Monthly Archives: November 2010

Thanksgiving: A Holocaust for Native Americans

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a holiday of family and food. But the politics of the holiday — taught to elementary school children across the U.S. — are a racist and patriotic lie, representing the holocaust for millions of Native Americans.

The Thanksgiving that colonial Puritans — a group of religious fundamentalists — practiced was originally thanking god for the slaughter of Native Americans by colonial swords and diseases. There were many such Thanksgivings.

In 1637 a faction of Puritans occupied an area that is now Connecticut with the aid of British and Dutch colonial forces. In the pre-dawn hours they slaughtered more than 700 adults and children of the Pequot Tribe, who had gathered for their annual Green Corn festival. The next morning the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” for the occupier’s murder of the native population.

The truth about Thanksgiving helps us see the bosses’ lies. Progressive Labor Party aims to smash their grip on our minds so that we can build a fighting mass anti-racist communist movement that ends the bosses’ sexist, racist and genocidal system for good.

The Truth About Pilgrims and Indians

The “first” Thanksgiving dinner between “pilgrims” and “Indians,” reenacted by the U.S. ruling class in schools and TV specials, was in 1621 between the Wampanoag — a confederation of several Native American groups located mainly in Massachusetts and Rhode Island — and a group of 121 English colonists led by 28 Puritans that landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Contrary to the idea that the colonists shared their food with the Wampanoags, the Puritans had too little to share. They only invited two natives, Squanto and Samoset, and sachem (tribal leader) Massasoit. They brought more than 90 fellow tribespeople as well as most of the food, in the egalitarian tradition of their communities. Whereas Wampanoag men and women ate together at the same time, Pilgrim women had to dine after their men were done, following their sexist Puritan tradition.

Without Squanto and Samoset, colonists would not have survived. Half of them died from diseases and starvation. The two taught the colonists how to fish, hunt, and grow crops. However, the Puritans regarded Native Americans as “heathens,” and saw Squanto as “god’s instrument” to help the “chosen” people, the pilgrims. Squanto had been captured more than 15 years earlier and brought to Europe, where he was taught English and became a Christian. When he returned to New England 14 years later, settled with the Pilgrims, aiding them not only in their survival, but in their campaigns against the Wampanoag.

An elder pilgrim gave a Thanksgiving sermon in 1623, two years after the Wampanoag saved them, thanking god for small pox killing Wampanoag “young men and children… thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth.”

A generation later, in 1676, colonists killed off the Wampanoag in a genocidal land grab — including decapitating sachem Metacom, son of sachem Massasoit. The Wampanoag actually won early campaigns against the Puritans in 1675, attacking more than 50 colonial towns and destroying 13. But the Wampanoag had been plagued by deadly diseases that cut their population more than 90% just before the arrival of the Puritans in 1621.

The spread of deadly diseases that came from continuous contact between Europeans and Native Americans was spurred by the colonialists’ search for gold, slaves, trade and colonies — not romantic exploration. The Puritans, as well as Spanish, French and English occupiers, believed that “god” cleared natives out of the Americas for colonial settlement. Their ideas were supported by a religion that endorsed genocide and slavery.

Modern scientists speculate that frequent bathing, low population densities and few disease-transmitting livestock kept Native Americans healthy. But they generally had no natural or childhood immunity to diseases common in Europe, where dense populations bathed infrequently and were routinely exposed to disease-ridden livestock. Before disease — mainly smallpox — ravaged native communities, Massachusetts natives successfully drove off French colonists in 1606 and English colonists in 1607.

But in 1676 the English regrouped from their early defeats and went on to wipe out the Native Americans. After the colonialists’ victory against Wampanoag they declared a “day of public Thanksgiving for the beginning of revenge upon the enemy.” A generation after sachem Massasoit helped feed the “first” Thanksgiving diners, the occupiers placed his son’s head on display in Plymouth for 24 years.

Patriotism and Racism — The Purpose of Rulers’ Lies

Ruling-class U.S. historians developed the modern Thanksgiving myth in the 1890s to help unify workers around a common, patriotic history. However, U.S. rulers continued the policy of exterminating native peoples for their land after the War of Independence against England. George Washington suggested only one day should be set aside for Thanksgiving instead of rejoicing after each massacre. Later, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday on the same day that he ordered union troops to march against the starving Sioux tribe in Minnesota.

Teaching lies about “generous” Puritans of the past supports modern U.S. rulers’ racist, patriotic lies about democracy. They want us to believe in the good intentions of the government at the same time bosses are using state power to strip away workers’ few gains. But none of the few benefits that U.S. workers gained were graciously handed down to us from the successors of the Puritans. They were all fought for with militant strikes, demonstrations and occasionally guns.

Also, much like the Native Americans cut down by early capitalists, more than one million workers have been killed in Iraq. In Afghanistan uncounted thousands have been killed. Then and now the capitalists’ motive is competition for profit. It is the capitalists — with their genocidal wars — that are the savages, not workers.

As workers in the U.S. try to enjoy the holidays, Progressive Labor Party gives thanks to all those around the world committed to smashing the bosses’ racist, sexist and genocidal capitalist system. We invite all workers to join PLP and fight for communism so that one day future generations can feast on food and drink, free from the capitalists’ exploitation and lies.

Reservations: U.S. Concentration Camps

U.S. Native Americans that survived the bosses’ wars and diseases were forced into concentration camps — also know as reservations — with the worst, least irrigable land. Today, racism against Native Americans remains extreme. Median incomes for the latter and for Alaska Natives are 27% less than the overall U.S. median. According to the Census 2000 Special Report, of those living below the official poverty level in 1999, there were two Native Americans and Alaska Natives to every one person in the general population.

The racist oppression of Native Americans is also evident in health demographics. While the death rate for the total U.S. population has decreased by 17% between 1991 and 2006, the death rate has surged by upwards of 20% for Native American women and has remained flat for Native American men. Almost 12% of the deaths among Native Americans and Alaska Natives are alcohol-related — more than three times the percentage in the general population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 08/08).

A worker on an Arizona reservation reported to CHALLENGE that Homeland Security harasses and attacks workers on reservations, much like police brutalize black and Latino workers in the ghettos. It was only in 2004 that Boston, Massachusetts overturned a law banning Native Americans in the city. The law had been on the books since 1675, the year war was raging between colonists and the Wampanoag.

 

SOURCES

“The Hidden History of Massachusetts: A Guide for Black Folks”

“Are You Teaching The Real Story of the ‘First Thanksgiving’?”

James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me

Chuck Larsen, “Teaching About Thanksgiving: An Introduction” & “The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story”

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Bolshevik Revolution:Workers Took Power; Can Do It Again

Bolshevik Revolution, November 18th

Ninety three years ago, November 7, 1917, marked the beginning of the single most important event of the 20th century, the Bolshevik revolution, which directly inspired the Chinese revolution and anti-imperialist struggles around the world from Vietnam to Africa to Latin America.

Russia’s working class, headed by the revolutionary communists of the Bolshevik Party and its leader, Vladimir Lenin, freed one-sixth of the world’s surface from capitalism. They proved once and for all that it was possible to strive for a world without exploitation, where those who produce all value, the working class, can enjoy the fruits of their labor and not have it stolen by a few parasitical bosses and their lackeys.

The Russian revolution was the first serious attempt by workers and peasants to seize, hold and consolidate state power. Even though capitalism has returned to the former Soviet Union, workers will not forget that the Soviet working class defeated capitalism in 1917; smashed the imperialist armies of 17 countries (including Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, among others) which invaded Russia in 1918 to try to crush the revolution; freed the masses, especially women, from the yoke of capitalist, feudal and religious oppression; and then in 1945 defeated the mightiest and most barbaric army the capitalists had ever organized: the Nazi Wehrmacht.

The revolution frightened the world’s bosses, who immediately sent armies from 17 countries to try — in Churchill’s words — to “strangle it in the cradle.” From 1918 to 1923, millions of workers led by the Red Army defeated the imperialists’ counter-revolution. Nearly five million died in that battle, many of whom were the most committed workers the revolution had produced. Lenin himself died because of injuries inflicted by a hired killer.

The masses showed great courage and determination to defend and build their revolution, under the leadership of their revolutionary party. They proved that the revolutionary violence on the part of the working class and peasantry were vital to the seizure of state power.

Achievements of the Revolution

The Bolshevik Revolution brought Russia to heights of productive development that capitalism, given a similar time period and circumstances, could never have dreamed of. Bringing the working class to power, the Revolution coordinated their social-economic efforts for the production and exchange of the necessities, the comforts and even some luxuries of life, making them available to all. The Soviet system of production was for use, not for profit. This can only be accomplished by abolishing capitalist profits and the private ownership of property, with its exploitation, poverty, unemployment, racism, fascism and imperialist wars.

In the 1930s, when the entire capitalist world sank into depression, and tens of millions worldwide were left jobless and starving (much like today), the Soviet Union was forging ahead building a new society without unemployment and hunger. They created some measure of a decent life for workers in an incredibly short time, transforming a 90% illiteracy rate into one in which nearly everyone was literate.

Around 1938, without any official declaration, the USSR had achieved the era of free bread. One could enter a cafeteria, order little or nothing, and receive all the bread one wanted. You needed, you received — at least to that extent. Even during a drive for heavy industry, living standards rose strikingly when the rest of the world was mired in the Great Depression.<

The Soviet Union not only freed workers but also fought against racism and sexism. The battle against racism was particularly significant. As pro-communist Paul Robeson said about his trips to the Soviet Union, he “felt like a human being for the first time since I grew up. Here I am not a Negro but a human being. Before I came I could hardly believe that such a thing could be…. Here, for the first time in my life, I walk in full human dignity.”

Heroic Fight Against the Nazis

In 1941, the bosses again tried to destroy the revolution. Hitler, using all of Europe’s resources and the largest military machine ever assembled, invaded the Soviet Union with four million troops. They discovered the Soviets were no pushover as occurred in Western Europe. Hitler’s prediction — endorsed by western military “experts” — of capturing Moscow in six weeks went up in smoke.

Nazi troops found total destruction and desolation in every captured city or town — the “scorched earth” policy. Soviet defenders burned everything to the ground that they could not take with them and then organized armed resistance behind enemy lines: the Partisans.
Over 6,000 factories were dismantled and moved east of the Ural Mountains, re-assembled to produce weapons again, a feat requiring total unity and support of Soviet workers, unmatched by any country, before or since. Soviet soldiers and workers fought for Stalingrad block-by-block, house-by-house and room-by-room to halt the “unbeatable” Nazi invaders. Workers in arms factories produced weapons 24 hours a day for the Red Army, working 12-hour shifts. When Nazi troops captured factories, heroic Soviet workers and soldiers would re-take them.

The entire German Sixth Army and 24 of Hitler’s generals were surrounded and killed or captured in the battle of Stalingrad. Never again would the Nazis mount a successful offensive against the Red Army. Stalingrad was truly the turning point of the Second World War. Not until the Nazis were on the run following their defeats at Stalingrad and in the Battle of the Kursk — the biggest armored battle in world history, involving millions of soldiers and 6,000 tanks — did the U.S.-U.K. forces invade Western Europe. It was the communist-led Soviet Union that smashed the Nazis, the largest and most powerful army ever mounted by a capitalist power.

All this was accomplished under the leadership of Josef Stalin. No wonder he is reviled to this day by world capitalism.

Lessons to Be Learned

Unfortunately, the Bolsheviks suffered from many political weaknesses which led to the return of capitalism to the USSR. From the beginning they believed that to achieve communism, first socialism had to be established, a belief Karl Marx had advanced. We have learned from that experience that socialism retained capitalism’s wage system and therefore failed to wipe out many aspects of the profit system. Socialism put forward material incentives to the working class rather than political ones as the way to win workers to communism. We must win masses of workers to abolish capitalism’s wage system and its division of labor and fight directly for communism.

Today no country is led by revolutionary communists, but this is a temporary historical setback. While this era of widening imperialist wars, fascist attacks on the working class, mass unemployment, diseases like AIDS killing millions in Africa and other areas, is upon us, every dark night has its end.

PLP is a product of both the old International Communist Movement and the struggle against its revisionism. Pseudo-leftist groups have not learned history’s lessons and continue to fight for nationalist “sharing of power” with capitalists, a la Venezuela’s Chavez, not for the working-class seizure of power and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Our movement is daily fighting to learn from the Soviet Union’s great battles and achievements as well as its deadly errors that led to its collapse, mainly that reformism, racism, nationalism and all forms of concessions to capitalism only lead workers to defeat. Give the ruling class an inch and they’ll grab a mile.

We honor the bold fight by the workers of the Bolshevik Revolution against capitalism and for a working-class communist world. Today, we must organize workers, students and soldiers to build a mass worldwide working class Party that will turn this era of imperialist wars into a new, international communist revolution.

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Haiti: Rulers Can Kill A Teacher But Can’t Shut Down A Movement!

PORT-AU-PRINCE, October 22 — Jean Filbert Louis was buried here today. He was a teacher who police killed on October 8 while demonstrating with his union (UNNOH) to bring hundreds of thousands of children, abandoned by the education system, back to school.

After a religious service at the Eglise de Dieu de Nazon, the body of comrade Louis was carried by hundreds of his comrades, accompanied by his mother and family, to the very doors of the Ministry of Education where he was shot down two weeks before.

“Here’s the gift you gave us, the body of our comrade,” said a rally leader. “We demanded schools for all our children, and your response was to give us the dead body of our teacher.”  The Minister had offered money to pay for the funeral, which was contemptuously refused — “We won’t give you the chance to wash his blood off your hands by paying for a funeral!”

They demanded justice for the Minister’s complicity in this crime, which they know means fighting the rotten “justice” system every step of the way, corrupt as it is. The police and government are protecting and refusing to act against the policewoman who hundreds of people clearly saw shooting a projectile into their comrade’s head.  They again demanded schools for the abandoned children, better salaries and working conditions for teachers and financial aid for parents. After the demonstration, it was decided to continue mobilizing every Friday for justice for comrade Louis’ family and union, and for the just demands for which he gave his life.

The coalition of teachers’ and other unions, parents, students and youth has issued a call for international solidarity to help them fight a whole series of violent attacks by police and UN troops. (See box for an on-line petition of support which PLP urges all our readers to circulate internationally). The coalition statement about this latest murder reads in part:

“This heinous act is a clear signal from the team in power to the people and social organizations, showing their evident willingness to sink into dictatorship and to prohibit any form of demonstration to demand better conditions of life and quality education for all the children of Haiti. It is a tangible sign of the type of ‘democracy’ that the powerful intend to build:  a democracy where the right to make demands and protest is banned forthwith. Furthermore, this heinous act makes us see the extent to which this team shows no respect for human life in general and teachers’ lives in particular.

“It also expresses the Haitian state’s denial of the right to free quality public education for all. Faced with protesters carrying nothing but placards demanding better education for all children and decent living and working conditions for teachers and students, the government team and the Minister Joel Desrosiers Jean Pierre chose to use weapons…. The Executive Committee of the Coalition launches an impassioned call to all progressive organizations here and elsewhere, to mobilize to obtain justice for the victim and to make an appropriate response, so as to avoid the repetition of such acts.”

PLP salutes these workers for advancing under fire, fighting for schooling for abandoned children and for their own needs. When they take casualties, they immediately schedule more demonstrations to continue the fight, and reach out to workers worldwide for support. Communist solidarity with them shows that Haiti’s workers are not alone despite the bosses’ attempts to isolate them. We support their anti-fascist fight.

But to triumph over state violence, like workers everywhere under intensifying fascism when all the imperialists are edging closer to global war, they need to create an international communist party working together in many countries simultaneously. The PLP in Haiti, with links to the Party in the neighboring Dominican Republic, the Caribbean and Central and South America, as well as the U.S. and Europe, could be a formidable force pushing beyond borders, pushing past the reformist limits of the current battles, to the revolutionary solution to workers’ problems.

Imagine if the fierce class struggle in France had concrete links to the struggle in Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique, through the Party working among labor migrants from Haiti to the rest of the Caribbean and from the Caribbean to France. Such a revolutionary movement will be built through steps like this Haiti solidarity campaign, which has organized protest letters from teachers’ and other unions throughout the Caribbean, France, Canada, Latin America and the U.S.

The Boston Teachers’ Union and the CUNY professors’ union PSC-CUNY have sent such letters and are circulating the petition. UNNOH and the Coalition have publicized these letters from different countries in Haiti’s media. A Haitian teachers’ union leader is speaking at campuses in Boston and New York this week to step up the campaign. He said it’s also his union’s duty to offer solidarity to workers in struggle, such as to teachers being investigated at a Brooklyn high school for bringing students to the October 2 Washington, D.C. demonstration for jobs (see article, p. 3).

But a liberal or union-based mass movement without communist ideas, even if international, will always feed illusions — despite repeated lessons to the contrary — that capitalism can deliver justice, education, housing, water, health, jobs and peace. Ultimately only a global communist movement can create the unbreakable international unity of workers capable of destroying a dying system, even under fascism and world war.

Far from being isolated, these workers and students in Haiti can lead us all along the road through chaos and death to the real change we all seek, which requires a revolution. Our friends and comrades in Haiti are being steeled in battle; let us fight at their side with the red flag we all must carry.

WE DEMAND AN END TO THE VIOLENCE AGAINST TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN HAITI!

[www.ipetitions.com/petition/haitisolidarity]

We the undersigned are responding to a call for international solidarity sent out by the executive committee of a coalition of education organizations in Haiti after the police killing of a protesting teacher, signed on October 11, 2010 by the coordinators of the coalition: François Mario, CNEH (teachers’ union), Eugène Jean, UPEPH (parents’ organization), and Josué Mérilien, UNNOH (teachers’ union). We stand in solidarity with teachers, students, and parents in Port-au-Prince who are organizing for schooling for Haitian children abandoned by the education system, and for decent living and working conditions for teachers and students. We demand an end to the systematic violence against them:

On October 8, 2010, at a demonstration by teachers and students at the Ministry of Education, a projectile fired from a National Police vehicle killed Jean Filbert Louis, a member of the teachers’ union UNNOH;

On October 4, 2010, the opening day of the school year, a demonstration of teachers and students at the Ministry of Education was tear-gassed by the anti-riot police unit CIMO, backed by troops of the UN force MINUSTAH;

On September 30, 2010, a student leader from GREPS (Group for Reflection on Social Problems), at the School of Ethnology, was wounded near his home by gunmen firing more than ten bullets at him and a friend;

On May 24, 2010, MINUSTAH troops raided the campus of the School of Ethnology, seizing computers and detaining and threatening an activist student from GREPS — three GREPS students were then expelled from that School;

On January 12, 2010, just before the earthquake struck, Professor JnAnil Louis-Juste of the School of Social Sciences (FASCH), an intellectual and political leader at the university and beloved mentor of many activist students, was assassinated by gunmen near the campus.

We strongly protest to the Ministry of Education, the Administration of the State University of Haiti (UEH), the National Police, and MINUSTAH against the police murder of our brother Jean Filbert Louis and all these outrages, clearly a systematic attempt to destroy any organized movement of students and teachers in Haiti who (in the words of the Coalition) “dare to make demands, to denounce, to condemn, and to protest.”

These heinous criminal acts are (in the

Coalition’s words) “a clear signal from the team in power to the people and social organizations, showing their evident willingness to sink into dictatorship and to prohibit any form of demonstration to demand better living conditions and quality education for all the children of Haiti.” In solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Haitian education Coalition, we call also for the satisfaction of their just demands in education — especially schooling for the hundreds of thousands of children abandoned to the streets and camps by the education system.

[NOTE: Signing online automatically sends your signature to Jean Filbert Louis’ union UNNOH. You may also e-mail the signed petition to Edmond Mulet, Director of MINUSTAH, at presse@minustah.org; Jean Vernet Henry, Rector of the State University of Haiti, at jv_henry@yahoo.fr; and the GREPS students at GREPS01@yahoo.fr.]a

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