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

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


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


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.]


LETTERS of October 6

Colombia ‘Election’ Scam Masks Gov’t Killings

Colombia just “elected” a new president, Juan Manuel Santos, who’s CEO of the newspaper “El Tiempo,” with the country’s largest circulation, spreading the official line of the government and the ruling class. Santos also owns 60% of the company that tallies the votes and computes statistics. He was also the Minister of Defense under Uribe, Colombia’s previous president.

Under his command the government picked up young men from poor areas, ”offered” them jobs, took them far from their homes, forced them to dress in military gear and then killed them. The government then claimed they had been guerrillas killed in fights with the army. This “proved” to the public that Uribe’s government was winning the battle against the guerillas.

In this latest “election,” by 2:00 PM on the second day of voting, the votes had already officially been counted. The winner was Uribe’s “student,” Santos. Although 57% of the electorate didn’t vote, Santos was said to have had the highest voting rate in history.

For vice-president they picked Angelino Garzon, an ex-union leader and “ex-militant” of the “communist” party. This was to clean up Uribe’s party’s image internationally. It’s been widely known that Uribe sponsored drug-trafficking and that his government assassinated more than 2,500 union leaders. Many more had to flee the country because their lives and their families were threatened. Uribe virtually destroyed the union movement.

So the ex-union leader is supposed to clean the government’s image, telling the world that what’s said about the government is untrue. But this character is a renegade from the working class, who sold us out for a plate of lentils (for nothing). He’s someone who, just like the President, has no conscience. After he was discredited by the union movement his only option was to serve the rulers. He’s a traitor to workers and is trying to demoralize the workers’ movement, feeding workers’ cynicism.       

Colombia is in a deep crisis. According to the country’s National Administrative Department of Statistics, the unemployment rate is 12% and the poverty rate 45%. Colombia also has nine U.S. military bases and gives the U.S. 82% of its mining agreements.

Now the ruling class wants to pretend to make war between Venezuela and Colombia to distract workers’ attention and use them as bait to fight for their imperialist interests. This is part of the inter-imperialist struggle to control areas with natural resources such as oil which are vital for capitalism.  

The rulers lie to the public shamelessly. The truth is that the majority of workers didn’t vote because they don’t believe in the candidates the wealthy select for election. Unfortunately they’re not organized and the movement is scattered.

But the working class has huge potential. That’s why we in PLP organize within the movement. We understand there are ups and downs. While the workers’ movement is in a lull internationally, the laws of dialectics teach us that nothing is forever. We have confidence and work patiently, but urgently. We know the workers will rise up to follow the red flag of communism and sweep away all the traitors and the bourgeoisie once and for all. We will build a communist system where the workers will be the ones to benefit.

A Convinced Comrade

D.C. Mayor’s Housing Edict: Homeless Need $50,000/Year!

Here’s a follow up to the land occupation protest in Washington, D.C. for affordable housing reported in CHALLENGE, 8/18/2010.

For six weeks, Parcel 42 remained occupied by a few students and homeless residents and was monitored by ONE DC, the community-based organization (CBO) that led the initial seizure. Discussions with city councilman Michael Brown were continuing but no concessions were forthcoming from the Mayor. There were no efforts by the city to evict the tent residents, most likely due to the upcoming primary election.

Thousands of passers-by saw the encampment during the heat of summer, observing this very visible protest against the Mayor’s policy of gentrification. Many learned how he manipulated statistics to back off his “commitment” to affordable housing by making the planned housing at Parcel 42 available only to those who make an annual income of $50,000 — a deliberately unaffordable price for displaced residents!

On August 29, ONE DC removed its tents and left its supplies for the homeless. The occupation by the community organization is over but some homeless residents remain.

The ability of a small CBO to sustain this encampment for weeks was limited by lack of support from other organizations and lack of planning for the possibility that the government would not immediately evict them. Many students and workers were on vacation in the summer and the heat was ferocious, so there was little base to expand the project.

In this sense, the project was not successful, but the visible protest and experience gives us new ideas about what it takes to build a movement. It also enables us to consider a longer, better-organized mass campaign around housing issues.

The Party members involved have talked to some of the organizers about our ideas. We’ve gotten a good response and had good discussions with our friends about the event. The mass work on housing and HIV/AIDS will intensify with the new academic year as public health workers and students continue to build mass actions while PL’ers keep the struggle for communism in the forefront of organizing efforts.

D.C. Red

Founder’s Greeting to PL Convention

(Here is a statement from a Chicago comrade, one of the founders of the Party, who asked it be conveyed to our recent convention. He is in declining health, but still committed to our goals and to the organization.)

“We must... fight against this racist system and build the organization. The only way to have any kind of future is to make this fight primary, because we cannot do what we need to do without fighting racism with working-class, multiracial unity and international solidarity. I cannot do much these days, and I wish I could do more. I did lead a struggle to keep a black worker on his job and led a struggle to allow some of the residents of my retirement area to have the right to sing songs in the common area. So, even if I can’t be with you, I send you greetings in the name of all the comrades from the old movement who did many great things, even though they did not lead to the revolution we dreamed of. Fight for communism, power to the workers!

Capitalism’s Horrors and Class Consciousness Spark for Red Fires

Nothing demonstrates the bankruptcy of capitalism more than the Chinese boss who, knowing the terrible working conditions in his factory, is making all new hires swear that they will not commit suicide (CHALLENGE 8/18)! For the vast majority of workers around the world, starvation wages are only part of capitalism’s horrors. Oppressive speed-ups, racist and sexist exploitation, and unhealthy heat and air quality are the norm, not the exception, under capitalism.

The vast majority of workers in factories and fields are forced to endure long days of monotonous and repetitive tasks. Workers are treated as replaceable machines with little connection to the final product that they have labored to build and that most can’t afford to buy. Teenage women with nimble fingers are forced to work 12-hour days on factory assembly lines for minimum wages until the grueling wear and tear of their labor weakens their hands and profit-hungry bosses discard them into a growing army of unemployed workers.

Even workers who have jobs that look as if they should be satisfying (like teachers) find their work frustrating and demoralizing. Boards of Education enforce “teaching to the test” — emphasizing rote memorization instead of the creative thinking that our working-class children need to learn to overthrow capitalism. The racist, sexist and nationalist content of public “education” around the world is an insult to the creativity of teachers and students alike.

The process of work that should be a source of pride and accomplishment is turned by capitalism into its opposite — dehumanizing drudgery where the boss steals the lion’s share of what is produced by pocketing the profits off our labor (what Marx identified as surplus value).

Communist organization of production, though, can turn this all around. Workers in Shanghai, China, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, seized their factories in an attempt to reverse the capitalist road that Chinese leaders had taken and move toward a communist system of production. Workers took time every day to meet to discuss developments around the world and to reorganize work in the factory to gain greater satisfaction and control over their daily labor.

Building communist consciousness and understanding of what is necessary to create an egalitarian society and communist forms of production became the goal, instead of maximizing production and profits. This example of workers uniting together in the struggle for communism is a beacon of light for the world’s workers and a lesson for what we have to do today.

Worker suicides are a great tragedy for our class, but they should only strengthen our resolve to struggle against capitalist oppression. We can begin to overcome our alienation by uniting with even just one other worker in a fight against the oppression that we all face. A spark of mutual support and collective action can, as Chinese communists were fond of saying, start a prairie fire. We have a world to win where capitalist alienation will be only a bad memory. Join us in struggle for a communist future.




Letters - 22 September 2010

PLP Convention Report Stirs Airport Workers

At the airport there was a short, multi-racial meeting after work with airport workers from El Salvador, Mexico and the U.S. (mostly black) who wanted to hear a report on the PLP convention. Many were pleased that Party comrades from
Colombia, El Salvador, and Mexico are leading the fight against fascism. On following days we had political discussions with Ethiopian airport workers who were also glad to know PLP revolutionaries are in Ethiopia and Tanzania working to destroy capitalism.

These reports emphasized the Party’s commitment to becoming an international, multi-racial, mass party, and our renewed efforts to fight the fascist bosses and racism even harder. It was also stressed at the airport how we industrial workers are a key force in the class struggle, along with our brother and sister workers in auto, mass transit, aerospace, etc. We will be able to destroy capitalism with communist revolution, since the bosses cannot run capitalist society without our labor.

On a personal note, the convention was a life-changing meeting. It was like May Day on steroids! I learned so much in the workshop for industrial workers and from meeting and talking with fellow comrades from around the world.

The convention truly opened up my eyes to the potential for communist revolution and the building of a communist future. I also liked how women comrades gave much inspiring political leadership. It was lots of fun making new friends and, most importantly, to know we all have a role to play as leaders in the Party to build PLP. into a multi-racial, working-class, mass Party for communist revolution to overthrow capitalism and establish communist society globally for billions of workers. From Los Angeles to Oaxaca, Mexico, to Ethiopia, the class struggle goes on!

Airport Red

‘Barbarism or Communism: I Choose Communism’

When I was 15 years old I joined PL. After about 10 years of organizing — some successful and some not — I moved away from PL.

It is difficult to explain why simply, so I won’t try. I will only say that my own cynicism and the imperatives of surviving in capitalist society moved me in a different direction.

I am now in middle age and, aside from some minor activity, have been outside of PL.

Recently, however, I was involved in the Party’s convention. Perhaps quantity has changed into quality.

I was not especially moved by any one great speech or speaker. I was also not excited by any specific single moment. I was, however, moved by the entire weekend.

I housed young militants at my house, an integrated group of marvelous young people that touched me. I was impressed by the number and types of faces that I did not recognize. I was affected by the international nature of the event, particularly the picture of Israeli and Palestinian Party members and friends, side by side, and singing the Internationale in Arabic and Hebrew.

Where else but in PLP could this happen?

The convention gave me something I have not had in a long time: a sense of possibilities. It is true, there is a long hard road ahead, but for the first time in a while I feel some potential.

I do not know exactly where this feeling will ultimately lead me, but I do know that I am willing to rejoin a Party club and find out.

A comrade at the convention quoted an old leftist who said that the world has only two choices: barbarism or communism.

I choose communism.

A “Returning” Red

Protest KKKops’ Racist Attacks

During the Summer Project, I took part in a sale and rally in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Staten Island, N.Y. As CHALLENGE has reported, this neighborhood was and is like an armed camp. There were squad cars passing every few minutes, a mobile command truck and a raised surveillance tower. The politicians say the KKKops stop the racist attacks on immigrants from continuing. The truth is that the KKKops function to terrorize this working-class neighborhood. As we sold CHALLENGE, many white, black and Latino workers beeped as they drove by in support of a sign that said “HONK if you hate racism!”Some workers also stopped to talk to us.

One of them was a Latino worker who was beaten by the cops. He was defending himself against an attacker when the KKKops came. Instead of helping, the KKKops beat the already-beaten worker severely, arrested him, and then released him without charge. This is racism!

Now, he is unable to lift his left arm and therefore unable to work. It is clear that the cops serve the bosses, not the workers. They only spread fear and attempt to disorganize the workers from uniting and fighting back against the fascist state! 

Project Volunteer