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


Letters - 08 September 2010

Workers’ Fight vs. Joblessness Can Become ‘School for Communism’

As CHALLENGE has repeatedly explained, capitalism breeds unemployment, which produces a “reserve army of the unemployed.” The bosses use this reserve army to threaten employed workers with loss of their jobs if they don’t accept lower wages and speed-up. This lowers the wages and conditions of the whole working class and keeps them subservient. It also leads to increased sexist wage differentials for women workers.

Because of racism, black and Latino workers in the U.S, and immigrant workers worldwide, suffer twice the jobless rates of white workers. This is used to divide and weaken the entire working class.

Full employment is impossible under a profit system. Only communism can achieve full employment, in a society without bosses and profits, with their resulting recessions/depressions.

Even the capitalists’ media is reporting that massive unemployment will be continuing for years, having reached 33 million in the U.S. and into the hundreds of millions in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia, with no end in sight. This affects working-class families in every sector of the economy, including first-job-seekers, students and returning vets.

Unemployment is, along with imperialist war, probably the capitalist evil that relates to every aspect of a communist analysis of the system. So it becomes vital to unite the employed and unemployed, and help organize a working-class fight-back. The potential exists to recruit many workers and youth to PLP. The unity of the working class is a prerequisite for making a communist revolution.

Therefore, it would be extremely important to raise this issue in every mass organization and win them to set up committees in unions, shops, schools and campuses, in communities and churches, which would provide the opportunity to explain a communist analysis of the roots of unemployment and therefore why capitalism must be destroyed.

If committees on this issue could be organized in any or all these areas, it might be possible to use this as a springboard to launch a larger movement against the ravages of unemployment. These committees could reach out to the unemployed in the communities. Teachers could ask who’s unemployed by polling their students on unemployed family members and/or their friends, bus drivers  could distribute committee literature to their passengers, and so on.

Such a movement could raise demands like: unemployment benefits for all (currently a huge percentage of workers are ineligible) and for the full period of unemployment. Also benefits for jobless returning vets (after World War II all jobless GIs received $20 a week, equal to hundreds in current dollars, for 52 weeks, the “52-20” program); unity with workers threatened with layoffs; organizing the unemployed to support strikers’ picket lines and push the demand for jobs in the strikers’ demands.

This occurred in the Great Depression when communists organized a National Unemployment Council of 800,000 that put millions of the jobless on the streets in protests, supported strikes and which is what won unemployment insurance in the first place.

But we should not make the mistake those communists did, of not tying unemployment to the need to destroy capitalism with revolution.

A Brooklyn Reader


Letters - 18 August 2010

Airport Workers Fight Nazi ‘English-only’ Law

This is a follow-up letter in regards to copycat fascist attacks on Latino immigrant workers (CHALLENGE 8/4). On July 27, a metro area suburb passed a racist vindictive law prohibiting Spanish-speaking in immigrant dealings with city government. This is pure anti-Latino racism because new immigrants applying for city jobs, public housing, public schools for their children, and city services will find themselves marginalized by the English-only law.

Many states and cities like Fremont, Nebraska have followed the lead of Apartheid Arizona. This is historically similar to fascist Germany’s Nuremburg Laws.

This local racist law was passed 4-1, angering many anti-racists. One white anti-racist was thrown out of the city council meeting by the police. 

The multiracial airport workers are responding to this latest racist anti-working-class attack by taking extra copies of CHALLENGE for family and friends. Also, we will pressure our union to respond to this fascist law and work in collective mass struggle to overturn it.

Only communist revolution can liberate the international working class from fascist capitalism. Capitalism needs racist nationalism to guarantee super-profits for the bosses by super-exploiting Latino workers, which lowers the wages of all workers. Communism will eliminate divisions like nationalism and borders. WE HAVE A WORLD TO WIN!

Airport Red

AFT Backs Rulers’ Latest Ploy to Keep Afghan Bases

Gareth Porter, in “CounterPunch,” reports that Richard Haass — president of the Council on Foreign Relations since 2003 — has written a Newsweek article on Afghanistan entitled “We’re Not Winning. It’s Not Worth It.” He has concluded that the insurgents cannot be defeated and it would be better for the U.S. to allow the Taliban to run southern Afghanistan and for U.S. forces to withdraw to the north (where it can work closely with the Northern Alliance warlords and the corrupt Karzai regime in Kabul).

This view is apparently gaining support among ruling-class thinkers, and may gain even more traction with the recent release of thousands of pessimistic reports from the military and popular despair over the war. Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place. If he withdraws troops next year, and the Taliban and other insurgent groups gain ground, he’ll be blamed for “losing Afghanistan,” even though influential ruling-class thinkers say Afghanistan is already lost (barring a favorable deal with the “enemy.”) If he continues to keep roughly 100,000 troops (plus tens of thousands of intelligence agents, state department functionaries and contractors) in Afghanistan, and another 50,000 in Iraq, he won’t have enough troops to occupy Iran. Iran, with its huge reserves of oil and gas, has gained tremendous influence in Iraq and is an important supplier of Chinese energy needs.

Obama will likely draw increasing fire from both sides — those who think U.S. resources are being wasted, and those who think failure is unacceptable. Groups like U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) take a side in this ruling-class debate by stressing that a military victory is not possible while saying virtually nothing about U.S. imperialist aims in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, or how withdrawal from Afghanistan wouldn’t mean peace, but only preparation for more war.

At the recent AFT convention, USLAW representative Michael Zweig went so far as to introduce and support the AFT leadership’s resolution on Afghanistan. It takes the Haass position that a military victory is no longer possible. It calls for a timetable for withdrawal, but also supports the “defeat of terrorist conspiracies” with the “limited, careful and precise use of armed forces.” This endorses continued U.S. bombing and missile attacks on villages in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and many other countries of strategic importance.

Pro-worker Resolution Defeated

What was particularly vile about the USLAW role at the convention was that another local had submitted a resolution declaring the occupation “not a war in the interest of working people.”  They argued that the “war on terror” was a cover for “the real reasons for the war, which include control over wealth and resources,” and told delegates that the U.S. military had killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. USLAW reps opposed that resolution and supported the leadership motion that contained no criticism of U.S. actions or its imperialist aims.

USLAW works with that section of the Democratic Party (including the AFT leadership) who worry that Afghanistan is a quagmire that will bog U.S. forces down and prevent it from carrying out the tasks necessary for its coming conflicts with China, Russia and other rivals to U.S. world dominance. USLAW will claim that the AFT endorsement of a resolution calling for withdrawal is a “victory” for the anti-war movement, when in fact it is a victory for U.S. capitalists who want to keep teachers and all workers in the dark about the truth that capitalist rivalry always leads to war.

In Afghanistan, the only profitable way out for U.S. imperialism is to strike a deal with the Taliban and other insurgent groups. The insurgents would be given a lucrative share of profits from mineral concessions, foreign aid and transit fees from the TAPI gas pipeline. In return they would approve the U.S. permanent bases and large garrison force, would help the U.S. effort against Iran, and would provide security for the TAPI pipeline. Will the Taliban hold out for a larger share or accept the deal? Neither outcome offers a better life for the Afghan people.

Anti-imperialist teacher


Letters - 04 August 2010

Oscar Grant: A Brother to Us All

I sometimes wonder if the conversations I have with people at work in transit; the sale of CHALLENGE and discussion of articles; the arguments with hacks at my union meetings; really have any effect on my fellow workers.

I was deeply moved when, a few days after the trial of the cop who murdered Oscar Grant, I received a poem as a text message from a young transit worker in L.A. I think it puts the murder of the 22-year-old black worker in a context we can all understand. And proves to me that workers are listening, are interested in our ideas, are angry at what they witness. 

Here is an excerpt:

100 and One

“You have 100 and One

ways to kill my brother;

With your rabid-dog police force and

your endless wars for capitalist gains.

You have 100 and One

ways to erase him from my sight.

Your son, my brother, Oscar.”

Oscar Grant was murdered New Year’s day 2009, by the BART Transit Police, shot in the back while he lay face down on an Oakland train platform. City officials and the attorneys moved the cop’s trial to Los Angeles because they feared public outrage in the Bay Area.

But there is really no place to hide. Here in Los Angeles, there were demonstrations outside the courthouse and people were not at all surprised when the cop who killed him was convicted only of involuntary manslaughter, a slap on the wrist.

After all, who was Oscar Grant? A young black man who worked in the butcher’s dept. of a market in Oakland; father to a young daughter; a much beloved son.

LA Transit Worker

Arizona to Metro Airport: Same Enemy, Same Fight

For the past month a few airport workers have been involved in an antiracist campaign against the fascist Arizona anti-immigrant law due to go into effect shortly. We have written letters to fascist Arizona Governor Brewer’s office condemning this move toward Apartheid-like conditions which is an anti-working-class racist attack on all workers. We have also written to Obama condemning this law and demanding that there be humane, comprehensive immigration reform which is not linked to getting more military recruits to defend U.S. oil interests. 

This campaign is reformist, but one of its purposes is to show airport workers that any kind of mass anti-racist reform struggle can be turned around and taken back by U.S. bosses because they have state power and we don’t. In the face of Arizona’s fascism and many other states wanting copycat racist anti-Latino measures, it’s important now more than ever that we intensify the entire multiracial international working-class fight for a communist revolution to liberate workers globally from capitalism and its evil helpers, imperialism, racism, and sexism.

Our efforts at the airport have involved immigrants and citizens, with Ethiopian and African-American workers helping to distribute copies of the letters to our fellow airport workers. This is extremely important because there have been a few backlash incidences of racist anti-Latino verbal harassment by airport supervisors. In the metro area racist cops target Latino-looking motorists. Recently the Metro Transit Police carried out a police operation at a train stop in a predominately Latino neighborhood.

This train station serves mostly Latino, African immigrant, and black workers. This is the second busiest train station in the city. There were 16 transit cops harassing mostly Latino workers, asking to see their paid train tickets before they could board trains, making some miss trains and be late to work. The transit cops called this Apartheid-style harassment “saturation,” a military term used as if they are looking for an “enemy,” in this case Latino workers! This is nothing but Apartheid-like racism and all workers must fight this fascism with multiracial unity and a communist revolution against our fascist, racist oppressors from Arizona to Kyrgyzstan to France!

Airport Red


Letters - 21 July 2010

Slashed Workers’ Wages Line
Greek Bosses’ Wallets

I’ve been working for almost a year now at a pizzeria after the work contract for my previous job expired. It is not that great, thanks to too many hours and too little money, but at least I am certain of the day’s wages in my pocket.

This country is going downhill, if it hasn’t already hit the bottom. Everybody who cares to be involved in the government does so only because they want to put some millions in their wallets and then quit like chickens.

These past years we lost a lot to capitalism, and now they are trying to make this country stand without feet! So we are forced to pay for their debts and their pleasures, as if we haven’t already paid enough! They’re even cutting our salaries! Salaries have been cut from workers employed by private companies as well as state workers. We know the money cut from our salaries will line the pockets of the bosses rather than helping other workers through social services. That’s why we’re on strike all the time, even though nothing has changed yet.

A friend from Greece

‘Prisoners of Liberation’

Is a revolution for communist equality possible? What about a society based on working-class collectivity instead of the crass Individualism of capitalism in the U.S. today?

We feel that the Communist Revolution in China accomplished some of these goals, but we still have a whole lot more to learn and to put into practice.

In their book, “Prisoners of Liberation,” Allyn and Adele Rickett describe the effects of the Communist Revolution in China. They were imprisoned for four years during the Korean War. While in prison they experienced a rehabilitation method of criticism and self-criticism.

“’Prisoners of Liberation’ is one of the best available analyses of the process by which people are made to confront their social roles.”

We hope that you will read this inspiring book!

Stockton, CA Book Collective

Demonizing N. Korea Keeps U.S.
Bases Aimed at China

For those of us who tuned in to watch Brazil’s first match of the World Cup we were treated to a surprisingly competitive performance from the first North Korean team to play in the World Cup since 1966. But beyond the action on the field there was a steady stream of commentary regarding the “insane machinations” of the “evil” North Koreans. We were treated to fantastic stories of invisible phones, Chinese actors pretending to be North Korean fans, and pirated game footage being taken from South Korea and replayed in the North. The latter story has already been confirmed as a fraud and it is likely the others are too.

The U.S.-led Western media has spent much time developing the myth of a totalitarian North Korea. While it is true that North Korea is a military dictatorship with a fully-developed cult of personality around the Kim family, the depictions of a hapless population controlled by an all-knowing police-state is simply a myth.

The totalitarian ideal was developed in the West under the burgeoning new academic field of political science to defame the Soviet Union in the 1930s. By claiming total state control the totalitarian ideal removed the agency of workers themselves, turning them into hapless simps incapable of action or change.

Representing the capitalists’ ideal of the working class rather than the material reality, the totalitarian model rose to prominence alongside the individualist great-man theories of capitalist philosophy. The reality is that no state can function without the cooperation of a critical mass of the working class which believes in the state’s legitimacy.

True, North Korea is a military dictatorship and the Juche (theory of self-reliance) ideal at the center of their political philosophy is about as far from communism as one gets, it is equally true that due to the extreme trauma of the Korean War (four million deaths in three years of fighting) and the continuing tension on the 38th parallel that the people of North Korea are committed to maintaining their state.

Defense Department planners are keenly aware of this reality. They estimated in 1992, before it was known that North Korea had a nuclear bomb, that a new Korean War would lead to one million casualties in Seoul, South Korea in the first 24 hours alone. This estimate was re-affirmed in 2003.

So the question is why the constant stream of antagonism and fabrications about North Korea in the U.S. and Western press? The reality is that the U.S. needs to demonize the North Korean regime and maintain the tension on the 38th parallel in order to justify the continued presence of 30,000 U.S. troops at strategic bases in South Korea.

It should be noted that typically there were 40,000 troops in South Korea, but 10,000 were shifted to Afghanistan by Obama. These bases serve as staging points for attacks against China and Eastern Russia, something that China has complained about for decades.

The U.S. has repeatedly denied North Korean offers to open up and ratchet down tensions and has been duplicitous in most of its interactions with the state. The real reason for U.S. media attacks against North Korea is plain and simple imperialism and not, nor has it ever had anything to do with, concern for the plight of workers in N. Korea.

Red Beard

PL/InCAR’s Internationalism, Anti-racism a Hit in South Africa

International solidarity is a beautiful thing.

In my recent trip to South Africa, I brought along the anti-apartheid International Committee Against Racism (InCAR) t-shirt from the 1980s.  I showed it to our tour guide in Johannesburg and Soweto, and when we went to the Hector Petersen Museum (Hector was the first student killed during the 1976 student uprisings in Soweto), I saw Hector’s sister and asked if I could meet her.

The guide asked what contribution to the struggle we had made in the U.S., and I explained not only about our anti-racist and anti-apartheid work but also our work in my union. He said, “Good, unions are very important here in South Africa” and introduced me to Antoinette Sithole. I told her about how U.S. workers and students had engaged in the fight against apartheid and showed her the t-shirt. She agreed to a photo of her holding the t-shirt with the tour guide, who had lost many family members during the Uprising. (see CHALLENGE, 7/7)

After that, the InCAR t-shirt was my calling card. The workers at the Ritz Backpacker Hostel where we stayed in Johannesburg loved it. A young Swedish woman who is in South Africa studying human rights and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions also took a picture of it.

I brought the t-shirt along when we went to tour Robben Island, where Mandela had been a prisoner for 27 years. When the guide on the tour bus mentioned Sharpeville, a woman spoke up saying she had been at Sharpeville where hundreds of South Africans were protesting the pass-book laws and were gunned down by the fascist police. She was also moved by the t-shirt and we exchanged addresses.

The guide who showed us the prison cells where the political prisoners were kept was a former political prisoner. Upon seeing the t-shirt, he recognized the contributions U.S. workers and students made in supporting their fight against apartheid while the U.S. government supported the racist government.

Showing the t-shirt was a way of connecting with the workers of South Africa and their struggles. It became a symbol of solidarity. No matter to whom I showed it, immediate recognition of the anti-racist actions in the U.S. were noted and approval was expressed. Everyone wanted the t-shirt. Now I have to make copies and send them to the workers!

The symbol of our internationalism decades ago has laid the foundation for new international relationships for our Party today.

D.C. Red