Category Archives: Liberals

Women Hospital Workers Lead Fight vs. Boss-Union Hack Gang-up

BROOKLYN, NY July 18 — “Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!” That’s how a rally of two hundred Brookdale Hospital workers ended after a night of picketing, marching and chanting in front of their hospital. Almost every worker carried a copy of CHALLENGE with the story of their struggle on the front page. Militant workers from Downstate, Methodist, Woodhull, Long Island College and other hospitals and unions came out in solidarity, greeting their Brookdale sisters and brothers with warm hugs, handshakes, and plenty of conversation.

One worker said, “The entire hospital would walk out and strike if the union said so, but they keep telling us to wait…” These racist cutbacks are taking place in every city, designed to make workers and patients pay for the trillion-dollar imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya, and for the bailouts of the bosses and bankers.

Just before the rally, a vice-president from Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) played emcee to a collection of city and state politicians in a town hall meeting. Their aim was to numb the workers into staging a silent “candlelight vigil,” unsurprising, considering that SEIU’s idea of “struggle” is a bus trip to beg Governor Cuomo and other politicians at the state capitol.

These politicians are part of the same city and state government that orchestrated the closures of eight city hospitals in the past five years. They said the same “fighting” words before shutting down St. Vincent’s and North General hospitals. Parts of Brookdale, a 3,500-worker hospital, have already shut down, robbing the mostly black, Latino, Caribbean and women workers and patients of their jobs and health care.

Speaking to a crowd of workers at the town hall, most with CHALLENGEs in their hands, New York City councilman Charles Barron pandered to their anger, but offered no leadership for the class struggle they need. Barron’s divisive black nationalist politics reinforce racist divisions between black and white workers. Workers don’t need division — they need class unity! Barron’s and 1199’s attempts to control the workers failed when the 1199 VP tried to prevent a white worker from another hospital to speak in solidarity with the Brookdale workers, prompting angry shouts from the crowd and chants of “Let him speak!” The VP backed down.

Brookdale is being bled to death by racist Medicaid and Medicare cuts on the one hand and a pack of thieving bosses from MediSys, the hospital’s parent company, on the other. MediSys Chief Financial Officer Doss steals $3 million-a-year in salary, and top MediSys executives (including CEO Flanz and Human Resources Director Sclair) also draw salaries from 22 dummy corporations that bill Brookdale for their “services.” Doss runs a collections agency that bills Brookdale for collecting unpaid medical debts! He draws another salary from Brookdale as a “consultant”!

At the same time, “Brookdale has no toilet paper,” one worker said. “We have to borrow it from other hospitals. Nurses are telling families to bring their own [adult] diapers. We’re borrowing medicine from Jamaica Hospital [a smaller hospital also owned by MediSys] and I’m always on the phone trying to borrow extra envelopes and paper to get my job done.”

Another woman related the racist and sexist abuse, where 80% of the workers are women. “The managers sexually harass the women…making open sexual advances. They suspend anyone who complains. They don’t fear anybody. They think they’re invincible. Recently, fifteen of us women went to one of their offices and put a stop to it. We haven’t heard from him again!” The women leading the struggle have shown incredible bravery and strength, continuing the fight against the bosses even while 1199 tries its best to cool the workers down.

We heard similar stories of fight-backs and job actions from every department, including a three-day sit-in at the hospital last month, after MediSys stopped paying into the 1199 SEIU National Benefits Fund. This “forced” the union to cancel the workers’ health insurance and replace it with a much worse plan with sky-high, unaffordable co-pays. Aside from stripping the workers of their health care, no one knows what steps, if any, the union has taken against the bosses to recoup their losses.

Either way, the union is worth over a billion dollars. It could have paid for the workers’ health insurance while fighting to get its money from MediSys. Instead, it meekly accepted the hospital bosses’ benefit cut. Had George Gresham and the union leadership really wanted to support the struggle, they had every “legal” reason to strike back in January, when MediSys first violated the labor contract. As one worker said, “The bosses treat us like garbage and the union leaders always give us reasons why we can’t fight, but we know we gotta fight!”

Beyond MediSys, we are confronting the whole racist profit system and a U.S. ruling class that is struggling to keep its world empire amid stiffening competition. Today they fight Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, but down the road looms China. With the help of the union misleaders, they are taking back everything that U.S. workers have gained in the past 80 years in order to meet their growing competition.

PLP is fighting for a base among the workers in order to challenge the bosses and union misleaders. The Brookdale workers are fighting on behalf of every worker affected by racist hospital closures. Every worker worldwide can support the Brookdale Hospital workers by raising their fight on the job and in their union, sending messages of support to CHALLENGE. Workers in the New York City area can sign up to sell CHALLENGEs at Brookdale.

While the bosses ultimately control whether or not Brookdale closes, through building CHALLENGE networks within Brookdale, we are injecting our ideas of fighting back with multi-racial working-class unity. Should Brookdale close, in whole or in part, these workers will bring these ideas with them into the looming struggles ahead, wherever they go. Our long-term success will be measured in how many workers understand that only when millions of workers join PLP and the fight for communism, can the international working class destroy capitalism and seize power.

The politicians and union misleaders had their say at the town hall meeting, but the mostly-female Brookdale workers will have their say when they strike against the bosses. We ask every one of these fighters to join us

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Draft on the Way: Obama’s War Budget Makes Workers Pay

The U.S. ruling class’s “debate” over raising the debt limit above $14 trillion and cutting the budget is all a cover to hide the goal of forcing the working class to foot the bill for U.S. imperialism’s global wars that are slaughtering workers internationally.

Wars for control of Mid-East oil and gas and for strategic footholds against China and Russia cost U.S. imperialists a fortune — $3.7 trillion so far in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. But, as battlefields widen to Libya, Yemen, Somalia and beyond, the current depression leaves U.S. rulers with inadequate ready cash. So Obama and the major capitalists he serves are pushing a budget plan that shoves even more war burden onto the backs of workers.

Obama’s proposal for 2012-2020 slashes $655 billion from the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits workers have earned. (White House Budget, published in 2010) This includes lowering Social Security benefits and gradually raising full retirement benefits from age 65 to past 66 and eventually to age 69. Consequently, millions more workers will die on the job before they can retire.

Meanwhile, the needs of struggling U.S. imperialism belie his promise to curb the military budget by 7%. In fact, the imperialists themselves demand a whopping 67% boost. (See CFR’s Sebastian Mallaby quote below.) The only significant “cost-cutting” move likely at the Pentagon, one now pushed by the highest brass, is restoring the draft. Most draftees, unlike career enlistees, get rock-bottom pay and no pension.

Lying Obama Promises Tea Partiers Pentagon Cuts; Bigger Bosses say ‘Forget about ‘em’

Obama’s phony Pentagon pruning aims solely at appeasing obstructionist, anti-tax Tea Party elements in Congress. The latter front for smaller domestically-minded U.S. capitalists who don’t directly benefit from the bigger bosses’ expensive and expanding war agenda. But the main U.S. imperialists, whose profits depend on war, and who bankrolled Obama into office and fill his cabinet, reveal the intentional hollowness of his rhetoric.

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), U.S. imperialism’s leading think-tank, representing the Rockefeller-dominated wing of U.S. rulers, such as Exxon Mobil and JP Morgan Chase. They seek to undermine Obama’s cheap talk and rally Republican imperialists, the socially-liberal and fiscally-conservatives like Senators John McCain and Maine’s two Senators, part of the old Nelson Rockefeller wing of the G.O.P.

Boot wrote in the conservative Weekly Standard (7/18/11), “Obama’s proposed cuts…would seriously impair the military’s ability to meet its global commitments.” Boot then lets loose a flood of rhetorical questions that pretty much lay out his bosses’ money-burning order of battle for the near term:

“Should we completely pull out of Afghanistan? Even with the overly hasty withdrawal of surge forces ordered by Obama, we still will have 70,000 troops there at the end of next year, costing at least $70 billion. Pulling out troops even faster risks giving jihadists their biggest victory since 9/11.

“Perhaps we [U.S. rulers] should stop fighting pirates off the coast of Africa? Stop fighting in Libya so that arch-terrorist Muammar Qaddafi can claim a victory over the West? Stop targeting al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen and elsewhere? Stop deterring China, North Korea, or Iran? Stop patrolling the Persian Gulf through which much of the world’s oil flows? Stop fighting cyberattacks emanating from China and Russia?”

Obama’s Ruling-Class Handlers Want Massive 67% Boost, not Mini 7% Cut, in War Funding

Of course, all this call to expansion of U.S. rulers’ wars means mass murder of untold numbers of workers in these countries. Boot obviously seeks a “No” answer to the military cut question. His colleague, CFR fellow Sebastian Mallaby, goes much further, urging drastically increasing war funding and reducing workers’ living standards. In a piece entitled, “American Power Requires Economic Sacrifice (CFR website, 7/7/11) he says:

“…[I]f the U.S. has the will to allocate a rising share of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] to the Pentagon, it can sustain its global dominance for a long time to come. After all, defense claimed more than a 10th of U.S. GDP during the 1950s, compared with just below 6 per cent today. But military budgets on the scale of the 1950s entail social and economic sacrifices.”

Mallaby refers unmistakably to reducing health care’s 17% share of U.S. GDP. Furthermore, his demand to revert to 1950 military budget allocations of one-tenth (10%) from the current 6% means a two-thirds increase, or 67%.

Anti-Worker Draft Coming Back
as ‘Money-Saver’

From the Korean War in the 1950s to the Vietnam War in the 1960s and ’70s, U.S. rulers maintained the draft. Today, massive unemployment and under-employment of over 30 million workers forces job-seeking youth to enlist, which may help make recruitment adequate for U.S. bosses now. But that won’t be the case if rebellion reaches Saudi Arabia, Big Oil’s biggest energy source, and sets the whole Middle East aflame or if armed conflict breaks out with Iran’s or China’s bosses. Then the U.S. “all-volunteer” forces won’t be able to cut it, economically or politically.

With pay raises, benefits and pensions, the volunteer force costs the bosses too much. And only a shrinking segment of the population, increasingly poor white workers, seems won to enlisting. So here comes conscription again, in the guise of “economizing.” The Air Force Times (7/14/11) reported that, “The Pentagon is considering massive changes to the force — including a draft — amid fears that new and far deeper budget cuts are looming just over the horizon…. It quoted General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “You may just shift the balance of the services from active to Guard or reserve or to — the dirty word — a draft. Those are all different characters and they have different costs that you can manage.’”

A new draft would force millions of U.S. youth into a war machine that would kill them and millions of our sister and brother workers worldwide. (World War II saw 14 million in the U.S. armed forces, with half the current U.S. population.) But, at the same time, in laying bare to millions the horrors of capitalist war, it would also expand the opportunities for communist revolutionary anti-imperialist organizing in the military.

Historically, the two great communist-led revolutions in the last century, in Russia and China, arose out of the imperialist World Wars I and II.

With our lives, labor, declining wages, and ever-diminishing living conditions, workers have paid for capitalists’ wars for centuries. Aside from the incalculable money loss, their harm to our class amounts to billions of human beings impoverished and murdered. We must turn the tables on the profit-driven killers by building for communist revolution to destroy them.

Our Progressive Labor Party works towards this goal, as is evident from PLP’s immersion in, and helping to lead, class struggles: for a community library (page 7); among transit workers in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. (page 6); for client-worker unity against budget cuts in New Jersey (page 7); among hospital workers in NYC (page 1) and in Chicago (page 6). PLP joins and leads these battles to be able to raise revolutionary communist ideas and recruit these workers to build a mass Party.

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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‘Jobs, Yes! Deportations, No!’ Workers Fight Fascist Attack on Immigrants

NEW YORK CITY, July 1 — The most important task for the world’s working class is rebuilding the international communist movement, learning from past successes and failures and advancing the struggle for workers’ power. Crucial to this process is fighting racism and all racist divisions within the working class. We must understand global immigration in this context.

Workers migrate for many reasons: work, hunger, misery, war, repression and persecution. The world is the marketplace where international wage slaves look for work, regardless of capitalist-imposed borders. The world’s capitalists exploit the working class in part based on immigrants, both outside and inside their so-called borders. The lower the wages and the worse the situation for immigrant workers, the better capitalists can create the conditions to exploit the whole working class while building racist ideology and divisions. We must understand how capitalism works, unite across “borders” and fight for our class worldwide.

Bosses Spread Anti-Immigrant Lies

Within capitalist “nations,” the bosses super-exploit undocumented workers, reaping huge profits. Meanwhile, their government and media system blame undocumented immigrants for “stealing” jobs from “Americans”; “taking services away” from “law-abiding citizens”; “committing crime”; “ruining neighborhoods”; and being “terrorists.” These statements are based on racist lies and myths that foster a climate of racist hate and division that masks the nature of capitalist exploitation and builds a base for ruling-class-led fascism.

In the U.S. there are a rash of new anti-immigrant laws, often passed in states with the highest immigration rates, like Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Arizona and Utah. The latest law, enacted in Alabama:

• Requires public schools to check students’ immigration status using birth certificates or sworn affidavits;

• Bans undocumented immigrants from attending state colleges;

• Makes it illegal for landlords to rent to undocumented immigrants;

• Makes it illegal for citizens and documented immigrants to transport or shelter undocumented immigrants; and,

• Makes it a crime to hire undocumented immigrants and forces employers to use E-Verify, a so-called “voluntary” program run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to verify a worker’s immigration status.

Meanwhile Texas Representative Lamar Smith has introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to make the use of E-Verify at workplaces federal law, thus mandatory. (E-Verify is a faulty system with a high error rate, causing many documented workers to be either fired or refused employment.)

Obama Expands Bush Program

Another racist feature is the “Secure Communities” program, a DHS “immigration enforcement” program in which local police share fingerprints with the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and DHS, supposedly to find and deport immigrant “criminals.” The program was begun under the Bush administration in 2008 with the plan to make state participation mandatory by 2013. The Obama administration has expanded the program as a key part of immigration enforcement.

ICE deported 392,862 immigrants in 2010, not including over 400,000 who took voluntary deportation. Projected deportations for 2011 are 404,000. There are currently 350 detention jails in the U.S. More than 77,000 immigrants have been deported through the Secure Communities program; 49,000 had no criminal records or had only minor offenses (like a traffic ticket).

While Texas and other states are expanding Secure Communities, some like Illinois, New York and Massachusetts have “opted out.” But DHS is apparently claiming that once in, you can’t “opt out.” DHS Chief Jane Napolitano defends the program. These three states have been told that fingerprints collected by local police will continue to be sent to DHS. An ICE spokesman has said the program is mandatory and that only the federal government can deport immigrants. The reality is that by 2013 the U.S. government will have merged federal databases so that all fingerprint searches check immigrants’ status automatically.

All these ruling-class attacks reflect a growing fascism which the rulers need to continue to wage imperialist wars, in order to maintain their hold on the world’s resources, especially oil and gas. But within this war drive, the U.S. bosses’ position on immigration faces a contradiction: on the one hand they need to super-exploit and terrorize immigrants for profit and to divide the working class. Yet they also have great need for immigrant youth — through their proposed “Dream Act” — to replenish their war machine with cannon fodder for those very same wars. We must expose this contradiction to show how the rulers’ attack on immigrants is an attack on the international working class.

The working class can’t rely on piece-meal, defensive strategies led by the Democratic Party. We need to take the offensive. Comrades working in an organization in our neighborhood are proposing and organizing for a march in the area around the theme: “Jobs, yes; Deportations, no!”

Comrades have a large CHALLENGE circulation in the organization we’re members of, with plans to expand CHALLENGE networks in the neighborhood and at job sites. We’ve recruited several new members to our PLP club and, with our two study groups, can recruit even more. Our job is to turn our new and veteran members, CHALLENGE readers and close friends into organizers who can mobilize the masses, fight for communist ideas, and lead the class struggle and the long-range fight for communist revolution.

The working class has two choices: unite, reject racist divisions and fight for the needs of our entire class, or fall for racist ideas which divide us and deflect anger from our real enemy under capitalism, the bosses, banks and government authorities. We must demand massive numbers of jobs, not “growing” jobs here and there. Make the capitalists pay! We must lead the working class to fight together against racist profiling and deportations. Immigrants don’t cause unemployment and “insecure communities”; capitalist unemployment, ICE and racist policing do. Working-class consciousness, not capitalist politicians and momentary reforms, build real power.

Every day the international working class is fighting back. In all our areas — the factories and unions, the schools and college campuses, the churches and community organizations — communists must be fully involved in the class struggle. While illusory reformist/electoral ideas dominate the movement now, the door is wide open to communist ideas, organizing and leadership and, as the Party grows, a communist world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dallas Students Walk Out vs. Racist Cuts, Teacher Firing

DALLAS, June 15 — This year there has been an upswing in student and teacher activism against school cut-backs at a high school here. A combination of anger over the cuts plus talk with students about fighting back has sparked a militant spirit among many students and teachers, one absent for many years on this campus. The fact that these cuts affect a predominantly black and Latino student body reveals their racist nature.

The school bosses fired a veteran English teacher and, having no intention of hiring another teacher, rotated substitute teachers in and out of the class every day. With no curriculum, students created their own lesson plan: using the wasted time in class to make protest posters and organize a rally and walkout.

The following day, about 30 students walked out of class during 2nd period, the one used to calculate the average daily attendance. As students streamed out they chanted to bring back the fired teacher.

Students held their ground throughout the period and into the next one. Then 40 more students joined the rally. A few teachers, including a PL’er, stood nearby to show solidarity with the protest. As the rally grew, administrators became increasingly worried and sent cops to threaten students with $500 fines. Most students then returned to class.

Back in the classroom students told their stories: about how the media refused to cover the event and how administrators made threatening and degrading remarks to individual students. The rest of the day we discussed how the budget cuts would bring even more layoffs and the need for more student fight-back.  For the first time many students began to see the real impact of the cuts on the school as well as their own power to fight the cuts.

The challenge since the walkout has been to maintain this heightened level of struggle and student confidence in their power to make change. Even though the teacher was not rehired, it was a learning experience showing the potential to build a movement against the cuts and eventually for communism, a system without profiteers.

In the following weeks, the level of fight-back has been uneven.  While activity died down after the walkout, several faculty and students have participated in off-campus rallies and demonstrations opposing the cuts. Primarily the liberal teacher unions and other liberal misleaders, with the explicit message of “voting for change,” have led these actions.

At one rally, the local teachers’ union organizers held up signs displaying the phone numbers of congressmen. They told the crowd right then and there to call “their” legislators to “save our schools.” Instead of phoning these political phonies, PL’ers and our friends began chanting, “No cuts, no way! Make the bosses pay!” Soon the entire crowd joined our chant and, in order to save face, even the union misleaders did so.

As this school year ends, several faculty are being laid off or placed in “excess” pools from which their hiring is questionable. At a final faculty meeting, a PL teacher publically denounced all the layoffs in the entire school district, pointing out to those in attendance that they may not have a job next year, saying we should hold the administration and school board accountable.

While many teachers agreed with this speech, very few said so publically. The fear that these fascist cut-backs bring is evident; the majority of teachers are afraid to simply talk about the cuts for fear of losing their jobs.  This is the paralyzing grip of fascism, a fear forcing one to accept worse and worse conditions, and bite the bullet one more year, even as everyone around you is being laid off. This grim reality means we must re-double our efforts. Despite heightened levels of fight-back throughout this school year, there is still much work to be done.

PL’ers and the new friends we’ve made are planning to continue the struggle into the summer with a study group to discuss the relationship of the cuts to capitalism and imperialism. As was revealed during the struggle, the ruling class’s inexorable drive to finance its imperialist wars is behind the constant cuts in budgets allotted to workers’ and students’ needs, especially for blacks and Latinos. We will make these connections by showing CHALLENGE to more people and developing CHALLENGE study groups out of these summer groups.

In order to raise the level of class struggle even higher, we must do more to involve parents and win more students and faculty to a spirit of unity and fight-back like never before. This will enhance our ability to recruit them to the Party.J

 

 

Racist Philly Cops Murder Unarmed Black Youth

PHILADELPHIA, June 15 — On May 9, a racist Philadelphia cop murdered a 19-year-old unarmed black worker, Albert D. “Audi” Purnell, Jr. This young man was shot in cold blood after he had followed police orders and raised his hands in the air and surrendered. He was shot in front of a number of witnesses. The KKKops claimed he had a gun and “fit the description” of a suspect they were searching for. The witnesses have all declared that the police murdered him.

Audi’s father, Albert Purnell, Sr., a hospital worker and friend of PLP, and his mother Tracey are demanding justice for their murdered son. Hahnemann hospital workers are mad as hell and supporting this struggle against the racist cops.

Audi had just graduated from high school and begun working in the mechanical engineering section of the Department of Welfare. He was the father of a young daughter whom he loved dearly. He was on his way to visit his fiancé and their daughter when he was killed. The police and district attorney are doing everything they can to cover up this racist murder, including arresting and trying to intimidate the witnesses and seizing any video surveillance cameras in the area. They’re refusing to reveal the names of the cops and other details of the investigation.

Since this police murder, they have shot seven more black men in Philadelphia, including a SEPTA bus driver. PL members, along with their friends among the hospital workers, are taking an active part in the growing movement against this racist police terror. (More details in future issues.)J

 

 

 

Palestine: Racist Israeli Rulers Steal Workers’ Land

AL-WALAJA, EAST JERUSALEM, June 8 — A group of PL’ers visited the village of al-Walaja guided by a village council member. The village is near the Har Giloh neighborhood and the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), and is home to 2,600 workers in Palestine. There is a separation wall between the village and its fields. There is a separate entry gate for Israeli settlers to al-Walaja and Beit Jallah. These settlers from Susya occasionally come to attack the village – to close the water line, poison the vegetation or burn trees. Across the apartheid-style “separation” wall, there is a new Israeli settlement called “Givat Yael”; this is the Zionist dream of “Greater Jerusalem”  — stealing land all over the place.

Until the wall was built in April 2010, al-Walaja was open to Jerusalem. It is still relatively easy to get to al-Walaja from the Knesset, but when the wall is completed, access will be permitted only through an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoint.

There is also a bridge connecting Giloh to the Israeli settlements, which can only be used by Jews. Last year, this was brought to court because it was built on private Palestinian land. Its racist exclusion of Palestinian vehicles could not be justified by “security” excuses.  The main reason it exists is to freeze Palestinian land development and push Palestinians away from their homes by making their lives intolerable.

One third of al-Walaja’s houses were demolished or heavily fined due to alleged “construction permit violations!” Half of the village is within Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction, while the other half is controlled by the IDF’s “Civil” Administration. The residents of al-Walaja have Palestinian IDs and thus no civil rights under Israeli law, despite the fact that they could prove that they lived on their lands since before the 1948 war. Al-walaja needs two schools, but in practice there is only one. The infrastructure is also terrible.

The only solution is the dictatorship of the proletariat worldwide. In a communist state, workers will receive according to need and work together to build a better future for everyone. The capitalist racist Israeli regime is colonial by definition: it enforces the exploitation and division of the working class, both Jews and Arabs. Therefore, it must be replaced by communist workers’ state.

Libya Invasion Exposes Obama’s Turn to Fascism, Dogfight in U.S. Ruling Class

Centralization of power — military, political and economic — is a hallmark of fascism, the deadly necessary tool capitalists employ when they can no longer hide behind the façade of “democracy.” Obama’s Libya power grab reflects desperate efforts by the dominant — but embattled — imperialist wing of U.S. bosses to retain its grip on foreign policy. One aim of fascism is for the dominant capitalists — who must protect the long-range survival of their system — to discipline those bosses who are only out for immediate profits and disregard how negatively that might impact the system in the long run.

But Obama’s masters have a big problem. The U.S. is a big country, made up of many competing capitalists with competing interests. All employ politicians in Washington. The biggest bosses, such as the Rockefeller-bloc — owners of imperialist firms like Exxon, JP Morgan and GE — require the U.S. war machine to guard and help expand their far-flung operations. Liberal Democrats, including Obama, as well as a number of interventionist Republicans, serve them.

War-maker Obama Must Skirt Polarized, Partisan Congress

Seeking to turn part of the Arab Spring into a Khadafy-free oil free-for-all on behalf of Big Oil, U.S.-led NATO has conducted over 4,300 air strikes so far in Libya. One, on June 17, killed seven civilians. Yet Obama insists this bloodshed does not amount to “hostilities” under the War Powers Act and thus needs no Congressional consent.

In 1973, when their Vietnam genocide was failing and masses of workers and GI’s were turning against this imperialist invasion, U.S. rulers cooked up this Act in order to blame the war on Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon personally rather than on U.S. bosses’ need to counter their then rising state capitalist rivals in the Soviet Union and China. The Act’s purpose was also to put a “democratic” face on future U.S. wars by demanding Congress approve a president’s military action within 90 days. After all, the bosses’ Big Lie goes, Congress “represents the whole nation,” even though it is mostly a ruling class rubber stamp. But today Obama claims a license to kill without a thumbs-up from either Senate or House.

Oil-based Domestic Splits Sharpening

But some businesses, like Koch Oil, have primarily a short-range, domestic focus. Koch’s main push today is to build a pipeline from Canada’s burgeoning oil and gas tar fields that will connect with its existing Minnesota line. It runs through the district that Koch-backed, Tea Party presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann represents on Capitol Hill. Opposing Obama’s War Powers move, she told ABC News (6/19/11) the U.S. has “no vital national interest” in Libya. In addition, smaller business owners, seeking tax relief as a way out of the current recession, bankrolled successful anti-Obama, Tea Party candidates for Congress in 2011.

Obama also faces less ideologically consistent Republican opportunists, like front-runner Mitt Romney, trying to cash in on mass anti-war sentiment. His calls for “bringing the troops home,” designed to defeat Obama, echo Obama’s own fake 2008 campaign “peace” appeals aimed at Bush, Jr., designed to capitalize on mass disgust with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

U.S.-led Alliances Faltering

However much they need it, the main, imperialist U.S. rulers have been unable — since 1941 — to unite Congress to declare war. Similar dysfunction besets them internationally. Retiring Pentagon chief Robert Gates spent a good deal of his worldwide farewell tour berating NATO “allies” for not ponying up in troops, money or supplies. Germany, for example, chiefly dependent on Russian energy, is sitting out the mainly U.S., British and French slaughter in Libya. Washington’s NATO funding, moaned Gates in a recent speech in Belgium, has soared from a one-half to three-quarters share.

As for Libya in particular, Gates said, “While every alliance member voted for the Libya mission, less than half have participated at all, and fewer than a third have been willing to participate in the strike mission.” (Defense Department, 6/10/11) And Gates wasn’t even talking about potentially necessary invasions of Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia — in the latter’s case to protect Exxon’s oil — in which “allies” have divergent oil and gas interests and therefore different levels of loyalty to Washington.

But U.S. Rulers’ Need for World War Persists

A week later in Singapore, however, formerly pessimistic Gates chirped merrily in a veiled way about a possible allied World War III victory over potential imperialist enemies: “[W]hen America is willing to lead the way; when we meet our commitments and stand with our allies, even in troubling times; when we prepare for threats that are on the ground and on the horizon, and even beyond the horizon; and when we make the necessary sacrifices and take the necessary risks to defend our values and our interests — then great things are possible, and even probable for our country, this region, and the world.” Who might be “on or beyond the horizon” but Chinese and Russian imperialists?

To survive amid intensifying rivalry, U.S. capitalists will do what they can and must to keep profits flowing. This mean widening wars of every kind, accompanied by an increasing police-state crackdown in the U.S. A principal face of fascism is evident in U.S. bosses’ need to intensify the squeeze on U.S. workers to pay for these wars through wage-cuts and speed-up, employing less workers to produce more; through huge budget cuts in social services; through fending off possible resistance by the tens of millions of unemployed; through the maintenance of racism in all these areas to extract super-profits from black, Latino and immigrant workers; and through the exploitation of workers worldwide to keep U.S. capitalism afloat.

The international working class’s survival, then, depends on building one united international communist party — PLP — that can function under conditions of war and fascism with the aim of overthrowing the murdering billionaire class. It is towards this goal that PLP members throughout the world must build our Party in every area of class struggle in which we are involved.

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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.

U.S. Imperialism Attacks Rival Terrorist

The U.S. ruling class killing of Osama bin Laden — who was trained by the CIA (see box p. 2) — does nothing to help the international working class. It won’t stop one budget cut. It won’t let up on the attacks on workers’ wages and pensions worldwide. And it certainly won’t provide a single job for the 30 million unemployed in the U.S.

Firstly, it only increases the wasting of workers’ lives in a U.S. war zone that now stretches from Pakistan to Libya. Secondly, U.S. rulers will use it to intensify racism against Muslims in general and especially workers from Pakistan, as well as against immigrants. Thirdly, it is being used to foster extreme patriotic nationalism on behalf of U.S. bosses among the U.S. population.

Emboldened by their Abbottabad “triumph,” Obama & Co. are stepping up slaughter in Pakistan. On May 6, a CIA drone killed 15 people, some civilians, in North Waziristan.

Meanwhile, bin Laden’s death spurs retaliation by his Taliban allies. On May 7, with a string of suicide bombings, they launched a “spring offensive” for Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second biggest city and a future site along the pipeline U.S. oil interests want to build from Central Asia. And on May 8, a Baghdad prison revolt left 18 guards and inmates dead, including a senior commander of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

Obama’s Hit on Bin Laden Could Backfire

Worse bloodshed awaits if bin Laden becomes a martyr, an anti-U.S. rallying focus throughout the turbulent Arab world. Obama’s hit on bin Laden could backfire into a “redirection of the Arab Spring… turning against the West,” worries Ed Husain of the Rockefeller-led Council on Foreign Relations. (CFR website, 5/4/)

The Exxon Mobil/JP Morgan Chase wing of U.S. imperialists bankrolling CFR can’t afford any further slippage in its control of the region’s energy supplies. They showed no hesitation to intervene militarily in Libya, a secondary oil source. Imagine how violently U.S. bosses would respond to a pro-bin Laden uprising in his homeland, Saudi Arabia, oil’s grand prize.

Grave dangers of wider war also arise from the nuclear Pakistani bosses’ open hostility to U.S. imperialism, laid bare by their harboring of bin Laden. Anthony Cordesman, a leading U.S. policy planer now embedded at the Rockefeller-funded Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), warned:

“As the events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden make all too clear, Pakistan is passing through one of the most dangerous periods of instability in its history. This instability goes far beyond al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the war in Afghanistan….[T]hese broad patterns of violence in Pakistan have serious implications for Pakistan’s future, for regional stability, and for core U.S. interests.” (CSIS website, 5/4)

Ever since President Jimmy Carter’s war doctrine, “core interests” has been a code for oil and gas.

Pakistan A Loose Cannon in Future Global Conflict

Bin Laden-loving Pakistani bosses have the A-Bomb and a military 1.4-million strong. The country straddles key energy supply routes from the Persian Gulf and Caspian regions to burgeoning India and China. Pakistan’s generals, despite billions in U.S. aid, have not aligned decisively with Washington in matters relative to coming regional and global conflicts.

Pakistani ruler’s cooperation with U.S.-led NATO operations in Afghanistan becomes less supportive by the day. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s prime minister Gilani “looks forward to upgrade our status as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as soon as possible.” (Daily Times [Pakistan], 11/26/10) China and Russia lead the anti-U.S. SCO. Loose cannon Pakistan encompasses both the U.S.-proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline (through Kandahar) and the directly competing Iran-Pakistan-India project.

War-Bent U.S. Liberal Rulers Boost ‘U-S-A’ Blood Lust

Wishful thinking about militarizing masses for larger U.S. wars pervades liberal media coverage of anti-bin Laden celebrations. Drunken frat boys (almost all white) and racist cops shouting “U-S-A,” won’t win workers to the army recruiting offices.

However, the New York Times, U.S. liberal imperialists’ leading daily mouthpiece, hopes they can. The Times (5/8) trotted out a pro-war University of Virginia professor, Jonathan Haidt, to say, “Last week’s celebrations were good and healthy….In the communal joy of last week, many of us felt, for an instant, that Americans might still be capable of working together to meet threats and challenges far greater than Osama bin Laden.”

Clinton’s Hart-Rudman Commission determined that it would take a “Pearl Harbor-style attack on U.S. soil” to mobilize the public for the anti-Arab/Islamic oil wars needed by faltering U.S. rulers. The latter want to win the working class to even greater patriotic loyalty to their war plans, especially if any possible future al Qaeda attack should occur.

On May 1st, the day bin Laden died, our Party celebrated May Day, International Workers’ Day, not with class-betraying patriotism to the bosses but by organizing for communist revolution, both in Pakistan (see article p. 1) and across the globe (see inside pages) that will ultimately bury the war-making billionaires and their agents forever.

Yes He Did: Obama Brings Racist Attacks on Workers to a Whole New Level For Capitalist Rulers

Obama Sets New Record in Racist Deportations

As part of the ruling class’ plan to step up racist terror against all workers President Obama, the first President of the so called “post-racial” era, has set a goal of deporting 400,000 immigrant workers in 2010, an all time high. And if all goes according to plan they expect to be able to deport 700,000 immigrants annually by 2013.[i] This increase in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) terror represents a steady trend over the last eight years that has seen spending on immigration enforcement increase by 132% and deportations increase by 142%. In real numbers that adds up to over 2.6 million racist deportations, two thirds of which (1.7 million) were non-criminal deportations.[ii]

Representing the clearest form of American style fascism these raids are designed to intimidate Latin workers, both documented and undocumented, in order to drive down wages and further disorganize the working class. In one brazen example of the anti-working class nature of these raids ICE thugs raided the Smithfield Pork Plant in 2007 after workers began an organizing drive in the plant. In order to drive the point home, seven months later they raided the local neighborhoods.[iii]

Since then workplace and neighborhood raids have become common events. In 2008 ICE started raiding grocery stores in Latin neighborhoods in Texas checking both workers and shoppers’ IDs. In 2010 all the McDonalds Restaurants in the Phoenix area became targets of ICE raids.[iv] Local Neo-Nazi Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who regularly does neighborhood immigration sweeps, was responsible for the raids. Prior to the March Washington DC immigration protest in 2010 Obama had DC area restaurants and neighborhoods raided by ICE to intimidate the Latin community. Says one worker swept up in the raid, “For five years all I did was work. I came suffering, and I leave suffering.”[v]

Deadly Immigration Prisons

ICE holds around 32,000 immigrants in prison at any one time to await deportation. They use 363 detention sites across the country to handle their massive prisoner load. In January of 2009 of the 32,000 inmates 18,690 had no prior criminal conviction. With no judge to appeal to and nothing forcing authorities to press charges, immigrants can remain in these prisons for a very long time. During that same period in January nearly 10,000 inmates had been in prison for more than 31 days (which ICE considers the standard turnaround), 400 had been there for more than a year, 12 for at least three years, and one Chinese man had been there for over five years![vi]

Conditions in these prisons were described by a 2009 Amnesty International report as beyond the bounds of international human rights standards and far short of official ICE guidelines.[vii] Despite the fact that most prisoners are non-criminal offenders inmates are handcuffed and shackled and forced into overcrowded cells. After an ICE raid those slated for deportation could be shipped off to any number of prisons all over the country. Frequently a thousand miles from their homes inmates are not given immediate rights to a phone call or a lawyer sometimes leaving their families not knowing where they are for months.[viii]

There have been many complaints filed regarding the non-existent medical care available at these facilities. The New York Times reported that between October of 2003 and January of 2010 107 people died in ICE prisons. ICE officials worked overtime to cover up the details and circumstances of these deaths since many were due to abuse and lack of access to medical care.[ix]

In 2007 Guinean immigrant Boubacar Bah suffered an unexplained severe head trauma while imprisoned by ICE in New Jersey. Guards left Bah in an isolation cell for 13 hours before finally calling an ambulance. At the hospital Bah slipped into a coma and several days later eventually died. While he was still in a coma ICE officials discussed deporting him back to Guinea to avoid unnecessary questions about his condition. Later that same year an investigation into the death of Salvadoran immigrant Nery Romero revealed that he had committed suicide because of unbearable, untreated pain after ICE guards refused to administer his doctor prescribed painkillers. Hiu Lui Ng, a Chinese immigrant, would die from cancer while in ICE custody in 2008 after being repeatedly denied medical treatment that left his cancer undiagnosed.[x]

Many pregnant women rounded up in ICE raids are given no pre-natal care. In Arizona pregnant women are shackled to their beds during and after childbirth. Many don’t even find out what happened to their children until days after giving birth and are not allowed to nurse them until many months later. In 2008 Alma Chacón gave birth while both her hands and feet were shackled to the bed. She was unable to nurse or even hold her child for another 70 days after the birth. Another immigrant woman, Miriam Mendiola-Martinez, who gave birth in ICE custody in 2009 reports being shackled and left to wait in a small unventilated room with 20 other women as she awaited her pre-natal appointments. In the final two months of her pregnancy she had to sit on the floor because of the weight of the chains. She reports weeping frequently afraid that her sadness might hurt the baby.[xi]

The Militarized U.S.-Mexico Border

The intense drive to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border began with the Liberal Jimmy Carter. With the excuse that he was “protecting American jobs” he proposed to double the size of the Border Patrol and build the “Carter Curtain,” a wall separating San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico. During the Reagan and Bush Administrations the Border Patrol budgets were continuously inflated while Latin workers were demonized. Under Liberal leader Bill Clinton the ruling class launched Operation Gatekeeper which tripled the Border Patrol budget in five years and led to the construction of border walls in key cities.

The increased presence of Border Patrol agents and the creation of no-man’s lands in border cities forced Latin immigrants to try and cross through the deserts of the Southwest. According to an ACLU investigation the policies of Operation Gatekeeper led to the deaths of over 5,000 immigrants between 1994 and 2009.[xii] Various anti-racist groups have tried to mitigate some of the danger of this journey by placing water jugs in the desert for traveling migrant workers. Border Patrol agents and Minuteman fascists have aided in the murder of thousands of workers by slashing and emptying these life saving water jugs. During a particularly hot July in 2010 the Pima County morgue had to bring in a refrigerated truck to handle its overflow as it received an astonishing 59 immigrant bodies. It was the worst month for immigrant deaths in Pima County since July of 2006 when they found 68 dead in Pima’s deserts.[xiii]

The militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border has rapidly increased under Bush II and Obama. In July of 2010 Obama sent 1,200 National Guard soldiers to patrol the border. A month later he signed a $600 million bill to deploy 1,500 new Border Patrol agents and other police officers on the border as well as two drone aircraft.[xiv]

In the four years since the Secure Fence Act of 2006 the authorities have built 646 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence ranges between 15 and 20 feet high and has patrol roads paralleling it for Border Patrol vehicles to cruise.[xv] The fence has been criticized by many as a waste of money that does little to stem immigrant traffic across the border, but it should be understood that its real purpose goes far beyond stopping immigration. The fence stands as a visible symbol of the racist nationalism pushed by the U.S. ruling class. Its goal is to impress on workers’ minds a mentality of “us vs. them.”

Anti-Immigrant Hysteria Builds Deadly Racism

The anti-immigrant hysteria that has been stoked by the media and politicians to support the massive ICE terror operation has predictably led to increases in anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hate groups and violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found that between 2003-2007 when CNN’s Lou Dobbs began his racist anti-immigrant rants that hate crimes against Latin workers increased by 40%! The SPLC also found that between 2008-2009 that the number of “Patriot groups” in the U.S. increased by 244%![xvi] These racist hate groups have strong anti-immigrant agendas and count among their more infamous members Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

This increase in racism and violence has been encouraged by a racist criminal justice system that does not view the murder of Latin workers as a crime. Four teens who brutally beat to death 25 year old Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA in 2008 while shouting racist slurs only received misdemeanor assault and violation of civil rights convictions.[xvii] A month later when Jeffrey Conroy, a Long Island teen who liked to go “Mexican hopping” with his friends, stabbed to death Marcelo Lucero he was acquitted of murder charges and received only a first degree manslaughter conviction.[xviii] During the trial it came out that Conroy and his friends had regularly engaged in racist attacks on Latin workers. Between April and August of 2010 there were 11 different racist attacks on Latin workers in Port Richmond on Staten Island, NY. These attacks were fostered by capitalists who pit poor black workers against poor Latin immigrants and by police who cynically used the attacks to intensify their fascist police presence in Port Richmond.[xix]

In May of 2010 Seattle police brutally beat a Latino man while shouting racist epithets only stopping when they realized it was not the guy they were looking for.[xx] Despite the incident being videotaped no charges were filed against the officers. Later that month Border Patrol agents murdered Anastasio Hernandez with a taser in San Diego.[xxi] In June a Border Patrol agent in El Paso, TX shot and killed 15 year old Sergio Huereka while he stood on the Mexican side of the border.[xxii] INS has shown no intention of investigating or charging any of these officers.

New Arizona Law Connected to White Power Movement

On July 29, 2010 Arizona put its racist immigration law SB 1070 into effect. The law obligates all law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of every person they stop and anyone deemed “suspicious” of being in the country illegally. Given the law’s blatant modeling of American fugitive slave laws and Nazi “race hygiene” laws, it should come as no surprise that it was crafted by a member of the white power movement.

Kris Kobach, the author of SB 1070, is a lawyer for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a group that the SPLC classifies as a hate group. FAIR gets its primary funding from the racist Pioneer Fund a group that funds research into “scientific” racism and eugenics.[xxiii] FAIR founder and current board member John Tanton has written that, “for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” FAIR president Dan Stein has crudely claimed that immigrants are engaged in “competitive breeding” aimed at diminishing the white majority.[xxiv]

The racism of FAIR is matched by those who have come out to support the law. Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce who sponsored SB 1070 has a long history with the white power movement. In 2006 he forwarded an email from the Neo-Nazi group the National Alliance titled “Who Rules America?” The article criticized what it saw as anti-racist multi-culturalism in the media and espoused a belief in Holocaust denial. Pearce has also been photographed hugging Pheonix resident and member of the Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) JT Ready.[xxv]

JT Ready and his NSM thugs have taken Arizona’s recent legislation as an invitation to heighten their racist attacks on Latin workers. The group has been going on armed patrols of the Arizona border where they hold immigrant workers at gun point. One of the members of Ready’s group, Harry Hughes, has a history of racist violence against Latin workers. He has advocated murdering Latinos in order to scare others out of neighborhoods and even shot the dog of his Latin neighbors in order to intimidate them.[xxvi]

Now that the Obama Administration has challenged SB 1070 in court various hate groups from all over the country have begun to donate money to Arizona’s legal defense fund. Stormfront.org, the oldest and largest white power site on the internet, has even begun a fundraising campaign for Arizona.[xxvii]

Obama’s challenge to the Arizona law should not be seen as any victory for anti-racism, however. As shown above Obama is as dedicated to the racist ICE system as any other president. The administration’s challenge of the Arizona law is a jurisdictional one that hopes to keep the racist immigration terror in the hands of ICE and not the states. The legal challenge also helps to paint Obama as the good guy while he tries to shove through the equally racist DREAM Act.

Capitalism Needs Immigration

Under capitalism money and those that control it are free to travel all over the world to find workers to exploit. Only the working class is bound within national borders and severely punished for moving to find work. Capitalists control national borders as a way to control the working class. Immigration laws are used to create the deadly racism that pits one worker against another.

In the U.S. the first effort to control the border on the part of the ruling class came in the form of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.[xxviii] A deliberate act of extreme racism, the law was less effective in stemming Chinese immigration than it was in breeding an atmosphere of hatred around Asian immigrant communities. This law created the conditions that allowed bosses to keep Asian workers in virtual slavery as railroad workers and miners on the west coast.

All over the world capitalists use racist immigration laws for the same purposes. In France the target is workers from Northern Africa, in Germany it is Turkish workers, in China it is workers from South East Asia. In all cases these laws are used to drive these populations further underground and make them easier to exploit. The end result is a divided working class and super-profits for the bosses as they use anti-immigrant racism to drive down all wages.

Capitalists punish immigrant workers, but it is capitalists who create the conditions that require workers to search the globe for work. What is called underdevelopment is not an original historical condition but a product of imperialism’s super exploitation.[xxix] It was European imperialism that destroyed the economies of Africa with over 200 years of theft. Yet now the European countries complain of the migration of African workers looking to escape mass poverty at home by going to Europe. 500 years of European and American imperialism in Latin America has created the enduring poverty that affects millions of workers there.

The mass immigration of Latin workers to the U.S. began 30 years ago as U.S. trained and funded death squads terrorized people in Central America and Colombia and U.S. sponsored neo-liberal economic policies destroyed local economies. The 1994 NAFTA agreement that the U.S. crafted instantly destroyed millions of Mexican farmers’ livelihoods by dumping heavily subsidized American corn into Mexican markets. The subsequent mass immigration was met with tightening immigration laws under Clinton and a marked increase in anti-immigrant racism.[xxx]

Obama’s DREAM Act is a Racist Nightmare for Workers

The Obama Administration has tried to use the controversy over the Arizona law to build support for its own Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). The bill known as the DREAM Act allows for students between 12 and 35 at the time the law is enacted and who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and graduated from an American high school to apply for a temporary citizenship. This citizenship is granted for six years during which time the person must either acquire a college degree, be enrolled in a college pursuing a bachelor’s degree for at least two years in good standing, or have committed to at least two years of military service.

Immigrant students typically come from the poorest sections of the working class and with Pell Grants and other federal financial aid cut off for immigrant students and most scholarships requiring proof of citizenship the ability to attend a four year university where the average yearly cost is $14,000 (at state schools!) is an impossible dream.[xxxi] With college cut off as a legitimate option for most immigrant youth the military becomes the only realistic option. This of course is not unplanned. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) commented in 2007 to the Army Times, “Under the DREAM Act, tens of thousands of well-qualified potential recruits would become eligible for military service for the first time. They are eager to serve in the armed forces during a time of war.”[xxxii]

The targeting of Latin immigrants by military recruiters dates back to 2003 and the Bush Administration. At that time the Pentagon made a plan to boost the number of Latinos in the military from 10% to 22%.[xxxiii] Four years later the Defense Department helped craft the DREAM Act as a conscious bid to boost the military’s still sagging recruitment numbers. A 2009 study by the RAND operated National Defense Research Institute again emphasized the recruitment of Latin youth as the key to meeting recruitment goals.[xxxiv]

The DREAM Act has other problematic features as well. Anybody wishing to apply to receive possible benefits from the Act will have to voluntarily turn themselves in to authorities permanently marking them as subject to arrest and deportation.[xxxv] For high school age kids who are seeking temporary citizenship status to attend college this means exposing the immigration status of their parents and family and making them subject to arrest.

Perhaps the least known fact about the DREAM Act is the extremely small percentage of the immigrant population that will even be eligible for citizenship through it. Of an estimated population of 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. only 2.1 million (19%) would be eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act according to a study from the Migration Policy Institute. And of that 2.1 million the MPI estimates that only 825,000 would actually be able to achieve full legal status.[xxxvi] That amounts to only 7.4% of the total population of undocumented immigrants!

Anti-Immigrant Laws an Attack on All Workers

Racist terror has been the preferred weapon of choice for the U.S. ruling class in its struggle to keep workers divided and oppressed. Immigration laws are designed to terrorize not just immigrant workers but all workers of color who now have to fear being beaten or murdered by racist thugs or rounded up by the police. The racist intentions of the new anti-immigrant laws are barely concealed. A new law being discussed in Arizona would target so called “anchor babies” criminalizing children born to immigrant women.[xxxvii] This law has its precedent in the 1935 Nazi Nuremberg Laws that criminalized human beings for the simple act of being born. Despite all of the “law and order” rhetoric the intention of these laws is clear as news agencies report that Latin workers are “fleeing Arizona” (the spear head of this racist terror campaign).[xxxviii]

These laws further institutionalize and intensify the fascist American police state, the most oppressive in the world with over 2.6 million prisoners. The intentions of the Obama Administration to carry out and further this organized terror were made clear when he made fascist former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (a staunch supporter of Hitlerite Joe Arpaio) the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Obama has cleverly used workers’ outrage at Arizona’s efforts to re-instate Apartheid to build support for his fascist DREAM Act; an act that is designed to force immigrants into the military to be cannon fodder for imperialist wars. The bosses’ hope that the DREAM Act will both build nationalism among immigrants while maintaining the capitalists’ carefully cultivated system of anti-immigrant racism. Obama’s actions make it clear that he wants both the DREAM Act and continued and intensifying police terror.

Workers have taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. to voice their opposition to this new Apartheid, but like Bush, Obama has shown that his allegiance lies with ruling class exploiters not workers. The truth is that racism is capitalism’s lifeline, its source of super profits and its primary weapon against the working class. Still American workers could learn from the international fight-back against anti-immigrant racism. In France a multi-racial, multi-national strike has lasted longer than eight months as workers demand citizenship rights and the end to threats of deportation.[xxxix] Migrant workers in China are leading strikes for higher wages and safer working conditions shutting down a Honda plant in Guandong and two Toyota plants in Tianjin.[xl] But these reforms will ultimately not solve workers’ problems, for workers to survive in dignity and not in fear we need an organized communist party and ultimately communist revolution!

 


[i] America’s Voice, “Obama Administration Immigration Deportations Exceed Bush’s Record,” 5/20/10; Stewart Lawrence, Counterpunch, “Obama Reneges on Key Agreement with Immigration Advocates,” 105/10.

[ii] America’s Voice.

[iii] Center for Immigration Studies, “Immigration Raids at Smithfield,” 7/09.

[iv] AP, “21 People Arrested During Immigration Raids at Area McDonalds,” 3/26/10.

[v] Washington Post, “Raids Throw Shadow Over Immigration Reform Rally,” 3/22/10.

[vi] Global Detention Project, “United States Detention Profile,” 3/09.

[vii] Amnesty International, “Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA,” 3/09.

[viii] NPR, “Fresh Air,” 12/10/09.

[ix] NYT, “Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail,” 1/10/10.

[x] NYT, “Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail,” 1/10/10; NYT, “Documents Reveal Earlier Immigrant Deaths,” 1/10/10.

[xi] New America Media, “Pregnant and Shackled: Hard Labor for Arizona’s Immigrants,” 1/26/10.

[xii] ACLU, “U.S.-Mexico Border Crossing Deaths are a Humanitarian Crisis, According to Report from ACLU and CNDH,” 9/30/09.

[xiii] NYT, “Water Drops for Migrants: Kindness, or Offense?” 9/26/10; Phoenix New Times, “Blood’s Thicker Than Water: As Thousands Die in the Arizona Desert as a Result of U.S. Border Policy, an Army of Activists Intervenes,” 2/25/10; Seattle Times, “Ariz. Desert Crossing Lures Migrants, Despite Deadly Risks,” 9/2/10.

[xiv] CBS News, “National Guard Troops Deploying to U.S.-Mexico Border August 1st,” 7/19/10; Democracy Now, “Obama Signs $600M Bill to Increase Militarization of U.S.-Mexico Border,” 8/19/10.

[xv] AP, “Fence Alone Can’t Plug Porous Border,” 5/28/10.

[xvi] NPR, “All the Rage,” 4/1/10; SPLC, “’Patriot’ Groups, Militia Surge in Numbers in Past Year,” 3/2/10.

[xvii] The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, “Confronting the New Faces of Hate: Hate Crimes in America 2009,” 6/09.

[xviii] NYT, “Guilty Verdict in the Killing of Long Island Man,” 4/19/10.

[xix] Racism Review, “Mexican Immigrants Target of Hate Crimes on Staten Island,” (updated) 8/5/10; NYT, “Attacks on Mexicans Leave Neighborhood in Turmoil,” 7/30/10; CHALLENGE, “Black and Latino Workers Unite to Defeat Bosses’ Racism,” 9/8/10.

[xx] Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Videotaped ‘Stomping’ Dominates Seattle Top Cop Selection,” 5/9/10.

[xxi] NBC San Diego, “Illegal Immigrant Shot with Taser Dies,” 6/1/10.

[xxii] MSNBC, “Mexico Slams Border Patrol Shooting of Teen,” 6/10/10.

[xxiii] SPLC, “Hate Group Lawyer Drafted Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law,” 4/28/10; PLP Pamphlet, “Racism, Intelligence, and the Working Class,” February, 1995.

[xxiv] SPLC.

[xxv] Ibid.

[xxvi] SPLC, “Neo-Nazi Official Patrolling Arizona Border Lauds Violence,” 7/29/10.

[xxvii] SPLC, “Hate Groups Donate to Arizona Law’s Defense,” 7/13/10.

[xxviii] See Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate: Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act.

[xxix] Confronting the myth of “underdevelopment” social critic Michael Parenti notes, “The lands of Asia, Africa, and Latin America have long produced great treasures of foods, minerals and other natural resources. That is why the Europeans went through all the trouble to steal and plunder them. One does not go to poor places for self-enrichment. The Third World is rich. Only its people are poor—and it is because of the pillage they have endured.” Michael Parenti, Against Empire, (San Francisco: City Light Books, 1995), p 7.

[xxx] See David Bacon, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants; Mike Davis, Planet of Slums.

[xxxi] The Huffington Post, “The Average Cost of College: How Much Is It?”  8/25/10.

[xxxii] Army Times, “Bill Would Grant Citizenship for Service,” 7/16/07.

[xxxiii] The Independent (UK), “Pentagon Targets Latinos and Mexicans to Man the Front Lines in War on Terror,” 9/10/03.

[xxxiv] UCSD Professor Jorge Mariscal quoted in the documentary Yo Soy El Army; RAND National Defense Research Institute, “Military Enlistment of Hispanic Youth: Obstacles and Opportunities,” 2009.

[xxxv] CHALLENGE Supplement, “Racism – Capitalism’s Key Strategy to Maximize Profits and Divide Working Class Then and Now,” 6/23/10.

[xxxvi] Washington Post, “Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. Drops, Report Says,” 9/1/10; Migration Policy Institute, “DREAM vs. Reality: An Analysis of Potential DREAM Act Beneficiaries,” 7/10.

[xxxvii] Time Magazine, “Arizona’s Next Immigration Target: Children of Illegals,” 6/11/10.

[xxxviii] USA Today, “Hispanics Flee Arizona Ahead of Immigration Law,” 6/9/10.

[xxxix] Challenge, “End Nears for Undocumented Immigrants’ Anti-Racist Strike,” 7/7/10.

[xl] TV Asahi (Japan), “Labor Demands Rising in China After Honda Strike,” 6/15/10; Business Week, “Strike Hits Toyota’s China Production as Honda Workers Return,” 6/19/10.

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