Letters of February 11

CHALLENGE Chronicles
Our club has been back to the LA garment district four more times since our letter in the January 28 issue. So far our struggle to sell every issue on the same corner has been successful. Average sales have gone up and we’re collecting more money.
We are setting up meetings with two contacts. One donated $5 and said he had read CHALLENGE “many times” before. Perhaps most important, two workers in the mass organization we belong to have been participating with us. One was great at handing out the paper. He is improving in interacting with workers and requesting donations.
The other worker was timid at first about approaching people but when he saw that people were receptive, he turned into a tiger. When it was time to leave, he said, “Wait, I’m on a roll.” The two workers have also been meeting with our club and study group.
Unemployment NOT Bosses’ Policy             
The article in Jan. 14 issue of CHALLENGE, titled “Marchers hit Racist Understaffing, Welfare for Bosses,” says, “...capitalism needs unemployment in order to drive down wages, a necessary measure for any boss to stay competitive.”  I think there are two things wrong with that formulation, even though as a whole the article is excellent (as are almost all articles in CHALLENGE).
First, it implies that whatever capitalism needs it has the ability to create. While this is true of many ruling-class policies, such as imperialist military efforts or racist and brutal police forces that are uncontrollable by the communities they patrol, unemployment is not a policy.
The capitalist class, the active embodiment of capitalism, has no way of creating unemployment regardless of what it “needs.” Unemployment is an unintended aggregate result of the decisions of many competing capitalist firms, each trying to maximize its profits in the face of competition from other corporations in the same business, so as to prevent their going out of business. They have no more control over unemployment, a society-wide phenomenon, than they do over periodic recessions/depressions. Both unemployment and periodic recessions/depressions are the unintended result of a number of independent decisions at the individual corporation level and not the result of a planned action on the class level.
It is certainly true that unemployment is a net benefit to the capitalist class as a whole, as it weakens the workers’ ability to fight for higher wages and better working conditions. But net benefit is not the same as something that capitalism (read the ruling class as a whole) needs and therefore, by implication, deliberately creates. Yet the formulation in the quoted sentence implies that they can and do deliberately create it.
Second, the same sentence states that unemployment is “a necessary measure for any boss to stay competitive.”  This is simply not true, in my view. In order for bosses “to stay competitive” it is not necessary that unemployment exist at all. Even if unemployment did not sexist — an imaginable condition even though it is impossible in capitalist societies for other reasons — all competing capitalists would face the same condition and be helpless to do anything about it other than lay off or fire their own workers. It is only the relative advantage of some firms over others, and not a common condition faced by the entire class, that determines which ones stay competitive.  
Ferguson: Life Changing Experience
Being in ferguson has become a life changing experience for me. We fought hard and we will continue to fighter even harder with each day that passes us by. We fight for the working class and I had a handful of mixed emotions that reminded me of the hardest working person I knew, my father. He was a working class man who worked his hardest even after he discovered that he had cancer. I’m determined to fight back and fight just as hard as he did during his last days because to me fighting for the working class is fighting for my father.


Letters of January 28

Harlem Forum & March Show Need for Communists
The protest in Harlem, NY on December 20, 2014 about Ferguson was great in my perspective not just because of the number of people who showed up but also because so many supported it, even those who were not part of the protest. I believe it is amazing that we get to rise together as communist revolutionaries and have our voices heard, the voices that are shut down by our capitalist system; that’s what protesting is all about.
★ ★ ★ ★
I absolutely loved the forum. I loved how people stepped up and talked about their experience with the protest in Ferguson. I also found the stories of the people who had lost a family member to a cop in Baltimore compelling because you could feel their pain and their hurt. My favorite part of the forum was the rally afterwards. I have never been out, walking around in the middle of the street with a group of people protesting. It was never something I participated in before and I am happy I had the opportunity to do it.
Wade in the Water
A young brother from Baltimore at the “Fight like Ferguson” meeting in Harlem on Dec. 20 led us in singing “one of the chants we use in Baltimore”:
I got a feeling
I got a feeling
Someone’s trying to hold us back
There ain’t gonna be no stuff
        like that!
Chills ran down my spine as I realized the tune was the old spiritual “Wade in the Water,”  which originally had both a religious meaning (the struggle of the newly baptized soul), and a political one (the struggle upward from slavery and racism).
Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children
Wade in the water
God’s gonna trouble the water
It became an anthem in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and I sang it last a full 50 years ago in occupied Mississippi during the 1964 Freedom Summer.  We northern volunteers sang it with the local people after a mass meeting in a vacant lot near a highway, as a police cordon carrying shotguns closed in on us and ordered us to disperse or be arrested.  
Arrests would bankrupt the community or put their houses in hock, so we dispersed. But believe me, singing that song, it did not feel like we were dispersing or retreating. It was a battle cry, an unforgettable, unending battle cry. I will always hear “Wade in the Water” in the voices of those old Black freedom fighters of the South, urging us back — when we need urging — into the troubled waters of the movement.  
The Black freedom struggle baptized me into the communist movement. I could barely believe that today I was hearing a version of this fighting music coming back at me, in a communist meeting, from a new Baltimore youth rebellion against police racism. The singer stood next to a young sister who told us her brother had been beaten to death by a dozen Baltimore cops after a car stop.
 That summer in Mississippi also began with death, the police/Klan murder of three civil rights workers. Our struggle wades again and again in the water, in our own blood, but is carried beyond death by our music. Here is the chorus: sing it, remember it, give it the Baltimore words, give it new words, make it live another 50 years!
Anti-Racist March Builds Confidence
Recently, I was fortunate enough to participate in a massive protest in Foley Square, NY, which erupted after the racist cops who killed Eric Garner were not indicted. The outrage from my fellow New Yorkers, who are tired of the bosses’ fascism and tired of letting another kkkop go, manifested into a sea of untapped consciousness. Thousands upon thousands of people from all diverse backgrounds convened near City Hall, marching along Canal Street and completely shutting down the West Side Highway.
I’ve always felt some nervousness attending marches, often wondering about police interference to split up the crowd. However, seeing how huge this gathering was (and being part of it), gave me more confidence that the cops couldn’t stop us. And sure enough, they couldn’t stop us from taking over West Street and reaching the masses. The fight for our class is nowhere near finished, but it’s looking stronger every day.
My First College Conference
My trip from Boston to New York for the PLP College Conference was a new and exciting adventure for me. I was made aware of all the different problems and circumstances that people all over the world are dealing with. We had a rally in East Harlem, NY. During the demonstration, we were made aware of the problems and issues that could arise during a rally but I believe that my comrades and I were disciplined enough to not get out of control. As we were walking through the streets and chanting, there were people who came out of stores and shops and supported the cause and believed in what we were fighting for.
Of course the police showed up and tried to intimidate us by flashing their lights and getting on the bullhorn and telling us to move along. NYPD even thought they could ask one of my comrades what organization we were a part of. The rally “Workers and Students Unite” was such an amazing experience for me and was such an eye-opener. I can’t wait until the next rally.
CHALLENGE Distribution Chronicles: LA Garment District
Our PLP club has been distributing Challenge in the Los Angeles garment district each of the past four issues. We split the paper into English and Spanish parts and have averaged 90 copies per issue. We try to ask everyone for a donation, although some people go by so fast it’s difficult — and sometimes we are unnecessarily timid. Our plan is to continue the distribution at the same time and place until we can get to know and follow up with some of the workers who pass by regularly.
The following is a conversation with a man who took the paper for the first time.
M:  What’s this about?
P: It’s a revolutionary communist newspaper.
M: What’s wrong with socialism, like in Germany?
P: Germany is a capitalist country with “socialized medicine” and laws about maternity and paternity leave, holidays for workers, and some job guarantees. We are talking about getting rid of capitalism and workers running the world.
M: Wow! That’s big.
P: You’re right.
M: You mean getting rid of money. People would have to cooperate — no more “me first.”
P: You’ve got it.
M: I’m going to lunch now. I’m going to read this over lunch.


Inspired and Ready to Fight

The following letters are from young comrades and friends of PLP who particiapted in the antiracist activities during the Thanksgiving weekend in Ferguson following the courts’ refusal to indict killer kkkop Darren Wilson.

Going to Ferguson, I was reminded of how important this struggle is. We are dedicating our lives in working towards a future for the international working class.
This was my first time being arrested and at no point did I lose confidence in the strength of this Party, at no point did I feel like I was being left behind.
The only violence I felt in Ferguson was from the police. The strength, discipline and organization of the PLP were inspiring to myself and the people of Ferguson. We sent a message that cameras and Black police officers are not enough. Mike Brown was not the first and he will not be the last. This struggle is ongoing and it was imperative that the strength of our comrades showed during the protest and that it continues to permeate throughout the working class. We have strength in number. These are our streets and we will continue to fight back until the international working class takes power.
★ ★ ★ ★
This past weekend I was in Ferguson, Missouri, and had a big impact on me. The mere chants and shouts allowed the people of Ferguson who struggle to survive to witness a brief view of solidarity. It was heartening to see people from all over the country come together for a good cause while fighting for justice for Mike Brown and his family as well as all the other young dead Black souls in the field. Fear is just a tool. We have to move ahead with courage.
What precisely inspired me are the traits I’ve observed and the moments I experienced in my life. Other than those instances, I seldom have what amounts to a direct inspiration.
Our task is to resist. I wish it were different but we must fearlessly accept these circumstances, even embrace them, by focusing our attention on what’s going on around us.  We will then gain a sharp appreciation for what makes some people advance and others fall behind. Being in Ferguson I was inspired to take that step. In struggle, in love, in humanity, in communism.
★ ★ ★ ★
One thing capitalists do exceptionally well is piss off workers. Workers like Mike Brown’s parents, whose child was murdered by the State on August 9th. Darren Wilson was the murderer and as a reward, he raised four thousand dollars from crowd funding and was paid mid-six figures for a George Stephanapolous interview. So for murder, he got presents instead of punishment.
As the bosses anger people every day, it creates an opportunity for our comrades from PLP to remind people of the need for an egalitarian society. We responded to workers’ anger by showing solidarity with the people of Ferguson this past weekend. They responded to our display of solidarity with support very step of the way.
I was one of the people who got arrested in Ferguson. In the protest, Fergusonites defended our action.  While in the police van, a Fergusonite said “Y’all crazy“ for going up against the police. After being arrested, and while being detained for twenty-four hours, Fergusonites thanked us for being on the side of the people. Despite being arrested I knew we did the right thing and as usual, the police were wrong.
Although I joined the Party around 2013 and was active then, I have been around less recently. This weekend renewed my desire to be more active in PLP.  Through continuous actions like the ones from this weekend we all got the opportunity to sharpen our political skills. We have a long way to go, but this weekend we won and will continue to show workers our support through our actions all across the world.
★ ★ ★ ★
Ferguson is the best experience I’ve had with the PLP. All the leadership got arrested and the rest stepped up. As a result, I have much more confidence in the working class.
I learned that what we do has a profound effect on the international working class. The preachers sold us out, but the friends we made last time stood by us. We took the streets and stayed on the streets. We showed workers that they should not be afraid. In fact, it was the cops who were afraid.
I commend all the people, especially the new ones who stepped up and gave leadership. They made a new banner after the cops stole ours. Our bullhorns were taken but our voices were loud enough to still reach them [the cops and National Guards].
For the experience we gained, for the confidence we gained, this trip was worth everything. We should go back to Ferguson soon. This is one moment in history that can die down soon, but if we take the lessons and apply them, we will grow in numbers and experience. There will be many more Fergusons.
★ ★ ★ ★
The experience in Ferguson was exhilarating and new for me. I’ve never felt so scared, but empowered in my life. The first night we went to the Ferguson police department and protested. We chanted and eventually we linked up and stepped out in the streets, which the police did not like. A few of us in the PLP got arrested. It was definitely a scary situation, but it showed me how actually peaceful the protesters are and how violent and dangerous the police actually are.
★ ★ ★ ★
After spending 24 hours in jail, our comrades and friends all came out smiling and full of renewed energy, ready to continue the struggle. Those who got arrested on Friday night for defying the cops’ rules guaranteed that the rest of us had a great day organizing on Saturday. What we did on Saturday was also inspiring to those who were arrested. It made for a great bus ride home.
Friday night we took the streets for several hours before the final confrontation and arrests. Several onlookers said it was the most organized and they had seen while they were in Ferguson. We made many connections.
On Saturday, we made more connections, distributed literature and our “Darren Wilson Wanted Posters“. We went to a mass meeting and also went door to door. We made more contacts and pulled off a Party dinner — a Forum attended by several of our local rebel leaders.
Communism was everywhere in all kinds of ways during these events. It was a great weekend.
★ ★ ★ ★
I was a participant in the Ferguson project this past weekend. It was an amazing, intense and inspiring experience. Over the weekend our project of mostly college students marched, rallied, met and organized in this town where the anger at the whole capitalist system is so apparent.
Far from the racist media (like CNN) that has been showing the residents of Ferguson as wild and out of control, we have seen just a glimpse of how Black workers here live. In our visit to the projects in Canfield, we learned that there is martial law here. The National Guard, who are permanently positioned in front of the police station, also close down the entrances and exits to public housing between 5 PM and 7 AM. We visited the memorial where Mike Brown was murdered as well.
But we also got a glimpse of how Black workers are fighting back. Every night, a large crowd gather and march. We attended a community meeting with over 500 people who assemble regularly.
I am part of the group that went to Mississippi in 1979. I am honored to have had the opportunity to be with our new generation of brave and dedicated PLP leaders.
★ ★ ★ ★
It was a great weekend of opportunity. It was very scary and frustrating. I was very upset at how the police treated citizens and protestors. These police need to understand that they are violating the rights of the citizens. The first amendment says we can assemble for protesting, marching and rallying. We have a right to speak our mind and to protest. I think the people who were arrested should file lawsuits against the city of Ferguson. If 200 people or more file a lawsuit, it will be on national news. And just maybe the federal government will do more. I think everyone should also file a complaint against the city of Ferguson and the Federal Government.
★ ★ ★ ★
The Ferguson Project was my first protest. When I initially was invited, I immediately decided that I wanted to be a part of such a positive movement. When I asked my mom to go she said no but I quickly came up with a successful lie so that I was able to go. I am glad I did because this trip was an eye opener.
 This environment was completely different from what I’m used to. On the first night, we protested in front of the police departure and it was really great to voice our opinions. There were snipers on the top of the building keeping watch and ground troops guarding the courthouse and multiple businesses. There were a lot of Humvees parked, keeping patrol. It felt so surreal, like we were filming a military movie. I was comfortable and felt safe in my group until things got out of control when the police decided to escalate. I saw people being thrown to the ground, getting beaten with batons and getting arrested. People were running for their lives, in fear of getting hit and being the next victim [of police brutality]. They [the police] began to spray those who they couldn’t catch with pepper spray and mace. Out of the Progressive Labor Party about 16 were arrested, but we came back stronger than ever the following day to show our support for their bravery.
★ ★ ★ ★
This weekend was by far the most intense, immersive political action I’ve ever participated in. We accomplished so much, both in terms of community unification and ideological discussion. We lost a lot of out leadership to arrests the first night, but I loved watching our people regroup and reorganize and assume extra responsibilities in order to protect and support one another, the communist cause, and the fight in Ferguson.
★ ★ ★ ★
It was a pleasure to be a part of the Ferguson trip during Thanksgiving weekend. It felt right to fight racism with PLP and our extended working class families. I had been to Ferguson once before, so I was not totally unprepared, but I was still very nervous given the recent aspects of police violence by the local police, State troopers and National Guard.
My fears were realized when I was pepper sprayed in the face and arrested. I spent twenty-four hours in jail, 6 of those hours spent totally blind. Despite this being my first time arrested, there was not one moment I thought the Party would leave me behind. I knew that we were all in this together, as comrades, both inside and outside. We raised our morale and turned our “grueling“ prison cells into a bonding moment for all.
★ ★ ★ ★
Although this was not my first experience protesting and rallying for an issue of injustice, it was my first hands on organized demonstration. The grand jury’s decision (even though it was expected) affected me a whole lot more than I would have thought. I am fed up with the way my brothers and sisters are threatened daily. After feeling extremely emotional and enraged during the last weeks, going to Ferguson was a great experience. It helped me channel those frustrations towards solving racism and unnecessary murders throughout the world.
★ ★ ★ ★
During our time in Ferguson, I was arrested. My experience in jail and the events I witnessed were inspiring. Though I had seen lots of footage and thought I was following the situation well, the military police surprised me. Though I wish we were better organized in some ways, the discipline of the Party made me feel strong. I am looking forward to carrying on the fight for Eric Garner, for Akai Gurley and for all victims of this fascist State.
★ ★ ★ ★
My first experience protesting in Ferguson was exciting. For the first time I had the chance to say that we’re tired of so much injustice and discrimination we are subjected to in the United States. As an immigrant, I want to send a message to all those who are facing the same problems. I believe that if we unite our voices will be heard.


Letters of December 24

Sit-In and Protest at Baltimore High School
Once the Ferguson grand jury decision was announced, with no charges at all being pressed against killer-cop Darren Wilson, many people went wild. Yet another life of a Black male had been taken prematurely by a cop. The outrage in Ferguson, Missouri spread to cities all over the country, and to other parts of the world too!
Here in Baltimore, Maryland, a student sit-in and protest was held at my high school. I was lucky enough to be able to take part.
On the day after the verdict was announced, school system officials did not acknowledge the case at all. If those officials wouldn’t give Michael Brown’s life the acknowledgement it deserves, then the students would!  We planned a sit-in to be held in the auditorium on the following day.
The administration heard of this protest plan, and tried to pacify us by coming up with an official assembly, giving us an hour to speak on the case. All they wanted to do was contain the high emotions of everyone and keep the student body under control.
If school system officials truly cared about developing our understanding about this major injustice, or if they truly wanted to help us become socially conscious fighters and learn how to struggle effectively against all the innocent lives being snuffed out by the kkkops, they would have taken the initiative. At the very least, they could have devoted some time during the previous day’s PA announcements to discuss the injustice of Michael Brown’s killer facing no consequences at all.
When that hour in the auditorium was up, we stayed in our seats and refused to leave. Myself and some other students took the lead at this event, and it was a beautiful thing to see. Powerful spoken-word pieces were performed; stories about experiences with police brutality were shared; and impassioned speeches were given.
We then left the building to hold a protest outside the school, picketing and chanting vigorously, even though it was snowing and cold. After protesting boldly, we went back inside to watch a documentary (videotaped by PLP members) about the protests in Ferguson. Then we had a lively, heartfelt discussion, with quite a few students speaking and expressing their views on racism, police brutality and related issues.
We also talked about the police murder of Baltimore’s Tyrone West who was unarmed and beaten to death in July of 2013 by a dozen cops, none of whom have faced any charges at all!  Several students at our school have participated in one or more of the weekly “West Wednesday” protests after Tyrone West’s sister came to our school and spoke at a meeting of one of our student clubs.
Everything during our amazing day of protest went well, and I saw that some people were genuinely passionate. However, a lot of people’s anger was limited to only their feelings about police brutality. But in reality, it’s this capitalist society that we need to be angry with. Under capitalism, police brutality will continue to be common.
One of the most important aspects of the day’s great activities is that those of us in Progressive Labor Party had a couple hundred flyers left from the citywide protests of the night before, where we had distributed 400. It explained why we need revolution and communism. By the end of our sit-in, picket line, and speak-out, we distributed every single one of the 200 remaining flyers!
After receiving and reading the leaflet and listening to how one’s socioeconomic status and “race” are connected to his/her mistreatment, students — of ages ranging from fourteen to eighteen — now know more about the corrupt society that they are brainwashed to love. The Progressive Labor Party is spreading knowledge and will be gaining more members.

Conscious High School Student Building Unity Through Struggle
On November 26, friends and I planned on walking out of class at 9 o’clock for a cause. Appalled by the decision to not indict Darren Wilson after he murdered Michael Brown, a senior came up with the idea to have a peaceful “sit-in” in the auditorium with students from our school and our neighboring school.
The idea was constructed the day before the sit-in was scheduled. Later that night, we caused an uproar on social media by  talking about the sit-in. That was the day after the racist decision was released by the grand jury in Ferguson.
Early the next morning, there were rumors that the media found out about it. So, it turns out that this got a lot bigger than what we had expected because the whole high school got involved, and the administration decided not to cause an escalation by opposing it. Instead, they chose to make it semi-official.
Juniors and seniors were set to meet in the auditorium first. Then, after an hour, we would be sent back to class, and the freshmen and sophomores would meet after us. However, the administrations’ plan to send us back to class didn’t fly with the seniors or some of the juniors. We were not willing to compromise in this situation because we were not willing to have our voices cut off. We decided not to go back to class!
The original objective of the sit-in was to raise awareness of the situation, express our solidarity, and show that we are not oblivious to what’s going on around us. Once the administration saw that we were not backing down from our beliefs, they tried to work with us, and gave us a say on something that we, honestly, were going to do, with or without approval.
We elected leaders and by that time, our communist teacher from last year, who we had invited appeared. With his ideas as well as those of my fellow classmates, we were able to make a difference and have our voices heard. We decided to march and chant outside the school, which many of us did, and then watch a documentary on the current events of Ferguson.
Following that, we gave ourselves the opportunity to finally express our viewpoints, one which is often very limited.
I’m very proud to say that this sit-in united my class, my school. As young Black women and men, along with white students and young people of other background, we’ll go down in history as “Young adults who were determined to have their voices heard.” I could not be more proud of my fellow students!
New Antiracist Activist

Solidarity in Merced
Recently I attended an action where college teachers, students, and many community people were demonstrating in Merced, CA against the disappearance of students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, racist cop murders in the U.S., and the “drug wars” against Black and Latin youth in both countries. 
As part of the #USTIRED2 movement, Merced was one of 43 cities having such demonstrations, one for each student kidnapped and presumed murdered by the Mexican government. They demanded an end to Mérida Initiative (“Plan Mexico,” the billions of U.S. aid to Mexican security forces), and an end to the media blackout on narco-terror in Mexico.  Many posters read “Ayotzinapa, Ferguson, Gaza” and “State Repression.” 
Some of the same people are planning a “teach in” to follow up: there will be speakers on (1) Gaza and the U.S. funding of Israeli military, (2) Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and police militarization, and the Mexico and U.S. connection to War on Drugs.
Many people agreed that this was all about police and state terror against workers in both countries.  An older Latino man and I tried to figure out what has changed, why now there was a rapidly growing resistance even though mass incarceration, police murder, and state terror has stolen hundreds of thousands of lives in both countries for many years. After speculations, we realized there was a simple, yet profound truth: “everything has a breaking point.” 
In Mexico many are saying, “They have taken everything, even our fear.” In Ferguson the heroic Black youth have kept at it month after month and many are trying to figure out deeper questions about the bigger breaking point, when the “whole system has to go.”  It gave me a lot to think about on the long drive home, but suffice it to say there is real possibility and power in international working-class solidarity.
Bay Area Red


Letters of December 10

Conference Builds New Fighters

I walked in during the keynote speech. It was powerful. After awhile we were split into groups, began our workshop and discussed fascism. We learned that the victims of it and its cause and effect all comes down to capitalism. Then we discussed the solution — communism — and how to build a base. After lunch we all gathered and watched clips from Ferguson and talked about the significance of it and heard stories from people who had gone. Then we organized our march. With signs and catchy chants, we proceeded through Harlem, eventually making contact with the police. But we kept going.
★ ★ ★ ★
Fear is an instrument that suppresses the working class. As a tool of control, it can cause workers to feel isolated and powerless.
The mere chant and shout of defiance allowed the people of Harlem — every day men and women who struggle to survive — a brief, refreshing view of defiance and courage. It was heartening to have my fellow comrades side by side shout out to the ruling class and to the cops who attempted to disperse our rally. You saw people, everyday people peering out from the crowd, with curiosity, confusion, and hopefully the light of inspiration.
Fear is merely a tool. Some of us were very afraid to rally today, but in order to travel toward our destination, a worker-run society, we have to take the step. Courage and heart is the key.
It was inspiring to take that step to every day workers.
In struggle, in humanity, in love, in communism.
★ ★ ★ ★
Today was the first time I’ve ever done anything or come out to an event with PL. During the workshops I learned a lot more about what communism is and about what communists believe in. I did not know what to expect coming to the conference but I did enjoy myself and learn a lot. At the march I felt really empowered, I admit I felt very nervous when I saw the first cop lights flash but everyone kept going so I tried following them. I was quick to think the worst was going to happen but we weren’t doing anything wrong.
★ ★ ★ ★
This was my first experience in a Progressive Labor Party rally. I felt excited and glad to be a part of something that really hits some of the problems that the U.S. has — racism, and working-class oppression. I’ve re-educated myself on fascism and how the U.S. is becoming more of a fascist country.
We marched in Harlem to protest on behalf of belief in equality for everyone. No more should anyone be oppressed based on their “race,” religion, or sex. We are the change that needs to be made here, and we will be heard.
★ ★ ★ ★
Today was very influential. I’ve never participated in a communist movement. It felt good to be a part of a positive cause. The previous movements I’ve seen did not go well. Because of the violence between the police and the community I was initially fearful the same outcome would happen. But surprisingly, no violence and unnecessary actions took place. I felt really safe around my group members.
★ ★ ★ ★
I’ve been to past rallies; however I have never felt so scared as when I rallied in NY. It was cool.
★ ★ ★ ★
Each rally is always different. It is the reason I get excited to yell and scream and make some noise. I want to let fascist police, bosses, and also other workers know that our presence is here. It’s my motivation to continue and participate in PLP. Down with capitalism!
★ ★ ★ ★
Today I experienced my first march. I felt very empowered and scared. It was a fun experience. I thought I was going to get arrested and it made me think of how people stay strong even if the police are there.
★ ★ ★ ★
Speaking as one who is now designated a “veteran,” I must say I was pleased and proud at the recent student conference.  The young people leading our struggle are smart and committed. The multiracial character of the conference indicated that, unlike most so-called left political formations emerging from the 1960s, PLP has really succeeded in generating a young leadership that does not just preach, but actually embodies the necessity of fighting racism.  The key role played at all levels by young women shows, too, that we take the fight against sexism very seriously.  And the dedication manifested in the work in Ferguson shows that our young leaders are energetic and bold.
I do, however, have a couple of points of criticism, one tactical, one theoretical.
First, the march undertaken during the conference should have been better planned and carried out; a couple of times the marchers needlessly taunted the police in locales where large numbers of us could have been arrested.  And while at times it is worthwhile — even good — to get arrested, this was not one of those times, with so many of the marchers being from out of town.
Second, while my afternoon workshop showed that a number of student comrades are doing skillful political work, my morning workshop was pretty weak on its analysis of what fascism actually is, as well as of why communism is its only antidote.  The relation of fascism to the political economy of capitalism was not discussed; and at times it seemed that the word “communism” was being invoked in a quasi-magical kind of way.  More concrete analysis is needed of what is wrong with capitalism — why it cannot imaginably meet the needs of most people on the planet — and of its connection to fascism.  Whether or not the Party believes that we are, at least in the USA, “in” a state of fascism was not discussed with enough rigor.
These points of criticism point to ways in which we need to grow and develop.  But the conference indicated that we are well positioned to do so.  We have a world to win.
★ ★ ★ ★
Today I experienced my first march. I felt very empowered and scared. It was a fun experience. I thought I was going to get arrested and it made me think of how people stay strong even if the police are there. After this I am not sure if I want to experience this again.

Lesson Learned From a History of War: Fight for Communism

The murderous Great War ended 96 years ago. To overestimate the impact of this war upon world history might be impossible. It was by far the bloodiest war in history until that time.
The slaughter horrified even those many patriots who had anticipated it and celebrated when it began.
The Great War was pure imperialist — capitalist slaughter for empire and territory. There were no purposes that could remotely be called morally redeeming.
It wasn’t for “freedom,” whatever that means, or for “national self-determination,” or for an end to colonialism, or against racism or brutality. All these notions mask the fact that the Second World War was imperialist. No such ideological excuses can hide that the Great War was over the division of the earth, a war for, not against, subordination, colonialism, and empire.
It was a war among “democracies” — in that Germany was no less “democratic” than the United Kingdom (both were parliamentary monarchies) or, monarchy aside, than the United States.
The Great War led millions of people worldwide to seriously question or even reject “patriotism” as a cover-up for capitalist and imperialist rule.
This massive revulsion against imperialist slaughter and the misery it brought to the vast majority of the peoples of the world inspired social and political progress. The Russian Revolution and the international communist movement; the militancy of organized labor; the certainty that a better world than capitalism, imperialism, and the devastation they produce must be possible.
The Great War was an event with mighty lessons for all of us today. No wonder it is neglected, largely forgotten. Those lessons were dynamite in 1918, and still are.
Today I remember my great-uncle George Devine, a veteran and a victim of the Great War.
I never knew him. He went off to war at the age of 17 or 18. In 1918, he returned “shell-shocked”, driven insane by the stress and shock of trench warfare. He never recovered.
My late mother remembers him living with her and her parents for brief periods in the 1920s. But then he had to return to the Veterans Administration hospital for brain injuries at Perry Point, MD, where he lived the rest of his life. He died there on January 31, 1941.
Poor young man! His whole bright future at the age of 17 ruined forever!
And not to defend his country, or any noble ideal at all. To save J.P. Morgan & Sons, and other U.S. banks, whose huge loans to the United Kingdom would have been lost if Germany had won the war.
My late grandmother, his only sibling, could never speak of her younger brother George without weeping. Not wishing to cause her distress, we never asked her about him. And now it is far, far too late.
I remember him today, on the 96th anniversary of the end of the war that ruined his life.
Yet he was but one of millions of young men, and tens of millions of men, women, and children the world around whose lives were blasted by that terrible, imperialist war.
For me, great-uncle George stands in for all of them ­— all the people killed by wars for exploitation, for the enrichment of the few at huge cost to the many.
And I prefer to believe this: As long as I, we, learn the lessons of the Great War, and struggle for a world of justice, free of exploitation, free of capitalism, free of inequality — great-uncle George, and the myriad of those like him throughout the history of the awful 20th century, did not die entirely in vain.
A loving communist nephew


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