Category Archives: PLP History

World War Due to Syria?

If there is one thing that the civil war in Syria has shown the world is that when the bosses have a disagreement, it is the workers who do the dying. For a quick rundown of who is fighting whom in Syria, click on this link.

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Hundreds of thousands of workers in Syria have been murdered by the bosses’ bombs, due to their rotten ideology, their sectarian divisions manufactured by their borders, and the millions of bullets that they have made billions in selling. PLP has pointed out that this civil war in Syria has been a proxy war between the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and other Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) nations in order to loosen Russia’s natural gas grip over Europe, control the natural gas mega field in the Eastern Mediterranean, and block Iran’s influence in the area. The millions of refugees created by this imperialist adventure are now being used as a political lever by Turkey as Erdogan does his best Gollum impersonation over his precious neo-Ottoman empire expansion into Syria using hoards and hoards of Islamist, mostly Al Qaeda aligned, rebel groups. He is tired of his nation being the ottoman of Europe.

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Over 60% of Europe’s natural gas market is dominated by Russia, and the US is desperate to break this stranglehold that keeps them from absolute economic sanctions against Russia. This civil war is a classic example of category of dialectical imperialism known as appearance and essence. It appears to be, and is manipulated to look like by the bosses’ media, a civil war between a tin pot dictator and rebels trying to overthrow him, but it is really an imperialist proxy war between different major nations that is now spinning out of control.

 

Basically, the US supported Kurdish and Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are now getting Russian Close Air Support (CAS) to fight the CIA vetted and armed moderate opposition that are also tactically aligned with both Al Qaeda and Turkey after the Assad Regime seized territory in northern Syria to cut off the supply lines that the CIA and Turkey were using to pump weapons and jihadis into the conflict. Turkey played a dangerous game and is now in the process of losing it. The worst moment in the history of France was when Germany formed out of the Germanic tribes that Europe had enjoyed using mercenaries in their militaries since the Roman Empire. When Germany rose, it was an existential threat to the social order where England and France’s military might vied to be the preeminent power in Northern Europe.

 

As Germany rose, it challenged the already divided world and its ambitions led to the conflagration that was supposed to be the Great War to end all wars, but is now just reduced to World War I. Turkey is now staring down that historical moment. An autonomous Kurdish zone, colloquially known as “Rojava”, has formed just south of Turkey’s border as the leftist People’s Protection Units (YPG), the group that is the heart of the SDF, whipped the snot out of the Daesh (Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL) fascists who were hoping to massacre them. Though there are progressive aspects of the YPG that PLP does support such as fighting against patriarchy, they are not Communist and will not be able to sustain a revolution that will transform social relationships through the transformation of the economic relationships. The YPG illustrates the contradiction that unless there is a proper political line fighting directly for Communism, they will eventually end up back in the pit of capitalist ideology and relationships. Just as the PLP did not unreservedly support the brave workers who fought imperialism in Vietnam, we will not uncritically support the YPG and their Rojava project. We will point out that their struggle is just as doomed to the quagmire of capitalism as Vietnam’s left-led struggle National Liberation.

 

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As Kurdish Rojava rises to their southern border, Turkey sees them as more of a threat than the Daesh’s genocidal death cult and has actually embedded their special forces in with the Jihadi groups now infiltrating into Northern Syria as they are just wantonly firing artillery into the Kurdish controlled areas as the Kurds are fighting the “moderate” CIA vetted rebels that have no problem wiping out whole villages of Shia and Al Awari that don’t worship their deity the way that they want to in the name of their Sunni sectarianism.

 

We are at a historical moment now where the imperialists can either take their losses and leave Syria to a Russian victory – a Russian victory that is going to allow them to take on the mantle of being the army that has defeated Jihadi forces in the Middle East, that has helped to shove a massive thorn into the side of Turkey, and that will allow for them to keep an expanding military presence in an area of the world that is strategically vital to the US’s empire. Turkey and SA have threatened to invade Syria to ostensibly fight Daesh, but this excuse will be a military excursion in order to keep Rojava from uniting across the entirety of Turkey’s border. The US has been arming and funding the YPG in their fight against the Daesh death cult, now Russia is providing CAS, and the regime’s forces are not engaging them as they have worked out some type of de facto non-aggression pact.

 

When the “Arab Spring” happened, PLP pointed out that none of the groups fighting against their own tin pot dictators had the correct political line of fighting directly for communism and that the struggle would be hijacked. Well, once again we were right as the struggle in Syria led to the rebels making tactical alliances with Islamicists that have now rendered any secular struggle within the Western-backed rebels impotent. Since the rebellion in Syria did not have the correct goals at the outset, it’s now fully apparent that they have betrayed the working class in Syria and now Turkey is trying to stave off the endgame of them being crushed. They have been complaining about being abandoned by their Western backers like the US, but they have also aligned themselves with groups like Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda in Syria.

 

The Western backed rebels aren’t the first group of rebels trying to overthrow a tyrant that became tyrants as they made opportunist errors based on their incorrect political line. They made a deal with the devil, and now they are paying the price as they have basically not only lost the rebellion, but, even more importantly for a rebellion, they have lost the support of the people. Masses of workers are now meeting their former tyrant’s forces that are aligned with that despot Putin in Russia as well as the oppressive fascists in Iran with massive celebrations in the street. They are full of joy at being liberated from the liberators by their former exploiters!

 

PLP will continue to maintain a principled left position and will not be opportunist. We recognize the historical moment that is now occurring within Syria. We see the balance of forces moving in the direction opposed to the dominant US Empire and allies. We know that the US needs to create a Sunni state to block Iran’s influence and to eject Russia’s growing military might out of the area.

 

Turkey wants to expand, and as it expands, since it is a member of NATO, US power is also expanded. The issue now occurring is that Turkey has now overplayed its hand. It is now firing artillery into SDF controlled Syria, has tens of thousands of troops along the Syrian border ready to invade, and does not want the US armed and backed SDF to wipe out the US armed and backed rebels and Daesh that now control its southern border. The US is caught as two of the sides that they have supported in Syria are now at war, so they may be able to pull out some kind of diplomatic victory, but Turkey has gone all in on toppling Assad’s regime. If Turkey is unable to topple Assad, that’s bad, but if they not only don’t topple Assad, but are then stuck with a Kurdish autonomous zone along their southern border while they continue to fight a war with the secessionist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in their south then it can be easy to foresee a time when Syria facilitates the Kurds in their armed struggle against Turkey.  This would be a catastrophe for Turkey and entail a major rollback of NATO, and by association, US power in the geostrategic region.

 

Turkey is now trying to get the US to say that the YPG is a terrorist organization just like the PKK is. It would not have been prudent, to say the least, if the US had admitted to arming, funding, and providing CAS to a terrorist organization, so they have officially said that the YPG are not a terrorist organization – much to the chagrin of their NATO ally. Turkey considers the revisionist YPG to be more of a danger than Daesh’s genocidal death cult!

 

It is historical moments like this where seemingly small wars can turn into massive world wars as imperialist rivals have the choice of either throwing in their hands and letting their rivals take all of the chips or doubling down and entering the fray themselves. Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and, most importantly, Russia have said that if Turkey or SA were to invade it would be a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and they would be going home in body bags. This is not an empty threat. Turkey shot down a Russian plane that was bombing its Islamist proxy forces in northern Syria, and Russia has not forgotten. It will, in all probability, attack any columns of troops entering into Syria. Turkey may not be able to invoke the NATO defensive pact since it would be an offensive operation. SA would use an army made up of many of its allies including Pakistan and Indonesia, who, ironically, have both said that they don’t want to invade, but may be obligated to due to signed defense pacts. If Russia were to vaporize the Turkish troops that invaded, this could be quite the spark.

 

The bosses are seeing the weakness the US has right now, a weakness where they don’t have the mass army that they need to confront their current world rivals, don’t have the patriotism necessary to induce their army to fight, and, most importantly, don’t have their own ruling class unity won to the necessary economic sacrifices necessary for such a massive war.

 

Aspirant warmongers like Bernie Sanders would prove to be quite the boon to the US ruling class as he already is saying that he wants the rich to pay more taxes. He or Hillary would be just what the dominant liberal wing of the US ruling class needs to convince its working class to wage a really big war. So, whichever Repubulocrat or Demopublican, Trump or Sanders, that wins the US presidential election will have to carry out the needs of a US empire in decline. PLP knows that imperialist bloodbaths have lead to Communist revolution in the past and knows that, as we continue to build in over 25 countries on 5 continents, we have a world to win and nothing to lose but our chains. The bosses will attempt to destroy this world, but workers built it, run it, and can build it again even better. We know that this capitalist system will not last forever. The bosses can keep conspiring again and again, but only a Communist revolution led by PLP can end these wars once and for all.

 

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PLP Wraps Up Convention

“When you see a Palestinian Arab and Jewish worker standing side by side while saying that they need to build the Party, the bosses better be scared.” This sentiment from a PLer who spent over 40 years fighting for communism was repeated and illustrated time and time again. Comrades from India and Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East, and North and South America defied the ruler’s artificial borders and got together to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of The Progressive Labor Party’s  inexorable struggle for communism.

With hundreds and hundreds of the working class gathered to teach ourselves how to fight back and to discuss our line as illustrated in “Dark Night Shall Have Its End”, the renewing joy of working class solidarity was the vibe of the day. As our Party continues to grow in country after country, continent after continent, and defy border after border, we know that another world is in birth.

The Party’s organizing in the teeth of fascism in Ferguson was directly compared to organizing in a factory in China. The PLers from China pointed out that the corrupt government controls the unions and organizations that are supposed to help the workers. He went on to say that there are no organizations in China that are on the side of the working class except for PLP. As the PLer from China was discussing how the unions sell out the workers, a PLer from the U.S. pointed out that the unions in the U.S. were also on the side of the bosses and anti-working class. This reaffirmed our line that the we the working class have the same enemy and the same fight.

PLP’s line on the necessity of armed revolution; the need to fight sexism; the struggle against nationalism and racism; the need to build the Party; and the historically unprecedented change to a collective leadership and away from a single chairman was reaffirmed to thunderous applause.

PLP was born in the struggle against revisionism and for communism in a time when it looked like revolution was on the horizon. That horizon is much further away than we thought. What other group born during that era is still around, still growing, still fighting back, and, more importantly, led and organized by a new young generation of leaders steeled in the struggle against capitalism? The simple answer is none. The reason is the principled struggle against revisionism in order to stay firmly rooted on the road to revolution.

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The Uprising in Missouri Illustrates the Need for Communism

With all that is happening in these dark days of the dark night that the working class is being brutalized under, there is a general feeling of powerlessness: the “what can I do about it?” syndrome. This passivity-bred powerlessness is vital to the interests of the ruling class. All of the massive problems facing the working class today are primarily caused by inter-imperialist rivalry. This passivity was smashed by the murder of a young man, Michael Brown, in St. Louis by the racist police. The murder of the young Missouri teen and father in Staten Island by racist pigs illustrates how before a ruling class can attack its rival ruling class, it must attack its own working class even more viciously. The purpose if these attacks is for the ruling class to discipline us in order to wage war, and this process is called fascism.
The uprising in Missouri, though inspiring, parallels the peasant uprisings that would rage like a firestorm until they were extinguished.

The killing has drawn comparisons by some civil rights leaders with the 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a Florida neighbourhood watch organiser who was acquitted of murder charges. PLP supports these rebels who are angry with the racist police, and we would have liked to see and have participated in this same action initiated by Garner’s death in Staten Island. We find it welcoming to see angry Black workers opening fire on the KKKops at the injustice of the racist system. In contrast to the narrative the police constructed in order to blame the teenage victim, Dorian Johnson, who said he was with Michael Brown, gave a different version of the police murder:

He told local broadcaster WALB a police officer told them to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk, and when they continued walking, the officer confronted them.
Protesters have called for the police officer to be prosecuted with murder…

A resident on the street where the shooting occurred told the Associated Press news agency Brown had his arms raised but the police officer stood over him and shot him (execution style).

The major contradiction inherent in this uprising is that the violence against the state, the petty bourgeoisie, and the reappropriation of products, called “looting” by the press, though inspiring to the working class, will not lead to Communism. It may lead to a temporary reform where the pigs may hesitate a bit more before murdering another black member of the working class, but it will not fundamentally alter the nature and role of the KKKops as the protectors of private property and inequality.

We must take to heart that in order for us to make systemic and lasting change, we must build revolution where we are. We need to build the Progressive Labor Party so that we can make a concrete and lasting change, not just rise up like a firestorm and then be put down. PLP condemns the racist police and the ideology of racism that justifies their action. We were born in the heart of the Harlem uprising and fully support workers rising up and fighting back, but the PLP must grow if we are to change the daily misery and exploitation of inter-imperialist rivalry.

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Workers Murdered in South Africa

The Massacre in South Africa

 

The massacre in South Africa is a testament to what happens when a Communist Party betrays the working class. The South African Communist Party (SACP) was a Communist party at the forefront of the struggle against racism. The practice and experience of the SACP helped for us in the PLP to develop our own line and practice on racism.

 

But here we are, 30 dead workers gunned down by Black and White cops echoing the Apartheid era’s War Dogs’ crimes against humanity. This is what the multi-racial struggle against racism has created in South Africa, a black president apologizing for the dead workers while a woman of Indian descent apologizes for the cops who she says were defending themselves as they attempted to break the picket lines.  The state is not pointing out the fact that it supports the capitalist class that owns the means of production and exploits the working class.  None of the spokespeople who are part of the ideological superstructure – the academics, the politicians, the church leaders – none  of them are supporting the worker’s right to arm themselves and fight for their economic interests against the violence of the state.

 

30 dead workers. This is the real price of Platinum, the tech metal that’s so valuable to industry now. The class struggle transcends race and nationalism. The ruling class can use racism or multi-racial unity to preserve its rule and profits. They can survive any catostrophe and crises except Communist revolution.

 

This brings us to the real tragedy — the betrayal of the SACP. They joined the ANC as part of the struggle against apartheid and have now become a part of the ruling class institutional power structure. They are misleaders of the working class.  There are some revolutionary elements in South Africa and radical workers who are willing to fight against the state and the needs of international capitalism to extract Platinum from the mines, and they need to join the PLP and build us in South Africa.

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MAY DAY!!! Fight For Communism!

May Day’s Communist Roots Belie Rulers’ Reform Sham

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 11:56AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Capitalism Murders a Worker in Greece Through Suicide

An old worker. A pharmacist who healed by providing medicine to the sick.  Desperate. 77 years old and just had his pension cut. Greece, under assault by the capitalist class.  The angry man goes to the crowded square in front of Parliament, pulls out a gun, screams, “I have debts; I can’t stand this anymore”, blows his brains out, and a note saying that he refused forage in rubbish heaps for survival is found on his corpse.   His death struck a chord in the hearts of the Greek working class. Hundreds gathered and set up a shrine with notes condemning the government and its actions. The crowd that formed was angrily chanting, “this wasn’t suicide, it was murder by the state.”

The crowd was right. The state is the organized force of society and wielded in the interest of the ruling class in order to preserve its rule over the servile classes. It is the concentration of power and authority massed against the class that produces all so that the parasitical class that steals can continue to gorge itself.

A young vegetable seller was the spark of the Arab spring in Tunisia last year. This man’s death, like the young man in Tunisia’s, didn’t have to happen, but capitalism needs more profit.  His note pointed out that the government had “annihilated any hope for my survival and I could not get any justice.  I cannot find any other form of struggle except a dignified end before I have to start scrounging for food from the rubbish.”  If only there were a mass Communist struggle for this man to have joined so that he could have pointed his gun at the real enemies.  When workers commit suicide because there is no work and they don’t know how they’re going to eat, it is more apparent than ever that a Communist revolution is needed.

Workers have already begun battling with the police, the dogs of the bourgeoisie.  Politicians are already shedding tears about this tragic event.  Their tears don’t mean anything.  It would be sweet irony if Greece, the birthplace of Western society became the birthplace of the new.  For that to happen, our friends in Greece need to use this upswing in class struggle and violence to build the PLP.

Students, Parents, Teachers Unite: Fight Fascist Attacks in U.S. Education

The bosses’ assault against students and teachers in the United States has reached epic proportions. The capitalists are using standardized curricula and tests to assert more direct control over what is taught. They are attacking wages and conditions for school workers even as they blame teachers for the system’s decay. In large and overcrowded urban districts, where student populations are predominantly black and Latino, dress codes, rigid discipline, and metal detectors are the norm. Students are treated like criminals, with no time off for good behavior.

These racist attacks serve two related purposes for the ruling class. First, they enable the bosses to lay an ideological foundation for intensified fascism. Second, they make it easier to intimidate and militarize youth for the inevitable broader wars against the bosses’ surging imperialist rivals, such as China. The U.S. rulers need to use the schools to protect their profits and shore up their dominant — but declining — position in an increasingly competitive world economy.

Trillions for War, Zero for Schools

In the current period, the bosses’ economic crisis and the trillions sunk into Afghanistan and Iraq have led to a wave of racist budget cuts and layoffs in public schools throughout the U.S. The results have been devastating. In New York City — the graduation rate hovers around 60 percent — and most graduates require remedial work before they can take college-level courses. In Philadelphia, where the schools had floundered under state stewardship for nearly a decade, district officials estimated it would take until the year 2123 to get all students up to grade level in reading and math. In February, after decades of local mismanagement, the state board of education revoked its accreditation for the entire Kansas City, Missouri school system. Even by the bosses’ own low standards, the public schools are broken.

To distract workers from the real causes of why and how schools are designed to fail, the capitalists push one reform after another. Supported by billionaires like Bill Gates and Eli Broad, these range from the small-school movement to the charter school phenomenon to the bosses’ current vogue, an all-out emphasis on “teacher quality.” By using data-driven teacher evaluations, the bosses claim to have found an objective way to improve substandard schools and weed out unqualified instructors.

Useless Tests A Bosses’ Tool

In fact, these evaluations are based significantly on student performance in standardized testing, where the margin of error is so high that they are statistically useless. But as a political tool for the bosses, the evaluations are invaluable. They give the rulers easy scapegoats for the failure of their schools: “bad teachers” and the unions that “protect” them.

Many of the headlines in the teacher-bashing campaign have been seized by Republicans like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker or by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or by capitalists like David and Charles Koch. But the main leadership for this attack comes from the dominant liberal wing of U.S. finance capitalism and its loyal servants: mainstream media like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and the Democratic administration of Barack (“Race to the Top”) Obama.

These rulers do have disagreements. Some of their factions on the right, like the Koch brothers, advocate the gutting of collective bargaining rights and even the abolishing of unions altogether. More dangerous, however, are the liberals who want to use the unions to mislead teachers into thinking their interests are best served by the latest reform. Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, the major teacher unions — containing 30 percent of U.S. union members — have willingly collaborated with the bosses in the new evaluation systems. The leaders of these organizations are loyal to the bosses, not to the workers. More insidious are new reformist groups like Educators for Excellence, which has enlisted broad support among young teachers in its reactionary fight against tenure.

In any case, the political fallout is the same. Under increased pressure, teachers tend to become more controllable. Some workers get caught up in the blame game, with teachers blaming students and parents blaming teachers when the evaluation numbers fall short.

In a desperate effort by principals and teachers to keep their jobs, some schools focus their attention on students who are relatively close to grade level, triaging the ones who are further behind. As one New York City high school guidance counselor recently told the school’s staff, “Don’t waste your time on them.” The children he was throwing overboard amounted to nearly one-fourth of the student population!

As always, the school reform’s primary targets — and victims — are the students.

There never was a “golden age” of U.S. public education. While government funding has fluctuated over the past century, the schools’ purpose was always to reinforce capitalist values and the profit system. The overwhelming majority of children are trained for low-paying, subordinate tasks in the rulers’ factories, infrastructure, support services, and military. More than ever, U.S. capitalism requires a politically reliable, highly regimented education system to feed a military that will secure its threatened interests worldwide. It’s no coincidence that Obama’s education reform agenda includes the re-opening of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs at a number of colleges.

To meet the rulers’ needs, the schools infect children with capitalist ideology: racism, sexism, individualism, and incessant competition for the best grades and test scores and then jobs, all against a backdrop of extreme racist and sexist inequalities. Rigid discipline and arbitrary rules nurture passive followers. Gross distortions of history — the “bravery” and “heroism” of genocidal monster Christopher Columbus, the “compassion” of white supremacist Abraham Lincoln — rob students of the ability to understand the world. Regimented teaching-to-the-test saps their creativity and analytical thinking. Daily doses of anti-communism steer them away from the one force that can change the world to meet the needs of the working class.

Graduating to Communism

If the situation sounds bleak, it’s crucial to point out that it’s only one side of the story. As the bosses make their plans, so too must the workers. In New York, for example, masses of furious parents, teachers, and students have routinely disrupted the Panel for Educational Policy (the rubber-stamp body that does Mayor Bloomberg’s bidding) with standing-room-only crowds and deafening chants. Rising anger among teachers has led to fresh attempts to form a serious opposition caucus to the sellout union leadership in New York.

But while this anger itself is positive, and the Party must be immersed in these struggles, no reform will help students get the learning they need. It’s our job to point to the systemic failures of education under capitalism and to win teachers, students and parents to fight for communism and join PLP. To truly educate our children, we must abolish the profit system. We need to create a new society to serve the needs of workers, not the tiny, parasitic minority of bosses. Forward to May Day!

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Obama Rescues Bosses’ Profits

The bosses’ attack against teachers has a precedent in their systematic dismantling of the standard of living of industrial workers in steel and auto, which was won through generations of class struggle. As in the schools, this attack was carried out with the express support of the leadership of the unions.

In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama claimed victory for “rescuing” the auto industry: “We got workers and automakers to settle their differences.” What he really meant was that the bosses forced the workers to accept a two-tier wage system, with new hires making $14 an hour, or half the wages of their previous hires. This give-back was achieved with the active support of the United Auto Workers union leadership. For the bosses, “settling differences” always means protecting bosses’ profits and attacking workers.

www.plp.org

INTER-IMPERIALIST RIVALRY

ROGRESSIVE LABOR PARTY VIEWPOINT

In the decades since the defeat of the first communist revolutions, the major imperialist powers have sharpened their attacks on each other. This rivalry between imperialists underlies and drives world events and will do so until the working class, under communist leadership, again takes the world stage to fight exploitation and racism and make revolution.

Capitalism

Capitalist society is an unstable tension between two great opposed social classes: the tiny capitalist class that owns everything important and runs the government and the huge international working class, whose members survive by selling their labor to a capitalist for a wage. Capitalists and workers constantly struggle over wage and social benefits versus profits; they are locked together in a class society until revolution destroys the bosses. This fundamental tension between unity and conflict in a class society is a contradiction, a unity of opposites that is by its very nature unstable.

Contradictions don’t stay the same. They drive development, turn one thing into another, and get resolved. The contradiction in our class society gets on the side of unity in boss-worker relations, if workers are willing to take the class struggle only so far, if our unified ability to struggle is blunted and diverted by racist ideology or other pro-boss ideas. In that case capitalist society continues with all its horrors, because workers, however reluctantly, still accept capitalism because they feel they simply aren’t strong enough to “fight city hall” or have no vision of an alternative to the capitalist snake pit.

The contradiction can get resolved on the side of the workers, on the side of conflict in boss-worker relations, with revolution to abolish the class of bosses, the racist divisions among the workers, and the entire exploitative system.

Today, unity between the two opposed classes prevails and capitalism continues despite its constant wars, racism, financial crises, and all our efforts for change. But conflict between the two classes will re-emerge and sharpen. Workers with communist leadership can resolve the contradiction in favor of the working class and all humanity by abolishing capital itself and its many harsh conditions including poverty, racism, brutality, and war for profit, as our predecessors did for many decades in the Russian and Chinese revolutions.

Communist Revolution: Resolve the Contradiction

Communist revolution means that we workers form a new kind of government and use our new state power to abolish the capitalist class, the wage-and-profit system, and all aspects of racism, from material differences to ideology. Revolution abolishes capitalists and transforms the working class from the slaves to a wage into the creative producers of all social value building a new society of egalitarian communist sharing where all can contribute mightily to each other.

It may seem that capitalism will go on forever and survive every crisis. But the secret of class contradiction is that its resolution depends mainly not on the capitalist class but on us, the working class. The capitalist class is dominant now, but the working class, and only our class, does have the ability to break their grip and transform society. We do have a future without capitalism, “a world to win.” We will have to pass through the fires of war and revolution to get there. We will have to make conflict with the bosses primary over unity with them. But if we succeed in winning millions of workers to this communist vision, we will have that future.

Imperialist Bosses Fight among Themselves

Right now we are a long way from our revolutionary goal because the working class is weak and disarmed, having lost much of its communist leadership and party organization when the Soviet and Chinese revolutions turned back to capitalism. The basic overall contradiction in capitalist society—bosses v. workers—has temporarily faded as the main thing driving world events. Now, the battle among the imperialists for profit and power (using workers for cannon fodder in their wars) has become the main contradiction in the world. Capitalists always compete (GM fights Ford). But what is really determining events now is the contradiction between the major capitalist countries (Ford/U.S. fight Toyota/Japan). That is inter-imperialist rivalry. Major capitalist powers became imperialists over 100 years ago as they extended their power and control far beyond their own national borders seeking profits, markets, and sites for investment, dividing up the entire world into competing spheres of interest. They used to call these zones their colonies and empires (British, French, Japanese, or Russian). Now imperialists dominate whole economies and governments without making them into colonies, but it’s the same thing: the biggest capitalists use their corporations, armies, and governments to win away from other capitalists as much of the world’s resources, markets, and labor as they can. Workers won’t remain quiet forever, but for now, the battle among imperialists conditions all world events.

Inter-Imperialist Rivalry Means World War

Imperialists try to limit their conflicts to economics and politics (e.g., through the UN and bilateral negotiations), but military conflict—all-out war to resolve their differences and redivide the world—is on the rise. The many wars being fought today mean that the major imperialists are more and more resorting to military means to secure their empires. It is likely that there will be a world-wide war with major groups of imperialists and their allies on opposing sides, just as happened in the 20th century. Such a third world war would end with yet another capitalist “new world order” if we workers fail to rearm ourselves with the international revolutionary communist party, PLP. But, if workers build the PLP internationally, a third world war will also see another great wave of the communist revolutionary movement, ending capitalism altogether. The end of the story of inter-imperialist rivalry therefore depends on us, on the working class rising again, restoring the primacy of that main contradiction in capitalist class society—workers’ conflict with bosses—and resolving it by revolution.

The World of Imperialism—and How to Change It

The U.S. has been top dog among imperialists since they came out stronger than the others after World War II, and since communist anti-imperialism ended with Russia and China’s return to capitalism. By 1999 the U.S. ruling class faced the fact that they were declining relative to their major rivals. The bipartisan Hart-Rudman Commission that year foresaw a 9/11-type attack and advised the ruling class to use it to build patriotism and support for permanent war and a centralized police state. The U.S. military budget, with 700 bases in 130 countries, is still more than that of the rest of the world combined. But though still top dog militarily, the U.S. is weakening rapidly, its military forces stretched thin without a draft and its economic power being challenged throughout the globe by the EU, China, Russia, Japan, and lesser opponents including Iran and Venezuela. The EU and NATO are no longer automatic supporters of U.S. imperialism. China and Russia have formed an alliance called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which in 2001 linked them to four Central Asian states (and more in line to join), challenging U.S. and its allies’ power in the oil-rich region. Capitalist states including Iran, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, and Pakistan, can now try to play one imperialist power or alliance off against another to their own advantage. Venezuela is beginning to sell more oil to China instead of to the U.S., and the EU, Japan, and China are rapidly increasing investment in South America at the expense of U.S. market share. Not so long ago, the U.S. might already have invaded Venezuela or changed its regime as they used to do all over South America as they did in Chile in 1973, for example, but they simply cannot take military action yet against Iran or Venezuela because they are too weak. Australia withdrew its tiny military support of the U.S. in Iraq and is growing ever more closely tied to China economically. South Africa has increased ties to China and India at the expense of the U.S. and the EU. Pakistan no longer automatically dances to the tune of the U.S. military. Saudi Arabia refuses to help out the U.S. by increasing oil supplies. This brief glance yields the same picture as our look at the major imperialists: an unstable, shifting, dangerous moment in history, when the U.S. is being driven back and will have to take desperate drastic action to stay on top.

The capitalist future is bleak, especially for the international working class, which suffers the brunt of war, racism, and economic crisis. So we return to the burning need of the moment. We must strengthen the working class side of the class contradiction by joining and building the PLP, fighting racism, struggling against the bosses, and heating the class struggle to a white hot intensity so that we can overthrow capitalism and create a communist world that meets the needs of our class.

Contact the Progressive Labor Party at desafio.challenge@gmail.com,

http://www.plp.org

PO Box 808, Brooklyn, NY 11202

718.630.9440.

ESL Students Know the Language: A Class Analysis of Capitalism

I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to adult immigrant working-class students at a community-based organization that works in the Democratic Party/union-led Coalition for a Strong Economy for All. To prepare their members to participate in Occupy Wall Street, the directors of the organization wrote guidelines about the economic crisis for teachers to use in the “organizing” committees and classes.

The guidelines negated class analysis and said the 1% are the bankers and everyone else belongs to the 99% — the “yes-we-can-people” who want democracy, patriotism and unity, where everyone believes in the American dream and “pays their fair share.” The organization’s campaigns focus on four very limited reform Democratic Party demands — a living wage act, a state law which is a mini-version of the Dream Act, federal and state legislation for a “millionaire’s tax” and Obama’s “job plan.”

By bypassing the reformist propaganda, my students and I created our own lesson about OWS and the economic crisis (in English). First I asked my students what they knew about OWS. Some students responded using words like poverty, unemployment, wealth and equality to explain what the movement is about. I then asked who they think is the 1%. They came up with the following:

Politicians, bankers, landlords, bosses, judges, army generals, professional actors, artists and athletes.

Then I asked who they think is the 99%. They said “workers.”

“Anyone else?” I asked.

“Well, no.”

I wrote economic crisis on the blackboard and below three more words: consequences, causes, solutions.

I asked students to talk in groups about each word. Around each of the three words, the students wrote more words in a circle:

Consequences: low wages, no jobs, rent, bills, family problems, and cuts in education.

Causes: corrupt politicians, bad government, exploitation, racism, greed, and war.

Solutions: change system, unity, fight back, revolution, jobs, no education cuts, no war, end discrimination against immigrants.

Using English vocabulary and without being prompted, the students came up with a basic analysis of class society and the nature of capitalism. They expressed their desire for systemic change. I then asked students to expand their ideas in English. Finally, we switched to Spanish to add more details and debate our ideas in more depth. “Hey, my friends, you need English to talk to workers who don’t speak Spanish and to build the unity and struggle we need,” I concluded.

The class process allowed me to assess which students to talk with more about CHALLENGE and the Party. Five students in the class receive CHALLENGE, one takes four extras. Three former students are taking extra papers as well. Four students are in one of our four study groups at our organization/workplace, where we can talk fully about capitalism and communism, reform and revolution, and recruit new members to PLP. This is what the “road to communist revolution” looks like.

A comrade teacher

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2011: Crisis-driven Bosses Attack, But Class Struggle Alive and Well

The events of 2011 served to remind us of two important aspects of capitalist society. First, the bosses of the world, caught in a sharpening struggle against their rivals and a spreading financial crisis, always have their knives out to assault the working class. Attacks intensified against our jobs, education, health, homes and families. The myths of democracy, fairness and opportunity for workers were exposed by a worldwide reality: we live under the bosses’ dictatorship. The past year made clear that regardless of national boundaries, no matter the “race” or gender of the boss, the ruling class will eagerly consign workers to hell on earth for the smallest gain in profit.

The ultimate expression of the boss’s callousness to sacrifice the lives of workers is imperialist war, of which there was no shortage in 2011. The U.S., still the main capitalist power in the world, continued its racist massacres in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in hopes of securing the Middle East’s oil and natural gas. Without the growth of a new worldwide communist movement, the prospects for 2012 and beyond are not much better.

While the U.S. remains the dominant power, other rivals, most prominently China, are gaining power — militarily, economically and politically. This challenge does not go unnoticed by the U.S. ruling class. The recent announcement by President Obama (the Nobel Peace Prize winner) that U.S. Marines will be stationed in northern Australia, alongside the recent diplomatic overtures to Myanmar, which borders China, signal a future where direct military conflict between the U.S. and China will be increasingly likely.

But the deadly maneuvering of the ruling class is only one side of the story of 2011. The second lesson, clearly visible from a quick look back through the pages of any of the bosses’ newspapers, is that workers are not meekly accepting these attacks. Class struggle is alive and well.  The list of places where large-scale rebellion rocked the bosses this past year is a long one: Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, England, France, Greece, Israel/Palestine, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, Spain, Syria, the U.S., and more.

To advance the cause of communist revolution, the international Progressive Labor Party has joined and led some of these militant struggles. In the pages of CHALLENGE, these battles and many other reports of class struggle were presented with a communist analysis.  If we are ever to defeat the murderous bosses and end their reign of terror, the working class must transform these narrow reform struggles into a fight for the working class to take state power — a fight for communist revolution.

The International PLP Advances

In New York City, the working class took on the racist Department of Education and its plan to impose Jim Crow-style segregation at the John Jay Campus high schools. In Israel/Palestine, a Summer Project participated in the fight against racist evictions and the housing shortage gripping workers there. In Haiti, we struggled to help rebuild a shattered society with communist principles of international solidarity and equality.

PL’s Summer Project in Haiti included a “Freedom School” for the discussion of communist principles. “Serve the working class” became more than a motto; it was put into practice when Party members created a clinic to serve the medical needs for Haitians in tent camps. The racist health care system was also a focus for comrades in the U.S. In New York we fought against the racist closing of Brookdale Hospital. Comrades and friends in Philadelphia fought to prevent the firing of a trusted hospital coworker. In Chicago, where hospital bosses tried to give patients a death sentence by transferring them to a decrepit facility, PL and others fought back.

Chicago was also the battleground for the heroic efforts of students and parents (primarily mothers), supported by the Party, to prevent the racist closing of the Whittier School library. Providing an example for the Occupy movement to follow, the parents (primarily mothers) and students at this majority Latino school, supported by the Party, seized the building and renamed it “La Casita.” For nearly a month, they held off the racist dogs of the Chicago Department of Education from carrying out their plan. Our comrades helped in many ways, from medical care to overnight guard duty. All the while they pointed out that whether we won or lost this particular battle, the bosses would still have state power. Our job is to fight not only “our” bosses, but bosses everywhere.

In Pakistan and Bangladesh, communists infused labor struggles in garment factories and universities with a vision of a society based on need rather than profit. In Mexico, where flooding threatened to destroy a community of 200,000 people, the Party explained that if our communist predecessors in the Soviet Union could move entire factories over the Ural mountains in three months during World War II, we could protect their city — if we had state power.

In these places and others around the world, CHALLENGE was ever-present. It consistently hammered home the point that it is only when we take on capitalism itself — when we transform battles against corrupt dictators, greedy bankers and fascist school boards into a world-wide communist movement — will we achieve workers’ liberation.

Arab Spring and Wall Street Occupy Working Class’s Imagination

Perhaps the most significant expressions of working-class fight-back were the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East, collectively dubbed the Arab Spring, and in the Occupy Wall Street movement, a worldwide rage at the inequality of wealth that is the hallmark of capitalism.

The Arab Spring began with a rebellion in Tunisia that followed the self-immolation of a desperate young worker. But the uprising was fueled by a 13% official unemployment rate (about 30% for youth), skyrocketing prices for food, and political corruption. Similarly, in Egypt, while the bourgeois media focused on Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the struggle for “democracy,” the real battles were over rampant unemployment and the price of food. Strikes at Egypt’s textile mills, pharmaceutical plants, chemical industries, the Cairo airport, the transportation sector, banks, ports and the Suez Canal are the primary source of revolutionary optimism.

Workers throughout the world cheered on scenes from Tunisia and Tahrir Square, which makes the outcome of these battles all the more painful. In Egypt, ruthless dictator Hosni Mubarak was first replaced by a ruthless military and now in addition by the even more ruthless Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists (see CHALLENGE, 10/19). In Tunisia, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted and elections were held in October, but unemployment still crushes the youth there. This is the essence of reform struggles. However militant it may be, any struggle that fails to attack the entire capitalist system will simply replace one set of bosses with another. For workers, the promise of a new society has been met with the reality of continued joblessness and misery.

Nonetheless, the international working class proudly looked on as workers in Tahrir Square held up signs reading, “We are all Wisconsin,” a reference to the 100,000-strong protest against the attack on public sector workers in that state. Months before anyone occupied a park near Wall Street, thousands of workers occupied the state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin.

Just as in Cairo, however, the brave workers of Wisconsin have been misled, this time into backing electoral politics and the Democratic Party. In the midst of this struggle, the Party brought forward the idea that both the fascist Governor Scott Walker and the supposedly “heroic” Democrats were all defenders of capitalism — and were all therefore enemies of the working class. This communist idea attracted many workers in Wisconsin and around the world.

In September, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement began in New York City before spreading to more than 1,500 cities worldwide. OWS captured the attention of workers who were tired of seeing banks get trillions of dollars in bailouts while education, transportation, health care, wages and jobs are slashed. One chant especially reflected this anger: “Banks got bailed out; We got sold out!” Throughout 2011, the Party participated in many of these occupations, picket lines, schools, churches and job sites, armed with leaflets and CHALLENGE.

PLP continues to strive to replace the dead-end reform tactics of the old communist movement with the fight for revolutionary communism for billions of workers in the world.

May Day

This past year was the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune, the first time workers took control of the state. In this spirit, we celebrated May Day with marches, dinners and songs. From Colombia to El Salvador, in Los Angeles and New York, in Haiti and Palestine, we raised the red flag honoring our revolutionary ancestors. This year our May Day celebrations grew in size and better reflected the international character of the working class.

Turning Fascist Oppression into Communist Organizing

The working class continues to suffer from the racist exploitation and oppression that capitalism requires. In their increasingly desperate competition for dominance, the various national ruling classes outdo one another in making workers homeless, sick, maimed or killed in pursuit of profit. Frantic about “sovereign debt,” collapsing banks, currency disasters (notably the euro) and the industrial crisis of overproduction, the world’s bosses are peeling back their thin masks of “democracy” to reveal the bloody maw of a fascist monster. Meanwhile, the fight over Central Asian and Middle Eastern oil and natural gas appears to be careening toward broader military conflicts.

As we move into 2012, the battles against our capitalist enemies will continue to rage. The workers of the world will continue to fight back, in ways large and small. Everything we do as workers and communists counts: every march or picket line or discussion strengthened by  communist ideas, every time we help another worker and demonstrate how we can build a society without the parasitic bosses. By doing these things and more, the Party will help the working class move closer to ushering in a classless society that produces for need, not profit. Communist ideas are essential for this crucial advance. A mass, international, revolutionary party is necessary to lead the way. PL is that party. Now is the time to join!

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