Earth and Workers Over Bosses and Profits
I attended the people’s climate march in NYC on September 21. More than 400,000 people came out on the streets to demand immediate action from the U.N. The misleaders of the march called for all-class unity, saying that the rulers and workers are all in it together. But we aren’t. Climate change is a class issue, and it is another failure of the capitalist system. But it is important not to dismiss this movement as boss-led and “middle class.”
Many workers and youth at the march did understand class issues. Most placards were hand-made, not the printed ones of the march misleaders who are capitalists and politicians. Marchers raised signs calling for “System Change, Not Climate Change,” “Stop Corporate Greed.” A huge mannequin of a greedy boss with a cigar was labeled “CEO.” Chants attacked Obama and the U.N. Others had the blame-the-people line that walking or riding bicycles can stop global warming.
The anti-capitalists and radicals were kept in the last staging area (namely the back) of the march, so that their posters wouldn’t get on TV. Most participants hoped for immediate action from the world’s leaders at the UN. This can’t happen because the world’s leaders serve the capitalist class. We have an opportunity to build the revolutionary movement by reaching out to those who understand that the problem is the system, not ignorance or the bad habits of workers.
The march was multi-racial but had few black workers. While the march was sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the strategy was to demand action from the world’s rulers. We must rely on the working class to effect change. There was little understanding that the only way the oil industry will relinquish their huge profits would be by revolutionary force. That said, there is a great deal of hate for the oil bosses, and concern that our children’s future is being robbed from them, opening the door to discussions and struggle with anti-climate change activists about the nature of the capitalist system.
The earth is being poisoned by carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH3), and is warming up to unprecedented levels. Global warming is entirely caused by carbon and methane emissions and deforestation, resulting from the short-term and long-term profit goals of major industries. This is not a natural cycle, but a disaster resulting from the energy system set up by the oil, coal and gas industries, and supported further by the auto industry and governments. The system has forced workers into automobiles so that they would use oil and create profits for the oil industry. The emissions from automobiles, coal and oil-based power plants, and even cattle raising (methane) have raised the levels of greenhouse gases so that the oceans are warming, and the Earth’s ice caps are melting.
The oil bosses run the show worldwide. They fight wars for oil in the Middle East, murdering and dislocating millions of workers. If there’s a war, to find the cause, find where the oil is. It is a mystery how the oil bosses can justify the destruction of the earth to themselves, but it doesn’t matter. They are out of control and are destroying the habitability of the earth for humans.
Banking on EBOLA, and AIDS
In the early 1980s, I first became aware of Ebola about the time I was first paying attention to the looming AIDS crisis. I was teaching Biology at a southern university and must admit that AIDS was more of a concern because it was here in the U.S. and Ebola was an ocean away. The AIDS crisis diminished as people became more aware of how to prevent it and the scientific community developed “high tech” drugs to deal with it.
Ebola became quite unmanageable by the mid-1980s. I remember reading an article about how the disease was out of control and how European doctors had fled the continent and left the African doctors to deal with it. The article went on to describe how the African doctors drew the blood of the survivors (there are always survivors of all infectious diseases) and extracted the serum. They gave the serum to those infected and crisis was averted. This was a “Low Tech” means to deal with the problem.
When the new outbreak of Ebola occurred I assumed that they would take the same approach as the one that was successful in the past. They didn’t seem to utilize this technique. When two U.S. doctors were stricken with the disease they used “High Tech” medicines to cure them. There were only three doses of this medicine and the U.S. doctors got the last two doses. When a Liberian man came into the U.S. with the disease, they didn’t use the High Tech medicine on him and he died. Soon after the African man died, the U.S. doctor who survived volunteered his blood to save a U.S. cameraman. Was it to spin down the blood and produce serum high in antibodies for the Ebola virus? The details weren’t given.
AIDS and Ebola have a lot in common; both are affecting the continent of Africa with devastating consequences. The medicines produced for both of these diseases are far too expensive to have a real affect on the spread of these diseases. AIDS is rampant in Africa!
Capitalism requires expensive “High Tech” solutions for all maladies that confront mankind! If the rich Pharma/healthcare bosses can’t make a buck on it they will allow a whole continent to perish!
Under communism we will utilize the best strategies to confront challenges to our health. This was done after the Chinese revolution when the people eradicated all disease-carrying flies in Shanghai! They also eradicated syphilis by education and penicillin. Only a health system driven by the need to prevent disease and not by the need to produce profits will serve the working class!
Students United in Anti-racist Struggle From NY to Boston
This was the first time I took part in a panel or went to Boston. I felt very pressured when I first walked in the room at the community college. There were about 20 people from the Pizza and Politics club waiting to hear about our Petraeus struggle at CUNY. I spent the whole bus ride writing about what I would say at the panel.
I didn’t expect to be as scared as I was, but when I started speaking all the nerves got to me. I spoke about the rallies we had, how we gained supporters and how the struggle affected me. The next stop we made was at a university where the outcome wasn’t as big. We spoke to this student who seemed to really be intrigued. He said he would show the College Conference fliers to his friends. We returned to the community college to participate in an event about Ferguson.
Boston has a lot of colleges and doing some sight-seeing was cool. I liked hearing about the history of Boston’s struggles. I learned how PLP really impacted Boston from different events like beating up the KKK. I saw Harvard University and realized most students there were white and those at the community college were mostly black. I enjoyed my time in Boston and my first time being on a panel. For my first time, I think I did good and I look forward to other panels.
★ ★ ★ ★
I was lucky to be one of the comrades chosen to visit Boston from New York on Sept 25. At first, I was reluctant to go. It ended up being a delightful and inspiring experience. Initially, I was intimidated at the prospect of speaking on the Petraeus campaign we conducted at CUNY: I wasn’t sure what I would say, or how I would say it and whether it would be interesting or helpful to folks there. But our comrades went out of their way to engage and accommodate us. On top of that, their work in the colleges is going well and their members and friends were no different.
To learn from and engage with other comrades is always a good experience. To give and take leadership from the working class is always a good idea. Only by doing these activities will we ever gain experience for class struggle. What we shared can only make our practice stronger, our ideas sharper. Our friends at the community college told us of their struggle against armed police on campus, and how they fought back against administrative repression. They encouraged us to be bold in our actions and to move forward; to always fight to win. We emphasized the importance of building ties and organizing within a Party.
We also learned from veteran comrades and learned the history of Boston and PLP. It was a humbling experience. Particularly interesting was the Party’s experience in 1975 in fighting fascists and racists at Beacon Hill. PLP had a significant influence on Boston, by fighting for workers and against racism. This influence will never be acknowledged by the bosses, so it was good to hear our side. All in all, Boston is in good shape, and I know we will be hearing more good news from them in the future. I will treasure the connections I made and experiences I had. I will move forward as a renewed comrade!
Earth and Workers Over Bosses and Profits
NYPD, KKK, How Many Workers Did You Kill Today?
“F—k your assimilation! We want our liberation!” On August 23 in New York, 4,000 people crowded into the Staten Island area where the cops of the One-Two-O Precinct strangled Eric Garner to death. The multiracial crowd slammed the cops, the in-justice system, and racism. The chants were exactly the opposite of liberal Sharpton’s/De Blasio’s/Obama’s absurd message of peace, calm, and surrender to racist killer cops. PLP was there with a flyer with a one-word heading: “Rebellion.” Some PL’ers marched with their mass organizations and some took the opportunity to introduce chants in the more militant sections of the march such as “NYPD KKK, How many kids did you kill today?” “How do you spell racist? NYPD.” “How do you spell terrorist? NYPD.”
These chants come out of PLP’s immersion in recent years with the families of Ramarley Graham, Shantel Davis, Kimani Gray, and Kyam Livingston, victims of the NYPD’s reign of terror.
Eric Garner’s murder site was a quiet neighborhood of working-class homes and mom and pop stores, a place where you understood people were poor enough to need to buy cigarettes by the ones and twos, as Garner occasionally sold them. (Calling this illegal when the tobacco industry legally makes billions by killing people with lung cancer tells you much of what you need to know about the justice system.)
“We have our little economy here,” a resident marching with us explained, and the cops’ “broken windows” policy of attacking minor “crimes” is just a plain invasion, a provocative aggression to keep people in terror of the armed force of the state. That violence is a need of the capitalist state to prevent rebellion — but when they use murderous violence as in Staten Island or Ferguson, they also expose their racist intent and produce the very rebellion they hope to contain.
The job of communists is to lead this mood towards revolutionary insight into how capitalism oppresses us and how to free ourselves. The popular cry for “justice,” for example, comes straight from the heart of our grief and rage and seems natural and right; but it misses the fact that it is those who hold power who commit these racist crimes and they will not punish themselves for what they deliberately do: kill us indiscriminately especially if we are black and brown.
As communist thinking takes hold on this new generation of rebel workers, the true name of the class that oppresses and kills us will ring out loud and clear and the last thing we will want to do is make peace with it.
The fact of people’s desire for justice, a justice worthy of the name; the fact of their hatred of racism and their warmth as we marched, black and brown and white strangers, together; and the fact of their just rage, I — once again — have no doubt whatsoever that we in PLP and communists like us anywhere in the world always have the potential of organizing revolution. Esta lucha va llegar/A la guerra popular. This struggle will lead to a workers’ war. The seed of communist revolution is in these marchers’ hearts. It correctly reflects their reality and their urge to change it. We must nurture that.
Change Will Come
The Howard University student government, through its Political and External Affairs Committee, organized a busload of 50 students to go to Ferguson during the Labor Day weekend. Participating with militant young demonstrators in the midst of a wrenching racist attack that still continues today led many of the Howard students to step up and continue the struggle. Several of the students received copies of CHALLENGE during the Labor Day march in Ferguson, learning for the first time about the need to fight for communism.
One of these students spoke at the annual PLP crabfeast, with dozens of transit workers and others present. A few excerpts from her speech indicate the power that participating in sharp struggle can have.
“When I first saw the image of Mike Brown shot down on the ground, chills...ran through my body. “Here, we go again!”...the sad truth is in America what more can we expect. I never thought that I would end up in Ferguson, Missouri protesting...The magnitude of my efforts didn’t fully hit me until after I walked by the burnt-down QuikTrip gas station. In that moment, snapshots of the community in anger and rage clouded my head as if I was back in elementary school flipping through the pages of a Civil Rights history book in the library. It’s crazy to think that all the things I’ve read in books, saw in photos, movies, and television about protests for peace and justice was actually unfolding right in front of my big, brown eyes of fury.
As I walked into the massive crowd of protesters holding signs, posters, and protest-inspired t-shirts, I felt overwhelmed with satisfaction that a change was going to come, a change is going to come, and our efforts today are only bridging the gap of justice and racial equality . . . Looking back on my experience in Ferguson, Missouri, I can honestly say that it has been a humbling, life-changing, and monumental experience. I always knew I had a voice, but after this trip it has given me a purpose to no longer hold myself back and be a catalyst of change for the greater good ...”
Barbarism = U.S. Imperialism
Barbarism by definition is something others do but not the accusers
The beheadings by ISIS on video of two U.S. journalists have been called “barbaric” by U.S. officials. While these vicious and murderous actions certainly were barbaric (savagely cruel, exceedingly brutal), one of the most difficult lessons for us to learn is not to take sides in situations where both sides are our enemies.
The charge of “barbarism” usually refers, first, to something someone else does and, second, to something rare enough that it isn’t accepted as normal practice. Beheadings haven’t been all that popular since the French Revolution of the late 1700s. At that time they were not widely regarded as barbaric. Today, grisly murders by many means, committed by capitalist ruling classes and their minions, have become so commonplace that we are often blinded to the fact that their essence, if not their appearance, is barbarism.
To take just a few modern examples, what must we call the recent murder of black teenager Mike Brown, who had his hands up, in Ferguson, Missouri, by the cop Darren Wilson? What about the more than 400 similar murders of young men, almost entirely black or Latin, by U.S. cops every year – more than one a day?
What about the ratio of Palestinian civilian to Israeli civilian shelling deaths of several hundred to one? And again, refusing to take sides between two groups who are both our enemies, Hamas is just as guilty as the Israeli government and its U.S. backers.
What about the massive bulldozing of tons of dirt by juggernaut U.S. military machines to bury hundreds of fleeing Iraqi soldiers during Gulf War I in 1991? Or the simultaneous shootings by U.S. troops of soldiers trying to flee or surrender, gleefully called a “turkey shoot” by one racist soldier? Was this not barbaric as well?
What about the sanctions against Iraq by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton that prevented medicines and foods from reaching the Iraqi working class for years, and that reportedly killed a million and a half civilians, half a million of whom were children? And what about Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s terming these deaths “a price we’re willing to pay”? Is the wanton murder of a million and a half people somehow less barbaric than the beheadings of two, based on the racist premise that Iraqi lives are worth less than U.S. lives?
When the Nazis freely practiced collective punishment during World War II, murdering entire villages as a reprisal for the assassination of a Nazi officer, it was called “barbaric” by U.S. media. But the same collective punishment is called “justified” when practiced by the U.S. military.
For a few centuries, barbarism characterized the entire exploitative, profit-making, colonial relationship between the U.S. and European countries and various conquered peoples. Barbarism at the hands of the world’s capitalists is the condition of the world today. It will remain so until the world’s working class turn to their communist leadership in PLP and throw the barbaric capitalists and their entire barbaric system into the sea with triumphant finality.
U.S. Humanitarian Hypocrisy
The CHALLENGE issue of 09/17/14 was particularly good; most interesting were the articles on police killings of citizens and the article of the SWAT team breaking and entry. The United States for some time as been a police state; a place of violence and terror, and unfortunately is forced on the whole world. Life for so many people around the world is one of misery, exploitation and depravation because of U.S. policies.
I have come to think that the U.S. has been and is involved in any internal conflict wherever it happens. They foment and arm, sometimes, all sides to create a very unstable and unsafe environment. As I read the United Nations reasons for why ISIS must be controlled, my thought was the reasons completely described the actions of the U.S. in so many countries. I believe U.S. imperialist policies of violence and military force around the world results in groups fighting back to survive and more violence. And now the military is being sent to Africa to combat Ebola; is this different than the military sent to occupy Haiti after the hurricane?
UN and Celebrities Blowing Hot Air
That was the consensus of a group of seniors, some over 80, who had walked the entire route of the New York City People’s Climate March of over 400,000. The seniors were voicing their opinion of the September 24 United Nations summit on the environment which was addressed by Presidents, Prime Ministers, national delegates and even movie stars who, collectively, once again claimed progress in preventing climate disasters that have continued to wreck havoc on the world’s people.
“All those speeches are just blowing hot air into global warming” they said. Instead of announcing if anything was being done to stop the massive corporate exploration for fossil fuels and government subsidies to the fracking and pipeline industries, which is like bringing cigarettes into a cancer ward, the UN gives us a movie star like Leonardo DiCaprio. He told the UN, “I pretend for a living, but you do not,” implying that delegates could really act to reverse climate change. What a sellout! It’s as if the UN delegates are not the biggest actors for capitalist oil and gas interests whose profit priorities are destroying the earth.
I noticed many signs at the March saying the system must change and signs that said capitalism was that system. I added that only worldwide revolution can eliminate capitalist bosses and their pollution, wars, unemployment and poverty. Only this will save the earth and the people who depend on it.
Colombia, Salvador, Mexico, U.S. PL’ers Move Ahead at Communist School
We had a PLP Communist School in Bogotá, Colombia, in which comrades from El Salvador, Mexico and the United States, as well as friends of the Party, participated.
We saw the political development of comrades and friends, and in particular that of the youth, who showed great enthusiasm and commitment. There was also criticism and self-criticism due to some shortcomings in the reports as well as in the organizing, outreach and propaganda work.
We must highlight the work taking place in Mexico, with families studying dialectical materialism, comrades’ supporting workers’ struggles, and recruiting members to the Party.
In terms of ideological debate, “base-building” and “reform and revolution,” all the comrades made good contributions, emphasizing the need to be part of workers’ struggles. We can recruit new comrades and support workers struggles, by making communist politics primary. We can win the working class to see that taking power is the only solution.
We established responsibilities for everyone when they return home, highlighting writing for CHALLENGE more regularly, participating in youth organizations, and providing leadership to workers’ struggles. We must denounce local and international abuses of the criminal capitalist system — with its racist, sexist, nationalist policies and thirst for profits realized through the wage slavery and extreme poverty of the working class.
We concluded the communist school with an evaluation based on self-criticism. We assessed the work done and committed to our full potential to continue growing as an international Party and consolidating our communist political line, so that we can put an end to the capitalist nightmare with a worldwide communist revolution.
Depression, Racist Cop Terror Pervades Western Pennsylvania
This story will not appear on the bosses’ nightly news, which tries to justify racist murder or beats the war drums for U.S. imperialism or attempts to put us all to sleep with one inane story after another. I have lived in the coalfields of western Pennsylvania for many years, during which time I’ve viewed developments in this region from a revolutionary communist perspective.
In the 1980’s, we witnessed what was called the deindustrialization of this country. It was then that scores of mines shut down and steel mills were closed. This eliminated decent-paying jobs and spurred rampant unemployment, underemployment and low-wage jobs. Their effects continue and the conditions of daily life under this declining capitalist system grow worse with each passing day while poverty intensifies.
Some turn to petty crime and others to drugs. Of course, these things victimizing mostly poor people are nothing compared to the crimes perpetrated by the U.S. bosses. However, the local news programs act as the “crime report,” showing pictures of people who supposedly robbed a store or sold drugs. The small coal town of Nanty-Glo (which means streams of coal in Welsh) is severely economically depressed, with growing poverty and even hunger. There are now attempts to establish food banks to deal with this problem.
Meanwhile, racist cop terror has raised its ugly head and, as CHALLENGE has pointed out, this is the hideous face of the growing fascism and racism in the U.S. In Pittsburgh, a 20-year-old black man is on trial, even though he was shot five times by a cop during a traffic stop, leaving the young man paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. The cops say he
“resembled” another man who was wanted by the police for some crime. At the trial, the young man stated that the cop who shot him said that he hoped the n***** would die.
I think this upsurge in racism and cop terror is the most important issue confronting all workers, and it’s imperative that the communist message on this be given to all workers.
Concerning the coal fields, the high point of life right now seems to be the Friday night high school football games and the fans are not mean-spirited. It’s all done in fun and gives workers a release from all the problems capitalism is throwing at them. But what we all need in order to halt this growing fascism is the politics of the revolutionary communist PLP.
‘How I discovered PLP…’
I met the Party through a close nursing school friend, which led to my participation in her club, getting invited to a study group, and having the chance to discuss different ideas. We read Political Economy: Capitalist Ideas Chain the Workers, chapter 4, was a good read that caused me to experience annoyance, impotence, and anger to discover how the capitalist system is strategically designed to divide and repress the working class.
I also learned to analyze the way economics and politics are connected, and the importance of knowing how and in what ways the bosses invest money so that I can understand how this affects workers’ lives.
The experience of being part of a study group is enriching because it provides us with the knowledge to understand the root of our problems, which motivate us to keep on studying and later to put that knowledge into practice through collective work.
Racist Apartheid Explodes in Ferguson
At a recent discussion group I described the media report of a 90-year-old Jewish woman Holocaust survivor, Hedi Epstein, who was arrested in Ferguson, Mo., protesting against the execution of Michael Brown. She said the conditions there reminded her of the Israeli apartheid system she witnessed in Palestine.
One person said she was shocked at the military appearance of the police with snipers, dogs, gas, rifles pointed at protestors’ heads, and the many wounded with rubber and pellet bullets while armored vehicles rammed into crowds to break up protests. I said the cops’ storm trooper tactics and later use of the National Guard was probably due to police chief Tom Jackson who was replaced by a black cop when the 90-percent white police force failed to stop the protests. According to media reports, Jackson had been sent to Israel to receive training in crowd control. Israel has a long history of training police in genocidal tactics, from racist South African apartheid police to Israeli fascist police who have been torturing and imprisoning Palestinians for 70 years. One of the racist tactics is flooding the media with reports of “outside agitators” and “terrorists” infiltrating protests. The U.S. capitalist rulers, who had been making billions from racist apartheid conditions against blacks in the 1960s, reacted to the Civil Rights movement by “disappearing” and murdering “outside” student volunteers who went to the South.
When the people protest the execution of Eric Garner by NYC’s racist police on Staten Island, all the guardians of the profiteers like FBI informer Sharpton, police commissioner Bratton, Mayor de Blasio and Cardinal Dolan gather to protect their profits from poverty wages, exploitation and apartheid neighborhoods. They are assuring their Wall Street bosses that no disruptions or resistance to fascist police tactics will be tolerated.
While Obama, who has prosecuted and imprisoned more reporters and whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, and the Pope were “horrified” over the execution of a reporter in Syria, there has not been one word of outrage from them over the daily stop-and-kill executions of black youths in the streets across the U.S. The only reason the media responds to these crimes is because workers take to the streets. But our chants must become, “Capitalism can’t be fixed, we need communist revolution.”
From Haiti to Mexico:
Solidarity with Ferguson Rebellion
Comrades of Ferguson, listen to this voice, this clarion call ringing loudly from the other side of the ocean, traveling a thousand miles from Haiti to reach you. This voice, coming from the victims of all sorts of prejudice, racist discrimination and racist violence, is not a voice of resignation. Just the opposite, this voice is a call for a continual struggle against all kinds of apartheid, discrimination, social exclusion, anti-Semitism, racism and sexism. This voice is a call for real liberation, for the well-being of our class, against all sorts of inequalities, exploitation, slavery and alienation.
We are reinforcing your voices which denounce racist violence committed against Michael Brown and others, and to call you to class struggle. When we say class struggle, we mean those struggles against the ruling class; struggles by workers, students, unemployed and soldiers — the working class — which fights against exploitation and neo-colonialism. We say that this fight is especially against racism, one of the pillars of the capitalist system. The bosses use racism to divide the working class and to make superprofits; therefore, the fight against racism unites the working class and makes it stronger in its fight against the bosses and their rotten, barbaric, war-mongering system.
All the way from Haiti, we hear and understand what your struggle is all about. Just like in Ferguson (and elsewhere), the criminal cops — we call them the “legal bandits” (which includes all the politicians, rulers and big bosses who control the system), kill innocents in working-class neighborhoods, massacre youth, the children of workers and peasants.
In Nov. 2011, the police were implicated in the disappearance of a student at the University of Human and Social Sciences, located in another working class neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. On Nov. 10, 2012, a cop killed a student in the courtyard of his university law school campus. During the demonstrations demanding justice, another youth was assassinated by the very same police, and then accused of stealing, just as the police of Ferguson are trying to do to Michael Brown. In Oct.-Nov. 2013, another student dodged a grenade thrown by the police — in a military show of force like you saw in Ferguson — inside his university campus; this young comrade lost his hand in the ensuing explosion. This grenade, by the way, was provided to the Haitian police by their masters in the United States, just as the U.S. military has been arming local police forces as if they were at war against the U.S. working class and students.
In Haiti, the cops, minions of the bosses, and MINUSTAH (occupation army sent by the U.N.) terrorize students and residents of working-class neighborhoods on a daily basis. However, we are never going to let fear or resignation get the best of us. Every day we confront the violence of this system. We will never lower our arms. We believe in and we fight for the victory of the working class for real justice and real freedom.
In the U.S., you have known a long fight against racism. We know that what happened in Ferguson resonated with old tensions. You have fought against segregation and for jobs, and you have to keep up this struggle. You must know that equality and liberty are not possible without well-being. That is, we need and have a right to real jobs and decent wages, with adequate healthcare and education, with affordable housing and the right to live in safety. But we have to fight for these things because we know by experience that those who control this system will not give them of their own free will.
We have to organize to fight against the crime of unemployment, against the exploitation of the workers by the bosses, against capitalist exploitation and abuse of natural resources, against wars to protect the profits of the bosses, and against the apartheid and racism that exists everywhere in the world. We are a single class. Let us unite against all the atrocities committed for the benefit of the few throughout the world, against the inhumanity and savagery and cruelty of the capitalist system. To fight against capitalism is to fight against inequality.
You are not alone in facing off against the violence of this system. We, the students and youth of Haiti, stand with you in your struggle. And in resisting, in rebelling, and in organizing, we will win. Shout along with us, “To the final victory!” Only a revolutionary struggle can lead to real victory for our class. Let us unite, let us commit ourselves so that Michael Brown is the last victim of this racist system.
Comrades in Haiti
Members and friends of Progressive Labor Party (PLP) in Mexico condemn the racist murder of our class brother, the young Michael Brown. We applaud the rebellion of Ferguson workers to demand justice, and we call on them to fight in the long run for a communist revolution to destroy the capitalist system that creates racism and is incapable of providing justice for the working class.
The murder of Michael Brown has its origin in racism, one of capitalism’s ideological pillars. The bosses promote racist ideas through its culture, its education, and its mass media; their cops put it in practice systematically repressing and murdering working-class black and Latin workers. Racist ideas and practices terrorize and divide the working class, and in addition, by justifying lower wages for black and Latin workers produce huge profits for the bosses.
Racism won’t end or diminish under capitalism; on the contrary, we expect racist attacks to continue and sharpen as the economic crises deepen and inter-imperialist rivalry becomes more violent. We must confront these racist attacks like they did in Ferguson, with our fist up! But mostly, we must commit to the struggle for a communist society where racism is abolished. This is PLP’s worldwide objective. Join us! Honor Michael and all the other youth terrorized and murdered by capitalism. Fight for communism!
Comrades in Mexico
Class Struggle: Path to Working-Class Liberation
In one of two very encouraging articles on the San Francisco mass transit system (MTA) on p. 4 of the July 2 issue of CHALLENGE, it states at the top right of the page, “We have confidence that the working class can and will fight back. It is our job to make sure that when they do, that more of them choose the road to communist revolution.”
I often find that sometimes something is phrased in such a way that a new realization comes about, even for something that is not a new concept. In this case it happened to me, and it’s one of the reasons that CHALLENGE is so useful, particularly when we encourage as many workers and students and other members and friends of PLP as possible to write articles and letters for the paper. Everyone has a slightly different take on the situation and expresses it slightly differently.
I happen to be a former physics professor, and with those two sentences I had a flash insight into an analogy with the very common phenomenon of resonance. Resonance happens when an intermittent force is applied with the right timing to a system that has a rhythmical motion, such as a child on a swing. Anyone who has ever pushed a child, or even an adult, on a swing knows that in order to make the swing go higher and higher it requires that we push on the swing every time it returns and reaches its backmost point. That is, when the pushing is in synchrony with the swinging itself. When those two processes — the pushing and the swinging — are in sync, the energy in the swing and the height it reaches continue to increase, until we stop pushing.
It happens, as we all know, that workers cannot possibly engage in class struggle on the job continually for very long periods of time. To do so would rob us of our income, and we are less equipped to weather such periods than the bosses are. So we are forced to temporarily end our struggles at some point and go back to work. Therefore the intensification of class struggle, through job actions and strikes, must necessarily happen periodically — when conditions become too horrible to bear. That’s like the swing. So during such periods of intensified class struggle, if communists push in sync with that swing, more and more workers will, in fact, “choose the road to communist revolution.”
Communists push all the time, both during and between job actions and strikes, but the greatest effect is during intensified class struggle. Our participation in the class struggle is the only path to liberation of the working class (including ourselves) from the relentless oppression, exploitation, genocidal wars, racism, and sexism of capitalism. Join PLP to help push.
Massacres in Palestine, South Africa, Ukraine
Having lived through the rise of anti-communist, fascist, racist movements in the 1930s, the images of hundreds of bloody Palestinian babies and children in Gaza brought back the horror of Nazi genocide against all who resisted their occupation. My tortured sense of humanity said do something, speak out.
I pinned a paper sign to my shirt saying Boycott Israel to see if I could learn the reaction of New Yorkers to the Gaza massacre. To my surprise 95 percent of the first day’s response was positive. One black senior center worker I talked to about it caught up to me later to say that the U.S. also committed genocide and had concentration camps for black slaves. I replied that that’s what the capitalist profit system produces.
Another guy pointed to my sign saying, “You’ve got b*lls, man.” I thought for a few seconds and told him that if people can ignore murdered children and keep quiet, they’re missing something more than b*lls. Later I got some smiles and thumbs up from passersby. Going home a black bus driver asked about “Boycott Israel” and I explained that it was part of a worldwide movement in the 1980’s against the white racist South African apartheid government which got 80 percent of its weapons from Israel to commit genocide against black people. I said Israel has also been making war on the Palestinian people for 70 years, using the same apartheid tactics of territorial prisons like Gaza and the West Bank, settlement expansions and slow extermination of people through blockades that denied basic needs. To my surprise as I left the bus, the driver grabbed my hand, shook it and said “thank you.”
Most opinion polls show there is no support for more wars and we need to expose contradictions like Obama being “heartbroken” by Gaza images while being responsible for sending the weapons and bombs used to murder civilians not only in Gaza but worldwide. We should challenge the U.S. government’s demand for a “world outcry” over the downed Malaysian plane that flew over a war zone while for months that same government never said a word about 230,000 East Ukraine refugees who have been bombed and shelled daily by the U.S.-financed fascist Ukrainian military.
Sometimes I can bring a discussion around to how capitalist profits are behind all these wars on people and I always have a CHALLENGE newspaper ready to show how PLP is trying to destroy the disease called capitalism with a communist revolution for a system that unites all workers and provides for their needs.
Teachers: Reform or Revolution?
Teacher union comrades, like many of you, we are thrilled with the possibilities of change opening up in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), as teachers’ anger and concern for students butts up against the Weingarten machine. But which direction should a new teacher movement take: reform or revolution? We want to talk with you about that.
Some of you are weary of contrasting the two concepts so starkly. You fight for reforms like winning a raise or changing our union or saving a neighborhood school or defending kids from deportation. You hope that out of such fights a movement will develop that will go much further than such reforms. We think that to go further you need more than hope — you need to aim consciously at a revolution that will replace capitalism with a communist society of sharing. You need a Party like ours that trains us for a lifetime of struggle. And you need to join that Party, learn the lessons of communist history, and help to expand and develop that Party internationally.
Our analysis takes off from the critique of social-movement unionism in the CHALLENGE article on the AFT convention (July 30). You saw at a convention panel how a militant woman teacher from the Black Caucus responded seriously to the call for revolution — and at the same time how excited she is to be running for City Council to carry her radical reform politics into a larger arena. At almost every turn, the new movement is facing choices between reform and revolution, whether we’re conscious of it or not. To run for the council seat or the mayoralty is to run away from a revolutionary movement.
From PLP’s point of view, the appeal of reform electoral politics to the new leadership and the masses of new teacher reformers could seriously sidetrack direct-action politics again as it has in the past. People dropped anti-war work to campaign for Obama, and the result is not only what Obama did as commander-in-chief but the fact that the anti-war movement evaporated. De Blasio’s election took whatever fight there was out of the New York City unions. Campaigning for the first woman president, or for an outspoken black woman strike leader for mayor of Chicago, will have the same effect.
But the main problem with electoral politics is not that radical reformers think it is revolutionary — you don’t. You too think it’s a big step forward, that to make a big difference, we have to work creatively within the system. That appeal is precisely what the system counts on to turn radical teachers away from thinking revolution.
We don’t expect you to agree now, and we want to listen to your arguments. If classroom teachers start running for city council, we will accompany you in the campaign and we will both learn from the experience, but you should know that we think that is not the way “to take power,” as one such new teacher-candidate put it. This is the old argument between socialists, who think we can elect socialists who will abolish capitalism by making new laws, and communists, who believe we will need armed revolution to take power from a capitalist class who keeps it by force of arms. But change is in the air. We can feel a teacher movement struggling to be born. We are engaged in building it together.
Capitalist education is ruinous for us. We both agree the school system is racist to the core. We heard together the testimony of researchers and classroom teachers at the Peace & Justice panel that segregation of schools is now so bad that the research has a new category called “intensely segregated.” All the gains in school integration in the South since the Civil Rights Movement have been wiped out, while New York State schools are among the most segregated in the country. Even new school diversity in residential neighborhoods is not showing up as more integrated, because incoming wealthier white or Asian parents often don’t send their children to local public schools.
The fixes are not working. Black and brown children who are bused to white suburbs are often met by racism. The 320,000 K-12 teachers thrown out of work and the hundreds of schools closed in the last few years are disproportionately black and brown. At the City University of New York, new research shows that new teachers are increasing in numbers, but not racial or gender diversity. In addition, admissions barriers increase the segregation of students in community colleges as compared to four-year colleges (it is now easier for a black student to be admitted to Harvard than to CUNY’s Baruch College).
Can such racism be reformed out of existence? We think it will take a revolution. So let’s talk more about reform and revolution. The need for communism is newly discussed these days among radical academics (e.g., Jodi Dean’s The Idea of Communism), and some younger poets and writers also see their work as inspired by communism — though, unlike Jodi Dean, they do not agree with the idea of a communist party and look more to Occupy-style forms. PLP would like to invite you to form study groups with us around this new thinking and the best “old” thinking about communism.
Can reformism rise to the challenge of a failed capitalism? If we accept that we need communism, what does that mean for our action as unionized teachers in the short, medium, and long terms? What does it mean to join PLP and be a communist teacher? What do we want education to be as communists? What would a modern communism look like, going beyond the advances of the first great wave of revolutions in the last century?