Monthly Archives: January 2009


WASHINGTON, DC, January 20 — The only apparent opposition at the inauguration of the new Obama regime came from a multiracial group of PLP communists and friends. A bullhorn rally was held at Gallery Place, a major Metro stop just outside the “security zone” for the Obama inauguration parade. Speakers at the rally called on the crowd heading to the parade to join PLP in the struggle against capitalism and racism instead of supporting Obama.

In a demonstration of the fascism of this system, 25,000 civilian and military police locked down the city. The day’s events were used to practice methods for the ruler’s need to control the working class.

The two million or so people that came to the inauguration, among them a sizeable number of black and Latino workers, believed what they were witnessing represented an historic victory against racism. In reality, they witnessed the latest in the succession of representatives of the U.S. ruling class, the most racist and murderous group of thieves in history.

Obama made it clear that for the working class, things will get worse, and the workers will be the ones paying for the latest crisis. Obama didn’t blame this racist system for the crisis, one that has enslaved millions and waged genocidal wars for the past 400 years, but instead blamed “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

The desperate conditions of millions of workers were glossed over as Obama paid only lip service to the swathes of racist foreclosures. Up to 10,000 homes per week have been claimed. Millions of black, Latino and other workers were unable to keep up payments on houses they were encouraged to buy at high prices and at eventual exorbitant interest rates. Similarly dismissed was the prison-like conditions of our schools, stating simply that “homes have been lost…our schools fail too many.”

He immediately followed that saying, “no less profound is…the nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable.” “America’s decline” is indeed the “profound fear” of the Rockefeller-led wing of the U.S. ruling class, the banks and companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Exxon Mobil, who have trillions of dollars invested in U.S. imperialism and have cast a nervous eye on their growing imperialist rivals in Russia, China, and the European Union.

Obama and his administration are the ruling class’s number one investment. They’re counting on him to win U.S. workers to support wider wars, unlike the Bush gang who not only squandered the chance to mobilize the country but provoked the anger of millions of workers worldwide. Key to this effort is the movement for national service, a precursor to support for a larger military as was evident in the references to the, “Brave Americans…who patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. …[and] embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.”

In addition to this thinly veiled call to kill and die for U.S. imperialism was another message extolling workers to sacrifice to save the bosses’ system which Obama called on people to imitate, “the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours” — in effect, a wage-cut. Meanwhile, of the current U.S. prison population of 2.4 million — the largest ever in human history, and now over 1% of the total adult U.S. population — 70% are black and Latino. The inmate population languishing in the prisons of 10 states is expected to increase by 25% or more by 2011.

In the dangers of the ruling class’s efforts to build its movement, there are opportunities. Millions hate racism, imperialism, and sexism, and could be won to dedicate their lives to ending the brutal system that requires these evils.

Obama melodramatically showered us with images of slave-owner George Washington “huddling by dying campfires” and called on us to be “faithful to the ideals of our forbears.” Does he mean the first eight U.S. presidents, all of whom owned slaves? When only white, property-owning men were considered citizens and Native Americans were exterminated by the millions? What “greatness” about the U.S. is he talking about if not genocide and slavery?

The horrifying conditions of, and racism against, immigrant workers, and the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror, continued full steam into the 20th century. The U.S. was just cutting its teeth as a rival imperialist power to the genocidal British and French imperialists.  No, U.S. rulers have never been great at any- thing except mass murder — and now, with about 750 U.S. military bases worldwide, Obama wants to usher in “a new era” of U.S. global dominance.

The international working class’s inspiration is not in the slave-owners’ revolt in the U.S. war of independence from Britain, nor in racist Abraham Lincoln’s “solution” of shipping black slaves back to Africa. It’s in the mass slave rebellions and the actions of Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman and John Brown which led to the crushing of slavery.

We fight today with the memory of the brave millions of the Haitian Revolution of 1801, which inspired generations of workers because they taught the world how to fight back. The pride in our history is in the workers at Stalingrad who smashed the Nazis; in the caves of Yenan, China as the communist-led workers regrouped after the Long March to win workers’ power in the most populated country on earth; and in countless other uprisings where our class rose against all odds and dared to struggle for a world free of the capitalist slavery that Obama represents. Real change will come when millions of workers read and distribute CHALLENGE and become steeled in class struggle. Join the Progressive Labor Party and help build a mass international communist movement, learn from our predecessors’ mistakes and victories, and help destroy this system once and for all.


WASHINGTON, DC, January 20 — Speakers at our rally alerted the throngs of people that Obama, far from making things better, would lead workers and students into expanded war. He would continue racist oppression from Chicago, where police terror and hospital closings marked his time in leadership, to Gaza, where he gave his stamp of approval to genocide. He will reward the thieving capitalists with bailouts just as he condoned those George Bush had given.
Many agreed that the struggle would have to continue, but thought that Obama would still be an improvement. One person told us that he had just won a 3-year battle against D.C. for police brutality and was interested in joining our campaigns on this issue. Several youth from Baltimore were happy to see us, as they knew us from our work in their city as part of the Algebra Project/Peer-to-Peer (see CHALLENGE 10/15/08). Several other young people agreed that Obama just represented capitalism, just more of the same, and that we had to intensify our fight-back.
There were a few hostile responses, one demanding that we talk about Bush’s crimes. We told him that we’d been doing that for eight years! Another said we shouldn’t “rain on Obama’s parade” and should give him a chance. But we can’t give murderous capitalism a chance. Capitalism always has, and always will, serve the ruling class, not the working class. We are in the midst of a severe economic and military crisis, and the working class must be mobilized to fight racism and capitalism now!
We gained several new contacts for the Party and distributed over 800 flyers and 400 CHALLENGES. We also came away determined to win the millions of workers deceived by the election to a revolutionary struggle against racist capitalism, and not compliance with the increased war and fascism being ushered in by this new CEO of U.S. capitalism.

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Obama Blesses Torture, Wider Oil War, Wage-Cuts

Barack Obama, far from making things better, will lead workers and students into expanded war, continue racist oppression and continue to reward the thieving capitalists with bailouts just as George Bush did.

In fact, Obama may well get away with murder for the benefit of U.S. rulers all the more easily because of his huge popular support. The millions who turned out for him in Washington suggest many working-class Obama backers were acting against their own class interests.

Obama’s first speech, in effect, actually called for both bankers’ bailouts and workers’ wage-cuts (work fewer hours to save others’ jobs). He never once asked corporations to take less profits to “save jobs.”

The Sham of ‘Closing’ Guantanamo

As head of the U.S. war machine, Obama immediately abandoned two campaign promises: vowing to close the Guantánamo torture mill and to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. On Guantánamo, the liberal, imperialist Brookings Institution (website, 1/24/09) assured U.S. capitalists that this move is, on one level, a crowd-pleasing ruse designed to “warm the hearts of human rights activists.” Brookings fellow Benjamin Wittes wrote:
“Obama’s executive order…does a lot less than many people seem to imagine….It does not require any detainee’s release or transfer. It does not require any detainee’s prosecution. It does not preclude the eventual use of military commissions or some other alternative trial venue.

And, critically, it does not preclude the continued non-criminal detention of certain — perhaps many — current Guantánamo detainees….Guantánamo, in short, will close, but Guantánamo detentions may well continue.”

As for torture, Brookings says Obama’s first act in office enables a new Inquisition. “It…contain[s] an important nod to the possibility that the CIA may have legitimate needs for techniques the military does not authorize….The CIA will regain some measure of interrogation flexibility as a result of this.”

On Iraq “withdrawal,” the Obama regime has no intention of abandoning U.S. rulers’ deadly struggle for oil-rich Iraq. According to a January 21 White House press release, “Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel.” The Los Angeles Times reported (1/21) that this will involve, “A…force of tens of thousands.”

Obama hopes to secure the six-million-barrel-per-day Iraqi oil production U.S. rulers envisioned on the eve of their 2003 invasion. But before Exxon Mobil and Chevron eventually take decisive possession of Iraq’s oil fields, Obama will have to deploy even more forces in the region to fend off threats from Iran and China that have only grown since 2003.


Other events indicate that Obama, who vows to intensify U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and beyond, will prove an even deadlier war criminal than Bush. The Times of London reported (1/23), “Missiles fired from suspected US drones killed at least 15 people inside Pakistan today, the first such strikes since Barack Obama became president and a clear sign that the controversial military policy begun by George W. Bush has not changed….Three children lost their lives.”

Obama’s pursuit of the Afghan war is no better than Israel’s bosses’ Gaza genocide. “The U.S. military said on Saturday that troops, backed by air support, had killed 15 militants in an overnight operation. But Assadullah Wafa, a Karzai [the Afghan president] adviser investigating the deaths, said on Sunday that ‘16 civilians, many of them children and women, were killed’ in the operation” (Reuters, 1/25). “Hundreds of angry villagers demonstrated…in Mehtarlam…after [the] American raid.” (NY Times, 1/26)

“American commandos broke down doors and unleashed dogs without warning on January 7…in Masamut…in eastern Afghanistan….typical of many [raids] conducted” in the country. “One of the first to be killed was…a member of the Afghan Border police who was home on leave….His brother…said he was killed as soon as he looked out his front door.” (NYT)

When villagers were carrying a wounded man “on a rope bed down a slope…to get help….a helicopter fired a rocket at them, killing the wounded man and two of the bearers.” (NYT)

All this is typical of the racist attacks that the U.S. military metes out to defenseless civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere to maintain its imperialist profit empire.

The Times indicated that tremendous opposition is developing to this kind of mass murder. And now Obama wants to make Afghanistan into a full-scale war, but according to Andrew Bacevich, international relations professor at Boston U., “It could be that sending 30,000 more troops is throwing money and lives down the rat hole.” (NYT, 1/15)

There is only one viable alternative to Obama’s pro- capitalist, pro-war, anti-worker mass frenzy. It lies in building for a communist revolution that will someday bury the war-makers’ capitalist system, which tortures and kills for profit.

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fs_5640BRONX, NY, January 26 — “It may be freezing…but they will not shut us down!” declared one Stella D’Oro striker. These bold workers just passed the 5-month mark of their strike. The vicious bosses, the private equity firm Brynwood Partners, have tried “…to slash these workers wages by 25%, do away with Saturday overtime and impose a new, crushing 20% employee contribution to worker health care benefits” (NY Daily News 1/22), plus eliminate four holidays, one week of vacation and all 12 paid sick days!

The strikers talk constantly about their hatred for the new owners, who broke up their lives trying to destroy the union and resell the plant as a low-wage, non-union operation. “We’re there to work hard, we didn’t want to be out here in the cold; they pushed us out the doors.”

Although these scumbag bosses have tried to bring the strikers to their knees, while replacing them with scabs (supposedly limited to two months), not one worker has crossed the picket line. “I agree that the best way to get them [the Brynwood bosses] where it hurts is by taking our labor power away from them,” one worker told a PLP teacher.

Class struggle is a harsh, punishing master of workers’ lives. It crashes into our lives in the form of wars and lockouts, layoffs and medical bills. And, in this case, racism, as the overwhelming majority of the strikers are black and Latino, super-oppressed by these bosses to rake in super-profits.

The strikers have no more health insurance. COBRA costs $1,200/month for family coverage. Applying for it doesn’t guarantee being accepted. Not having health insurance is a worry generally, but especially when you’re on picket duty in 21º weather.

“No contract, no cookies!” remains the slogan of 136 striking workers. “The support from people in the neighborhood has kept us going,” explained another striker as he took another stack of 40 CHALLENGES and placed them next to the coffee and donuts.

Within minutes most workers picked them up and began reading. “I like this paper!” exclaimed one striker. She said, “It really talks about fighting back!” She then asked if PL would help them build for their march and rally at Target here on January 31. They thanked us again for raising $5,000 dollars for their local. We said we’d try to announce the march at the next teachers union Delegate Assembly and ask for more money to support their strike. In addition to bringing the usual coffee and donuts, we also donated a bunch of hand- and foot-warmers.

“A” is one of the most active strikers, a modest guy who’s also a natural workers’ leader, leading by example. When we first met him last October, he was distributing flyers on the picket line and did so whenever the union brought some. They stopped coming a long time ago and few got printed anyway — no resources. The International gives nothing beyond strike pay. They had the gall to offer the Local a loan at interest rates higher than a bank’s!

When discussing the risk of getting sick on these four-hour mid-winter shifts, “A” told us he’d gone to a clinic run by the Espada family of Bronx politicians, seeking the free care that Espada, Sr. had promised the strikers at a rally. At the clinic Espada, Jr. became very hostile: “How do I know my father told you that? Do you have it in writing? Where’s the paper? Why has no one else come in?” So there was no free care, only insults. “A” turned his back on Espada and left.

He says “bad people” provoked the strike, people so greedy they’re crazed, almost inhuman: “Why do they want more, more, more when they’re already rich? Why do they want to ruin our lives for a few more dollars? Why are they like that?”

When the cops made the strikers tear down their well-made protective tarp and dump their chairs; when they refused a permit for a warming van; when Brynwood owner Hank Hartung lied and had a striker arrested and jailed for five days on a charge that has little chance of sticking in court — why are they like that? Is this just how people are? No, it’s capitalism as a system.

When talking to “A” about it, it feels good to be a communist, with a Party that’s studied these things and a tradition going back 160 years. Maybe “A” will join PLP in the future, take communist ideas and run with them and bring his leadership ability into the Party and the class war way beyond one strike and one company and one bosses’ nation.

Maybe along the road to revolution these strikers will join hands with workers in Israel and Gaza, and “the workers of the world will rise again.” Then the mystery of why bosses and cops and politicians and International union officials are like that will become clear to them all.
Many of the strikers openly support the slogan, “Make the bosses take the losses!”

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Confront Aerospace Layoffs, Pension Theft with Red-Led Class Struggle

SEATTLE, WA, January 26 — “Don’t you think we ought to do something about that [the scab parts]?” asked a machinist at the last union meeting. Machinist union members had been on strike for the past 17 weeks at the Vought aerospace subcontractor factory in Nashville, Tenn. Within days of walking out, the company brought busloads of scabs into the plant, escorted by armed cops. Tom Wroblewski, IAM District 751 president at Boeing, had just admitted that the struck plant was shipping scab parts to our factories in the Puget Sound. After hemming and hawing, Wroblewski finally offered a pathetic dodge. “We stand ready to help [the strikers],” he declared.

Others demanded the union quit “standing around” and start publicizing the Vought strike in our local union newspaper. “Our members don’t even know about all this,” confided a shop steward and CHALLENGE reader to one of our comrades.

Unfortunately, time ran out for these strikers (and eventually will for us as well if we don’t start organizing class solidarity). Faced with a threat to replace the 1,000 strikers with permanent scabs and the isolation perpetuated by the IAM under the useless slogan “we stand ready to help,” the Vought strikers accepted the company’s final offer soon after our meeting here. Every worker with less than 16 years will no longer accumulate pension benefits, but will have to survive on an increasingly shaky 401(k).

Union ‘Leader’ Hopes For ‘Labor Peace’

Wroblewski began this meeting hoping that the coming year would not be as “eventful” as the last, which saw an eight-week strike. Shop steward after shop steward quickly challenged this notion.

As well as calling for real solidarity with the Nashville strikers, they blasted the union for its silence about rumored layoffs. The company has since officially announced the elimination of 4,500 positions in commercial aerospace.

“We told you,” said one facilities steward, “that the contract language would not protect facilities maintenance jobs. All the company had to do was cite the economy instead of subcontractors and that’s exactly what they did.” Despite the fact that  Boeing has yet to lower production quotas, some facilities maintenance crews have been cut by 50%.

“Didn’t we tell you when we were trying to sell the contract that the new language would save 2,200 facilities and related jobs,” he answered. “Well, if you heard that, so did the company, so they must have known what we expected. Now it’s up to the company to ‘do the right thing.’” Was this guy born yesterday?!

Class Struggle Building For Revolution Our Only Hope

CHALLENGE readers have been discussing the bosses’ worldwide economic crisis. We agreed that the crisis has “upped the ante.” For example, this union meeting made it even clearer that we can’t rely on “contract language” to protect us from the bosses’ attacks.

Many still cling to the hope that Obama will save our skins, but even he’s announced his intention to go after Medicare and Social Security. Cuts in these two programs are racist since black and Latino retirees are more dependent on these government programs. Like all racist attacks, they end up hurting the whole working class.

The union’s reliance on contracts and Democratic Party politics is a failed strategy. Every layoff, foreclosure, theft of our pensions and medical care must be met with revolutionary, anti-racist class-conscious struggle. Strikes, big and small wildcats, shop walkouts and sit-ins, and increased circulation of the revolutionary communist CHALLENGE newspaper are among the most effective ways to meet these attacks.

This is no doubt a tall order. Only the slow but intensified class struggle on the job and for revolutionary communist ideas among our fellow workers, centered in activist readers groups, will prepare the ground. Keeping our eye on the revolutionary ball will eventually produce the numbers of communists we need to end the bosses’ capitalist nightmare once and for all.

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Workers’ Protests vs. Bosses’ Crisis Heats Up Iceland, Baltic Nations

The “small capitalist tigers” of the world have lost their claws because of the international economic meltdown. The coalition government of Iceland, the Nordic country of 300,000 people, has collapsed after conservative Prime Minister Geir Haarde couldn’t reach a deal with his Social-Democratic coalition partners.

Iceland’s economy grew tremendously based on financial speculation. In October, its financial system collapsed under the weight of debt, leading to a currency crisis, rising unemployment and daily protests. The economy is forecast to shrink 9.6% this year. (BBC World News, 1/26).

According to a PLP’er who just returned from Iceland, some 10,000 people demonstrated on January 24. Protestors have been throwing snowballs and other objects at the politicians in parliament. Some youth have clashed with the cops.


The former Soviet Baltic republics have also been hit hard by the bosses’ crisis. In mid-January, the largest protest since Latvia broke from the Soviet Union saw 10,000 demonstrate in the capital city of Riga against government economic policies. Some angry demonstrators clashed with the cops and attacked government buildings while burning a police car. They repudiated the government’s tough anti-worker policies, including tax increases, instituted to cope with growing economic problems that have spurred rising unemployment. Latvia was once the fastest growing European Union economy until the financial bubble burst last year.

That same week, cops in Lithuania used tear gas and rubber-tipped bullets to disperse thousands of protesters outside the country’s parliament. The rally was called by trade unions to protest an austerity drive in which the center-right government is seeking to slash public-sector wages by up to 15% and raise the consumption tax.

Many workers in the former Soviet Republics had the illusion that free-market capitalism would surpass state capitalism which by then ruled the former Soviet Union. But most workers saw their standard of living drop, losing whatever social gains remained from the original communist-led Soviet Union. The only ones benefiting from free market-capitalism were the “oligarchs” who basically stole the wealth created by the working class.

Today, the capitalist meltdown and its drive for a new world war to re-divide the world are shattering illusions some workers might have had about the profit system. The task is to rebuild the communist movement, learning from the strengths and errors of past revolutions. There is no middle road for the international working class.

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France: Workers Must Unite Immigrants, Youth in Looming General Strike

le che au dessus des travailleurs de l'automobilePARIS, January 24 — A 24-hour general strike called by eight trade union confederations is set to rock France. Both government and private-sector workers are likely to participate in large numbers. Demands include: limiting job cuts; reducing income from stocks and bonds to increase wages; changing European Union policy to bolster consumption, the welfare state, and social housing; and regulating international finance.

These tepid reformist demands show that, in the name of “unity,” the most radical confederations are once again lining up behind the lowest common denominator acceptable to the right-wing unions. Even in their independent position statements, the radical unions go no further than calling for renewing the general strike, day by day, and “refusing to pay for the capitalist crisis.”

All this is a far cry from what workers here really need: revolutionary leadership to overthrow capitalism and establish communist workers’ rule.
In addition to private-sector workers in the metal trades, mining, banking, telecommunications and retailing, public workers in health, rail and urban transport, the post office, gas and electricity and education will join the strike.

The January 29 walkout will also hit the campuses, where teachers and researchers are feeling the lash of an increasingly authoritarian government. In December, French president Nicolas Sarkozy increased his control over the broadcast media. This month he shattered illusions of “judicial impartiality” by eliminating the examining magistrates who supposedly counter-balance executive power. Now he’s moving to bring the education system under greater autocratic control.

This constitutes a three-pronged attack: (1) changing the status of faculty, (2) changing the recruitment of primary and secondary school teachers, and (3) reinforcing religious education.

Previously, all faculty pursued research and teaching in equal measure. Now university presidents will use their new powers under last year’s LRU law to give the “best minds” more time for research and administrative tasks, while the others take up the slack and teach longer hours. Thus the presidents will be able to advance teachers who side with the bosses.

In the past, many teaching positions were filled by national competitive exams. Successful candidates were then paid during one year of teacher training. Now, three roadblocks will make it harder for working-class people to become teachers: (1)candidates will have to write a master’s thesis while studying for the competitive exam (difficult if you’re working to pay your way through school — as do 70% of the students in the working-class Paris suburbs, many of whom are of North or sub-Saharan African origin); (2) candidates’ “files” (their social background), will become a selection criterion, in addition to exam results; and (3) there will be no paid year of teacher training.

Before, the French government did not recognize diplomas awarded by Vatican-controlled universities on a par with those from state universities. Now a treaty with the Vatican will allow conservative Catholic institutions to play a bigger role in shaping the French “meritocracy.”

The situation on the campuses is a microcosm of French society. With inter-imperialist rivalry mounting in recent years, the French bosses have steadily increased their state’s capacity to regiment and control society. This accelerated with the May 2007 election of President Sarkozy. Now the financial and economic crises are pushing the bosses to move even faster, with full-blown fascism becoming an increasingly probable outcome.

In the past, the union leaders and many workers have looked the other way while immigrant workers and youth from the former French colonies in Africa suffered police terror and racist super-exploitation. The lack of anti-racist unity with these immigrant workers and youth has weakened ALL workers. The best outcome that can emerge from this general strike and many other struggles is the building of an anti-racist, multi-ethnic revolutionary leadership to fight the sharper attacks the working class is facing. That’s the road that will lead to building a society without any racist bosses: communism!

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General Strike Shuts Guadeloupe

POINTE-A-PITRE, GUADELOUPE, January 24 — Workers here have shut down this island since January 20 with a general strike against the high cost of living. Over 3,000 marched here on the first day. The workers of this French overseas department in the Caribbean — 70% of whose 500,000 inhabitants are black — are showing the way for all workers in France and the Caribbean being hit hard by the worldwide capitalist meltdown.

Determined flying squads of strikers yesterday closed banks, stores and shopping centers. The island’s 115 gas stations have been closed since January 19. Electricity production has been cut 70%.

The Kont Pwofitasyon Collective, composed of nearly all the trade unions as well as political parties and associations, organized the strike. Collective spokesman Elie Domota said it would continue next week if the French government did not abandon its tactic of stalling over the 120 demands advanced by the collective.

The weakness of this collective is its all-class unity character, which therefore includes local bosses who basically want a bigger share of the exploitation of workers on the island. Contrary to this, workers must turn their anger and struggles into schools for communism and raise the demand that a system which can’t serve the basic interests of the working class must be destroyed.

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The Devil Does Wear Prada

As I write this letter, I can’t help but feel like an imposter. Employed in fashion — the pulpit that promotes luxury, vanity, classism and consumption — my world would appear to be in diametric opposition to the PLP cause. I live and work in the industry’s capital, New York City (yes the devil does wear Prada). I have a front row seat to all the goings on behind the curtain — the anorexia, the egos, and the inflated salaries.

While it is the fruits of the seamstress’s labor (mostly women but a few are also men) being marketed, the budget for a day’s photo shoot dwarfs her yearly salary. She toils, in many countries including the U.S., often under illegal conditions. The immigrant/sweatshop worker will not be celebrated, much less invited to the downtown soiree to be toasted alongside the boss. Her sons and daughters will be extracted to go and fight this country’s “patriotic” wars, and possibly return maimed or in a box.

I’ve grown disillusioned and angry not only at this “world” but at myself — for subjecting myself to such a bloated and extravagant existence. Consciousness was always within me though — empathizing with people from different walks of life — but doing what I could and the efforts I found myself engaged in were not enough. A new approach to the problem from a different angle was needed.

I had the good fortune to be invited to a PLP study group. I was captivated by the discussion amongst these young people: racism as capitalism’s tool to divide and separate, war for oil, the U.S.’s class system — an especially taboo subject in today’s society.

Now I can’t deny that the working class is systematically kept down and controlled by the bosses. My resignation has been replaced by the question: “Is it possible to build this new Utopia, and if so, how could I make a difference?” I want to be a part of the hope and the action, on the front line.

One stormy evening I stood in solidarity with the Stella D’Oro workers who had been on strike for four months. I was inspired and awed by their commitment to stand for what they believed in, and the sacrifices made by the few for all.

As I wrestle with what it means to join PLP, its ideas and its struggle, as well as with my own struggles and contradictions, I am all the more empowered. I feel assured to be part of the collective standing steadfast committed to fight inequality, racism, classism, capitalism, and imperialism.

Part of the collective

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Capitalist ‘SILO’ Tax Schemes Threaten All Transit Workers and Riders

LOS ANGELES, CA — You may never have heard of SILO, but this tax evasion scheme of the MTA is one of the reasons why school children lack books and clinics and hospitals in working-class neighborhoods have closed down. Taxes that should have gone to pay for these services were pocketed by the corporations in SILO: Sale In, Lease Out. Now that it has blown up in their face, the MTA and the public officials are going to make the riders and MTA workers pay in the upcoming contract.

Starting in the late 1980’s, Los Angeles MTA and Rapid Tranist Division (RTD) entered into rip-off tax deals with private investors. Over the years MTA sold $1.5 billion worth of transit assets to large banks for $65 million. In all, 1,000 LA Metro buses, trains, five transit divisions and even a parking lot were sold. (LA Times 10/18/ 08) After buying government property for pennies on the dollar, the banks stood to make extra money by leasing the property back to MTA. But, the big prize was the $4.4 billion nationwide tax swindle that these banks gobbled up.

LA MTA is one of the largest players in these illegal tax scams. After repeated IRS warnings, SILO’s were ruled an abusive tax shelter in late 2003. The investors had until the end of 2008 to settle up. Losing their huge tax break, banks searched for a way out.

As the U.S. capitalist economy plunged, the banks found their escape hatch. The insurer for the SILO’s was AIG, who crapped out so big they required two federal bailouts at $150 billion. When AIG’s credit rating dropped, the banks were off the hook. Thirty-one of the biggest public transit agencies in the U.S. were left holding the bag. Banks now own trains, buses and transit property valued at $16 billion that they no longer want to keep on leasing to the transit agencies but that these can’t afford to buy back.

Like the nearly bankrupt Detroit auto bosses, but with much less publicity, the heads of major transit agencies, including MTA’s Roger Snoble, scurried to Washington for help to buy back the equipment. Unlike the auto bosses, they didn’t get it.

They need public transit to get workers to work. But as with the auto industry, whether bailout or bankruptcy, a re-organization will land squarely on the backs of the workers and riders of public transit. Black and Latino workers who rely on public transit to get to their jobs will be disproportionately affected by racist cuts. If we look at the give -backs forced on auto workers by union misleaders, we can see what capitalism is planning for workers at LA Metro: lower wages, trashed work rules, costlier medical and pension plans.

The grinding economic train wreck is teaching us an old lesson anew: we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting rid of a system that has one ugly surprise after another for masses of workers, including those of us who work in and use public transit.

Our CHALLENGE in LA Transit

All three LA Metro contracts are up June 30, 2009. The heads of the unions, together with MTA’s new boss, will prepare take-away contracts for us. Our PLP transit club met to plan how to put CHALLENGE, in the hands of many more of our co-workers. By raising the number of readers and communist political discussions, transit drivers, mechanics, and clerks can advance under attack. With CHALLENGE’s revolutionary outlook and with deep, long-term relationships with our friends who read the paper, we can fight the bosses’ attacks and build a growing hatred of the racist profit system that threatens us, and finally steer it to the junkyard of history where it belongs.



valk1In July 1944, German military officers attempted a plot, called Valkyrie, to kill Adolf Hitler. The film “Valkyrie” paints these plotters as anti-Nazi heroes. But in reality the assassination and coup attempt was just a fight among fascists. The political leadership of the plot opposed the Nazi (National Socialist) Party and it’s military wing, the SS. But, for all intents and purposes, the Valkyrie plotters were Nazis who built the fascist regime much more than they ever harmed it.

The movie only hints at what the conspirators stood for when we see the political leadership of the conspiracy insisting they surrender to the West, end the war, and close the concentration camps. They aim to arrest all members of the Nazi party and the SS and stage a coup placing Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, identified only as an elected politician, as Chancellor of a post-Hitler Germany.

This leads viewers to believe that the plotters are anti-racist and were motivated to save millions being killed in war. However, the plotters’ urgency to kill Hitler and take control of Germany was spurred by Germany’s military losses in the war, anti-communism, and a different but no less racist vision of fascism.

The film focuses on Lieutenant Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg — a German military officer dissatisfied with Hitler and Nazi leadership and wounded by British airfire in Tunisia — who enters into an anti-Hitler conspiracy of the German high command.

Stauffenberg, an aristocrat born in his family’s castle, was impressed by Germany’s initial military successes. Participating in Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland, Stauffenberg wrote home that Jews and “mixed races” are “a people only comfortable under the lash” and would “serve our agriculture well.” Before the invasion Stauffenberg refused to participate in a ruling-class anti-Hitler movement unrelated to the Valkyrie plot.
After Germany’s massive military and political defeat in Stalingrad in February 1943 Stauffenberg changed his mind. He concluded that not assassinating Hitler would be a greater evil than having the communist Soviet Union occupy Germany.

In late 1943, Stauffenberg dictated demands to the Allies as conditions for post-Hitler peace. They included: retaining Germany’s pre-World War I eastern border (stripped by WW I ’s victors), keeping Austria and the Sudetenland (invaded by Germany early in WW II), and continuing to occupy territories east of Germany.

Goerdeler also generally supported the Nazi regime early on. He was mayor of Leipzig and served as Hitler’s Price Commissioner in the early and mid-1930s. In October 1935, almost four years before the invasion of Poland, Goerdeler sent Hitler a memo recommending decreased arms production, devaluing the currency, and opening up industry to foreign investment — essentially that Germany’s ruling class would benefit from allying with Western imperialists, instead of competing for supremacy.

Hitler’s economists disagreed and the Nazi leadership pressured Goerdeler to resign as mayor and blocked his employment in Krupp AG, Germany’s biggest company. While Goerdeler opposed some of Hitler’s militarist economic policies, he admitted his own policies would result in 2-2.5 million unemployed workers. Clearly, Goerdeler had no problem devising his own fascist plans.

After Goerdeler’s resignation in March 1937 he became Director of overseas sales at Robert Bosch GmbH, a major auto supplier that heavily profited off slave labor made possible by the Nazi regime. Goerdeler used his position to organize an anti-Hitler coup amongst the German ruling class.

As Germany’s armies faced certain defeat from the Soviets, Goerdeler contacted the British government several times to negotiate a post-Hitler peace. Like Stauffenberg, he insisted that Germany could not surrender to the communists and made similar demands of the Allies.

The most heroic spies and saboteurs among the German high command were communists and Soviet sympathizers who leaked intelligence to the Red Army and committed sabotage, helping communists kill 8 out of 10 Nazi troops in the war. Working-class Jews led rebellions in the Warsaw ghetto and at the Sobibor concentration camp. Many German workers housed Jews during the Holocaust. In every occupied territory the Nazis faced armed resistance, often led by communists. Our class has plenty of real heroes. The fascist plotters of Valkyrie are not among them.

We should not be fooled by the film to support any group of fascists and imperialists over another. Translate “Valkyrie” into the modern-day U.S. and you get more support for the liberal rulers who back Obama and the Democrats vs. Bush/McCain. However, both groups of U.S. rulers belong to the racist ruling class, just like the Valkyrie plotters and Hitler did. Instead, we should take inspiration from the Red Army that succeeded in smashing the Nazi war machine.

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