Category Archives: Leaflets

What will stop the attacks on Gaza and the West Bank?

ONE STATE, TWO STATES or A COMMUNIST STATE?

Once again the Israeli Zionist rulers are launching a full-scale murderous military attack against the Palestinian civilians – men, women and children – in Gaza, just as they did with the brutal Cast Lead massacre in 2008-2009. They claim that this is in retaliation for and to stop the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. This is a big lie! The current murders are simply the latest step in the constant fascist attempts to “ethnically cleanse all of Palestine.

*There is no doubt that the 2nd attack on Gaza is a war crime and that the military occupation of Palestine by Israel is wrong and unsustainable. At 44 years, it is one of the longest occupations in history and violates every precept of international law. Not only are Palestinians reduced to living on 22% of their former land, but they have been deprived of much of their water, farmland, employment, and freedom of movement. Continuous warfare afflicts not only the region but fuels world conflict. No one demonstrating here today disagrees with any of this.
*The much more difficult question is what should we be fighting for? Is it enough to demand that siege of Gaza and the occupation end, the settlements be dismantled, or a “Palestinian state” be established? This issue cannot be addressed without considering the role of racism and nationalism in the history of Israel and the current struggle between Israel and Palestine.

The influx of Jews into Palestine was a response to their racist persecution in Europe and the nationalist impulses of the late 19th century. The massive increase in immigration after the Holocaust also largely reflected the refusal of Western nations to accept Jewish refugees. In addition, the US and Britain were glad to have an enclave of people with Western capitalist values and ties in the Middle East, which was rapidly gaining importance as the major source of oil.
Instead of going to “a land without people for a people without land”, the Jews arrived in a densely populated area. In 1948, the UN gave 55% of the land to the Jews, when they comprised only one third of the population and owned only 6% of the land. 750, 000 Palestinians, 6/7 of the population, were brutally expelled from their homes. In the 1967 war, Israel began the occupation of Palestinian land and took total control over 46% of the West Bank. Now the Wall, the checkpoints, the ban against Palestinians working in Israel and other indignities have reduced Palestinians to a state of desperation.

*None of this would have been possible if the Zionists were not themselves guilty of racism. Instead of learning from centuries of anti-Semitism that racism is the father of genocide and divides poor peoples against one another, they used the same ideology to suppress other people. Meanwhile, now as throughout history, the wealthy and the rulers use these ethnic divides to their own advantage. The US arms Israel to the teeth, not out of love for Judaism, but to maintain bully-power over the oil rich nations and their potential allies in the area. Ordinary Israelis suffer the costs of occupation in lives lost, morality destroyed, and social services cut to finance the military, all tolerated only because of anti-Arab racism.

Despite the fortitude displayed by Palestinians in surviving the occupation, many are now focused on the strife which continues between the corrupt Fatah movement, and fundamentalist, nationalist Hamas, neither of which promises social equality for Palestinians, or leads to an effective resistance. Palestine, like Israel, is a class society, and needs a mass anti-racist movement of workers for a society in their own interests. Jewish and Arab workers. from the river to the sea. must unite to fight the capitalist rulers.

*So we come to the question, what do we ask for now? It is not good enough to ask for equal civil rights and look to South Africa for inspiration, as do many activists. For although apartheid is gone, the condition of the majority poor black population in SA remains abysmal. As long as the same capitalist system, the same corporations are running the country, poor workers are no better off – maybe worse, having lost the activism of the anti-apartheid movement. From India to El Salvador, throwing off colonialism but not capitalism, has not improved the lot of workers.

That is why, while we march against the attack on Gaza and the evil of occupation, we should also march for an egalitarian, anti-racist, anti-sexist struggle and a communist society in Israel–Palestine, History provides many examples of struggles uniting Arabs, Jews and others in the region against common exploiters. Without a fight for communism in the Middle East and the US, global inter-imperialist wars, fought by workers taught to hate and fear one another, will destroy us all.

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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.

Smash Fascist in Trenton NJ!!

Racism is alive and well under capitalism.  The unemployment and poverty rates continue to increase, especially for black and Latin workers.  Bombs continue to drop in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia as big bosses try to control their oil resources.  While many thought that the election of Obama will bring in a new era, we have seen that the racist attacks on the working class have just gotten worse.

On April 16th the Neo-Nazi group the Nationalist Socialist Movement will hold a rally outside of the Statehouse in Trenton to promote their racist and fascist ideas.  Once again they are using the issue of “illegal immigration” to hide their real interests of genocide and slave labor – just as Hitler had done in the 30s and 40s and the KKK had tried to do 100 years ago.  There are groups like the Anti-Defamation League that want people to stay away from the rally and allow these racists to go uncontested,  but we in Progressive Labor Party believe that we must meet them head on.  The only way that Nazis were defeated in the past was by an organized, disciplined, multi-racial communist movement.

So then why do they keep coming back?  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, New Jersey alone is home to over 45 white supremacist groups. This is because this capitalist system and their rulers need to promote racism to keep the working class divided and weak.  When workers are united we will see that it is not our brothers and sisters from Central and South America that are the enemy but that the ruling class (who controls the banks and major industrial companies) and their capitalist system who are the real enemies of the working class. That is why it is vital for all of us to be out there to stop the Nazis on Saturday.

While the Democrats, Republicans, and their capitalist bosses are the real fascists, we must still stand united against the attacks from these low level fascists.  In doing so we are strengthening the bonds among the working class and preparing to smash racism and ultimately capitalism, as we strive to build a communist world – an egalitarian system free from racism and class exploitation.

JOIN US

AT THE CORNERS OF TAYLOR PL. AND CAPITOL ST. AT 11AM.

MARCH TO THE STATEHOUSE

WITH THE PROGRESSIVE LABOR PARTY

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U.S. RULING CLASS, NOT VOTERS, CALLS SHOTS IN ELECTION

(The Following is a Progressive Labor Party Leaflet)

Like all elections, the campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain help the capitalists hide the fact that this is not a democracy. The illusion is that voters, mainly workers, can choose the nation’s leaders. In reality, a ruling class — led by powerful financiers — selects, bankrolls and directs each of the candidates. The dominant section of the U.S. ruling class (the Eastern Establishment), whose interests lie in continuing U.S. world domination, is determined to control the policy of whoever wins in November 2008. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Brookings Institution are the two most important foreign policy think tanks of these capitalists.  They are developing a blueprint for the next U.S. president (no matter who is elected), which can be used as the foundation for the new administration’s Middle-East policy.

Key advisor for Obama is Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski is a former director of the Eastern Establishment backed CFR. He helped President Jimmy Carter frame write the 1979 Carter Doctrine, which promised permanent occupation of Mid-East oilfields. One of McCain’s advisors is CFR member Max Boot, who is pushing for a U.S. Foreign Legion. Other McCain advisors are Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft (CFR member and Bush, Sr.’s National Security Advisor). It is these think-tank policy-makers, bankers and heads of the largest corporations who form the ruling class that runs the country, no matter who sits in the White House.

Today, the economic crises of capitalism in the U.S. and the world are only sharpening the conflict with imperialist rivals. Now, more than ever the U.S. ruling class needs workers and professionals to sacrifice for the needs of U.S. imperialism. They need a capitalist leader who can inspire the masses to support U.S. imperialist ambitions throughout the world. This leader faces a tough challenge. Russia is becoming more aggressive.  China is a rapidly growing economic and military power, and Europe is uniting and growing stronger.

In order to protect the U.S. profit empire against challenges from imperialist rivals, particularly China and Russia, the U.S. ruling class needs to dominate the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia, politically and militarily. Campaign 2008 boils down to which candidate can most effectively mobilize the nation behind the U.S. imperialists and their war and fascism. McCain believes in more troops in Iraq and keeping them there longer while Obama believes in fewer troops in Iraq and pulling them out sooner but sending the troops to other key areas of Mideast. Both believe in occupying Iraq and preparing for war with Iran. Both agree on the absolute importance of maintaining control of oil in the Middle East and Central Asia. They disagree over the tactics to use not the strategy!

Both Obama and McCain offer national service and push patriotism as a way to win workers and professionals to support expanding the U.S. military to prepare for more wars. During a rally on July 3, 2008, Obama said, the quiet following Friday’s Independence Day celebrations would be a good time to consider how to contribute “to our most pressing national challenges,” whether in the military, overseas or just next door. National service, a key part of Obama’s campaign platform, is an important step towards bringing back the draft and winning people to support expanding the U.S. military. Obama, like McCain, understand that the U.S. will need more troops in the future to face threats to its superpower status.

As more people become interested in the elections, the need to expose the candidates’ class allegiance is crucial. They both defend a racist profit system that systematically and brutally exploits workers, often through war, and needs to be eliminated. But the working class cannot just vote away its tormentors. Capitalism’s destruction can only be achieved through the long-term, painstaking process of building a revolutionary communist movement that will ultimately end the rule of profit and put the working class in power. Join us!

Workers, Soldiers, and Students of the World Unite Against Fascism and Imperialist War!  Don’t Vote!  Fight Back!

Progressive Labor Party is a revolutionary communist party dedicated to eliminating capitalism with communist revolution as the only way to end imperialism, fascism, racism, sexism, and class inequality.

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Voting Won’t End Nightmare of Capitalism. Fight for Communism!

On Wall St., major financial houses are crumbling under the weight of billions of dollars in bad debt. The credit-mortgage crisis continues to wreak havoc as the strong bankers eat the weak in this unholy ritual of capitalist competition. But don’t look for millionaires jumping out of windows on Wall St. Instead, billionaire financiers will be gliding into retirement on multi-million dollar golden parachutes. These captains do not go down with the ship.

Meanwhile, workers’ houses crumble in Galveston, Texas from Hurricane Ike, and Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, is still without electricity more than a week after the storm. There will be no bailouts or “soft landings” for them. or the millions hit by hurricanes in Haiti, Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean.

The bosses’ government and the central banks have put together a bailout plan worth hundreds of billions of dollars to see them through this crisis. That money is our pensions, social security and so much more. Every dime is stolen from our labor. Yet for us, all they have is racist police terror, immigration raids, racist cutbacks, and poverty wages. More than 20 million are unemployed and almost 50 million have no health insurance.

With the presidential election circus in full swing, the prisons are full, the schools are collapsing and the bloodbath in Iraq is spreading to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama and McCain both approve of widening the war. They both preach patriotism and national service, and they both support every step taken by the racist rulers to navigate this financial crisis.

Workers should turn their backs on them and follow the lead of 27,000 Boeing workers who are on strike against the war making aerospace giant. Boeing made over $13 billion in profit during the last contract, a record $4.7 billion last year. Much of this blood money comes directly from the Pentagon. Last month Boeing landed a $659 million contract for 16 additional fighter jets, adding to their contract to supply the Navy with 460 Super Hornets through 2012. At the same time, Boeing is slashing wages through two-tier contracts and farming out work to poverty wage non-union factories, many of them in southern California.

This is the third strike against a war contractor in the last 18 months. In March ’07, over 7,000 black and white ship builders struck Northrop Grumman and the Navy for one month in Pascagoula, MS. Last winter, thousands of UAW members struck Navistar which produces armored vehicles for Iraq. The bosses produce the weapons for war by waging war on the workers at home. The difference at Boeing is the presence of an active PLP and the influence of revolutionary communist ideas on many of the strikers. Our communist politics can help build the revolutionary movement from Seattle to Los Angeles to Mississippi and beyond. That is the answer to the endless crises and wars of the racist profit system.

The bronze bull of Merrill Lynch may be on its back, feet in the air, but capitalism is far from finished. The bosses can survive any economic, political or military crisis, even defeat in war. What they can’t survive is communist revolution, when millions of workers, soldiers, sailors and youth seize power through armed struggle, led by a mass PLP. The chaos of capitalism will only mean more foreclosures, layoffs, racist cutbacks, hunger and imperialist war, here and around the world, no matter who wins the White House.

There is another road; the road to revolution for a society without any bosses or bankers: communism. It’s long and difficult, and takes a lifetime of commitment. But it’s the only road that leads to a bright future for the workers of the world.

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Students, Workers and Soldiers Must Unite to:Smash Imperialist War for Oil!

With 4,000 (and counting) American deaths, over 40,000 wounded, and at least 600,000 Iraqis killed, the Iraq war has increased the suffering of workers and youth in both countries, especially in Iraq. After five years of U.S. occupation, opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq is found throughout the country at schools, on the job, and in the military. Most of the U.S. population wants the U.S. military to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

Despite all the Democratic blather about a total U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Clinton, Obama and the U.S. congress are clearly not going to oppose the basic interests of the U.S. ruling class. Those interests require that congressional members (both Democrats and Republicans) buy time while ruling class strategists prepare to extend the current war across the entire Gulf region. This new war will require a massive military build-up, including a re-institution of the draft. It will also require that the U.S. military, sooner rather than later, take on Iran, the leading power in the region. The reason that the U.S. ruling class must strengthen its control over Iraq and the Gulf region is oil.

Oil and Imperialism. Oil is the basis of modern industry. It is critical for the operation of factories and for transportation systems, and is the lifeblood of the economy and military of every capitalist nation. The U.S. ruling class is waging its wars in the Gulf region for two reasons:

    Economic crisis in the U.S. Since the 1970s, the U.S. capitalist class has been losing market share to its imperialist rivals: Europe, Japan, Russia and China. As world competition has pushed down their profits, the U.S. bosses have been forced to resort to layoffs and cutbacks, and to move factories and service operations overseas in a desperate search for cheap labor and resources.

    Monopolizing oil. Why does the U.S. have two aircraft carrier groups in the Persian Gulf, when only 22% of U.S. oil is imported from that region? Because in order to control its rivals, the U.S. ruling class needs to monopolize the strategic power of oil, which means controlling its supply, transportation, and pricing.

In order to protect the U.S. superpower status and empire against challenges from imperialist rivals, particularly China and Russia, the U.S. ruling class needs to dominate the Middle East and Central Asia (and their oil) politically and militarily. The current Iraqi insurrection and civil war has prevented any political solution acceptable to the U.S. bosses from developing—so war in Iraq is the only option. The U.S. bosses are pushing patriotism and anti-Arab racism to get us to support their imperialist oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the real enemy is not workers from other nations but capitalists of all nations.

How Do We Stop Imperialist wars? Our battle cry should not be the liberals’ “Out Now!” but “Smash Imperialism!” As we learned in the anti-Vietnam war movement, the working class, not the lying politicians, is the key force in any fight against the capitalist class. Workers are the ones who work in the factories where the weapons are made. Workers and students are the ones who serve in the military. Workers and students led the anti-Vietnam war struggle, and these are the forces that will organize the strikes, shut down the troop trains, occupy the campuses and fill the streets in the coming anti-war struggle. We must begin to organize this struggle now. Here’s an agenda we can begin with:

  • Drive all military recruiters off the campuses.
  • Support draftees and soldiers who refuse to fight in the bosses’ wars.
  • Fight anti-black, anti-Arab, and anti-immigrant racism.
  • Organize in our unions to strike against the war. Build for a general strike.

Capitalism = Death. Capitalism generates racism, poverty and imperialist war. A system that can murder workers by the millions in Iraq and Afghanistan but cannot feed the hungry, shelter the homeless or provide decent jobs for all does not deserve to exist. The only long range answer is to build an international communist movement of workers, students and soldiers to defeat capitalism with communist revolution.

    Smash Capitalism and Imperialist War with Communist Revolution!

Progressive Labor Party is a revolutionary communist party dedicated to eliminating capitalism with communist revolution as the only way to end imperialism, terrorism, racism, sexism and class inequality.

For more information, see www.plp.org.

March on May Day, International Workers’ Day

May 3, 2008 in Brooklyn, New York

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For a Better Contract, for a Better World:Fight Capitalism and Join Progressive Labor Party!

Negotiating within the vise of capitalism

Once again our union is fighting for a contract that meets the needs of faculty and staff, and once again the other side – CUNY managers, City Hall and Albany – has a tremendous advantage in negotiations. This advantage derives not from management’s negotiating skills, but ultimately from the fact that NYC is dominated by a business elite (Wall Street financiers, real estate tycoons, and the CEOs of scores of Fortune 500 companies, whose headquarters dominate the skyline of lower Manhattan). This elite has successfully pushed its pro-business agenda for decades, which includes keeping business taxes and commercial real estate taxes at a minimum, spending hundreds of millions on tax exemptions and abatements for office and luxury buildings, reducing the cost of social programs (including CUNY), and lowering the real wages and benefits of municipal workers. The decline in the real salaries of CUNY professors and staff and the increased use of adjuncts (whose miserable salaries are shameful) are two manifestations of the business elite’s success in realizing its agenda.

The process of negotiations is rigged in the following manner for the purpose of keeping both labor costs and taxes on business as low as possible.

(1) Pattern bargaining: The Mayor and the Governor pick the weakest city and state union with which to sign a contracts that grants wage increases no higher than the rate of inflation. These contracts are then said to “determine the pattern” for every other union. In NYC, the union selected to “set the pattern” has been D.C. 37, a fragmented coalition of locals, whose top leadership is renowned for its corruption and willingness to make deals with City Hall that sacrifice the interests of its members.

(2) Paying for our own contract: This concept states that any salary improvements beyond the inflation rate must be paid with concessions. So the UFT was able to “win” higher salary increases but only by making terrible concessions, including a longer workday and year, extra workload and assignments for teachers, and the surrender of due process rights.

(3) Taylor Law: Although we’re repeatedly assured by politicians that we live in a “free society,” city and state workers are forbidden from exercising one of our basic rights, the ability to withdraw our labor in order to press our demands. Even advocating a strike is illegal under the Taylor Law, and any union that’s courageous enough to strike – as the TWU was in 2005 – faces penalties intended to bankrupt it. The only way that workers can bargain from a position of strength is by breaking down the artificial barriers between unions, ignoring the Taylor Law and waging a general strike.

Another feature of labor contracts under capitalism is across-the-board salary increases, which only widen the gap between the highest paid employees and the lowest paid. This divides our ranks, and we believe that solidarity demands that we support higher increases for the lowest paid, including adjuncts. It also demands that we fight for lower class size for our students and more full-time jobs.

Business groups like the Citizens Budget Commission, the City Club, the Real Estate Board of New York, the Rockefeller-led Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, and the Partnership for New York (founded in 1979 by billionaire David Rockefeller) have aggressively lobbied for their pro-business agenda, which includes reducing the redistributive function of government. So has the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think-tank that was founded and funded in the late 1970’s by denizens of Wall Street, and which found an enthusiastic advocate for its policies in former Mayor and now presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

For years following the fiscal crisis of 1975, unelected committees like the Emergency Financial Control Board and the Municipal Assistance Corporation controlled NYC spending and borrowing, and were headed by bankers like Felix Rohatyn and corporate executives like David Margolis of Colt Industries, who forced through mass layoffs, wage freezes and reduced pension benefits. Moreover, every Mayor in recent decades (Koch, Dinkins, Giuliani) has won office by procuring millions in campaign contributions from the investment bankers, real estate developers and corporate executives who form NYC’s “permanent government,” and who expect their interests to be advanced by City Hall. Bloomberg, who claims to be independent of special interests, is actually a leading member of the business elite and fully committed to its agenda. The Mayor, whose Bloomberg LP is the largest financial news and data company in the world, is a billionaire who spent $74 million of his own money on his 2001 campaign. Finally, when necessary, big business can always use its ultimate weapon – the threat to leave NYC and throw thousands out of work.

strong>Capitalism Works – But Only for the Rich!

If we determine the success or failure of an economic system by the well being of the majority of the population, capitalism would have to be considered a colossal failure. From Nigeria to South Africa, from Mexico to Argentina, from Russia to China, all over the world, the majority of people have trouble making ends meet. Most work in low-wage, boring jobs that sap their health and their intelligence. Many have no work at all and no access to health care or decent schools. Tens of millions die each year of hunger or preventable diseases.

What about NYC, the wealthiest city in the world? Consider:

• Despite the ‘90’s being a period of economic growth, four-fifths of NYC families saw their real incomes (adjusted for inflation) drop from 1989 to 1999. The poorest fifth of these families saw their incomes drop by 13 %, while the next poorest fifth lost 16%, the middle fifth lost 12% of their income, and the fourth fifth lost 5%. The fact that the wealthiest fifth gained 18% in income, while the wealthiest 5% gained 31% over the decade, led the NY Times to observe, “the rich are getting richer and the poor are growing in number.” Increasing inequality is one of the essential features of capitalism. By 2005, the top 20% of Manhattan earners made fifty-two times what the bottom 20% earned.

• The wealthy financial and corporate sector of NYC’s economy depends upon a large low-wage service sector, staffed by mainly black, Latino and immigrant workers, a contrast of wealth that reveals the racist heart of capitalism. In 2001, 20% of the city’s workforce earned $8 an hour or less, and 80% of these low-wage workers were black or Latino.

• With the wealthy sending their children to private schools, NYC’s public education system – which feeds CUNY – is a disgraceful failure. Overwhelmingly segregated, overcrowded and under funded, with class size considerably larger than the state average, NYC schools provide a quality education to only a select few. Most students, by the city’s own statistics, either drop out before graduating or are unprepared for college level work. Black and Latino communities have the worst performing schools, often with the most inexperienced teachers, and most students in those schools score poorly on state reading and math tests. Only a shocking 1% of black students in NYC pass a single Advanced Placement exam.

This failure to educate is deliberate, and reproduces the social hierarchy of capitalism. Spending on education fell from 29% of city expenditures in the early 70’s to 24% in 2005. Since large numbers of students are destined for dead-end jobs in the low-wage service sector, there is little motivation on the part of political and business elites to improve the school system, despite much rhetoric to the contrary.

Capitalism Has Failed and Should be Left Behind

It should be obvious that capitalism is a failed social system. It provides immense wealth for a privileged few and heart-wrenching poverty and insecurity for billions. A sixth of humanity, over a billion people, live in slums, without many of the basic necessities of life. U.S. capitalism, a dominant power for most of the 20th century, now faces increased competition from rivals in the EU, Russia and China. As these regional rivals grow in economic and military power, U.S. imperialism has decided to use its superior military might to secure control over much of the world’s energy resources, a control that it hopes will give it an advantage in future conflicts. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have perished for this reason, and there is little doubt that more wars and more death and destruction are on the horizon. With more and more money diverted from social programs in order to pay for military expenditures, federal, state and city workers are being pressured to accept inferior “war contracts.”

Why continue to support a system that produces poverty, inequality, racism, environmental ruin, and endless imperialist war? We’re told that the failures of Soviet and Chinese socialism “prove” that there’s no alternative to capitalism, and many believe it. But people didn’t stop building bridges when the first ones they constructed fell down. People all over the world are looking for ways to get “beyond capital,” to build an egalitarian society worthy of humanity.

The capitalists have their organizations. The working class needs its own, one that fights for its class interests. The communist Progressive Labor Party is trying to be that organization. Professors can play an important role by letting their students know the truth about capitalism, by exposing the tracking and ideological functions of schools under bourgeois rule, and by recruiting a new generation of revolutionary communist fighters. Join us!

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