LETTERS . . . June 19, 2024

08 June 2024 183 hits

Student campers hungry for communist revolution

The Rutgers Newark encampment still goes strong after 35 days - making it one of the longest in the United states. The week of memorial day, myself and some comrades from the NJ chapter  spent some time at RU observing, building, marshaling safety and offering delicious daily salads (got to make sure the comrades get their vitamins and minerals). Their very focused political effort is calling for the university to disclose, divest, and reinvest in the very community they occupy. Newark. Rutgers students, staff, and Newark residents and community members alike break bread, host teach-ins, make political art, and sleep side by side as they apply pressure for the university to divest from genocide. Witnessing and sharing in this political moment can not but help fill you up with hope on the fight against big bosses, imperialist wars and facism when you see the children play while community members hand out food while we gather at the people’s tent to have a community touch base. 

Lessons from this action are plentiful. A huge lesson after witnessing a few interpersonal  transgressions is how imperative it is to keep the politics sharp. A few tensions arose & it’s a reminder that when the politics are not consistently challenged, sharpened and/or struggled with- liberalism, liberal guilt, and cult of personality can exacerbate tensions within the community. In building this multiracial, class, struggle with both the housed and un-housed, collegiate educated and life educated, etc. there was a moment when the community became overwhelmed with liberal identity politics and guilt—anything distracting, disrupting the movement & politics must be dealt with no matter who is at the source. Propping up someone merely because of the identities they fall under is dangerous. Another lesson I observed first  hand was the tensions between reform and revolution. Though the committee leadership is doing a wonderful job in negotiations and keeping the camp running—it feels as if there is a disconnect in what feels like to me a very clear opportunity to base and build long term with the very community they are advocating for in negotiations. Beyond sharing space and speaking lessons at —but finding that the real power and longevity of this fight is with the people and not in trying to pursue leadership roles on committees or trying to tail behind the reformist and revisionist organized marches in NYC and DC. 

My last observation is more so thoughts on the human mind’s amazing ability to adapt and normalize. The camp has been a fixture for some weeks now — almost normal at this point to the surrounding community. Dog walkers, students with books, partygoers now pass by the encampment as if it’s business as usual. The blaring, deafening, unavoidable rally cries are now just another day in the neighborhood. I found this a missed opportunity for more daily militant engagement—whether it be a rallying outside RU leadership offices or passing out literature. 
PLP has an opportunity here to step and build with the amazing workers that congregated around this encampment. Myself and other comrades have shared sharp dialogues with the students and workers and it is clear that there is a hunger and thirst for revolution and the people are willing to disrupt and sacrifice their time and even put their livelihoods on the line for the fight against facism. 

Mohawk, badge of honor for the working class

On May 9, I attended a court hearing in which the defendant, Mohawk, a well-known Chicago artist, accepted a plea deal.  He had been at a George Floyd protest in 2020, when the kkkops attacked the demonstrators. He was accused of assault on a kkkop with a skateboard. He was on house arrest for almost two years, and now was facing eight felony counts.

Before the hearing, the prosecutor asked each person in court why they were there. Most answered that they were there to support Mohawk. The judge acknowledged the packed courtroom with supporters for the defendant and said he received 183 letters from his supporters. The state agreed to drop six of the eight felony counts, in view of the mass support and solidarity Mohawk had. 

The kkkop who said he was assaulted has eight complaints of excessive force against him. Apparently, he was in the process of beating demonstrators when Mohawk came to their defense. It’s the kkkops who should be prosecuted, but we all know under this system they are protected by the injustice system that victimizes workers of all colors, especially the most militant & courageous, like Mohawk. You wear a badge of honor for the working class!

Workers need dialectical materialism

This May Day reminded me that PLP (Progressive Labor Party) members are communist dialectical materialists, rather than Marxists, and that we need to use Dialectical Materialism, the science of change, to win workers and students to fight for communism. There are three laws of dialectical materialism, with categories embodying the concepts that express the essential connections and relationships in the world.

On Saturday, May 4, in Brooklyn, I marched on the 50th anniversary of my first PLP May Day march. As always, the march was inspiring, the chants loud and clear and on point, the discipline tight. I was heartened to see and talk to old comrades, one of whom I had first marched with in Washington in 1974. 

What impressed me most, however, was the final speech of the day, given by a young, Black PL’er, who used dialectical materialism to illuminate her path into the Progressive Labor Party. She spoke first of her family’s involvement in the struggle for Eritrean independence, which was finally achieved in 1993. This was a particular successful instance of a general struggle of former colonies in the twentieth century to achieve independence.   

The speaker then took us to the United States and her first encounter with the PLP through purchasing her first CHALLENGE. This proved to be an external stimulus that began to move her internally to the left. Wanting to learn more, the speaker sought out PLP comrades who struggled with her to recognize the appearance of success in Eritrea as opposed to the essence of failure for the masses there, now suffering under an extremely repressive regime.

As the quantity of her interactions with the Party increased, the internal struggle between the speaker’s nationalist upbringing and the Party’s line of communist internationalism intensified until a qualitative change occurred. The speaker moved from being a potential recruit to an actual Party member, and eventually a leader. 

The speech was about the particular experience of one person, but it was also an example of how in general workers and students are recruited to the Party. The speaker delivered the speech passionately and moved those who heard it, including myself. Just as importantly, the speaker stressed the particular lesson that she had learned, and that the Party is emphasizing generally to workers, students and our own members—nationalism may have at times a progressive appearance, but its essence is always poison to the working class.