Monthly Archives: January 2011

Egypt: Without Red Leadership, Capitalism Remains, Imperialism Wins

Mass uprisings are destabilizing Egypt, an essential ally of war-making U.S. imperialists. Capitalism itself, however, the root cause of imperialist war and of the rebelling workers’ miseries, remains unthreatened. Unfortunately, the protesters aim solely at ousting dictator Mubarak. Lacking class consciousness, they do not seek to overthrow the profit system. Most follow either secular nationalist or Islamist politicians. Thus, even if Mubarak is ousted, workers in Egypt will continue to suffer under a new regime of exploiters. Nevertheless, our revolutionary communist Party can learn much from the courageous, though misguided, struggles in the streets of Cairo and elsewhere.

The uncertainty over whether Islamist or pro-U.S. bosses will rule Egypt has Obama & Co. worried sick. In 2006, open elections (which the protesters demand) gave anti-U.S., pro-Iranian Hamas control of the Palestinian Authority.

Today U.S. rulers fear that Muslim Brotherhood (MB) candidates might win in Egypt. MB leader and al Qaeda supporter Mohammed Akef told CBS News (5/22/08), “MB would send fighters to fight the occupation in Iraq and Palestine.” Mohamed Atta, reported ringleader of the 9/11 attacks, received anti-U.S. indoctrination as a member of MB in Egypt.

U.S. War Machine Armed Dictator Mubarak

Egypt holds vast significance in the sharpening rivalry among waning and rising imperialist powers. Martin Indyk, director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution and Clinton’s ambassador to Israel, spoke of “huge potential consequences for U.S. strategic interests in a vital region.” (NY Times, 1/30) The Times explained:

“The United States could not have sustained the wars it fought in Iraq without logistical support from Egypt’s government. Oil for Europe comes through the Suez Canal. Egypt is the largest and most militarily powerful Arab country….Mr. Sadat’s peace deal in 1979 with Mr. Begin made it next to impossible for other Arab states to contemplate going to war with Israel.”

Next to Israel, Egypt is Washington’s second biggest recipient of military aid. Reuters reported (1/29) that Mubarak has been receiving an average of $2 billion annually from the U.S., “much of it military.” Obama asked Congress for a similar amount for 2011, including 1,200 Abrams tanks and 20 advanced F-16 jet fighters for 2013 delivery to add to the 240 already sent.

Imperialist IMF Impoverished Workers in Egypt

Egypt’s poverty, unemployment, and unaffordable food stem directly from U.S. imperialism. In 1991, Bush, Sr., purchased Mubarak’s support for Iraq War I by having the U.S.-run International Monetary Fund (IMF) forgive Egypt’s debt. The price was IMF control of Egypt’s economy. Mass unemployment in Egypt results directly from IMF demands that Egypt privatize industry that had been widely nationalized in its pro-Soviet 1950s-1960s era. IMF-imposed constraints on interest and subsidies jacked the cost of necessities through the roof.

U.S. Empire’s Saudi Grand Prize Next Domino?

But U.S. ruling-class mouthpieces like the Times hesitate to mention the far larger geostrategic stake just across the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia. U.S. rulers’ worst, unspeakable nightmare envisions Arab anti-government unrest spreading to the oil-rich cornerstone of their empire. Saudi Arabia is Exxon Mobil’s biggest oil supplier and Exxon Mobil is the kingdom’s biggest buyer.

U.S. global supremacy depends on this relationship, which helps enable it to dictate the conditions of the supply of capitalism’s lifeblood to most of the rest of the world, including (for now) China. The Saudi-based, Exxon-led chokehold, of course, involves other U.S. and allied oil giants and requires continued U.S. occupation of Iraq, which may have crude reserves as great as its Saudi neighbor. So, in gross understatement, the Associated Press reported (1/30) “Obama phoned the [Saudi] king in Morocco….both leaders were not happy with the chaotic situation.”

Just how U.S. rivals Iran, China and Russia will capitalize on the chaos remains to be seen. Keeping their Saudi contingency plans close to the vest, U.S. military planners openly fixate on wiping out Iran. The influential, Rockefeller-funded Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in a January 2011 report, dreams of massive U.S. nuclear retaliation against “high-value population centers” like Teheran. The CSIS’s justification is that Iran’s developing A-bombs could “inflict 2,000,000 to 8,000,000” deaths in a 21-day period.

Despite bad politics on all sides, lessons for revolutionaries emerge from Egypt and environs. One dispels the growing myth that electronic social media have become the only way to organize. The rulers, in fact, own and run them. Actually, workers in Cairo had forged sufficient personal, non-electronic networks to be able to organize days after Mubarak pulled the plug on the Internet and mobile phones.

Another crucial point is that ill-armed workers can successfully face down the fascist police apparatus. Put simply, there are far more of us than there are of them. And soldiers, on the other hand, are mainly poor, working-class youth, rather than pro-government die-hards. The fact that some have already sided with the masses points up the crucial necessity for communists to advance revolutionary politics within the army to move soldiers against the bosses.

We are not witnessing, as fake leftists proclaim, the “liberation” of Egypt’s workers. That will take painstaking class-based organization for communist revolution against capitalists of all kinds, religious, nationalist and imperialist.

U.S. War-Makers Build ‘Opposition’ Groups to Maintain Control

While U.S. imperialists may control the leadership of fascist countries such as Egypt’s, the working class is often anti-U.S. Therefore, U.S. bosses — knowing their support of Mubarak-type dictators is on shaky ground over the long term — try to build alternative movements under their control.

The NY Post reported that, “In a December 2008 cable obtained by the Wikileaks website [U.S. ambassador to Egypt Margaret] Scoby….cited talks with an unnamed activist leader of an opposition group called ‘April 6’…which wants the Mubarak regime replaced….April has 70,000 members…and is now at the forefront of Egypt protests….

“Despite strong U.S. ties with Mubarak, there’s evidence U.S. officials quietly supported…activists seeking to remove him….

“In 2008, the State Department co-sponsored a youth activist conference that helped organizations use social media to spread opposition across the globe — and helped one of April 6’s leaders attend without the knowledge of Egypt’s secret police.

“The April 6 leader was among the delegates from around the world at the Alliance of Youth Movements gathered at Columbia Law School….At the three-day confab, participants swapped best practices for taking their activism ‘to the streets’ and guidance on ‘planning events, marches and protests.’

“There was also a panel devoted to ‘Egypt’s pro-democracy youth movement’ and how to advance them with social media.”

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THE TUNISIAN REVOLT

Open violent struggle has erupted in several African and Arab nations, inspired largely by the massive uprising of workers and students in Tunisia. That revolt has driven out President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who has fled to Saudi Arabia, reportedly with over a ton of stolen gold.
Workers are bolding fighting their bosses. In company after company — airlines, insurance, petrochemical — workers are seizing management headquarters and demanding, with some success, that the bosses be fired. Workers are conducting regional and city-wide strikes nation-wide. In the cities of Sfax and Sidi Bouzid, mass workers’ organizations have actually seized political power, running out the mayor and city council and establishing direct organizational control over all city agencies.
These workers’ councils could develop a national network and seize power from the decrepit National Unity Government (NUG). But they don’t yet advocate expropriating the capitalists’ property and building a collectively-run communist egalitarian society. Without bold communist leadership, they would probably fall victim to the illusion of “fair-play capitalism.” But revolutionary potential remains.
The sustained worker-student struggle continues to confront the remaining ministers from Ben Ali’s regime, including prime minister and self-proclaimed leader of a “National Unity” government Mohamed Ghannouchi. Continued protests are demanding that all ministers of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RDC) party be kicked out as simply being “Ben Ali light” who would maintain the same corrupt capitalist clique in power.
Embarrassed by the sustained mass, militant worker-student opposition to the phony NUG, both Ghannouchi and the interim president; the representatives of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) (trying to maintain their mis-leadership of the workers; the minister from the bourgeois Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberty; and the Progressive Democratic Party ministers are all abandoning the National Unity government, leaving it as an isolated rump. But no worker has been fooled by their transparent effort at deception.

Workers’ Example Rapidly Spreads

Reflecting the explosive quality of the Tunisian rebellion, oppressed workers throughout North Africa and the Middle East are emulating these bold actions, with the major demonstrations against corruption, repression, mass unemployment and exploitation in Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, and Jordan. Saudi and Kuwaiti bosses are also quaking with fear.
Kuwait’s Mohammad al-Sabah recently told a foreign ministers’ meeting, “The Arab world is witnessing…unprecedented political developments and real challenges in…Arab national security….Countries disintegrate, people conduct uprisings…and the Arab citizen asks: Can the current Arab regime meet these challenges dynamically?”
In response to these workers’ rebellions, Egypt’s foreign investors are leaving in droves. According to Bloomberg News, “Overseas investors are reducing their positions because of the increased political risk stemming from what we saw in Tunisia,” said an executive of Cairo-based Acumen Securities.

THE TUNISIAN REVOLT

Motivated by massive youth unemployment, as high as 50%, poor prospects for the future, anger about the blatant corruption of the Ben Ali clique (and triggered by the desperate political suicide of a student without hope), a mass worker/student uprising challenged the Tunisian government. Ben-Ali’s offer of reforms and compromises sere rejected by angry masses of workers.
Demonstrations, regional general strikes, occupations of government offices by angry workers and students continued and grew until Ben Ali could only flee. Ghannouchi, Ben Ali’s crony and prime minister over the past 20 years, took over but has also been rejected by the masses. The National Unity government is unlikely to remain. Desperate to save their skins, many of Tunisia’s leading figures, both traditional and reformist, have suddenly become the greatest “critics” of Ben Ali, despite having fed at Ben Ali’s family trough for decades. (Over half of Tunisia’s economic activity has been tied to Ben Ali’s family for years). Workers are having none of this.
Meanwhile, the police and army have become less reliable for the bosses because of rank-and-file soldiers’ sympathy for the uprising. Some soldiers were seen saluting demonstrators in a show of support. In the rebellion’s earliest days, Ben Ali actually fired the head of the military because he refused to order the troops to shoot down demonstrators.
The military leadership, using its newly-found credibility, is calling on students and workers not to occupy certain ministries or take “extreme actions.” Although rank-and-file soldier insurgency seems to be continuing in some places, the police and the military leadership have begun to clash with the most radical rebels. Youth throughout Tunisia are organizing “Liberation Caravans” to converge on Tunis, the country’s largest city and capitol, in order to take power. The police have attacked some caravans.
The forces of reaction are gradually trying to reverse the rebellion. Some reformists are calling for the ouster of the current government, replacing it with “reliable” leaders not implicated in the violence and corruption of the Ben Ali regime. These forces are attempting to mislead workers with the promise of “clean” — but still capitalist — government.
The working class’s potential power has been on full display in Tunisia, but the reformists, especially in the union federation, as always are deliberately holding back the struggle. Previously, rank-and-file workers have often occupied the union headquarters to force them to support strikes!
While a general strike to bring down the rump National Unity government and replace it with a workers’ government would be logical, that is not in the cards. Initially the UGTT tried to be part of the National Unity government rather than destroy it. Their role is similar to the AFL-CIO leadership in the U.S.: argue weakly for workers’ interests while promoting patriotism and “national unity.”

The Role of Phony ‘Leftists’

The Communist Party of the Workers of Tunisia (CPWT), whose leader Hamma Hammami was arrested early in the rebellion and subsequently released, has been immersed in the street battles and ministry occupations. The CPWT, however, is squandering this opportunity, calling for “democracy,” not workers’ power and communism.
Specifically, its January 15th nine-point program states, “The democratic change, with its political, economic, social and cultural dimensions, requires the real end of the repressive regime,…forming a provisional government…[with] executive powers,…organizing free elections for a Constitutional Assembly which would establish the basis of a real democratic republic…[consisting of] freedom, social equality and national dignity.”

Towards Communist Revolution and An International Party

The PLP supports the bold militant actions of Tunisia’s workers and students there and will support this rebellion internationally as concretely as possible. The sharp actions of Tunisia’s working class and its allies demonstrate conclusively that capitalism, with its exploitation, racism, corruption and wars, must be eliminated everywhere on the basis of workers’ internationalism and replaced by a communist, egalitarian society.
We don’t need bosses, and we shouldn’t be deceived by those who want to maintain a “cleaned-up” version of capitalism, markets, wage labor and money. We call on our brothers and sisters in Tunisia to consider our vision that so perfectly reflects their aspirations in the current struggle and build PLP there as well as worldwide!

U.S. and Tunisia’s Rulers: Partners in Terrorism

Ben Ali’s Tunisian police state has been an important U.S. ally in its imperialist wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. A UN report lists Tunisia as having secret detention facilities where prisoners are held without International Red Cross access. Tunisian Intelligence Services has cooperated with the U.S. efforts in the “War on Terror” and have participated in interrogating prisoners at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and in Tunisia. The U.S. State Department boasts about the active support the Tunisian security forces receive from the U.S. in spite of the Ben Ali’s government record of serious human rights violations. According to the Department’s website:
“The United States and Tunisia have an active schedule of joint military exercises. U.S. security assistance historically has played an important role in cementing relations. The U.S.-Tunisian Joint Military Commission meets annually to discuss military cooperation, Tunisia’s defense modernization program, and other security matters.” [Background Note: Tunisia, U.S. State Department, 13 October 2010: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5439.htm#relations
The U.S. has signed $349 million in military sales agreements with Ben Ali’s government. Last year the Obama administration asked Congress to approve a $282 million sale to Tunisia of 12 “excess” Sikorsky military helicopters, with war-maker GE engines.

Students, Parents, Teachers Fight School Bosses’ Racism: INTEGRATE, DON’T SEGREGATE!

BROOKLYN, NY, January 11 — “They say cut back, we say fight back!” “Separate is never equal!” These were just two of the many chants that over 300 militant students, teachers and parents shouted while picketing outside the John Jay HS campus.

It preceded a public hearing on the racist Department of Education’s (DoE) proposal to four millions of dollars into installing a new, “selective school” within our building, catering to the mostly-white, middle-class Park Slope neighborhood. These are millions that could have been used all along to improve the four existing schools in the building. The “selective school” will segregate incoming white students from the current black and Latino school population

Our chants grew louder and our numbers mounted in a block-long picket line, joined by workers from a nearby hospital. Drivers honked their support. Students and teachers from many other city schools answered the call to protest the racism and continuing re-segregation of public schools. PL’ers have played a leading role in this struggle to win everyone to understand the DoE actions as a racist attack on the predominately black and Latino student population in the building.

The Phony ‘Proposal’

Over the last two weeks the entire school community has been organizing for this day when the DoE is legally obligated to carry out the farce it calls “public hearings.” But when it first sent its cronies to inform everyone about its proposal to install the new school in the building, that very night the  DoE had already hand-picked the principal to head up this new school. She e-mailed her current school staff that she was leaving them to lead this new Millennium Brooklyn. Some “proposal”!

After learning about the DoE treachery, we took the limited time available to organize people in the school building to see that even though a decision seems to have been made, we must still stand up and fight racism. Everyone agreed and sprang into action to get the entire school building, the surrounding community and everyone else we know to attend the rally and meeting.

The school building was abuzz. Teachers planned lessons around racism and segregation; debaters wrote speeches and announced it at their tournaments. One problem was that some students were taking a state exam that very day while the other students would not be attending school.

Overcoming All Obstacles

That obstacle was overcome collectively: by teachers hosting pizza and sign-making parties for the students taking the test; by the after-school program hosting a volleyball game between alumni and the current volleyball team, drawing many students back to school. Throughout the day students, teachers and school staff were united in preparations for the evening activities.

Another victory was won when the year-long tension between the after-school staff and teachers slowly eroded as we all united in the interest of fighting racism alongside the students we both care for daily.

As the volleyball game ended, a Party teacher invited everyone to come to the rally and hearing. Everyone grabbed signs they had made and others took ones they liked as they left the gym. Most of the students had never attended a rally and were excited to be picketing, chanting against budget cuts, racism and segregation and to unite with their teachers and parents. We then marched into the hearing chanting and carrying signs as students and teachers signed up to speak.

‘How do we spell racist? D-O-E!’

As this occurred PL’ers began leading the chant, “How do we spell racist? D-O-E!” Parents’, students’ and teachers’ speeches outlined how the DoE has neglected the mainly black and Latino high school for years. While most focused on the current four schools, others described the DoE’s history of racism at the building’s original John Jay HS. One panel member attempted to reprimand the audience for chanting and then booing the panel as the hearing began. This same flunky stated his position as a member of a community education board in the district. This drew further boos because undoubtedly this group has been a tool of the DoE’s segregation plans.

Amid the crowd’s anger, a PL’er declared that the situation facing the school cannot be solved under capitalism; that no politician or Board of Education can solve the problems of failing schools; and that the system was inherently flawed because the future it “offered” students worldwide was unemployment and imperialist wars. The PL’er then read the last paragraph of the article in the previous issue of CHALLENGE and stated that only communism can solve these problems. He invited everyone to get a copy of the paper, which was widely distributed throughout the protest and hearing.

Then a councilman tried to answer the PL’er, saying, “ I’m not trying to defend capitalism, I only speak honestly about what I feel.” He attempted to buy off the crowd by adding to the DoE “proposal” all the demands the students and teachers made about bringing in the new school.

After that the DoE’s District 15’s use of racism to divide the working class was on full display. They brought in parents of autistic children who the new school would potentially serve to argue for the DoE’s racist plans. Parent after parent used their children to justify the racist “proposal.” However, one speaker said the blame should fall squarely on the backs of the DoE for driving a wedge between two needed groups, the black and Latino students it has neglected for years and the special ed students who lack other school options.

Other teachers and community residents exposed the DoE by pointing out that all neighborhood parents can send their children to the schools already in the building, asserting that the DoE is obligated to provide the schools with more aid to help meet student needs.

The struggle is continuing. Teachers and students have already been attacked for confronting racism. As CHALLENGE goes to press, our forces are gearing up for the January 19 hearing where the DoE makes its decisions about this “proposal” and many others city-wide.

Class Struggle Still in Session

PL’ers and friends will be there to bring the message that capitalist education and the whole system is failing students, parents and teachers worldwide. Amid this class struggle, teachers and students have been receiving a lesson no capitalist classroom can teach.

The DoE racist attack against the teachers and students who are leading the struggle has sharpened in one school in the John Jay building. The Assistant Principal and the heavy-handed principal called one teacher into their office, saying they didn’t like the “tone” of the rally, to try to intimidate the teacher to stop organizing with students. This principal has hauled students into her office to interrogate them ever since the community has begun fighting the segregation. But the students have only responded to this principal with a stronger will to fight.

The students who’ve been leading the way have already come one step further, having joined a PL study group. PL’ers who are fighting alongside these workers and youth are using this struggle as a school to build communist ideas and raise class-consciousness. We have laid the groundwork for over five years with the people involved to see communism as the alternative to this current rotten system.

The class struggle is still in session! (More next issue.)

When Capitalism Is Intolerable.…Communism

(From a Young Communist in Haiti)

The history of capitalism represents unceasing struggles and wars enforcing all kinds of prejudice, discrimination and oppression. In this racist profiteering system, the human being is in a perpetual struggle to maintain his or her own humanity. In these struggles, various groups of oppressed people have come to agree on one thing: they’re all victims of the same violence. Blacks: color racism; women: sexism; Jews: anti-Semitism; and so on.

World history and worldwide stereotyping have tried to dehumanize and conditione these and other groups to regard themselves as “inferior” — the shame of the human species. Is it not these people, the alienated, who today continue to be grouped together, suffering the humiliations of this system?

Despite the great discoveries and great philosophical and scientific discourses on the human species, despite the great struggles of the oppressed in every field, these prejudices and oppressions still impose themselves, favoring the exploiters by inducing the exploited to believe they were born into the situation in which they’ve been placed.

Today, despite numerous declarations on liberty, equality, solidarity and respect for the human being, the different forms of discrimination still make themselves felt, and worse, are reinforced and intensified —against Arabs, Latinos, Haitians, Asians, the elderly and others. It’s all too clear: if the capitalist system remains, it will become cannibalism. Despite all this oppression, this inhuman system manages to keep the majority of people under its yoke. How, with all this cruelty, has submissiveness remained widespread?

CONQUER DIVISION!

Division, hierarchy — these are the strengths of capitalism. It is divided and hierarchal, in institutions and in the family. Many feel themselves to be “different,” and proclaim the value of their own status. Many live off of others, without respecting social ties or close relationships, including in the family. Work becomes servitude and this slavery is one of the great sources of division and conflict. Talk of the division of labor!

Today the group suffering all the humiliations of capitalism but which is also its strength is the working class, the proletariat. It comprises all the groups which throughout history have always been dominated, exploited and humiliated. What is left for us, except a breakthrough in consciousness about the sordid situation to which we are subjected?

Certainly by the division of labor, by political demagoguery, by religion, by the force of arms, by torture and by many other mechanisms, capitalism alienates and dehumanizes workers, dividing them, mistreating them, promising them “paradise,” and torturing them by making them believe that one day soon they, too, will become owners.

If by force, a small group of the oppressors has managed to reach the point, in a few centuries, where they can keep the world in a state of poverty, war, inequality, hunger and fear, how much easier would it be for the vast majority to reach the point of making the world a place where everyone can live together, without distinction of color, gender, religion, age or wealth?

While possible, it will never happen while division rules everywhere, especially within the working class, which, if it remains divided, upholds the system. So what must we do?

The Proletariat Is the Crucial Class

Never will any struggle against capitalism attain communism without the proletariat. Instead of being dominated by the bourgeoisie, the proletariat can and must dominate them, to put an end to a society of classes. Such is the dictatorship of the proletariat. The proletariat is the worldwide engine of capitalism. It’s from the labor power of millions of poor women, men, children and old people of different colors that the capitalists draw their profits.

When this exploited class becomes fully united and organizes itself in a party to struggle against capitalism, the world will breathe a new air. Unity, that’s what we need! Communist revolution requires the unity of workers the world over. How do we get there?

Metaphysical thought has us believe that, like the fingers of the hand, the world has always been divided, and that it’s impossible to establish equality. This an obstacle to achieving communism, a society without classes. Furthermore, the capitalists don’t hesitate to drench the world in workers’ blood in order to protect their economies. These obstacles haunt workers everywhere.

For Living As A Communist, For A Communist Spirit

The communist party — PLP — must bring to the world’s workers that strong hand enabling them to confront the oppressors who live at their expense. It must organize the revolution. Staying among the workers, learning from and teaching them is the Party’s task. Human consciousness must become communist consciousness. The communist must be a worker and a fighter. He or she must champion everyone’s existence, not just the individual’s as the capitalists do.

The communist must hear the cry of all the oppressed, must always work for the revolution, must everywhere think action and act on thought. The world has suffered too long from the evil of capitalism; it must begin to breathe a communist air. Revolution, that’s what we have to prepare for, starting now.

The workers won’t move against the bosses without a real understanding of communism and revolution. Reaching them where they are, helping them understand communism and joining the party is the task a communist spirit must accomplish. The destruction of the present system must be our aim, and its goal the international unity of the workers. Let us unite, workers and all those who are for communism!

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