Monthly Archives: August 2008

U.S.-RUSSIA FIGHT SHARPENS . . .OIL FUELS GEORGIA WAR

Russian and U.S.-backed Georgian forces have killed thousands of civilians as they battle for oil routes and political dominance in the republic of Georgia that was part of the southern region of the former Soviet Union. (Georgia broke away from Russia after 1991.) Fighting began on August 8 when Georgia launched an offensive to regain control of the South Ossetia region from pro-Russian separatists. Moscow responded by sending in troops and tanks and shelling cities.

“War started today,” Russian premier Putin boasted to George Bush at the Beijing Olympics (Bloomberg, 8/08/08). Bush, leader of “the world’s sole superpower,” could only mutter feebly about “supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity.” A day later, 4,000 Russian troops landed in Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian province. Russia’s Black Sea fleet steamed to the Georgian coast threatening a blockade.

RUSSIA COULD GRAB MAJOR U.S.  PIPELINE

Putin’s moves in Georgia endanger the centerpiece of U.S. rulers’ efforts to counter Russia’s expanding energy-based imperialism. The new U.S.- and British-financed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, one of the world’s largest, runs through Georgia, skirting South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Opened in 2006, operated by British Petroleum, and owned partly by Chevron, it carries more than one million barrels of Caspian crude per day to Western Europe and the U.S. through the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterrean (see map).
Strategists in the Clinton administration chose the BTC route in order to bypass Russia and Iran. Its Ceyhan terminus sits conveniently close to the U.S. Air Force’s vast base at Incirlik, Turkey. But the U.S. has nevertheless proven supremely incapable of protecting its BTC lifeline. Russian troops reportedly fired on it in Georgia. And Kurdish rebels in Turkey had shut it down temporarily a week before by setting it on fire.

GEORGIA’S EMBATTLED PRESIDENT TOOL OF LIBERAL U.S. BOSSES

The fighting in Georgia is one for control of the world’s energy resources. U.S. rulers’ struggle to control Georgia is aimed at preventing their Russian rivals from replacing the U.S. as the world’s main energy controller. But oil and gas are only part — though a very big part — of an even larger conflict between U.S. and Russian rulers over political and military control of the former Soviet nations now outside Russia.
Expanding NATO throughout the former Soviet bloc and installing a shield of nuclear missiles there, aimed at Russia as well as at Iran, are vital U.S. goals. But ever since they boosted the anti-Soviet “Solidarity” movement in Poland in the 1980s, U.S. rulers, lacking a military home field advantage, have focused on buying elections in the region.

Billionaire swindler and Rockefeller ally George Soros has led the charge, bankrolling anti-Russian, pro-U.S. “color revolutions” in the old Soviet sphere. Its aim was to oust pro-Russian governments in Georgia (its banner was Rose) and in the Ukraine (Orange). Soros helped engineer Mikhail Saakashvili’s 2003 defeat of Georgian president and ex-Soviet Politburo member Eduard Shevardnadze. “It’s generally accepted public opinion here that Mr. Soros is the person who planned Shevardnadze’s overthrow,” the Toronto Globe and Mail said at the time (11/26/03). The Kremlin responded to these U.S. “victories” by curtailing gas supplies to Ukraine and Georgia, which hastened the present crisis.

The U.S. liberal establishment molded Saakashvili. He graduated from Columbia Law School and practiced at the prestigious Wall Street firm Patterson Belknap, which counts the Rockefeller Foundation as a top client. Soros personally presented Saakashvili with his Open Society Award. Consequently, Georgia under Saakashvili proved a staunch U.S. ally, until the Russian onslaught. Georgia just recalled 1,000 troops it had aiding the U.S. in Iraq back to its new home fronts.

NEXT PRESIDENT WILL HAVE TO RESTORE DRAFT

U.S. rulers understand that two-bit proxies like Georgia can’t ultimately prevail in global conflicts with rising powers like Russia (or China). And with the shortcomings of their present “volunteer” military — who enlisted mostly because of economic hardship — U.S. rulers won’t be able to intervene to protect their interests. Therefore, they will need a draft, which will likely begin in the form of a “National Service,” part of which will lead especially working-class youth into the military.

A May 5 report issued jointly by the liberal Brookings Institution and the Army War College concluded that the “impact of fighting long wars using an all-volunteer force needs to be looked at more closely.” Both Obama and McCain will restore a “National Service” draft because, if they don’t, they will be as powerless against emerging imperialist rivals as is Bush.

Desperate for wider wars, U.S. rulers bombard the youth they will soon draft with dead-end, pro-capitalist patriotism. Russian bosses use Nazi-like nationalism, while Georgian misleaders count on meaningless racism and“ethnicity.” It’s all a trap. The only way out of the profit system’s endless wars is a mass communist-led revolution of the working class. This is Progressive Labor Party’s goal.

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LA Summer Project Builds Communist Leadership for Future

Over 100 international workers, soldiers and students participated in our Summer Project here with the goal of strengthening our organizing efforts amongst industrial workers and soldiers. We have distributed over 8,000 CHALLENGES and over 15,000 leaflets in the past three weeks at factories, transit divisions, hospitals, schools and military bases. Our communist message was enthusiastically welcomed and over 50 people gave us their contact information to get involved.

The Project specifically focused on the opportunity that exists to organize workers in the concentration of subcontracted aerospace shops found in southern California. These non-union, mainly immigrant, workers play an important role in war production and for this reason must play an important role in the long-term struggle for workers’ state power. Industrial workers and soldiers are central both to capitalism and to the fight to destroy it and build communism, workers’ rule.

Summer Project volunteers met workers from a garment shop where the Party has maintained ties for many years. We asked about the conditions in the factory. The workers questioned the volunteers about the kinds of class struggle they organized back home in the places where they worked. The workers eagerly provided specific details about conditions in the plant including a recent work stoppage on the factory floor. The years of friendship, and the distribution of CHALLENGE, with these workers laid the basis for this vigorous discussion.

As a result a communist leaflet was produced and passed out at the factory. As the volunteers distributed the literature an angry boss came out to snatch it from us. One taller worker, who just received literature, held his CHALLENGE and leaflet high so his boss could not grab them. This young leader inspired us all to distribute more literature. In learning from the working class we are also having a concrete effect on our class brothers and sisters by influencing the class struggle, on a modest but significant level, with communist politics.

Another key aspect of the Project was to start building the worker-student-soldier alliance. At LA colleges and high schools we passed out a leaflet that linked police brutality to the nature of capitalist exploitation in the factories. At one high school, a parent approached and asked what we were distributing. The comrade gave the parent a leaflet and a CHALLENGE. They discussed the problems of elections, then the police, and how they are systematically used to terrorize black and Latino youth. The parent was enthusiastic about our presence and encouraged us to return. At the same high school, a student who got the paper then asked for five more to distribute to his friends and gave us his contact information.

<h2>Students Discuss Communist Revolution with U.S. Marines</h2>

Our visit to a Marine base in California was preceded by political discussion within the Project about the true nature of the lives of soldiers in the bosses’ military. More experienced comrades shared their experiences in working on military bases in order for the younger comrades to feel confident when distributing CHALLENGE to soldiers and marines. Engaging marines in conversations about the role they can play in turning the guns around on the capitalist system, not workers of other nations, and fighting for working-class power instead of imperialism, was a valuable learning experience.

Project volunteers found that many marines do not agree with the U.S. imperialist agenda in the Middle East. The majority of these young marines come from the working class and joined the Marine Corps because they needed a job. Despite the bosses’ intense ideological effort throughout their military training to win these working-class youth to racist, fascist ideas, many soldiers we met were not only open but eager to discuss communist revolution. Five of them gave us their contact information and want to keep in touch. Many thanked us for being there. One young marine came to have lunch with us. We got a better response to CHALLENGE and to GI Notes than we’ve gotten here before. The response shows that we need to do this much more often.

<h2>Investing in a Communist Future</h2>

Young comrades provided communist leadership in all aspects of this Summer Project. Bridging language barriers, students and workers discussed that students come from the working class and unity between students and workers is important to building the communist movement. A group of new comrades described their participation in a community organization that focuses on education. Collectively we discussed the contradiction between reform and revolution and how they can fight to strengthen the revolutionary communist side of that contradiction in the community organization.

The Summer Project has shown the potential and openness of workers to communist politics in the face of the bosses’ proclaiming it dead. Whether Obama or McCain is elected the intensifying rivalry between imperialists and widening wars means more attacks on workers in the form of an increase of police terror and exploitation at the workplace. These sharpening conditions make workers, students, and soldiers open to talking about alternatives to capitalism. The Project inspired all who participated to return home committed to increase their own organizing of class struggle on the job. Our goal is to turn our Summer Project experiences into a lifetime commitment to serving our class.

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Veteran PL Farmworker’s Inspiring Stories of Battles in the Fields

LOS ANGELES, CA, August 9 –– After another day of CHALLENGE sales, house visits, and study groups, L.A. Summer Project volunteers took a trip through history when one of the main PL organizers of the migrant worker struggles, Epifanio Camacho, hosted a “carne asada” (BBQ). With the smell of collectively-prepared barbeque in the background and under a large shade tree, PLP volunteers squeezed into Camacho’s yard, many unsure of what to expect.

Camacho began speaking of the political work in Delano of organizing workers, comparing it to birds spreading seeds. In Delano, often workers from Mexico would learn communist politics and then return home where the lessons and politics they learned could one day bear fruit. This is one way that communism spreads around the world. Camacho fielded questions from PL youth and former Delano Project participants alike, opening up discussions that are still echoing through the Summer Project

Camacho spoke about his experiences working with Cesar Chavez, the misleader of the United Farm Workers Union. When asked if he thought Chavez, who would regularly turn workers over to immigration officers and make deals with bosses behind the workers backs, should be given a holiday, he instantly said, “Hell no!” He told stories of how Chavez went on a hunger strike to stop violence against scabs (the bosses canonized him in the media).  Later Camacho told how he and the workers of his town organized a demonstration against the fascist police who were terrorizing and killing workers. The militant demonstration was held in the police station were the workers threatened to burn the station down if they did not stop the fascist attacks. This action chased out the cops –– almost 20 years ago –– and they never came back. His stories were inspirational to everyone.

Just like the work in Delano sent seeds of communist thought through Mexico, so will the L.A. and Seattle Summer Project participants spread the lessons we’re learning and the excitement we’re building through CHALLENGE sales, study groups, and collective living across the country when we return to our home cities.J
(Camacho’s memoirs are on PLP.org)

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Aerospace Workers Need United Strike vs. Warmakers

WICHITA, KANSAS, Aug. 4 — Over 100 striking Machinists closed down the Hawker-Beechcraft plant here today with mass pickets. Earlier, 4,700 workers in IAM (International Association of Machinists) Local Lodge 733 (Wichita) and 500 in IAM Local Lodge 2328 (Salina, Ks.) voted 90% to reject the new contract and 89% to strike the same day — the first strike since 1984.

Everyone’s wondering how this relates to a possible strike early next month at Boeing because the issues are so similar. Even IAM International President Buffenbarger had to acknowledge the obvious: “It looks like workers are not going to take it anymore,” he admitted. The “rolling thunder” — the militant deafening banging every hour, on the hour — that has already started in the Boeing plants indicates he may have got it right.

Like Boeing, Hawker wants to separate new hires from veterans with cuts in earned time off, cuts in two job codes that will affect new hires and hidden costs in medical benefits for new hires. A veteran machinist Terri Holloway said: “If we don’t fight for the new people, they’re going to get the old people next.”

None of this should come as a surprise as Hawker was recently taken over — with the union’s blessing — by Onyx (in partnership with Wall Street Investment bankers Goldman Sacks). Onyx is the same outfit that grabbed Boeing’s Wichita plant and immediately cut wages.

To add insult to injury, Hawker leaked a secret plan to develop a final assembly plant in Chihuahua, Mexico. The threat (and fact) of moving more work to low-wage areas in the U.S. and Mexico has changed the face of aerospace. Narrow trade unionism has become a sick joke.

Aerospace is crucial to the bosses’ imperialist ambitions. As challenges to U.S. rulers’ dominance mount daily (witness Russia’s incursion into Georgia and China’s emergence during the Olympics), the bosses are determined to reindustrialize on our backs. War becomes the more likely option and we’re going to fund that war machine with our lives and livelihoods. In 2001, the Pentagon called for “competitive outsourcing” (Aerospace Daily, 2/3/2001). Now they want to build a “southern aerospace corridor” — taking advantage of low wages in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama caused by years of racist super-exploitation.

As expected the bosses’ servants in the union mis-leadership wave the American flag. We, on the other hand, wave the red flag of communist class-consciousness. Same enemy, same fight, workers of the world unite!

Angry Homecare Workers Must Sack Union Hacks, Bosses’ Politicians

NEW YORK, NY, Aug. 7th –– Eleven thousand members of Local 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Workers East attended a rally at Madison Square Garden to support 30,000 homecare worker members in their struggle for upgrading pay and against the growing threat to their medical benefits. Their contract expires December 31. As PL’ers distributed all the CHALLENGES newspapers we had to eager and angry workers, it was clear that the workers were ready to fight.

The reasons for their anger were clear. Many of the agencies that employ them are run for profit. They typically skim off half of their state- and city-funded budgets for “administrative expenses.” The average homecare worker, almost exclusively minority and immigrant women, gets about $8/hour while providing lifesaving services. (As CHALLENGE has pointed out before, these workers receive no extra pay for overtime hours and less than their hourly pay when they stay overnight.)

The system under which tens of thousands of the elderly and infirm are cared for in this city makes it clear why we must smash capitalism. The bosses’ system places little value on the lives of those who no longer produce profits for them and therefore spends as little as possible on their care.

Homecare workers have suffered racist exploitation from their bosses and less than full support from the SEIU 1199 leadership. The union leaders refuse to unify them and prepare for a massive strike. On the contrary, this rally was dominated by speech after speech from politicians like Governor Patterson who is planning a $1 billion cut in the state budget. Also featured were Senator Schumer and Congressman Weiner who are busy urging war on Iran. Each of these politicians promote cutting workers’ living standards to pay for U.S. imperialism’s economic and war needs. SEIU leaders are lulling healthcare workers into believing we have no power other than in our union’s political endorsements. In the face of capitalism’s growing economic crisis and war in the oil-rich Middle East and Caspian regions, this is deadly poison for the working class.

Progressive Labor Party and its paper, CHALLENGE, must organize the working class to make a communist revolution. How do we get there? By stepping up the struggle with bosses every day, not allying with them, by getting involved in the daily problems faced by our friends and co-workers, by reading and circulating CHALLENGE participating in discussion groups, and joining the PLP to make egalitarian communism the main issue of the day!

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From California to Seattle: Volunteers Help Connect Boeing Workers

LOS ANGELES — “I have the paper,” said a Boeing worker as he drove from the parking lot, “but I just wanted to stop and thank you for being here.”

During shift change at this plant that builds military planes, students and teachers from the PLP Summer Project here distributed 120 copies of CHALLENGE and 500 leaflets, a reprint of the CHALLENGE article, “Bosses’ Imperialist Dogfight Sets Stage for Boeing Contract Fight.”

Men and women, younger and older, black, Latin, Asian and white workers took the literature. They were especially interested in the article since it was written by Boeing workers in Seattle.

Another worker exited his car to tell us that the bosses in his section had called a meeting earlier today “to get out misinformation about the contract fight.”  He thought they were trying to use SoCal Boeing workers as pawns to pressure Boeing workers “up north” to settle on the bosses’ terms.

One guy took a bunch of leaflets to distribute in the plant — “I’m on the inside!” he said.  Later he came out to say, “I’ve hooked you up!”

A Summer Project volunteer introduced CHALLENGE to another worker as “a communist paper” and he took it eagerly. This led to a long conversation about racism, exploitation and fighting back.  The volunteer then asked, “Do you have a friend who thinks like you do, who might also like a paper?” When the worker said he had, the volunteer asked, “How many friends like that do you have?”  The worker took five papers and gave her contact information to stay in touch with the Party.

Conversations were difficult because many workers were in cars and also because — as one volunteer noted — “these people looked more tired than anyone I’ve ever seen come out of work.” Almost nobody was hostile or even unfriendly. A student leafleting for the first time at such a plant, felt it was “good practice” but also said a discussion of the leaflet before-hand would have better prepared us for conversations.

This was a modest, very inspiring example of how PLP can unite workers around our newspaper and our Party.  Through the leaflet and the work of the Summer Project, SoCal Boeing workers now have a connection to Boeing workers in Seattle.

We’ll try to strengthen this connection by continuing to come to Boeing, following up our contacts, making more contacts and building ties with the anti-capitalist workers who are reading our literature.  We’ll try to win some to join PLP and build it “on the inside.”

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Attack Hacks’ ‘Anti-War’ Hypocrisy at AFT Convention

CHICAGO, July 15 — A growing anti-war sentiment filled the ranks of the 3,000 delegates to the biennial American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Convention here. However, the union mis-leadership, which pretends to be “anti-war” and has backed anti-war resolutions, undermines any member attempts to organize against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, much less the capitalist system which causes them.

The AFT Executive Council presented a resolution to make the “spread of democracy and human rights in the world a major tenet of American foreign policy.” It urges the AFT to “increase funding for programs to assist pro-democracy organizations, political parties and workers organizations that are struggling in opposition to repressive regimes.”

A  delegate countered  that the U.S. has a sordid history of promoting U.S. corporate interests in the name of “democracy and human rights” while supporting repression of workers and student movements in countries allied to the U.S. A second delegate explained how the U.S. CIA had overthrown the Mossadegh government in Iran when it nationalized its oil, and in the 1980’s had encouraged and assisted Saddam Hussein to attack Iran resulting in a seven-year war where over one million died.

A major goal of outgoing AFT Pres. McElhenny and  incoming Pres. Weingarten is continuing to lead union members into the arms of the Democratic Party.

Hillary Clinton was an invited speaker and Barack Obama spoke later via a satellite hook-up. PLP’ers distributed hundreds of CHALLENGES and issued three Party leaflets.  We explained that both the Democrats and Republicans represented parties of capitalism and imperialist war.  Another leaflet analyzed the role of the public schools under capitalism and exposed the so-called  school reform plans that various sections of the ruling class are advocating.

Our literature was well-received by the delegates. We had many productive discussions with members of our delegations as well as with new contacts from other locals. These kinds of ties are important and we’ll make a serious plan to follow them up.

One of the convention’s bright spots was the development of the AFT Peace and Justice Caucus.  The Caucus broadened its discussions to include school-based issues as well as anti-war issues. In four programs  rank-and-filers gave presentations about the problems in their schools and the fight-backs over them. Anti-racist and internationalist sentiments were strongly expressed.

The Caucus has good potential but contains major contradictions.  At organizational meetings some felt the AFT leadership can be “worked with” and even “pushed to the left” by progressive rank-and-file forces.  But opponents of that view, including PLP’ers, see AFT “leaders” like Weingarten as firmly in the bosses’ camp. These “leaders” are staunch anti-communists and supporters of U.S. imperialism. In fact, in her inaugural address Weingarten said that sometimes when she doesn’t know what to do, she thinks, “What would Al say,” referring to Albert Shanker, former long-time president of the UFT and AFT.

PLP’ers remember well Shanker’s support of the U.S. rulers’ imperialist invasion of Vietnam and his organizing racist boycotts against parent involvement in NYC public schools.
(Next issue: From Shanker to Weingarten — Supporting U.S. imperialism.)

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In Opposing Imperialist War:GI’s Must Fight Racism, Sexism

In late August, Veterans for Peace (VFP) and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will have their national conventions with military families participating. These groups’ leaders put their hopes on politicians to end the war in Iraq. But all politicians represent the interests of capitalism — profit wars, racism, and sexism. The Progressive Labor Party is organizing to fight the ruler’s agenda, not with false hopes of change from elections, but by building an international communist movement to smash imperialism and its racist, sexist warmakers.

While some activists honestly feel fighting racism is a distraction to the goal of ending the war, anti-racist unity helped anti-war troops contribute to the collapse of U.S. ground forces in Vietnam. A majority of Vietnam-era GI rebellions centered on fighting the racism against black and Latin soldiers along with fighting against the war. Fighting the military’s anti-Asian racism was also vital to building solidarity with “the enemy” which led to US troops fragging — killing — gung ho patriotic officers, rather than killing and dying for U.S. imperialism.

Today, fighting racism is still crucial to fighting imperialism.  Limiting the argument to the Iraqi War being bad because U.S. troops are being killed supports U.S. rulers’ racist agenda of having troops see Asian, Arab, and Muslim workers as subhuman. The wars, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, are wrong because they’re killing our class brothers and sisters, not just U.S. troops. Liberal “anti-war” politicians, like the 13 congressional democrats who wrote a support statement to anti-Iraq war troops, condone the racist anti-Muslim lies and support the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Even though many in the U.S. military honestly believe in the ideas of national honor and pride in the US constitution, the history of US ruler’s racist terror — from slavery and the Indian wars to recent police murders, raids against immigrant workers, and the murder of millions in Iraq and many thousands in Afghanistan—contradicts these “patriotic” ideals and proves they are a lie. But instead of winning and developing anti-racist activists through education and action, some IVAW leaders want to appeal to a patriotism that makes unity with the ruler’s politicians more important than unity with workers worldwide.

Many anti-racists aren’t duped.  Black youth are resisting enlistment and black troops are opting for support jobs in part because of the memory of Vietnam-era racism, which led to disproportionate higher casualties among black and Latin soldiers.

Within IVAW, members have raised and led fights against the racist nature of imperialism. But some IVAW leaders say they don’t want to alienate “middle America” by talking about racism.  The leadership dropped a planned panel on “racism within the military” during the group’s Winter Soldier testimonies. IVAW’s active membership, like other military peace groups, remains mostly white. This poses no problems, however, if you want to capture the spotlight of the racist media and reach racist politicians, instead of building a multi-racial movement to fight imperialism.

Like racism, sexism aids imperialism. Capitalists win male troops to kill and die for profits using a sexist macho warrior role. The U.S. military’s tolerance of sexism within the ranks leads male troops to direct anger and lack of control over deployments into seeing female troops as “walking mattresses” or sexually attacking fellow troops instead of the bosses. Sexism within IVAW led, in part, to the formation of the Service Women’s Action Network, a liberal feminist veterans organization. Uniting working-class men and women to fight sexism is among PLP goals.

The unity of multi-racial male and female working-class troops against the military’s racism and sexism will lead to a stronger movement that can land a powerful blow to imperialism and recruit to PLP.

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All Workers Must Oppose Anti-Immigrant Racism

NEWARK, NJ, August 3 — A multi-racial and international group of 32 people met here today to discuss the fight against anti-immigrant racism. The unity of black and white citizens and immigrant workers (from Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador) is the best way to confront this growing form of racism which affects the entire working class.

An immigrant described the police harassment of day laborers waiting for jobs in an area of Orange, NJ, as “muy malo” (very bad). Elsewhere in New Jersey, homes have been raided and immigrants dropping off their children at school have been issued multiple traffic tickets up to $5,000! This summer two town councils proposed that landlords rent only to people with documentation.

One town, Bound Brook, has since dropped the resolution. The other, Middletown, has tabled it. But with hundreds arrested at factories lately and the racist murder of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA, by six white youth, we felt the urgency to meet and decide on action.

We noted that criminal bosses aren’t arrested for paying dirt wages and physically abusing workers. Because capitalism is based on exploitation of workers, this kind of racist super-exploitation is “legal.” The racist media tries to divide us by blaming the victims — undocumented immigrants — for the bosses’ attacks through the subprime crisis, mass wage and service cuts, and endless wars. Immigrants have historically been the targets of this ruling-class strategy. One woman recalled that her Italian father, who had no documents, suffered similar racist attacks.

In the early stage of the bosses’ “War on Terror” in Dec. 2001, when Middletown teachers struck, the media labeled them “the enemy of children and parents” because “educators’ benefits must be sacrificed” for the bosses’ war efforts; 228 strikers were arrested.

A woman speaker asked us to picture a world without borders based on a society without social inequalities: communism. During the discussion, one man reading CHALLENGE commented, “This paper is very important.”

A social worker from a family-help center said we need to reach out to communities. Members from three churches spoke, too. One Unitarian related what she learned at her June General Assembly: that Boston and Connecticut churches have e-mail chains ready to respond to attacks.

If the tabled anti-immigrant proposal isn’t rejected in Middletown, we plan to go door

PL Youths’ Red Ideas Greeted At International Festival

ATHENS, GREECE, July 30 — Seven PLP youth representing our international party participated in the  Resistance 2008 Festival, a worldwide gathering of thousands of young students and workers, hosted by the fake leftist Communist Organization of Greece (KOE). Our young comrades gained much experience in fighting for PL’s revolutionary communist politics internationally — helping develop new political leadership for PLP. We also fulfilled our aim of making many contacts among workers locally and from elsewhere, all seriously interested in our Party. These comrades come from different areas and work backgrounds. Some have been in PLP for a long time while others joined the Party within the last few years.

We distributed hundreds of CHALLENGES and several thousand special supplements, as well as hundreds of PLP’s document “Road to Revolution 4” and recent issues of the Communist Magazine. While there were many fake leftist groups present, most of the participants were young Greek students and workers. While unable to speak Greek, we managed to advance our ideas among many of them.

We hit the ground running to spread our ideas. Our tables displaying all our literature and banners was one of the most popular. We worked nonstop talking to new people and always had a group of people hanging out and chatting!

We fought for international working-class unity against nationalism, explaining that nationalism builds false loyalties to capitalists instead of being loyal to the working class across all borders. It is another tool, like racism, to divide the world’s workers. We were also the only group to advocate the dictatorship of the proletariat. This put us at odds with the festival, which supported the Maoists in Nepal and their leader “Prachanda” who is fighting for unity with local capitalists. Almost everyone we spoke with was interested in our ideas, even if they disagreed.

At our scheduled panel discussion on the final day, the seats were full; chairs were added three times for the overflow audience. After a KOE member spent 20 minutes criticizing our ideas on nationalism, a comrade drew applause with a powerful response  that used the history of what nationalism produced in Africa and elsewhere, saying Nepal is currently following that path. We also explained why we fight directly for communism since socialism retained too many remnants of capitalism (like the wage system) and led to the return of open capitalism in the former Soviet bloc and China.

We adapted to the fact that most people didn’t speak English and that parts of the festival were dedicated to non-political events like rock concerts. So each night we distributed our literature to the concert-goers. At one point, the hundreds gathered were all reading CHALLENGE, not even paying attention to the band!
We were also fortunate in meeting a young Greek airport worker moments after landing. She took a day off to accompany us to the festival, translated our literature and banners into Greek and helped explain our ideas to those Greeks who didn’t speak English. She is very supportive of the Party and is being struggled with to join us and help build PLP in Greece.

Racism was much more prevalent in Greece and Western Europe than we expected. Our nonwhite comrades were constantly ID’d while whites weren’t. One comrade was ID’d three times by three different cops within about three minutes, while they searched for “illegal” immigrants. On the trains the police challenged the comrade’s passport for “authenticity.”

In one southern Italian city, swastikas and Nazi propaganda were plastered all over the walls. In Paris, we encountered and supported a strike of immigrant workers who were demonstrating right across from the Champs-Elysees, the main tourist drag. We tried speaking for a while in our broken French and bought them all lunch.

Our trip has built confidence in ourselves and in each other, trusting the collective and carrying out decisions in a disciplined way (both personally and politically) as well for each comrade to make decisions consistent with our goals when they were on their own and under various pressures. We internationalized our perspective of the working class. Almost all of us made separate groups of friends with whom we plan to stay in touch and collectively recruit to the Party

While the U.S. ruling class is making long-term investments in Obama and building new weapons of war, we made a long-term investment in our movement, by solidifying young comrades and laying the groundwork for the growth of PLP.

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