Tag Archives: California

Students Fighting Cuts: Ally With Workers, Not Liberal Pols

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — “The rally for community colleges on February 27 is being organized by Chancellor Jack Scott and college public-relations officers,” a student leader commented, “so members of our club will need to make sure students’ wants are voiced.”
Most community college students belong to the working class. Like other workers, they’re hit hard by the current capitalist crisis. They don’t want classes cut, teachers to lose jobs, and student fees to go up.

Unlike tuition at California’s two university systems, community college fees go into the state General Fund. They help pay interest going to banks and investors, which the state constitution requires to be paid before any other expenses! Community College fees also help pay for the state’s huge and viciously racist prison system.

The governor plans to cut funding for state financial aid by $87.5 million by freezing income eligibility limits, reducing the maximum award and eliminating the “safety net” for recipients’ children.

Budget Cuts, Tax Hikes: Racist, Anti-Worker

Most students don’t want higher taxes either, but that’s what the Democratic Party and the California Teachers Association want us to fight for. California Community College Chancellor Scott, as a “pro-education” legislator, pushed for a sales tax hike at a Pasadena rally against education cuts last spring.

Sales taxes are racist and regressive. They come down hardest on lower-paid workers and the unemployed, including a high proportion of black and Latin workers. The poorest 20% of California households paid nearly 12% of their income in taxes, while the richest 1% of households paid only 7% of theirs.

Budget cuts are racist, too. Cuts in Medi-Cal eligibility and benefits will make things much worse in a health care system so overloaded that it already turns away many – especially in neighborhoods like South LA, where the MLKing Hospital was shut down and clinics are closing.

Legal immigrants and US citizen children of undocumented immigrants are singled out for specific racist cutbacks. Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating the California Food Assistance Program, which feeds certain legal non-citizens who are ineligible for federal programs because of their immigration status.

Capitalism is the Problem, Communism is the Solution

The California budget crisis is a direct result of the capitalist crisis of overproduction and imperialist war. Because capitalists compete to maximize profits, and because lower wages mean higher profits, they produce more than can be sold. Then workers are laid-off so that they can afford to spend less on consumer goods.

Meanwhile, “corporate income taxes have declined over time as a share of General Fund revenues and as a share of corporate profits. If corporations had paid the same share of their profits in corporate taxes in 2006 as they did in 1981, corporate tax collections would have been $8.4 billion higher,” concludes the California Budget Project. (www.cbp.org)  Because of Prop 13 (1978) huge corporations pay property taxes on the assessed value of their property — like Disneyland — 30 years ago!

Community colleges are promoted as a “way out of the working class.”  But they are training the workers who can be the key to building a new system. Students need to ally with industrial workers and soldiers in a movement to destroy this capitalist system that brings us economic insecurity, racist inequality, and increasingly murderous imperialist war.

The alternative to capitalism is communism, a classless society where workers hold power. Cynicism will get us nowhere!  PLP communists are in the class struggle – like the fight against California budget cuts – to win workers and students away from reform and to the long-term fight for communist revolution.  We invite you to subscribe to Challenge, join a PLP discussion group, and march with PLP on May Day – International Workers Day!

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Exposing Bosses’ Politicians Builds Support For PLP

During a regular CHALLENGE sale we encountered the student government on our campus urging students to register to vote as a way to stop the tuition increases we’re facing. We were distributing a leaflet exposing Clinton, Obama and the whole lie that voting would end the war and the cutbacks, leading to good conversations about the elections. We also explained to some that the tuition increases were caused by the loss of tax money resulting from the capitalist crisis and the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During that sale, a professor invited us to her class where an Obama campaign organizer was speaking. Because of previous discussions in the class, it became clearer to many as he spoke that electoral politics would not produce the social change many students sought. A more fundamental change from the system that is inherently racist, exploitative and imperialist was needed.

When students asked how to end segregation and racism, even the organizer couldn’t explain how electing Obama would help stop school segregation or racism generally. Clearly Obama and electoral politics are incapable of solving the problems the working class faces every day — racism, lack of healthcare and widening wars.

Even the speaker emphasized that change would come from grassroots organizing, that there was little Obama himself could solve alone. When a student said change would stem from us, the working class, the organizer had no reply. He couldn’t challenge the power of the working class, which the Clintons and Obamas try to manipulate on behalf of the ruling class.

Afterwards, we had useful conversations with a few students; some expressed interest in communist politics and a fresh perspective instead of the failing reformist politics presented by the speaker and politicians. One student wanted to join a study group and subscribe to CHALLENGE. Another student invited us to an event later that day where he wanted us to explain our ideas about alternatives to voting. We were welcomed at the event, given time to speak and we invited everyone to read our paper. About 20 CHALLENGES were gladly accepted. We exchanged phone numbers with several students we knew from previous classes who are interested in discussing politics and to plan activities against the cuts.

Between the class and the evening film and discussion, we sold over 30 CHALLENGES and distributed 50 PLP leaflets. We realized how important it is to expose the deceitful electoral campaigns, be they for Obama, Clinton, McCain or Ron Paul.

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Rally Support for ‘Jena 6,’ Hit Criminalization of Youth

Southern California –– A multiracial group of students and teachers woke our community college with a rally supporting the ‘Jena 6’ and opposing the criminalization of youth in California and nationwide. It was the first public event organized by a new campus club.

Students took turns speaking on the bullhorn for the first time, while others held signs, collected surveys and passed out leaflets all over the campus. Students eagerly took the leaflets, which exposed the racist treatment of youth (especially black and Latin) in court and prison systems. For example, 16-year-old Jena defendant Mychal Bell was originally tried as an adult.

He was one of over 7,000 youths confined to adult prisons every year, of whom 3/4 are black and Latin. In California, black and Latin youth are over three times as likely to be tried in adult court as white youth. This attack leads to greater criminalization of all working-class youth.

One speaker at the rally related these issues to problems on the campus, where cops routinely hassle groups of black students who are just hanging out after class. Now we are spied on by new “Homeland Security” cameras. The cops recently called a teacher to warn that a “young Latino man with baggy pants and a shaved head was just seen on camera entering your building.” The teacher replied, “He’s one of our students!”

Like many campuses, this one has a large “criminal justice” department that trains future racist cops and prison guards and regularly holds “law enforcement career fairs.”

“The schools aren’t educating kids,” said a student organizer, “so they get caught up in things and don’t see any options. Then they’re told to go into the military to learn some discipline.” She added, “It’s a result of capitalism — everything is connected.” She and several other CHALLENGE readers are forming a study group and plan to invite others to join them.

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Anti-Racist Students Blast Fascist Horowitz’s Hate-Mongering

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, Oct. 22 — “Fight Anti-Muslim Racism! Build Multiracial Unity Across All Borders!” proclaimed posters blanketing campus in response to the David Horowitz-sponsored “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” (IFAW). They were posted by student organizations opposing IFAW’s racism and war-mongering and its attempt to build support for U.S. imperialism’s resource wars in the Middle East and worldwide. The postering was part of a series of actions challenging IFAW on campus, including a teach-in, documentary screening and a number of op-ed pieces in the college newspaper.

Many students, faculty and workers were upset with the blatant racism being promoted by IFAW, but viewed it as a “freedom-of-speech” issue. Other students pointed out that IFAW’s racist hate speech has nothing to do with “free speech,” but is an attempt to win workers and students to fascist ideas and activities rooted in jingoism, nationalism, patriotism and anti-immigrant xenophobia.

“Free speech” is a myth in class societies, especially under capitalism, where the ruling class controls the overwhelming majority of the means of communication, and the university itself, deciding most of what gets taught in classes and the framework of academic and intellectual discussions. Racist and fascist ideas must be opposed at every opportunity, whether in the university or on the shop floor.

After an anti-war documentary screening before 37 students, a speaker traced the economic roots of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: the need to dominate Mid-East oil for profit and to secure the U.S. global empire. The IFAW’s racism tries to hide this fact, presenting the “War on Terror” as a defense of “Western democracy” and against radical Islamic politics. It argues that U.S. imperialist wars are in the interests of workers and students, trying to convince them to sacrifice blood and sweat for the ruling class’s profits.

But while Exxon-Mobil’s profits skyrocket and more wealth is accumulated at the top, workers lose their homes and face wage-cuts, vanishing pensions and declining health benefits. Every day workers must suffer more closed hospitals, higher prices for daily necessities and neighborhoods devastated by racist cutbacks, police terror and increasing poverty and unemployment, from South Central Los Angeles to Oakland to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. This is the reality of capitalism and its imperialist system.

Later that week, a teach-in brought out nearly 60 students and campus workers. A faculty speaker exposed the racist sensationalism behind Horowitz’s language, and the fact that fascism historically has been rooted in capitalism and its need to maintain exploitative relations. The ruling class funds and supports his racism and attempts to build U.S. nationalism as tools to prepare workers, students and soldiers for wider resource and profit wars.

While liberals may publicly distance themselves from outright racists like Horowitz or the Minutemen, they fully support their racist and warmongering ideas which they promote in more subtle and dangerous ways. A student speaker also linked today’s wars to the long history of U.S. imperialist terror against the world’s workers for the benefit of the capitalist class.

Throughout the week internationalism and multi-racial solidarity among workers, students and soldiers were stressed. Students, faculty and workers called for unity to fight Horowitz’s racist attack not only on Muslim families, but on the whole working class. CHALLENGE and PLP’S communist politics proved crucial to mobilizing students around anti-racist, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist ideas rather than “free speech” issues, helping to organize a multi-racial group of students who understand more why capitalism must be smashed and replaced by a communist world.

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