Category Archives: Latin America

Women Continue To Feel the Brunt of Fascism

As the world’s working class continues to feel the brunt of living in the new dark ages if late capitalism, the special oppression of women intensifies. The bombs falling in Gaza do not discriminate. The hundreds of dead children attest to that. The Islamic State just made female genital mutilation (FGM also called female circumcision) mandatory in the territory that they conquered. Obama is getting ready to send back thousands to potential sex work and violence directly or indirectly financially benefiting US capitalism. It is getting more and more clear every day that a mass communist movement led by PLP is needed.

An international communist movement of millions organized and led by the Progressive Labor Party would have seized state power in one area of the world. Like the communist lead USSR’s example in Spain, we would organize hundreds of thousands of volunteers to engage in armed struggle internationally. We would build and organize to build ties with the working class in dangerous areas like Islamic State. We would make sure that those fascists got exactly what they deserved.

Instead, the US may use this latest information to create a basis for their humanitarian imperialist intervention. Islamic State and the sectarian war now raging in Iraq would never have happened without the US invasion of Iraq and destabilization of and support for the jihadist saturated rebels struggling against the butcher Assad. In fact, the US may not even want to challenge Islamic State too much since they are also the enemies of its enemies: Iran’s puppet Iraq’s Prime Minister Malaki, Iran, and Iran’s other proxy, the butcher Assad. The US may be using the threat of and extreme violence of Islamic State as leverage against Malaki and Assad. If Islamic State takes Baghdad and begins to seriously threaten Saudi Arabia, then the US might intervene immediately, but, right now, it is only the working class, primarily women, suffering under extreme violence. Either way, PLP would not play politics, but, instead, organize to smash the special oppression of women and the religious ideology that fuels it by replacing it with a dialectical materialist outlook that shows a future where the needs of all are met by all and the working class will be the human race.

In Gaza, instead of Hamas’ rotten Islamist ideology whose logical outcome is seen in organizations such as Islamic State, we would fight sexism and seek to unify the working class against all of the bosses’ rotten ideology. The role of nationalism is that it attacks both the Palestinian and Israeli workers who don’t see each other as human, but as Israelis or Palestinians. Both of these nationalist ideologies blur the class nature of the conflict and makes the working class think they have more in common with their respective ruling classes than with their fellow workers. Netanyahu has no problem sending working class youth to murder other workers in Gaza from the safety of his post. Hamas has no problem burying their tunnels under homes of workers that will be targeted by the IDF. Again, PLP in Israel organizes against both Palestinian and Israeli nationalism. We do not support national liberation, oppressed nationalism, or lesser evils like Hamas. We know the answer to the national question: death for workers and reversal of all gains after the struggle for national liberation and the consolidation of power by the local bourgeoisie.

The same racism that allows bombs to fall in Gaza and for Obama to deport millions is the same that allows the racist pigs in the NYPD to murder black workers. The same sexism that allows for pornography to be a multi-billion dollar a year industry, countries to function as locations for sex tourism, and for women to be raped in India with impunity is, in content and essence, the same special oppression of women that Islamic State uses to justify their brutal mutilation of female genitalia. Only a communist revolution led by PLP for the total transformation of the economic base and cultural superstructure can end these rotten ideologies once and for all.

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Fascism Grows In The USA, Ukraine, Gaza, And All Over The World

Racism is the other side of the coin of patriotism. Patriotism and nationalism are synonymous and are the ideological foundation that motivates the working class to kill themselves in the interests of their own bosses. Whether it is small nation nationalism or big nation nationalism, borders are artificial and divide the working class. Borders do not stop capital investments from flowing; they just keep the working class producing at the lowest wages possible. When the workers try to flee the harsh economic conditions that US imperialism creates, they are then scapegoated and used to facilitate anti-immigrant racism, thereby dividing the working class and turning it against itself.

The Party recently marched and rallied against anti-immigrant racism in Murrieta, CA. Since we were not defenseless women and children nor liberal pacifists, they did not confront our militant, multi-racial, multi-gender march against the fascist organizing going on. Towns like Murrieta are important to the bosses because they allow them to whip up the kind of hysteria that their fascist designs need with more wars looming against Russia and China.

In Ukraine, hundreds of dead workers litter fields as one group of IMF/EU/US backed workers battles against Russian backed workers. The dead women, men, and children of flight MH17 and the recent victims of Israeli colonial style racism in Gaza are actually victims of capitalism. Russia is pointing out that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter was trailing the Malaysian plane. Whether or not a Russian made BUK missile is to blame or an air-to-air R-60 is doesn’t change the fact that innocent workers have died in a war zone between rival imperialists trying to geostrategically divide the world. The working class suffering and dying in Gaza is also part of the crimes of modern day capitalism.

How many children does capitalism kill each day? How many children are right now dying of thirst in the desert because they can’t live due to the highly profitable drug wars being fought by destitute working class youth organized into gangs in places like Honduras and Mexico where their blood fuels vast profits in banks that make money from the money laundering.

Today, July 21, is also the one year anniversary of Kyam Livingston who was murdered in a Brooklyn cell. The same racism that killed her took another victim, Eric Garner, last week as a man was murdered by the police for selling loose cigarettes. The same racism that is build and fueled by deporting undocumented workers and their children is the cutting edge of fascism that is being wielded relentlessly on the black working class.

As fascism is being built in the US and around the world, it will be the working class that fights and dies for the super rich to get super richer. WWI saw the world get re-divided as a decaying empire, Britain, had to fend off its rival upstarts in Germany allied with the dying empire of the Ottoman Turks. Communist Revolution caused a quick ending to WWI and gave state power to the working class in The Soviet Union. They fought for Socialism then, and though great advances were made, Socialism will never lead to a Communist transformation of the capitalist economic system as it requires the market, retains the wage system, and does not abolish classes. The Progressive Labor Party knows that with the oncoming World War, the potential for Communist revolution grows. We need to be in it to win it, and we need all workers to join the PLP and help build it where they’re at.

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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

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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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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U.S. Rulers: History’s Biggest Terrorists

The U.S. ruling class claims it is engaged in a “war on terror” against al Qaeda, symbolized by the killing of Osama bin Laden. But as terrorists go, al Qaeda is small change compared to U.S. rulers’ 200 years of murderous attacks on workers and youth, both in the U.S. and abroad. The U.S. ruling class is the biggest terrorist in world history, responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, especially black and Latino workers and youth because of racism.

But that’s only one side of the story. Wherever these butchers have engaged in this carnage they have been met with heroic resistance and rebellion from the international working class (see p. 7). The class struggle is a history of ruling-class capitalist, imperialist repression and working-class fight-back. Below is a (partial) list of U.S. rulers’ terror, followed by workers’ struggle against that terror.

• Centuries of slavery embedded in the U.S. Constitution enslaved millions of black people on southern plantations, toiling in the fields from sun-up to sundown, suffering torture, punishment by hacking off limbs and the mass rape of thousands of black women slaves.

• Following post-Civil War “emancipation,” a Ku Klux Klan terror rampaged throughout the South and in some northern cities, keeping millions of black people in virtual slavery through laws barring equal rights, arresting and jailing thousands of black men right off the streets to become prisoner-slaves “rented out” to plantation owners, right up to World War II.

• An untold number of Native Americans were removed or wiped out in the 18th and 19th century by the U.S. Army’s genocide, including the infamous “trail of tears” that marched the Cherokees from the Carolinas to Western reservations, virtual concentration camps, thousands dying on the way, a “heritage” that has produced the most impoverished section of the U.S. working class, with a 90% unemployment rate.

• 1898: Spanish-American War; Kill 3,000 Filipinos in seizing Philippines.

• 1898: U.S. troops occupy Cuba, former Spanish colony, and then institute the Platt Amendment which authorized U.S. intervention into Cuba any time it felt necessary, effectively subjecting Cuba to U.S. control.

• 1898: U.S. troops occupy Puerto Rico, former Spanish colony until 1900 and then annexed it, to be subject to U.S. corporate exploitation, paying workers below U.S. minimum wages.

• 1904 to 1913: U.S. builds Panama Canal under horrific health conditions; 25,000 workers die from malaria, yellow fever, small pox, typhoid, dysentery, intestinal parasites and accidents.

• 1917 to 1925 — U.S. armed forces invade the Soviet Union, along with 16 other imperialist countries, to try to bury the first socialist system, free of capitalist profits; 4.5 million Russians die. (Churchill: “Strangle the baby in the cradle.”)

• 1914 to 1933: Marines invade Mexico, Haiti, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and China and half a dozen Central American countries.

• 1930s to 1947: U.S. arms fascist dictator Chang-Kai-Shek against Chinese Red Army, killing millions until Revolutionaries seize power in 1949.

• In 1941, hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans were summarily evicted from their neighborhoods and herded into “internment” concentration camps throughout the entire World War II, being cited as a “threat” to the national war effort by the Roosevelt Administration, following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

• 1945: U.S. drops Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 250,000 civilians after indiscriminate fire-bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities killing another half-million civilians, leaving 13,000,000 homeless.

• 1953: CIA organizes overthrow of Iran president Mossedegh, installs fascist Shah in power, trains Shah’s secret police in methods of torture, killing thousands of communists and left-wingers.

• 1954: U.S. organizes overthrow of Guatemala’s elected government, installs dictatorship that lasts for three decades, killing 100,000 opponents.

• 1961: CIA assassinates Patrice Lumumba, leader of the Congo, installs dictatorships lasting for 30 years.

• 1963 to 1973: U.S. invasion of Vietnam results in 3,000,000 deaths and 2,000,000 more in Laos and Cambodia plus 58,000 GI’s. Drops more bombs on North Vietnam than tonnage dropped in all of World War II.

• 1965: U.S. arms Indonesian dictator Suharto to massacre one million communists; CIA gives list of 5,000 communist leaders to be killed and “checks them off as they are executed.”

• 1973: CIA and U.S. Secy. of State Henry Kissinger arm Chile’s General Pinochet to seize power from Allende-elected government on 9/11/73 and kills, tortures thousands of opponents in fascist reign of terror.

• 1979: U.S. president Carter has CIA organize a jihad from Pakistan to oust Russians from Afghanistan in $30 billion, 10-year operation, training among others Osama bin Laden, leading to emergence of the Taliban’s seizure of power.

• 1980s: CIA trains and arms Contras to ravage Nicaragua and El Salvador attempting to defeat rebel forces, including training of death squads in Ft. Benning, Georgia to maintain dictatorships in Latin America.

• 1980s — U.S. supports fascist Apartheid in South Africa to enable U.S. corporations to profit from exploiting black workers in the mines and factories.

1980 to1988 — U.S. encourages Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, supplying U.S. weapons, cluster bombs and intelligence reports on where to bomb Iran; 8-year war ended in a stalemate, leaving one million dead.

• 1989: Bush, Sr. government invades Panama with 27,000 U.S. troops, killing up to 6,000 innocent civilians, using flamethrowers to burn dead bodies and bury them in mass graves. General Noriega ousted for alleged “drug trafficking.” Although he had been the on CIA payroll, he gave too much leeway to Japanese banks.

• 1991: Gulf War I; U.S. planes kill thousands of fleeing conscripted Iraqi youth on the ground in a “turkey shoot” from the air and tanks roll over them burying hundreds alive.

• 1990s: Clinton orders sanctions against Iraq and no-fly zone, causing the deaths of 500,000 children and 500,000 adults due to lack of medicines, food, and other essentials (according to the UN’s World Health Organization).

• 2001 to present: U.S. invades Afghanistan with a current total of 100,000 soldiers (50,000 from Bush and 50,000 from Obama), killing untold numbers of innocent civilians on the ground and from the air, destroying infrastructure, homes and villages in what is now the U.S.’s “longest war.”

• 2003 to present : U.S. invades Iraq with “shock and awe” leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, displacing 5,000,000 from their homes (20% of the population), leveling many villages.

• “Plan Columbia” sends over a billion dollars of U.S. weapons to the country’s military to be used against workers and peasants in the fields.

• 2010 to 2011: Obama orders drone attacks into Pakistan to kill al Qaeda but kills many more civilians as “collateral damage.”

• CIA sends “suspects” in rendition program to countries using torture as “interrogation” method, many of whom turn out to be innocent.

• U.S. arms Israeli rulers in the billions of
dollars, used to enslave Palestinians.

• U.S., as the world’s largest weapons supplier, including land mines still exploding and killing hundreds, to back up fascist dictators worldwide.

Workers Fight Back Worldwide

• 1600s to 1800s: 400 slave revolts against slaveholders, including Nat Turner Rebellion.

• 1791 to 1804:  Rebellion against slavery in Haiti ousts French colonialists and established first free republic of ex-slaves.

• 1859: John Brown led abolitionist movement against U.S. slavery, killing pro-slavery forces; led raid on federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry to attempt to seize weapons to be distributed to slaves.

• 1871: Paris Commune: Workers in Paris in armed overthrow of autocratic French government and erect first state of workers’ power, workers’ councils ruling city from March to May.

• 1875: Battle of Little Big Horn: Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arajaho Native American tribes unite to rout 700 of U.S. General Custer’s 7th Cavalry Regiment, annihilating five of seven companies, killing Custer and 268 U.S. soldiers.

• 1877: First national railroad strike in U.S. history, turns into general strike after Pittsburgh militia refuses to fight workers and hands over their arms, used to rout Philadelphia militia. Railroad and steel workers seize and run Pittsburgh for four days (the “Pittsburgh Commune”).

• 1917: Russian Revolution: Workers and peasants led by Lenin’s Bolshevik Party overthrow dictatorial Czarist government, seize all foreign imperialist holdings and establish first communist-led workers’ state.

• 1918 to 1925: Soviet workers’ Red Army defeats invasion by 17 capitalist countries attempting to overthrow first workers’ state.

• 1919: Great Steel Strike of 350,000 steel workers, centered around Pittsburgh, led by communist William Z. Foster, organized the first industry-wide shutdown of the steel industry, uniting immigrant workers from 17 countries, setting the precedent which eventually unionized steel 18 years later.

• 1922: 10,000 West Virginia coal miners engage in largest armed workers’ struggle in U.S. history, using military tactics learned in World War I, march to unionize non-union coal mines in the state’s southern region in battle against thousands of company gunmen, state troopers and sheriffs.

• 1932: One million jobless workers take to the streets across the U.S. demanding unemployment benefits and jobs, organized by the communist-led National Unemployment Councils, later uniting with employed workers, joining their strike picket lines.

• 1936: Sit-down strike of General Motors auto workers in Flint, Michigan, led by communists, occupies GM plants for 44 days, sparking hundreds of similar actions across the U.S. Rout cops and counters National Guard with support of 40,000 workers from four states surrounding the plants. Leads to unionization of 4,000,000 workers in four years, sparking mass movement that wins the 8-hour day, 40-hour week, unemployment insurance and Social Security.

• 1930s to 1949: “Long March” by Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Tse-Tung, sets up base from which Red Army launches battles against — and eventually defeats — the occupying fascist Japanese war machine as well as the U.S.-backed Chang-Kai Shek dictatorship.

• 1941 to 1945: Soviet Workers’ State led by Josef Stalin and its Red Army engages 80% of Hitler’s armies, defeats the Nazi invaders and smashes Hitler fascism,  costing 27 million lives, moving all their factories east of the Ural Mountains to produce the weapons of war. It defeats the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, producing the turning point of the Second World War, routing the Nazi hordes all the way to Berlin.

• 1959: Rebels overthrow the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in Cuba, confiscating $1 billion worth of U.S. corporate factories used to exploit the workers and farmers over 60 years.

• 1962: Fifty workers and students meet in New York City to form the Progressive Labor Movement, forerunner of the 1965 Progressive Labor Party, to eventually establish a new revolutionary communist movement after its abandonment by the old Communist Party.

• 1963 to 1973: U.S. invasion of Vietnam is defeated by workers’ and peasants’ People’s War, aided by millions protesting worldwide and GI’s fragging of officers, sabotage of six U.S. aircraft carriers, underground opposition and desertion of 503,000 GI’s, causing what a Marine historian defined as “The Collapse of the U.S. Army.”

• 1964: Harlem Rebellion: Workers and youth take to the streets to protest the police murder of a black teenager, battle cops, demand jobs and march with PLM’s newly-published  CHALLENGE newspaper as their “flag” (PLM is the only group in the city to back the rebels); this uprising is the forerunner of rebellions that spread to Newark, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit where the 82nd Airborne Division is diverted from Vietnam to quell that rebellion.

• 1968: Workers and students in France organize general strike with a sit-down occupying one aircraft factory and spreads to ten million workers shutting down the country for ten days, demanding job security and reform of school system, impelling president Charles DeGaulle to ask for German troop support to stop the uprising.

• 1970: Workers’ nation-wide strike shuts down U.S. postal system, begun in NYC when group of young black workers leap to the stage at a union meeting and force union misleaders to flee, amid chants by thousands of “Strike! Strike! Strike!”

• 1973: PL organizes first sit-down strike in the auto industry in 37 years, leading 200 workers to shut Chrysler’s Mack Avenue Detroit plant.

• 1970s to 1990s: PLP leads attacks on Klan and neo-Nazis in series of confrontations involving over 100,000 anti-racists in the U.S.

• 2003: Ten million demonstrate worldwide against coming U.S. invasion of Iraq, largest global protest in world history.

• 2011: Millions of workers, youth and others take to the streets against dictatorships throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[www.ipetitions.com/petition/haitisolidarity]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These heinous criminal acts are (in the

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

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

Reformism A Trap to Maintain Bosses’ Power

MEXICO — In recent years, many very militant movements have arisen, producing problems for the ruling class. These include the mass struggle of APPO and teachers in Oaxaca; the miners in Pasta de Conchos in the state of Coahuila; the peasants in San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico; as well as the very militant movements of the Ford workers, and the recent struggle among the taxi drivers who put the transportation bosses in check (including the local government).

All this demonstrates the immense potential of the working class. However, it also shows a lack of sufficient organization and above all the understanding that to truly liberate ourselves from the bosses’ yoke, we will have to struggle for a real communist revolution.

In these struggles we’ve fought for crumbs, even though workers made the whole cake. No sooner do we win small wage increases (reforms), they take them away by raising prices on basic products, speed-up, layoffs and even jailings and death. We need to take the means of production away from the bosses. We don’t need them because we’re the ones who produce everything. Yet the bosses live like kings without working.

If we fight under the bosses’ laws, we’ve already lost, since capitalism’s laws are designed to protect the interests of capital. When someone goes against the bosses’ interests, we’re repressed by the bosses’ police and sentenced in the bosses’ courts, accused of “terrorism,” drug trafficking or whatever other crime they can invent.

Government branches that supposedly “defend” workers’ interests — the Department of Labor, the Congress of Labor, human rights groups, etc. — are regulated by the capitalists’ government. We workers will always lose under the bosses’ laws; all our efforts get turned around.

Given the treadmill of reform, the working class needs to build a long-term struggle — participating in reform struggles but understanding that workers need to be politicized and consciously see the nature of the reform struggle, to understand how capitalism functions. We must primarily recognize that racism, nationalism, sexism and religion are ideological tools manufactured and used by the ruling class to keep dividing our class and subject us to the bosses’ interests.

Even if momentarily we win some crumbs from the bosses, as the taxi drivers here who formed a cooperative, sooner or later the bosses and their government will end up controlling the movement through their laws, or corrupting the leadership as has been the case in other movements.

It’s not that we distrust these workers, but it’s our obligation as a Party to warn about how
capitalism functions. Such analyses can prevent the capitalist system from co-opting us, from allying ourselves with one or another branch of the ruling class, which doesn’t help our class in any way.

As we participate in these class struggles, we workers must make our main priority building the Progressive Labor Party, with mass CHALLENGE networks, so that we can continue giving leadership to the international working class. Our goal is building a communist society that liberates us forever from all the misery of capitalism.

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Workers in Honduras, El Salvador Unite vs. Coup Bosses’ Attacks

EL SALVADOR, September 13 — Recently at a meeting of teachers from El Salvador and Honduras, the latter (a member of the federation of Honduran workers) thanked the Salvadoran workers for their working-class solidarity in the face of the current crisis besetting workers in Honduras following the coup that ousted Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya is a millionaire member of the Honduran bourgeoisie who opposed trade deals with the U.S. and its allies, instead veering towards the Russian and Chinese imperialists through Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

The teacher from Honduras told of the temporary reforms financed by Chavez (to expand his influence in the region), enabling Zelaya to raise teachers’ wages to $1,000 a month (as compared to $500 a month for a teacher in El Salvador); afternoon snacks at schools; free uniforms and notebooks, among other measures. This has put Zelaya in conflict with sections of the Honduran ruling class, who were angered by Honduras joining ALBA (Chavez’s trade alliance) and Petrocaribe (Chavez’s oil alliance).

In Honduras they barely had time to cry for Roger Vallejo Soriano, a 38-year-old teacher shot in the head last July 30th during a demonstration protesting the coup, when another teacher, Martin Florencio Rivera, 37, was stabbed 25 times and killed after having participated in a wake for Soriano. All this is part of the brutal repression carried out by the security forces of the government of Roberto Michelleti.

Soriano was a victim of the on-going attacks by the police and the army, along with rapes of women. The teacher who spoke at the meeting was sprayed with cancer-causing chemicals when she participated in the marches.

In response to a PLP comrade’s question about the lessons drawn from this brutality, workers from Honduras replied: “We definitely must organize much better against the attacks of the system; we’re certain that the international bosses, including those in El Salvador, were involved in this coup.”

Said a PLP comrade, “If the bosses are organized, why can’t the international working class be organized for our own interests.”

This story reminded us of the massacres teachers in El Salvadoran suffered in the 1970’s and 1980’s. A PL teacher who participated in these struggles and saw the army and police kill many teachers in front of their students related his experiences in the teachers’ resistance in El Salvador and invited the teachers from Honduras to organize with PLP internationally to resist the bosses’ attacks.

The teachers and the international working class must see that the return of Manuel Zelaya, another capitalist exploiter, or any other capitalist president, will not end our problems. Those who exploit and kill the workers continue in power. There’s no reason to keep electing them.

The working class must fight for power by building its international party to organize for communist revolution, not continue supporting the murderous, rotten capitalist system. We must spread our networks of our revolutionary communist newspaper CHALLENGE internationally, to organize at work, school and in the fields to fight for a just system, communism. That’s how we can avenge the deaths of our class brothers and sisters.

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Paraguay: Lugo Talks ‘Left’ but Intensifies Capitalist Exploitation

PARAGUAY — One year after taking power, “Leftist” President Fernando Lugo’s promises have proven to be empty. Liberation can only come when the latifundistas (large agricultural capitalists) are expropriated, imperialists are expelled, industrial capitalists overthrown, and workers seize power through revolution with communist goals of equality and collectivity.

Since he led no revolution and workers did not take power, Lugo, like all capitalist politicians, maneuvers among the U.S. and European imperialists, the Bolivarian Bloc, and the Brazilian ruling class to try to cut deals for the Paraguayan capitalists and landowners.  These deals have all deepened the exploitation and oppression of workers in Paraguay.

He has made health care free in public health centers, begun to develop limited social programs for children, and attempted to cut a better deal with Brazil over the price it pays for energy from the jointly-operated Itaipu Hydroelectric plant. But these reforms pale next to the severe exploitation workers face in Paraguay.

Soy, Sesame and Capitalist Poison

Paraguay is the 6th largest producer of soy in the world.  The players in the sesame and soy game in Paraguay are the small rural farmers, Paraguayan and Brazilian Agribusiness, large landowners (Latifundistas — 2% of the population owns 70% of the land!), and major U.S. companies including Monsanto, Cargill and Syngeta.

The agrochemical and biotech companies are helping the latifundistas force peasants off their land by legal tricks and poisoning crops. How? The majority of the soy produced in Paraguay is based on Monsanto Corporation’s transgenic seeds that are genetically modified for resistance to the herbicide glyphosate. Massive spraying of glyphosate kills everything else, including small farmers’ crops. Lugo’s solution? Ban such spraying 100 yards from waterways, wetlands, roads and populated areas. But this barely touches the problem of the small farmers, and may even be reversed given the power of the latifundistas and their imperialist allies. In 2008, the soy production rate was twice what it was in 1998. The major effect of the soy planting is that it has effectively displaced thousands of rural farmers who plant subsistence crops. Activists have begun to occupy big farms and have mobilized in the streets of Asuncion to fight against the expansion of soybean plantations.

Corruption, Courts, Cops

The Paraguayan Supreme Court judges were appointed over decades by the Colorado party (the fascist party that had historic ties to Hitler) and is both corrupt and powerful. The judges refuse justice to workers. For instance, they have been deaf to the appeals and demonstrations of workers seeking justice in the Ycua Bolanos case. This involved a fire at a supermarket whose owners (Coloradoans) ordered their security guards to lock the doors, killing over 350 people.  President Lugo has opposed the appointment of another Coloradoan, Lovera Canete, to the court, but has declared he will not veto the right-wing Senate’s appointment of him.

Even more shocking, however, to Lugo supporters, has been Lugo’s decision to allow fascist Sabino Augusto Montanaro to re-enter Paraguay. Montanaro fled when the Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship fell in 1989 because he feared retribution due to the torture and murders he ordered of Political Military Organization (OPM) fighters, Paraguayan Communist Party members, and their allies. In fact, Montanaro was directly responsible for the assassination of the guerilla column Mcal Lopez.  Lugo puts out the welcome mat for this fascist trash? Not the mark of a friend of the working class!

The Way Forward

Workers in Paraguay have a long way to go in the class struggle. Lugo misleads workers into the arms of latifundistas, capitalists, and imperialists, weakening the resistance to exploitation in the same way that Obama’s popularity is misleading many workers into supporting imperialist war in Afghanistan.

Instead of supporting these phony leftists and building false hopes that sooner or later demoralize our class, we must build a revolutionary communist movement for change based on workers’ power, rather than on wishful thinking that a charismatic leader will deliver when the state apparatus is firmly in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Joining with PLP members around the world would be an important step in this process in Paraguay. J

The Face of Poverty

• 2,156,312 Paraguayan workers (36%) live in poverty, of which 1,172,274 (19%) are living in extreme poverty.  Four out of every 10 Paraguayans are poor.

• 40% of the poor receive 11% of the total resources produced in the country while 41% of the resources are concentrated among the 10% richest.

• 15 of every 100 Paraguayans survive on less then 1 U.S. Dollar a day and 30 out of 100 survive on 2$ a day.

• 78% of Paraguayans have no type of health care — 4,741,046 people

• Unemployment affects 8.7% of the population

• Underemployment affects 26.5% of the population — more than 760,000 people receive minimum wage.

• 133,000 women are illiterate and 15% are from the countryside.

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