interests.

Profound was the disgrace of how these business interests have left the condition of Haiti even one year later. Throughout the towns and cities, piles of rubble and trash remain, along unpaved roads. The tents that “house” over 1 million people are packed in tightly and resemble concentration camps.

The trip was nothing short of inspiring and I am excited to prepare for future projects in Haiti.

Student comrade

Red Ideas on Religion Moves Teenagers to Materialism

I recently had a conversation with two Muslim teenage students who were inspired by the recent article on materialism, religion and idealism. One was very interested in understanding the mind of an atheist, to which I replied I’m not just an atheist — I’m a communist.  I don’t just define myself as a non-believer of god, but by the understanding that there can be a society free of class, racism and sexism. 

We discussed the fact that religion is prescientific thinking — early humans’ attempt to understand the world. We discussed how religion forces people to be subservient since only a few prophets or priests have access to the “truth.” I wondered if they saw the relationship of god to man as a reflection of the boss-worker relationship under capitalism. 

Just as the state seeks to monopolize the legitimate use of violence, so to does all religion and spirituality seek to monopolize morality, whereas true morality comes from the collective understanding of necessity.

We discussed how Marx described god as a reflection of man’s best qualities removed from mankind and worshiped apart from humanity; how god was like the simple fetish mask or carving — our own creation that we worship; how Marx made two seemingly disparate and contradictory quotes that illustrated the two sides of why religion exists – it is the drug of the masses and the only hope in a hopeless world. Drugs provide warmth and hope for those addicts who live a painful existence on the edge of oblivion; the god-drug is just as powerful of an escapist drug as it numbs the alienating pain of life under capitalism. 

CHALLENGE helped this conversation to happen, moving several young Islamic students closer to the working class, a materialist philosophy, and revolution. Someday we will have a society free from the chains of religion, but for that to happen the PLP must lead a communist revolution. 

Materialist, and proud of it!

Rebellion Against Capitalist Exploitation

During the last two weeks, the continuing failure of capitalism worldwide resulted in many deaths in:

• Albania — 20,000 march, protest corrupt rulers;

• Jordan — Thousands march against economic hardships;

• Tunisia — Nationwide revolt to overthrow corrupt government;

• Yemen and Algeria — Thousands protest corrupt rulers;

• Egypt — Hundreds of thousands demonstrate in many cities against 30 years of Mubarak corruption.

Despite ornate palaces, imposing capitol buildings and gigantic pyramids to show off the capitalist rulers’ power, they have been forced by the rules of the system to open their countries to exploitation of land, resources and labor for the profits of foreign and domestic bosses. Starvation, malnutrition and disease are the causes of the holocaust images of people we see on the news, wandering over devastated lands that used to produce food in those countries but are now sucked dry for capitalist and imperialist profits.

Past protests against this misery have been met with thousands of police. They were equipped with the latest riot-control weapons and backed by an army with guns, tanks, helicopters and warplanes supplied mostly by the U.S., the largest exporter of arms worldwide . The U.S. calls this “foreign aid”; i.e., weapons to suppress people in exchange for the right to steal countries’ wealth.

The recent increasing volume of protests, rebellions, and revolts are starting to feed off each other and workers are sensing their growing power. As communists, wherever possible, we must give every support to this movement stretching across countries. We must stress to workers at every opportunity that it is capitalism that is destroying their lives and threatening their very existence and that putting different people in power without wiping out that murderous system is suicide.

The lesson to be learned from this suffering is that only by fighting for communism and workers’ power can we provide for our class’s needs.

Unemployed comrade

Not all Violence is Bad

I thought last issue’s editorial [Feb. 2, 2011] did a good job exposing the hypocrisy of politicians in general and Obama in particular. Out of one side of their mouth, they wail and moan about Jared Loughner killing six people in Arizona. On the other side, they give orders for Reaper drones to ìincinerate and dismember children.

However, I thought the article missed an important point: revolutionary violence is necessary. Capitalist violence, whether the work of an individual madman or an imperialist government, is wrong.  Revolutionary violence, wielded by the working class against the bosses, is the only path to a communist world. The bosses can neither be voted out of control nor can they be reasoned with. Every day, we witness the forms of violence the bosses use to secure their profits: racist police terror, dangerous working conditions, and poverty. These attacks will be sharpened as workers gain class-consciousness and realize that we can run society for ourselves without the blood-sucking bosses.

Workers must be prepared to fight for our society and to defend our revolution. We will use mass, revolutionary violence, not individual terrorism, to wipe capitalism from the planet and secure a better way of life for all workers.

A comrade

 





Wednesday
Jan192011

LETTERS of Feburary 2

British Miner Still Fighting

(This letter from British miner Peter Holden was sent to two PLP members and is a follow-up to the article appearing in the last issue of CHALLENGE. — Ed.)

Thank you both very much for your Christmas wishes and card. I’m afraid the struggle for dignity, truth and justice still remains and is ongoing.

The whole working class is under attack by the Government here (Tories/Liberals). The students have been demonstrating against the rise in tuition fees, while hospital, schools, pensioners and the disabled are all under attack!

The government is blaming the Labour Party for the current situation, to justify the horrendous cuts they’re putting into force. This will only affect the working class, not the rich.

What a great achievement to have a newspaper, CHALLENGE, with thousands of supporters around the world. Excellent!

I have multiple sclerosis and am in a wheelchair, but I keep my spirit up and try not to let it get me down. I’m still the Secretary of the “Betteshanger Social Club & Community Centre,” which was the “Betteshanger Colliery Social Club.” We have struggled and refurbished the building.

I hope this letter finds you both in good health. Please give my regards to all the comrades in the U.S. We will never forget the tremendous support you gave to the miners in the historic strike of 1984/85.

Peter, Ex-Sacked and Victimized Kent Miner

Bosses’ Hospital Closures: Racist Death Sentence for Workers

The Cook County Commissioners are closing two of the three public hospitals — Provident and Oak Forest — serving Chicago-area residents, and converting them into clinics. The new county president, Preckwinkle, says she will cut over 20% of the budget, which includes Stroger Cook County Hospital. All this means more layoffs and more deaths due to lack of access to health care for many unemployed and under-employed workers, most of whom are Southside black and Latino residents.

At a recent meeting, many workers and patients confronted an administrator who answered few of the many concerns they raised. People described how private hospitals have turned them away due to lack of insurance. They were referred to Oak Forest and Provident and/or Stroger Hospital, which is inaccessible for many in the South suburbs who have no car.

The whole department of a doctor was abolished as well as other medical services that patients have relied on. A former delivery driver said he was referred to Stroger for cancer treatment, but after a year trying to get help, he gave up. He was finally able to get help at Oak Forest.

The Commissioners have appointed a board of health professionals and businessmen and women to administer the cuts. (The chairman is the former head of Tupperware.)

They held public hearings where over 1,000 people denounced the cutbacks. However, the bosses are still planning to carry out their racist plans to save money on the backs of mostly black and Latino workers as well as many white workers depending on these facilities.

PLP has actively opposed the cuts and is supporting a nurses’ strike vote. But the unions, including SEIU and AFSCME, have done little to organize the workers against the racist cuts. Their lack of leadership reflects their disregard for the workers.

The unions have given millions from our dues money to politicians, who are our enemies, working hand-in-glove with the billionaires. Black and Latino politicians who front for the bosses are racist because they’re attacking mainly African-American, Latino and Asian patients and healthcare workers.Communists must organize workers to fight the cuts and layoffs and demand that Oak Forest and Provident stay open, with a strike if necessary.

A Hospital Worker

French Government Harasses 
Haiti Quake Victims

A coalition of civil liberty groups has commemorated the first anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti by condemning the conditions the French government has created for refugees trying to enter France from that ravaged country. A few days after the quake, the government had promised to ease their entry. The coalition published a text titled, “The victims are not welcome in the country of selective immigration.”

It said their treatment was “scandalous”; “there is a yawning gap between what was promised and what has been done.”

The government said it would ease the issuing of visas and the conditions for reuniting families and that deportations would be suspended. BUT within a few days, the windows in the prefectures for the refugees were closed and the conditions for reuniting families were never eased.

Since the earthquake immigrants from Haiti have had a harder time than other foreigners. Despite the earthquake damage, which worsened the ability to obtain identity papers, the French embassy in Haiti maintained discriminatory requirements, enabling it to reject most visa requests. The French government requires a series of documents which can only be obtained from Haitian government archives that were destroyed in the earthquake.

Thus, attempts to circumvent the French government’s legal barriers have run aground (see CHALLENGE 1/19). Seventy-five immigrants who arrived from Haiti on December 23 and 26 were immediately detained in airport waiting zones after arriving on transit visas for Bénin. Upon arrival, they all demanded admission to France under the right of asylum. Then they were admitted temporarily while filing a request at the prefecture to stay.

The government has put them through this hassle even though it violated its own laws. Its promise from a year ago, to provide safe haven for earthquake victims, follows the government’s general racist policies which have been directed against Arab and black immigrants from North Africa and sub-Sahara Africa who have been subjected to poverty wages and threats of deportation.

A Reader from France

Climate Change Spreads Diseases; Inherent in Capitalism

Diseases are spreading from the tropics to areas of the world farther from the equator where the oceans and air are steadily warming up. They’re affecting new populations who don’t have immunities to it. Plants, animals, and humans are all affected. The primary underlying cause is global warming, caused by greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas). Underlying this use of dirty energy is the profit system (capitalism), since fossil fuels bring tremendous profits, and profits always come before people.

Global warming causes more and more heat, humidity and rain, bringing mosquitoes, ticks, and other disease carriers. Malaria and cholera, among other diseases, are seen now in parts of Asia and Africa that haven’t seen them before. Dengue fever, caused by a virus that is spread by mosquitoes and is sometimes fatal, has spread to the U.S. after being absent for three-fourths of a century.

Capitalism’s inherent racist and two-tier organization produces disparity in the management and treatments of natural disasters. Hence, the poorest, the darker-skinned, suffer the most. To see this, consider the effect of the earthquakes last year in Haiti or in Chile, or the flooding of New Orleans by Katrina.

Bark beetles, also spreading farther from the equator, are wiping out forests from the Southwest U.S. to Canada. This type of change in habitat hastens the influx of disease carriers. The bosses around the globe have no plans or means to counter these looming epidemics, and the uneven distribution of health care resources again will increase racist oppression.

Global warming, by holding more moisture in the air until it falls in torrents, is causing more droughts in some areas and floods in others. Today’s swelling rivers and extreme flooding in eastern Australia are attributed by climatologists to a strong La Niña. It is actually global warming that makes the violent weather events much more frequent.

The high water, in addition to wiping out homes, is bringing crocodiles and snakes into the middle of towns. These floods will become everyday events as more and more glaciers melt and sea levels rise, flooding coastal cities, where hundreds of millions of people live. (See Scientific American, January 2011, p. 64, “Casualties of Climate Change.”)

The capitalist governments of nations around the world twiddle their thumbs and, in order to escape responsibility for these crises, point fingers at each other, trying to gain advantage. Imperialist wars, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, consume huge amounts of money and resources that could, in workers’ hands, be used to develop clean energies, among other needs.

There is technology to use renewable and safer energy sources (such as water, wind, and biomass) but the bosses refuse. Meanwhile the bosses’ media call for major cuts in Social Security and Medicare, but only trivial cuts, if any, in spending for war  — misnamed “defense.”

Any gains against the bosses will be won by the struggles of masses of workers, but they will  only last until the bosses and their politicians take them back. Only a system run by the working class around the world, organized to satisfy our needs and not for profit, can drown the inhuman profit system in its own floods and save the planet for our children and grandchildren, let alone ourselves. 

(See PLP’s complete statement on global warming and its causes in THE COMMUNIST magazine, Winter 2010 issue, at www.plp.org).

Saguaro Rojo

Workers Hear ‘Airport Red’ on 
Tucson Murders

At the airport, many of my co-workers were shocked to learn of the horrific massacre in Tucson, Arizona. While some of us have political disagreements with the government, we agreed that terrorism by indiscriminately slaughtering everyone is not the way. It could kill innocent workers and children. 

We sent out an email to the Tucson SEIU [Service Employees International Union] expressing sympathy for the injured. My co-workers reviewed a draft of the email before it was sent. They asked, “Why did he do it”? Clearly Jared Loughner is unbalanced, but I tried to explain that it is because of the fascist political climate in Arizona. It’s filled with anti-immigrant racism, racist hate groups, and a fascist governor who cuts the budget by preventing working-class people from getting medical operations to stay alive. We know of one worker who died because of it.

This is fascism with racism being the cutting edge. I explained to an anti-Semitic guy that PLP correctly said racism, when carried to its “logical” conclusion, means not only the death of black, Latino and Asian workers, but white workers as well. This guy also had a connection to a racist anti-immigrant hate group called American Renaissance.

I told my co-workers that Arizona was like a bomb waiting to go off and that the mass murder was a reflection of conflict among the bosses for control of the Federal government. Loughner was a perfect proxy representing Arizona fascism, which is new-money bosses oppressing Latino workers in Arizona. Gifford and Judge Roll represented the federal government that is dominated by old-money Rockefeller bosses.

Many of my co-workers were surprised to hear a communist analysis like that. I told them massacres like this happen all the time in the Middle East because of different groups of bosses fighting it out over the dead bodies of Palestinian or Iraqi workers.

I explained the Progressive Labor Party is the only answer to stopping the mass murder of workers in the bosses’ dogfights both in the U.S. and globally.  We must rid ourselves of all bosses through communist revolution and have a communist society run by and for the working class. From Arizona to Palestine, fight for communist revolution! 

Airport Red



Wednesday
Nov172010

Letters of December 1

March vs. ICE-NYC Prisons’ 
Anti-Immigrant Gang-up

On Tuesday, October 19, we joined a group of over 1,000 workers and students from Brooklyn and Queens belonging to the reformist community organization “Make the Road New York”and marched over the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate at the mayor’s office in Manhattan.

We protested the collaboration of the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) in the city jails. The DOC has been sharing the information of each and every person incarcerated with ICE, including name and place of birth. They can deport an undocumented worker no matter the charge or accusation, whether they were found guilty or innocent, and no matter how much time they’ve been incarcerated. The DOC voluntarily turns over up to 4,000 undocumented workers to ICE every year despite no legal obligation to do so.

Make the Road New York made a legal challenge to stop the collaboration between city prisons and ICE, and these Arizona-style deportations. One participant following the event stated that Make the Road New York’s solution doesn’t give them much hope, and will only serve as a smokescreen for opportunistic politicians.

This struggle must be directed against capitalism, and we’re planning to lead that struggle as we make contacts and expose the dead-end of reformism. Currently we are expanding our CHALLENGE readership, and are pushing for another demonstration in front of one of the prisons themselves.

Worker from Manhattan

U.S. Airport Workers Back Chicago Moms, French Strikers

Some of the airport workers who get CHALLENGE helped with two Party-led efforts to aid workers here and internationally. They collected a small donation to send to Chicago to contribute to the support of the Whittier rebels who are trying to save their community center from the racist Chicago bosses who want the land (see page 3).

A solidarity letter written in French was e-mailed to trade union workers of CGT, one of France’s largest trade unions, which is the rough equivalent to the SEIU. They were also sent a shipment of CHALLENGES. 

Party members have emphasized to the airport workers how these two class struggles on a larger scale are similar to our smaller airport fights against our racist bosses: we are all victimized by racist, sexist, and anti-working-class capitalism which can’t meet workers’ needs. Only a communist society lead by PLP and workers can. Here is a translation of the letter to the workers in France:

“Revolutionary Greetings to our French, African, and Arab brother and sister workers. We know of your struggles in France against anti-worker and racist Sarkozy. We stand in solidarity with you! We work at a large airport in North America. We are citizens and immigrants. Your class struggle is ours too! Against this racist, sexist, and anti-worker system we call on the international working class to support you! 1968! Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!”

Airport Red

Jon Stewart to D.C. Rally: 
‘Sit Down, Shut Up!’

The October 30th Rally to Restore Sanity put on by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had a clear message to those on the Left: “sit down and shut up.” The 250,000 people who attended (dwarfing the numbers of Glenn Beck’s rally and the unions’ rally) were treated to what was largely a commercial for various Viacom products (Viacom owns Comedy Central) occasionally interrupted by anti-communist attacks and nationalist pandering.

The stage was surrounded by U.S. flags, the hosts wore U.S. flag suits, and soldiers and musicians were brought out to reverently sing the national anthem and other patriotic songs. Both in the lead-up to, and during, the rally Stewart attacked those that loudly and vocally opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as “unreasonable extremists.” He chided as ridiculous those that have called the Tea Party racist and those that criticized Juan Williams’ racist statements about Muslims. During the rally he called these critics “Stalinists” (the indefinably evil boogeyman of capitalist propaganda) and “Marxists actively subverting our Constitution.”

As much as the working class needs Marxists to actively subvert the capitalists’ Constitution (and yes, also celebrate the legacy of Stalin), one wonders where this mass party is other than in the minds of John Birchers and Jon Stewart? The reality is that this rally, whose audience was not the Tea Party or the Fox News set, but liberals and Leftists, was held to ridicule and mock the Left into not questioning U.S. imperialism or racist ruling-class power.

Stewart and Colbert mocked the idea that we live in a society of class struggle and in so doing undermined workers’ ability to fight back in that struggle. Stewart closed by saying that we are in “hard times but not end times” so we should cool it with the outrage and the demands for change. This is an easy statement for him to make from his penthouse in Manhattan. But for the millions whose unemployment benefits are running out, or the millions more who are being kicked out of their houses and thrown into the streets this is the end times. Likewise, for those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and now Yemen who have to worry about U.S. troops killing them in the night, it most certainly must feel like the end times.

He will excuse us if some of us are outraged and refuse to be polite about a system that has murdered more people through slavery, poverty, starvation, neglect, imperialism, and war than any other in human history.

Red Beard

Anti-War Vets Defy Fascist Cops

This year’s NYC Veterans’ Day parade included a cat-and-mouse game between anti-war vets and cops trying to snatch their signs and arrest them. The ruling class invested heavily in patriotism, with 3,000 active-duty military, dozens of marching bands and cadet groups from all parts of the country, war vehicles, thousands of free flags and every politician they could get out of bed.

I joined some Vietnam anti-war vets I knew and a few Iraq and Afghanistan vets who were marching with the peace groups because everyone was notified that only peace groups and banners were permitted; anti-war groups and personal signs were prohibited.

We anti-war vets decided to keep our signs folded until we had marched a few blocks and if that idea failed, we would continue our chants, like “Jobs are what we’re fighting for, we don’t want your god-damned war!” Our political chanting proved very effective for creating crowd support (like at PLP events).

When we opened our signs, cops started breaking into our formations, threatening arrests if we displayed them (my sign read, “Bring the Troops and the Money Home Now!” We folded our signs until the cops challenged vets in another row and then we re-opened them again.

This went back and forth for a few blocks while ironically the peace groups were chanting, “This is what democracy looks like.” I believe they were referring to their right to preach “peace” but with the cops running around like Nazis, the chant took on the meaning of, “This is what fascism looks like!”

I guess the fascist cops realized that we would not yield and they decided against a mass arrest, so we were able to complete 90% of the parade without harassment. Despite the two-hour patriotic fanfare the crowds were exposed to, when our group, which is always placed at the end, got to march, we were received by the majority with such applause and enthusiasm that I began to understand why the ruling class feels so vulnerable and fears our presence

Korea War Vet

Racist Tea Party Brings Back 
Jim Crow

The mid-term elections (11/2) once again saw the intensification of efforts to intimidate black and Latino voters. Part of a long tradition of racially-based voter intimidation campaigns in the U.S., such campaigns have been rapidly escalating since 2000.

Tea Party groups across the country formed voter-fraud teams. They patrolled polling sites in “suspicious” communities, all of which “just happened” to be working class and either black or Latino. In Illinois, Congressman Mark Kirk was caught on tape urging the dispatch of intimidation teams to black neighborhoods to discourage voters. Across the country Tea Party poll watchers were encouraged to go to polling places and directly accuse people of fraud. In Phoenix, people were encouraged to attack those who looked “illegal” as fraudulent voters. In Houston, Tea Party thugs directly intimidated people in black neighborhoods to prevent them from voting.

In this case it is immaterial that voter fraud (of the kind they are “fighting”) is virtually non-existent or that the whole election circus is a fraud. It exists only to legitimize the capitalist class dictatorship; these acts of intimidation are solely for the purpose of intensifying and perpetuating racism. While useless for changing the system, voting does send clear messages about who is and who is not a legitimate member of society. By actively working to exclude black and Latino workers from voting the message of these peoples’ second-class status is reinforced. The fact that the government does nothing to stop these attacks only confirms their legitimacy and that of racism as a whole.

A comrade



Saturday
Oct092010

Letters of October 20

Small Actions, Long-time Readers Pay Off

I’m enclosing another $100 check for a donation given for the paper by a long-time reader. He’s the owner of a Haitian restaurant whom we first met in the ’90s during the InCAR days. His restaurant, new at the time, was being victimized by a racist who lived across the street (and was probably encouraged by the cops constantly ticketing customers who parked around there). It was vandalized several times and racial slurs were shouted at the customers.

We held a small InCAR demonstration in front of the racist’s house and since then the restaurant owner has been a regular reader of CHALLENGE! The racist abuse, as well as the parking tickets, also ebbed out after that.

I’ve learned that even very small struggles, and maintaining long-term CHALLENGE readerships, are worthwhile. Another person whom we first met about 20 years ago, and whom I’ve been getting the paper to for at least the past 10 years, just recently participated in one of our activities for the first time in many years.

Thanks for keeping up the good work on the paper.    

A persistent comrade

Capitalism: the Ultimate Bacteria

We are taught tremendous hype about how capitalism, through competition for market share (i.e., customers), creates the best quality products. Products that involve health reveal just how profound a lie that really is.

The news today is of a new bacterial species with a mutated gene that makes it resistant to all known antibiotics. Many old bacteria are undergoing mutations that make them more likely to survive and reproduce because they can resist antibiotics. After all, if any bacterium undergoes such a mutation in the presence of an antibiotic, it alone will survive and multiply, and thereby eventually become more common than other types which are killed by the antibiotics. So antibiotics always create new bacteria that are resistant, since mutations happen randomly all the time, and sooner or later a resistant strain will arise. 

So how has the field of medicine responded to these new antibiotic-resistant bacteria? By inventing new antibiotics. But here’s the problem that capitalism throws in our laps. The new antibiotics require research and development (R&D) and passage through regulatory agencies. That can take 5 to 10 years all told, and it’s very expensive. Much of the R&D is covered by government subsidies, often through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), but the development takes place in the laboratories of the giant pharmaceutical companies, i.e., drug companies.

Then, after having the government pay for much of their R&D, the drug companies sell these products at high prices, on the grounds that the R&D is so expensive (even though they didn’t pay for much of it). The prices put these life-saving drugs out of reach of more and more people, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but increasingly so in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

And now that capitalism is in a financial crisis, and companies are taking fewer and fewer chances, no drug companies want to work on antibiotics. Thus, more and more drug-resistant bacteria are coming into being. Two better known examples are the bacteria that cause tuberculosis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known simply as MRSA, (pronounced “MER-sa”). More and more people are dying from these bacteria around the world.

So what happened to “capitalism, through competition for market share (i.e., customers), creates the best quality products”? Fact is, capitalism creates tremendous amounts of junk that we don’t need but that millions of us can be coaxed into buying through advertising, particularly by hooking our kids. But when it comes to life-saving medicines, forget it.

This is no trivial problem today, and represents just one more reason why the world’s working class needs desperately to get rid of capitalism and set up a communist-led working-class-ruled world.

Saguaro Rojo

International Solidarity with R.R. Strikers in Peru

As recent travelers to Peru, my husband and I were inspired to witness intense struggle and to spend some of our time getting to know international, like-minded workers. Our Salkantay trek (hike to Machu Picchu) was extended by a day because of a railroad strike and road blockades. During our five-day hike with folks from Australia, Portugal and France we had many discussions and one young man showed interest in the PLP website. 

On September 24, 1,000 young demonstrators broke into the Cuzco airport wall, causing the airlines to close the airport—giving us yet another day of adventure. 

Cuzco was the site of protests earlier in the week of September 20, and a railroad strike in solidarity involved the trains from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. The state and local government have acted in concert to privatize water and land in various areas of Peru. Millions will be spent building the Angostura dam, which will transfer water to other areas such as Siguas and Majes, affecting the availability of water to locals from the Apurimac River.

In the Arequipa region of Peru, the Chilean government has bought land in Majes, turning it into “Little Chile,” with Chilean restaurants.  There is no “illegal” immigration between governments so far as profit-making is concerned. 

We were able to march with the demonstrators in Cuzco and pointed out how we were going through issues of privatization over water in Newark. I told two women how tenant families of Newark had had their water shut off while delinquent corporations and landlords had unlimited water. I said how these local struggles emphasize the need for internationalism and an end to capitalism.  We embraced, and my only regret was in not having armloads of literature.

Two enthusiastic internationalists

Profits First Kills Ten

I’ve lived in San Bruno, C.A. for a long time. Nothing ever happens here, until a few days ago. The neighborhood just exploded into flames, from a natural gas line. The first reports were inaccurate, about a falling plane or a gas station blowing up, and the regional utility, PG&E, denying everything. There were later reports that residents had reported gas odors in the area for at least a few days. I myself have seen required maintenance cut back by PG&E over a period of time. They haven’t had official layoffs, but they have not hired for a long time. Attrition has cut back the workers that do all the required maintenance.

As a CHALLENGE reader, I have heard about the aging infrastructure of the U.S. Profits are up, while the workforce is cut back. With taxes going to fund the wars in the Middle East and company money in a falling economy going to profits first, there is less than a minimum for required maintenance of all kinds of systems. We don’t know the exact cause yet, but I would expect that lack of maintenance had a lot to do with it. And whatever the exact cause this time, there are many, many more problems like this one waiting to happen for this same reason. This system puts profits above workers’ health and safety. We need a system that puts workers’ welfare first.

A Friend in San Bruno

 

[Writers Note: In the aftermath of the disaster that resulted in 37 homes destroyed and at least ten dead or missing, as investigators study bones reduced to dust, federal and state investigators have pointed to decades-old, corroded pipes, and manual shut-off valves. (A 1981 federal report on a previous accident called for automatic shut-off valves.)  The Sept. 20 issue of the SF Examiner carried a photo of the neighborhood engulfed in flames with the following caption quoting B. McCown, retired U.S. Dept. of Transportation executive: “We really don’t have regulations or policies that dictate planning and zoning.”

The story below quoted San Francisco Planning Director J. Rahaim as saying planners were unaware of any provision in the planning or building codes requiring builders to consider pipeline safety risk, other than ensuring that lines are not damaged by construction work. All this in an earthquake-prone area.]