Monthly Archives: January 2008

Africa, Part II: Imperialists’ Profits Behind 5.4 Million Congo Deaths

“The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation.” (Karl Marx: “Capital,” Volume One, Chapter 31; Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist)

For over a century and a half the Congo has been ravaged by this bloody accumulation of capital. Belgium’s King Leopold became one of the world’s richest men by turning the Congo into his private fiefdom, murdering 10-15 million. The imperialists and local capitalists who took over after Congo’s independence from Belgium in 1960 have continued this genocide. Now a “peace deal” was signed to settle the fighting in the eastern Congo which has created 400,000 new refugees. (See CHALLENGE, 1/30) But since the causes of the conflict have not really changed, little can be expected from this latest truce.

According to the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) latest report, (Reuters, 1/22), 5.4 millions people have been killed in the Congo since the war began in the region in 1998, causing more deaths than any other conflict since World War II. “Congo’s loss is equivalent to the entire population of Denmark or the state of Colorado perishing within a decade,” stated IRC president George Rupp.

The shootings between the warring factions have not been the main cause of these deaths. Malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition, aggravated by the war, were the Congo’s top killers, said the survey. “Most of the deaths are due to easily treatable and preventable diseases through the collapse of health systems and the disruption of livelihoods,” said IRC director of global health programs Richard Brennan, one of the survey’s authors. Congo has the lowest spending on health care of any country in the world, averaging just $15 per person annually.

The latest fighting before the January 22 truce came after Congo President Kabila met Condoleezza Rice in Ethiopia in September 2007. Rice also secured the support of the rulers of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. In November, Kabila was flown to Washington in the private plane of an Israeli mining magnate with interests in the Congo, to meet Bush. Then, with U.N. support, Kabila sent a large military force to fight rebel general Nkunda. But it was a disaster. The Congolese army was routed, forcing the government and its militia allies to reach a truce with the rebel forces.

The current fighting is labeled a “tribal conflict” between Tutsis and Hutus (continuing the one that led to the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi in the 1990s), but capitalist and imperialist thirst for profits are the real causes. General Nkunda is backed by Tutsi bosses and the Rwandan government who seek to control the mineral wealth of the Eastern Congo.

U.S., Canadian and European companies have monopolized the exploitation of diamonds, cobalt, gold, coltan and other mineral wealth in the region. They use local militias and bosses as subcontractors who impose slave-like conditions on those working in the mines. But now, China, India, Spain and even Russia are entering the operation, which is why the U.S. and European bosses want to ensure their lackeys are in control.

Huge oil deposits have been discovered in Lake Alberta, on the border between the Congo and Uganda. British Heritage Oil is now involved (its CEO has links to British military companies like Executive Outcomes and Sandline). Chinese and Spanish oil companies are now interested in exploring for oil there.

Besides Washington and Europe, Kabila is also being courted by China, which is giving his government $8 billion for infrastructure projects and mining operations. This will lead to Chinese companies’ control of several important copper and cobalt mines.
(Future articles: how imperialist and local bosses reap huge profits from gold and other resources while African workers starve and die.)

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Striking Writers Undercut By Scabbing, Bosses’ Culture

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29—The strike by film and TV writers which began on Nov.5 is being pressured more and more to reach a deal favorable to the mega corporations that own the mass media. The West Coast leadership of the WGA (Writers Guild) agreed not to picket the Grammy Awards Show. It also entered into “informal” talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), while announcing it was dropping demands for jurisdiction over animation and reality shows.
The deal last week by Directors Guild (DGA) and the studios and networks — which doesn’t challenge the right of the media bosses to monopolize the profits from the internet and and other new media sent a strong message to the WGA to reach a similar sellout deal. This might also force the Screen Actors Guild to follow that pattern when their contract expires in the summer.
The WGA strike reflects the current dismal situation faced by many people who consider themselves part of the “middle class.” The WGA members, who in general write horrible mindless stuff used by the media bosses to indoctrinate workers and youth with racist, sexist, pro-cop, anti-working class, pro-war and anti-communist ideology, consider themselves above the working class. But in this day and age of capitalist economic meltdown, sharper inter-imperialist rivalry leading to more and more wars, the bosses can’t afford to bribe all those who serve them. In a way these writers are victims of the same crap they produce: they don’t think about seeking the solidarity of production workers in the studios (truck drivers, cleaning staff, technical staff, etc.). A strike by those workers would up the ante and could really shut down the studios — and would stop the scabbing by millionaires like Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, and Ellen Degeneres (all members of the WGA).
Workers and youth should support the struggle of these writers (many of whom are not well-paid) because they are fighting the same bosses — Sony, Disney, Viacom, General, Rupert Murdoch, etc.— who have made our lives even more miserable. But, we also must sharpen the ideological struggle against the crap these writers produce.

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Puerto Rico Teachers Defy Strike Ban

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, January 29 — Over 500 teachers picketed the Caguas region of the Department of Education as more than 25,000 members of the Puerto Rican Federation of Teachers (FMPR) prepared to strike February 1 for higher wages, better working and school conditions and against the strike-breaking Law 45, which calls for firing of public workers who strike. The teachers are also fighting the bosses’ media and union hacks affiliated with the AFL-CIO who actually support Law 45 containing the strike-breaking clause. The government decertified the FMPR for violating this anti-strike law.
These militant teachers deserve the support of all teachers in the U.S. and internationally. It is a particularly important struggle for public workers in the U.S. who face the same kind of union-busting law.

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Good Riddance to an Anti-Communist Mass Murderer

Suharto, Indonesia’s former military dictator, finally kicked the bucket after a long illness. Unfortunately, he died in bed and not at the hands of the working class, to whom he brought so much suffering.

Suharto was the leader of the 1965 military coup that ousted the nationalist regime of Sukarno. “Throughout the country, members, supporters and suspected sympathisers of the Parti Kommunist Indonesia [PKI] were massacred; it was estimated that up to one million were killed, while many more were imprisoned or detained without trial.” (The London Independent, 1/28) It was one of the bloodiest massacres in recent history, and the CIA helped the death squads all the way, supplying them with the names of communists and sympathizers.

More than a decade later, the Suharto regime committed more mass murder, this time against 200,000 in East Timor, which was occupied by Indonesia after it had became independent from Portugal. The Indonesian army also massacred many thousands in West Papua and oil-rich Aceh (where Exxon-Mobil has huge investments).

Suharto served in the Dutch colonial army (Indonesia had been a Dutch colony). Then, during World War II, he won promotion in the puppet army controlled by the Japanese fascists. After the war, he joined the anti-Dutch struggle until Indonesia became independent in 1950.

His regime lasted from 1965 until May 1998, when, after a mass rebellion, Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of State, suggested he step down to avoid more turmoil.

Corruption was rampant in his regime. It’s estimated that his family and cronies stole anywhere up to $35 billion, using their control of state power. But justice wasn’t served and Suharto was able to live out a quiet life within his fortified villa. The new rulers refused to try him or his crooked sons for corruption.

Indonesia’s communist movement was one of the world’s biggest. The PKI was a mass-based party, but it made a fatal error: it tried to unite with Sukarno who they saw as the “progressive bourgeoisie,” actually joining his government — only to be massacred when Suharto seized power in 1965, leaving Sukarno in a figurehead role. The PKI had no strategy for a real revolutionary struggle to smash capitalism and imperialism. Its ill-fated faith in “lesser-evil” capitalists was paid in blood.

The communist movement in Indonesia has not recovered from that mistake. This led to Suharto and his cronies never paying for their crimes against the working class. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.

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Economic Collapse Burying Workers; Will Spark Wider Wars

The global economic collapse is crushing workers even more. The UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) predicted that the subprime crisis and rising oil prices will increase world unemployment by five million (Agence France Press, 1/23) over and above the already 189.9 million now jobless. That forecast was reached before the current turbulences in the world’s financial markets. “We still don’t know the impact of the stock market crisis on the employment figures,” explained ILO chief José Salazar-Xirinchs.
Trenton, NJ Mayor Douglas Palmer, president of the U.S. Mayor’s Conference, told 250 mayors meeting in Washington that the subprime crisis is “an economic tsunami…hitting our cities.” A recent Conference study said home values would drop by $1.2 trillion this year.

The mayors are asking for immediate federal help, but — even though some cities are suing banks and speculators who caused the subprime mess — their main response has been to cut social services even more nation-wide. Sacramento city officials have responded to a $55 million projected budget shortfall for next year by ordering an immediate hiring freeze and ending some discretionary spending. In Virginia, Fairfax County — facing a $220 million deficit for the coming fiscal year — is considering cuts to school districts. On January 24th, billionaire New York City Mayor Bloomberg announced an across-the-board 5% cut for all city departments, for a total slash of $1.5 billion in two years, including a $505 million dollar reduction in schools.

The effects of the current economic crisis are also hitting countries closely linked to U.S. imperialism. During the current world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, the governor of Mexico’s Central Bank reported that his country’s economy will be hit badly — 40% of Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product depends on trade with the  U.S. Already, Mexico is predicting a slowdown in growth for 2008. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrant workers in the U.S. are losing their jobs because of the subprime crisis (many work in construction) and general economic collapse, reducing their remittances to relatives back in Mexico.

This racist aspect of the subprime crisis is affecting Britain and Spain. Immigrant workers involved in construction there are losing their jobs.

International financier George Soros is not bullish about this crisis. He told the Davos economic forum that there is a profound difference in the current crisis, marking the end of an era of credit expansion based on the dollar as the international reserve currency. He called it the worst economic crisis since World War II. The hope that the rising economies of China and India will help ease the situation is being dashed since they depend on exporting to the U.S. and European markets, hard-hit by the current crisis. For example, incomes for workers in the U.S. have not risen in real terms for three decades because of downsizing, racist wage-cuts and the lack of mass fight-back by the union movement. The subprime crisis has put working-class homeowners — who borrowed money based on the rising values of their homes — in a hole, decreasing consumer spending. Less consumption and a falling U.S. dollar might spur China and other countries, who have lent the U.S. trillions by buying Treasury bonds, to cash in their investments, sinking the U.S. economy even more.

Soros is worried that resulting political tensions, including U.S. protectionism, may disrupt the global economy and plunge the world into recession or worse.

That “worse” could turn economic conflicts into a shooting war among the world’s imperialists for a bigger share of the capitalist pie. The subprime and credit-crunch crises are just symptoms of a capitalist system based on speculation, endless imperialist wars and racist-fascist attacks against the international working class. None of the tricks the bosses used in recent decades have worked, including Thatcherism, Reagan’s “trickle-down voodoo economy,” Clinton’s “new economy” or Bush’s tax cuts. U.S., British and other capitalists’ turning away from production has created an even more parasitic capitalist class, still more dependent on financial speculation and increasing fraud, without creating real value. Each new scheme — dot.com, subprime mortgages, etc. — created bigger bubbles, dragging the world economy down.

But capitalism won’t fall by itself. Since its birth the profit system has been based on boom-and-bust cycles, accompanied by massive wars, recessions and depressions. The anarchistic capitalist production system will continue as long as we workers let them make us pay with our blood for their profits. Previous wars and crises led to workers’ revolutions: the Paris Commune, the Bolshevik and Chinese revolutions. As the international working class prepares for May Day 2008, we in the Progressive Labor Party must step up our efforts to win workers, youth and soldiers worldwide to see that the only way out of this capitalist hell is building a massive revolutionary communist movement to bury the bosses once and for all.

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The Demon Is Capitalism

A Demon of Our Design: Markets, Hedge Funds and the Perils of FInancial Innovation
By Richard Bookstaber
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007

“Complexity cloaks chaos” concludes Richard Bookstaber in A Demon of Our Own Design. He draws on insider knowledge of recent Wall Street debacles to paint a future of bigger, more frequent financial collapses. The need to reinvigorate value-producing manufacturing becomes more severe with each crash: the attacks on the working class sharper.

Historically, many empires have been undone by letting go of their domestic manufacture-based economies. A seventeenth-century Spaniard enthused: “Let London manufacture… as long as our capital can enjoy them. …All the world serves [Madrid] and she serves nobody.” Eventually, London used its manufacturing to become the center of a new empire, while’s Spain’s empire declined.

Speculation: U.S. Imperialism’s Hidden Weakness

The financial sector now accounts for 31 percent of U. S. corporate profits — up from 20 percent in 1990 and 8 percent back in 1950. But, larger percentages of financial profits come from hedge fund speculation. New York Times business columnist Floyd Norris blames these financial “innovations” for spreading the housing-related credit market crisis.
On the other hand, China has a growing industrial economy allowing it to become an emerging imperialist competitor. Not long ago U.S. “experts” questioned China’s economic viability since Chinese banks carried too many non-performing loans. China Investment Corporation, the state-run investment fund, will spend two-thirds of its $200 billion shoring up these banks. Their percentage of “bad” loans has already dropped by half.
Chinese imperialists got this capital from exploiting workers in their vast, rapidly-expanding manufacturing sector. They can get away with it because capitalist leaders long ago hijacked the communist revolution. They’ve turned it into it’s opposite — another exploitive capitalist nightmare.

Spiral to Hell

Bookstaber gives a running account of financial “innovations” beginning in the 1980s. He explains the mathematics behind investment strategies that caused such infamous disasters as the 1987 crash and the demise of Long Term Capital Management. He worked with many of the players and admits to contributing to financial catastrophes.
He freely admits speculative “financial tools” help for only a few years. The investment community “invents” one speculative scheme after another trying to stay ahead of the inevitable payback. By now, the very design of financial markets insures a “liquidity spiral to hell.”

His solution is to reduce “tight coupling and complexity of financial transactions.” The financial markets shouldn’t use “every financial instrument that can be dreamt up.” Speculation shouldn’t rely on large sums of borrowed money. This “leverage” speeds up the spiral to catastrophe, spreading the danger to areas beyond the original investment. Bookstaber hopes “simpler financial instruments and less leverage will create a market that is more robust and survivable.”

He never asks why U.S. bosses turned to financial speculation in the first place. Industrial opportunities to extract surplus value and profit failed to keep pace with those of emerging imperialist competitors. U.S. financial titans were forced to speculate to keep up. Bookstaber’s solution is fanciful in this climate.

Workers Create All Value

The value of an automobile or airplane is greater than the sum of the parts that make it up. The amount of labor in production creates the increase in value. The boss can’t use this extra value until he sells the product. Marx called this part of the process exchange. Exchange itself doesn’t create any value.
As exchange becomes less connected to creation of value, it turns into speculation. One boss can make money at the expense of another, but no value is created in the exchange. That’s what increasingly opaque hedge funds are all about. Eventually the house of cards collapses if no extra value is created to back up these financial “tools.”

Ruling-class strategic thinkers have awakened to the danger and to the need to actually produce value. They are re-industrializing on the backs of low-paid immigrant and black labor, starting with expanding subcontractors.

Racist practices like this hurt all workers. The network of non-union subcontractors has grown to include low-paid sub-assembly and assembly factories. Conditions in traditional union plants — with older white and black workers — are being driven down to subcontractor levels. Even in union facilities, the new hires get paid half what veteran co-workers make. The bosses may not be able to stop speculation, but they can and will attack us.

Re-industrialization with low-paid domestic labor is only the beginning. The bosses hope to rein in emerging imperialist competitors like Russia and China through control of Mideast oil. The current wars are only a prelude to more bloody oil wars. Eventually, direct confrontation will be necessary, leading to world war.

Poverty, war, racism and economic crisis are the demons of the capitalist design. We need a new design that produces for the needs of our class, not the profits of the bosses — communism.

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Elections’ Primary Goal: WIN WORKERS TO WAR, RACISM, POLICE STATE

obama, hillary and their bossesThe Obama-Clinton battle in the Democratic Party primaries has spread the illusion that positive change results from voting to reform the profit system rather than from militant, revolutionary struggle to smash the bosses’ dictatorship. High voter turnouts for Barack Obama’s surprise victory in Iowa and Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire comeback signal a dangerous development for the working class.

Liberals push the myth that Obama and Clinton mark a decline in racism and an advance in women’s rights in the U.S. Obama is “fashioning a positive change in the very character of the nation,’’ gushed NY Times’ black columnist Bob Herbert. (1/12/08) A Times article the next day said, “Whoever wins the nomination….the victory will be a benchmark moment for the American promise of equality.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Obama and Clinton, in fact, will intensify the oppression of workers — male and female, black, Latin, Asian, Arab and white. Illinois Senator Obama didn’t lift a finger when thousands of mostly black workers were laid off in Chicago’s Cook County hospitals, simultaneously slashing healthcare for a mostly black and Latino patient population. And Clinton voted for war in Iraq and for the military “option” against Iran.

Both Democratic front-runners represent a U.S. capitalist class seriously challenged by rivals from Iran to China. In the coming period, U.S. bosses will need millions of troops to kill and die in their expanding racist wars. They need to transform a debt-ridden, declining economy into a wartime one by slashing workers’ living standards and creating a police state. Obama and Clinton are vying, not to promote equality, but to become the chief executor of the rulers’ deadly plans.

Obama Lures Youth to Fight and Die in Wider Wars

Contrary to Obama’s capitalist-fed worshippers at the Times, racism, the rulers’ main tool for splitting and weakening the working class, remains rampant in the U.S. By every measure and in every area — income, unemployment, education, housing, health, arrests, imprisonment, deportation — black and Latin workers suffer the most, and this super-exploitation worsens conditions for all workers, under every Democratic and Republican presidency. Obama’s role is to mask that reality with the falsehood of “equal opportunity.” He follows in the footsteps of ruling-class protégés Colin Powell and Condi Rice.

As Obama lures young people to the system, one job he can attempt for the rulers (win or lose) is to help reverse the 58% plunge in black military enlistment since 2000. “Man-of-the-people” Obama turns out to be a tool of the top U.S. imperialist financiers. He “has raised nearly $100 million in campaign contributions, nearly as much as the Hillary Clinton money machine. Three of his four largest groups of bankrollers are executives of Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and JPMorgan Chase.” (NY Daily News, 1/11/08)

Clinton Team Drips With Serbian, Iraqi Blood

“Pioneer” Clinton aims to be the first woman to lead U.S. imperialism in war. She has constantly lobbied in the Senate to increase the size of U.S. forces. Her campaign advisors include a host of war criminals from her husband’s administration — Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger and General Wesley Clark, who all helped orchestrate Clinton’s terror bombing of Serbia and softening-up of Iraq with missiles and starvation-inducing sanctions.

Opportunistically seizing on people’s disgust with the Bush regime, Obama and Clinton babble about “change.” But the change they have in mind is bad for workers. They want changes like those called for by the Clinton-appointed 1999 Hart-Rudman commission. It demanded a huge revamping of the state apparatus with vastly broadened police powers to put the nation on a war footing. It sought a government that could enforce the sacrifice of workers’ blood and bosses’ profits needed in global conflicts to preserve U.S. supremacy. Bush failed at this; Obama and Clinton hope to lead that effort.

Voting Never Solved Anything: Only Red Revolution Can

The best changes for workers in the last century — establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the Russian and Chinese revolutions of 1917 and 1949 — did not occur in a voting booth. They grew from class-based armed struggle in the streets after years and decades of painstaking organizing in workplaces, schools, neighborhoods and the army and navy. Our Party’s long-term goal is to repeat those true working-class triumphs while correcting the political errors that led to their reversal.

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Growing PLP Club in Spain Links Study and Action

SPAIN — “I didn’t know that an international party existed that was so concerned about the workers of the entire world,” said a friend, a student from France, when I showed her CHALLENGE-DESAFIO at a meeting of a club formed in one of the largest cities here. Our club began with a Turkish worker and myself, an immigrant worker from El Salvador. Now we’re more than ten workers of different nationalities. We’ve joined marches organized by the transit unions and other mass reform groups fighting for better transit city-wide.

We met to review international events. It became complicated because two workers from Ireland didn’t understand much Spanish, but a youth from Venezuela translated our discussion on dialectical materialism. One was very excited because he hadn’t understood before why — if the communist line was correct — the old Soviet Union failed. Then he read a CHALLENGE explaining some of the errors committed then. We all concluded that in order to establish a system in which we’re all equal, instead of fighting for socialism as a stage between capitalism and communism, we must fight directly for communism.

Our French friend was quite taken with the recent workers’ and youth mass protests back home. Then when we read CHALLENGE, she saw the title headline saying when workers unite, we can stop the whole capitalist machinery. She took several copies to continue sharing communist ideas with her fellow students in France.

We met a week later in an area “occupied” by squatters to celebrate a member’s birthday, which led to turning a bad thing into a good thing. While discussing the racist police repression here against immigrants and social groups in general, the cops knocked at the door. Someone had called them to report a group of “disorderly” squatters in the neighborhood.

The good thing: we organized everything in a way that seemed natural. Two people left to talk to the cops. One stayed to guard the doors to bar their entrance, and another pair organized the rest to make a plan. The police said we couldn’t meet here, to go elsewhere. So one group left for the park and the others (immigrants without “proper” papers) stayed. Then we got the police to leave.

Afterwards, we all returned and initiated a sharper discussion. We said we need to print more leaflets and try to organize struggles with revolutionary, not reform goals.

These friends of the Party are now excited because they understand communist ideas more clearly, including the significance of union struggles for reforms and the real struggle that all workers must carry out worldwide, the fight for a communist system, organized by the only international communist party, PLP. We must fight to build more CHALLENGE readers’ clubs everywhere.

An internationalist communist worker

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FORD STRIKE IN RUSSIA ENDS

The three-week strike at the Ford factory in Vsevolozhsk, located right outside St. Petersburg, ended on Dec. 14. Ford workers are among the lowest-paid factory workers in Europe, making between 16,000 and 25,000 rubles ($600-1,000) a month. This is comparable to auto factory wages paid in Latin America.

Ford used office workers to maintain one production shift, and toward the end of the strike managed to start a second. Nevertheless, the strike crippled production and exhausted the union’s strike fund. The police harassed the picketers and strike leaders were threatened with arrest.

Ford workers voted to go back to work after the bosses agreed to a wage increase. The union and the company agreed to settle all unresolved issues by Feb. 1. This was the longest strike in the post-Soviet era, the first under the new Labor Code and the first where strikers won a general amnesty against reprisals.

The workers failed to win their demands of a 30 percent wage increase, higher pensions and reducing the work day. But a strike leader, reflecting the fighting mood of the workers said, “I think [Ford] should agree to concessions. They would hardly want to see a new strike in the spring.”

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Lesson of Mack Ave. Wildcat: Scratch A Liberal, Find A Fascist

In December, Justin Ravitz died. He was the judge in 1974 who tried to jail the Chrysler workers who led the Mack Avenue Sit-Down strike. In August 1973, 350 workers seized the plant after a comrade was fired for his role in an anti-racist health and safety struggle, and reported to work the next day, refusing to leave.

Chrysler security was driven out of the plant, and the next day, the workers faced off against the Detroit police chanting, “FIGHT BACK! – FIGHT BACK!” It finally took 1,000 thugs organized by the UAW, just about everyone on the payroll and many KKK members, to violently retake the plant for the bosses. A white comrade and a black worker who gave crucial leadership to the action were arrested and each charged with two counts of felonious assault.

Ravitz had a reputation as an anti-racist lawyer and criminal court judge. He was involved in the legal dismantling of STRESS, a police undercover unit that murdered 20 people, 17 of them black, and fought to have more black people on juries. He called himself the only Marxist judge in the U.S., banned the American flag from his courtroom in protest of the Vietnam War, and refused to stand for the pledge when he was sworn in. But when it came to prosecuting PLP and communist-led workers, Ravitz was on the side of Chrysler, the UAW leadership and the Detroit police.

At the time, the bosses were still trying to retake control of the major cities, after the armed rebellions of the late 1960’s. Henry Ford and the New Detroit alliance of bosses, bankers and politicians were calling the shots in Detroit, pulling the strings of Coleman Young, a former Communist Party auto organizer and Detroit’s first black mayor, and a City Council of preachers and fake radicals.
PLP relied on auto workers and youth to wage a political defense around the city, exposing Ravitz and the bosses he served. Every notice posted inside the plant soliciting prosecution witnesses was torn down in minutes. Literature saturated numerous plants, Wayne State University, and unemployment and welfare offices, calling on workers and students to defend PLP, the Mack Sit-Down and exposing Ravitz, the UAW leaders, and the rest. Many supporters attended the trial, and many more gave money. The black worker who was arrested, a Vietnam vet, joined the Party on the very day he was called to testify.
Ultimately, the case was tossed out. There was a provision in the law at the time that the prosecution had to produce witnesses from a cross section of the population that witnessed the alleged crime. The Chrysler bosses, UAW and the Detroit police could not produce one Chrysler production worker to testify against the defendants. Not one. Case dismissed. Ravitz was beside himself, and scolded the cops and Chrysler bosses for failing to make their case.

A lot has happened since then, and today Detroit is a shell of what it was. Every anti-racist “reform” has given way to more and deeper racist oppression, from mass unemployment and poverty to crumbling schools and over-crowded jails. The infant mortality rate here is comparable to that of the poor countries in the Caribbean. This is the legacy of the reformers like Ravitz, who above all else were loyal to the profit system until the end. And we are better off for having fought them.

Mack Ave. Defender

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