Monthly Archives: September 2008


(The Following is a Progressive Labor Party Leaflet)

Like all elections, the campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain help the capitalists hide the fact that this is not a democracy. The illusion is that voters, mainly workers, can choose the nation’s leaders. In reality, a ruling class — led by powerful financiers — selects, bankrolls and directs each of the candidates. The dominant section of the U.S. ruling class (the Eastern Establishment), whose interests lie in continuing U.S. world domination, is determined to control the policy of whoever wins in November 2008. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Brookings Institution are the two most important foreign policy think tanks of these capitalists.  They are developing a blueprint for the next U.S. president (no matter who is elected), which can be used as the foundation for the new administration’s Middle-East policy.

Key advisor for Obama is Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski is a former director of the Eastern Establishment backed CFR. He helped President Jimmy Carter frame write the 1979 Carter Doctrine, which promised permanent occupation of Mid-East oilfields. One of McCain’s advisors is CFR member Max Boot, who is pushing for a U.S. Foreign Legion. Other McCain advisors are Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft (CFR member and Bush, Sr.’s National Security Advisor). It is these think-tank policy-makers, bankers and heads of the largest corporations who form the ruling class that runs the country, no matter who sits in the White House.

Today, the economic crises of capitalism in the U.S. and the world are only sharpening the conflict with imperialist rivals. Now, more than ever the U.S. ruling class needs workers and professionals to sacrifice for the needs of U.S. imperialism. They need a capitalist leader who can inspire the masses to support U.S. imperialist ambitions throughout the world. This leader faces a tough challenge. Russia is becoming more aggressive.  China is a rapidly growing economic and military power, and Europe is uniting and growing stronger.

In order to protect the U.S. profit empire against challenges from imperialist rivals, particularly China and Russia, the U.S. ruling class needs to dominate the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia, politically and militarily. Campaign 2008 boils down to which candidate can most effectively mobilize the nation behind the U.S. imperialists and their war and fascism. McCain believes in more troops in Iraq and keeping them there longer while Obama believes in fewer troops in Iraq and pulling them out sooner but sending the troops to other key areas of Mideast. Both believe in occupying Iraq and preparing for war with Iran. Both agree on the absolute importance of maintaining control of oil in the Middle East and Central Asia. They disagree over the tactics to use not the strategy!

Both Obama and McCain offer national service and push patriotism as a way to win workers and professionals to support expanding the U.S. military to prepare for more wars. During a rally on July 3, 2008, Obama said, the quiet following Friday’s Independence Day celebrations would be a good time to consider how to contribute “to our most pressing national challenges,” whether in the military, overseas or just next door. National service, a key part of Obama’s campaign platform, is an important step towards bringing back the draft and winning people to support expanding the U.S. military. Obama, like McCain, understand that the U.S. will need more troops in the future to face threats to its superpower status.

As more people become interested in the elections, the need to expose the candidates’ class allegiance is crucial. They both defend a racist profit system that systematically and brutally exploits workers, often through war, and needs to be eliminated. But the working class cannot just vote away its tormentors. Capitalism’s destruction can only be achieved through the long-term, painstaking process of building a revolutionary communist movement that will ultimately end the rule of profit and put the working class in power. Join us!

Workers, Soldiers, and Students of the World Unite Against Fascism and Imperialist War!  Don’t Vote!  Fight Back!

Progressive Labor Party is a revolutionary communist party dedicated to eliminating capitalism with communist revolution as the only way to end imperialism, fascism, racism, sexism, and class inequality.

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Voting Won’t End Nightmare of Capitalism. Fight for Communism!

On Wall St., major financial houses are crumbling under the weight of billions of dollars in bad debt. The credit-mortgage crisis continues to wreak havoc as the strong bankers eat the weak in this unholy ritual of capitalist competition. But don’t look for millionaires jumping out of windows on Wall St. Instead, billionaire financiers will be gliding into retirement on multi-million dollar golden parachutes. These captains do not go down with the ship.

Meanwhile, workers’ houses crumble in Galveston, Texas from Hurricane Ike, and Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, is still without electricity more than a week after the storm. There will be no bailouts or “soft landings” for them. or the millions hit by hurricanes in Haiti, Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean.

The bosses’ government and the central banks have put together a bailout plan worth hundreds of billions of dollars to see them through this crisis. That money is our pensions, social security and so much more. Every dime is stolen from our labor. Yet for us, all they have is racist police terror, immigration raids, racist cutbacks, and poverty wages. More than 20 million are unemployed and almost 50 million have no health insurance.

With the presidential election circus in full swing, the prisons are full, the schools are collapsing and the bloodbath in Iraq is spreading to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama and McCain both approve of widening the war. They both preach patriotism and national service, and they both support every step taken by the racist rulers to navigate this financial crisis.

Workers should turn their backs on them and follow the lead of 27,000 Boeing workers who are on strike against the war making aerospace giant. Boeing made over $13 billion in profit during the last contract, a record $4.7 billion last year. Much of this blood money comes directly from the Pentagon. Last month Boeing landed a $659 million contract for 16 additional fighter jets, adding to their contract to supply the Navy with 460 Super Hornets through 2012. At the same time, Boeing is slashing wages through two-tier contracts and farming out work to poverty wage non-union factories, many of them in southern California.

This is the third strike against a war contractor in the last 18 months. In March ’07, over 7,000 black and white ship builders struck Northrop Grumman and the Navy for one month in Pascagoula, MS. Last winter, thousands of UAW members struck Navistar which produces armored vehicles for Iraq. The bosses produce the weapons for war by waging war on the workers at home. The difference at Boeing is the presence of an active PLP and the influence of revolutionary communist ideas on many of the strikers. Our communist politics can help build the revolutionary movement from Seattle to Los Angeles to Mississippi and beyond. That is the answer to the endless crises and wars of the racist profit system.

The bronze bull of Merrill Lynch may be on its back, feet in the air, but capitalism is far from finished. The bosses can survive any economic, political or military crisis, even defeat in war. What they can’t survive is communist revolution, when millions of workers, soldiers, sailors and youth seize power through armed struggle, led by a mass PLP. The chaos of capitalism will only mean more foreclosures, layoffs, racist cutbacks, hunger and imperialist war, here and around the world, no matter who wins the White House.

There is another road; the road to revolution for a society without any bosses or bankers: communism. It’s long and difficult, and takes a lifetime of commitment. But it’s the only road that leads to a bright future for the workers of the world.

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Two Day Rebellion Leads To Boeing Strike


SEATTLE, WA, September 14 — “Sellout!” shouted machinists as International Association of Machinists (IAM) aerospace negotiator Mark Blondin announced Boeing workers would be going to work the next day, September 4, despite an 87% strike vote. He said Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire had arranged for 48 hours of federal mediation. In response the workers threw chicken bones and water bottles (left over from the volunteer vote counters’ dinner).  The union hall erupted. Blondin and IAM District President Tom Wroblewski fled the stage. They sent out the union P.R. person, hoping for better results. No dice!

Blondin and Wroblewski flew the next day to negotiate at the Disney resort in Florida to be joined by IAM International President Buffenbarger. Back on the shop floor, “No Contract, No Work” signs sprung up at abandoned workstations.  One foolish manager tracked down a worker to do a “hot” job (one that would hold up the assembly line). “Why don’t you call the governor and get her to come down here and do it!” the worker replied angrily. By afternoon, the assembly line had stopped because they couldn’t get enough workers.

When management asked us what more can we possibly want, many replied, “All we want is our egg salad on white bread (the traditional fare for picketers).” Some half jokingly threatened to “picket the union hall with baseball bats.” By Friday night demonstrations moved towards the gates with “United We Stand” signs.
Small picket lines began forming outside the plants. The Party distributed flyers and signs in the plants and at the gates. Clearly the union leadership would have to let us strike after the initial 48 hours, no matter what deals they worked out. “I always thought the union had one leg in the bed with the company, but I didn’t realize they were way under the covers,” a facilities maintenance worker said. We were in no mood to accept any contract. We made plans to wildcat if they dared to extend the “no strike” negotiations.

Even as the Boeing strike enters its second week, the big story is still how we got here. Wroblewski has been going around to union meetings pleading, “I understand the memberships’ emotion. The pot was boiling.” Acknowledging that he’s taken licks on the picket line, he tries to justify the leadership’s 48 hour betrayal saying the company blinked. If this spin doesn’t work (and it isn’t), we’ll hear many more incredible excuses. His greatest fear is being boiled in the pot of rank-and-file insurrection he had to face during those 48 hours.

The Dictatorship Of The Bosses vs. The Dictatorship Of The Working Class

Since the strike vote was taken PLP members and friends have had discussions on the nature of the bosses’ dictatorship and general revolutionary history.

Many workers want to know what the communists are saying. Most are friendly; others are incensed at our influence on sections of the workforce.  We pointed out that when the federal mediator and the governor stepped into the negotiations, they were not neutral parties. The federal mediator is in daily contact with the chief IAM negotiator.

As the Party’s flyer stated, the Governor and the mediator were “the political representatives of the ruling class.” Lest we forget, “this is the same federal government whose Pentagon says ‘outsourcing is the answer’ to the exorbitant expense of their high-tech weapons.” Outsourcing means shifting work to racist, low-wage subcontractors employing larger numbers of black, Latin and immigrant workers. This is the same government that wants a “southern aerospace corridor” in the low-wage, non-union Southeast. The legacy of racism has driven down the wages of these workers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. “Both rely on racist super-exploitation to fund the bosses’ imperialist ambitions and we will continue to fight these efforts to divide us,” our leaflet warned.

“That’s what the bosses’ dictatorship looks like,” our Party argued in numerous shop floor debates. “They’ll let you vote on anything until it threatens their power. Whether it’s a Democrat or Republican, it’s still the bosses’ racist dictatorship.”

When we refused to work during those 48 hours, overriding their contract and pro-capitalist union leaders, we showed the potential power of the dictatorship of the working class. Communist revolution relies on the might of a united international working class, smashing the bosses’ repressive government apparatus. “Let the bosses tremble at the power of the working class” our leaflet ended.

“I’m Not Driving That Truck Under Any Flag”

In another discussion an anti-communist tried to portray the dictatorship of the working class as the dictatorship over the working class. He pointed to the reactionary, often pro-Nazi, people that fled the USSR after World War II, portraying them as heroes. Older CHALLENGE readers were having none of it. They remember the ex-Nazis that they were forced to work with years ago. “Those bastards would openly celebrate Hitler’s birthday at work, wearing Nazi uniforms, and the company allowed them to,” said an irate machine operator. Besides, they were the biggest kiss-asses in the shop.

This led to a discussion on how fascism relies on extreme racism and nationalism. This discussion inspired another reader to relate a small but significant struggle he had against flag waving. A small U.S. flag was placed on top of the delivery truck his area uses. Every time he saw it, he would throw it to the ground. Finally, he had enough. He gathered his shop-mates around and delivered an ultimatum. “I’m not driving that truck under any flag.” The flag hasn’t been seen since.

We ended with an old story from WWII. A PLP veteran was with the U.S. Army in a small town in Italy when the war ended. The locals got a ragtag band together to celebrate. He thought they would play the Italian national anthem. Instead they broke into The (communist) International. Red flags of revolution were everywhere — Now there’s a flag you can drive a truck under!
Some of the participants of this last discussion will organize continued discussions in various cities to accommodate Boeing’s far-flung workforce while we are on strike.  Either way, we are filling the [non] workday with intense struggles over revolutionary ideas.J
We need your support! Send letters of solidarity and donations to help produce leaflets and CHALLENGES to Boeing Strikers C/O PLP Box 808, Brooklyn, 11202.

Job Security, Outsourcing Big Strike Issues

“They say you can’t have job security these days,” said IAM District President Wroblewski at recent union meetings, referring to one of the most contentious strike issues, “And I agree with them.” He then pleaded for a break from worrying about this during the next three years (the duration of any new contract signed after the strike).

The union has confined the debate to facilities maintenance, parts delivery inside the plants, and bidding to undercut proposed manufacturing outsourcing. The latter will accelerate the racist trend to a low-wage union workforce within the Boeing plants: what has become known as the “Kick Your Kids to the Kurb (KKK)” contract.

The union is reportedly looking for language that is similar to that among GE unions. What a joke! GE is known as the Gone Elsewhere, having outsourced more jobs than anyone.

It’s true under capitalism workers have as much security as a pig at a BBQ. That’s why we can’t limit the debate to what’s possible under this system. Production for profit pits not only nation against nation and company against company, but also worker against worker. Communism, on the other hand, produces for the needs of our class. Under communism we welcome extra hands. We would use the help to increase production to support the revolutionary aspirations of our international brothers and sisters, dedicate more of our time to developing political leadership among our fellow workers or shorten the workday.

It’s no accident that it is only our Party that has produced letters of support from subcontractor workers. Uniting with these super-exploited workers will build the kind of anti-racist, international solidarity that can really advance the struggle and pave the path to revolution.

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Relying on Politicians Won’t Stop Racist KKKops

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD, Aug. 20—Hundreds of workers, mostly Latino, attended a vigil to protest the brutal killing of plumber Manuel Jesus de Espina by a Prince George’s County cop. Manuel and his son were drinking in the stairwell of his apartment building, celebrating his 40th birthday. The cop, known for his swaggering brutality, claimed he feared for his life because Espina grabbed for his gun (or was it his baton? The story kept changing), but working-class eyewitnesses reported that Espina did not resist arrest but was beaten, blinded with pepper spray and then shot. Who do you believe? PLPers brought the message of militancy, anti-racism, multi-racial unity and the need for communist revolution to this gathering.

Under communism, there won’t be cops protecting rich people’s property, because there won’t be any rich people or private property. The communist leadership of the new society will resolve conflicts in a comradely way, jail racists and build a unified working class. The role of cops under capitalism is to terrorize workers and protect the bosses and their system. As anti-immigrant racism grows, the cops will increasingly brutalize and murder immigrant workers to fulfill this mission.

Today we are still exploited by capitalism and murdered by racist cops. In Prince George’s County, 14 workers have been shot by the cops since January 2008, several fatally. Twenty years ago, cops beat Gregory Habib, a Ghanaian student, to death here after he failed to stop at a stop sign. The cops were exonerated. “Going through channels,” advocated by leaders of the vigil, has never worked to hold cops accountable, and never will end this racist, fascist intimidation.

We are already campaigning against the lynching of Ronnie White (almost certainly by cops or prison guards) in his jail cell two months ago (CD, 30 July). Then came the needlessly brutal SWAT attack on the home of a Mayor Calvo of Berwyn Heights, and now Espina is murdered in Langley Park. These blatant attacks are just the latest in our area’s long history of police violence, racial profiling and murder. The grassroots People’s Coalition for Police Accountability (PCPA), led mainly by black workers in the County, launched resistance to police brutality over ten years ago, and the 2005 PLP Summer Project in D.C. joined that struggle.

Local politicians and some community activists called for patient reliance on the very system that oppresses all workers. They urged attendees not to “take matters into their own hands.” The wife of State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey (charged with investigating and prosecuting the lynchers of Ronnie White) hugged family members, spoke of justice for Mayor Calvo, but did not mention Ronnie White. She gave Mayor Calvo’s dead dogs killed by the cops more play than a lynched young black man! Politician Victor Ramirez, Delegate to the Maryland House of Representatives, actually blamed Manuel for his own death, saying that he may not have led the most perfect life, and then quickly added that violence never solves anything, so rely on the “justice” system and don’t fight back.

In addition to politicians, representatives of several African American organizations spoke out in solidarity as well. PCPA leader Dorothy Elliott spoke eloquently both about Ronnie White, and her son Archie Elliott, who was murdered 15 years ago by the cops as he sat handcuffed in a police cruiser. The translator never translated her words about Ronnie White!

The lack of militancy did not sit well with the hundreds of angry workers, who rushed to our militant bilingual signs charging PG County cops with racist murders, and linking the attacks on African American Ronnie White and Latino Manuel de Espina with the slogan, “Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated.” Several new friends offered to help hold these signs, and hundreds more eagerly took CHALLENGE-DESAFIO as over 250 papers flew out of PLPers’ hands.

The organizers invited friends and coworkers of Manuel to speak after the politicians. In the beginning, they mostly spoke of what a great and loving father Manuel was. But then workers’ anger came out and stories of police brutality and intimidation rang out over the crowd. The organizers only let that go on for two or three speakers and then shut down the rally, fearing the growing militancy of the crowd.

PLPers spoke afterwards with workers. One man said, “It isn’t just here that this happens. It happens all over. As long as there is money in a system there will always be oppression and wars.” Another cited the importance of multi-racial and multi-gender unity in the common fight against our common exploiters. Several contacts were made and all were invited to our next events, including the annual PLP Crab Feast and the PCPA forum scheduled for September 9. Our fight against racism, police brutality and for the working class will continue until the exploitative system of capitalism is crushed by workers’ power.

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Airport Workers Catch Thieving Bosses

A MIDWEST AIRPORT — “We were robbed! The bosses cheated us!” These are the only printable comments describing how airport janitors were cheated out of eight hours pay by racist ABM Industries bosses. ABM cleaners, mostly immigrants from Mexico, Central America, Africa, and Asia, were paid eight hours short on their July 17 paychecks. The bosses blamed it on the “new time keeping system.” The real reason is racism.

Anti-immigrant Nazi-like raids conducted by ICE and Homeland Security, racist movements like the Minutemen and a failing economy have produced a racist anti-immigrant climate in the U.S. ABM bosses thought they could take advantage of already super-exploited immigrant workers by stealing eight hours pay. Also, they paid some of the black workers full pay, trying to divide citizens from immigrants. But a black PLP member and union shop steward organized the workers to resist this fascist attack.

A meeting was held at the home of a co-worker and CHALLENGE reader, where we discussed what to do. We agreed to file a mass grievance and to try to get all the victimized workers to sign on. We also requested an emergency meeting with the union leadership.

An SEIU leader misled the most militant workers (and CHALLENGE readers) into thinking he was not coming to the airport, when in fact he actually did! He wanted no part of us because he was afraid of being called on to do something to get the workers’ the eight hours owed. So we called for a second union meeting. Some workers distributed a PLP flier that attacked the SEIU leadership for supporting the racist bosses.

At the next meeting, with everyone there, the workers put the misleader under pressure. Some workers got into a heated exchange with the SEIU misleader who shouted, “I’m not the enemy!” He hurried up and left! The workers won that round!

Later, the union leader reluctantly filed the grievance. ABM bosses were extremely upset that a few workers would defy them. They even called the shop steward into the office to attempt to intimidate him and find out how the workers were going to fight back. The shop steward kept his cool and the bosses learned nothing! It was a clumsy fascist attempt to stop the workers from resisting.

ABM workers scored a small victory and got the eight hours owed them! The bosses underestimated the anger and ability of workers to unite across nation, race and gender. Officially, we lost the grievance, but we’re still getting paid from the main corporate office. The airport bosses hate this!

Frederick Douglass, the great antislavery freedom fighter said, “Power concedes nothing without struggle.” Self-critically, we could have done more. But a few workers, mostly regular CHALLENGE readers, collectively contributed to this struggle, “from each according to ability.”

More fascist attacks are coming because the racist bosses are in a global crisis. If we are to survive and defeat fascism with communist revolution, we must learn how to organize under any and all circumstances, including the most extreme. Workers, soldiers, and students need PLP!

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PLP Exposes Deadly Election Politics to Iraq Veterans

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, August 30th—At this year’s Veterans for Peace (VFP)/Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) convention the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) met and worked with old friends to distribute Challenge and our “GI Notes” newsletter and  make new contacts.

IVAW’s actions at the Democratic and Republican national conventions drew the most excitement among the young vets. At the DNC (Democratic National Convention), IVAW led over 3,000 in an anti-war march and claimed victory when Barack Obama’s top veterans affairs advisor accepted a message against the Iraq war from IVAW on behalf of the presidential candidate. However, when the vets asked Obama’s representative for an expected time of reply, Obama’s reps refused to give one. While IVAW is currently eager to negotiate a meeting with Obama, the lesson we in PLP saw was that Obama and the Democrats are willing to pretend to listen while they plan expanded wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan (see article on page 4).

Many in IVAW are not fooled by Obama’s supposed “anti-war” stance—some in IVAW even pushed to officially oppose the US war in Afghanistan—but few see alternatives to pressuring politicians. We in PLP said that working class, lower enlisted troops, and students can end imperialism through generations of class struggle and armed revolution, not lobbying and elections. Imperialist wars continued after the US bosses defeat in Vietnam because of capitalism’s constant drive  for profit and power, not “greedy” corporations and “corrupt” presidents. The openness by some vets to PLPs line at the convention left us energized and eager to aid in active-duty and vets struggles.

The role of police was also a hot discussion. Some wanted to trust and work more with the police because at the DNC, a handful of police in riot gear refused to point their weapons at the IVAW contingent, left their posts, and were moved to tears by a powerful speech given by an IVAW member.

The police attacked the rest of the DNC anti-war marches. Also, the basis of IVAW’s appeal to police was individualist and patriotic, focusing on the psychological effects on the cops for attacking “American” veterans who were mostly white. Given racist police murders and anti-immigrant raids by ICE, law enforcement would probably treat black, latino, and immigrant troops differently.

Similar tactics of vets appealing to cops did not work at the RNC. Uniformed cops openly tried to sit in IVAW’s closed workshops in the IVAW convention room, they photographed vets walking to hotels, and attacked protestors during IVAW’s attempt to bring McCain’s campaign a veterans rights message.

Many at the convention were motivated to stop more troops from experiencing the guilt of killing for oil and greed, and to stop the killing of civilians. Many really believe politicians will listen to them or that enough troops and public will rise up so the anti-war movement will stop the bosses war in the next few months or years. But vets need a long term struggle against the profit system behind the wars. Many of the young vets we met are motivated to do more around Veterans issues and racism against Iraqis. PLP plans on working with and giving them communist leadership to oppose capitalism and all it’s imperialist wars, not just Iraq.

Send letters and articles to subject GI Notes.

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Will U.S. Invade Pakistan?

PAKISTAN –– On September 14, Pakistan troops fired shots into the air to stop U.S. troops crossing into the South Waziristan region of Pakistan. A couple of weeks before, twenty Pakistani villagers, including women and children, were killed when the U.S. troops crossed the border from Afghanistan to supposedly attack Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry immediately condemned it as “a grave provocation.” Seven days later Bush announced U.S intentions to continue the raids — with or without the approval of the Pakistani government — and to send additional troops to Afghanistan (Obama and McCain  agree on expanding the war in this region.)   

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 1,500-mile border, that 19th century British imperialists arbitrarily cut through mountainous land inhabited by Pashtuns. U.S. insistence that the Pakistan military crack down on the Taliban has caused a backlash against the army by Pakistani fundamentalists (often Pashtuns) and al Qaeda (foreign jihadists). The fierce confrontations have killed many civilians and left thousands homeless. In Afghanistan, the seven-year U.S.-NATO occupation has worsened conditions for the majority of Afghans. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed this year.  

The U.S. and its ally, India, claim that Pakistan is the center and cause of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, accusing members of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of helping the Taliban. This is the excuse for the recent U.S. invasion of Pakistani territory. The U.S. wants to replace its decades-long  indirect domination of Pakistan with direct military control. 
A 2005 report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council and the CIA, forecast a “Yugoslav-like fate.” for Pakistan. A former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK predicted that, “The central government’s control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi, by 2015.” (Times of India 13 Feb 2005). 
Breaking up Pakistan would facilitate U.S. exploitation of the vast energy reserves of the Caspian Sea region to the north. Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of Barak Obama’s foreign policy advisors wrote in 1990,  “The Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.”   U.S. oil companies plan to build pipelines to transport that oil and gas from the region through Afghanistan and Balochistan — a Pakistan province — to the Arabian Sea and so to markets in Europe and Asia. If the U.S. is unable to secure this pipeline, Russia — and China — may monopolize the Caspian oil fields.  The survival of the U.S. as a leading imperialist power depends on the  control of the world’s energy sources — a point emphasized this week as oil baron Cheney shuttled around the Caspian States meeting local rulers and representatives of Chevron and BP. As Brzezinski noted, “whoever controls Eurasia controls the world.”

The U. S. is now sponsoring India’s membership in NATO, which will add one more powerful U.S. ally to the growing circle around Russia. When the Indian army took part in NATO exercises in Arizona in August, Russia retaliated by announcing that its strategic bombers would patrol the Indian Ocean. The U.S. and India signed a nuclear arms agreement that, according to Administration officials, “seals a long-term strategic alliance between the two countries, which had tense relations during the Cold War.”  With a rapidly expanding capitalist economy, seeking new markets, trading partners and oil, India also has interests in the Caspian Sea reserves and has its own plans for pipelines from Iran, through Balochistan to India.  

Nationalism and religion are constantly being used by the ruling classes to divide workers and their allies. In Pakistan, India has joined with the U.S and Britain to covertly support and arm the separatist Balochistan Liberation Movement. In Indian-controlled Kashmir tension is growing between Muslim and Hindu, fundamentalists and secularists, and spreading to the border with Pakistan in the east.

The former Yugoslavia was broken up in part with the promotion of nationalism and the organization of separatist militias. For Yugoslavia’s working class the result was fascist/racist terror, bloody civil wars and atrocities. Revolutionary communists must show the Afghan, Pakistan, and Indian working class and its allies — Pashtuns, Balochis, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Hindus  — that nationalism is not the answer to their problems. That is the goal of the PLP in the region. Join us!

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France: Thousands Strike Against Job Cuts

UZES, FRANCE, Sept. 11—The summer holiday season is over and the first strikes and demonstrations against job cuts and worsening conditions are breaking out. A case in point: high school teachers struck the whole first week of classes in this small town in Southern France (pop. 7,800, 2004 unemployment rate: 19%, average weekly household income: 275 euros), occupying the principal’s office on Sept. 1. The strikers were mobilizing against obligatory overtime and over-crowded classes. The local board of education refused even to receive a parent-teacher delegation on Sept. 4.

The French banks have lost nearly 20 billion euros since the beginning of the subprime crisis, practically throwing the economy into recession. According to UNEDIC (the French unemployment agency), 35,000 workers lost their jobs in the second quarter of 2008. And the real income of the average French household fell over the past year, according to the National Consumption Institute. But workers are fighting back:
Hospital workers struck at the public hospital in Strasbourg yesterday to protest the administration policy of placing profits over patient lives and the resulting multi-tasking of hospital workers.

Over 2,000 auto workers struck Renault plants across France today against the planned axing of 4,000 jobs, which comes on top of 10,000 job losses over the past three years.

And thousands of teachers demonstrated today in over half of France’s 100 départements (the equivalent of a county), with strikes in five départements (Ardennes, Champagne, Essonne, Guadeloupe and Marne) to protest job cuts: 11,200 this year, 13,500 planned next year, and 40,000 over the next three years.
Five postal workers’ unions are calling for a 24-hour national strike and demonstrations throughout France on Sept. 23 to protest government plans to privatize the postal service.

Finally, six trade union federations are calling for a national protest on Oct. 7, the “world day for decent work” organized by the reformist International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
But all this indicates is that the reformist and reactionary trade union leaders, with the radical unions in tow, are pursuing their usual strategy of launching isolated local protests and 24-hour strikes in the hope of “building momentum” for a big national demonstration, and possibly a nation-wide 24-hour strike. This piecemeal strategy has failed to obtain any gains for workers since 1995.

As a result, Education Minister Xavier Darcos felt safe heaping scorn on the protesting teachers when he appeared on national television today, proclaiming “I love teachers” while denouncing teachers unions as promoting a “strike first, negotiate later culture,” and denying that job cuts are resulting in larger class sizes and poorer education.

Leftist trade unionists here are trying to overcome the piecemeal strategy by pushing for an unlimited general strike, like the one that shut down France for two months in 1968. But that experience shows that even an unlimited general strike, if it leaves the capitalist system intact, falls short of what the working class needs— particularly in this age of worldwide capitalist crisis, more racism and endless wars. Workers here need to turn these struggles into schools for communism, and build a revolutionary internationalist movement to fight for the only real solution to the bosses’ attacks: communism.

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Bolivia: Gas-Oil Profits Behind Racism of Fascist Goons

LA PAZ, Bolivia, Sept. 15 — This Andean country is on the verge of a racist civil war as the governors of the “Half Moon” (in the eastern plains of the country) are in open rebellion against the central government of Evo Morales. There is a real threat of the country breaking apart. Right now, there are two governments: one led by Morales in the Andean region and the other led by the “autonomist” governors of the eastern plains. The gas and oil fields there are at stake, as well as the agricultural wealth of the “Half Moon.”  The openly fascist governors — supported by the U.S. embassy —  don’t want to share this wealth with the central government, particularly since Evo Morales is an ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador last week, accusing him of meeting with the  “autonomists.”  Ambassador Goldberg was a U.S. diplomat in the former Yugoslavia in the mid 1990s when it was ridden by imperialist-caused nationalist civil wars.

The “autonomists” are openly fascist and racist. When their attempted putsch began last week in the state of Pando, with open support from the local governor, neo-Nazi goons from the youth group Juventud Cruceñista targeted what they call the “damn Indian race.” They killed 30 indigenous workers and peasants. These thugs attacked central government offices, took over an airport, gas and oil fields, cutting off gas supplies to Brazil (which get 50% of their gas from Bolivia) and Argentina.

Evo Morales has mass support, winning 67% of the votes in an August referendum. Since then, the aim of the pro-U.S. fascists has been to provoke a military coup (Bolivia has a long history of putsches). But, Morales so far has the support of army since he put some of his loyal officers in control. Most soldiers are recruits and Indigenous (most upper and middle class white youth use their families’ economic power to avoid the draft.) Chávez threatened to send troops to Bolivia to help Morales, and even expelled the U.S. ambassador to Caracas in solidarity when he accused Venezuelan military officers of conspiring to kill him.

Given the growing instability in the region, the powerhouse of South America – the Brazilian ruling class — decided it doesn’t want the U.S. oil companies to control the gas and oil fields of Bolivia (because they will compete with Brazil’s Petrobras). So Brazil’s President Lula put his foot down and stated that Brazil will not tolerate the break-up of its neighbor, Bolivia. (El País, Madrid, 9/14). This led to a regional rulers meeting — excluding the U.S. — which came out in support of Morales.

But, the contradictions between the secessionists and Morales continue since the anti-Morales bosses don’t want the national government to cut into their share of the revenues (taxes) they get from the oil-gas profits. Also, the rivalry between the U.S. imperialists and Brazil and Venezuela is growing. And the inter-imperialist dogfight will sharpen as Russia’s Gazprom is in negotiation with YPFB (the state-owned Bolivian energy company) a $2 billion investment.

As far as workers and their allies are concerned, the solution doesn’t lie in the 21st Century socialism (state capitalism) of Chávez or its Morales’ version of Andean capitalism. Morales continues attempts to negotiate a deal with the open fascists, demoralizing workers and peasants who have illusions about his government. The only solution is to build an anti-imperialist and anti-racist movement to fight for a society without any form of capitalism: communism.

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The U.S. now faces a historic crisis and, desperate to stop their decline, they must control sources of energy. They are currently pushing for privatization of energy in Mexico through the government of Felipe Calderon and his allies in the Mexican Congress who promise the U.S. control over oil and gas, since Spain has stepped in and is already savoring part of the energy pie.

The rivalry between the imperialists is sharpening all around the world and reflects weakening U.S. domination and the strengthening of rivals like Russia, China and India. Control of the world’s oil safeguards U.S bosses’ continuing worldwide supremacy. Without that control, this goal will be illusive. In the Caucasus, the U.S. wants to break Russia’s fuel monopoly and thus assure a third major source of energy on the planet. This intensifies the rivalry between the two imperialists.

Some Mexican capitalists don’t want to share with the U.S. or Spanish capitalists. That’s why they push nationalism to win worker support for their own control of the oil profits. Lopez Obrador is the spokesman for the nationalist capitalists. He may be willing to fight a civil war to defend this wealth against mainly U.S. bosses, not for the well-being of Mexican workers, but for higher profits and stability for Mexican bosses. That’s why he’s formed the FAP (Broad Progressive Front) in which an estimated 3 million people participated in mobilizations for the “peaceful transformation of the public life of Mexico,” in reality to support Obrador against the privatization of PEMEX.

The actions organized by FAP mean that they have too weak a presence in Congress to achieve their goals there. That’s why they threaten actions against privatization to be carried out by workers in the different states of Mexico. But the politicians trap workers into trying to win reforms from various profit-hungry capitalists who only want the best deal for themselves, keeping the workers chained to capitalist exploitation.

Mexico is a strategic ally of the U.S. Most Mexican oil and food sales go to the U.S. That’s why they have designed Plan Puebla Panama as a supplier of the wealth of Latin America to North America. Many U.S. manufacturers gain great profit by paying skilled Mexican workers so little. The most profitable industry is auto and lately aerospace in the north, mainly Chihuahua. In coming wider wars, these industries will play an important role, since they make weapons.

Behind Felipe Calderon’s “war against drug traffic” is the militarization of the country. The U.S. bosses and their lackeys in Mexico will fight to protect their wealth like oil, natural gas, water, biodiversity, uranium, etc. from their imperialist enemies. They could also try to control any popular uprising by unleashing police terror against workers.

Through the Alliance for Security and Prosperity of North America (ASPAN, a treaty made with ex-President Fox), the Merida initiative with Calderon, and recently the proposal to integrate Mexico into NORAD (North American Aerospace Command), the U.S. has entered a financial, military and energy “alliance” with Mexico and Canada, which is basically a proposal to focus on the strategic security of the U.S. in the face of wider war.

There’s no good or lesser evil capitalist or imperialist. They all seek to live off the wealth created by the working class. Siding with either block of capitalists is the worst error workers could make. We need to build an alliance with workers, students and soldiers around the PLP and fight internationally to destroy this system. Communist ideas must illuminate our staunch struggle to end the nightmare of capitalism. Only a communist revolution can establish a society that finally ends individualism, sexism, racism, nationalism and exploitation. That society is communism and for that we’ll fight to the win. JOIN US! FIGHT FOR COMMUNISM!

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