Category Archives: College Students

The Working Class in Egypt Rises Up!

The Progressive Labor Party applauds the workers in Egypt who are rising up again by the millions to overthrow the Islamist government that is now in power.  Though it is inspiring to see millions of people in the streets and battling against the forces of religious superstition dominating a state, they are not fighting for an ultimate solution to the economic issues that they are complaining about.  Only a Communist society organized to meet the needs of the working class can meet the demands of the millions of workers that have taken to the streets.  They are protesting on the anniversary of the last wave of protests just two short years ago.  We were right then and we will be right now – without a Communist Party dedicated to seizing state power and extending the demands of the working class in order to transform society into a Communist economic system, there can be no revolution.

 

Though it is inspiring seeing the wave of religious fundamentalism getting beaten back by the masses and Muslim Brotherhood offices get firebombed, attacked, and the rabid sexists being put on the defensive, it isn’t enough to end all forms of false consciousness.  The liberalism and the phony left in Egypt are descendants of Nasser and many of them see the army as a neutral tool or, even worse, as the defender of the secular state.  The army in Egypt, like all the bosses’ armies, is a tool of class domination to be used against the working class in order to maintain the rule of the few over the great masses of workers.

 

The campaign is called “Tamarod” which is Arabic for “Rebellion”.  It is a rebellion against the rule of Mursi and his feudal aspirations for Islamist rule as a well as a venting of frustrations against the desperate economic situation that many of the workers in Egypt are finding themselves.   This desperate economic situation is rooted in capitalism and the worldwide inter-imperialist rivalry as the world’s super-capitalists are fighting tooth and nail to re-divide the world’s wealth, resources, and human capital (hyper-exploitable workers in places like Bangladesh and Indonesia).  The reform movement’s leaders have asked all groups to leave their flags and slogans at home and only march under Egyptian flags.  This is a wash of nationalism that is hobbling any potential threat to the capitalist class’ rule.

 

The fact is that the dictatorship of capital is not being threatened.  The last Arab Spring knocked off a dictator, Mubarak, and put in a dictatorship that ruled from behind the scenes like a parallel to Oz’s Wizard.  Now, the army has declared its intent to rule and has served Mursi notice that he needs to step down.  The capitalist backers of Mursi are not willing to go gently into that dark night. 

 

There is also a danger to women in the protests, as there seem to be packs of men who are attacking female protesters.  There are many men in the crowd who have organized themselves as a security against these attacks.  It is important that sexist attacks like these are smashed with the full might of the working class.  It is bad enough that the protests are already saturated with nationalism and reformist politics, but to be divided by sexist violence against women protesters is something that must never be tolerated. 

PLP stands in solidarity with those who are protesting in the streets of Egypt while also criticizing their reformist essence.  We know that the state must be smashed and a new society built on Communist principles in order for a true change to take hold.  The workers in Egypt desire Communism, even if they are not fully conscious of it yet; as the PLP grows and the capitalist crisis deepens, more of them will eventually see the need for Communist revolution. 

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Update on Turkey and Syria 6/4/13

Update Turkey:

We must temper our enthusiasm for the intense class struggle in Turkey.  Keeping in mind the dialectical category of appearance vs. essence, the parallel to Egypt is quite palpable. Like Egypt, there is a succession struggle between the rival political parties, neither of which has the worker’s interests at heart. There is a political narrative of the downfall of Mubarak that makes it look spontaneous, yet, in essence, it was a carefully mediated transition guided by the military and with the force of the working class ousting an entrenched leader trying to build a dynasty.

In Turkey, Erdogan is trying to pull a Putin Medvedev game of musical chairs. By trying to change the constitution, Erdogan is trying to pave the way for him to circumvent the term limits on being Prime Minister by becoming President. So, the crackdown on the peaceful sit in against the tearing down of trees in an urban green space and its subsequent uprising, are now being co-opted by political opportunism.

Though there are revisionists and Anarchists at the center of the protests, the liberal party and disaffected angry youth fighting against the creeping Islamism of the AKP and a growing perception (that) has developed among a growing number of Turks that the party is pursuing an aggressive form of capitalism  will not be able to topple the state itself. With Erdogan in Tunisia, the genesis of the Arab Spring of two years ago, this is an opportune time for a good old-fashioned Turkish coup.  With opposition leaders now openly saying that the protests were justified and criticizing Erdogan, there seems to be a developing front to topple him.

With the sectarian lines dividing the working class based on religion and nationalism, the secular parties with their roots in the urban centers and the Kurdish Parties will challenge the more fundamentalist countryside. The major question is if Turkey will go the way of Syria? If it does, then this means that there are imperialist forces at work with a stake in Turkey’s downfall. Without Turkey to the north sheltering much of Syria’s rebel leadership because it’s mired in its own civil war, Assad will be able to move to an endgame even faster.

Will the US allow their staunch ally and model of a workable Islamic government to topple? Will Saudi Arabia allow the moderate Islam of Turkey and their rivals in the Moslem Brotherhood to challenge their Wahabiism? It is up to the workers to decide. There is a long history of Communist organizing in Turkey and the Red Flag can rise again by the workers and students joining PLP and overthrowing capitalism.

Update on Syria:

The US is now putting Patriot missiles and F-16’s in Jordan. This could signal that they don’t want to use their bullyboy thugs in Israel to bomb Syria’s air defenses and arms caches. With Russia adamant that they will it surrender their last warm water Mediterranean port, the US is escalating the conflict to protect their investment in the Al Qaeda saturated co-opted rebel movement that is a warning to other insurrections as to why a The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party is needed to smash the state and not allow the uprising to be hijacked. 

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Students, Parents, Teachers Unite: Fight Fascist Attacks in U.S. Education

The bosses’ assault against students and teachers in the United States has reached epic proportions. The capitalists are using standardized curricula and tests to assert more direct control over what is taught. They are attacking wages and conditions for school workers even as they blame teachers for the system’s decay. In large and overcrowded urban districts, where student populations are predominantly black and Latino, dress codes, rigid discipline, and metal detectors are the norm. Students are treated like criminals, with no time off for good behavior.

These racist attacks serve two related purposes for the ruling class. First, they enable the bosses to lay an ideological foundation for intensified fascism. Second, they make it easier to intimidate and militarize youth for the inevitable broader wars against the bosses’ surging imperialist rivals, such as China. The U.S. rulers need to use the schools to protect their profits and shore up their dominant — but declining — position in an increasingly competitive world economy.

Trillions for War, Zero for Schools

In the current period, the bosses’ economic crisis and the trillions sunk into Afghanistan and Iraq have led to a wave of racist budget cuts and layoffs in public schools throughout the U.S. The results have been devastating. In New York City — the graduation rate hovers around 60 percent — and most graduates require remedial work before they can take college-level courses. In Philadelphia, where the schools had floundered under state stewardship for nearly a decade, district officials estimated it would take until the year 2123 to get all students up to grade level in reading and math. In February, after decades of local mismanagement, the state board of education revoked its accreditation for the entire Kansas City, Missouri school system. Even by the bosses’ own low standards, the public schools are broken.

To distract workers from the real causes of why and how schools are designed to fail, the capitalists push one reform after another. Supported by billionaires like Bill Gates and Eli Broad, these range from the small-school movement to the charter school phenomenon to the bosses’ current vogue, an all-out emphasis on “teacher quality.” By using data-driven teacher evaluations, the bosses claim to have found an objective way to improve substandard schools and weed out unqualified instructors.

Useless Tests A Bosses’ Tool

In fact, these evaluations are based significantly on student performance in standardized testing, where the margin of error is so high that they are statistically useless. But as a political tool for the bosses, the evaluations are invaluable. They give the rulers easy scapegoats for the failure of their schools: “bad teachers” and the unions that “protect” them.

Many of the headlines in the teacher-bashing campaign have been seized by Republicans like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker or by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or by capitalists like David and Charles Koch. But the main leadership for this attack comes from the dominant liberal wing of U.S. finance capitalism and its loyal servants: mainstream media like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and the Democratic administration of Barack (“Race to the Top”) Obama.

These rulers do have disagreements. Some of their factions on the right, like the Koch brothers, advocate the gutting of collective bargaining rights and even the abolishing of unions altogether. More dangerous, however, are the liberals who want to use the unions to mislead teachers into thinking their interests are best served by the latest reform. Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the major teacher unions — containing 30 percent of U.S. union members — have willingly collaborated with the bosses in the new evaluation systems. The leaders of these organizations are loyal to the bosses, not to the workers. More insidious are new reformist groups like Educators for Excellence, which has enlisted broad support among young teachers in its reactionary fight against tenure.

In any case, the political fallout is the same. Under increased pressure, teachers tend to become more controllable. Some workers get caught up in the blame game, with teachers blaming students and parents blaming teachers when the evaluation numbers fall short.

In a desperate effort by principals and teachers to keep their jobs, some schools focus their attention on students who are relatively close to grade level, triaging the ones who are further behind. As one New York City high school guidance counselor recently told the school’s staff, “Don’t waste your time on them.” The children he was throwing overboard amounted to nearly one-fourth of the student population!

As always, the school reform’s primary targets — and victims — are the students.

There never was a “golden age” of U.S. public education. While government funding has fluctuated over the past century, the schools’ purpose was always to reinforce capitalist values and the profit system. The overwhelming majority of children are trained for low-paying, subordinate tasks in the rulers’ factories, infrastructure, support services, and military. More than ever, U.S. capitalism requires a politically reliable, highly regimented education system to feed a military that will secure its threatened interests worldwide. It’s no coincidence that Obama’s education reform agenda includes the re-opening of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs at a number of colleges.

To meet the rulers’ needs, the schools infect children with capitalist ideology: racism, sexism, individualism, and incessant competition for the best grades and test scores and then jobs, all against a backdrop of extreme racist and sexist inequalities. Rigid discipline and arbitrary rules nurture passive followers. Gross distortions of history — the “bravery” and “heroism” of genocidal monster Christopher Columbus, the “compassion” of white supremacist Abraham Lincoln — rob students of the ability to understand the world. Regimented teaching-to-the-test saps their creativity and analytical thinking. Daily doses of anti-communism steer them away from the one force that can change the world to meet the needs of the working class.

Graduating to Communism

If the situation sounds bleak, it’s crucial to point out that it’s only one side of the story. As the bosses make their plans, so too must the workers. In New York, for example, masses of furious parents, teachers, and students have routinely disrupted the Panel for Educational Policy (the rubber-stamp body that does Mayor Bloomberg’s bidding) with standing-room-only crowds and deafening chants. Rising anger among teachers has led to fresh attempts to form a serious opposition caucus to the sellout union leadership in New York.

But while this anger itself is positive, and the Party must be immersed in these struggles, no reform will help students get the learning they need. It’s our job to point to the systemic failures of education under capitalism and to win teachers, students and parents to fight for communism and join PLP. To truly educate our children, we must abolish the profit system. We need to create a new society to serve the needs of workers, not the tiny, parasitic minority of bosses. Forward to May Day!

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Obama Rescues Bosses’ Profits

The bosses’ attack against teachers has a precedent in their systematic dismantling of the standard of living of industrial workers in steel and auto, which was won through generations of class struggle. As in the schools, this attack was carried out with the express support of the leadership of the unions.

In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama claimed victory for “rescuing” the auto industry: “We got workers and automakers to settle their differences.” What he really meant was that the bosses forced the workers to accept a two-tier wage system, with new hires making $14 an hour, or half the wages of their previous hires. This give-back was achieved with the active support of the United Auto Workers union leadership. For the bosses, “settling differences” always means protecting bosses’ profits and attacking workers.

www.plp.org

INTER-IMPERIALIST RIVALRY

ROGRESSIVE LABOR PARTY VIEWPOINT

In the decades since the defeat of the first communist revolutions, the major imperialist powers have sharpened their attacks on each other. This rivalry between imperialists underlies and drives world events and will do so until the working class, under communist leadership, again takes the world stage to fight exploitation and racism and make revolution.

Capitalism

Capitalist society is an unstable tension between two great opposed social classes: the tiny capitalist class that owns everything important and runs the government and the huge international working class, whose members survive by selling their labor to a capitalist for a wage. Capitalists and workers constantly struggle over wage and social benefits versus profits; they are locked together in a class society until revolution destroys the bosses. This fundamental tension between unity and conflict in a class society is a contradiction, a unity of opposites that is by its very nature unstable.

Contradictions don’t stay the same. They drive development, turn one thing into another, and get resolved. The contradiction in our class society gets on the side of unity in boss-worker relations, if workers are willing to take the class struggle only so far, if our unified ability to struggle is blunted and diverted by racist ideology or other pro-boss ideas. In that case capitalist society continues with all its horrors, because workers, however reluctantly, still accept capitalism because they feel they simply aren’t strong enough to “fight city hall” or have no vision of an alternative to the capitalist snake pit.

The contradiction can get resolved on the side of the workers, on the side of conflict in boss-worker relations, with revolution to abolish the class of bosses, the racist divisions among the workers, and the entire exploitative system.

Today, unity between the two opposed classes prevails and capitalism continues despite its constant wars, racism, financial crises, and all our efforts for change. But conflict between the two classes will re-emerge and sharpen. Workers with communist leadership can resolve the contradiction in favor of the working class and all humanity by abolishing capital itself and its many harsh conditions including poverty, racism, brutality, and war for profit, as our predecessors did for many decades in the Russian and Chinese revolutions.

Communist Revolution: Resolve the Contradiction

Communist revolution means that we workers form a new kind of government and use our new state power to abolish the capitalist class, the wage-and-profit system, and all aspects of racism, from material differences to ideology. Revolution abolishes capitalists and transforms the working class from the slaves to a wage into the creative producers of all social value building a new society of egalitarian communist sharing where all can contribute mightily to each other.

It may seem that capitalism will go on forever and survive every crisis. But the secret of class contradiction is that its resolution depends mainly not on the capitalist class but on us, the working class. The capitalist class is dominant now, but the working class, and only our class, does have the ability to break their grip and transform society. We do have a future without capitalism, “a world to win.” We will have to pass through the fires of war and revolution to get there. We will have to make conflict with the bosses primary over unity with them. But if we succeed in winning millions of workers to this communist vision, we will have that future.

Imperialist Bosses Fight among Themselves

Right now we are a long way from our revolutionary goal because the working class is weak and disarmed, having lost much of its communist leadership and party organization when the Soviet and Chinese revolutions turned back to capitalism. The basic overall contradiction in capitalist society—bosses v. workers—has temporarily faded as the main thing driving world events. Now, the battle among the imperialists for profit and power (using workers for cannon fodder in their wars) has become the main contradiction in the world. Capitalists always compete (GM fights Ford). But what is really determining events now is the contradiction between the major capitalist countries (Ford/U.S. fight Toyota/Japan). That is inter-imperialist rivalry. Major capitalist powers became imperialists over 100 years ago as they extended their power and control far beyond their own national borders seeking profits, markets, and sites for investment, dividing up the entire world into competing spheres of interest. They used to call these zones their colonies and empires (British, French, Japanese, or Russian). Now imperialists dominate whole economies and governments without making them into colonies, but it’s the same thing: the biggest capitalists use their corporations, armies, and governments to win away from other capitalists as much of the world’s resources, markets, and labor as they can. Workers won’t remain quiet forever, but for now, the battle among imperialists conditions all world events.

Inter-Imperialist Rivalry Means World War

Imperialists try to limit their conflicts to economics and politics (e.g., through the UN and bilateral negotiations), but military conflict—all-out war to resolve their differences and redivide the world—is on the rise. The many wars being fought today mean that the major imperialists are more and more resorting to military means to secure their empires. It is likely that there will be a world-wide war with major groups of imperialists and their allies on opposing sides, just as happened in the 20th century. Such a third world war would end with yet another capitalist “new world order” if we workers fail to rearm ourselves with the international revolutionary communist party, PLP. But, if workers build the PLP internationally, a third world war will also see another great wave of the communist revolutionary movement, ending capitalism altogether. The end of the story of inter-imperialist rivalry therefore depends on us, on the working class rising again, restoring the primacy of that main contradiction in capitalist class society—workers’ conflict with bosses—and resolving it by revolution.

The World of Imperialism—and How to Change It

The U.S. has been top dog among imperialists since they came out stronger than the others after World War II, and since communist anti-imperialism ended with Russia and China’s return to capitalism. By 1999 the U.S. ruling class faced the fact that they were declining relative to their major rivals. The bipartisan Hart-Rudman Commission that year foresaw a 9/11-type attack and advised the ruling class to use it to build patriotism and support for permanent war and a centralized police state. The U.S. military budget, with 700 bases in 130 countries, is still more than that of the rest of the world combined. But though still top dog militarily, the U.S. is weakening rapidly, its military forces stretched thin without a draft and its economic power being challenged throughout the globe by the EU, China, Russia, Japan, and lesser opponents including Iran and Venezuela. The EU and NATO are no longer automatic supporters of U.S. imperialism. China and Russia have formed an alliance called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which in 2001 linked them to four Central Asian states (and more in line to join), challenging U.S. and its allies’ power in the oil-rich region. Capitalist states including Iran, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, and Pakistan, can now try to play one imperialist power or alliance off against another to their own advantage. Venezuela is beginning to sell more oil to China instead of to the U.S., and the EU, Japan, and China are rapidly increasing investment in South America at the expense of U.S. market share. Not so long ago, the U.S. might already have invaded Venezuela or changed its regime as they used to do all over South America as they did in Chile in 1973, for example, but they simply cannot take military action yet against Iran or Venezuela because they are too weak. Australia withdrew its tiny military support of the U.S. in Iraq and is growing ever more closely tied to China economically. South Africa has increased ties to China and India at the expense of the U.S. and the EU. Pakistan no longer automatically dances to the tune of the U.S. military. Saudi Arabia refuses to help out the U.S. by increasing oil supplies. This brief glance yields the same picture as our look at the major imperialists: an unstable, shifting, dangerous moment in history, when the U.S. is being driven back and will have to take desperate drastic action to stay on top.

The capitalist future is bleak, especially for the international working class, which suffers the brunt of war, racism, and economic crisis. So we return to the burning need of the moment. We must strengthen the working class side of the class contradiction by joining and building the PLP, fighting racism, struggling against the bosses, and heating the class struggle to a white hot intensity so that we can overthrow capitalism and create a communist world that meets the needs of our class.

Contact the Progressive Labor Party at desafio.challenge@gmail.com,

http://www.plp.org

PO Box 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202

718.630.9440.

2011: Crisis-driven Bosses Attack, But Class Struggle Alive and Well

The events of 2011 served to remind us of two important aspects of capitalist society. First, the bosses of the world, caught in a sharpening struggle against their rivals and a spreading financial crisis, always have their knives out to assault the working class. Attacks intensified against our jobs, education, health, homes and families. The myths of democracy, fairness and opportunity for workers were exposed by a worldwide reality: we live under the bosses’ dictatorship. The past year made clear that regardless of national boundaries, no matter the “race” or gender of the boss, the ruling class will eagerly consign workers to hell on earth for the smallest gain in profit.

The ultimate expression of the boss’s callousness to sacrifice the lives of workers is imperialist war, of which there was no shortage in 2011. The U.S., still the main capitalist power in the world, continued its racist massacres in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in hopes of securing the Middle East’s oil and natural gas. Without the growth of a new worldwide communist movement, the prospects for 2012 and beyond are not much better.

While the U.S. remains the dominant power, other rivals, most prominently China, are gaining power — militarily, economically and politically. This challenge does not go unnoticed by the U.S. ruling class. The recent announcement by President Obama (the Nobel Peace Prize winner) that U.S. Marines will be stationed in northern Australia, alongside the recent diplomatic overtures to Myanmar, which borders China, signal a future where direct military conflict between the U.S. and China will be increasingly likely.

But the deadly maneuvering of the ruling class is only one side of the story of 2011. The second lesson, clearly visible from a quick look back through the pages of any of the bosses’ newspapers, is that workers are not meekly accepting these attacks. Class struggle is alive and well.  The list of places where large-scale rebellion rocked the bosses this past year is a long one: Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, England, France, Greece, Israel/Palestine, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Syria, the U.S., and more.

To advance the cause of communist revolution, the international Progressive Labor Party has joined and led some of these militant struggles. In the pages of CHALLENGE, these battles and many other reports of class struggle were presented with a communist analysis.  If we are ever to defeat the murderous bosses and end their reign of terror, the working class must transform these narrow reform struggles into a fight for the working class to take state power — a fight for communist revolution.

The International PLP Advances

In New York City, the working class took on the racist Department of Education and its plan to impose Jim Crow-style segregation at the John Jay Campus high schools. In Israel/Palestine, a Summer Project participated in the fight against racist evictions and the housing shortage gripping workers there. In Haiti, we struggled to help rebuild a shattered society with communist principles of international solidarity and equality.

PL’s Summer Project in Haiti included a “Freedom School” for the discussion of communist principles. “Serve the working class” became more than a motto; it was put into practice when Party members created a clinic to serve the medical needs for Haitians in tent camps. The racist health care system was also a focus for comrades in the U.S. In New York we fought against the racist closing of Brookdale Hospital. Comrades and friends in Philadelphia fought to prevent the firing of a trusted hospital coworker. In Chicago, where hospital bosses tried to give patients a death sentence by transferring them to a decrepit facility, PL and others fought back.

Chicago was also the battleground for the heroic efforts of students and parents (primarily mothers), supported by the Party, to prevent the racist closing of the Whittier School library. Providing an example for the Occupy movement to follow, the parents (primarily mothers) and students at this majority Latino school, supported by the Party, seized the building and renamed it “La Casita.” For nearly a month, they held off the racist dogs of the Chicago Department of Education from carrying out their plan. Our comrades helped in many ways, from medical care to overnight guard duty. All the while they pointed out that whether we won or lost this particular battle, the bosses would still have state power. Our job is to fight not only “our” bosses, but bosses everywhere.

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, communists infused labor struggles in garment factories and universities with a vision of a society based on need rather than profit. In Mexico, where flooding threatened to destroy a community of 200,000 people, the Party explained that if our communist predecessors in the Soviet Union could move entire factories over the Ural mountains in three months during World War II, we could protect their city — if we had state power.

In these places and others around the world, CHALLENGE was ever-present. It consistently hammered home the point that it is only when we take on capitalism itself — when we transform battles against corrupt dictators, greedy bankers and fascist school boards into a world-wide communist movement — will we achieve workers’ liberation.

Arab Spring and Wall Street Occupy Working Class’s Imagination

Perhaps the most significant expressions of working-class fight-back were the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East, collectively dubbed the Arab Spring, and in the Occupy Wall Street movement, a worldwide rage at the inequality of wealth that is the hallmark of capitalism.

The Arab Spring began with a rebellion in Tunisia that followed the self-immolation of a desperate young worker. But the uprising was fueled by a 13% official unemployment rate (about 30% for youth), skyrocketing prices for food, and political corruption. Similarly, in Egypt, while the bourgeois media focused on Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the struggle for “democracy,” the real battles were over rampant unemployment and the price of food. Strikes at Egypt’s textile mills, pharmaceutical plants, chemical industries, the Cairo airport, the transportation sector, banks, ports and the Suez Canal are the primary source of revolutionary optimism.

Workers throughout the world cheered on scenes from Tunisia and Tahrir Square, which makes the outcome of these battles all the more painful. In Egypt, ruthless dictator Hosni Mubarak was first replaced by a ruthless military and now in addition by the even more ruthless Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists (see CHALLENGE, 10/19). In Tunisia, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted and elections were held in October, but unemployment still crushes the youth there. This is the essence of reform struggles. However militant it may be, any struggle that fails to attack the entire capitalist system will simply replace one set of bosses with another. For workers, the promise of a new society has been met with the reality of continued joblessness and misery.

Nonetheless, the international working class proudly looked on as workers in Tahrir Square held up signs reading, “We are all Wisconsin,” a reference to the 100,000-strong protest against the attack on public sector workers in that state. Months before anyone occupied a park near Wall Street, thousands of workers occupied the state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin.

Just as in Cairo, however, the brave workers of Wisconsin have been misled, this time into backing electoral politics and the Democratic Party. In the midst of this struggle, the Party brought forward the idea that both the fascist Governor Scott Walker and the supposedly “heroic” Democrats were all defenders of capitalism — and were all therefore enemies of the working class. This communist idea attracted many workers in Wisconsin and around the world.

In September, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement began in New York City before spreading to more than 1,500 cities worldwide. OWS captured the attention of workers who were tired of seeing banks get trillions of dollars in bailouts while education, transportation, health care, wages and jobs are slashed. One chant especially reflected this anger: “Banks got bailed out; We got sold out!” Throughout 2011, the Party participated in many of these occupations, picket lines, schools, churches and job sites, armed with leaflets and CHALLENGE.

PLP continues to strive to replace the dead-end reform tactics of the old communist movement with the fight for revolutionary communism for billions of workers in the world.

May Day

This past year was the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune, the first time workers took control of the state. In this spirit, we celebrated May Day with marches, dinners and songs. From Colombia to El Salvador, in Los Angeles and New York, in Haiti and Palestine, we raised the red flag honoring our revolutionary ancestors. This year our May Day celebrations grew in size and better reflected the international character of the working class.

Turning Fascist Oppression into Communist Organizing

The working class continues to suffer from the racist exploitation and oppression that capitalism requires. In their increasingly desperate competition for dominance, the various national ruling classes outdo one another in making workers homeless, sick, maimed or killed in pursuit of profit. Frantic about “sovereign debt,” collapsing banks, currency disasters (notably the euro) and the industrial crisis of overproduction, the world’s bosses are peeling back their thin masks of “democracy” to reveal the bloody maw of a fascist monster. Meanwhile, the fight over Central Asian and Middle Eastern oil and natural gas appears to be careening toward broader military conflicts.

As we move into 2012, the battles against our capitalist enemies will continue to rage. The workers of the world will continue to fight back, in ways large and small. Everything we do as workers and communists counts: every march or picket line or discussion strengthened by  communist ideas, every time we help another worker and demonstrate how we can build a society without the parasitic bosses. By doing these things and more, the Party will help the working class move closer to ushering in a classless society that produces for need, not profit. Communist ideas are essential for this crucial advance. A mass, international, revolutionary party is necessary to lead the way. PL is that party. Now is the time to join!

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Occupiers Blockade West Coast Ports

OAKLAND, CA., December 13 — Thousands of Occupiers, confronted by police in riot gear, shut or disrupted ports from Anchorage, Alaska, to Southern Ca., highlighting economic inequality and high unemployment.

Thousands of pickets chanting “Whose ports? Our Ports!” forced the closing of four shipping terminals here. Hundreds shut two of Portland’s four main terminals. Seattle cops used “flash-bang” percussion grenades against protestors blocking the port entrance, arresting 11.

Pickets in Longview, Wash., demonstrated in solidarity with longshoremen fighting EGT Investment over the latter’s takeover of their jobs. They were also protesting Goldman-Sachs which owns a stake in the largest cargo terminal operator, SSA Marine. Other demonstrations occurred as far south as Long Beach, CA. and as far north as Vancouver, Canada and Anchorage, Alaska.

Although the longshore union refused to support the actions, an Oakland docker said “the rank and file have spoken today by not crossing the lines.”

Reuters reported (12/13) that in Oakland, “Two longshoremen outside the gate said they would refuse to cross the picket lines to get to their jobs and assumed others would follow suit” (Sacramento Bee 12/13).

Doug Seaman, a 35-year-old unemployed construction worker, told the San Francisco Chronicle (12/12), “We need to make the public aware that Wall Street’s tentacles have infiltrated every facet of our lives.”

LA PL’ers Defy Occupy LA ‘Leaders’; Spark March vs. Racist Police

LOS ANGELES —In the Occupy movement here, PL’ers led a roaring march of about 50 people — which grew as we marched — around City Hall, chanting, “Stop racist police brutality, stand with Boston in solidarity.” OccupyLA is approaching its 30th day here. To date, the occupiers have gotten very little resistance from the police — in contrast to Oakland, Denver, Atlanta, Boston and New York, where hundreds bravely fought against the cops. The participants here include a hodgepodge of individuals ranging from union hacks and pro-democracy types to fake leftists, undercover cops and disrupters. But most important are the honest youth, students and workers, employed and unemployed, who are enraged at the horrors of capitalism. We found this out first-hand when we helped spark the march against police brutality.

One of the growing frustrations in the camp has been the ineffectiveness of the General Assembly, which is essentially the “leaderless” leadership body with rules that allow one or two individuals to prevent a proposal from passing despite the large majority in agreement. A group trying to form an anti-police brutality committee was shut down and called provocateurs by “leaders” taking advantage of these rules.

But at one meeting we met a few individuals who were upset about the General Assembly.  A small discussion started, and it was announced that up to 100 people had been arrested in Boston. The discussion turned to racist police brutality, and what, if anything, to do about it. Some of the misleaders who later joined the gathering tried to “facilitate” (that is, take over) the meeting. They called for a moment of silence in solidarity with our Boston brothers and sisters. They did not want to “provoke the police” or fight racism and argued that the cops were “part of the 99%.”

The gathering grew to about 50 people, which showed younger comrades how sharp ideas can influence a larger body. More important, it was good for them to see that many people supported our idea of calling the police racist defenders of the state and Wall Street, in opposition to the more visible “leaders.”  It was a great moment of unity in the fight against racism. That’s when we led this march around City Hall, especially significant after the demoralizing General Assembly.

Friendships that started with this action have become a small base for our Party as we organize anti-racist actions, ignoring the reformist “leadership” group. Our work is a small step in the right direction, but we need do a better job at mobilizing all our clubs and friends to get involved on a more consistent basis. We need to improve our open presence with CHALLENGE.

However, with the modest efforts of some comrades, we’ve gotten to know a few individuals fairly well and more recently have discussed CHALLENGE with one. We’ve also helped mobilize members of one church to participate on a few occasions. One of them has participated in PL events and wants to learn how the Party organizes in such situation.

We know the bosses’ only interest in allowing such Occupy movements to exist is to push patriotism in their “pro-democracy” rhetoric and to lead them toward the voting booth. But they can also be schools for communism if we and our friends are there, in the muck and mire and sleeping bags and tents. Join the struggle! Join Progressive Labor Party!

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Bosses Aim to Pacify Occupy Wall Street

As Occupy Wall Street (OWS) helps to sow mass anger against the billionaires, the liberal wing of the United States ruling class is working full-tilt to make sure that it does not boil over and out of control.  On October 12, a group of about fifty protesters toured the Upper East Side of Manhattan, stopping to rally before the homes of some of the ruling class’s biggest billionaires: Rupert Murdoch, David Koch, Howard Milstein (chief executive of Emigrant Savings Bank),  and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. They made their final stop at hedge-funder John Paulson’s 86th Street townhouse, just east of Fifth Avenue.

The disciplined marchers chanted, “They got bailed out, we got sold out!” Led by Michael Kink, a veteran Democratic Party operative and shill, they brandished a dozen oversized foamboard checks in the amount of five billion dollars, “paid to the order of the top 1%” and drawn on “the 99%.” (The $5 billion, according to Kink’s Stronger Economy for All Coalition, will revert back to the rich if the New York State millionaire’s tax is allowed to lapse at the end of this year.)

A former Legal Aid attorney, Kink currently works as a chief policy adviser and senior counsel to Democrats in the New York State Legislature. The bosses can trust him to lead a demonstration through the heart of a prime residential district, knowing that he would confine any protest within the legal limits. Kink did not let them down. He called the suffocating police presence along the march route “very positive,” less than a week after hundreds were netted and dragged away on the Brooklyn Bridge amid indiscriminate beatings and pepper-spray attacks.  Kink is the liberal bosses’ stooge.

At each fat cat’s home on Kink the Fink’s harmless tour, the demonstrators laid their symbolic checks on the front doorsteps of this or that billionaire.  Revolutionary justice would have dragged those billionaires out of their plush apartments and put them before workers’ tribunals for their crimes: engineering an economy based on racist unemployment; waging imperialist war; wrecking the global environment for profit.  In mass uprisings as old as class society itself, rulers have been eliminated without mercy; in the 20th century, workers under communist leadership in Russia and China disposed of their ruling classes. Eventually, however, these socialist revolutions degraded into state capitalism because of their failure to eliminate the profit system, the system still in place worldwide today.

Wars to carve the world into spheres of interest are, as the Russian communist leader Lenin said, the ultimate expression of capitalists’ drive for wealth and power. The billionaires’ imperialist wars are primarily paid for by taxes on the working class; that’s the way Presidents Kennedy and Johnson funded the genocide in Vietnam, and how the Bushes bankrolled their invasions of Iraq. The profit system cannot be reformed. Only its eradication through communist revolution will put an end to the bosses’ sickening slaughters.

OWS is far from reaching this understanding, but the ruling class is growing nervous over mass anger against their rigged system.  They want to control this new political phenomenon and keep it within the tight bounds of the electoral politics.  Meanwhile, the New York Times highlights dead-end debates between OWS reformists and Latino nationalists. Its narrow reportage shows how hard the bosses are working to build racism and undermine worker unity.  Mainstream reporters are finks, too.

Nothing is more threatening to the bosses than multi-racial unity against racist super-exploitation. To the extent that black, Latino and immigrant workers do not join OWS protests across the country, the movement will be less dangerous to capitalism.  The OWS manifesto begins with the words, “As one people, formerly divided by the color of our skin, we acknowledge the reality: there is only one race, the human race.”  This is an important and positive statement, but OWS leaders have failed to take it far enough. Michael Fink and his reformist cronies own a vested interest in the status quo. They target the excesses and corruption of capitalism, but stop short of indicting the system itself. They lack something fundamental: a class analysis of racism and inequality.

History demonstrates that racism is essential to capitalism’s very existence.  The wealth of the U.S. ruling class was rooted in the genocide of Native Americans and the holocaust of the Atlantic slave trade, followed by lynch law segregation. It industrialized by employing massive state violence and child labor against a workforce of new immigrants. It consolidated its global dominance in World War II, culminating in the racist incineration of Japanese workers and children with firebombs and nuclear weapons.

But the bosses’ power is not absolute. Under anti-racist, communist leadership, workers have waged epic struggles against racism and fascism, from the Scottsboro campaign to defend nine black youths framed for rape in the Jim Crow South to the Soviet communists’ annihilation of the Nazi Germany war machine. Since its beginning 50 years ago, PL has waged its own successful struggles against the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis.

Kink’s Stronger Economy For All has three demands: extension of the state’s millionaire’s tax; “real job growth” through infrastructure projects, and the restoration of funding cuts to education and other social services.  These reforms will likely become central planks in the Democratic Party push to retain the White House and shore up U.S. interests in a period of sharpening international rivalries.

As imperialist war inevitably widens across the Middle East and beyond (see editorial page 2), a shaky U.S. empire will need enthusiastic citizens to support a military draft and to kill and die for the bosses. Only a sharp class analysis of the true nature of “the 1%” will lead the masses to the one conclusion that the bosses’ can’t hijack or repackage: that “the 99%” needs communism.

Just Occupy Wall Street; Smash It And Its Profit System Only Revolution, Not Voting, Can End Capitalism’s Racism, War and Unemployment

NEW YORK CITY, October 17 — Occupy Wall Street (OWS), spreading across the U.S. and worldwide, holds both promise and danger for the working class. It’s now clear that large numbers are seeking an end to the profit system’s misery and injustice. At the same time, Obama and union misleaders are embracing this protest for their own reasons. For the capitalists, OWS represents yet another ruling class effort to funnel workers’ anger down the dead-end road of reforming capitalism, especially through electoral politics.

The good news is that many in the movement’s growing ranks reject the patriotic goals of the “one-percenters.” On a subway headed to Wall Street, a rider asked, “Are you going to the protest? I’m with you. Your banner says ‘Fight for communism’? I’m not so sure about that, but it sure is true the current system is failing. Stronger regulation of capitalism won’t work. We need to learn from the mistakes of past communist movements because a revolution is what’s needed. Okay, I’ll read this paper.”

When this kind of political discussion breaks out between strangers on a train, it’s a sign that things are changing. The growth of OWS is driven by a profound frustration with capitalism’s inability to provide a decent future for the broad masses of workers. In the face of repeated police repression, brave demonstrators have taken to the streets of New York. More important, many are open to communist ideas and to having the Progressive Labor Party participate in their movement.

On the October 15-16 weekend, as PL members chanted some slogans — “It’s not just Wall Street, it’s capitalism”; “The 99% needs revolution, not reform”; “The 99% need communism” — they were met with near-universal agreement. More than 500 PL leaflets were distributed among protesters and others who came to Zucotti Park to check things out. Friends of PL have been critical in helping spread the communist message, an important step forward toward real change.

U.S. Flag A Banner for Imperialist War

Previously, a larger group of PL’ers, including several youth, had met with a similarly positive response, but they also encountered the dangerous patriotic ideology — the bosses’ ideology — that has infiltrated the movement. A protester holding high a large U.S. flag took issue with a Party banner that read, “Fight for Communism, Join PLP.” A lively exchange ensued in which we attacked his flag and defended our banner as being more in tune with the future that protesters were demanding and deserved. Others gravitated to the debate, and several political discussions spun off.

Attacking the U.S. flag as the flag of imperialist war, the most hated banner in the world, brought out pointed disagreement. Attacking the U.S. Constitution as a slave-owners’ document provoked other sharp exchanges. But through it all, a friendly tone of struggle won most people, some of them initially hostile, to weigh our message against their assumptions. We will continue participating in even larger numbers.

Opportunistic Democratic politicians and their union boss allies are striving to subvert OWS into re-electing war-maker Obama. “[A] consensus is emerging among Democrats that the ‘Occupy’ movement is worth tapping into, even helping along and joining with in some instances” (ABC News, 10/10/11). “I support the message to the establishment,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on ABC’s “This Week” (10/9/11). “Change has to happen.” Labor hacks from the AFL-CIO to AFSCME to the SEIU are lending huge financial support. SEIU boss Mary Kay Healy found “incredible inspiration” in OWS (“The Hill,” 10/15/11).

But meanwhile, these union sellouts do absolutely nothing to fight the layoffs of 660 NYC school aides and other low-paid workers, the 99 per-center victims of the one per-centers’ crisis. Goldman Sachs’ brokers stole $15 billion in bonuses while billionaire NYC Mayor Bloomberg can’t find the money to keep these  $14-an-hour school staffers on the job. As leaders from the United Federation of Teachers spout their lip-service support for OWS, they make not a peep as workers are thrown out of their classrooms and their jobs. Why this seeming contradiction? These union leaders are in the hip pockets of the one percent.

Rulers’ Shill Jesse Jackson Tells OWS’ers, ‘Don’t Fight’

The liberal phonies are making a special push to corral black workers in OWS — the ones hit hardest by the racist New Depression — away from meaningful, militant action and into futile voting. One-time Democratic White House candidate Jesse Jackson urged them to “maintain your disciplined focus, your peaceful nonviolent approach to protest and demand change. In the end, we will win” (Rainbow/Push website, 10/11/11). The “we” Jackson refers to is the U.S. ruling class, which has called his tune from the start of his public life. Back in 1978, the Rockefeller brothers anointed Jackson as their dutiful servant with their “Public Service” award.

Capitalist Press Clouds Billionaire Soros’s OWS Role

Although U.S. imperialists don’t yet control OWS as they would like, they most certainly helped spark it. The first call to “occupy Wall Street” came this past summer from an online magazine called Adbusters, a beneficiary of the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, whose biggest sugar daddy is none other than billionaire U.S. imperialist George Soros.

The ruling-class media’s bizarre treatment of this link suggests just how much they want to conceal it. At 11:09 AM on October 13, mainstream Reuters’ coverage led with, “Anti-Wall Street protesters say the rich are getting richer while average Americans suffer, but the group that started it all may have benefited indirectly from the largesse of one of the world’s richest men.” By 5:25 PM, Reuters had changed the same article to begin, “George Soros isn’t a financial backer of the Wall Street protests, despite speculation by critics….” At 6:45 PM, Reuters had the original opener followed by a disclaimer from Soros & Co. In the face of the money-trail facts, liberal rulers spin the lie that only right-wing lunatics see an OWS-Soros tie.

Bankers Provide ‘People’s Park’ as Protest Site

Zuccotti Park, the demonstrators’ New York base, did not fall from the sky. “People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it,” NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg told a September 16 press conference. He obliged with a private park owned by Brookfield Properties, property agents for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, among others. The mayor’s lady-friend, Diana Taylor, serves on Brookfield’s board. Brookfield head honcho John Zuccotti, the Park’s owner, once ran the big-bank-loving Downtown Lower Manhattan Association founded by David Rockefeller.

The grip on OWS of reforming capitalism is growing stronger. On the Sunday morning TV talk shows, an OWS representative blasted “shared sacrifice,” saying the “working class” had already given enough. When the news anchor pressed for a “political strategy,” his reply was, “We won’t say for whom but we want all the allies of our movement to vote.”

Clearly the liberal rulers have a plan: they want to make OWS the beginning of Obama’s 2012 election campaign. “We are the 99%” is within the scope of Obama’s “tax-the-rich” strategy to more fully fund and popularize imperialist war. Black volunteers from the Democratic Party were canvassing for Obama’s phony jobs bill.

But this movement is also a direct result of frustration with the failures of voting. OWS resonates because elections have flopped. This disdain for ruling-class politics is good. But there’s a long way to go. There was little sense of mass anger at the police. The mix of counter-cultural, religious, absurdist and reformist politics lends the scene something of a carnival atmosphere. Passers-by are looking for answers. The absence of anti-racist politics is evident, but the crowds are not all white, at least not in Manhattan.

Real Grievances Could Drive OWS Beyond Bosses’ Grip

The sheer mass of protesters, and their increasingly working-class background, may nevertheless upset the rulers’ scenario. At first the media focused on frustrated, mostly white, college grads with suffocating tuition loans. But then multi-racial representatives of the more than 30 million unemployed and under-employed workers starting showing up. That’s when Jesse Jackson felt the need to chime in. The calming post-World War II U.S. social contract — a steady job, a house, college for the kids, and a pension — lies in ruins. Black workers gained it only briefly after fierce fights in the 1960s and 1970s and were the first to lose it.

OWS’s originators claim inspiration from Egypt’s Tahrir Square activists. But what did they win, without communist politics or leadership? The new cabal of military rulers Tahrir Square eased into power recently slaughtered dozens of unarmed Christian opponents. And OWS leaders’ supposed savior Obama had his Africa Military Command send troops into Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Power of the Working Class Is Crucial

OWS must spread to support strikers on picket lines and into schools and workplaces through anti-racist sit-ins and job actions in solidarity with OWS. The scope of OWS must be enlarged to oppose U.S. rulers’ oil wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan which will further improve the conditions for the spread of communist revolutionary ideas. It would make the movement overall more difficult for the ruling-class liberals to hijack and turn into yet another tool of imperialism.

What we do now to organize workers — the class that produces all the value that the 1% steals as profit and who more and more recognize capitalism’s failures —will significantly advance revolution for workers’ power. In participating in OWS, Progressive Labor Party can expose the capitalists trying to steer it, and win rank-and-file protestors to the long, hard struggle for communist revolution.J

Fighting Wall Street is Good Capitalism Must Be Destroyed

NEW YORK CITY, October 2 — Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has spread to more than 20 U.S. cities, from Philadelphia and Dallas to Seattle and Los Angeles. It adds a significant marker to the growing list of places where the working class is fighting back against the horrors of capitalism. In an era commonly defined by the lack of militant class struggle, recent events in the U.S., Greece, Egypt, Spain, England, Syria, Israel/Palestine and Pakistan are to be celebrated.

But as we celebrate we should be clear: The ideas behind these struggles are overwhelmingly reformist. Most of the participants are fighting to maintain capitalism in one form or another, with disastrous results for the workers in these places.  Without communist ideas in the lead, the battles, won or lost, will pave the road back to capitalist oppression.

The ruling class continues to provide opportunities for us to bring communist ideas to the forefront. In New York, the ruling class pulled back the mask of “democracy” yesterday when more than 700 OWS protestors were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. After having been lured onto the bridge by the cops, the protestors were surrounded with netting and taken away on city buses, over the protests of union drivers.

More than two weeks in, OWS has survived nearly a thousand arrests. It has captured the imagination of both workers and students. Watching more than a hundred transit workers march into Zuccotti Park near Wall Street was inspiring.

Police Action Backfires

The NYPD has been trapping and arresting hundreds at a time in order to identify as many dissenters as they can. The KKKops meant to intimidate the protestors, but the police action may have backfired. Most of the youth seem even angrier and more committed to build their movement. Today, protesters were back at Zuccotti Park in full force.

There are many good things about the ongoing OWS struggle. It includes a growing number of young people, workers (employed and unemployed) and students. For many, this is their first taste of fighting back. They show some understanding of why the ruling class needs racism, sexism and wars for oil. Many of these protesters will be faced with a future draft and a decision either to fight in these wars or to resist them. Some are discussing the role of imperialism. The most prevalent chant is “We are the 99%,” making clear the opposition between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us.

But there are a number of critical weaknesses that reflect OWS’s lack of communist leadership. The movement lacks black and Latino participation. Amid the push for “fairness,” many fail to understand that capitalism cannot possibly be fair. Inequality is essential to the bosses’ system.

Racism Fundamental to Capitalism

The rule of the capitalist class rests firmly on a foundation of racism. All around the world, the bosses make super-profits from the exploitation of sections of the working class, usually defined by race, ethnicity or religion. In the U.S. this primarily means black and Latino workers. The bosses also rely on racism to divide workers and weaken class struggle. Although the OWS movement claims to be a revolution, it has yet to enlist the most oppressed and exploited sections of the working class. Party members have been raising these and other communist ideas at the OWS protests.

There is a long way to go. A recently released statement from the protest organizers says nothing about capitalism or imperialism. The document urges workers to exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. This is not a political strategy to end the suffering of the worldís working class.

PLP’ers and friends must inject communist ideas into OWS and explain how the police serve the rulers under capitalism. We must show the absolute need to fight to destroy the profit system and to produce for workers’ needs, instead. In the heat of struggle, these ideas will move us one day closer to revolution.

THE WORKING CLASS HAS A WORLD TO WIN!

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