The Common Core: Capitalism Blames the Victim
I recently attended a PLP study group of teachers where we talk about U.S. education reform and World War III. Most of our discussion centered on the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS), which reinforces capitalist ideology. When it comes to education under capitalism, ideology is the name of the game. The ruling class needs a working class capable of producing for their needs and fighting their wars. They need us to have enough rudimentary skills to do work that is profitable, they need another smaller group to be more advanced to handle their complex tasks, and then they need a subset of “intellectual” workers to produce the ideology capitalism requires to exist — racism and sexism.
The Common Core reinforces and intensifies racism in the United States. It unilaterally posits a group of standards that are out of reach of the disgusting amount of resources that the bourgeoisie is willing to spend on educating us, and then they blame students for not meeting them and teachers for not getting their students to reach them.
Capitalism lives to blame the victim for their own victimization by obscuring the actual process of that victimization. The intense systemic oppression that the working class is under due to capitalism’s non-stop crisis is not a factor in the assessment of the CCLS. This is primarily an attack on the students and secondarily an attack on the teachers. Black and Latino workers who are hyper-exploited under capitalism are feeling the brunt of the CCLS. Meanwhile, the ruling class and its puppets, including the union leadership, mouth the lie that it is racist to oppose the CCLS. These lying, deceitful parasites and their labor lieutenants, are obscuring that capitalism’s brutal exploitation, where students may not even have food at home, is the real reason why public education isn’t meeting the needs of a declining U.S. imperialism.
The CCLS is being opposed from the right, liberals and the left, but they are not pointing out that it is primarily an ideological weapon that will be used to prepare the workers in the U.S. for the next round of imperialist wars and eventually World War III.
Communists in the PLP stress the ideological aspects of the CCLS and that the liberal wing of the ruling class is the real danger to the working class and the development of fascism. We must oppose the CCLS and counterpoise a clear vision of an education system that actually meets the needs of workers. That education system is only possible under Communism.
Shining A Light on A Public Hell
My visit to the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting was the best in years because of the energy and good politics of a group of young professionals. They established a campus organization called Radical Public Health at my university to bring active anti-racist politics into that otherwise buttoned-down academic setting. They raised issues that almost none of the faculty was mentioning in their courses, issues that have a huge impact on people’s health. Over the past year, their meetings, forums, speaker panels and film screenings have raised issues like mass incarceration, war and homelessness. These events shined a light on what they call “neoliberalism” causing a “public hell” for most people. I would simply call these things the hell of capitalism.
I teamed up with a few of my young colleagues, along with friends in the Black Caucus of Health Workers and with some PLP health fighters to produce a session at the annual meeting showing the devastating impact on health caused by mass incarceration. It is no surprise that locking up millions of working-class people for minor non-violent offenses, the vast majority of them black or Latino, would widen the already big gap in mortality between whites and these groups.
While preparing for and presenting our talks at this national meeting, these young people honed their skills at introducing complex, politically-charged material to an audience of health professionals. More important, doing this project over several months together enabled us to strengthen our ties and have more in-depth conversations about capitalism and how to eliminate it.
I wish I could say that my young friends are ready to talk about revolution. Part of the “dark night” we talk about in PLP is the illusion among most of our dedicated, principled anti-racist friends that revolutionary social change is no longer a possibility. A longer-range political outlook, measured in decades, not months or years, can make talk of revolution into more of a plausible theory and less of a pipedream.
But many friends cling to the hope that some sort of gradual, peaceful process can get us to a future society without racism, sexism and exploitation. History shows clearly that this is the pipedream. Our job is convincing our friends to look historical reality in the face and accept the need for a disciplined revolutionary party. Nothing else has ever successfully taken power from the vicious overlords of public hell.
Why Workers Can Never ‘Buy Back’ What They Produce
I liked the New York City election article in CHALLENGE (11/13) that explained why DeBlasio, like Obama, can never serve workers’ needs over the profit needs of their capitalist employers.
However, the article contained a false theory about the cause of capitalist crises. It stated, “Communists know that capitalism contains a basic contradiction: Workers don’t earn enough in wages to afford the products they produce.”
First, union “leaders” and liberal politicians have put forward this anti-communist “buy-back” theory to support their position that through higher wages capitalism can be reformed to benefit the working class.
Second, besides commodities, a big chunk of what workers produce is the means of production (factories) and the largest portion is the military (50 percent of the present budget) which is used to oppress them. No amount of wage increases could ever allow workers to “buy back” these products.
Third, production for markets and profits rather than for society’s needs (called the anarchy of capitalist production) is what creates regularly occurring crises of overproduction in the midst of scarcity and falling rates of profit.
In the 1930s, every capitalist country in the world was ravaged by deep cuts in production and massive unemployment. But in the Soviet Union, production increased and unemployment was almost non-existent. Under the then-communist Bolshevik Party, production was planned to meet the needs of the working class (including preparing to meet the Nazi invasion), not to maximize profits.
The anarchy of capitalist production and bosses’ rivalries produce unemployment, crises and wars which also serve them by wiping out decades of workers’ gains. Only when communist revolution overthrows this murderous profit system and the means of production is based on workers’ power will our needs be met.
The Common Core: Capitalism Blames the Victim
Youth Inspired at PL Campus Conference
I’ve always known I was against capitalism; up until recently I didn’t know there was an alternative. I’m grateful to have learned I am not the only one who thinks this way. I’m guilty of accepting the capitalist opinions and views of what communism means. I am excited to have begun my journey in learning the truth. Destroy capitalism before it destroys us!
I’ve noticed this illusion of powerlessness being promoted amongst today’s youth. I want to expose this illusion. I think that’s one step toward revolution.
I must say this conference was the proper jolt of political discussion I needed. When I came for the last day and walked through the doors, it was almost like entering a new world. One where I can truly discuss with like-minded, truly progressive individuals, the dangers of capitalism — its racist, sexist vices. I thoroughly enjoyed these talks, where we cut through lies about what this world is and what it can become. It’s a shame I will have to depart the conference and return to a world where garbage like Kim Kardashians are regularly promoted and discussed. But at least I was able to escape that reality briefly. And one day, maybe I will for good!
This conference was pretty dope [awesome]. We got into small groups. We ended up just discussing and sharing our ideas, learning from each other and bonding. I look forward to attending these events for years to come.
Today I actually learned a lot of things. I learned how imperialism is related to sexism. We criticized it. I also liked the Langston Hughes poem.
This conference was amazing. I never thought about communism till today and how capitalism affects us every day.
The PLP college conference was excellent in that the students organized, planned, and led the workshops. The student leaders of my workshop were well prepared, articulate, and very enthusiastic. The materials and workshops were well designed. The opening keynote speech was excellent and should be printed. There should be more students! This was the main weakness. I was able to bring only one student. It was not enough.
Excellent organization of the conference! Inspiring leadership, especially to see the development of a new generation of young leaders. One of the strengths of Party events, including this conference, was the practice of collectivity, the valuing of and contribution of experiences from all types of people. Young and old, women and men, black and white and Latino and Asian participants, U.S.-born and immigrant participants, student and faculty — together we were able to go deeper in analyzing experience and the world.
I left here with a new appreciation — a reminder actually — that building close personal ties is political. I also was inspired to see so many young people with such a deep understanding of the contradictions of capitalism and belief in communism.
As is the case with every Progressive Labor Party event I’ve attended as a student, every conversation we have is a learning experience and the collaboration between everyone in the Party really gives you hope for a better future. When you look out to the crowd of people at any one of PLP’s events you see how we can start to end the horrible discrimination that is present under capitalism. Black, white, Latino, Asian, old young, men and women all working together; egalitarianism is more than possible, I see it every day in the Party and I definitely saw it this past weekend at the New York City College conference.
Learning and participating in conversations about things that effect not only students but ultimately
everyone, all of us left with a plan on how we’re going to fight against racism, sexism, and militarization when we go back to our schools. As I left the workshops I felt inspired and I knew that we weren’t just talking but that we were going to make real change, and really that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
New faces. Good conversation with lots of struggle. Some older faces still struggling with communist ideas, inching closer to joining the Party. Lot of good questions from people totally new to communism to people who have been thinking about communism for a while. Good responses from a variety of comrades, though some a little too wordy.
Reform is still pervasive. We got to be in it to win it, but winning is communism. Let’s sharpen the fight to make revolution primary.
It was an enlivening and inspiring experience. It was great to see many young comrades share not only their anger toward the present system but also their hope/desire to see a new world, a communist world, come into being. It is very easy to get caught up in our own problems; although these problems are not nothing (what with the current crisis of capitalism!). It is great to interact with other working people who share your plight — and your hopes for a future devoid of war, racism, borders, classes, etc. All in all, I am leaving the conference extremely satisfied, and already looking forward to the next one!
It was a good experience to hear different ideas and different viewpoints on racism and sexism. I was glad to learn more about PLP and find out how to fight the system.
The general line of the Party lives in the particular thoughts and actions of our members and our friends. This conference brought me together with many young comrades and many more students just looking into communism and PLP. This was profoundly refreshing and enriching to my own understanding of our line. Our future is in capable hands.
This conference was successful in my point of view. When working in a group of diverse characters, you tend to learn multiple points on a specific subject. Each individual idea comes together to give you a collective understanding and a broader picture. In each workshop, every group member raised arguable questions and provided details to support their case. It was helpful listening and discussing with everyone, in the sense of it providing more information and a clearer understanding of communism and PLP’s goals. I would encourage more people to attend every conference!
The Saturday morning opening session included a great poem “The Same,” by Langston Hughes, written during his best days of commitment to communism. I was pleased and inspired by the passion and political astuteness of the keynote speech by our Party’s leader of college student organizing, a position she should really stick with for at least five more years, preferably ten — to nurture the growth of many more communist campus organizers.
In the workshops, as everywhere, we learn from experience, and some of our first-time workshop leaders will undoubtedly know how to better engage all participants, especially those who are new or shy. We should work harder to win young people and their parents to seeing the importance of building the communist movement because they believe it’s important to do so.
Building A Revolutionary Party in L.A.
Progressive Labor Party held the first of a series of fundraising dinners to support the organization financially and to help develop Party members capable of leading the working class in the struggle to build a revolutionary communist movement.
A mix of forty students, teachers and professors, and public health, industrial and transit workers attended the event, raising a significant sum. The fundraiser began with a screening of the film “Seeing Red” which documents the role of communists in building the U.S. labor movement and leading class struggle, which resulted in reforms such as Social Security, unemployment benefits and the 40-hour week.
A speaker then discussed the struggle at a local clinic to build a union among public health workers. He pointed out how important it is for us to learn from the mistakes of the historical communist movement. He specifically talked about the need for a party with an ideology that moves workers beyond reforms to a revolutionary communist outlook. The next two speakers provided an international perspective on PLP’s work. One comrade provided an update from PLP’s growing work in El Salvador. Another comrade analyzed U.S. intervention in Syria from the perspective of PLP in Israel/Palestine.
Finally, a comrade concluded with a discussion of the recent international communist school in New York and a future summer project in Los Angeles, emphasizing the importance of financially supporting these leadership-building activities. All in all, this was a successful activity and just one of many such events that could help our Party to grow.
The Los Angeles Reds
PL’ers Expose Real Story of Syria Civil War
During the Syria crisis, when the war hawks Obama and Co. began to threaten military action against Assad’s government for the use of chemical weapons, PL’ers who work in a mass community organization in the Latino working-class neighborhood of Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY immediately requested the opportunity to give a workshop in one of these committees. Surprisingly, we were given the green light to give a half- hour workshop on the current Syrian crisis.
In the workshop we explained the history of the use of weapons of mass destruction in wars by the U.S. against civilian populations such as in World War II against Japan and during the Vietnam war. We also used a map of the world to point out the rivalry of the U.S. and its allies vs. Russian/Chinese allies for the control of natural resources and in this particular case, natural gas and the pipelines for it. We explained that there are two proposed, competing gas pipelines: the South Stream Pipeline and the Nabucco Pipeline. We said this conflict is all about the bosses’ push for control of natural gas and its profits.
We received some good feedback from the community organization members, and they did have questions. The workers were surprised that nothing that we mentioned in our workshop was discussed in the U.S. media, such as natural gas and the pipelines. It made sense to them since according to the U.S. media Russia was also involved in the conflict. But the workers’ main concern was a possible war with Russia and World War III. War is always a horror for the working class, and so the bosses always have to build political support and nationalism with lies in order to get the working class to fight their wars. Workers understand very well who will benefit from these wars and who will suffer.
The following day we got feedback from the leaders of the community organization, who had not been too happy with our workshop. They told us that the organization is not worried about issues that people cannot control, such as the conflict in Syria. These leaders basically indicated they are primarily concerned with actions such as voting and supporting liberal politicians. This is very hypocritical, since they always claim they are not a political organization. But we know all too well that it is led by the Democratic Party so they are always pushing members of the organization to vote for their candidates.
We followed up the workshop with a PL study group with some of our friends who are interested in learning more of the Party’s communist analysis. They said they wish we could have more workshops such as the one on the crisis in Syria. One of the women at the study group believes that Assad is an evil man, because he murders his own people. We then questioned how is Assad any different than Obama who is closing down hospitals and also killing his own people.
The study group helped sharpened our communist analysis with our friends, bringing home the idea that capitalism will always bring war and suffering to the working class so the ruling class can profit, and that the only solution is a communist revolution.
How Racism Rules the Schools
After relocating to Indianapolis, Indiana I am now a substitute teacher at charter schools teaching kindergarten to middle school. Even in this experience, one can see rotten capitalism and why parents and teachers should join PLP to fight for a communist future.
On my first day, I taught third graders at a racially segregated (nearly all black students) school because their parents could only afford living in this one neighborhood. (There are multiracial charter schools in the suburbs where middle class parents live.) If these black workers were not paid lower wages by racist bosses, they would be able to live in less racially segregated communities.
It was quite an experience teaching young minds. I really like this new career. I have had numerous assignments. One was in a racially segregated mostly white neighborhood where the parents had more money. (Capitalism tries to divide workers by “race” and money.)
My most unforgettable school was terrible beyond words: It was a charter school for emotionally troubled kids who were kicked out of other school districts. These children were violent, and the administration put me in the school’s “Intensive Support Room” which was a horrible jail-like facility. It was socializing kids for the REAL jails! It even had two holding rooms (cells) for students. There was even a cop there. I hated it.
When I volunteered for the assignment, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I will never go back to that school again. Putting kids in school jail is not a solution to their “bad behavior.” These kids are unstable due to capitalism and poverty and are having an extreme reaction to it! (Marx did say, “being determines consciousness.”) Kids like that were cared for after the Bolshevik and Chinese Revolutions, which instead of punishing them, treated them better than oppressive capitalism.
I would like to learn more about Marxist educators. Capitalism is bad for not only kids, but also their parents. The only way out is through communist revolution led by PLP.
Syria’s Massacre of Refugees from Palestine
Working-class unity towards a communist revolution will end the nightmare in Syria.
The mainstream media in the West have hidden the fact that since the conflict there began, the people suffering the most are Arab workers from Palestine who’ve been refugees in Syria since the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing and fascist colonization of the historic territories of Palestine.
According to several reports, the protest turned into an armed struggle mainly due to Western imperialist intervention along with the reactionary regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey and the repressive attempts to crush it by Assad’s regime itself.
Since that process began, the Arab workers from Palestine have been treated as a “fifth column” both by the regime and the insurgencies. Both sides commit massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps. Probably thousands of innocent workers have been murdered amid a severe shortage of water and food. Moreover, due to the heavy battles in the refugee camps, the humanitarian aid agencies have been evacuated.
In addition, it seems that both the insurgencies and the regime have adopted the notorious slogan: “Smash the Palestinians and save Syria.”
Politically, it seems that the new governing formula in a future Syria will be divide and rule among the various religions and ethnicities there.
This nightmare can be ended only by uniting all workers, no matter their ethnicity, and formation of a mass revolutionary communist party which can join the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle in the Arab world and the working class worldwide. That political force can be built from the grassroots resistance movements inside Syria and with international working-class solidarity. One of the first crucial steps of the revolutionary party is to end the massacre of the workers from Palestine. This will be the most stable foundation to realize the right of return of these refugee workers.
Columbus Mass Murderer
This month, the U.S. and Western capitalists will celebrate Columbus as a great navigator and “discoverer” . But history shows he was a genocidal mercenary who was financed by stock-holding capitalists and a Spanish kingdom in which two percent of nobility owned 95 percent of all land. Columbus was promised ten percent of the profits from gold, silver, slaves and the governorship over stolen lands. The Catholic Church in Spain that had expelled all Jews and black Africans (Moors) supported the genocide of millions of native people who practiced “godless” communist sharing of goods and land. The total populations on some islands like Haiti were eliminated and black African slaves had to be brought in to work the mines and plantations. The Indian population north of Mexico when Columbus came was ten million and by 1776 was reduced to less than one million.
Capitalism has used mass murder and slavery for the primitive accumulation of capital that has financed endless wars and exploitation leading to today’s worldwide imperialist slaughter. Capitalism has also produced a revolutionary working class with the potential to end the horror that is capitalism when they organize for communist revolution.
Act to Short-circuit Electric Co. Robbery
In the eastern part of the State of Mexico , thousands of workers are terrified with home foreclosure notices if we do not pay the electrical energy company.
After Felipe Calderon Hinojosa dissolved the company Luz y Fuerza del Centro, thousands of workers in the Mexican Electricians Union (SME) took to the streets. The cost of the service has increased and worsened. Four years later, SME workers are still struggling to get their jobs back.
Many families were deceived by television and the press, which are subservient to capitalist interests. They believed the lies of the PAN government that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) will provide better and cheaper service. The media claimed that SME workers were the cause of the poor service, but today we realize that the bosses and their ruler are evil and liars.
Since then, the CFE have been threatening workers, seizing their houses , cutting off the supply or even jailing them, if they do not pay the hiked price. Many working mothers have become sick and some have even been killed.
Some have chosen to hide behind laws, but it was not enough because the laws serve the bosses. The Office of the Defense (CJF) defends bosses and refuses to punish the CFE. The Solicitor is appointed by the president of the PROFECO (Office of the Federal Prosecutor for the Consumer). The president Peña Nieto serves the interests of bosses against workers. Politicians and rulers are not our friends; they are our class enemies. The laws and courts have never ruled in favor of workers; they always protect the boss.
Due to the constant threats that workers suffer, on Wednesday, July 31, more than 200 users, mostly women are organizing against these bosses. We should support them with more militant actions and organization, such as marches and sit-ins in front of the CFE and PROFECO. PLP members and friends attended the meeting and distribute 75 CHALLENGEs.
As CHALLENGE readers , supporters and members of the PLP can strengthen the the struggle to stop the attacks and physical and psychological threats by the CFE. We must point out the root, capitalism, that constantly threatens the lives of all workers. We must unite to destroy the capitalist system. We must fight for a society that truly meets the needs of workers — a communist society of equality.
Fast Food Strikers Give Bosses Indigestion
Impressive; that’s the only word I can use to describe a rally that took place at a McDonald’s Restaurant in New York City. I was very moved by the group of workers, trade unionists, and members of the community who marched to the restaurant chanting slogans and then, in a surprising move, occupied the restaurant where they remained for a while, calling on workers to join the strike.
After a while they left but continued their rally in front of the restaurant, still chanting their slogans, to which they added one that I’ve heard for the first time in this type of struggle: STRIKE, STRIKE, STRIKE! After a while, the restaurant workers came out and actually called a STRIKE.
I believe this was a small preview of what will happen when the international working class unites under communist leadership to overthrow this brutal capitalist system and its bosses, and then establishes a communist system with workers’ power in our hands.
A Red Fighter
Israeli Rulers Used Arafat to Oppress Palestine
September 13 marked the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, signed as a “Declaration of Principles” at the White House between Israel’s Yizhak Rabin and Palestine’s Yasser Arafat and hailed by U.S. president Bill Clinton as ending the bloodshed between Israel and Palestine. Actuality, backed by the U.S. ruling class, it continued Israeli oppression of, and violence against, the workers and farmers of Palestine.
Fifteen months before the 1993 Oslo Accords, an election coalition led by Rabin’s Labor Party ended the 15-year reign of the right-wing Likud party. The new administration promised to reach an agreement with the Palestinians within nine months and for the first time sought a political alliance with the parliamentary members of the Communist Party-led HADASH — Democratic Front for Peace and Equality — although the latter was excluded from the coalition administration itself.
However, the Shas religious party soon limited its support of Rabin so the latter asked HADASH to support him in a parliamentary Vote of Confidence. HADASH agreed, to ward off return of a Likud administration, and to encourage a turn in the official policy towards Israeli-Palestinian peace, equality for Israel’s Arab population, a struggle against unemployment and respect for the social rights. HADASH followed the old communist movement’s “lesser-evil” politics — that is, preferring Rabin’s neo-liberal economic policy of budget cuts and tax hikes over the Likud party’s more extreme neo-liberal economic policy and resistance to peace with the Palestinians.
Reasons for the Oslo Accords
Israel’s rulers were finding it difficult repressing the First Intifada, a popular uprising of the masses of Palestine. Although Arafat initially rejected this uprising, he was brought back to Palestine because Israel realized it had to replace direct colonialist rule of millions of Palestinians with a neo-colonialist (indirect colonialist) Palestinian Authority led by Arafat. Direct occupation cost Israel millions, and also many soldiers’ lives, and increasingly exposed Israel as a colonialist state. (This, of course, was the same Rabin who had ordered the Israeli military “to break the bones” of the Palestinians in the First Intifada.) He now preferred a Palestinian Authority to repress the masses of Palestinians “with no Supreme Court and no Betselem” (critics of Israel’s policy in the West Bank and Gaza).
A wider geo-political reason for the Oslo Accords was the U.S. bosses’ desire for a “peaceful” Middle-East, allowing it to invest in its local markets and exploit its workforce and natural resources without interruption. The continued conflict between the Zionist movement and the Arab world was a stumbling block for U.S. economic and political interests.
Therefore, the Oslo Accords were accompanied by the Paris Accords, which essentially used the Palestinian Authority to get workers in Palestine off street protests into low-wage sweatshops, many owned by U.S. and European capitalists.
Meanwhile, HADASH’s previous support for Rabin degenerated when, in July 1993, his administration launched a wide-ranging military operation in Lebanon, including a naval blockade and the destruction of 75 villages by Israeli “Defense” Force (IDF) air raids, turning tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians into refugees.
The Rabin administration, representing mainstream Israeli rulers, stuck to the Oslo Accords despite demonstrations by far right-wing Zionists, and even forcibly repressed them. Far-right violence climaxed in Rabin’s assassination in November 1995. Coincidentally, Benjamin Netanyahu, today’s Israeli Prime Minister, rode the wave of anti-Rabin demonstrations to bash the government and pave his way to power.
Problems with the Oslo Accords
In the years following the Oslo Accords, many acts of terrorism killed hundreds of Israeli citizens while Zionist fascists murdered scores of Palestinians in the 1990’s. Meanwhile, the IDF continued its terrorism against civilians in the West Bank. After several years of simmering conflict, in October 2000 the Second Intifada erupted, virtually destroying the Oslo Accords. Workers in Palestine found themselves slaving away for starvation wages in factories owned by U.S., Western European and Israeli, investors (such as in the Erez Industrial Zone). “Peace” brought slavery, not prosperity for the working class. Additionally, Fatah, which became the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party, merged with the Palestinian ruling class (the Sulta).
Direct Israeli occupation was replaced in 20 percent of the West Bank by the neo-colonial Palestinian Authority. It forcibly crushed strikes and uprisings and forced workers to bow down to the factory owners of the joint industrial zones, as well as to the capitalist Sulta. In the rest of the West Bank, Israeli occupation continued unhindered, with Palestinian rule of small enclaves within it.
Following the Second Intifada came the proliferation of checkpoints and roadblocks inside the West Bank and the separation of Palestinian workers from their job-sites and families. Israel continued to hold most of the areas containing Israeli settlers, and soon expanded them. Israel controlled most of the West Bank (and, until 2005, part of the Gaza Strip).
The Palestinian Police received small arms from Israel and turned them against Palestinian workers when they dared rise up. Israeli rulers have forcibly erased the possibility of Palestinian Authority “control” of the West Bank and Gaza by erecting and expanding settlements and “Jewish-only” roads between them, deep into the West Bank. Zionist “peace” retains most of the lands grabbed by Zionism since 1948.
Even if an independent Palestinian state were established in the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip, its workers would continue to suffer from economic oppression. The lands of the deportees of 1948 will be retained by the State of Israel, which stole them initially. There would be no “independence” from U.S., Western European and Israeli investors, who will use these workers as cheap labor.
Israeli workers also continue to suffer, whether under Zionist war or Zionist “peace.” The essence of Zionism is capitalist control (especially U.S. and Western European) over Jewish and Arab workers. The capitalists prepare us for more wars, amid the intensifying conflict between imperialist powers. For the working class there’s no hope in a world dominated by capitalism. We must seize our destiny and replace capitalist oppression with communist liberation and working-class rule from the Jordan River to the Sea as one stepping stone towards a free proletarian world.
Red Housekeeper from Tel-Aviv
Rulers Streamline Schools to Get More Bang for their Buck
I teach at a community college in Massachusetts. Every year before classes begin, the administration holds an all-college meeting. It reveals the state of the class struggle at the college as well as the local bosses’ agenda.
The faculty and staff continued a pattern of passively colluding with management by failing to assert ourselves as a force with our own interests. The ruling class, however, is ramping up its agenda: competition among colleges, vocationalizing the curriculum, and winning allegiance of faculty and staff.
For ten years, the college has had an ineffectual president. Last Spring, in a bold move coming straight from the Governor’s office, he was fired. The new president seems to be a very efficient technocrat with a background in developing curriculum for industry. The first “challenge” she talked about was complying with regulators.
The state government will no longer tolerate “sloppiness,” which in the past, sometimes worked to the benefit of the students (i.e., waiving tuition/fee deadlines, allowing students to take courses outside of their major requirements). The new president is also moving full steam ahead partnering with industries (hospitality, health care, and transportation) to develop tailor-made academic programs and high school. This would enlarge the vocational mission of public high schools and public community colleges.
Invited as a special guest to the meeting was Matt Malone, the Secretary of Education from the Massachusetts State House, speaking directly for the governor and mayor. They take their marching orders from business think-tanks, like the Boston Foundation and the Business Council. In a very compelling speech, dramatically walking among us to break down the “us/them” walls, he said, “I ask for your hand as a team player. If we don’t do it here [inspire people to carry out the agenda] nothing else matters.”
Malone implemented changes that will help students “succeed in the global economy.” Privatizing is one way Massachusetts is desperately competing for investment as the national economy continues to slow down and more good-paying jobs are outsourced or replaced by technology. But if you want to really know what’s going on, “follow the money.” The austerity budgets allocated for the Massachusetts community colleges (a third less than in 2001) exposes Malone’s promises as empty for the vast majority of our students.
PLP has always said that it will be liberals who usher in U.S. fascism. Well, this is the change we were witnessing. One of the earmarks of fascism (capitalism in crisis) is the capitalist class more directly running the government. Another is centralization. As the crisis of capitalism intensifies, they can no longer tolerate the crazy-quilt chaos in their schools and colleges.
Streamlining operations to get more bangs for their buck is what the capitalists are demanding. To whatever degree education and critical thinking existed at the community college level, it is rapidly being transformed into training, pure and simple — narrow skill sets that serve industry.
Some faculty and staff were skeptical. This is good, but not good enough. As a group, we need to get clear that these ruling-class reforms are serious attacks on our students, and we can be a force that pushes back. We need a vision of a humane and equal world where workers’ lives are truly valued. Reading and writing for Challenge can help develop this consciousness among us.
A loyal reader
The Deception of Cuba
I was in Cuba recently and the truth remains sad to witness workers’ lives. I am aware there is no socialism, yet I expected to see a better life, more so after Fidel and his party assaulted U.S. imperialism.
Sexism is rampant. Women sell their bodies , but not as openly as in other capitalist countries. Workers’ wages are laughable, as it only covers very basic needs. The means of production are not used in the interest of the working class, therefore there is unemployment.
Racism is a given under this system. Workers suffer discrimination and some are entitled to almost nothing. The food is for the tourism sector, and eating meat or selling it lands you in jail. Workers and families who do not belong to the party are also discrminated against. Far from having recreational facilities, they don’t even receive funds to improve their homes. Their homes look like ruins, contrasting with the neighborhoods of politicians.
Talking to several workers in Cuba revealed they are dealing with the capitalist nationalist discourse. They do see it is very difficult to change their situation. Also, the cult of personality of Fidel Castro has led them to believe that Fidel has lost power and authority and thus the revolution has deviated because of its leaders.
Workers in Cuba are generally interested in politics and are less influenced by capitalist ideology, but are influenced by music. They are very friendly and have a great sense of family unity and camaraderie among workers. Leaving Cuba is almost impossible due to costs and bureaucratic obstacles.
I talked to some, explaining that we must fight for communism. I introduced them to PLP. We have a program that our class should organize society and rule our own destiny. Revolution will be made by us, the working class, not the usual opportunists. The Cuban revolution since its inception made too many mistakes — wages, the market economy, the division between manual and mental labor, and failure to destroy the capitalist state.
I gathered workers, asked them to recognize our ideas and they must work to organize millions here and worldwide to destroy capitalism — that is what workers in Cuba need.
Red Colombia Worker
Editor’s note: The problems described by the writer — racism, sexism, prostitution, wage differentials — are among those endemic to state capitalism, which is what now exists in Cuba. Its source stems from, among other things, the Castro leadership following the Soviet example of socialism, which retained much of the baggage of capitalism, such as the wage system with its built-in divisive differentials, along with the cult of the individual in glorifying Castro. While some of its reforms produced advances like its medical system, the absence of any fight for communism left it with the only option of trying to reform capitalism — an impossibility. This led it to openly encouraging a cardinal element of that system: private property and profits and all the ills that they produce.
Applying Dialectics A Complex Task
I am concerned about the letter in the 9/18/2013 issue of CHALLENGE that criticizes the editorial in the 9/04/2013 issue. The letter-writer claims that the editorial violated a principle of dialectics that the internal is primary. Specifically, the writer felt that the current war in Syria was/is “caused” by the Syrians, themselves, rather than “outside” forces such as the U.S. and Russia. The writer bases this judgment on the extreme poverty of the majority of the Syrian population and the incredibly harsh and atrocious character of the government.
It is certainly true that the Assad government is a brutal dictatorship of a small number of wealthy Syrians dominating the vast majority of the population. At the same time, I don’t believe there is a viable communist movement in Syria that is leading a rebellion. In the absence of such leadership as well as the refusal of the “rebel forces” to embrace even socialist reform, let alone communism, it seems clear to me that this conflict is another in the long line of surrogate wars between the U.S. and one or another of its capitalist rivals, in this case Russia.
This does not mean that the principle of dialectics that the internal is primary is wrong. In the long run, this principle is quite correct. In the case of Syria, a communist revolution will not occur until the vast majority of the populations (the internal) understands and supports communism. However, in the short run, the capitalists (both “domestic” and “foreign”) now have the power to impose their will on the working class. As a result, right now the external capitalist class is the primary factor in the Syrian conflict.
Of course, our Party’s response to this is to INCREASE the fight for communism, not wait until “things get better.” In fact, the only way that “things will get better” is if the struggle for communism continues, during the “good times” as well as the “bad times.” Applying the very general principles of dialectics to a particular situation is never easy. It is incumbent on all of us to be aware of this and to help each other learn how to apply it.
Bosses Are Masters At Defrauding Workers
Here is a perfect illustration of the way capitalism works. The bosses and their government never stop finding ways to enrich themselves while exploiting the workers.
The 50 workers at the brickworks in Remchi, Algeria, a town of 47,000, haven’t been paid for three months. After appealing in vain to the local and national authorities, they blocked the highway to publicize their situation. Still no official response.
The brickworks was privatized on the cheap in 2004, with the complicity of the local and national authorities. The purchaser never paid more than $91 million of the $916 million sales price. At the time, the factory employed 150 workers.
The boss ran the factory with no respect for the workers’ health and safety. His only aim was maximum profits. He never paid his taxes, nor his suppliers nor his gas bill, which now stands at $85,500 for natural gas and $49,000 for electricity. He now lives in neighboring Morocco with his stolen wealth and the factory has been shut down for six months. The workers, with families to support, have nothing.
No wonder the only solution is communist revolution.
A Friend in France
Lessons of the Movie Salt of the Earth
We watched the 1950’s movie “Salt of the Earth” on the bus ride from Downstate Hospital in Brooklyn to Washington, DC to attend the memorial for the famous 1963 March for Jobs. The hospital workers on the bus, mostly black women, were really impressed by the many stories in it. There was lively booing and cheering as the miners’ wives were put down because of sexist stereotyping in the ‘50s only to rise up, win the day and change their husband’s ideas with their successful and militant picket duty.
In our year-long and continuing struggle to keep Downstate open and stop layoffs, we are up against the might of the whole power of the state in New York, stemming from Governor Cuomo on down. In the movie we saw practical applications for the working class.
Cecilia: “it was great when, after the judge made it illegal for the miners to picket, the women and children took over picketing for months and organized even in the jail, despite early objections from their husbands. Nothing could stop them, from beatings to injunctions. It showed me that we need to show more of these kinds of movies on these trips to build up our spirit.”
Georgia: “it was so good I want my son to see this; he needs to understand this history.”
Violet: “it shows how evil the managers are and that the worker’s struggle was really life and death in the mines. Conditions today are getting worse and we are heading towards that period of working conditions. We are nearly back there.”
Mimi: “The movie was REAL. It showed that our working-class progress in last 50 years is so slow it can be measured in nanometers. Minimum wage has fallen behind. The bosses are still oppressive. The struggle must go on and we must muster the spirit and tenacity to keep up the fight. The movie was uplifting and educational. I will watch this movie again and recommend it to teach that we can win if we unite and fight.”
Red hospital workers