For several days I’ve been immersed in the Los Angeles Summer Project, part of multi-racial teams rising early to distribute thousands of CHALLENGES and leaflets at aerospace plants, garment factories, bus barns, high schools and a trade school. The response has been terrific. We debrief daily on workers’ responses to our ideas and our conversations with them. Many contacts have been collected, and follow-up visits are held regularly.
I discussed with one young student at a trade school (which feeds into the aerospace industry) how communism would be completely different from the way things are set up under capitalism. Everyone would work out of commitment to the welfare of the working class, and people would receive according to need.
He asked what about someone who wouldn’t want to work. I said this wouldn’t be much of a problem. Most people want to contribute to society and get the good feeling from helping others (which has motivated about a million people to go to New Orleans as volunteers, helping with reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina). He said he would read CHALLENGE carefully.
This is one of many worthy experiences I’ve had in building the Party this week. Long live PLP and the fight for communism!
“What you are talking about, communism, I think it sounds good but do you really think it can happen, I mean what makes you think it’s possible?” asked a young white Marine after him and his partner were presented with a GI Notes military newsletter and a CHALLENGE.
“I’ll tell you what makes me think it’s possible,” responded one of the volunteers. “It’s because of the tremendous potential power that we have. You and military folks just like yourself run things, the brass and other top military officials don’t do shit. They can’t do anything without us. You are on the ground and you make things happen. Same thing in the factories, the workers run them and make all the production. This is where our tremendous power lies. Imagine soldiers and workers fighting together for a world in which we make revolution against the war-makers and the whole bosses’ system.
“This has happened in the past.There was a worldwide crisis of capitalism that eventually led to World War I. During this time period millions of soldiers rebelled, mutinied and organized resistance while workers struck, led mass protests and organized general fight-backs. With Lenin’s and other Bolsheviks’ communist leadership…in Russia a revolution took place and for the first time in history the working class was running things. The same took place in China, with Mao and other communist leaders during and after World War II.
We think that with the situation in Iraq and the growing imperialist rivalry going on with Russia, China and the U.S. could very well develop into a global conflict that will ultimately start a World War III. This is one more reason why individuals like yourself are very important because once we understand the tremendous power that soldiers and workers have we can once again challenge the world’s rulers and finish the job that these great revolutionaries started.
The young Marine had an intent look on his face and with CHALLENGE in his hand said, “Wow, I had never really thought about it that way, I really can see what you are saying, but I think that since we have been children we have been taught different ideas of things. I think it’s going to be very difficult,” he said.
“Difficult yes, but not impossible,” I responded. “Yeah, I agree,” he said. As we said goodbye, the Marine gave us his contact information and said, in an encouraging and heartfelt manner, “good luck, keep it up and I wish you the best.”
Summer Project Volunteer
“You should go across the street and distribute the papers to the workers at that factory too because they are really exploited there,” said a worker we talked to today. This took place at one of the many CHALLENGE sales outside of factories as part of the PLP Summer Project. This particular worker is a machinist at a small subcontracted factory of Boeing/ Northrop Grumman. Part of his job is making the skeleton for military planes.
This worker had trouble making the connection to his own exploitation because he felt that he was skilled and that he was making enough money. However, he clearly saw how the planes he makes are sold for millions and how these companies profit from his labor. He had heard that the factory across the street was notorious for pushing their workers hard for very low wages. He advised us on the best times to reach the workers during their shift, he was aware of the multitude of workers who have to struggle everyday to survive.
He considers himself lucky to be making $100,000 a year, but as we continued to talk with him, we were able to show how he was exploited too. He works 65 hours a week, 6 days a week and is constantly under pressure to work faster. In fact, recently his boss held a meeting in which he told the workers that if they didn’t produce faster, the bosses would have to let people go. We related this speed up and fear tactics to police brutality, the war and cut backs in healthcare.
We told him about an unarmed Latino man named Christian Portillo who was shot recently by the police, as well as Kevin Wicks who was also killed by them. The worker then told us about how he is constantly profiled. He was even pulled out of his car at gun point while wearing his work uniform. This reveals the racism that many Latino and black workers face. He has gotten used to being pulled over and considers it just a part of life. As we talked more about police brutality it became clearer and clearer to the worker that these scare tactics are not only used by the police but also by his factory bosses as well.
Then we talked about the cutbacks in health care, and he told us a story about his wife.
She was so sick that he had take off from work to take care of her around the clock for a year. This resulted in their losing their home and getting into debt.
He understood on a very personal level that workers are only a few paychecks away from ending up homeless and in debt. This was helpful in revealing the myth that a middle class exists, because there are workers who live more comfortably but they do not own the means of production. They are exploited. We hope to go back to this factory and find this worker and ask what he thought of Challenge.
A project volunteer
Besides the daily political work at the Los Angeles Summer Project, we also laugh, love and even cry. Here is what the international communist PLP family produces.
After a day of political activities, I gave a presentation to a group of local and international volunteers about how I joined PLP and described the Party’s work in my area of Mexico. I didn’t know many of the volunteers I was speaking to, but I know that despite our different backgrounds we have much more in common. So once we were all together as a communist family, in spite of our superficial differences, my heart was beating faster. “Was this because I was nervous, or happy?”
Happiness is something you want and need. I feel proud and that is happiness.
I feel I love my comrades — but why? Because my heart beats faster for my class, my life and my communist Party. I am PLP, I am a communist.
A Communist Youth from Mexico