Category Archives: Elections/Voting

Syriza Illustrates Why Elections Don’t Seize State Power

Syriza is the new left wing coalition that just won the elections in Greece on a smorgasbord of promises and hope that mirrors the facade parade of Obama’s campaigns. They are reformers, not revolutionaries, yet they are the darlings of the left now. Obama was the singing altar boy of the liberals and phony left just as Syriza is the hallmark of the established left in Greece. Syriza winning the election is not a win for the working class. It will be another win for capitalism that will lead to greater exploitation, misery, and a further extending of capital’s rule over the working class.

Syriza came to power saying that the Troika’s, European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), destruction of the Greek economy on the back of the working class needs to end. PLP agrees with this point, but we also point out that in order for it to end, capitalism itself needs to end. There is no way to end the misery of the working class under capitalism. Even if some members of the working class can have their misery alleviated, it will come at the expense of other members of the working class. Furthermore, any concessions that a ruling class makes at any time will be taken back again at a later date.

Reforms are a dead end of capitalism. The Troika siphoning off vast amounts of working class wealth to pay off debts that the ruling class created and ensure the profits of the various capitalist investors is part and parcel of capitalism. The international market and the need for capital invested from one area into another, what Lenin termed Imperialism, is of paramount importance. The capital that the ruling classes of the EU funneled into Greece needs to be valorized — regardless of the needs of the working class.
The working class has not taken state power in Greece. They have just won elections and already had to form a coalition with virulently racist fascists. Communists fight racism. Any who say that they are revolutionaries and don’t fight racism are lying. There were a multitude of groups that Syriza could have formed a coalition with, yet they chose right wing racists.

Syriza may be able to renegotiate the terms of debt placed upon the wage slaves in Greece, but they have to cough up their pound of flesh to the Troika’s usury one way or another. They are now pandering to Russia a little and seeing if they can get some relief that way, not a bad idea in the current climate where Russia was just downgraded to almost junk bond status and may have to cut budgets. Even with the downgrading and budget cuts, investing in Greek markets may help Russia increase profit, acquire more assets, and get access to the Mediterranean.

Even with threatening to go to their imperialist rivals, demanding renegotiation of debt, and promising the working class in Greece the moon, Greece is not a socialist, let alone a communist, economy. The working class does not have state power, and they are not transforming the economic basis of society in order to transform all of society. What will happen is that the revisionist left in Greece will end up breaking their promises, shed some crocodile tears, wring their hands, point fingers, and lament as they betray the working class. R. Palme Dutt pointed out they before fascism can rise, a last great hope for democracy must fail; Syriza may be the fail that will usher in even more fascism into Greece where the Neo-nazi Golden Dawn Party gained in the elections.

The working class can either move to the right or to the left. Syriza, at best, will renegotiate the bonds of the Troika’s domination, maybe even ape India by playing off one imperialist rival against another, but will ultimately end up betraying the working class into the waiting arms of one profit seeking group of bosses or another. Either way Syriza falls, the working class will lose if they follow the phony left down dead ends. Our friends in Greece must continue to build PLP so that the road to communist revolution is followed even in this darkest night of capitalism.

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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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Socialism a false hope for the Working Class in France

Francoise Hollande, the first Socialist to be elected president of France in decades, has defeated Sarkozy.  Does this mean that the working class has won state power and that private ownership over the means of production is now being socialized as an aggressive state apparatus attacks and disciplines the national bourgeoisie while simultaneously removing French Imperialist forces from Africa?  Nope.  The capitalists will never surrender state power.  The major European capitalists will wring their hands a little bit and discuss the fact that the austerity is necessary while preaching impending economic doom.

Hollande critiqued Sarkozy on mismanaging the crisis.  He is looking forward to “fixing” the capitalist economy mired in a crisis of over-production and drowning in fictitious capital.  The Eurozone is like the Titanic hitting the iceberg of capitalist economic production.  As it sinks like that luxury ship, the only main difference is that it should change its name to “The Ponzi Scheme”.

The elections in Europe, like all elections under capitalism, will not fundamentally alter the systemic oppression of the working class.  What these elections do is cast a light upon the fact that the political system of the Eurozone is having a difficult time democratically installing the austerity programs that the world’s capitalists need in order to protect their profits.

Only a Communist revolution that transforms the actual economic foundation that the whole economy is based upon can stop the austerity programs by eliminating the need for profit and basing production on need.  The working class will never be able to vote in a Communist economic system.  The bosses won’t allow it.  They control state power and will never surrender it peacefully.  Hollande, like Zapatero in Spain before him, will loyally serve his capitalist masters while misleading the working class.  The question isn’t “Will Hollande sell out” so much as “how will Hollande be able to get the working class to sell out”.

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MAY DAY!!! Fight For Communism!

May Day’s Communist Roots Belie Rulers’ Reform Sham

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 11:56AM

May Day has always had two sides to it: one that demands reforms, and the revolutionary side that organizes to destroy capitalism. May Day commemorates a massive strike wave in the U.S., and the particular battle in Chicago’s Haymarket Square in 1886. The movement’s leaders demanded an 8-hour day, but also advocated the “abolition of the wage system.” Six of them were hung by the rulers for their allegiance to the working class and defiance of capitalism. Then and now the capitalists feared this revolutionary side to May Day.

In 1848, Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto, “A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of Communism.” By 1886, the rulers of Chicago saw this specter. “The newspapers and industrialists were increasingly declaring that May 1, 1886 was in reality the date for a Communist working-class insurrection modeled on the Paris Commune. According to Melville E. Stone, Head of the Chicago Daily News…a ‘repetition of the Paris Communal riots was freely predicted’ for May 1, 1886” (Page 90, “Labor’s Untold Story,” Boyer and Morais).

In December 1886, San Francisco transit workers joined this rising strike wave. They demanded a workday reduction from 13-15 hours to 12 hours (then 7 days a week), and for a pay increase from $2.25 to $2.50 a day. “Strike-breakers were hired, and there was a great deal of violence. Cars were damaged, strike-breakers were beaten, and one person was killed.” Newspapers reported eight instances of the use of dynamite by the striking workers. In March 1887, the Governor signed a bill “limiting gripmen, drivers, and conductors to a 12-hour day.” (“Transit In San Francisco” published by SF MUNI RR Communications Department.)

In the 1880’s the early leaders of the American Federation of Labor were somewhat radical — it was actually an AFL delegate’s report to the Marxist-led International Workingmen’s Association that led to the call for the first May Day.

But by the 1920’s the pro-capitalist AFL leadership, fearing the growth of communist ideas in the working class, collaborated with the U.S. government to subvert May Day. At the 1928 AFL Convention, the Executive Council supported a Congressional resolution to make May 1 “Child Health Day.” They said, “May 1 will no longer be known as either strike day or communist labor day.”

The revolutionary side of May Day dominated when the communist movement was strong. During the peak of the communist organizing of the CIO’s industrial unions in the 1930’s and ‘40s, May Day was celebrated in the U.S. As many as 250,000 would march to New York’s Union Square. However, with the advent of the Cold War, and U.S. imperialism’s launching of a worldwide anti-communist offensive, the bosses’ government in Washington helped oust communists from union leadership by making it illegal for them to hold union office. With the triumph of business unionism and anti-communism, organized labor discarded May Day and recognized Labor Day in September.

However, in 1971 PLP resurrected the annual May Day march from its abandonment by the old U.S. Communist Party. PLP has marched in many cities every year since.

From the Haymarket battle in 1886, revolutionary workers spread May Day around the globe. But history is written by the conquerors, and many workers born here know nothing of the contribution that the U.S. working class, with the support of the international working class and communist movement, made to the development of this revolutionary holiday. Today May Day is the official Labor Day in most countries, but the leadership of these marches demand reforms, and stress the “common goals” of labor and capital.

PLP has learned from the triumphs of the communist movement in the USSR and China, and from their failure to fight directly for communism. We advocate “Abolish the Wage System” as part of changing the relationship of workers and work in a new communist society.

The abolition of money, of production for sale and profit and of the wage system is absolutely necessary to establish communism. When the international working class wins and holds control over all economic, political and cultural institutions of society, it will unleash a creative power that will propel the human race to its highest accomplishments in all fields of endeavor. We call this the dictatorship of the proletariat. We need a mass revolutionary communist party to achieve this. The capitalists will use every means — including mass, fascist terror and war — to prevent it.

For the last several years some groups now want to “Reclaim May Day.” They want to reform the “evils” of capitalism, but disconnect May Day from its communist roots. PLP seeks to keep May Day as a revolutionary international working-class holiday; to advance and popularize communist production for need as the future of the human race; to develop a strong and healthy class hatred that will destroy wage slavery and fascism everywhere.

Long live the 1st of May, the revolutionary, international, working class holiday! Fight for communism!

plp.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bosses Aim to Pacify Occupy Wall Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Flag A Banner for Imperialist War

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitalist Press Clouds Billionaire Soros’s OWS Role

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

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

Bankers Provide ‘People’s Park’ as Protest Site

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

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

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

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

Real Grievances Could Drive OWS Beyond Bosses’ Grip

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

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

The Power of the Working Class Is Crucial

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

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

Fighting Wall Street is Good Capitalism Must Be Destroyed

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

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

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

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

Police Action Backfires

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

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

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

Racism Fundamental to Capitalism

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

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

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

THE WORKING CLASS HAS A WORLD TO WIN!

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