Thursday
Jun022016

Workers Shut Down France

More than 150,000 workers and youth shut down France in response to anti-working-class labor reforms. The strike is hitting the bosses where it hurts the most—their profit margin and the rise of class consciousness. Strikers have also blockaded oil refineries and shut down transportation. Half of the country’s 10,000 petrol stations are either partially or completely out of fuel. Many fighters have been arrested. Protesters hurled rocks at police.
“The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn. The law also gives employers more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married” (Nigerian Bulletin, 5/26).
Clearly, the bosses’ laws can’t and won’t protect workers. Only the working class has the power to fight in its own interests. With communist leadership, the workers of France can turn this strike against labor reforms into a battle against capitalism.
Stand up in international solidarity for the working class of France, the birthplace of the first workers’ revolutionary seizure of power, known as the Paris Commune of 1871.

Thursday
Jun022016

Honey Well Bosses Say Lockout, Workers Say Fight Back

Four hundred industrial workers from the Honeywell Corporation’s plants in South Bend, Indiana, and Green Island, NY, overwhelmingly rejected a company contract offer that would double their health care costs and increase the use of non-union workers. The workers make specialty aircraft wheels and brake pads for F-35 fighter planes and Boeing 747s.
Honeywell responded by locking out workers from their jobs since May 9, meaning workers aren’t allowed to work until they agree to the bosses’ contract proposals. Multi-billion dollar Honeywell is using scabs to replace strikers in order to maintain their super-profits on the backs of workers who are fighting to maintain basic pay and healthcare.
But workers are fighting back against Honeywell’s intimidation tactics! Black, Latin and white workers from the factories and nearby regions are united and standing strong. Area workers joined the picket lines and donated food to show solidarity. What is really needed is for all workers — Black, white, union, non-union and unemployed — to unite against the capitalist scum who divide and exploit workers in order to churn out billions in profits. Strikes and pickets aren’t enough to get workers their fair share because neither will destroy the profit system. Capitalists will constantly lower wages and benefits for workers. Many benefits won by strikes fifty years ago are being lost.
Since the last five-year contract, Honeywell profits increased by 152 percent while they locked out workers across the country four different times. The company invested over $27 million in the South Bend plant, making it one of its most profitable facilities. Because it successfully wrung concessions out of the United Automobile Workers union (UAW) with each negotiation and each lockout, they see no reason not to squeeze them even more.
Honeywell wants to double the cost of healthcare for workers, charging a family of four almost $7,400/year. Even worse, they want the right to increase these costs in every year of the contract. They also want to outsource more work to non-union workers while eliminating all job classifications, creating a more “flexible” workforce.
The UAW is not on the workers’ side. In March, Honeywell brought the scab replacement workers into the South Bend and Green Island factories to watch the workers doing their jobs. The UAW huffed and puffed but did nothing to stop this threat. Most of these scab workers are ex-offenders and many can’t find work due to the criminal Injustice System. So who is the UAW endorsing in the presidential election? The same politician who supported laws that greatly expanded that very racist system, Hillary Clinton!
UAW is also supporting a local politician and former kkkop who visited the picket lines for publicity. The police are instrumental in attacking and terrorizing striking workers. The police are not the workers’ friend; yet the union continues to endorse politicians favoring the police.
It’s clear that the only people who defend workers are workers themselves. We can’t rely on pro-boss unions or politicians. We can’t let them use racism or sexism to divide us. We can’t divide ourselves from non-union workers. We’re all fighting over crumbs while the capitalists devour the whole loaf! We need a communist revolution to stop all exploitation and ensure that all workers have all our needs met.
By sharpening the class war, it becomes clear that we’re up against the whole racist profit system. This will help us learn how to win. We can get a taste of the power we hold in our collective hands. That’s the difference between the union mis-leadership and ourselves. The capitalists have state power and use it to take back any reforms we may win. Let’s organize with the Progressive Labor Party for a communist revolution!

Thursday
Jun022016

Letters of June 15

Organize Anti-Sexist Struggle in Schools
I distributed CHALLENGE and anti-sexism buttons at Brooklyn Tech in support of the anti-sexist student struggle against dress codes (see page 1). Within 45 minutes, we had run out of all 150 newspapers and all 200 buttons! My comrade and I received many positive responses, and some students wanted to take extra buttons to give to their friends.
Sometimes it’s tough to get out of bed so early, but it’s always worth it because everywhere the Party goes, we get overwhelming support from fellow anti-sexist and anti-racist students and workers.
Getting out our politics in schools is important because it is where future workers are won to sexist, racist, and elitist capitalist ideologies. This is especially at Brooklyn Tech where students are groomed to be the next generation of doctors, scientists, and politicians. Capitalists try to win these students to work to support the system. They need to make students believe that they are not a part of the working class and that they don’t need to fight sexism or racism. It’s critical to win students to fight capitalism and to use their vast wealth of knowledge to serve the working class.
Whenever students take a stand against these divisive ideologies, the Party must be there to support the fight, sharpen the struggle, and fight for revolution. Students at Brooklyn Tech are eager to fight sexism and racism, and now it is our job to draw the communist connections.
To destroy sexism, we must do more than fight dress codes. We must fight for communist revolution. These students are already fighting back with courage and we must have confidence that the working class will understand and fight for communist ideas. Hundreds of students today just proved that. If you haven’t had a CHALLENGE sale in a while, grab a buddy and a bundle, and see what happens!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Picketing Against Racism
The kkkop Edward Nero who murdered Freddie Gray was found not guilty on all charges. In response, fifteen communists gathered on our regular street corner in Brooklyn,NY to respond to this blatantly racist injustice. At first, we were just passing out CHALLENGEs and talking to workers about police terror and the racist capitalist system that creates it. Some of us were reluctant to do our chants and have a picket without a bullhorn. However, after some young comrades struggled for a picket, we all gathered and started chanting, “Racism means we got to fight back!”
Immediately, workers began to ask us questions and seek out the paper. I had been frustrated earlier because not many people were taking CHALLENGE. Much to my excitement, people who had refused the paper before we started chanting came back to me and asked for one. With persistence and boldness, we ended up getting out more than 400 CHALLENGEs. It reminded me that we should never be afraid to be bold and that even if we don’t have a bullhorn, we can still have our voices heard. When we are unapologetically antiracist, workers respond with raised fists.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
May Day Play: Cascarones at Politicians
We celebrated this year’s May Day in Texas with a barbecue. We invited comrades, family, and friends. We opened with a speech about the history of May Day and the struggles of the working-class all over the world, and PLP’s role in understanding the world today. Then moved into our play that described how both US parties; democrat and republican, are not answers to the caused by capitalism. We had caricatures of the presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A pie chart showing the profits of other imperialist countries’ and how each candidate proposes to steal from different groups of workers and supports imperialist wars aboard.
It the end the ballot box turned into a tank driven by the three candidates. As this happen the audience members had an active role in throwing cascarones at the tank, symbolizing our fight back against capitalism.
It was a creative way to talk about the current elections. After the play, we closed with a speech about the Progressive Labor Party. Our celebration was a big success and a lot of fun.
May Day: Don’t Vote, Organize!
“Are you angry about racism? Sexism? War?” asked the keynote speaker at our annual May Day Dinner. The audience enthusiastically responded “Yeah!” Seventy-five people of all races and ages, (not including many adorable children running around) attended the Progressive Labor Party’s May Day Dinner in Chicago this year. Although it was a cold, rainy day, the atmosphere inside the dinner was warm and welcoming. There was delicious, home-cooked food, and inspiring posters hung on the wall. A professional sound system, donated and operated by a friend of PL, was set-up for the evening’s songs and speeches. In the outer room from the dining area, art supplies were set up for the kids to enjoy. Everyone was welcomed warmly and chatting happily while we ate.    
The program opened with a welcome and then singing “Bella Ciao.”  The theme of the dinner was “Don’t Vote! Organize for Communist Revolution!” and many of the talks discussed this idea. A Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) member discussed the difference between the union perspective and the communist analysis PLP provides. We watched a video of our comrades in California share the story of their recent battle with the KKK in Anaheim (see CHALLENGE, 3/10). We “passed the hat,” and everyone donated money for the Anaheim rebels’ court costs. We also did a “table talk,” where a question about experienced racism was posed to the audience and then we all discussed this at our tables with the people around us. We then shared what we discussed at the microphone.
Our main speech addressed why we need more people to join PLP. The speaker was a woman healthcare worker who cares for veterans. She addressed the ways that imperialist war has impacted their lives. Racism and poverty have also hurt these men and she made the connection between the wars they fought in with capitalism, imperialism, and racism. Addressing the question of why some people who agree with the Party politically may be reluctant to join, she emphasized the need for revolutionary violence over voting for a friendlier-faced liberal capitalist. The speaker also addressed the cynicism around the possibility of building a mass revolutionary working class movement through the examples of previous successful revolutions. The speaker concluded saying that learning from history and talking to your comrades are some ways to combat pessimism, but it’s even better to participate in class struggle and join PLP. Struggle builds our trust and confidence in the working class to change the world.
May Day is about celebrating working class fightback and we’ve had a lot of that in Chicago this past year!  Chicago PL’ers went to the BLM conference in Cleveland to put forth multi-racial unity instead of nationalism and segregation. We participated in events around the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa when their caravan came to Chicago. We went to Ferguson to demonstrate on the one-year anniversary of the murder of Mike Brown with the courageous fighters there, and then we went to NYC and celebrated 50 years of our party! We marched in the streets when the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder was released. And a few days later we marched in the Black Friday protest, shutting down the Magnificent Mile with workers and students of all races. When Donald Trump came to have a rally at UIC, even though we know “It’s not just Trump, it’s capitalism,” we joined with thousands of students and workers to protest and kept him from speaking. We were part of the one-day Chicago Teacher’s strike—and we’ll be there when they go on strike again for our kids and our class!  When the police murdered 17-year-old Pierre Loury one month ago while he was fleeing, climbing a fence, we were there to protest with hundreds in his community. PLP was there because we know that being shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers and sisters in the working class, engaged in struggle, is the only way we will build a party that can take on the capitalist class. And taking on the capitalist class in an armed revolution is the only way we can start to build a world that will truly serve the working class. The only solution is communist revolution!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
May Day Reflections
In the San Francisco Bay Area, we collectively planned our pre-May Day March activity to really reach out to everyone. We teamed up and went around a public plaza here, talking to people, distributing our on-point color PLP flyer and CHALLENGE-DESAFIO newspapers while asking for donations. There was the usual Sunday crowd of people shopping, coming to and from places on BART and people arriving for the rally and march. We sold about 75 CHALLENGES and distributed 500 flyers. We got some contacts
In the march, we lead very militant and classic PLP chants the entire way.
We waved awesome PLP flags and with other comrades held our banner with an image of a giant fist smashing a cop car. Our Chants and other banners addressed International Workers Unity and the Fight for Communism.
Finally, I took a try at leading chants and did my best. I need more practice figuring out the rhythms and especially practicing the Spanish chants. I tried to speak a little before a couple of the chants to explain our rhymes and talk to those around us in the march. Even though I have performed and rapped many times in front of all types of crowds, actually figuring out the dynamics of a moving political march will take some time. Perhaps we need more rallies to develop all our skills.
I think we represented well with a multi-racial group of men and women and all generations taking turns on the mic. We had people, especially the march security, smiling and chanting with us, each time we lead a chant.
Our crew had a well-deserved late lunch as we heard news that the Warriors had crushed the Portland Trail Blazers. Just as Golden State has proven their ability to play unselfishly and utilize the team, PLP is shaping up in the SF Bay Area to do the same, except not for capitalist owners but for all the workers. We have a way to go, but we continue to smash borders between age, gender, skin color, language, personal obligations, while committing to our obligations to the working class! Boom shakalaka! In yo face fascist chumps! “We go-in’ fo da win!!!
This year we planned a new approach to involving those who came with informal political discussions. We organized ahead to have “Table Talk” subjects and “break out reports.” The table talks about racism and fight back that people have seen this year really brought the tables to life and opened up conversations that may not have otherwise happened because people are either too shy or unsure of who’s who to say something. The fight against racism is a sure way to solidify our class and bring forward more workers.
The LA comrades shared their amazing story of fighting the Klan in Anaheim earlier this year and how they were abused by “the pigs” who meanwhile protected and were chummy with the KKK.
The talks, poetry, and music, as well as chants in between, really perked up the event. This should remind us that only reading and writing is not the only way to appeal to our class. All forms of culture must be taken back from the thieving capitalists. They have succeeded in making so much of our cultural outlets into commodities and our art just another way to profit. In my grandfather’s family (15 siblings) all knew how to sing and play music on some or several instruments—what has happened? We need to be sure not to underestimate the power of art as a tool to teach, share and inform—it is much older than the written word and still captivates workers. As a rapper in the 90’s once said: “Hiphop outsold crack.”
The after party was great, too, and a chance to have deeper conversations. I hope we will continue to have more dinners though the year. People came who I didn’t expect and some didn’t show up, and I’ll be sure to follow-up with asking those who did show up about why they decided to come.
Salutes to all the comrades, families, friends and all the support from each worker who contributed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
My First May Day Dinner
This was my first visit to May Day Dinner. I liked hearing the history about what happened to workers in the past, how people suffered and how May Day came up. I liked hearing many individual life experiences. It was a warm and passionate event. The dinner was delicious. Robotic Rap was awesome.
Thank you guys!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Friday
May062016

Letters of May 18

From Ferguson to Flatbush
At 27 weeks pregnant, my partner and I packed up our car in Buffalo and headed to NYC to join in the May Day festivities. A couple of friends new to political activism, but eager to stand up for fellow workers joined us on the trip. Donned in all red, we arose from the subway at Flatbush and Nostrand. We walked towards the chanting and were soon greeted by a few of our PL comrades, who we’ve built quite a strong bond with over the last year, since first meeting during protests in Ferguson.
Our group of four from Buffalo ended up holding the leading banner at the front of the march, which read “Long Live Communism!”  We each grabbed one of the custom screen-printed “Revolt Don’t Vote” shirts.
A flatbed truck with over 20 speakers pulled up and positioned itself at the front of the march. We got pumped up when we realized the speakers would be bumping some classic hip-hop and dancehall instrumentals througgout the march, as comrades chanted in unison to the beat. My partner and I absolutely love the idea, and first used music during protest a couple years back in Buffalo to commemorate Fred Hampton. Music is as powerful as the people who create it and can change the entire dynamic of an action, centering and energizing the people.
It was a beautiful sight to behold. With Mom and Dad side by side, screaming “Koupé tet!” [“cut off their heads” in Haitian Creole], my unborn child, right at the front of the march, got his first taste of uprising. With swollen ankles and smile on my face, I pushed on to the end and finished off the two-mile journey at Prospect Park. The crowd remained and listened intently to voices championing the power of the people. The revolutionary spirit was truly in the air.The crowd was rejuvenated by the speeches and at their conclusion all were welcomed to enjoy a May Day picnic in the park.
We were asked to do a quick interview at the conclusion of the march for an upcoming PLP video. We offered our perspectives on first meeting the PLP in Ferguson, growing our relationship with the Party, and how impactful these developing bonds have been in our lives, both personally and politically.
Later that evening, I shared some of the images from the day with friends back home, one of which was a shot of my garishly swollen ankles. One concerned person remarked, “that can be a sign of toxemia!” I assured them I was fine and just needed rest, and that the only thing toxic to my baby’s health was capitalism. Walking a couple uncomfortable miles is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lengths my growing family will go to see the fall of the bosses and the rise of commUNITY.

My Experience at May Day
This year, students and education workers took a bus from the South Bronx to Brooklyn. Our bus ride was spirited and militant as we shared our reasons for coming to May Day and sang songs together. Here are a few reflections about May Day from our group.

My first May Day march was a great experience. I like how people reacted to the march sympathetically. I think it’s great to fight for our rights and against the injustice that is going on.
*
I had a great experience at May Day. There were so many different groups of people. It was a beautiful experience to see a wide range of working class people come together and fight against the ruling class. In the moment, I felt that me and everyone else felt a sense of invincibility. Before going to May Day, I had my doubts about the working class becoming powerful enough to overthrow the wealthy class. After May Day, I believe that united we can change the system and make a world that works for us.
*
The march was well organized and synchronized before and during the journey to the park. I liked seeing people of all ages, mothers and parents with their children, young women and men. It was really exciting to see all these people united, chanting, waving flags and their hands to show their lack of conformity with the system.
Moreover, I was impressed how drivers honked and people through windows in the building made signal of support and agreement all the way to the park. At the beginning of the march, I saw people enthusiastic but as it progressed there was more joy! I enjoyed the way people behaved before and during the march.
*
I loved the sound truck. The group was dynamic and moving as they led chants and beats through the streets of Flatbush. I knew some of the women on the truck and know that they had lost a family member at the hands of the police. It was truly an inspiration to see and hear them on the sound truck!

Salute to the Fierce Women on the May Day Truck
The Brooklyn May Day march this year was inspiring beyond words. On the truck were Black and Latin women whose loved ones—sister, brother, daughter, son—were murdered by the despicable kkkops. These women are living proof that kkkapitalism is a murderous system and that our loved ones deserve communism, nothing less.
This one woman in particular led me to tears. As she screamed the names of each youth murdered, and we responded with “Shut it down!” I felt the anger in her voice. The music paused. Her raw voice echoed down Flatbush. It was the sound of a woman who has to face the fact that capitalism murdered her sister—and no amount of police reforms will bring justice for Shantel Davis. It was the voice of a woman who still dares to fight back.
I salute this working-class woman. She is my hero, as are all the other working-class women in and around the Party who model how to fight, how to respond to crisis, and how to spread the fierce working-class love for a communist world.
I’ve seen many organizations, many countries, and many people. Only in Progressive Labor Party have I witnessed such a staunch example of anti-sexism. Only in PLP did I get a glimpse of what women will be like under communism.
I had joined PLP for many of the obvious reasons—a world without racism and sexism, no borders, no war, and no money. A world where everyone gets what they need and live their lives to potentials never dreamt of in our current material reality.
But there’s another reason that I joined. This reason is one I get to witness in my lifetime. I joined PLP because of the way the Party treated Black workers, especially Black women. I grew up in a capitalist culture where I learned anti-Black racism before I learned to speak English. I was taught to be thankful that at least I am not Black, though I always got hurt for being “too black, too dark, too angry.”
I saw how women are beaten, degraded, and exploited until they have internalized the racist sexism of this society. I’ve witnessed women rise against this sexism, their resolve to continue fighting day in and day out, but still lost without a communist vision. That’s what global capitalism does to the working class.
So to witness an atmosphere where Black workers, Black women workers, give leadership—that’s powerful, to say the least. I am grateful to be part of this international communist movement. Being part of PLP showed me how resilient and inspiring the working-class is. Today reminded me of the PLP song, “Streets of London,” the line that goes like this: “so how can you tell me you are lonely and say for you that the sun don’t shine.” One day, every child, woman, and man in every corner of the earth will bask in the glory of the red sun.

Another Smashing May Day
Another smashing May Day! The workers of Brooklyn welcomed us in grand fashion.
My first May Day march was 70 years ago in 1946 in New York City — 250,000 workers and youth streaming down 8th Avenue in Manhattan from 34th Street to 17th Street and then east to Union Square.
That one was organized by the old Communist Party. But just as they accommodated themselves to capitalism and abandoned the fight for communist revolution, they also abandoned May Day marches by the early 1950s.
However, in 1971 it was Progressive Labor Party that picked up the banners of the international working class as part of the fight for communism and has celebrated and marched on May Day ever since — an achievement to be proud of. PLP truly represents the future. Congratulations comrades!

Fundraiser, A Collective Treat for Budding Communists
Our middle school May Day dessert fundraiser demonstrated that revolutionary politics, creative collaboration, and some sweets are a good mix. Political artists from 6 to 60 worked together to produce some awesome banners and posters for this May Day March (see page 8).
This event was organized by our middle school study group, which has met consistently since the beginning of the 2015 school year. Developing our ideas through friendly political struggle resulted in some great ideas. We had a blast drawing and painting while eating delicious and beautifully designed dessert treats made by our comrades and friends.
The highlights of the day were several speeches presented by our middle-school revolutionary youth explaining why everyone present should join PLP’s May Day march in Brooklyn. These young people also organized over a dozen of their middle school friends, parents, and siblings to attend this event. We also raised funds to help pay the costs of our May Day march.
In contrast to the decadent, frivolous capitalist society around us, we need to experience more of these moments of multi-racial revolutionary celebration, collaboration between young and old, and a sense of unity with the working people of the world.

Fascist Trump, but Need to Attack All Politicians
Our Unitarian church in Indianapolis, Indiana had a forum and presentation on U.S. presidential elections. I gave the analysis and acted as moderator. I tried to incorporate various aspects of PLP’s antiracist line when possible.
My presentation was on Trump and how he is an open fascist running for president. I talked about historical similarities with Hitler. I mentioned how Trump is a ruling-class racist trying to divide and conquer white workers by tricking them into thinking he is their “friend” while painting Black, Muslim, and undocumented workers as “ the enemy.” Trump is a fascist trying to use racist and sexist speech to divide our class from itself. He is America’s version of fascist Marie Le Pen of France.
This racism will hurt white workers in long run. I mentioned white workers need to have multiracial unity to oppose Trump. Also, I mentioned the hate speech by Trump is causing hate crimes against Muslim and Mexican workers. In Fort Wayne, recently, three Blacks Muslim men were executed while Ft. Wayne cops say, “No racism involved.”
Self critically, I should have showed that Clinton and Sanders are just as bad. I told them about how opposing Trump in Chicago was inspirational as it was to see multiracial Black, white, Latin, and Asian do this. We had a modest turnout of Black and white workers. In the short term, these capitalist politicians like Trump are being opposed through protests. What workers need is a communist revolution led by PLP to take down the entire rotten capitalist system!

Debtors’ Jail Hits Home
In school, in history, we learned that in Britain and the U.S. in the “old days” of 19th century, people were put into prison if they couldn’t pay their debts. And we were told that that bizarre practice was abolished. But I’ve learned from recent events that debtors’ prisons do still exist!
After Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson in 2014, the news spread about how small counties in Missouri and elsewhere balanced their budgets on the backs of the Black working class. Workers were fined for the smallest unlawful errors. If unable to pay the fines, they were arrested. Then there would be more fines and jail time—an endless cycle. Many others and I probably thought it was all stuff that happened to other people.
Last year, I got a cell phone ticket, and then a speeding ticket. I paid the tickets, over $300 between them. The end, right? No way. My state’s office of safety sent me a letter demanding another fine, $525 on top of what I’ve paid, in order to keep my driver’s license. They claim it’s for “safety education.”
And finally, a friend of mine was arrested for theft in Maryland. She was sentenced to probation. A good deal, we thought, because she didn’t get jail time. But, she had to pay $207 in court fees and other fines. And, that was only the beginning! Now she has to pay a $175 fee to do her community service and another $50 a month for supervised probation.
What if you don’t have the money? Well, just like in Missouri, it’s jail time for you. This shows that debtors’ prison is very much a practice of U.S. capitalist government today. The bosses and their state find a plethora of ways to steal from the working class and keep us oppressed.

Friday
Apr082016

Letters of April 20

Build Worker Solidaity from Brazil to U.S.
On Thursday, March 30, I attended at rally at the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC protesting the rise of a fascist movement in Brazil against the social democratic government. The government of President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former labor organizer turned politician, are under sharp attack by fascists supported by the U.S. for their imperialist gains. I spoke to the group about how the U.S. ruling class has long installed and toppled governments in Latin America, usually opting for fascist regimes like that of Augusto Pinochet in Chile (1973-1990). After the rally, I hung out with several protesters and discussed the inability of social democracy to defeat fascism, and that only a disciplined communist movement could defeat fascism for good. I distributed Challenge and leaflets about May Day to the group, and hopefully some will join us on April 30 in Brooklyn, NY for May Day, the international workers’ holiday.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
McCain Praises Communist, Spreads Anti-Communism
On March 25 The New York Times carried an op-ed by Republican Senator John McCain praising Delmer Berg, a lifelong communist. Berg was last the known surviving veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a military force composed mainly of English-speaking volunteer fighters during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). McCain’s piece, titled “Salute to a Communist,” gets right a handful of facts about the war: that it was a conflict between Fascist rebels (Nationalists) and left-wing Republicans (Loyalists) who were trying to defend the democratically elected Spanish government; that Hitler and Mussolini provided the Nationalists/Rebels with military aid; and that the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was part of the Soviet-organized International Brigades, which were made up of volunteer fighters—mostly communists—from around the world.
Predictably, however, McCain’s op-ed is rife with anticommunist propaganda. He observes, for example, that the Spanish communists were either “cynical” or “naïve,” that communism “inflicted far more misery than it ever alleviated,” and that, ultimately, “the advocates of liberty, and their champion, the United States,” would put an end to the clash of ideologies—communism, fascism, and self-determination—that began in Spain (a reference, it seems, to the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s). In addition, he fails to mention a number of facts about the Spanish Civil War that fly in the face of his anticommunist claims.
Yes, workers from the U.S. sacrificed life and limb to defend the Spanish Republic; yet this was possible not thanks to the U.S. government, which imposed a travel ban on Spain in the spirit of “neutrality” during the conflict. (Some neutrality.) The “freedom fighters” McCain rhapsodizes about, in other words, did not receive any official support from the “champion” of the “advocates of liberty” at a time when the governments of Portugal, Germany, and Italy were unequivocally supporting General Francisco Franco and his fascist regime with precious military gear. In fact, over a decade after the end of the Spanish Civil War, soldiers like Berg were persecuted by the U.S. government for their “premature antifascism”—that is, their involvement in the communist-led antifascist struggles of the 1930s. During the “high” Cold War, this past involvement was presumably a sign that those who opposed fascism in the 1930s were secret communist sympathizers.
But perhaps the most problematic omission in McCain’s op-ed is the fact that, unlike the U.S. military, the International Brigades were fully integrated. Several Black fighters attained positions of leadership in the Brigades and were celebrated war heroes in Spain. Oliver Law, for instance, became the first Black fighter ever to lead a fully integrated military force in U.S. history by rising to the rank of Commander of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The antiracism that characterized the International Brigades and made possible the ascent of Black soldiers like Law, as well as the organization of a military front against fascism in Spain, happened under the auspices of the international communist movement. These are hardly the doings of a movement and ideology hell-bent on—as McCain would have it—“inflicting misery.”
I am not implying here that McCain, a pro-capitalist warmonger, should have penned a different piece—despite his clear admiration for Berg. Rather, I want to suggest that learning the history of the international communist movement is necessary for us communists if we are to contest anticommunist discourses more effectively. These discourses often obscure and distort aspects of red history—that is, our history—in order to steer fighters towards cynicism and into the bosses’ camp. More importantly, the struggles of the past have the power to inform and energize our present struggles. There is, for example, a clear revolutionary line connecting the sacrifices of communists like Berg and Law during the Spanish Civil War to the militancy displayed by PLP members who recently disrupted a KKK “White Lives Matter” rally in Anaheim, California (see CHALLENGE, 3/23). In short, we must know our history not only to debunk vile anticommunist claims, but also the better to organize, agitate, and fight to tear down this racist capitalist system and build a communist world.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

No to Racist Colocation

Teachers, parents, and students in East Flatbush stood up and fought back against the racist agenda of the NYC Department of Education! The DOE is as usual showing who they really serve—the capitalist bosses, not the Black and Latin families in their schools. A proposed colocation of a charter school into a non-charter elementary school’s building was being debated at a public hearing on March 31.
Members of the school community and Progressive Labor Party spoke passionately about the disruption to students’ learning that this colocation would cause—the loss of their media room, their indoor garden, their music spaces, to name a few. The DOE doesn’t care about their mostly Black and Latin students having these essential learning spaces; in fact it’s because of rooms being used for these purposes that the DOE space planners dare to say the school is “under-utilized” and has plenty of rooms to give up to another school. Members of this school are ready to fight!
It was inspiring and heartening to hear many people stand up to speak out about how all parents are looking for the best for their kids, and that all children deserve a quality education, but that the DOE’s decision won’t provide that for any of them. A couple people called out the DOE’s actions as racist. Unfortunately, several parents also yelled at the parents and teachers of the charter school for the proposed move—a sign of the divisive tactics of the DOE.
The charter school is currently in their fourth year of being colocated with the school several PL’ers work at. Four years ago, the staff and students of our school waged a battle against the DOE’s decision to do that then. One PL’er spoke to the crowd about how much our students and staff absolutely need our space back, but that the solution to our problem is not to have it shoved on the backs of others. She talked about how the DOE has used these colocations and charters to divide working class parents and teachers, and has us pitted against each other pointing the blame. The working class can’t allow the school bosses to turn us against each other. Instead, we must to unite fight them back. It was made clear that the DOE is part of a racist system that doesn’t care about the needs of our students.
The purpose of schools under capitalism is to prepare young people to become the next generation of exploited workers and soldiers, and to maintain the extreme systemic racism that capitalism’s profits depend on. As was made clear by the parents and teachers of the soon-to-be reduced school, speaking about the work they had done on their own to develop the school’s special programs, it is the working class that knows best how to build and shape a school that serves our young people. It is only in the fight for communism that the working class can achieve that.
This is the message we need to bring to our co-workers, students, and the families, and to the next public hearing. Our school staff will be meeting this week to make plans for the next hearing. Join PLP and fight for a real working-class education!

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