Monthly Archives: September 2009

University of California Students and Faculty Fight Back:



What kind of system puts the needs of oil profiteers and capitalist bankers over the health, safety and education of the rest of us? A capitalist profit system.

As the University of California increases tuition by 9% now and a total of 32% in the spring, faculty salaries are being cut and campus workers laid off. The current cut in the state budget for higher education (UC’s, CSU’s and community colleges) is $3 billion. Financial aid, loans, and work study are all being cut. The UC’s have reduced freshman enrollment by 6%. Faculty and staff at the UC’s and CSU’s are forced to take unpaid days off, and part time teachers have been laid off or had their hours reduced. The higher student fees will buy larger classes.

These cuts are racist and anti-working class, targeting black, Latino and all low income students and workers the hardest, those who find it harder to pay for school. The cuts come as the official unemployment rate in California is 12% and the actual rate is at least double that, including those who have given up looking for work. The current capitalist crisis is greater than any since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The California legislature has cut more than $15 billion from the state budget, which includes large cuts for welfare and health care, especially the Healthy Families program serving low income children.

Banks and corporations like General Motors have been bailed out for trillions of dollars of workers’ taxes. The federal budget for expanding wars in Iraq ad Afghanistan for control of oil, oil pipelines and profits is increasing. Since the Iraq war started in 2003, federal grants to the states have fallen steadily, while money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has constantly risen. The Federal government has been sucking money out of the states to pay for its imperialist wars. In addition, the California prison population has increased about 75% since 1990, three times faster than the adult population. California spends more on prisons than any other state, with $10.3 billion budgeted for “Corrections and Rehabilitation” in 2008-2009 compared with $14.5 billion for higher education.

The priorities of the US Federal and state government are imperialist war, prisons, and fascist social control. Last week, LA cops and Sheriffs killed 4 black workers and youth in separate racist killings. Racist police terror is increasing to try to terrorize youth and workers and keep us from fight back against these attacks.  At the same time, Obama and all the politicians and administrators are pushing the patriotic idea of “shared sacrifice”, that we should all pull together in this economic crisis to share the cuts. But the bankers and the top UC and CSU administrators are not sacrificing—we are! This patriotism only serves the capitalists and imperialists, not us.

The budget cuts and economic crisis are not a natural disaster, or the result of a few greedy speculators (they were certainly greedy!). This crisis is built into the greedy, reckless capitalist system itself, a system whose main goal is profit for the capitalists through exploiting the vast majority, the working class, and through ever-wider wars to defend their empire from rival capitalists. Waiting for the crisis to end is not a plan. In fact, administrators have been told that the current cuts are permanent.

We can’t fall for the administrations’ divide and conquer tactics. We need to build unity between students, faculty, and campus workers to fight any and all cuts and attacks. This unity needs to be expanded to include unity with workers, high school students and soldiers beyond the Universities, all of whom are suffering from this capitalist crisis and expanding wars. We should build actions and strikes, including a statewide strike against the cuts.

Even more important, we should use our unity to strike and fight back against this system, capitalism, that only serves the needs of the capitalists at the expense of the vast majority of workers, students, teachers and soldiers the world over.

Our goal should be to fight for a system that meets the needs of the international working class and its allies among students and professionals. That system is a true communist system, where we produce, learn and fight to meet the needs of our class, not the profits of the bosses. For education to serve the needs of the majority, we need a system based on meeting those needs. Capitalism is based on exploitation, racism, crises and war, moving to wider war leading to WWIII. We need to fight to end it and build a system where those who produce all value also run society. Socialism maintained too many aspects of capitalism, like wages and inequality. Progressive Labor Party fights for communism, where we will produce and share what we produce based on need, not wages or profit.

Read CHALLENGE, PLP’s newspaper. Join us! Call 323-491-5125,


UC esta despidiendo a muchos trabajadores  debido a la crisis economica. Pero, los patrones crean sus crisis economicas y nosotros pagamos por ellas,  Por ejemplo:

    • ¿Creen Uds. que Mark Yudof, el presidente de UC tiene problemas economicos? Crisis o no crisis, esta recibiendo intacto su salario anual de $800,000 dolares. Ademas, recibe $200 mil dolares al año para alquiler de su casa, mientras la mansion donde va a vivir es remodelada a un costo de $10 millones de dolares,
    • La UC tiene en fondo de $4 mil 500 millones que no estan siendo tocados. Aunque les sobra el dinero, estan atacando a los trabajadores con despidos y a los estudiantes con grandes aumentos de cuoatas.

Que la UC no tenga problems economicos no quiere decir que no haya crisis economica. El mundo capitalista enfrenta su peor crisis economica desde la GranDepresion de los 1930. Pero la crisis CAPITALISTA ES UNA CRISIS DE SOBRE PRODUCCION – NO DE ESCASES O sea, los capitalistas han producido mas mercancias de las que pueden vender. Por ejemplo, hay millones de casas pudriéndose vacias, millones de toneladas de comida que son tiradas diariamente y a los USAgricultores se les paga por no sembrar. Sin embargo, mas de 3.5 millones de USAmericanos – 1.6 millones de ellos niños – estan desamparados durante el año y 30 millones – 12 millones de ellos niños – se acuestan con hambre todas las noches.

DINERO PARA BANCOS-POLICIAS – MIGRA FASCISTA Y GUERRA IMPERIALISTA Los patrones no tienen dinero para nosotros pero si para sus cuerpos represivos que usan para aterrorizarnos y obligarnos a aceptar pasivamente sus recortes, despidos y explotacion racista. Mientras Villaraigosa despide trabajadores esta contratando a mil nuevos policias. Obama tiere dinero para rescatar bancos, emplear mas agentes de la Migra y gastar cientos de miles de millones en las guerras imperialistas por petroleo en el Oriente Medio. Sin embargo, les está recortando el presupuesto a las escuelas y universidades, y dejando que millones pierdan sus casas, sus empleos y no tengan cobertura medica.

Ademas, guarda silencio ante los asesinatos impunes de trabajadores negros por sus escuadrones de la muerte gubernamentales – como los cuatro trabajadores negros recientemente asesinados a sangre fria en el area de LA por el Sherifato. Todos los trabajadores y estudiantes debemos protestar estos asesinatos racistas y comprender que es su mensaje para nosotros: ¡No osen rebelarse porque les pasara los mismo!

SOLUCION CAPITALISTA A SU CRISIS: FASCISMO Y GUERRA MUNDIAL La 2ª Guerra Mundial fue necesaria para ponerle fin a la Gran Depresion de los 1930 a un costo de mas de 100 millones de trabajadores y soldados muertos. Ahora los patrones preparan una 3ª Guerra Mundial para salir de su crisis y decidir quien de ellos va a dominar  el mundo. Quieren usar el patriotismo para ganarnos a trabajarles como esclavos y a morir y matar en sus campos de batalla. Si el patriotismo no es suficiente, usaran el terror fascista.

Los trabajadores  no tenemos nada que ganar en esta pelea de buitres y todo que perder. Nuestros intereses yacen en organizarnos con estuditantes y soldados – nacional e internacionalmete – para ponerle fin a este sistema infernal capitalista con una revolucion comunista. Nosotros podemos y debemos construir un mundo donde el sudor de nuestro trabajo sirva  para llenar las necesidades de nuestra clase trabajadora internacional, no los bolsillos de los patrones. Necesitamos un mundo sin patrones, dinero, esclavitud asalariada, racismo, sexismo, explotacion, fronteras y guerras imperialistas. Para lograr eso necesitmaos ingresar y contruir al PLP en un movimiento masivo de estudiantes, soldados y trabajadores.  ¡Unetenos!

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Follow Stella D’Oro Workers’ Lead Against Rulers’ Attacks:‘Make the Bosses Take the Losses’

NEW YORK CITY, September 12 — Stella D’Oro bosses told its workers this week that they will be thrown on the street and that their bakery will be closed — the brand and some machinery having been sold to Lance, a non-union company. It will make the products at a bakery in Ashland, Ohio.

Stella workers, having struck for 11 months in a fiercely militant struggle against wage-cuts, descended with their supporters on the otherwise silent Labor Day parade today. Their contingent of 350 filled a city block with banners, signs, and chants of “Keep Stella in the Bronx: Fight, Fight, Fight!” and “The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated.” Cleaners from Domestic Workers United and musicians from the Rude Mechanicals group made the chanters’ rhythms dance and sparkle.

The effect on workers marching past was electric. Eyes brightened, fists went up, the booming chants echoed from scores of marchers, especially the many ranks of construction workers walking behind or riding on their heavy rigs. Imagine those rigs surrounding the Stella plant, preventing any machines being moved out!

“Keep Stella in the Bronx” struck a real chord with New York workers who identify the Bronx as a working-class borough. If they didn’t know about the Stella struggle, they do now.

PLP’s Stella supporters helped build the action from within our own unions and mass organizations, and continued the flow of CHALLENGE sales and chants like, “Kick the Bosses in the Ass: Power to the Working Class;” and “Make the Bosses Take the Losses: Keep Stella Open.” PL’ers added the chant, “Whose Factory? Our Factory!” which attacks the essence of capitalism, and the internationalist chant in Spanish, “From north to south, from east to west, we’ll win the battle, whatever the cost.”

The workers are planning a September 25 march and rally from Wall Street, site of Lance’s banker, Goldman Sachs, to City Hall. PLP members are backing the workers as they absorb this heavy blow, helping them contact the Ashland workers to explain what happened here, and planning how to fight for their jobs.

The bosses’ laws protect their ownership of the means of production, enabling them to move around assets indiscriminately without any thought  about the effect on workers. None of us is safe under their rule. The Communist Manifesto described this inevitable destructive effect of capitalism back in 1848: “Everything solid melts into air.”

But workers inevitably resist being discarded like a bad batch of cookies. We’re learning from such battles that the real war is against capitalism itself, and that our international revolutionary party can create an alternative, a communist society where workers rule and share all the value we produce. But for that to happen, we must melt capitalism into the air.

These are days of hard political debate and soul-searching struggle among the Stella workers themselves. Their communist party, the PLP, is among them with practical help and unbreakable friendships, with the ideas of CHALLENGE, and with trust in the working class.

It is workers such as this dynamic international group at a small Bronx bakery who will help make PLP a mass party able to destroy the whole rotten system.

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Oil $$$ Put U.S. Rulers in Iraq for the Long Haul

Most everyone has come to understand that the U.S. rulers’ invasion of Iraq was all about oil. But not even the oil barons knew just how much was up for grabs. Now it’s revealed that Barack Obama has 8.2 million reasons not to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq anytime soon. That’s how many barrels of oil companies like Exxon Mobil claim they can pump every day — if it ever becomes safe for them to operate there.

Stunning production targets emerging from Iraq’s ongoing oilfield licensing talks with major firms put it on a strategic par with oil kingpin Saudi Arabia. The rising stakes underlie the recent upsurge in Iraqi factional violence and guarantee not only a permanent U.S. military occupation but future deadly “surges” to help Exxon & Co. realize their goal. Production today stagnates around 2.3 million barrels a day (mbd).

Invading Iraq was the brainchild of U.S. Big Oil. Occupation plans took shape in a high-level joint project of the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the James A. Baker Institute, imperialist think-tanks both closely linked to Exxon Mobil and J.P. Morgan Chase. Just before the 2003 invasion, the CFR-Baker cabal issued a report, “Iraq: The Day After,” promising that “U.S. and allied military forces will quickly occupy, control, and protect oil fields” in order to “achieve more significant increases — say, to 6 mbd by 2010.”

When the Bushites bungled the invasion by sending too few troops, the liberal, imperialist wing of U.S. capitalists blamed renegade neo-cons like Cheney and Rumsfeld for launching a misguided “war of choice.” But U.S. imperialists cannot afford to walk away from the 8 mbd windfall that new technology makes possible.

Saudi Rulers Unreliable Allies for U.S. Rulers

Controlling 8 mbd of Iraqi crude would sharply reduce U.S. dependence on shaky Saudi Arabia as the world’s sole “swing producer,” meaning a country having enough spare capacity to adjust production in an economic or military crisis.

But Saudi royals rule a powder keg. Though they profit from the most lucrative long-term deal in capitalism’s history, serving as Exxon’s biggest oil supplier, their 30 million subjects receive nothing from this bonanza. They sympathize more with al Qaeda and Hamas than with Washington. Prince Turki al-Faisal, former chief of Saudi intelligence, in an op-ed piece in the NY Times (9/13/09), said it would be unwise for his country to normalize diplomatic relations with U.S. ally Israel. The prince fears that Saudi workers’ anger at Israel’s concentration-camp treatment of Palestinians may dethrone his oily dynasty.

So Exxon Mobil-led groups have bids in for 6.3 mbd, or almost four-fifths of Iraq’s potential [See Table]. Meanwhile the U.S. war machine remains ever poised to invade Saudi Arabia to prop up its ruling princes if the masses were to rebel. The Pentagon has massive bases to the north (Iraq), to the east (Bahrain and Qatar), to the west (Djibouti) and to the south (Diego Garcia).

However, Exxon & Co. shouldn’t start counting their Iraqi chickens just yet. Iraq still has no national law governing oil contracts. And no sooner had Iraq held its first oilfield auction in June, “the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government condemned it as unconstitutional.” (Energy Intelligence, 9/7/09)

More ‘Surges’ On The Agenda?

Fighting among rival Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and attacks on U.S. bases have intensified since the oil projects were revealed. The NY Times (9/13/09) suggests that U.S. troops may have to seize the streets again: “After the withdrawal of most American combat forces from Iraq’s cities on June 30, violence has remained a constant, with attackers able to plant and detonate bombs….seemingly with impunity.”

U.S. rulers and their allies are ready to worsen an already sickening equation: over one million dead Iraqis and more than 4,000 dead GIs “in exchange for” eight million daily barrels of crude.

We need a sharpening fight against U.S. imperialism — in the shops and unions, the communities and churches, among GIs, and in all mass organizations — to mount militant battles against the U.S. bosses’ deadly goals. Out of these class struggles, tying the mountainous racist and economic attacks on the working class to the need to exterminate the profit system, we can build a mass PLP that can lead a communist revolution to destroy capitalism and its endless oil wars.

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Howard U. Students, Workers Unite vs. Job and Service Cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 4 — Over 300 Howard University students, CHALLENGE readers and workers protested the administration’s plan to cut services and jobs, and hike tuition. Workers from SEIU Local 32BJ joined in the rally in support of the students and also demanded that the University stop its plan to contract out union jobs.

The Howard University Student Association (HUSA) raised 13 demands, including the firing of the executive leadership in the Office of Student Affairs due to their efforts to censor students; a public, transparent budget so students could see just how real the supposed deficit is; improvements in on-campus housing facilities; expansion and upgrade of the computer network; and a recycling plan to comply with the law and to reduce global warming.

Administrators refused to meet with the protestors, some of whom decided to march into the administration building to confront these bosses despite the HUSA leadership’s effort to stop them. The campus police shoved and kicked some of the students, including militant members of the Political Education and Action Committee (PEAC), to keep them out. Hard to believe that the new president’s slogan is “Students First!”

The economic crisis is hitting universities hard, and they in turn are hitting students and workers with big tuition hikes, cuts in services, layoffs, contracting out union jobs, and a more repressive atmosphere.  The source of the economic crisis is the capitalist system with its single-minded focus on maximizing profit at the expense of everyone else. The universities’ role is to actually serve these capitalist interests.

During the same week that the protest occurred, Howard University announced a $2.5 million grant program from the Director of National Intelligence to develop a curriculum that will feed a pipeline of students into the CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies. This effort to provide more agents for imperialism complements the existing Howard University ROTC programs. ROTC enrolls almost 200 Howard students per year by bribing them with scholarships to become the executioners of workers and students in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars are waged so that U.S. corporations can continue to dominate world oil markets and pipelines and maximize their profits. Military officers and intelligence agents are hit men for U.S. imperialism!

The struggle that heated up this week must begin to join with workers and students around the world to eliminate the source of the vicious attacks they face from profit-hungry imperialists across the globe. A concrete step these students can take in this process is joining the PLP.

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Call for Teachers’ Strike vs. Fascist School Reform

LOS ANGELES, CA, Sept. 14 — At the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) area union meetings last week, some teachers called for a strike against the attacks on students and teachers, showing that “education reform” is fascist and part of the rulers’ moves to prepare for wider war.

On August 25, the Board of Education voted to turn over up to 200 lower-performing schools and 51 new schools to charter school operators.  This is fascist reorganization of the local school system by a U.S. ruling class that is in an on-going war and an era-defining economic crisis. After years of neglect this school reorganization is a qualitative shift as the bosses attempt to create a school system that will produce technically-trained and patriotic young workers to join the military and future war production. PLP needs to work among these youth who are future workers and soldiers, key forces for revolution.

This school reorganization is also being pushed in Obama’s so called “Race to the Top,” where his education secretary Arne Duncan, has proposed a competition for $4.35 billion in  federal grants to carry out “school reform.” States like California, where teachers’ unions had won laws that prohibit tying teacher evaluation and pay scales to student test data (so called “merit pay”) will be ineligible for these funds. But Duncan was in Sacramento recently to help State Senator Gloria Romero’s bid to change the law to make California eligible. And the LA Board of education just voted to enter the “Race to the Top” competition, also agreeing to tie teacher evaluations to test scores. These tests emphasize patriotism. Tying test scores to teacher evaluations is a way to enforce teaching patriotic lies and allow administrations to get rid of higher-paid older teachers while hiring younger teachers for lower wages and benefits.

In the face of the current attack, UTLA leadership is urging teachers to write local proposals to do school reform themselves.  While the union pays lip service to organizing the Charter Schools, they are not even trying to organize all teachers, including charter employees, into the same bargaining unit. UTLA President Duffy, loyal servant of capitalism, calls on teachers to get involved in so-called grass roots school reorganization such as the innovation division, “i-design.”  Such reorganization would be done to meet the ruling class’s needs, but would have to be approved by the school board and probably require a corporate partner.  This is not grass roots; it’s doing the bosses’ patriotic work to remake the schools to better prepare students for war, to defend a system of exploitation, racism and war. Local school control means teachers working with students and parents to administer their fascist system.  We can’t unite with those who oppress us, exploit us and send us off to war!

More layoffs and foreclosures are coming, so patriotic education reform will take on more importance for the bosses. A trade union response to this attack is totally inadequate. PLP calls on teachers, students and parents to organize a strike against the fascist reorganization of public schools.  Organizing such a strike, based on expanding CHALLENGE networks, builds the unity of parents, teachers, and students to prepare us for the struggle to get rid of the capitalist system and build a communist society.

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Workers in Honduras, El Salvador Unite vs. Coup Bosses’ Attacks

EL SALVADOR, September 13 — Recently at a meeting of teachers from El Salvador and Honduras, the latter (a member of the federation of Honduran workers) thanked the Salvadoran workers for their working-class solidarity in the face of the current crisis besetting workers in Honduras following the coup that ousted Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya is a millionaire member of the Honduran bourgeoisie who opposed trade deals with the U.S. and its allies, instead veering towards the Russian and Chinese imperialists through Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

The teacher from Honduras told of the temporary reforms financed by Chavez (to expand his influence in the region), enabling Zelaya to raise teachers’ wages to $1,000 a month (as compared to $500 a month for a teacher in El Salvador); afternoon snacks at schools; free uniforms and notebooks, among other measures. This has put Zelaya in conflict with sections of the Honduran ruling class, who were angered by Honduras joining ALBA (Chavez’s trade alliance) and Petrocaribe (Chavez’s oil alliance).

In Honduras they barely had time to cry for Roger Vallejo Soriano, a 38-year-old teacher shot in the head last July 30th during a demonstration protesting the coup, when another teacher, Martin Florencio Rivera, 37, was stabbed 25 times and killed after having participated in a wake for Soriano. All this is part of the brutal repression carried out by the security forces of the government of Roberto Michelleti.

Soriano was a victim of the on-going attacks by the police and the army, along with rapes of women. The teacher who spoke at the meeting was sprayed with cancer-causing chemicals when she participated in the marches.

In response to a PLP comrade’s question about the lessons drawn from this brutality, workers from Honduras replied: “We definitely must organize much better against the attacks of the system; we’re certain that the international bosses, including those in El Salvador, were involved in this coup.”

Said a PLP comrade, “If the bosses are organized, why can’t the international working class be organized for our own interests.”

This story reminded us of the massacres teachers in El Salvadoran suffered in the 1970’s and 1980’s. A PL teacher who participated in these struggles and saw the army and police kill many teachers in front of their students related his experiences in the teachers’ resistance in El Salvador and invited the teachers from Honduras to organize with PLP internationally to resist the bosses’ attacks.

The teachers and the international working class must see that the return of Manuel Zelaya, another capitalist exploiter, or any other capitalist president, will not end our problems. Those who exploit and kill the workers continue in power. There’s no reason to keep electing them.

The working class must fight for power by building its international party to organize for communist revolution, not continue supporting the murderous, rotten capitalist system. We must spread our networks of our revolutionary communist newspaper CHALLENGE internationally, to organize at work, school and in the fields to fight for a just system, communism. That’s how we can avenge the deaths of our class brothers and sisters.

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Paraguay: Lugo Talks ‘Left’ but Intensifies Capitalist Exploitation

PARAGUAY — One year after taking power, “Leftist” President Fernando Lugo’s promises have proven to be empty. Liberation can only come when the latifundistas (large agricultural capitalists) are expropriated, imperialists are expelled, industrial capitalists overthrown, and workers seize power through revolution with communist goals of equality and collectivity.

Since he led no revolution and workers did not take power, Lugo, like all capitalist politicians, maneuvers among the U.S. and European imperialists, the Bolivarian Bloc, and the Brazilian ruling class to try to cut deals for the Paraguayan capitalists and landowners.  These deals have all deepened the exploitation and oppression of workers in Paraguay.

He has made health care free in public health centers, begun to develop limited social programs for children, and attempted to cut a better deal with Brazil over the price it pays for energy from the jointly-operated Itaipu Hydroelectric plant. But these reforms pale next to the severe exploitation workers face in Paraguay.

Soy, Sesame and Capitalist Poison

Paraguay is the 6th largest producer of soy in the world.  The players in the sesame and soy game in Paraguay are the small rural farmers, Paraguayan and Brazilian Agribusiness, large landowners (Latifundistas — 2% of the population owns 70% of the land!), and major U.S. companies including Monsanto, Cargill and Syngeta.

The agrochemical and biotech companies are helping the latifundistas force peasants off their land by legal tricks and poisoning crops. How? The majority of the soy produced in Paraguay is based on Monsanto Corporation’s transgenic seeds that are genetically modified for resistance to the herbicide glyphosate. Massive spraying of glyphosate kills everything else, including small farmers’ crops. Lugo’s solution? Ban such spraying 100 yards from waterways, wetlands, roads and populated areas. But this barely touches the problem of the small farmers, and may even be reversed given the power of the latifundistas and their imperialist allies. In 2008, the soy production rate was twice what it was in 1998. The major effect of the soy planting is that it has effectively displaced thousands of rural farmers who plant subsistence crops. Activists have begun to occupy big farms and have mobilized in the streets of Asuncion to fight against the expansion of soybean plantations.

Corruption, Courts, Cops

The Paraguayan Supreme Court judges were appointed over decades by the Colorado party (the fascist party that had historic ties to Hitler) and is both corrupt and powerful. The judges refuse justice to workers. For instance, they have been deaf to the appeals and demonstrations of workers seeking justice in the Ycua Bolanos case. This involved a fire at a supermarket whose owners (Coloradoans) ordered their security guards to lock the doors, killing over 350 people.  President Lugo has opposed the appointment of another Coloradoan, Lovera Canete, to the court, but has declared he will not veto the right-wing Senate’s appointment of him.

Even more shocking, however, to Lugo supporters, has been Lugo’s decision to allow fascist Sabino Augusto Montanaro to re-enter Paraguay. Montanaro fled when the Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship fell in 1989 because he feared retribution due to the torture and murders he ordered of Political Military Organization (OPM) fighters, Paraguayan Communist Party members, and their allies. In fact, Montanaro was directly responsible for the assassination of the guerilla column Mcal Lopez.  Lugo puts out the welcome mat for this fascist trash? Not the mark of a friend of the working class!

The Way Forward

Workers in Paraguay have a long way to go in the class struggle. Lugo misleads workers into the arms of latifundistas, capitalists, and imperialists, weakening the resistance to exploitation in the same way that Obama’s popularity is misleading many workers into supporting imperialist war in Afghanistan.

Instead of supporting these phony leftists and building false hopes that sooner or later demoralize our class, we must build a revolutionary communist movement for change based on workers’ power, rather than on wishful thinking that a charismatic leader will deliver when the state apparatus is firmly in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Joining with PLP members around the world would be an important step in this process in Paraguay. J

The Face of Poverty

• 2,156,312 Paraguayan workers (36%) live in poverty, of which 1,172,274 (19%) are living in extreme poverty.  Four out of every 10 Paraguayans are poor.

• 40% of the poor receive 11% of the total resources produced in the country while 41% of the resources are concentrated among the 10% richest.

• 15 of every 100 Paraguayans survive on less then 1 U.S. Dollar a day and 30 out of 100 survive on 2$ a day.

• 78% of Paraguayans have no type of health care — 4,741,046 people

• Unemployment affects 8.7% of the population

• Underemployment affects 26.5% of the population — more than 760,000 people receive minimum wage.

• 133,000 women are illiterate and 15% are from the countryside.

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Bosses’ Education Reform: Use Schools to Strengthen Profit System

Every September, parents send their children back to school in the hopes that they will learn, grow and prepare for bright futures. But the capitalists who run the public school systems have their own racist plans for our children. As the economic crisis deepens and inter-imperialist rivalry over the worlds’ resources expands, the capitalist bosses become more and more entrenched in their own problems. Desperate to bail out their crumbling financial system and to prepare for more military conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the U.S. bosses spend billions. Shamelessly they continue to steal from the working class to save themselves and their system.

The current budget crises affecting U.S. school systems is a clear statement of capitalist priorities. These cuts are strangling a school system that was already failing our class’s children. In big cities where the majority of students are black and Latino, and families are already disproportionately suffering from unemployment and low wages, the cuts will be the worst.

In Los Angeles, classes will average 42 students. In NYC the school budget has been slashed by billions. This is forcing larger class sizes and cutting anything the Dept. of Education considers non-essential: art music, foreign language, sports, and after-school programs. In Chicago, where Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan honed his skills at cutting services to black and Latino students, many reading coaches, after-school and tutoring programs were eliminated. In San Antonio, schools full of black and Latino students are being shut down.

Washington, D.C, with a nearly all-black public school system, has been in the forefront of the bosses’ reform experiments, even as students continue to suffer. There, cuts are leading to layoffs of teachers as well as less money for vouchers and charter schools. While the schools are slashed, not a dime has been cut from the billions of dollars in interest going from the education budgets to the banks.

The attacks on working-class students are driven by the current crisis of the capitalists. In the 1950’s, the U.S. had emerged victorious from World War II and was launching the Cold War. U.S. bosses had the money to build huge factories that produced steel, autos, airplanes  and factory equipment. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into space, the U.S. bosses drove to invest in education for the “Space Race.” Now the U.S. is a power in decline. Those higher-paying industrial jobs are almost all gone. And the school systems with working-class students, always the poorest, are being gutted.

Capitalists view our children only as fodder for the bosses’ system. To the extent the bosses do care about educating working-class youth it is to have a politically loyal, skilled workforce to exploit. Technical education and patriotism are being pushed for black and Latino students. The advocacy for technical education reflects the growing need the ruling class has for skilled workers like engineers, drill press operators, and machinists, jobs needed for war production. Developing curriculum for the schools to create a workforce prepared for war is often masked by rhetoric saying the U.S. “needs to compete” with international rivals.

President Obama’s speech to school children on September 8 urged them to “set high goals, knuckle down in their studies and persevere through failure.” (NYT 9/9/09)  Many parents embrace hard work and perseverance for our children but the subtext of the speech is that if children don’t succeed in life, it must be their own fault because they did not work hard enough. This idea ignores the reality of the capitalist world. No matter how hard school children work, they will not be allowed to all become doctors or lawyers. They will not even all have jobs. Capitalism relies on a pool of unemployed workers to keep wages low. In the current crises, unemployment is even higher; teaching workers to blame themselves prevents them from blaming the true cause of unemployment — capitalism.

Capitalist schools spend much time dividing students into different groups. Tests are designed to magnify differences and assign arbitrary cut-offs, so children get sorted into different programs from gifted and advanced placement to prison-like dumping schools. Capitalist schools prepare a select few to steer towards the elite professions. The majority of students are left to fight for low-paying jobs or join the military (see letter, p. 6).

“Tough Choices, Tough Times,” the report of the rulers’ New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, proposes that capitalism’s divisions be further entrenched in the schools by forcing students into a defined path after the tenth grade, either college-bound or vocational. Obama wants school children to knuckle down in their studies and persevere through a system that is failing and that fails to offer them the future they deserve.

This latest economic crisis and the quagmire of constant war have left the rulers in a political bind. Individualism is a cornerstone of capitalism and since the anti-war and anti-racist rebellions of the 60’s the U.S. bosses have championed the politics, the art, the music and the philosophy of “me-first.” Schools collaborated with a curriculum rich in the stories of individual success and national progress as the result of individual “can-do” spirit or single-minded pursuit of individual success in the face of great odds.

The fact that the Nazis were defeated by the Soviet communists has been written out of history books. The bosses rewrote the truth of racism in the United States as the fiction of enlightened individuals struggling to champion the ideals of individual freedom. Slavery became an unfortunate “mistake” rather than the conscious policy of 250 years of racist rule codified in colonial law and the Constitution and enforced with ruthless violence that continues to define U.S. society today.

Obama tried to shift the message of individual success when he told students, “Don’t give up on yourself, because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.” National service has been a part of the Obama campaign since the beginning and now Obama is calling on schools to teach children to serve their country and to be inspired to sacrifice for the good of the nation. But it’s not “their” country, it’s the bosses’.

Obama and the rest of the ruling class know that the schools have been failing our children for a long time. They cynically use their own failure to meet workers’ needs as a rallying cry for reforms. Many of these reforms have won the support of parents and teachers who hope that they will improve education; but none of these reforms will change the fundamental problems of a system that doesn’t care about working-class children.  After years and years of education reform plans, 39% of children in the U.S. live in families earning less then the amount needed to meet their basic needs. (Center for Children in Poverty) Capitalism cannot educate the majority of children, and for the bosses it is not a principle whether students learn to accept inequality in a large school or a small one.

Reading CHALLENGE in the last few years, one can see many examples of fighting against anti-working-class attacks in the schools: from high school students protesting budget cuts and walking out against police brutality, to college students demonstrating against a pro-torture professor  and developing a Freedom School when summer session is cancelled. The Progressive Labor Party is not training students to calmly accept the life capitalism has in store for them. We want students to learn real history and real skills, to learn to organize, to learn to fight back and to learn to serve our class by building the fight for communist revolution.

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Global Warming: Only Communism Can Save the Planet, Not Capitalist Schemes

Book Reviews: “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – And How It Can Renew America,” by Thomas Friedman (Farrar, Strous, and Giroux, New York, 2008); and “The Green-Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems,” by Van Jones with Ariane Conrad (Harper One, New York, 2008).

These two books on global warming were published last year as the Obama campaign moved into high gear. Friedman is a NY Times columnist. Jones is a human rights activist who Obama appointed as Special Advisor for Green Jobs but then was forced to resign recently after being attacked by right-wing Republicans for supposedly being a “Marxist.”

Both Friedman and Jones recognize that today’s severe global warming is due to increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) in industry, transportation and in the generation of electrical power. They both recognize the urgent need for a solution. But they both (incorrectly) suggest, in different ways, that the capitalist market can solve this problem, if only governments worldwide would adopt “the correct policies.”

In his book, Friedman is an unabashed apologist for U.S. imperialism. Jones, on the other hand, denounces the U.S. history of genocidal theft of Indian lands, slavery and the ongoing racist treatment of black, Latin, Asian and Native American working-class people, as well as the extreme sexist discrimination against women. Racism/sexism and global warming are the “two biggest problems” (his subtitle) facing the world.

Friedman writes as though racism and the current oil wars never happened and calls on the U.S. to regain its mythical moral leadership in the world (after Bush allegedly destroyed it) by taking the lead in decreasing GHG emissions. Jones, on the other hand, calls on the U.S. government to solve global warming by creating green jobs to build clean energy usage that will also help to abolish the inequality of income and opportunity suffered by black and Latino workers. He says neither problem can be solved without solving the other.

The two authors seem to be living in two different universes — Friedman in fantasyland while Jones is almost in the real world.

While Jones doesn’t defend the war-criminal U.S. ruling class like Friedman does, he appears clueless about the nature of capitalism. He doesn’t recognize the antagonistic relationship between the capitalist class and the working class. He doesn’t see the capitalists’ absolute need to promote racism and sexism to enhance their super-profits and to maintain their political power —  control of the state. This enables them to exert their class domination over both the working class and over competing imperialists.

Though Jones advocates the full involvement of “minority” workers to pressure the government to foster use of solar panels, windmills and other forms of clean energy, he proposes that such a coalition be led by “progressive” businessmen. (!) This position is misleading pie in the sky, typical of those like Jones who toy with revolutionary ideas at one point in their lives and then reject them to pursue a career in the Democratic Party.

His central error is not understanding that capitalism, with its driving profit motive, cannot stop using fossil fuels without dismantling virtually the entire body of physical capital in the world, replacing it with new physical plant and modes of transportation employing clean energy sources. The world’s capitalist classes can never agree to do this.

The world’s imperialists are locked in life-and-death competitive rivalries with each other. No “global policy” that interferes with their battle for maximum profits can possibly be written and enforced as long as these imperialists fight with each other over control of the world’s resources and markets.

The main battle we face in the movement against global warming is defeating the misleading strategies of writers like Jones and the fantasies of liberals like Friedman. We must redouble our efforts to demonstrate that only the abolition of capitalism, classes and production for profit instead of for use can lay the foundation for a renewed planet. Only the world’s working class, led by its communist party PLP, once having seized power from the capitalists and consolidated its power through revolution, will be able to clean up the world, revolutionize production processes with safe, clean energy and save the planet.

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Obama’s Afghan War Crucial to U.S. Bosses’ Global Control

The fight between the U.S. imperialists and their Russian, Chinese and Iranian rivals — for control of the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea and Central Asia region and the pipeline routes to take these resources to market — is leading to wider Middle Eastern wars and eventually to an inevitable global confrontation. Controlling this region is crucial to the U.S. bosses’ efforts to regain absolute control of oil-rich Middle East, which have been the basis for their dominant imperialist position since the end of World War II.

Obama chose to concentrate on the Afghanistan war in hopes the U.S. backed TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline) could be built.  This pipeline, bypassing both Russia and Iran, could reverse Russian-Chinese advances in the energy-rich former Soviet republics, giving the U.S. control of this strategic region.

If successful, together with a new string of U.S. bases in the area, TAPI would put Russia and China on the defensive militarily, break Russia’s growing world energy monopoly, especially of the European Union’s energy market, and position the U.S. bosses to potentially starve China of the energy resources needed to fuel its economic and military rise.

It would also free the U.S. military machine to deal with Iran, if it hadn’t capitulated by then. Iraq could then be more easily pacified and U.S. imperialism’s dream of extending its hegemony well into the 21st century would be within reach.

As U.S. imperialists’ political, economic and military hegemony shrinks, their ability to control the outcome of world events becomes limited. An example is the recent Afghan presidential election, aimed at getting rid of Karzai, who has become an obstacle to their geopolitical goals in the area. He’s been cozying up to China and deepening his ties with the warlords of the Northern Alliance, backed by Russia, Iran and India.

Their electoral scheme failed. So far, with 99% of the votes counted, Karzai is the winner with 54% against the U.S candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s 28%. Plan B was to claim massive fraud and call for a run-off election rigged to guarantee Abdullah”s victory. But some among their ranks like Zbiegnew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, disagree with this plan. They claim it would further destabilize Afghanistan and increase the “growing risk …that the Taliban …be viewed as a resistance movement against foreign occupation… and that would be a strategic defeat.”

The U.S. ruling class is clearly at odds over this. Some are making frantic efforts to force Karzai into a unity government with his rival Abdullah Abdullah (known in Afghanistan as “Obama’s wife”). Others see no option but to accept Karzai and to configure a government run by their ambassador Eikenberry and General McCrystal. Some call for the “Afghanization” of the war while others demand Obama’s unfailing commitment to his surge. Some, with Saudi Arabia and Britain, are working for a negotiated settlement with the “good Taliban.”

Besides, some of their European allies also disagree with the plan and are reluctant to send more troops. German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the elections, while demanding, with leaders from Britain and France, an international conference to force the “Afghanization” of the war so “that the international engagement can be reduced.” Brzezinski agrees, arguing it might reduce “the growing risk of the war becoming a war of foreigners against Afghans,” and the Europeans allies “might be less likely to pull out entirely…. [Leaving] the U.S. alone in the lurch.”

Whatever tactics the U.S. butchers finally decide on, pipeline TAPI may never fly. It is detrimental to the ambitions of China, Russia and Iran. A U.S.-Taliban agreement will never bring peace to Afghanistan as the warlords of the Northern Alliance, the Taliban’s sworn mortal enemies, will fight desperately to survive.

Even if the U.S. imperialists carve out an independent “Pashtunistan” from Afghanistan-Pakistan, as some are planning, the war is likely to widen as the area’s instability helps China and Russia further consolidate their grip on the Caspian-Central Asia region. The Iranian nuclear issue  — nothing but a fig leaf to hide the vital role of Iran’s energy resources and strategic location in the fight for world domination — is rapidly forcing a showdown between the U.S., Russia, Iran and potentially Israel.

How many more millions must be murdered, maimed and displaced for the profits of the imperialists of the world? No election, peace agreement, U. N. resolution or slick-talking politician like Obama will ever put an end to this butchery. Workers, students and soldiers, getting angrier at the cutbacks and layoffs, need to see that the widening imperialist genocide, inherent in capitalist crisis, is costing $billions and murdering so many members of our class! Students need to unite with soldiers and workers who bear the heaviest burden for the capitalist war economy. Only an international communist-conscious working class under the leadership of PLP can put an end to this bosses’ inferno, with a communist revolution.

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