Category Archives: Editorials

Capitalism is a Racist Disaster

Storms don’t know skin color or class, but capitalism is built on inequalities rooted in both. An event like Hurricane Sandy that seems to affect “everyone” the same turns out to strike hardest at those who have the fewest resources, the fewest choices, the fewest places to go.
Like Katrina in 2005, or the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 this system’s response to disaster shows that what is natural under capitalism is RACISM. Footage of ruined yachts and vacation homes dominated the early images of the bosses’ media coverage. More recently news coverage has centered around devastated white communities of the region to the exclusion of areas like Red Hook, the Lower East Side, Coney Island and Canarsie. But there is nothing “natural” about who pays the highest price in these disasters. Meanwhile the ruling class gets to practice fascist police state tactics of population transfer, curfew, military direction of civilian affairs under the name of “emergency management.”
• Undocumented workers live in fear of deportation and so many will not come forward to seek the help they need (in the aftermath of 9/11 families of undocumented restaurant workers in the Twin Towers received nothing!)
• Mostly black DC 37 city workers were forced back to the job while mostly white UFT members got paid days off. On the whole salaried workers have much more income protection than hourly wage workers.
• Red Hook supermarkets with no power take no electronic food stamps: no cash, no food.
Yet workers all over New York have worked collectively to help each other out. While Obama and Bloomberg cruise around in helicopters giving orders, it will be workers who rebuild the homes, roads, rails, ports and more destroyed in this storm. Some put their lives on the line to rescue people stuck on roofs of their homes, others have turned their front yards into collection centers for food, water and clothes that they then hand out to their neighbors. Still others have pooled what little resources they have to help the elderly, disabled and children get meals. This is human nature! The bosses push the idea that everyone is “naturally” greedy and selfish, but in real times of need, those lies are uncovered.
There is nothing natural about this disaster. And as a global system capitalism had doomed countless millions to conditions like those we endure in Sandy-ravaged areas and much worse. Sandy gathered strength over an ocean five degrees warmer than normal and hit a New York harbor where water levels have already risen a foot due to climate change. As the Arctic Ocean melts oil companies race to drill the floor of the sea for more oil. The wasteful nature of the profit system is driving our biosphere off a cliff.
Under communism, natural disasters will continue to occur, but a global communist planned economy is the only hope for reversing human-induced climate change. Under communism society will be organized with the needs of people in mind, not profit like under capitalism. The infrastructure to make our neighborhoods safe will be built. People will be sent to safe evacuation centers without the worry that their belongings will get stolen, since everyone will have what they need.
Obama’s victory will not change what drives the attacks on our class. Both candidates served this racist system of inequality that drops bombs on innocent children in Pakistan and at the same time allows hurricane victims to go hungry and cold. Elections only build loyalty to this broken social order. People’s response to this latest disaster shows that our class, the working class, has the need and the desire to help each other in times of need. Let’s build on those actions and fight for a world built on equality for all, a communist world!

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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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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

While Workers Lack Leadership and 50,000 Die: Battle for Libya’s Oil Heats Up Inter-Imperialist Rivalry

The Libyan civil war has heated up the rivalry among the world’s imperialists, as U.S., British, French, Italian, Russian, and Chinese rulers jockey for access to the country’s oil and gas riches. What Obama hails as Libya’s “liberation” from dictator Muammar Qaddafi is in fact a bid to recolonize it into a Western protectorate. And if Libya unravels, U.S. rulers are preparing for an invasion.

Rebel Racism Rampant

Obama called Libya’s NATO-backed rebels “courageous.” For our class, however, there are no heroes in this civil war. Nobody is fighting for workers. All sides represent oil-thirsty capitalists and stand guilty of atrocities.

Both Qaddafi’s forces and the rebels have executed handcuffed prisoners. Racist rebels massacred scores of black migrant workers and recently jailed hundreds more as alleged Qaddafi mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa. NATO bombers under overall U.S. command wiped out 85 civilians in one August raid. “An estimated 50,000 people have been killed in Libya since the start of the uprising, according to the rebels’ military leadership” (Independent, London, 8/31).

Libya’s Den-of-Thieves ‘Saviors’ Include Anti-U.S. al Qaeda Allies

But while the triumphant U.S., British, and French imperialists vie for Libya’s energy riches, they’re having trouble patching together a viable local government. Tribes and regions within Libya are also competing for their own shares of the oil profits, thus weakening the new, supposedly ruling National Transitional Council (NTC). “Already council members have fallen into dispute over the $65 billion Libyan Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund” (Bloomberg News, 9/1).

In addition, Obama & Co.’s opportunistic reliance on radical Islamists to do their dirty work poses still worse threats to the U.S. ruling class. The London Independent noted (8/28): “The rebel military commander behind the successful assault on Tripoli had fought in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban and was an Islamist terror suspect interrogated by the CIA. Abdelhakim Belhadj, the newly appointed commander of the Tripoli Military Council, is a former emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) — banned by Britain and the U.S. as a terrorist organisation after the 9/11 attacks.” In power, radical Islamists could steer Libya closer to an anti-U.S. Iran or help destabilize Saudi Arabia (the cornerstone of oil-based U.S. imperialism), a long-time goal of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

Stratfor, a Texas think-tank named for the “strategic forecasting” it sells to U.S. businesses, thinks Libya could soon tear wide open. “This jihadist element of the rebel coalition appears to have reared its head recently with the assassination of former NTC military head Abdel Fattah Younis in late July….Between the seizure of former Qaddafi arms depots and the arms provided to the rebels by outside powers, Libya is awash with weapons. If the NTC fractures like past rebel coalitions, it could set the stage for a long and bloody civil war — and provide an excellent opportunity to jihadist elements” (Stratfor, 8/24).

With Eyes on Libya’s Oil Prize, U.S. Rulers Have Invasion Plan

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the U.S. rulers’ leading foreign policy factory, foresees GIs in Libya: “Obama may need to reconsider his assertion that there would not be any American boots on the ground” (London Financial Times, 8/22). The CFR’s “Contingency Planning Memorandum No.12: Post-Qaddafi Instability in Libya,” released in August and bankrolled by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, gave more specifics:

“If initial efforts to avert violent instability in Libya fail, the international community would have three broad response options: humanitarian relief…limited military intervention…full-scale occupation. Various operational configurations for armed intervention are conceivable — including unilateral U.S. action (our emphasis, Ed.) a coalition of the willing without UN mandate, and a fully sanctioned international force led by NATO.”

Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron bombarded Libya and sent in special forces assassins, invoking a “responsibility to protect” Libyan citizens. But the civilian casualties resulting from 8,000 NATO airstrikes and the disgusting scramble for war spoils prove the humanitarian motive false.

On September 1, Sarkozy and Cameron chaired a 60-nation “Friends of Libya” gathering in Paris. Hillary Clinton stood in for Obama. Everyone knew the agenda. “The glittering prize is Libya’s 1.6 million barrels per day output of high quality crude….Projecting into the future, analysts believe that has reserves to sustain its previous level of production for 80 years”  (OilPrice.com, 8/24).

Obama’s ‘Coalition of the Drilling’

“Who will eventually control this asset, with oil prices currently at roughly $84 a barrel, generating an income of more than $12.6 million per day? Italy’s ENI? France’s Total? Britain’s BP? U.S. companies?” (OilPrice.com). That’s the 4.6-billion-dollar-a-year question.

Obama and his murderous coalition of the drilling imagine that they’ve scored a major coup against imperialist rivals China and Russia. Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libya’s “rebel” Arabian Gulf Oil Company, proclaimed in gratitude for NATO’s slaughter: “We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and U.K. companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil [which took no military or diplomatic action against Qaddafi]” Asia Times, 8/25). And Business Week (8/24) predicts triple profits for Western firms under Libya’s new management, “a split of 70 percent of revenue for the government and 30 percent for oil companies, as opposed to the current 90-10 ratio.”

But meanwhile, rising imperialists are joining together to challenge the traditional capitalist powers centered in NATO: the U.S., Britain, France and Germany. BRIC — Brazil, Russia, India and China — represents a coalition seeking a larger portion of the world capitalist pie, which can only come from taking resources and exploitable workers away from the more established powers. This growing inter-imperialist rivalry will inevitably lead to regional and eventually world war.

China’s Bosses May Trump Obama’s Bombing Coalition in Libya Oil Grab

 “But it is too early to count China out from the race….The crystal ball is murky indeed, but when the uprising against Qaddafi began six months ago, about 36,000 Chinese were in Libya working on 50 projects” (OilPrice.com). And Chinese rulers have “deeper pockets than all their competitors.”

Suppose China does win energy concessions in Libya. The range of its potential military confrontations with its chief imperialist rival, the U.S., will then stretch from the Mediterranean through Suez to the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Strait of Malacca, the South China Sea and Taiwan, all the way to the mid-Pacific. The U.S. Navy is pointedly expanding its already massive base on Guam.

China’s rulers, who already field the world’s largest land army, have been building up their blue water navy and their stockpile of non-nuclear ballistic missiles, threatening U.S. domination of the Pacific and Indian oceans (see article, page 5). China recently launched its first aircraft carrier, with more to come. The New York Times Op-Ed page (9/5) warned that planned Pentagon spending cuts — a reflection of divisions in the U.S. ruling class — could give China the ability to deal “a knockout blow to [U.S.] forward forces” and to erode U.S. security guarantees to China’s neighbors.

Many working-class Libyans sincerely believed they were combatting Qaddafi’s tyranny. But because they lacked communist leadership and goals, the struggle long ago became a classic inter-imperialist battle for territory and resources. Instead of Qaddafi’s brutal reign, Libya’s workers will be suffering the so-called Western “democracy” which exploits their labor and rains bombs down on them to guarantee ruling-class profits.

The end of oil wars like Libya’s can come only after the working class seizes power in a revolution that destroys the profit system. This will be a true, lasting, fundamental change in class rule. It constitutes the Progressive Labor Party’s ultimate aim.

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U.S.-U.K. Imperialists Expand Fascism and War Black, White, Asian Working-Class Youth Battle Racist Cops

Workers produced every item working-class rebels took from shops in English cities. Workers also produce all the Middle East’s energy supplies. So what constitutes real “looting”? Is it a London youth, who may never find a job, grabbing a pair of sneakers? Or is it racist British capitalists joining racist U.S. bosses to murder millions in seizing Iraqi and Libyan oil and Afghan gas routes?

The recent rebellions take place in a context of declining U.S-U.K. imperialism. For survival, the depleted British Empire became the U.S.’s junior partner during World War II. Now, rising China, resurgent Russia, and regional powerhouse Iran have the U.S. & Co. on the defensive. So both U.S. and U.K. rulers are implementing an agenda of widening wars overseas and police terror to enforce massive economic attacks on workers domestically.

Since racism is fundamental to capitalism and its drive for super-profits, the racist super-exploitation of black and Asian workers has moved these youth — subjected to the system’s mass racist unemployment and poverty — to openly rebel.

Militant anti-cop uprisings in England come as a mainly healthy reaction to fascist policing. London’s working-class Tottenham district erupted after August 4 when cops gunned down Mark Duggan, a black father of four, on “suspicion” that he had a gun. He, in fact, never displayed one. The rebellion quickly spread to other deprived communities across London, and to the northern cities of Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.

But although the killing was a source of anger, it was not the primary cause behind the rampage of thousands of black, Asian and white youth that lasted four days before the heavily-reinforced police could clear the streets. The torching of police cars, police stations and public buildings expressed the pent-up frustration and rage of an alienated generation with no opportunities, gripped by poverty, discrimination and joblessness. Many are the second and third generation of their family without jobs. For some African-Caribbean youth unemployment is as high as 50%. A 2007 UNICEF report found that British and U.S youth had the worst quality of life of 21 developed nations.

“We’re sticking it to the police” yelled one  woman, “and to the rich” she added. A Tottenham protestor who appeared on a radio show described the events as, “A war against injustice.”

Their fury against the rich echoed the anger most Britons have against the bankers who paid themselves huge bonuses after taking government bailouts and of the blatant looting by politicians of public funds for their private expenses last year. One of the most notorious cases involved the member of parliament who took £80,000 ($130,000) of tax-payer money to subsidize his second home. This year’s scandal of police officials taking bribes from the Murdoch news organization has only added fuel to the fire.

Even the right-wing Telegraph newspaper (8/8/11) had to admit legitimate grievances, “Tottenham’s unemployment is still among the highest in London. Black people are far more likely to be stopped and searched by the Met [Metropolitan Police] than whites.”

Despite the media focus on burning stores, the so-called riots’ main aspect was black, white and Asian working-class youth uniting in fierce battles against the killer cops. The Independent (London, 8/14/11) quoted one terrified cop, “We could hear time after time on our radios, ‘Officer down,’ ‘Officer injured’ and we knew it was bad.”

Actually, that’s pretty good, given London cops’ reputation for racist brutality. The protests’ weakness, however, lies, not in violence (which was unfocused at times) but the lack of a communist movement with the goal of destroying the profit system, the root cause of workers’ ills.

Bosses’ Media Ignore Libya Massacre for London Blazes

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron, who has never done a day’s work in his life, jetted back from vacationing in Tuscany to decry workers’ “criminality” spreading across his country. But the real criminals are “NATO’s air-strikes [on August 8th] at Majer [in Libya which] killed 85 people, including 33 children, 32 women and 20 men. Reporters and visitors were shown 30 of the bodies in a local morgue, including a mother and two children” (Counterpunch, 8/14/11).

Seeking access to Libyan oil unfettered by dictator Khadafy, British (along with French and Italian) bosses avail themselves of U.S. weapons and leadership. NATO supreme commander, U.S. admiral Stavridis, runs the Libya operation.

While London Burns, Oil Wars Enrich U.K. Bosses

And in Iraq, British rulers’ staunch military support for U.S.-led genocide pays off big time, though stability may never arrive. (On August 14, 42  coordinated attacks in ten cities killed 96 Iraqis and wounded 315.) “Iraq’s oil auctions were portrayed as a model of transparency and a negotiating victory for the Iraqi government,” said Greg Muttitt, author of “Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq,” quoted in the London Observer (7/31/11): “Now we see the reality was the opposite: a backroom deal that gave BP a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy, and even influence over the decisions of OPEC.”

British forces based in Basra fought mostly near the vast Rumalia oil field, which BP (British Petroleum) had owned from 1927 to 1972. BP, to nobody’s surprise, won the potentially 3-million-barrel-per day Rumalia contract at the “transparent” 2009-2010 auctions. Now it’s revealed that in the 2011 backroom deal Baghdad must pay BP for oil not even extracted from the wells should renewed warfare or OPEC quotas curb production. As for Afghanistan, British troops have concentrated on Helmand province, through which much of the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline may run.

PM Cameron Wants Nazi-style  ‘Community Policing’ in Britain; Summons U.S. Top Cop Bratton

Just as in the U.S., British imperialists’ war efforts cost vast sums of money. And, just as in the U.S., the rulers get that cash by stealing from workers with sharp, racist cuts in pay, jobs, health, education, pensions, etc. In Britain, mostly urban African, Caribbean and Asian workers (along with poor white native British and Irish) bear the brunt.

To enforce this exploitation, the bosses employ more intense fascist measures. However, Britain’s police establishment is in disarray. Its two top Scotland Yard chiefs were forced to resign amid the Murdoch payoff scandal to squash the media mogul’s bribery of cops. So to head off future rebellions, Cameron is calling in Bill Bratton, formerly top cop in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, to establish sweet-sounding but deadly “community policing.” It resembles the Nazis’ Judenrat scheme, which turned local Jewish leaders into a network of snitches that led millions to the gas chambers.

In Boston, Bratton employed black pastors. According to a 2008 report from Harvard’s Kennedy School, “The ministers…helped the Boston Police manage negative publicity by the local media after several potentially explosive events [such as] the accidental death of a 75-year-old retired minister who suffered a fatal heart attack during a botched drug raid.” Cameron wishes he had agents like these in Tottenham.

Fascism on the Rise

Fascism is being institutionalized. Government laws, surveillance through a vast street camera operation along with Cameron’s deep cuts in social services impoverishing the working class have become the order of the day. Alongside this is the increasing influence of racist organizations like the anti-immigrant British Nationalist Party which recently took over nearly 10% of the local council seats in the extremely-segregated city of Bradford and has gained enough legitimacy to be included in nationally-televised political debates.

However, workers are not giving these fascists a clear path. Last year when the fascist English Defense League, which has held demonstrations against Asians nation-wide, rallied in Bradford, they were confronted by thousands of anti-racists and local residents, both white and Asian.

The rebellions in England hold important lessons in class struggle. They prove that a militant, multi-racial force of workers can take on and beat “highly-trained” cops. They also show the need for a revolutionary communist party and the outlook of seizing state power for our class, not just winning concessions which capitalism inevitably reverses. (See Verizon strike, p. 3.) Ultimately only revolution led by such a communist party can smash the creators of the world’s largest looting system — capitalism — that gives us police brutality, poverty, mass racist unemployment and war.

The Bosses’ Profits Have No Ceiling

The recent drama over the federal debt limit, with politicians in gridlock amid scare stories that the U.S. government might default on its bills, marks a significant move toward fascism by an embattled capitalist ruling class.

A default was averted when Democrats and Republicans agreed to at least $2.1 trillion spending cut over the next decade to counter a hike in the debt “ceiling,” the legal cap set by Congress on government borrowing. But the rulers’ internal crisis remains. The debt ceiling battle reveals their two essential needs in the current period:

To wring extreme profits from the working class with cuts in critical social services in a period of perpetual and massive racist unemployment.

To discipline their own ranks to help fund imperialist wars abroad and repair a crumbling infrastructure at home.

These imperatives are the hallmarks of fascism, the phase of capitalism that forces the ruling class to discard its mask of liberal democracy. President Obama recently took the lead on both fronts with his “Grand Bargain.” This ploy for “shared sacrifice” called for a devastating $3 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, alongside just $1 trillion in tax increases for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

The Republicans’ “no-new-taxes” (on the rich) pledge, pushed hardest by the elements coalescing around the Tea Party, gives Obama cover to maintain his liberal credentials even as he ruthlessly targets the most vulnerable workers: the old, the sick, the poor. And as the first black president, he is the bosses’ perfect tool to impose racist cutbacks that fall most heavily on black and Latino workers, the same people who were hardest hit by the latest economic crisis (see box on page 5).

Capitalists Divided

Liberal analysts misrepresented Washington’s debt standoff as a battle between crazed GOP ideologues and sane if ineffectual Democrats, like Obama, who are striving to protect a fragile economy.

In fact, both sides are acting rationally, against the working class, in selfish pursuit of profits. They represent two camps of capitalists with conflicting interests. As Lenin noted in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, there is a yawning gulf between entrepreneurs, who profit by managing capital in productive businesses, and financiers, who profit purely from “money capital” and seek to extend their domination over finance capitalists in other countries. The biggest financiers’ massive overseas investments require “the intensification of antagonisms between imperialist nations for the division of the world.” By that, Lenin meant world war.

In the U.S. today, both capitalist factions demand the racist looting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Their clash stems from how they get their respective wealth. The entrepreneurs (such as Koch Industries; see box) have a short-term, domestic focus that favors younger, rising firms. The financiers, represented by Obama and the banker-backed liberal wing led by the Rockefeller interests, have a longer-term, imperialist outlook to defend their worldwide empire, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan to Somalia and beyond. The financial capitalists still dominate U.S. policy — although, as the debt flap reveals, not absolutely.

On July 28, the nation’s biggest imperialist bankers sent a letter to Obama to plead for a resolution to the recent Congressional impasse. The consequences of a default, they wrote, would be “very grave” for “America’s global economic leadership” — a code phrase for imperialism. The signers included the chiefs of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of New York Mellon, and Boston’s State Street, which hold a combined $71 trillion in global assets under custody. By contrast, Forbes magazine estimates the Kochs’ wealth at $44 billion.

Going Where the Money Is

Obama’s cut and tax strategy has been shelved for now. But the president and his cheerleaders at the New York Times, both representing the main wing of the ruling class, will soon be back to demand that bosses big and small pony up — and $1 trillion will be just a down payment.

For the bosses, it’s less a matter of “fairness” than of narrowing options. They are willing and eager to drain the working class, but they’re running into objective limits. The global financial meltdown obliterated millions of jobs in the U.S., along with the tax revenues they generate. (In June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “real” unemployment rate — including unemployed, under-employed, and people “marginally attached to the workforce” — stood at 16.2 %, or more than 25 million people suffering for lack of work in the third year of Obama’s dead-on-arrival “recovery.” And for black and Latino workers, those jobless rates are double.)

Workers are being sucked dry. Thinning the social safety net will not be enough to keep the war machine humming. Both Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who signed off on the Grand Bargain before buckling to anti-tax Tea Party pressure, know that they’ll eventually have to go to where the money is: to the rich.

In 2008, the median income of the U.S. capitalist elite — the top 0.1% — was $6 million, versus $50,000 for American households as a whole. In 2007, the top 1% of the population controlled 43% of the nation’s financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), or  1½ times the bottom 95 percent. The federal government has locked in these gross inequalities by slashing capital gains and estate taxes and by failing to enforce anti-trust laws (Vanity Fair, May 2011).

But even as the biggest U.S. capitalists rake in more and more, they are contributing less and less to the government that is dedicated to protect their interests. Corporate income taxes now account for only 7% of federal revenues, as compared to 23% in 1960. The jobless rate tells us that corporations aren’t using this extra cash to hire more workers. Instead, they’re hoarding. The bloodsucking banks aside, non-financial companies are sitting on close to $2 trillion in liquid assets.

The outrageous greed of the super-wealthy fits neatly with the small-government creed of the Tea Party caucus. It works less well, however, with the overriding needs of U.S. imperialism. The debt ceiling fracas was the public face of the rulers’ fight over how to divide their wealth and rule their weakening empire. The bitter struggle over the fallback measure, with no boost in needed revenues, is a mere prelude to the struggle to come. The battle should escalate in the fall, when Obama pitches his “balanced approach” (more taxes) to the new Congressional “supercommittee” charged with fleshing out the deficit reduction deal.

Bosses’ Rx: War and Fascism

In the end, the rulers’ Rockefeller-led main wing must prevail for U.S. imperialism to fend off its competition. The regional wars of today foreshadow the world war to come, as new imperialist rivals (China, India, Brazil) and old ones (France, Germany, Russia) challenge U.S. dominance. Both now and later, huge infusions of cash will be required to expand the military. Meanwhile, Obama’s backers will continue to exploit debt concerns as they build a fascist mass movement — including a military draft and even more extreme worker “sacrifice” — all for the greater good of U.S imperialism.

Fascism represents the ultimate exploitation of workers. The income losses of millions of unemployed and the slashes in wages of tens of millions of those still employed are intensifying the exploitation of workers worldwide. It should be remembered that Germany’s Nazis supplemented their extermination camps with thousands of forced labor camps. Millions of Jews, communists, and others were commonly worked to death at mines, quarries, farms, factories, and construction sites. The free labor both shored up the German bosses’ profits and sustained their war effort.

Under capitalism, economic crises aren’t caused by debts or deficits. They reflect the contradictions of a profit-driven system that can never meet workers’ needs. That’s why we must fight for a world run by workers for the working class, not for the bankrolls of a few parasites on the top. Fight for a communist society for the working class led by PLP! Join us!J

 

 

Kochs Challenge Rockefellers; Workers Must Throw Them All Out

The Koch brothers, who finance the Tea Party and bash Obama, buy oil and manufactured products in many countries. They are heavily invested in industrialist accumulation in the U.S. but do not own a major bank nor do they profit from the huge U.S. war machine. However, they are also trying to establish a niche in their own special form of “imperialism on the cheap.”

The Kochs bankroll the Cato Foundation think-tank. Its Mid-East expert Leon Hadar thinks that the “ballooning deficit and an overstretched military leave Americans no choice but to make major cuts in defense spending by shrinking [the] U.S. role in the Middle East.” (Huffington Post, 7/5/11)

Hadar, no doubt smelling a potential supplier to Koch Oil, sees a deal with Teheran in the offing: “The United States should take part in any negotiations leading to regional agreements on Afghanistan and Iraq, a process that could also become an opportunity to improve the relationship with Iran.” (Cato Institute, 7/1/11) This, of course, runs counter to the interests of the Rockefeller-led, imperialist wing of the U.S. ruling class which controls the largest chunk of Mid-East oil supplies.

Obama Fronts for Dominant
Rockefeller Wing; Kochs Want Piece of the Action

The Koch brothers dream of catching up to the Rockefellers but the closest they’ve come to wielding state power is Tea Party obstructionism in Congress. They have a long way to go to match the Rockefellers’ long history of transforming their Standard Oil monopoly into a banking empire. Having trumped the J.P. Morgan clan by the 1930s, World War II left the Rockfellers heading up the biggest U.S. banks and therefore with the resources to supply the controlling capital in the U.S. war industry, putting them in position to shape U.S. foreign policy to protect their imperialist interests abroad.

During the Vietnam genocide of the 1960s and 1970s, James and David Rockefeller personally headed the ancestors of Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. Nelson Rockefeller was governor of New York and later became U.S. vice-president. David Rockefeller ran U.S. imperialism’s most influential policy foundry as president of the Council on Foreign Relations; its most influential university as president of Harvard’s overseers; and its most influential “philanthropies,” the various Rockefeller foundations.

The Koch brothers’ challenge to this mammoth empire puts them into a fierce dogfight with the world’s most powerful capitalists, a battle over who can exploit the most workers. The Rockefellers have been reaping super-profits from workers on five continents. The Koch brothers were behind the attack on Wisconsin’s state workers and teachers that cut their wages, benefits and bargaining rights. The only interest the working class has in this fight is to overthrow both sides with communist revolution.

 

 

 

Depression Intensifies Racism As Basis of Capitalist Super-profits

A Pew Research analysis (7/26/11) “shows the racial and ethnic impact of the economic meltdown, which ravaged housing values and sent unemployment soaring.” (AP, 7/26)

The net worth of black households in 2009 at $5,677 was one-twentieth of that of white households. For Latino households at $6,325 it was one-eighteenth.

From 2005 to 2009, Latino household net worth declined by 66%. Black household net worth shrank by 56% over that period. Much of this was due to their home equity losses, both from home foreclosures and plummeting home values, as well as double unemployment rates.

The Pew Research report also found that 35% of black households had zero or negative net worth. For Latino households it was 31%.

Said Roderick Harrison, former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau, “Typically in recessions, minorities suffer from being last hired and first fired. They are likely to lose jobs more rapidly at the beginning of a recession, and are far slower to gain jobs as the economy recovers.”

Across all groups, “the wealth gap between rich and poor widened. The share of wealth held by the top 10% of U.S. households increased from 49% in 2005 to 56% in 2009.”

Comrade Milt Rosen, 1926-2011 Founding Chairperson of PLP, Great 20th Century Revolutionary

In the fall of 1961, Milt Rosen convened a small collective that would soon leave the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) to form the Progressive Labor Movement. Four years later, Comrade Milt became the founding chair of the Progressive Labor Party. He served our organization and the working class in that capacity until 1995.

On July 13, Milt died of Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 85. He is survived by family, friends, and thousands of comrades — and by a revolutionary communist party deeply rooted in the international working class.

Since PL’s birth half a century ago, many left organizations have withered and died. Others have decayed into the living death of electoral politics or a fake Marxism which allies with “progressive” sections of the ruling class. PL is the exception because it never stopped evolving. Milt grasped the essence of dialectical materialism, the philosophy of communism: that the objective world is ever-changing, and that the Party must continue to learn from its own experience and those of the courageous but flawed workers’ movements that preceded it. He was staunchly principled, but never rigid.

Sparked by Milt early on, PL exposed both counter-revolutionary revisionism and “revolutionary” nationalism as death traps of worker-boss unity. It indicted the state capitalists of the Soviet Union as far back as 1966, and then broke with the ones ruling the People’s Republic of China. Those failed revolutions led PL to advance beyond Marx’s two-stage theory that socialism was a first step toward communism; history had shown that socialism inevitably led back to the exploitation of capitalism. And unlike any other group on the landscape, the Party emphasized the importance of the fight against racism as a basic communist principle, not a mere tactic. It understood that all struggles are essentially anti-racist struggles. Most important, it saw that capitalism cannot survive without racism dividing groups of workers, and that racism injures and exploits the entire working class.

PL stayed vital and relevant because Milt and other comrades refused to shrink from struggle or to compromise our communist politics to make expedient alliances. The Party stood apart from others parading as “left” groups; Milt called that separation “glorious.” He knew that our unity, first and last, must be with the working class.

Over decades of action and analysis, the Party was built by Milt and by people he directly influenced and developed. They steered PL to its early growth amid the opportunities of mass movements and the threats of government attacks. Then they kept us on course through the “dark night” of rising fascism. As Milt noted in “Jailbreak,” his down-to-earth booklet on dialectics, “We must be able to combine urgency with patience.”

The Progressive Labor Party is now growing on five continents. It continues to sharpen its practice and its political line to overthrow capitalism and build a communist future. That struggle endures today. It is PL’s living history, and Milt’s legacy to all of us.

Milt Meets Stalin

Milt’s first brush with the enormous power of communist ideas came as a 17-year-old soldier (he had lied about his age) in Italy in World War II. Each morning he would see a name in fresh red paint on the buildings’ walls: “STALIN.” The anti-fascist partisans, knowing they risked execution if caught, had come out at night with their paint cans to raise morale.

After the war in Italy ended, Milt, now a sergeant, was in charge of a motor pool. His unit was ordered to break strikes led by communist resistance fighters, the soldiers’ former allies. Milt led “search-and-avoid” missions, as they later became known in the Vietnam War. His troops would board the trucks and set off, but they never found a strike. Instead they’d get “lost” on the winding mountain roads.

In and Out of the CPUSA

After returning home to Brooklyn from the Army, Milt joined the Jewish War Veterans, the first of many mass movements he would enter. Influenced by his future wife, Harriet, he then joined the Communist Party of the United States.

In the 1950s, Milt went to Buffalo, New York, to organize fellow workers at a steel mill. He soon became a local union leader. Citing the mill’s status as a “war plant,” management said they had to fire Milt because he was a communist — otherwise, they said, they’d lose their government contracts. They gave each worker a letter stating they were sure Milt would “want” to be fired rather than cost everyone else their jobs. As the workers came off shift, they walked past a fire in a steel barrel and dropped their letters into the flames. As a result of their unity and struggle, Milt got “unfired.”

Milt rose to become the CP’s leader in Erie County, centered in Buffalo, a platform he used to advance the politics that ultimately created PL. In 1957, when the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) brought its witch hunt to Buffalo to destroy communist influence among industrial workers, Milt and Mort Scheer (later the vice-chairperson of PLP) led the charge against it. They turned HUAC’s hearings into a political battleground. Rather than hiding behind the Fifth Amendment, which the CP used to avoid “self-incrimination,” comrades in Milt’s collective proudly espoused their communist beliefs and attacked the committee’s fascist inquisitions. Meanwhile, Milt and Mort organized mass demonstrations outside the hearings and marshalled mass support. HUAC fled town, discredited. Milt was both teaching and learning a valuable lesson: that communists must fight back against fascism, no matter what the risks.

The industrial work in Buffalo became both PL’s foundation stone and Milt’s point of departure from the old Communist Party. By the late 1950s, in retreat from McCarthyism, the CPUSA had abandoned any effort to organize the working class for revolution. It hid its most advanced ideas from workers and plunged into the sewer of electoral politics, running its own candidates and supporting “lesser-evil” liberals for office. Socialism, the CPUSA leaders declared, could be achieved by reforming capitalism. On the international stage, they joined with fellow revisionists in the Soviet Union in calling for “peaceful coexistence” with the U.S. and its capitalist bloc — an impossible strategy, given the fight-to-the-death reality of imperialism.

By contrast, Milt (by then the CP’s industrial organizer for New York State) defied the old party’s directives and openly called for communism and the need for mass, violent revolution to achieve it. He and his comrades saw that the future of communism lay in negating the old movement — in preserving its progressive elements while discarding what had become outworn or harmful. In January 1962, they published the first issue of a monthly magazine called “Progressive Labor.” In July of that year, in a meeting at the Hotel Diplomat in New York City, they formally broke with the CPUSA and established a new Marxist-Leninist organization called the Progressive Labor Movement, or PLM.

Others split with the CPUSA around the same time, over essentially the same ideological disagreements. One new group, Hammer and Steel, had 500 members; PLM began with 12. Yet our movement grew while the others all dwindled away. Why were we different? PLM’s strategy, as originally put forward by Milt, was to turn away from the organization that had given it birth. Milt could see dialectically that the old CP had reached the end of its historical process.

While Hammer and Steel tried to pull the
CPUSA to the left, a hopeless and sectarian pursuit, PLM reached out to non-communist workers and students and led them in militant class struggles. The wisdom of that strategy soon became obvious.

The Hazard, Kentucky Miners

In one of its first mass activities, PLM stood behind 500 wildcatting, armed coal miners in Hazard, Kentucky, who were locked in an all-out war with the coal barons to win decent conditions and wages. Milt convinced one PLM member, a railroad worker and local union president, to take two weeks off to mobilize solidarity for this fight. Out of this was born the Trade Union Committee to Support the Hazard Miners. A relief campaign raised critical funds and sent truckloads of food and clothing to the strikers. When the miners’ rank-and-file leader came to New York City, PLM organized a mass meeting of a thousand people to hear him.

Milt saw the need to highlight the role of industrial workers as a crucial force for revolution. PLM made the Hazard strike a national cause. For the ruling class, it was an equation for big trouble: wildcatting strikers + armed violence against the bosses + communist ideas. Reformist forces moved into the Committee to seize its leadership and destroy it, but not before countless workers and students came to see the world with new consciousness.

As Mao said, “To be attacked by the enemy is a good thing.” Milt was not discouraged. He realized that we couldn’t control the content or ultimate direction of reform movements. Our power came from expressing our revolutionary ideas within these groups and winning workers to communism.

The Struggle Against Revisionism

In October 1963, before PLM’s National Coordinating Committee, Milt delivered a comprehensive report on the fight against fake Marxism, or revisionism. After months of discussion, the report was published in March 1964 as “Road to Revolution.” A devastating ideological assault upon the old communist movement, it begins:

“Two paths are open to the workers of any given country. One is the path of resolute class struggle; the other is the path of accommodation, collaboration. The first leads to state power for the workers, which will end exploitation. The other means rule by a small ruling class which continues oppression, wide-scale poverty, cultural and moral decay and war.”

PLM and the Anti-War Movement

As of early 1964, active opposition to the growing U.S. war in Vietnam was limited to a few pacifist groups. PLM chose to break through the existing limits and organize a militant, anti-imperialist movement to demand immediate U.S. withdrawal. In March of that year, Comrade Milt sat on a panel at Yale University with representatives of supposedly left organizations, most of them Trotskyite. The panelists were arguing heatedly about “democracy” in Cuba when Milt changed the subject in his characteristic style: “You guys are full of shit. We should be talking about building a movement against the war in Vietnam. Our organization, the Progressive Labor Movement, is doing just that.”

While Milt acknowledged the critical importance of theory, he always taught that practice was primary. That conference was a case in point. Before an audience of more than 500 students and faculty, he focused on the Vietnamese revolution and the efforts of U.S. imperialism to crush it — and what we could do to help the Vietnamese working class fight back.

Milt electrified the crowd. When he proposed a nationwide mobilization to protest U.S. aggression in Vietnam, the conference overwhelmingly voted its approval.

On May 2, 1964, under PLM’s leadership, the first major demonstrations against the Vietnam War were staged in cities around the country. In New York, one thousand people attended a rally at 110th St. and Central Park West, where they heard PLM speeches about the necessity of communist revolution. Breaking a police ban on demonstrations in midtown Manhattan, the marchers wound through Times Square to the United Nations for a second rally.

To sustain its fight against the Vietnam War along with students and other non-communists, PLM founded the May 2nd Movement and built chapters on a number of college campuses. As the war expanded, liberals and fake leftists grabbed the leadership of the broadening anti-war movement. Even so, our anti-imperialist politics and militant leadership led to a period of rapid growth for PLM on campuses nationwide. More young people were drawn to our organization when we broke the U.S. government’s travel ban on Cuba and brought 134 students there over the summers of 1963 and 1964.

CHALLENGE-DESAFIO

In June 1964, PLM began publishing CHALLENGE-DESAFIO. At a time when bilingual publications were unheard of, and despite our organization’s small size and limited funds, Milt fought for a paper in both English and Spanish. We had no choice, he said; we had to make communism available to the many New York workers from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere who spoke mainly Spanish.

As our movement expanded into Chicago and Southern California, which had large numbers of workers from Mexico and Central and South America, an English/Spanish newspaper became even more important to organize workers for communism on a multiracial, internationalist basis. Years later, DESAFIO would also pave the way for our work in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Fighting Racism

From its very beginning, Milt led the struggle within PL to see racism as the ruling class’s primary tool to divide workers. He helped us understand how the capitalists’ racist ideology poisons every facet of workers’ lives, from unemployment to police terror to the eugenic pseudo-science pushed on college campuses. Given this analysis, it became clear that the key to communist revolution was to build a mass, multiracial, anti-racist movement. PL could not lead the working class without masses of black and Latino workers and youth as members and leaders.

“POLICE WAR ON HARLEM” was the front-page headline of the first issue of CHALLENGE, over a photo of a man who had been beaten by a cop’s billy club. The article described the growing anger that would lead to the Harlem Rebellion one month later, when the police shot 15-year-old James Powell in the back, killing him.

New York’s mayor placed Harlem under virtual martial law, and more than eighty “left” and civil rights groups agreed not to demonstrate.  Milt had a different idea. He proposed that PLM print thousands of posters: “Wanted for Murder, Gilligan the Cop.” They became the anti-racist flags of Harlem residents in their struggle against police brutality.

When PLM members stepped out of their Harlem clubhouse to start a march, they were immediately arrested. One leader was charged with “sedition” for “attempting to overthrow the State of New York,” and faced up to 20 years in prison. Others were rounded up in predawn raids and jailed for contempt of court after refusing to testify. Even the printers who produced the Gilligan posters were jailed! Nothing scares the capitalists more than multiracial unity under communist leadership, and they were quick to suspend their so-called “freedoms” to squash us. But the bosses’ legal terror backfired. As a result of its activity in Harlem, PLM gained respect among black workers throughout the country.

Throughout this inspiring period, Milt helped to give our members the confidence to “dare to struggle, dare to win.” He understood that the main threat to a communist movement was not ruling-class terror, but our own timidity.

From Movement to Party

In April 1965, two hundred comrades met in New York and took a bold step forward: the founding convention of the Progressive Labor Party (PLP). The transformation from a movement to a party signified greater unity over our politics, greater trust and confidence in our members and the working class, and greater commitment to organizing for communist revolution.

Milt was chosen as the first chairperson of PL because he was unafraid of struggle. He’d led the internal fight that transformed the Buffalo CP into a red force, in sharp contrast to the CP’s national leadership and its accommodation to capitalism. PLM was born out of that internal struggle, as was Milt’s analysis in “Road to Revolution.” Milt himself had been steeled in class struggle, from his experiences in World War II to his vanguard communist work in Buffalo’s steel industry.

Work in Mass Organizations

Following the massive Washington anti-war rally in the spring of 1965, Milt saw that Students for A Democratic Society (SDS) had grown into the center of radical student politics. He proposed that the May 2nd Movement be dissolved and that our student members move into SDS, which had potential for far greater growth. Some PLM members felt comfortable in M2M, and fought against this change. Some even left our organization when their view did not prevail.

This internal struggle was an early battle over the need to work in mass organizations, which are invariably led by the ruling class. Despite their limits, these groups connect communists to large numbers of workers and students. They allow us to bring our revolutionary ideas to people even as we fight alongside them for reforms. From the beginning of our movement, Milt was a firm advocate for working in unions, community groups, churches, and academic organizations.

From 1966 to 1968, PL would do its largest-scale political organizing among students. We recruited hundreds of members by building the Worker Student Alliance, which became the majority caucus within SDS. Many of those students joined the Party, and Milt led the push to send large numbers into the factories, where our work continues today. We also organized students to waive their deferments, enter the draft, and join the military to build our movement there. With three U.S. imperialist wars now raging, that work is more important than ever. As Milt liked to say, “You’ve got to be in it to win it.”

Turning the Tables on HUAC

In the summer of 1966, the House Un-American Activities Committee launched an investigation of “subversive activities” in the movement against the Vietnam War. They subpoenaed the movement’s leaders, including five student members of PL. Comrade Milt and other Party leaders and members seized the opportunity to mobilize 800 people to pack the Washington, D.C. hearing room, disrupt the proceedings, and demonstrate outside Congress. Some were arrested, and at least one student joined PL while in jail.

Once again, our comrades openly advocated communism when questioned by the Committee. We “took the offensive and exposed the racist HUAC members for the Nazis that they are,” as Milt wrote. We turned the hearings into an attack on capitalism and on the liberal Johnson Administration, accusing it of mass murder in Vietnam and racist policies at home. Those hearings were a major step toward the abolition of HUAC.

“Build a Base in the Working Class”

At our 1968 Party convention, Milt gave a speech that was subsequently published as one of the Party’s most durably important statements. “Build a Base in the Working Class” advanced the necessity to develop close ties with industrial workers, on and off the job, and to immerse ourselves in their lives. In this way, a party could be built from tens to hundreds to thousands — eventually to a mass party of millions, capable of seizing state power from the rotten capitalist class. Milt’s vision was the polar opposite of the bosses’ vicious caricature of communists as isolated terrorists.

Milt’s analysis linked selfishness and individualism to revisionism, anti-communism, and lack of confidence in the masses. It advocated “serving the people” through a long-range outlook and a lifelong commitment to fighting for communism. It stressed the need for collectivity and for criticism and, especially, self-criticism.

“I believe that all the weaknesses displayed by party members are also exhibited by myself,” Milt said. “Even after 22 years of trying to help build a revolutionary movement, I believe that one of my main motives still is self-serving. That is, I do my work more to satisfy something within me than to serve the people. Nonetheless, I would say that the biggest reason that I have been able to do the little I still do…is that I really believe the working people will, eventually, defeat imperialism.”

With PL members worldwide doing communist work within mass organizations, it would be useful to study this speech in our Party clubs and study groups, and to spread its ideas to workers and students with whom we are involved in class struggles.

Road to Revolution IV

In 1982, after a year of discussion within PL and its base, Milt led the struggle to adopt “Road to Revolution IV” as the political line of the Party. RRIV analyzed the return to capitalism in the Soviet Union and China. It concluded that fighting for socialism as a preliminary stage before communism — a core principle of the international communist movement since Karl Marx — was fatally incorrect. This theory had led inexorably to a reversal of all the gains from the heroic struggles of millions of workers. RRIV, by contrast, called for winning the working class to fight directly for a communist society. This was a qualitative leap for PL and  for the international working class.

Great Revolutionary Leadership

Milt Rosen, through his leadership of the Progressive Labor Party, made ground breaking contributions to an international movement that began with the Communist Manifesto of 1848. Marx and Engels showed how capitalism exploits the working class — and how the capitalists will be destroyed by the workers they have brutalized. Lenin organized the communist party that led to the first seizure of power by the working class in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Stalin consolidated workers’ power in the Soviet Union, and led the proletariat to smash the Nazis in World War II. In 1949, Mao advanced the concept of a people’s war with a mass base to overthrow the U.S.-backed fascist regime in the Chinese revolution.

As another link in this historical chain, Milt was the first to expose the weaknesses of socialism as a halfway house back to capitalism. Where Lenin, Stalin and Mao had viewed nationalism as a stepping stone toward communism, Milt was the architect of a new concept: one international working class with one international communist party, leading workers directly to communism. Milt clarified the contradiction between reform and revolution, and how communists must function as revolutionaries within the reform movement. And it was Milt who led the fight against the “cult of the individual,” showing how it prevented workers from becoming communist leaders and thinkers.

‘No Chairperson for Life’

Milt believed that the only way our Party could grow was to constantly train new leaders, especially black, Latino, and women comrades. Milt believed that fighting both racism and sexism was an integral part of the class struggle, and he ensured that much of the Party leadership would be in the hands of women. One of the Party’s early militant struggles grew out of its organization of mothers on welfare, who united with welfare workers to demand services for their children. As the Party immersed itself in class struggles in the garment districts of New York and Los Angeles, in the grape fields of the San Joaquin Valley, and in the Stella D’oro cookie factory in the Bronx, we learned that unity between men and women workers was essential to building our movement.

In all previous communist parties, the chairmen (and virtually all were men) stayed on as party leaders until they died, were too sick to continue, or were thrown out. Milt suggested to our Central Committee that this was a dangerous practice. Staying on as chair forever implies indispensability, and no individual communist can be indispensable. Therefore, in 1995, Milt stepped aside as Party chairman. He remained active in other ways, in meetings and fund-raising. “Communists don’t believe in retirement,” he said. “We contribute as long as we can.”

A Communist Forever

After stepping down as Party chair and before becoming too ill to function, Milt continued to make vital contributions to PL and the international movement. Among his most significant lessons was the need to understand the character of our historical period. Shortly after the events of 9/11, he spoke of how he’d underestimated the impact of the old communist movement’s demise, and how far it has set back the class struggle. This failing, he pointed out, could lead to one of two devastating errors: false optimism   or despair over the formidable difficulties in building a mass communist party. Milt’s self-criticism reminded us that the old movement’s defeat may have left us in a “dark night,” but the working class has lived and fought through dark nights before.

While the end of the old movement was the worst setback we’ve ever suffered, it isn’t the end of history. It’s not the end of class struggle. Our Party exists all over the world, and small though it may be, it is growing. With words and by example, Milt taught the vital importance of a long-term outlook. More clearly than most, he knew there were no shortcuts to revolution. He embraced it as the commitment of a lifetime.

More than anything, he taught us never to give up

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Billionaires Rule the Schools, but — REAL Education Comes from Class Struggle vs. Capitalism

As the economic crisis and wars abroad deepen, the U.S. ruling class has moved toward more direct control of the schools nationwide. In New York, billionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg runs the city’s school system on a corporate model, with lawyers and business people in top leadership roles while teachers and school staffers are downsized. This structure attacks the students, the working-class of the next generation.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed a new school board full of corporate “movers and shakers” like board chair David Vitale, the former vice-chairman and director of JPMorgan Chase, and Penny Pritzker of the Hyatt Hotel dynasty. John Veasy, the Los Angeles schools superintendent, worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and completed an executive training program funded by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad.

In spite of rhetoric to the contrary, these billionaires and millionaires have no intention of creating policies to benefit students. Children who attend urban public schools are disproportionately black, Latino and low-income, the children of the same workers these bosses exploit. The racist segregation of housing and education in the U.S. makes poor black and Latino students the most likely victims of closed schools, empty test-prep curricula, and inexperienced teachers.

In this still-racist (not “post-racial”) country, children of the most exploited workers, including the unemployed, are the ones most likely to attend schools where rigid obedience is demanded and rote learning is the norm. The critical analysis skills that all students need are the last thing the rulers want most of them to learn.

The degraded conditions of these schools — and of an economic system that thrives on low-wage/no-wage workers — push nearly half of their students to leave without having graduated. The system needs only a handful of working-class students to be well-educated, for skills the bosses need and for use as misleaders of the mass of workers who are left behind by the school system.

Members of the ruling class are directly funding “reforms” in education through the Broad and Gates foundations, along with Walton Family Foundation and groups like Democrats for Education Reform and Educators 4 Excellence. The new Chicago schools’ CEO is Jean-Claude Brizard, who left his job as the Rochester (NY) superintendent of schools with a 95% no-confidence vote from teachers and a similar lack of support from parents and community members. Brizard is a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy, described by James Horn, of the blog Schools Matter, as “Eli Broad’s corporate training school … for future superintendents who… [learn] to hand over their systems to the Business Roundtable.”

This stepped-up corporate control is both about making money in the short run and trying to save capitalism over the long haul. A revolving door of new, lower-paid teachers saves public systems money, while attacks on teachers’ unions and pension funds are cutting wages and benefits for all education workers.

More fundamentally, the nationalization of education will prepare workers for increased fascism and war by defining the ideas taught to youth. Common Core State Standards and the accompanying battery of tests (now in development) will advance the centralized control of the content of education. By tying seniority, pay, and job security to teacher evaluation and student test scores, the ruling class hopes to develop a teaching force that shies away from independent thinking, both for themselves and their students. The end goal is a working class trained to be loyal to U.S. imperialism and willing to fight in wars to defend it.

All unions, including the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, work within the framework of a capitalist system that aims to destroy their members. The NEA leadership recently pledged to support President Barack Obama in spite of his implementation of Race to the Top, a policy that forces corporate-style reforms upon public schools. At its last convention, the AFT honored Bill Gates, the champion of larger class sizes — the key to massive teacher layoffs — in urban schools.

Both of these national unions have many members and local leaders who are fighting the attacks on education, like the “anti-billionaires” campaign of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Unions, however, are bound by the confines of the capitalist system. They negotiate contracts and lobby for laws that set the terms of workers’ exploitation. The CTU cuts deals with politicians when it should be organizing its militant rank-and-file to fight. Recent legislation agreed to by CTU leaders makes it harder to strike and undermines seniority protections for teachers. In reality, workers can never win in the legislative arena; any “victories” are short-term and can always be taken away by the class that rules.

The real value of class struggle doesn’t lie in the reform crumbs that workers may or may not win, but in the experience of fighting the bosses — an experience that too few workers have today. (In 2010, there were only 11 major strikes in the U.S., compared to more than 4,000 strikes in 1937.)

Communists advocate breaking the rules, and to fight back wherever we can. The mothers at Whittier School in Chicago did this last fall, when they took over a building to demand a library. In Brooklyn, students, teachers, and parents recently joined together to demand that the racist Department of Education withdraw its plan to insert an elite school into the John Jay Campus, where black and Latino students face prison-like security scanning and under-funding. Currently, students at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn are battling a trumped-up investigation of PLP teachers.

Militant fighting is insufficient; it needs to be coupled with a revolutionary communist outlook and a long-term struggle against capitalist ideology. We must understand how ideas like individualism, racism, nationalism, and class unity with the bosses are built into the schools’ curricula. To keep our students from killing and dying for capitalism, communist teachers must win other teachers and students to see through the rulers’ lies. We must learn and teach the skills of scientific analysis, the true history of workers’ struggles, and the multi-racial, international unity required for revolution. This is the role of a communist education, and the goal of PLP: to build an army of workers and students to destroy the profit system, once and for all

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