Minister Praises Capitalism, Church Members Disagree
A minister’s recent service bemoaned the Iraq war, saying “we” should focus on what’s happening “at home,” that it is “more patriotic” to take care of Americans. This is nationalist selfishness, not anti-imperialism!
The minister admitted to knowing little about economics but went on to say that many are sick of the “old economy,” focused on maximizing profit and accumulating stuff. They want a “new economy.” That sounded good, until she declared that corporations are “not the problem.” She said that “corporate executives are good people, just like us” and to achieve a “new economy” we all just have to be less greedy. She didn’t mention the tens of millions in the U.S., and billions around the world, who don’t even have the basic necessities of life.
Afterward I said to a friend that maximizing profits by exploiting workers was a law of capitalism. She agreed: “It’s like saying that a poisonous snake wouldn’t be dangerous if you could just keep it from biting.” This new CHALLENGE reader said, “a lot of the ideas we need are in that paper.”
I asked her opinion of the articles about Obama. She is enthusiastically for Obama even though he “has to say things that will get him elected.” I reminded her that top advisors of all three candidates are meeting with the Brookings Institute to develop a foreign policy to present to the next president. I summarized the unfolding inter-imperialist rivalries that are leading U.S. capitalists to wider war. I said Obama is the candidate best able to win the U.S. working class to sacrifice our standard of living and our youth to that war. Because she has been reading the paper, she was already familiar with this argument.
“When you put it like that,” she said, “it’s really very clear. I wish I hadn’t spoken to you today,” she added half-seriously, “because this really upsets me.” She doesn’t want her daughter and son to be drafted. I pointed out that CHALLENGE also shows the positive side: how we can win workers and soldiers to a revolutionary movement fighting for a truly new communist economy.
As we left church she said again, “You make it all so clear, like a lens that focuses everything.” I replied that the “lens” is the collective insight of our Party. Then she asked when she could stop by to get the new CHALLENGE.
While the minister was preaching, I felt like walking out of church for good, but the conversation afterward reminded me why I stay. It’s not mainly to unite with others in the congregation to go on anti-war marches or fight budget cuts, but to build relationships based on sharp struggle on this ideological “front-line.”
Racist Education and Racist Professors
Recently, fellow students and I went to a “practical-experience” school activity in Southern Mexico to “analyze” how low-income people “can make their projects work and compete in the market to improve their lives.” Those of us from small towns and of indigenous background experienced blatant racism.
The professors heading the trip always told others along the way to “excuse them because they’re indigenous students.” One professor kept telling those in charge in the places we visited that we “couldn’t communicate or express ourselves correctly because of our ethnic origin.” In Oaxaca, some women in our group complained about being bitten by ants. Our own teacher, who claimed she wasn’t racist, later told us not to complain about this since we’re from small towns and “girls from well-to-do families never complain so much about some little ants.”
The racism became even worse. Our teachers said, “You should all be grateful for this opportunity to do this high-level research in places you won’t be able to ever visit again — they charge 1,000 pesos (about $100) a day). Only students from the ‘best colleges’ can afford them without scholarships.”
These attitudes reflect the racism of the rich bosses who run this capitalist society, reminding us poor working-class people: “You’re poor and don’t even aspire to come back to these fancy places.”
PLP members and some students concluded how, in a communist society, there won’t be “different kind of opportunities” since there won’t be class differences. We will all share society’s benefits and responsibilities. Since racism is a universal aspect of capitalism, from Oaxaca to Los Angeles to Madrid, PLP organizes an international party to fight for this communist goal.
A Red Militant Student
ID Cards Become New Report-to-Gov’t Cards
My school recently instituted a program in the computer science department that researches how to track people using ID cards. These barcode-like tracking devices are already being used in new U.S. passports. The study uses radio frequency ID patches which are worn on clothing and can be tracked by computers within the computer science building. The program is supposed to study how the government can track people while still protecting their privacy, a seemingly oxymoronic goal. The professors in charge of the research claim that they want to protect people’s privacy, but if this were truly the case, why are they actively perfecting such invasive measures as the ID card tracker?
Such programs as these are not only a sign of fascist control of the working class and an attempt to put a friendly face on it, but academia’s willingness to spread it. In Nazi Germany, it was college professors who were the first to acquiesce to fascism and it was college students who created the Hitler Youth. Universities are no bastion of left politics and to see it as such is idealism at its worst. The university can only be a place of communist politics if we make it so.
We must join mass organizations, as I recently did, and we must build CHALLENGE networks amongst our base in these groups. We must expose the fascist agenda of U.S. imperialism and the universities’ role in it. We must build strong friendships with our base, something I am trying to do now. As communists, we must give our base alternatives to the dead-end liberalism of the university by inviting them to May Day and the summer projects. Through discussion and action we can show them that true leftist politics come from only one place, the working class, and that in order to make real change we must put our faith in the working class and fight for communism.
Red College Student
Veteran of El Salvador War Joins PLP
(This is a letter from a new member of Progressive Labor Party written at a communist school in El Salvador, a sign of the political/ideological development of our members and also the deepening of the internal struggle to fight the reformism taught by the revisionist, the phoney leftist, groups, and the fight for Communist Revolution.)
I want to give you a small fragment of the history of the past revolutionary process in which I participated in the organizations that formed the FMLN in the eastern part of the country, that were called the ERP (Revolutionary Peoples’ Army).
I was 12 years old when the El Salvadoran government’s army carried out one of its bloodiest attacks against the civil population. In all these years there were big operations by the armed forces that left many people massacred. This happened in different places like El Mozote, in the mountains of Morazán, where more than a thousand people were killed. It was here that four members of my family were tortured and killed: my mother, my Grandmother, and my two aunts, leaving me alone at a young age.
Days after this vile massacre by the Salvadoran government against my family, friends and neighbors in the community, and in the face of these huge injustices, thinking that we needed to change everything, I joined the armed struggle. I asked a friend to go with me to walk outside of town with the idea of looking for my father who was already in the guerilla army . As I neared the campsite where he was, I told my friend that I would not return to town.
I spent the whole war fighting against our class enemies, thinking that I was doing the right thing, but 16 years after the peace accords were signed and the FMLN has turned into an electoral party, I see that there weren’t any changes for the Salvadoran working class.
One day a comrade gave me CHALLENGE and since then I have been a reader. Later, they invited me to an international communist school in another country where I learned how we can fight for and build a better world for all workers. This can be accomplished through building the Progressive Labor Party and the direct fight for Communism. For the moment, I have four CHALLENGE readers in a Party club and I hope that we continue growing as well as throughout the whole world.
To all the members and sympathizers of the Progressive Labor Party internationally, to the workers organized in different countries, from El Salvador, also known as the little finger of America, I send revolutionary greetings and at the same time invite you to continue to strengthen the Party’s work even more
New Fighter for Communism
‘Winter Soldier’: Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan
The Winter Soldier Hearings in Maryland were amazing! In preparation, our PLP club showed the original Winter Soldier (see CHALLENGE, 4/9). Friends, including an army reservist, said that although the testimony was depressing and a bit vivid, it was a great learning experience. All felt that many comparisons could be made between the war in Vietnam and those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After attending the Winter Soldier this past week, it was obvious that the same pattern of racism and imperialist domination was being used, only in a different part of the world. Many told stories about how the racist term “hadji” was used, but that it came from the top down, not from the bottom up. This goes to show that racism doesn’t begin with the working class, but is fomented by the ruling class. They use this racism to divide workers and soldiers, as well as the workers in the country to be conquered. One soldier had a particularly sharp analysis of the whole situation. Instead of giving a testimony to the acts he was forced to commit, he spoke of imperialism, racism and how the rich never went to war, only the poor working class.
At the Winter Soldier hearings one really got a great sense of what was going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the accounts were heartbreaking, it was refreshing to hear the truth, as opposed to the propaganda we workers are so accustomed to being bombarded with by the ruling-class media. After listening to the testimony I felt even more energized and angry. This energy and anger must be used to work even harder to build the Party and struggle for communism. Hopefully more workers can view and hear the testimony of these brave soldiers.