The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 21, No. 11


25 cents November 1, 1991

[Front page:

RECESSION AGAIN--Join in the struggle...or drown alone!;

Step up the fight for women's rights!;

Army back in the saddle: HAITI NEEDS REVOLUTION]


Make the Rich Pay for the Budget Crisis!

Housing now; Detroit homeless; News blackout; Tax the rich; Maryland cuts....... 2
Extended unemployment benefits; Recession.......................................................... 3
Banks: Big, bigger...bankrupt!; S&Ls...................................................................... 4
Third party chatter: Smoke but no fire..................................................................... 4

Anger explodes vs. veto of gay rights bill................................................................ 5
Protesters battle Cracker Barrel bigotry................................................................... 6

Pro-Choice Movement Recharged

NYC; San Francisco; Buffalo; Detroit; Cincinnati; Chicago; Randall Terry; War machine; Illinois; Bush backs OR; Boston; Iowa City............................................ 6 and 7

Down with Racism!

David Duke; Against Columbus Day; Anti-racists in Minneapolis; Nazis disrupted; No to INS raids; Civil rights bill............................................................. 8

Strikes and Workplace News

Boston school bus; Casino strike; Health care; Cooper Industries; The Simpsons.. 9

What does Clarence Thomas stand for?.................................................................... 10

Angry protesters condemn Haiti coup...................................................................... 11
Justice for the Palestinians........................................................................................ 12
Anti-racists confront Nazi attacks in Germany......................................................... 12

RECESSION AGAIN--Join in the struggle...or drown alone!

Step up the fight for women's rights!

Army back in the saddle: HAITI NEEDS REVOLUTION

Marchers cry 'Housing now!' 'Housing now!'

Detroit homeless occupy public housing

Protesters hit news blackout on plight of the poor

'Read my lips, tax the rich!'

Workers decry Maryland cuts

Relief for the unemployed!

Bush and the Democrats strike pose of concern

Who's suffering in this recession?

Banks: Big, bigger...bankrupt!

Another S&L buyout boondoggle

Third party chatter: Smoke but no fire

California: Anger explodes against veto of gay rights bill

Protesters battle Cracker Barrel bigotry in Michigan

Pro-choice movement recharged


Strikes and workplace news

What does Clarence Thomas stand for?

Angry protests in U.S. condemn Haiti coup

Peace in Mideast requires justice for Palestinians

Anti-racists confront Nazi attacks on immigrants in Germany

RECESSION AGAIN--Join in the struggle...or drown alone!

As winter approaches, the working masses are being hit hard with another downturn in the economy and another round of cutbacks in social programs.

Sixteen million are unemployed or half employed. A record twenty-three and a half million people have been shoved onto food stamps. Millions and millions are being driven into the streets homeless. And by all accounts^ the worst is yet to come.

A symptom of our times is the black market that has opened up in food stamps. For thirty cents on the dollar, people sell their measly food stamps to scrape together money to pay for heating, or electricity, or rent. Whether to eat or keep a roof over their heads, this is the terrible choice many people are being forced to make today.

Putting the crisis on the backs of the masses

For all of Bush's optimistic babble about recovery, the fact is that the capitalists are caught in a deep economic crisis. And they are making the working people pay for it.

While the S&L's and big commercial banks are bailed out, the government has put such restrictions on unemployment insurance that only 2.8 million laid-off workers could get benefits in September.

While Congress gave itself big pay raises and millions in perks, they have slashed housing assistance and health care.

While the states hand out billions in tax breaks to the corporations, they have laid off 74,000 government workers just since June and slashed education, welfare, and other much needed social programs.

Such is capitalism in crisis. The government is helping the rich to prosper off the impoverishment and despair of the working masses.

Of course even in the "good" times of the Reagan recovery, it was the big capitalists who enriched themselves while the workers were driven down. In the last 15 years, the after tax income of the richest 1% of families grew a staggering 136%. And the number of very rich people, the billionaires, grew from 13 to 71. Meanwhile, the majority of the people -- over 60% of all families -- have seen their incomes plummet 8-12%, eaten up with rising taxes, inflation, and wage cuts.

The minority, the tiny capitalist ruling class, is waging a war on the majority, the working class and the poor.

Looking for an alternative

Is there an alternative to this ugly system of exploitation?

President Bush says no. He likes to point to the catastrophe in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to ridicule the idea that the workers can change the system for the better. But it was not the workers who ran the show in those countries, it was the wealthy bureaucrats. And it was not a socialist economy, but a system of state-owned capitalism.

Obviously, state-capitalist despotism is no help for the working masses. But then neither is Bush's tyranny of the "free market."

The workers need something new. A system of mass initiative where the workers themselves, not the capitalists or bureaucrats, run society. A system of socialism where production and work is geared to benefit the masses, not to make profits for the bosses and elite bureaucrats. A revolutionary system aimed at overthrowing all exploitation and putting an end to the division of society into the haves and have-nots.

There is an alternative to this capitalist hell, but only the working masses can create it, through their own organization, through their own struggle against the capitalists.

Make the rich pay!

For many years after World War II, the working masses have been beset with the myth that what is good for the capitalists, is good for the workers. And as long as the economy was booming, as long as the standard of living rose for many ordinary people, the myth seemed real.

But now, after a decade of crisis and cutbacks, after a decade of seeing the rich get richer while the workers and poor suffer, the myth is wearing thin.

A new cry is starting to be heard across the land -- make the capitalists pay for the crisis! Mass struggles are beginning to emerge. Protests of the unemployed. Building occupations by the homeless. Marches and strikes of state workers. Organizing drives of the unorganized. These struggles are still small and scattered. They will rise and fall and go through many twists and turns. But they indicate a new spirit arising among the masses, a new feeling that we aren't going to take it any more. It is this new spirit, this new feeling, that gives hope for the future.

Let us build up the mass struggles! Unite the scattered resistance into a class-wide movement! Confront the class war of the capitalists with an independent movement of the working masses!

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Step up the fight for women's rights!

The Clarence Thomas hearings showed how little the politicians care about women's rights. They tried to cover up the issue and didn't even want to call Anita Hill to testify.

Meanwhile the anti-abortion crusaders have scheduled a new round of attacks this month. "Operation Rescue" hoped its blockading of clinics in Wichita this summer would set off a chain reaction. It has, but perhaps not what OR had in mind. From New York to Los Angeles, from Iowa City to Detroit, pro-choice sympathizers have been outraged. New faces are seen in defense of clinics, as people see the need to demonstrate their support of abortion rights in practice. From Buffalo to Chicago, greater numbers than ever have shown up.

There is a new wave of struggle for women's rights. Events show that leaving things in the hands of police and courts, politicians and lawyers, is a sure recipe for defeat. It lets the right-wing shock troops and religious fanatics free to pose as a people's movement. This is why pro-choice supporters see the need to come to clinics and pro-choice demonstrations. If this new round of activism is consolidated by the activists getting organized, it will have more durable results. And it also faces the task of bringing the pressure of mass activity to bear on other issues affecting the rights and welfare of working and poor women as well.

Reason for concern


For everywhere one looks, there is reason enough and more for the worry and concern gripping women and all supporters of women's rights.

The Supreme Court is on the verge of reversing the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortions.


There are increasing cuts in social programs, leaving many women destitute, without medical care, sometimes without even housing, as the recession bears down in force on the working class.

A revival of anti-woman prejudice


Anti-woman prejudices are becoming more respectable in the establishment press and think tanks.

The conservatives cannot deny all the signs that life is getting worse in this era of unrestrained profit-seeking and Reaganism. So they blame the ills of life on women's equality and feminism.

In fact women still suffer inequality. And exploitation is bearing down heavier and heavier on both working class women and men. Layoffs, speedups, and cutbacks are devastating families. But, say the conservatives, don't blame the capitalists. Poverty and desperation are simply the result of a lack of "traditional values," of not enough prayers. And many establishment liberals join in the chorus on "family values." The liberal Philadelphia Inquirer even advocated that the solution to inner-city poverty is not letting the poor irresponsibly have children.

Whatever the problem, someone can be found to blame it on women. Having trouble getting married? The conservatives are there to assure women that it is because they are too "uppity" and have forgotten how to please men. Is your child having trouble in a school which doesn't have textbooks, has huge classes, and is isolated from the community in which it exists? The Detroit school officials are there to suggest that the solution is "all-male academies," to keep the boys away from the supposedly corrupting influence of girls.

The capitalists are bringing back the old prejudices against women, as against blacks and other minorities. We can't give you food, or welfare, or medical care, the politicians say, because we need the money to bail out the banks and to give subsidies to the corporations. But we can give you--and real cheap, too--a rehash of every prejudice from the Middle Ages. A thousand points of bigotry, a colder, more heartless government.

Rally the working and poor in their own defense


What is the answer to this offensive of harassment and prejudices?

It is to boldly confront this new anti-women offensive in all its phases. It is to confront the ideological offensive against women by showing the real source of this offensive in the needs and values of the ruling class. It is to see that the source of corruption in this society is its domination by a wealthy ruling class who profit from the misery of the many. It is to use this knowledge to inspire broadening the struggle by stressing the class issues involved, by working to involve working class women and men, and addressing their concerns.

We are now in a period of mass confrontation with the anti-abortion crusaders. The mass media tries to make progressive people feel isolated and powerless. But the defense of the clinics has increased the morale of women's rights activists who see that they represent the really live force in this society.

Let us continue the defense of the clinics, and wage similar struggles wherever anti-women crusaders raise their head. Let us also raise the banner of the other issues affecting the livelihood and rights of working women. Let the ruling class rue the day it raised its hand to strike a new offensive against women. This vile offensive is forcing more and more women to face the alternative of joining together to confront their oppressors, or finding that they have no rights at all. The struggle for women's rights is a protracted struggle, but it is one that will bring forward new women activists, and reinforce the will of women workers to fight on other issues as well. It will strengthen the ranks of struggle against the whole capitalist offensive. And it will suggest that a ruling class that can find nothing better to do than appeal to the most backward prejudices, is a ruling class that has outlived its day and deserves to be overthrown by the force of the workers united.

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Army back in the saddle: HAITI NEEDS REVOLUTION

On September 30, Haiti's president, Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown by a military coup. The revolt was headed by Brig. General Raoul Cedras, whom Aristide had appointed head of the army in June.

Troops went on a bloody rampage against the people. Aristide's life was saved by the U.S. ambassador, who convinced the military to allow him to fly out to exile. But ordinary Haitians were not so lucky. Troops roamed the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, firing at people and into homes. More than 250 people were killed in the first five days of the coup. The death toll has climbed higher since, perhaps as many as 1,000 across the country.

The military is trying to rule through terror. They have banned street demonstrations and public meetings, and declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Radio stations -- the principal source of news to the largely illiterate masses -- have been shut down or censored.

But despite the terror, the Haitian people have resisted the coup. Barricades went up in Port-au-Prince on September 30. Protest strikes have been held. Leaflets urging resistance have circulated in the poor neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Haitians abroad have massed in huge demonstrations, especially in New York and Miami.

What's behind the overthrow of Aristide?


The coup reflects the intensifying class struggle in Haiti. The military ousted Aristide in order to crush the yearnings for change among the toilers of Haiti. They acted to bolster the power of the small crust of wealthy businessmen, generals, and landowners who rule Haiti.

The Haitian military is the offspring of the Duvalier dictatorship, which oppressed Haiti from the 1950's. Together with the secret police, the Tonton Macoutes, this military protected the power of the cruel Duvaliers and their wealthy hangers-on. In 1986, "Baby Doc" Duvalier was ousted in a popular upsurge. But while the movement won the Haitian people some space in which they could speak and organize, it did not bring democracy to Haiti. It could not, because the old terror apparatus was not fully uprooted. The military came to power, with the help of the U.S. government. Popular pressure eventually forced the military to carry out elections last December, which Aristide won in a landslide victory with 67% of the votes.

Aristide is a populist priest with a big following among the Haitian poor. He had a reputation as a radical opponent of Duvalierism and for his sympathy with the plight of the poor. Haiti is the most poverty-stricken country in the Western hemisphere, with nearly half the country suffering from unemployment and 85% of the people steeped in illiteracy.

However, Aristide did not have if clear program or an organized movement through which Haitian society could be radically restructured. At first skeptical of elections under the military, he eventually decided to run for president. But in doing so, he began to advocate that reforms were possible through reconciling the Haitian masses with their oppressors, the wealthy and the military. At his inauguration, Aristide announced, "This day marks the marriage of the people and the army." He also told the rich, "We give guarantees to the bourgeoisie.... We tell them: we are with you. You have nothing to fear." While earlier Aristide had spoken against imperialism, now he cast that criticism aside in order to woo aid from the U.S.

Hence, the actual reforms Aristide carried out were quite modest. The economic reforms he launched were small: a price cut in food staples and plans to raise the minimum wage. Meanwhile, believing in the "marriage" of the army and the people, Aristide did not try to seriously alter the military machine. Instead he tried to reform it by a change of those at the top. Ironically, one of the "moderates" he placed at the top was General Cedras, who led the coup. Aristide also ordered the arrest of some of the worst Macoutes and other criminal bigwigs. But the president did not embark on any campaign to cut the privileges or wealth of the elite.

At the same time, Aristide did not give up his appeals to the poor. His election had led mass expectations to rise tremendously. And while counseling patience, Aristide also spurred popular hopes for change and encouraged the masses to act against corrupt officials. His aides -- prominent among whom were 60's-era radicals -- set up a popular movement, the Lavalas ("cleansing flood"). At least in part encouraged by this movement, the masses continued to act on their own initiative, meting out justice themselves against several Duvalierists in recent months. Meanwhile, knowing that the military could oust him from power, Aristide also tried to set up a separate presidential guard, with foreign assistance.


Aristide's government had a very weak base within the Haitian state. The army and bureaucracy were uneasy. So were the politicians in parliament -- since Aristide did not have a party which contested the parliamentary elections, he had no direct presence there but only shaky alliances with various politicians.

In effect, what Aristide was trying to do was to carry out some limited reforms by balancing between the masses and the establishment. But this was intolerable to the Haitian elite. They decided to overthrow him. Some reports say that rich families paid out some $40 million to various army units for overthrowing Aristide.

What the Haitian ruling class was afraid of was that Aristide, in trying to maintain his position among the masses, kept feeding their hopes. And under his reign, room for the masses to speak out and organize was greater than at any other time. No matter that his actual reforms were fairly limited, this situation threatened to encourage the class struggle to eventually break out with renewed force.

The Haitian coup has proved again that even the smallest reforms in a country like Haiti come up against the violent opposition of the military and exploiters. Thus, even small changes -- not to speak of more profound ones -- require smashing the power of the entrenched interests of the wealthy. The coup also showed that a serious attempt at change in Haiti requires a revolutionary party of the oppressed. A loose, populist movement grouped around a charismatic figure -- even one with a large following among the masses -- is not up to the mark.

Is Bush a friend of democracy in Haiti?


After the coup, the U.S. government, along with other Western powers, came to Aristide's defense. It arranged his exile and issued statements demanding his restoration to power. Meanwhile, aid was cut off and an embargo imposed. Diplomatic pressure was also set in motion through the OAS (Organization of American States). The OAS decision even held out the threat of military action, although there are no signs yet of plans in this direction.

Does this mean that Bush and the U.S.-dominated OAS have suddenly become friends of the Haitian people?

No way. Let's not forget that U.S. imperialism was a firm backer of the long night of the Duvalier tyranny. In 1986, it was the U.S. which allowed safe passage out for Baby Doc Duvalier, who also cleaned out the country's treasury. It was Washington's intervention which put General Namphy into power then. The U.S. government is no friend of democracy in Haiti. What it wants in Haiti is order -- for the sake of maintaining the tyrannical, capitalist system. That system allows Haiti to be a low-wage haven for many U.S. corporations.

So why is the U.S. claiming to support Aristide against the military?

When Aristide was elected, Bush didn't like him. He feared that Aristide might try to implement a radical program. However, Bush soon came to terms with him. In turn Aristide began to promote the U.S. to the Haitian people. And a few months ago, he agreed to austerity measures in order to qualify for new loans from the International Monetary Fund (this was criticized by Haiti's trade unions). As long as Aristide did not threaten imperialist interests or embark on any radical social measures, the U.S. government thought that it could work with his regime.

But in the weeks following the coup, Washington's tone has already changed. U.S. officials have begun to make more critical comments about Aristide. They are echoing the Haitian elite's complaints that Aristide encouraged "mob violence" and heightened class conflict. Thus they have exacted a promise from Aristide that if U.S. pressure returns him to power then he "will not tolerate or ton- done the mob violence that has taken place."

At this point it is not at all clear that the U.S. even wants Aristide back in power. But they have sought to ensure that even if this takes place, Aristide will have his wings clipped and be beholden to George Bush. Washington's policy will seek to ensure that Aristide's regime can no longer balance between the masses and the elite. They only want him as a "popular" face for the oppressive establishment.

The stalemate continues


Meanwhile, the Haitian military has so far refused to back down in the face of U.S. and OAS pressures. Troops stormed into parliament October 7 and pistol-whipped legislators into setting up a new "civilian" regime as a figleaf for the military. This regime is made up of holdovers from the Duvalier era. It has proposed elections next year, in which Aristide will be barred from running.

But the Haitian ruling class remains worried. A businessman told the NewYork Times, "For the first time, I think civil war is a real possibility in this country. If Aristide doesn't come back there will be hell. But if he does come back the people will try to burn the soldiers one by one.

Thus an explosive situation persists in Haiti. Aristide is trying his best, from abroad, to calm things down. He has counseled the masses to practice non-violence and declared, "It's better to think of the force of the international community than to think of other forces."

But that remains a dead-end road, even if the "international community" (i.e., imperialism) manages to put him back into power. If the masses of Haiti are to win liberation from their shackles, they will need to capture political power for themselves. Only the Haitian people can be their own liberators. The Haitian people face the task of forging a revolutionary movement which can organize the energy of the workers and poor and sweep away the coup, and all the Duvalierist institutions from the army to the Tonton Macoutes. Only through that road lies the prospect of democracy and radical social change for Haiti.


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Marchers cry 'Housing now!' 'Housing now!'


More than 1,000 people converged on Kennebunkport, Maine on October 5. They marched to President Bush's summer home to highlight the national housing crisis and demand "safe, decent, and affordable housing for all!"

The marchers came from Boston, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut and from as far away as California. While they marched, a solitary drum beat, and they chanted, "Housing now! Housing now!"


Since 1981, public housing programs have been cut by 75%. While the government claims there is no money to help the homeless, there is no end to the dollars that are available to rescue corrupt bankers or to launch a bloody imperialist war. But now the homeless are fighting back.


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Detroit homeless occupy public housing


250 homeless people and supporters confronted the nearly 100 policemen at Detroit's Jeffries Home projects on October 29.

About 70 of the protesters took over the 6th floor of Building D and vowed to stay until unoccupied apartments were given to them. Only eight apartments are occupied on that floor and nearly half the units are vacant in the whole 2,200 apartment complex. Shouting "No housing, no peace," and "They say cut back, we say fight back," the protesters held the floor for seven hours.

But then Police Chief Knox and Deputy Chief James Bannon flew in and ordered people out of the building. Some left, but a number refused. The police arrested six of them. As they were being led from the building, hundreds of demonstrators tried to break through the police lines to free those that had been arrested. In the pushing and shoving, the police grabbed two more protesters and hauled them off to jail.


Later that evening, 60 protesters descended on the Herman Gardens project and installed a homeless family into one of the vacant apartments. Two people were arrested in this clash with the housing security police.


Mayor Coleman Young didn't waste a minute denouncing the protesters and trying to shift blame for the homeless crisis on to the federal and state governments. "To illegally occupy housing is not the answer," he declared. "I certainly understand the crisis. But anything that we do at this level of government is minimal."

Well surely the federal and state governments have done their share to hurt the people. Governor Engler just cut off General Assistance benefits to 90,000 people and slashed funds for emergency shelter, water, and so forth from $146 million to just $43 million. Meanwhile the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) slashed Detroit's grant to repair public housing from $14 million to only $365,000.

But Mayor Young must also share the blame. He is not only slashing social programs and laying off city workers. He is also carrying out a long-term program of gentrification that is responsible for keeping the homeless out of a good deal of public housing in the city.


There are nearly 9,000 apartments in the city's public housing projects. But over 40% are unoccupied. Although many of them are still in good repair, Young prefers to leave them vacant and allow them to fall into disrepair. Young hopes to eventually destroy at least several of the projects altogether in order to open space to build new, higher-rent apartments. Residents of the Brewster-Douglas projects exposed this plan over a year ago. But while letting Brewster- Douglas crumble, Young got a $250 million federal grant to build 250 new apartments in that location. And only a few of them will be set aside for lower rents.


While Young is ready to hand over millions and millions for a new Tiger Stadium, and while he has given GM and Chrysler hundreds of millions to set up high-tech, job-eliminating plants, he doesn't have a nickel to spare for the suffering homeless.

The problem is not just with Republicans like Bush and Engler. It is also with liberal Democrats like Young. Today there are some 65,000 homeless people in Detroit. They have no choice but to take matters into their own hands and fight both the Republican and Democratic politicians of the rich.


[Photo: Homeless activists resist eviction by Detroit police]


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Protesters hit news blackout on plight of the poor


Detroit's WDIV television station and the office of the Detroit News were invaded by homeless demonstrators on October 1.


They demanded an end to the media blackout of the disastrous results of the state budget cuts. The media is kowtowing to the capitalist powers. Oh sure, they'll show poor Russians standing in line for a scrap of bread. But what about the thousands of people in Michigan who have been evicted and thrown onto the streets homeless.


The standoff lasted two hours. Then police moved in, dispersed the protest, and arrested 16 demonstrators.

Three days later, 400 former General Assistance recipients rallied to denounce Governor Engler's slashing of GA for 90,000 people.

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'Read my lips, tax the rich!'

On October 9, hundreds of people in Baltimore, Maryland began to march. The trek was called "Save our cities." Along the way they chanted, "Read my lips! Tax the rich!" They also stopped to hold a number of rallies. Thirty-eight miles and three days later, they arrived in Washington, D.C. There they were joined by thousands of other protesters, who cheered as the long distance walkers arrived.

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Workers decry Maryland cuts

In early October, Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer announced the elimination of 1,766 state jobs, the termination of General Assistance for 24,000 poor people, and huge cutbacks in virtually every social program in the state. The state is facing a $450 million deficit.

Picket lines, demonstrations and other actions broke out immediately. Among others, hundreds of workers at the University of Maryland, College Park surrounded and denounced the governor on October 4. And General Assistance recipients picketed state offices in downtown Baltimore on October 7.

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Relief for the unemployed!

Bush and the Democrats strike pose of concern

Early in October, over 300 unemployed workers rallied outside the White House to demand that Bush extend benefits to the laid-off. Bush had just denounced the extension of unemployment benefits as "garbage" at a $l,000-a-plate Republican fund-raiser. So the workers put their unpaid bills -- rent, mortgage, car payments, and utilities -- into a plastic trash bag to deliver to the president. Guards blocked the workers. And when protesters threw the trash bag on the lawn, the guards pushed it back through the White House gates with their night sticks. Police billy clubs and contempt is all Bush had to offer the unemployed.

But at the end of October, Bush apparently began to worry over his plummet in the popularity polls. Suddenly, the president became concerned that "People are hurting and they need to be helped." And he called for a "compromise" with the Democrats to extend unemployment benefits.

Such election posturing is standard fare for the politicians of the rich. The Democrats pose as concerned for the laid-off to lift their dreary election prospects. Now Bush wants to try a little hypocritical showmanship himself. The workers can't put their hopes in such play-acting. Rather, the workers must get organized on their own and wage a fight for jobs or full benefits until jobs can be found.

Let's take a look at the outline of the "compromise" in the making between Bush and the Democrats.

Compromising the lives of the laid-off


Today, according to the minimized count of the government, there are 8.4 million workers who are "officially" unemployed. On top of that there are 1.1 million workers who are not counted as unemployed because, unable to find a job or get benefits, they have given up going to the unemployment office. On top of that there are 6.4 million workers who want full-time jobs but have been forced into low-paying, part-time work. Thus even by official count, which leaves out many of the long-term unemployed, there is a total of almost 16 million workers who are unemployed or only half employed.

Yet because, over the last 15 years, the Republicans and Democrats have agreed to put heavy restrictions on who can get unemployment benefits, only about 2.8 million workers are now able to get them.

What would the Democrats do about the situation? Their bill has been so watered down already that they would not eliminate the restrictions, but only waive some of them for a year. At a cost of $6.4 billion, they would help only about 1.4 million workers by extending their benefits from 7 to 20 weeks.

Bush's $3.5 billion alternative bill, put forward by Senate. Republican leader Bob Dole, would extend benefits for only 6 to 10 weeks and help far fewer workers. According to the Democrats, Bush's measure would deny help to 89% of jobless workers who have exhausted their basic 26 weeks of benefits.

So what does a compromise between Bush and the Democrats mean? A deal where the vast majority of unemployed are left penniless and the rest given only a little short-term relief.

What happened to the unemployed trust fund?


And they are still debating who will pay for relief. Bush has insisted that any relief for the unemployed must be paid for by cutting other social programs or raising taxes. Anything else, he claims, is busting the "pay-as-you-go" budget agreement that the Democrats and Republicans made last year.

Of course, Bush doesn't mention that the hundreds of billions of dollars that it is costing to bail out the S&L's was exempted from the "pay-as-you-go" plan. Oh no, when it comes to relief for the filthy rich, then busting the budget is just fine. It's only when the masses need relief that Bush whines about the budget deficit.

And what about the unemployment trust fund? There is some $8 billion dollars salted away in a federal trust fund that is earmarked to pay for extended unemployment benefits. Why can't that money be used? When the issue was raised in the Senate, Texas Republican Phil Gramm scoffed, "That $8 billion has already been spent on something else." Apparently Bush is already using the fund for the unemployed to help balance the budget. In essence, he has already cut the funds for the unemployed from the trust fund, and is now demanding that other social programs be cut to make up for that.

Of course the answer to the funding question is simple. You can cut military spending, you can cut the tax breaks for the corporations, you can increase the taxes on the rich. But neither Bush nor the Democrats are likely to think of that. They both serve the capitalist moneybags. They may pretend concern for the masses in the coming elections. Facing mass anger, they may even offer a small amount of temporary relief for some of the unemployed. But their real interests are tied to the capitalists and it is the capitalists they will protect.

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Who's suffering in this recession?

How can you explain Bush's sudden reversal on extending unemployment benefits?

Well, the Republican House Minority Leader Robert Michel explained it this way: "...we've got a different mix today among jobless workers -- not only factory workers but a lot of middle-class, middle-income people who've got big house payments, big car payments, college tuitions, who are facing real traumatic changes."

Oh, is that it? As long as it was only millions of factory workers who were being laid off, and losing their cars and homes, then Bush didn't give a damn. But let unemployment touch the "middle class" and he's suddenly worried.

But then it's not really all of the "middle class" Bush is concerned about. The bourgeoisie extends the term middle class to stretch from many ordinary workers up to the well-off yuppies. Bush could really care less about the sales clerks and word processors and others of the lower strata of white collar workers. What he's actually worried about is his voting base among the executives, managers, and professionals. Let a few of them get pink slips and Bush is all in a hurry to extend them benefits.

Bush's new-found concern for the laid-off is just an echo of the constant refrain found in the press that this is a "white-collar recession." This distorts what's really going on in this country.

To straighten this out, let's look at a few facts.

Since the recession began in July of last year, over 1.2 million blue collar jobs have been eliminated. Unemployment among production workers rose to 9% in September, up from 7.1% at the start of the downturn. These are the workers who are taking the brunt of the current recession, as well as the ones still suffering from the last decade of job cuts. The present recession is a blue collar bust like those that preceded it.

There have also been 600,000 white collar jobs lost since the recession began. But these are mainly the lower-paid retail sales and office jobs. Their loss has raised white collar unemployment to 4%, up from 3.2% since the recession started. What's unique in this recession is that it's the first that has also hit the service industries. And it's the lower stratum of workers that is suffering from it.

But what about the more elite white collar managers and professionals, that Bush is so concerned about? According to the October 21 issue of Business Week, they are not doing too badly. Indeed, some 400,000 new manager and professional jobs have been created since the recession began.

The issue today is not relief for the "middle class" that Bush wants to whine about. The issue is the plight of the working class -- whether they be manufacturing, or mining, or transportation, or sales, or office workers. These workers must unite and fight against Bush and all the capitalist politicians if they are to defend their own class interests.

[Photo:1,200 job applicants line up in New Hampshire - a common scene as recession deepens]

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Banks: Big, bigger...bankrupt!


At the end of October, two mega-bank mergers were approved by stockholders. Chemical Bank merged with Manufacturers Hanover to create the second largest bank in the country. And NCNB merged with C&S Sovran to form NationsBank, now the country's fourth largest bank.

These deals cap off a year in which five of the country's top 10 banks have carried out major mergers and a number of regional powers swallowed up smaller competitors.

The Bush administration is ecstatic over the monopolization of banking. Bush may babble about the values of the small businessman and "free competition," but his real love is for the giant monopolies. Following the policy of the bigger the better, Bush hopes greater monopolization will overcome the country's financial crisis and keep the U.S. in the driver's seat, lording it over the entire world.

But what's good for Bush and the monopoly financiers is hardly good for the masses. The immediate effect of the bank mergers is growing layoffs, cuts in banking services for the masses, and monopoly practices. And over the longer ' term there's a good chance that bigger banks will only mean a bigger financial crisis and more ruin for the workers and oppressed.

Layoffs and monopoly plunder


One of the chief justifications for the current bank mergers is the claim that it will make them more "efficient." And as usual "efficiency" for the capitalists means layoffs for the workers.

With every new merger has come plans for the closing of hundreds of branches and the layoff of thousands of tellers, clerks, maintenance workers, and so forth. So far this year some 30,000 workers have been laid off in the U.S. financial industry. And there are predictions that some 300,000 may be laid off in banking over the next five years.

At the same time, the bank mergers aim at improving profits in other ways.

For example, a study by the Federal Reserve earlier this year showed that by concentrating banking power in fewer hands, banks were able to pay depositors lower interest rates, on the one hand,and charge higher interest rates on loans, on the other hand. ( New York Times, Aug. 23) Monopoly control of financing means the ability to plunder the masses, and even other capitalists, for the profits of a handful of super-rich financiers.


Of course Bush has no concern for the workers who are laid off and plundered by the banks. His eyes are set on bigger things: solving the capitalist financial crisis and global domination.

A cure for financial crisis?


The current wave of mergers has been spurred on by the same crisis that has produced record bank failures over the last period.

In one spurt of financial speculation after another, the banks have filled their vaults with a mountain of bad loans. The third world debt crisis has been joined by the real estate crisis, which is combined with the junk bond crisis and other speculative catastrophes. As a result, over 1,000 banks have failed in just the last five years. And in 1991, the failures have been hitting larger and larger banks. The crisis has basically bankrupted the FDIC, the federal body that is supposed to insure bank deposits. And various bailout plans are being debated in Congress.

At the same time, the crisis has spurred on increasing mergers. Capitalist free competition inevitably leads to monopolization as the bigger and more secure banks gobble up the smaller and failing banks. At the same time, many of the biggest banks believe that merging will help them overcome shortages of capital and help fortify them against the bad real estate, junk bond and third world loans.


As well, the top banks are gambling on mergers to put them in a' better position to take on the financial monopolies of the other imperialist countries. Back in the early 70's six U.S. banks were on the list of the 10 world banks with the largest assets. Today, whatever the total amount of banking capital, there is no single U.S. bank among the top 10. Japanese and European banks have filled the top spots while the biggest U.S. bank, Citicorp, has fallen to eighteenth on the list.

The big bankers and Bush have their sights set on creating enormous financial monopolies that they hope can beat back the Japanese and European competition and allow U.S. imperialism to increase its plunder of the workers and peasants over much of the world. This is one of the important reasons for Bush's plan to deregulate the banking industry. By allowing banks to compete in a series of other financial fields and by allowing the merger of banks with insurance companies, industrial financial corporations, and so forth, Bush is promoting even more monopolization.


But, as with the deregulation of the savings and loans at the end of the seventies, Bush's plan seems to be preparing the way only for another wave of financial speculation and even greater financial difficulties. Oh, some of the financiers will haul in obscene profits. And they may even relieve some of the current crisis for a time, but only at the expense of laying the basis for a deeper economic crisis in the future.

Bush's plan is not just the vision of an evil man, but the expression of deeply ingrained capitalist tendencies. These tendencies are concentrating more and more of economic life in fewer and fewer hands. This must eventually raise the question -- why should a handful of super-rich bankers control a world economy based on the work of hundreds of millions of toilers? If the banks in a country are reduced to a small number, why can't the workers take a further step and plan the economy themselves in a centralized way? Not backward to small banks, but forward to socialism -- that is the real solution for the ever-recurring banking and industrial crises.


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Another S&L buyout boondoggle


Ever wonder why the cost of bailing out the savings and loan institutions keeps growing? Last year we were told it might cost $300 billion. Now it's up to $500 billion. And many say the cost will be more.

Well, one reason is that the government is not simply saving small depositors from loss of their bank accounts. It is saving the former S&L owners from ruin. And it is financing other capitalists to buy off the collapsed S&L properties at bargain basement prices. Just look at the latest scandal.


The government set up the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) to organize the bailout. Among other things it has seized hundreds of billions of dollars worth of commercial properties from the failed S&L's and is supposed to be selling them off at, or at least near, their appraised value.


But this summer the RTC, without public notice, took scores of the hotels and office buildings off the market and canceled several multi-million-dollar contracts that had been arranged to sell them. It then lowered the prices and agreed to negotiate privately the sale of these properties without open competitive bidding.

The first deal arranged has been with Patriot American Investors, a new partnership of four businessmen formed just to make this deal. Although the deal is still being revised, at present it would allow Patriot American to buy a $500 million package of buildings--sometimes for as little as 60% of the appraised value. On top of this, the government is loaning the businessmen $400 million, with no interest payments for seven years, to finance the deal.


This deal is so rotten, that two RTC officials complained the agreement would cost the government at least tens of millions of dollars. But, in an effort to hush up the scandal, they were quickly punished and their complaint was purged from RTC records.

This is no bailout, it's a boondoggle. To hell with the businessmen. Let them bail out themselves. It's time the working masses fought for their own interests.


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Third party chatter: Smoke but no fire


It's a fact. Most workers and poor people in this country are fed up with both the Republicans and the Democrats. More and more, people talk about the Republocrats -- that two-headed monster that debates itself daily but always ends up doing the ghoulish work for its corporate master.

In the last year, the mass discontent has fueled motion for the formation of several "independent" political groups -- the Labor Party Advocates, NOW's Commission for Responsible Democracy, the Greens, the National Committee for Independent Political Action, and a break-off from Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition led by Ron Daniels.

Now there is no question that for the working class to stand up in its own right, it must organize as a class and lead all the oppressed in a fight against the class of exploiters. It must build up its own independent political movement. Any motion in that direction is a welcome sign that should be supported by all workers.

Unfortunately, at this point, there is some reason to doubt that any of the new "independent" formations really represent a break with the Democrats or new motion to organize the working masses. Although each group has its own peculiar basis and program, they seem to have at least certain common features. Rather than base themselves on the working masses and oppressed, the new groups are based on sections of union bureaucrats, petty-bourgeois professionals, and black elite. And rather than standing for and encouraging the mass struggles of the workers and poor, they are mainly trying to pressure the Democrats to the left.

As a result, the perspective for these groups is bleak. Of course, if many ordinary people, in the process of moving left, began to flow into any of these formations, then it might take on more life. The class-conscious workers, putting forward a truly independent program, might get a better reception. A significant section might start to understand the character of the reformists, liberals and labor bureaucrats.

But that is not now the case. At present these groups appear to be more an effort to head off the independent motion of the masses and to form a bridge to bring the working people back into the Democratic Party fold.

Let's take a more detailed look at one of the groups, the Labor Party Advocates.

Playing to the mass discontent


Labor Party Advocates (LPA) was formed earlier this year by Tony Mazzocchi, the presidential assistant to Robert Wages, the head of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union (OCAW). In August, the OCAW convention formally endorsed the LPA. And Mazzocchi has been touring various other union conferences to try, as he says, to recruit 100,000 LPA members as the first step towards forming a Labor Party for the union bureaucrats. So far, only a few union hacks support the LPA. Most of the AFL-CIO officialdom continues to waddle along in the wake of the Democrats. Mazzocchi is trying to convince them to join the efforts of the LPA.

Mazzocchi bears witness to the deep discontent among the workers. "We went to our rank and file [in OCAW], and we essentially asked them how they felt about the political parties in existence. And we were very much surprised when 60% categorically rejected both the parties, and 60% said it's time to form a labor party." Polls were also conducted in other unions. Mazzocchi declares, "I can now predict any poll that you would conduct among your own local unions. I have no fear of contradiction because, of 50 or 60 locals we've polled, the results all come in the same." (July 22 speech to the San Francisco Labor Council. The following quotes are from the same source.)

Impressed with this mass discontent, OCAW officials became concerned that there is "a dangerous vacuum" in leadership. They feared that other groups might fill the vacuum and take leadership of the disgruntled workers. (In their resolution endorsing LPA, OCAW mentions racists, but clearly they also fear that militants and socialist workers might fill the vacuum.)

So to capture the discontented workers, and to keep them under the union bureaucrats' control, they formed LPA. Though they repeatedly talk about the "rank and file," it is notable that LPA is run by a steering committee completely made up of union bureaucrats.

No confrontation with the capitalists


At the same time, these union hacks hope that the LPA might help them win back members that they've lost.

A constant refrain from Mazzocchi and other OCAW officials is that the unions have dwindled down to virtually nothing. They don't blame this on their own collaboration with the capitalists; or on their selling of concessions to the rank and file that has cost millions of jobs; or on their subservience to legalism and their failure to organize the unorganized.

Nor do they suggest giving up cooperation with the capitalists and changing to more militant tactics like mass picketing, roving pickets, solidarity actions, and so forth. Oh no, their only idea is to reform the labor laws to make their top-down, bureaucratic organizing drives a little easier.

The chief idea of the LPA is not to develop the confrontation of the workers against the capitalists but, rather, to bring pressure on the Democrats and Republicans to pass a few of the AFL-CIO's legislative proposals.

Pushing the capitalist parties to the left

Indeed, it appears that the LPA is not really serious about actually forming a separate labor party. The union hacks hope that the mere threat of forming a labor party might pressure the Democrats and Republicans to accept some of the AFL-CIO's proposals.

Mazzocchi complains that lobbying has failed to get the attention of the Democrats and Republicans; that supporting election campaigns only lasts until a politician is elected and then he forgets the union hacks; and that throwing money at the politicians is outbid by the large sums of money that the capitalists give to the politicians.

So Mazzocchi concludes the union hacks should try another approach: threaten the politicians with a labor party. "Right now, both political parties are being tugged by the corporations and labor's voice is miniscule," Mazzocchi complains. "A political party that would pose a threat to the existing Republican and Democratic parties, just the mere threat of its existence would do more to capture the attention of the existing political parties."

A chauvinist labor party

And, as could be expected from these union officials, a key point of their program is chauvinist hatred for the workers of other countries.

The OCAW resolution endorsing LPA is horrified at the loss of economic strength of U.S. imperialism, at the dwindling of "United States share of world exports," and at the "jobs [that] have fled abroad." Although they posture against the multi-national corporations, they consider the foreign workers to be "scabs," the real enemy of U.S. workers. As Mazzocchi snarled, "the multi-national corporations have...scabbed our jobs abroad."

U.S. workers cannot defend themselves by joining with our own capitalists' attacks on and super-exploitation of the workers of other countries. We can build an independent workers' movement only by making our watchword the international solidarity of the workers.

But this is not what the LPA is about. Rather, it is an attempt at forming a party for the union bureaucrats -- a party that, instead of uniting the workers of this country with our class brothers and sisters abroad, instead of lifting the workers in mass struggle against our common capitalist enemies, sits on the workers' movement like a dead weight.

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California: Anger explodes against veto of gay rights bill

Shouting "civil rights or civil war!" activists took to the streets of California in October to protest Governor Wilson's veto of Bill 101. The bill would have made it illegal to discriminate against lesbians and gay. men in employment.

Anti-gay bigotry is embedded in corporate America. Firings, harassment, and discrimination in hiring and promotions are common. And only four states (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Hawaii) have laws against it.

When the new law was proposed in California, a vicious campaign was organized against it. The September convention of the state's Republicans vented their homophobic spleen against gays. Labeling the bill "anti-family," the Republican Central Committee demanded that Wilson veto it. Meanwhile, the Traditional Values Coalition led by "Reverend" Lou Sheldon actively campaigned for bigotry.

Bowing to the reactionary crusade, the Democrats seriously watered down the bill before it even got to Wilson's desk. For example, a section of the bill barring housing discrimination against gays was dropped. And a provision was added barring the use of "goals, quotas, and other affirmative action."

For his part, Wilson had campaigned for governor claiming to support gay rights and promising to pass legislation to curb discrimination. But when the bill got to his desk, he complained it was too costly for business. Capitalist profits is what rules in the U.S., no matter who gets hurt. So on Sunday, September 29, Wilson vetoed the legislation.

Fiery protests day after day


The next morning protests erupted throughout the state.

In Los Angeles, demonstrators marched on the Westwood Federal Building in the morning. In the afternoon, protesters broke in the door and threw red liquid on the Ronald Reagan State Office Building. And that evening

2,000 marched from West Hollywood to the L A. Museum of Art where they burned Wilson in effigy.

In San Francisco, over 7,000 people gathered in the Castro District and marched on the Old State Building. Ex-police chief Frank Jordan came out and claimed to support the bill. But he was quickly driven away with shouts of "go home, basher." Protesters remembered the beatings his police thugs rained on activists in an AIDS protest in October of 1989. It was reported that the chief fled without his shoes from the angry crowd.

When protesters arrived at the Old State Building, metal police barricades were used to smash the doors of the entrance. Protesters also climbed into the second story and hurled computers and other equipment to the ground. Smoke bombs and torches were thrown into the building. The police used water hoses to drive the demonstrators away.

The next day, hundreds showed up at Stanford University where the governor was speaking. They were met by police in riot gear. But they succeeded in disrupting his speech with chants, whistle blowing, eggs and oranges. They then marched through the downtown area of Palo Alto.

For several days, thousands of people came out to march, block the streets, and disrupt businesses in various neighborhoods. In Century City, one protester remarked, "Wilson says we are bad for business. We are showing him how bad for business we really can be."

On National Coming Out Day, some 10,000 people rallied in Sacramento. Two hundred police surrounded the state Capitol and circled overhead in helicopters. Demonstrators blocked traffic and pelted police with dye-filled eggs, soda bottles and whatever else was at hand.

Democrats denounce the movement


While Democrats introduced the bill, they were among the first to denounce the protesters. Indeed, the author of the bill, Assemblyman Terry Friedman, begged activists to stop their protests. "Violence and hate-filled rallies are wrong. Innocent people may be hurt..." he cried. Friedman called on demonstrators to stop their protests in favor of a legislative campaign. And in case he couldn't convince the activists to stop, he called on police to "arrest and prosecute" demonstrators who break the law.

Just when thousands of activists have taken to the streets out of disgust with the lies and betrayal of Governor Wilson, out of disgust and impatience with bigotry and harassment, there are those trying to drag the movement back into the arena of capitalist politics as usual. Activists should learn from the betrayal of the capitalist politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike. They must look for support, instead, from among the working masses to build up the mass struggle against discrimination of gays in employment, housing, education and all areas of life.

[Photo: Demonstrators battle police as they protest California Governor Wilson's veto of gay rights bill]


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Protesters battle Cracker Barrel bigotry in Michigan


A storm of protest has broken out against the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain. Since January, the chain has fired at least 12 lesbian and gay workers claiming the employment of homosexuals violates the company's "family image." Apparently their traditional family values include racism, since Cracker Barrel is also notorious for discrimination against black workers and for decorating their establishments with racist paraphernalia like Confederate flags and "mammy dolls."

But gay and black activists have been fighting back. Sit-ins and other protests have been organized at restaurants in at least 12 cities in the south and midwest. In October, the protests centered on the newly-opened restaurant near Belleville, Michigan, just outside of Detroit.

On September 30, the first day the restaurant opened, about 75 people marched around the building and protested at the front entrance. A bus load of cops in riot gear pushed the demonstrators into a "designated" protest area in the parking lot and eventually out of the parking lot all together.

But each Sunday since then, hundreds of activists have returned to continue the protests. They have faced repression by more than 100 riot police, at least 19 arrests, several beatings, and a court order against picketing. But still, the protesters have repeatedly taken over the street and blocked the entrances to the Cracker Barrel parking lot. They have burned a Confederate flag. They've shouted down Nazi and KKK-type reactionaries organized by a local Baptist church to support Cracker Barrel's anti-gay bigotry. And they have taken the protests to the local police station shouting, "No repression, no police state!"

The Marxist-Leninist Party has taken an active part in the confrontations. It has pushed for the movement to target Bush's "traditional values" crusade which stands behind the job discrimination at Cracker Barrel. And it has striven to draw other workers into the struggle.

The October 12 issue of the Detroit Workers' Voice stressed:

"The firing of workers at Cracker Barrel because they are homosexual is not only an attack against gays but an attack against workers everywhere. When the capitalists are allowed to fire workers for who they sleep with, then who is to say they can't fire workers for the color of their skin, for their ethnic background, their sex, their political views -- for any excuse.

"These kinds of attacks...are part of a right-wing movement being fostered by the rich ruling class... [They are] screaming about 'traditional family values' while they demand cuts in welfare, unemployment, health care and housing. Their own policies are leading to smashing up poor families, driving them into dire poverty and into the ranks of the homeless...

"The headquarters for this 'traditional values' crusade is the White House... The working class must fight this...crusade of the rich every place it rears its ugly head!

[Photo: Protesters confront police outside Cracker Barrel near Detroit]

[Photo: Suburban Detroit cops defending Cracker Barrel protect the confederate flag]

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Pro-choice movement recharged

NYC abortion rights demo dwarfs "chain of fools"


"Pro-life" fanatics boasted that on September 29 they would turn out 6,000 strong in an anti-abortion "chain of life" in Manhattan. To dramatize their efforts to impose their religious views on others, they wanted to form a huge crucifix down 5th Avenue and 34th Street. But only a thousand or so showed up, and most of the links in the "life chain" turned up missing. As well, pro-choice activists mounted a strong counter protest, over 5,000 strong. The supporters of women's rights wound up outnumbering the religious bigots by about five to one.

The pro-choice action began with a rally of 2,000 in Central Park. There were many new faces in contingents from high schools and colleges in the metropolitan area. Then the protesters started marching south on 5th Avenue to confront the anti-abortionists. Along the way people joined the march en masse, more than doubling its original size. Spectators along the route joined in the slogans of the swelling throng. High atop a crane, a group of construction workers signaled their support.

So small was the anti-abortion chain, that the pro-choice marchers did not have much of a chance to denounce the "pro-lifers" face to face until the march reached 34th Street. Here the march concluded with a rally right in the heart of the right-wing gathering.

The stand of the activists was quite different than that of establishment pro-choice figures like New York's Mayor Dinkins. Part of the establishment may be pro-choice, but it doesn't want the people to build up a militant movement for women's rights, and it opposes confrontations with the anti-abortion crusaders. Dinkins' police refused to grant the request of the pro-choice activists for a permit to march down 5th Avenue, and instead tried to convince them to march on another street. It was only minutes before the march, when the police saw the size and determination of the protesters, that they allowed it to proceed on 5th Avenue.

Big pro-choice rally in San Francisco


9,000 people rallied in defense of abortion rights at the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco on October 5. Many new high school and college women took part. There was high spirit and a notable interest in political literature. The action was more than a dozen times larger than a much-ballyhooed anti-abortion "chain of life" held in the city the following day.

Operation Rescue flops in Buffalo


Operation Rescue leaders Randall Terry and Reverend Evans arrived in Buffalo, New York, hoping to use their "triumph" in Wichita to pump some life into the local anti-abortion forces. "Pro-life" Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin hailed their arrival and left no doubt he supported OR's violence against clinic patients. Buoyed by this support, Terry crowed on an October 4 radio show that the Buffalo anti-abortion actions "will be bigger than Wichita."

But local pro-choice activists. had another welcome in mind for these anti-women dregs. Learning of OR's plans to harass women at a clinic on October 5th, 150 people were on hand to confront the holy bullies. Despite Terry's predictions of a huge OR turnout, only 30 anti-abortionists showed up. Terry himself was conveniently absent. In this situation, OR did not even attempt to block clinic entrances.

Nevertheless, the activists gave OR no; peace. A local right-wing preacher read from the Bible to justify his views against women's rights. But activists followed him around, shouting "Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate!" In the end, OR had to retreat to the other side of the street, where they said their prayers and left.

But no powers, supernatural or human, could save the day for OR. And the next week 250 pro-choice activists held a lively rally on the steps of City Hall on October 12 to denounce Mayor Griffin and Randall Terry. As well, there are now plans for monthly mass actions.

These events showed that a new wave of activists from local campuses and elsewhere had come out to meet OR's challenge. But a passive attitude was taken by the leaders of the Pro-Choice Network, which is the main coalition in Buffalo around clinic activities. These leaders advocate a policy of non-confrontation with the anti-abortion fanatics. While anger surged against OR, and there was a flood of phone calls to the offices of the Pro-Choice Network, these leaders cautioned against "overreacting" to Terry's visit. At the October 5 clinic defense, they also wanted to put a lid on the spontaneous militancy, saying "Don't act like they do, don't shout, don't argue."

Fortunately, this time the activists paid little mind to this advice. And Randall Terry was forced to leave Buffalo with his tail between his legs.

Detroit pro-choice forces grow after Wichita

Operation Rescue's crusade against women came to the Detroit suburb of Warren on October 19, and ran into a solid wall of opposition. A mob of 250 holy bullies attempted a pre-dawn blockade of a women's clinic. But 180 pro- choice activists also gathered that morning, and they leapt into action as soon as they learned which clinic OR had targeted. This was a big turn-out for Detroit, and there was a marked militant spirit among the mass of clinic defenders.

When the clinic defenders arrived, OR had already blockaded the front door and parked two vehicles in front of the back doors. Wasting no time, the activists lifted one vehicle with their bare hands and moved it out of the way, the other vehicle being towed away later in the action. A defense line was established to keep a clear path for patients to the back doors, and groups of patient escorts were organized.

As darkness lifted, some OR thugs tried to push through the wall of clinic defenders, tearing down a pro-choice banner in the process. They were driven back by a furious surge of clinic defenders. A deafening chorus of slogans like "Operation Rescue go away, women's rights are here to stay!" filled the air. Stunned by the turn of events, the Christian commandos fell to their knees praying. To which the activists replied "Pray by day, bomb by night, are the tactics of right-to-life!"

For two and a half hours, clinic defenders shouted slogans, waved signs and escorted patients into the clinic. There was also discussion of the struggle against the racist and anti-gay bigotry of the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain, and of the anti-woman, racist and anti-gay venom which masquerades under the banner of "traditional values."

Meanwhile, the police on the scene allowed the front door to be blocked for over two hours. They also blocked off roads to the clinic, making it hard for patients to arrive.

Finally, after all the morning's patients were already in, the police arrested a mere six of the front door blockaders. To balance this, the cops turned on the pro-choice activists. They cut off a pro- choice speech and announced to some activists: "You are trespassing! Leave in two minutes or be arrested!" Without even waiting the allotted time, the police went into action a few seconds later, arresting six clinic defenders and pushing the remainder out of the clinic parking lot. About 50 activists traveled to the Warren police station, where they picketed and shouted "Stop the frameup, free our people!"

The clinic director came to the jail and told police that the clinic defenders were there at the invitation of the clinic. Yet at last report the prosecutor is still going ahead with trespassing charges.

But police or no police, the day belonged to the pro-choice militants. They had put into practice their slogan: "Who will keep the clinics open? We will, we will!"

500 protest 'right-to-life' convention in Cincinnati


500 pro-choice demonstrators picketed the opening of a Right to Life convention in Cincinnati, Ohio on October 5. Young women formed the backbone of the action, many attending their first protest. Another picket was scheduled for October 17 outside a church where Operation Rescue was to meet.

Clinic defense surges in Chicago


100 activists defended the women's clinic at the corner of Diversey and Western in Chicago on September 28, and still other activists were scattered around at other clinics.

About 7:15 a.m., 40 anti-abortion zealots swarmed into the clinic parking lot, blocking the building entrances. But the pro-choice forces quickly cleared a path to the doors and defended it with a human funnel. All patients made it into the clinic. The anti-abortion forces resorted to praying, so activists took the opportunity to denounce them face to face. And when the anti-women bigots tried to give interviews to an adoring media, the pro-choice protesters drowned them out.


The police, in a rare move, were fairly quick to arrest many of the anti-abortionists. By 7:45 the "pro-life" action was all but over. But given the numbers and fury of the pro-choice forces, the cops may have done the failed clinic blockaders a favor.


Liberals cancel pro-choice demo


October 12 was to be the day for a massive pro-choice protest in Chicago. But it was called off when Planned Parenthood and Chicago NOW withdrew their support.


Both Planned Parenthood and ChicagoNOW were worried about pending legislation in the Senate which would overturn the "gag rule" banning information about abortion from federally-funded clinics. Planned Parenthood's excuse was that a demonstration might jeopardize this legislation. Chicago NOW was afraid that a demonstration would look like support for this legislation, as this bill also contained "parental consent" measures that would further restrict abortion rights. Apparently it is beyond NOW's comprehension that one could demonstrate against the gag rule and against parental consent laws at the same time.


The real reason for Planned Parenthood's and NOW's opposition to a mass demonstration on October 12 is their subservience to the ruling class establishment. After all, a demonstration might offend the rich white man's club known as the Senate. Never mind what women need and the ordinary activists demand; the leaders of both these groups orient themselves only to bourgeois politicking.


Randall Terry denounces family planning and daycare as Satan's agenda


The founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, Randall Terry, spews out his venom against women in an interview inTimemagazine (October 21). He shows that behind his pious wailing about saving the unborn lies the medieval belief that women should be confined to the role of docile housewives, perpetually barefoot and pregnant. For Terry, most contraceptives should be banned, and presumably all of them are an abomination, because "married couples who confess to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ should leave the number of children they have in the hands of God." By the way, we are not kidding about him being medieval. Terry states "I hate the Renaissance."

Terry denounces what he calls the "put-your-kids-in-day-care-and-go-out- and-pursue-a-career, pro-abortion mentality." After all, he contends, "most families do not need two paychecks. We're talking oftentimes of an anti-child attitude." According to Mr. Terry, this "anti-child attitude" is part of "Satan's agenda" because Satan "doesn't want anyone having kids. Secondly if they do conceive, he wants them killed. If they're not killed through abortion, he wants them neglected or abused.... Barring that, he wants to get them into some godless curriculum or setting..."

Whoa! Let's get this straight. If you are a woman who works or puts a child in daycare you must: a) oppose birth in general, b) favor child abuse, and c) be an agent of Satan.

Women in the work place, and toddlers in daycare, are a Satanic menace to decent people everywhere. What a fevered mind Terry has! And, heaven forbid, public schools are just some "godless curriculum."

According to Terry, there is not much of an economic reason for women to work. Never mind that every statistic shows that millions of women have been forced to enter the work force so they and their families can make ends meet. (Statistics are probably just another Satanic plot.) Is earning a living to support yourself and your family an example of child neglect, Mr. Terry? And if working men and women demand daycare so their children will be looked after, is this also child neglect?


Women entering the work force have other effects that undoubtedly irk Randall, too. When women work, it offers them a glimpse of life outside the stifling atmosphere of household drudgery. Their horizons are broadened. Women who can support themselves are likely to challenge subservient relationships with men, and they will demand a more equal status generally. And horrors, the existence of women workers improves the conditions for a united class struggle with its "godless curriculum." In fact, women workers are prominent in many strikes today. And tomorrow they will learn that their liberation is tied to getting rid of the capitalist system itself.


But Terry is an apologist for capitalist exploitation. He scapegoats women to cover up the real cause of the children suffering: the impoverishment of millions of workers by the rich. Layoffs, and wage and benefit cuts, are all the rage with the employers. And Bush is spearheading the gutting of social programs including the end of aid for children.


But we cannot expect Terry to deal with these issues. They only affect living human beings, not fetuses. Terry's head is filled with God and Satan, angels and devils, and he can't be expected to worry about the needs and requirements of ordinary, worldly people. Terry demands that this country's laws and government should be "self-consciously" built "around the principles and laws of the word of God" and the struggle against "Satan's agenda." Naturally, he means the one true God, the one that has revealed himself to Terry, and all infidels had better prepare for the new inquisition. Asked how his vision of society differs from that of the theocracy in Iran, he said that the country should be a "constitutional republic," which of course Iran is too.


'Pro-lifers' want unborn troops for war machine

Wichita was the big showpiece of the anti-abortion crusaders of Operation Rescue (OR) this summer. And on August 25 they held a rally featuring right-wing TV evangelist Pat Robertson. One of the big slogans there was "Support our unborn troops."

What hypocrisy! OR just can't wait for little junior to graduate from "basic training" in the womb so he can bomb 100,000 Iraqis to death or invade a Panama or a Grenada! In the name of "life," OR wants fresh cannon fodder to kill and be killed for the greater glory of U.S. imperialism.

But perhaps we have erred. Maybe OR isn't talking about troops for the military, but for their movement of terror against women. After all, OR gained notoriety at Wichita clinics for ordering their children in front of moving cars.

OR so cherishes life -- so long as it is in the womb. Once the child is born, it is on to the front lines -- to kill or be killed. Is it any wonder that one of the popular slogans among pro-choice activists is "Right-to-life, who're you kiddin? You're pro-war and anti-women!"


On September 14 an abortion clinic run by Dr. Jacubowski in Aurora, Illinois was broken into and vandalized to the tune of $175,000. The words "the Devil's workshop" and "baby killer" were scribbled inside. But 100 people demonstrated their disgust with this vandalism on September 21.

The wrecking of the clinic was the latest in a series of attacks on Dr. Jacubowski. In April, "pro-lifers" chained themselves to his car in a rest stop parking lot. When the doctor first opened his office in June, anti-abortionists chained themselves to his front porch and cut telephone lines to the office.

These actions are not simply the work of some loose cannon in the "pro-life" movement. Joseph Scheidler, a nationally known leader of the holy hit squads, openly eggs on his followers to commit such acts. After the vandalism, Scheidler praised it. He said it was the action of "a genuine pro-life radical for whom nonviolent protest takes too long." He suggested it "might discourage other medics from getting involved in the dirty business of abortion." Seig heil, Herr Scheidler! Scratch a "pro-life" fanatic, with their hands raised in pious prayer, and you find a thug, if not a clinic bomber.

Bush backs OR violence

On October 16, the Bush administration told the Supreme Court that violent attacks by Operation Rescue on health clinics, patients, and doctors don't violate federal law. The Supreme Court is now pondering whether the anti-abortion movement must abide by an old civil rights bill dating back to 1871. By preventing women from reaching health clinics, the anti-abortion movement has been denying the rights of women. They wish to subject all women to their religious bigotry. The Bush administration, however, says that this has nothing to do with women's rights, since only some women go to health clinics. Bush is protecting these bigots because he wants to build up right-wing shock troops for use against all the rights of the working people.

Boston protest targets 'gag rule' and Clarence Thomas

300 pro-choice supporters picketed on October 3 at the Federal Court House in Boston. They were protesting the gag rule against discussion of abortion at federally-funded health clinics, the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, and other attacks on women's rights. And it was in commemoration of Rosie Jimenez, who died 14 years ago on October 3, 1977, because the federal government banned the use of federal funds for abortion. There were a number of students from several universities, and many came as organized groups, one group marching together from the subway stop to the demonstration.

'This is not Wichita!' say Iowa City activists


Abortion rights supporters in Iowa City, Iowa squared off recently against Operation Rescue. Chanting "this is not Wichita," several hundred activists formed a barrier around the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women and defended it against some 75 OR people. At the same time, about two dozen pro-choice activists confronted a dozen "pro-life" picketers at the Planned Parenthood Clinic.


[Photo: Hundreds of pro-choice activists defend a women's clinic in Iowa City, Iowa]


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Republi-klans come out of the closet

Down with David Duke's crusade for 'white rights!'

The Reagan and Bush administrations have been on a racist crusade for years. In the halls of government, these klansmen without robes have attacked civil rights and federal social spending for the poor. Their war against "quotas" has undercut the rights of minorities to jobs and education. Meanwhile their "war on drugs" has been a code name for police repression. But the racists in government need no longer hide their robes.

An ex-grand wizard of the KKK and American nazi, David Duke is making his climb-up the Republi-klan Party ladder. On October 19, the Louisiana primary election for governor was held. Duke came in second behind former governor Edwards. The stage is set for a run-off between the two on November 16.

Duke ran a racist campaign for "white rights." His platform included opposition to affirmative action and "quotas," attacks on welfare recipients, and plans for cutting taxes and shrinking government. In the final analysis, it was a typical Republican platform. Bush may try to distance himself from Duke. But if anything, the Duke campaign is the logical product of the Bush administration program. After all it was George Bush who ran for president with a racist campaign using hysteria over Willie Horton.

Of course, the Republicans have not been alone in fostering the likes of Duke. It was under the Democratic Carter administration that the campaign against "reverse discrimination" was launched. It was under Carter that the racist anti-busing movement was fueled. And it's been the Democrats in Congress who have rubber-stamped first Reagan's and then Bush's attacks on the poor and minorities.

The working class has no saviors in the Republicans, the Democrats, or the neo-nazis like Duke. The working class must build its own independent movement to fight the rich and their entire system of racism and exploitation.


L.A. march protests Columbus Day


500 people marched in L.A. on October 12 to protest Columbus Day. Columbus initiated the racism, genocide and brutal exploitation with which capitalism was transplanted from Europe to America.

The march brought out some 150 Native Americans from various tribes, including Mohawks, Shoshone, Hopi, Gabrielinos, Nahuatls, and Aztecs. Marchers also included some 200 Latinos, as well as African-Americans, environmental activists, and supporters of the MLP,USA.


The demonstrators blocked traffic downtown and held a rally on Pershing Square. Speakers denounced Columbus Day as a cruel hoax and fraud. They decried its glorification of innumerable horrors like murder, rape, slavery and genocide. Native people spoke of hundreds of years of broken treaties and the robbery of vast wealth and resources by greedy capitalists that still continues today. Environmentalists condemned the plunder and destruction of the earth brought by imperialist conquest and exploitation.

Th| protesters are gearing up for a year-long campaign to counter the imperialist propaganda for the 500th anniversary of Columbus' "discovery of America." The campaign should give activists a chance to reveal the ugly myth of the "glories" of imperial conquest.

Anti-racists rally in Minneapolis

Nearly 700 people demonstrated in a "No Room for Racism" rally at the University of Minnesota on October 9. They were protesting the formation of a white supremacist "White Student Union" on campus.

The "program" of this group blames immigrants and nonwhites for high taxes, crime and disease. They propose that "after the races have been separated in America," National Guardsmen should patrol the southern border of the U.S. with the order, "if it ain't white waste it!" Seven of these nazi sympathizers waving a large American flag showed up at the anti-racist rally, but were chased off by protesters shouting "On the campus, in the streets, fascists face defeat!" Student activists from St. Cloud, Minnesota, who are organizing against a series of racist attacks there, also attended the rally to show their solidarity.

Nazi meeting disrupted in Pasadena

On October 12, some 75 people protested against a meeting of the fascist "Populist Party" in Pasadena, California. This party tries to hide its true nature behind the misleading title "populist." But it is composed of local Nazi party members, racist skinheads, and Klansmen. They propose running David Duke for president. They blame immigrants as the cause of unemployment. And they are trying to organize violent attacks on immigrants, similar to those taking place in Germany today.

The anti-racist demonstrators vigorously denounced the fascist meeting which was heavily guarded by police. In protecting their fascist brothers, the police arrested six protesters, brutally beating one Latino man.

No to INS raids in California!

"No INS Raids! We want fair treatment!" chanted more than 300 protesters as they picketed on October 8. They denounced the collaboration of city cops and housing inspectors with immigration agents in conducting raids in different areas of Orange County. As well, they protested the $600 fine imposed by a city ordinance which prohibits job-seeking in the streets.

On September 18, the U.S. border patrol agents arrested about 170 people suspected of being illegal immigrants. The immigration agents raided a 260-unit apartment complex. Under the pretext of checking for cockroaches, housing code enforcement inspectors were allowed to enter apartments. They then called in the immigration agents who, with guns drawn, kicked on apartment doors and banged windows with their gun handles. Three weeks prior to the raid, more than 100 laborers were arrested on Orange County streets as they looked for work.

What kind of civil rights bill has Bush signed?


At the end of October, President Bush reversed his earlier objections and agreed to a compromise civil rights bill. Both Bush and the Democrats declared it a victory.

For two years Bush has been stirring up a racist crusade around this bill. In the name of fighting "quotas," he has blocked every effort to make it somewhat easier for people to bring lawsuits against job discrimination, and every effort to reverse a number of racist rulings by the Supreme Court. Why has Bush suddenly reversed himself? Has he given up his racist campaign?

Not a chance. Bush's change of heart appears to be connected to two significant developments. First, the Democrats have so watered down their civil rights bill that there is some question whether it will help or harm those opposing discrimination. Secondly, the Democrats agreed to put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, and thereby strengthened the ability of the Court to make further racist rulings.

Bush has not given up his racism. Rather, the Democrats have given him almost everything he wanted.

Banning quotas


Over the last year, the Democrats have been giving up one after another of the provisions from their original bill. While some things in the final bill may provide some help against discrimination, there is much in it that is objectionable.

For example, to win the votes of Republicans and some Democrats, they put a cap on the damages to be paid for sexual discrimination and harassment on the job.

And to undercut Bush's charge that this was a "quota" bill, the Democrats added an explicit ban on the use of quotas to remedy job discrimination. Of course the Supreme Court had already banned quotas, but this provision writes the ban into an act of Congress for the first time, which may encourage further Supreme Court rulings.

And such a prospect is dangerous. Opposing "quotas" has become the code word to combat the use of statistical evidence to show discrimination and to fight any specific measures against discrimination. As such, a ban on "quotas" can actually be used to outlaw any number of actions against job discrimination.

The way this law is written, the Democrats have explicitly left it up to the Supreme Court to decide which affirmative action plans are to be banned in the name of opposing quotas. And with Thomas on the Supreme Court there is little doubt that it will use the ban to further erode protections against race and sex discrimination.

Defending business interests


The Democrats also conceded to Bush that the bottom line of job discrimination is if it serves business interests.

Any number of companies don't explicitly say they are discriminating, but they have hiring and promotion practices that have the effect of discriminating against minorities and women. The civil rights bill was supposed to have reversed a Supreme Court ruling which had made it virtually impossible to prove racism and sexism in these cases.

But the Democrats so watered down their own provisions, that the bill does not offer a precise description banning such discrimination. Instead, it simply says that such practices are OK if they are "job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity."

Now what is "business necessity?" Capitalist bosses have time and again considered job discrimination, lower pay for minorities and women, and other such practices a "business necessity." Left to them there would be no racist outrage that is not considered necessary for business.

But the Democrats left it up to the Supreme Court to decide which practices are racist and sexist and which are to be considered simply good business. And with the Supreme Court full of Reagan and Bush appointees, is there much question which side the Court will rule for?

Approval for Thomas traded for civil rights bill


Some people have suggested that Bush made a deal to OK the civil rights bill in exchange for the Democrats approving Thomas for the Supreme Court. And there is some evidence for the charge.

But if that was the deal, it was a rotten one. The whole point of the civil rights bill was supposed to be to reverse the racist and sexist decisions that the Supreme Court had been making for several years. With the present right-wing majority of the Supreme Court, reinforced by Thomas, things can only go from bad to worse.

But whether this was the deal or not, the practical result is the same. Bush and Congress have agreed to put up a posture against discrimination. Meanwhile, the racist and sexist crusade continues.


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Strikes and workplace news




Boston school bus drivers strike


[Photo: Striking Boston school bus drivers on the picket line]


On September 24th, 800 Boston school bus drivers went on strike against the In-City Boston Management, Inc. (ICBM). It runs Boston's school bus system under a $30 million contract with the city. ICBM is trying to impose a wage freeze and health care takebacks on the workers.

In recent weeks many people have noticed the stretch limousines parked in front of the elementary schools. The school system is spending thousands of dollars a day to hire expensive limousines and cabs to make a show of transporting a small number of kids to school. Meanwhile, the city continues to pay $6,500 per day to the ICBM bus company, even though it is not transporting a single child. The T is also spending thousands of dollars a day on extra bus runs, train trips and police patrols. The government -- which calls the school bus drivers selfish for striking -- has spent more money prolonging the strike than it would cost to meet the drivers' maximum demands.

Why has the government sided so blatantly with the owners of the school bus company? Well, listen to Samuel Tyler, the executive director of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, the voice of the big bankers in city affairs: "If they [the city] were to do anything in terms of providing money to the bus drivers," Tyler declared, "that basically would pull the finger from the dike and the whole dam would burst open because every unionized city worker has been without a contract since 1989."

In other words, the rich would like to break the school bus drivers, to make an example of them, so that other workers will not get any ideas about fighting back. For just this reason all workers should escalate their support for the school bus drivers.


(Based on Oct. 23 "Boston Worker,"paper of MLP-Boston.)


Workers demand decent health care


A series of strikes are going on to defend health care benefits from the capitalist takeback offensive.

2,300 coal miners struck against Jim Walter Resources in Brookwood, Alabama for three days in mid-August. The miners protested the company's switch to another insurance firm which denied more medical claims, refused formerly routine claims, and billed families for procedures it deemed "not medically necessary."

In Craig, Colorado, about 160 miners have been on strike for over five months against the Cypress Minerals Company. In the company's last contract offer of August 31, it demanded "the right to change or eliminate health benefits at any time."


Meanwhile, about 330 steel workers have been waging a strike for four months against the McWayne Corporation in Coschockton, Ohio. Over the previous year, the company raised workers' medical insurance payments from $7 per month to $240 per month.

A similar strike is going on in Racine, Wisconsin. Some 135 workers are striking Rain Fair's demand that they increase their health care payments from $42 to $100 a month.


Demonstrators arrested in casino strike


During the height of the September 28 gambling weekend, 1,500 protesters blocked the Las Vegas strip. Demonstrators sat in the southbound lanes of the roadway in front of the Frontier Hotel for more than an hour. Ninety-eight demonstrators were arrested. The week before, 29 workers were arrested at another strike demonstration.


The Frontier was struck in mid-September by 500 workers. They have been working without a contract for two years, and have had enough.


Cooper Industries strikers win


A tentative agreement has been reached at Cooper Industries in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Since July 9, about 900 workers who make electrical transformers have been on strike against the company over a concessionary contract proposal.


The workers rejected the last proposal for takebacks even after Cooper threatened to close the plant forever. By holding firm, they forced through an agreement which includes their largest wage increase ever and fully paid medical coverage.


...and even 'The Simpsons'


The 100 animators who create the popular Fox TV series "The Simpsons" are organizing for union rights. They work at Klasky-Csupo, where they are forced to work overtime without pay. The boss has threatened to move the entire business to Hungary rather than deal with any union. The animators have received support from employees at other animation studios. Watch out dude!


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What does Clarence Thomas stand for?

After months of hearings, after days of live TV coverage, the picture of who Clarence Thomas is and what he stands for is fuzzier than ever for those of us who sat glued to the TV. Let's try to bring it into focus.

Thomas is a conservative, right-wing Republican. He belongs to the section of the ruling class that makes no bones about its indifference to the plight of the African American masses and the oppressed. In the 80's Thomas became a loyal crusader for Reagan and Bush against the rights of minorities, the poor, and women -- this is the record which earned Thomas his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Reagan's point man for racism


Reagan put Thomas at the head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Thomas served him well. He preached against affirmative action, welfare, and other prey of the Reaganites.(l) Thomas refused to act on thousands of age discrimination cases for older people. He mocked the idea of "comparable worth" for traditional women's jobs calling "comparable worth" "loony tunes."

In 1982, the Reagan administration decided to allow Bob Jones University to keep its tax-exempt status despite the fact that it banned interracial dating. Clarence Thomas gave his blessing to this White House decision.(l)

Thomas also, like Reagan, has a soft spot for segregation. He talks about reconsidering the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling. This Supreme Court ruling rejected the segregationist doctrine of "separate but equal schools."(2) It is no wonder that Clarence Thomas has become the darling of some notorious racist bigots. Even ex-KKK leader David Duke claims Clarence Thomas as one of his own.(3)

Another Senate coverup


The Senate hearings were a coverup. The lies came fast and furious. For example, during the 80's (when the apartheid regime was killing blacks at a record pace), one of Thomas' good friends worked as a registered agent of the government of South Africa. This friendship was questioned in the hearings. Thomas assured the senators that he did not know his friend was a registered agent and the line of questioning was dropped. Did he expect us to believe he never discussed his friend's job with him?

Thomas vs. women's right to choose


One of his biggest lies was about his views on abortion rights. Thomas made the preposterous claim that he had never discussed Roe v. Wade (the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion), even in casual conversation. And the* Senate accepted it.

But everyone knows that abortion rights was one of Bush's litmus tests for Supreme Court nominees. And Thomas has embraced some extreme anti-abortion views. When the right-wing businessman Lewis Lehrman described "the struggle for the inalienable right to life of the child-in-the-womb" as the "durable moral issue of our age," Thomas applauded. In fact these views might not only lead to rolling back Roe v. Wade, to a time when states decided abortion laws. They could lead to the court banning all abortions as unconstitutional.

Sexual harassment


The Anita Hill case delayed Thomas' confirmation for a week (a whole week, wow). Two things stand out from the storm over Anita Hill's testimony.

First, the Senate committee's treatment of Hill was a disgrace. It began with the attempt to smother the issue altogether. (It was only an unknown Senate staffer who foiled this, and the Senate has recently funded a witchhunt to find the responsible one.) Then, when the matter couldn't be hushed up, it was Anita Hill who was put on trial. Specter, Hatch and Simpson carried out the White House plan of character assassination, branding her a dangerous woman, a fantasizer, a scorned woman. They pulled out all the old cliches used to victimize the victims of sexual harassment.

Hill herself has many similar aspirations with Thomas, and she was a supporter of the nomination of Bork to the Supreme Court. But no matter. No one is to accuse a Reagan or Bush official. That was the message that came out loud and clear from the Senate chambers.

Playing Bush's game


Second, the Democrats played the Republicans' game. Bush set the ground rule before the hearings began; as long as Thomas admits nothing, the Senate has to confirm him.

So the Democratic Senators quoted chapter and verse proving Thomas' views, but he blandly denied everything. Since Thomas wouldn't stand up for his extreme views against abortion rights, against privacy rights, against the rights of the elderly, against Brown v. Board of Education, and on and on, it was supposed to be all right. Enough Democrats shrugged to allow his confirmation. After all, the Democrats don't want to challenge Bush's views, only to insist on a bit more tact from the Republicans in asserting them.

Who is the real high-tech lyncher?


But Thomas gave a new twist to the game of brazen White House officials putting themselves above even their own law. He didn't have to answer anything, you see, because it was just a "high-tech lynching."

But let's look a little closer at how lynching really takes place in America. Mr. Thomas may be black, but he spent a decade as a high official in an administration that lynched blacks in every way possible. An administration that wants more police to shoot them down in the street, that pushes them and other poor people out of public housing on mere suspicions, that generated racist hysteria over the Willie Horton issue in the last presidential election. And far from objecting, Thomas signed the reports advocating more lynching. Yet he would have us believe that he is not a partner of the lynchers and an executioner himself, but a victim.

Look at the hearings themselves. His supporters tried to stop Hill from testifying by publicly threatening to make her life hell. They did the same to Angela Wright, another black women who was a victim of Thomas' harassment. And after the hearings, one conservative called for going after Anita Hill's job. Yet they would make us believe that it was Thomas who was being lynched.

Mr. Thomas said he shouldn't have to speak directly to the charges of sexual harassment, because he was black and from a poor background. Can you imagine what would happen if a presently poor black had come before Mr. Thomas, sitting in his robes as a federal judge, and said: "I don't have to answer this racist bullshit from the police. It's what the police and Mr. Bush always say about blacks. It's just a high-tech lynching."

No, Mr. Thomas wasn't defending poor blacks from lynching, but asserting the ruling class snobbery of a high official backed by Bush and his coterie. Oliver North waged a secret war on Nicaragua, and financed it with drugs, and was outraged that he had to go through a trial. Robert Gates, expected soon to be the new Senate-approved CIA chief, can get away with being the head of CIA covert operations during North's war, simply by claiming ignorance. So why should Thomas have to answer charges that he sexually harassed his subordinates? Reagan-Bush officials are above morality and justice. They build jails for others, while asserting the divine right of kings for themselves. This is the Reagan-Bush view of the natural order of things, this is Thomas' "natural law."

Neither Congress nor the courts!


Thanks to Reagan, thanks to Bush, and thanks to the Senate, the Supreme Court has been packed with right-wing conservatives. Its assault on the rights of the working people, of the accused, of the oppressed, is picking up steam. Women's right to choose may well be the next victim.

The Supreme Court is not some pure body, free from partisan and ideological passions, that stands as the impartial interpreter of the law. The Thomas nomination is the latest proof that the Supreme Court is a highly political body. It interprets the law according to the needs of the capitalist rulers of this country. And with its current right-wing majority, it will interpret them according to the racism and sadism of the conservative diehards.

We need to take our fate into our own hands. We need to build up a movement from below that has faith in neither the Congress nor the courts. We need to build a movement that believes that justice for the working masses, for African Americans, for women, will come from the struggle of the oppressed themselves.

(Based in part on Oct. 27 Bay Area Workers Voice, paper of MLP-S.F. Bay Area.)

(1) Speech to the Heritage Foundation, June 18, 1987.

(2) 1988 article for the Cato Institute. See Washington Post National Weekly Edition, July 8-14, 1991.

(3)Oakland Tribune, October 21, 1991.

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Angry protests in U.S. condemn Haiti coup

As soon as the army coup in Haiti took place, Haitian emigres in the U.S. and Canada poured into the streets to protest. For days, constant demonstrations were held. Some of these came into sharp conflict with the police.

Throughout October, protests continued in Miami, New York, Montreal and other cities. The protests, besides expressing the Haitian community's hostility to the military coup, also allowed discussion of different political ideas on what way forward for the Haitian people.

Spontaneous outburst against the coup


Because of the rotten economic conditions and decades of tyranny, many Haitians have left their homeland and reside in the U.S. and Canada. Some 300,000 live in New York, and many also live in Miami's "Little Haiti" section.

As news of the coup came over the radio on September 30, demonstrations erupted in Miami, Boston, Brooklyn, and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Protesters massed outside the Haitian consulate in Montreal, and thousands gathered outside the United Nations in Manhattan. There were also protests in Paris, France.

Some 3,000 protesters maintained a vigil for days outside the UN building. The demonstrators played drums and lit a bonfire of tires to indicate what they would like to do to the Tonton Macoutes.

Residents of New York and Miami were doubly shocked by the coup, as President Aristide had just visited there a few days before. Aristide had spoken to large enthusiastic crowds in both cities. Ironically enough, Aristide had assured them that he was making progress in democratizing the army. And at the UN he had spoken in favor of Bush's New World Order. Now he was finding out, firsthand, that the "new world order" is the same old tyranny of the exploiters and military gangsters.

Many Haitian protesters connected the coup to U.S. imperialism and the CIA. While no evidence has surfaced linking the coup to the U.S., and Washington had apparently come to terms with Aristide, there is more to it than whether U.S. imperialism had its fingers in the plot itself. It was in any case propping up all the backward forces that, provided the soil for the coup. The anti-U.S. slogans of Haitian demonstrators showed their rightful skepticism towards U.S. imperialism. This comes from decades of U.S. backing for the oppression of the masses in Haiti.

Protesters support Aristide, who snubs them


After being expelled from Haiti, Aristide came to the U.S. On October 2, he went to Washington and gave a speech to the Organization of American States (OAS) asking for help. About 2,000 Haitians rallied outside as he spoke. The demonstrators were from other cities on the East Coast, and had taken off work to attend. Washington police on horseback, dressed in riot gear, pushed the protesters away from the OAS building into a park. Aristide never came out and addressed his supporters. Instead he spent his time appealing to the ruling circles in Washington.

Similarly in New York: Aristide went there on October 3 to address the UN. But he snubbed the 3,000 Haitians protesting outside.

Protesters battle police


In many places, Haitian protesters faced police repression, especially in Miami. There the police teargassed demonstrators the night of September 30, arrested 25 people, and pushed the demonstrators off the street. Enraged, the protesters burned a police car. They also turned against stores owned by known friends of Duvalier in the Little Haiti district.

The next day thousands took to the streets, and the police were forced to concede space to them.

Then on October 2 came a more organized community demonstration, with a march through the city. About 15,000 people attended. Some demonstrators, suspicious of Washington's motives, carried signs reading "U.S. hands off' and "Remember 1915" (the year U.S. marines invaded and took over Haiti).

Tens of thousands parade through New York


The largest march occurred in New York City on October 11. At least 60,000 people joined the parade, which went from Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. At rallies, most speakers opposed U.S. military intervention. Mayor David Dinkins spoke in support of democracy in Haiti. But Dinkins' support was rather hollow, since his police later attacked the demonstrators when they tried to form up outside the UN building. The police beat up and arrested a number of Haitians.

Another demonstration occurred in Washington on October 18. Some 5,000 Haitians, many from Miami, marched. And there have been daily demonstrations in Montreal since the coup.

Sentiment for revolution


The coalitions heading up the organized marches have put forward slogans like "Aristide, the people's choice." Such slogans reflect bourgeois-democratic politics which focus on the most narrow demand: for the restoration of Aristide to his position of president. But the situation in Haiti demands a much more radical perspective than that.

Many people in the demonstrations have chanted: "One solution is revolution." This points in the right direction. Experience in Haiti has proved ten times over that democratic change will need a revolutionary confrontation between the masses and the terrorist state machine, the child of Duvalierism. The Haitian bourgeoisie and military have shown that they cannot tolerate a democratically elected president who sought some mild reforms. The Haitian workers and peasants must liberate themselves. Progressive workers in the U.S. must lend them their support

[Photo: Angry Haitian demonstrators outside UN building in New York, Oct. 1]

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Peace in Mideast requires justice for Palestinians

The long-talked about Middle East "peace conference" is finally underway. Under pressure by the Bush administration (with a token presence by Gorbachev), Israel and its neighboring Arab states gathered in Madrid.

Journalists have been quick to declare what a great victory it was that Arabs and Israelis gathered in the same room. Surely, peace is on the way -- though it will take some time.

Clearly, most people in the world want peace in the Middle East. But can it emerge from the Madrid conference?

The peace conference has been accompanied by much nice-sounding talk. But it is based on two fundamental flaws. And as long as these flaws exist, there can be no just peace in the Middle East.

Two basic flaws


The paramount problem is that the conference is premised on maintaining the subject status of the Palestinian people. The fundamental problem it faces is that Israel has dispossessed and oppresses an entire people, the Palestinians. Why, the Palestinians were not even granted the simple demand for equal representation at the conference. Because of the demand of their oppressor, Israel, Palestinians were not allowed to have their own delegation. They could only come as part of the Jordanian delegation; they could not represent the PLO, which Palestinians consider their national movement; and, they could not include anyone from East Jerusalem, a Palestinian city which Israel has occupied and annexed since 1967.

The second problem is that the U.S. government, the organizer of this conference, is not a neutral party, but it has long been part of the Middle East conflict -- on the side of injustice. For decades, U.S. imperialism has backed up Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. It provides $3 billion in aid every year. And while today Bush is willing to nudge the Israeli government towards a small compromise, Washington refuses to acknowledge the Palestinian people's right of self-determination.

Israeli oppression -- and U.S. support for that -- are at the heart of the problem. Self-determination and justice for the Palestinians is the key to any serious solution. As long as this is not addressed, there will be no real peace in the region.

The reality


The Israeli state was established in 1948 on the basis of dispossessing the Palestinian Arabs who lived there. Since then, Israel has forcibly extended the territory it has occupied. In 1967, it seized the West Bank and Gaza and placed the Palestinians there under its military jackboot. It also took over the Golan Heights from Syria and in 1982, it established military control over southern Lebanon.

Negotiations can only reflect the actual political balance of power. It is possible that under U.S. pressure, Israel and the neighboring bourgeois Arab states might reach compromises on their territorial disputes. In Bush's "new world order" based on the alliance against Iraq, the U.S. government has developed closer ties with the Syrian regime. As well, the collapse of Soviet power has meant that the Syrian regime has lost its erstwhile imperialist patron.

But the conflict with the Palestinians is quite another matter. No big power is inclined to take the side of the Palestinians, a victimized people. The Palestinians, as an oppressed people, can only press their rights to the extent they can organize their own liberation struggle.

Over the last few years, the mass struggle of the Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza has reached new heights. At the cost of great sacrifices, including nearly 1,000 martyrs, the Palestinian intifada (uprising) has made Israeli occupation a costly affair for the Israelis. And it has stripped Israel of its democratic pretensions on a wider scale than ever before.

It is this struggle which has forced Israel to even consider making some concessions to the Palestinians by coming to Madrid. But the Palestinian struggle is not strong enough to force Israel, or its U.S. backer, to consider a just peace.

This is why the Palestinians went to Madrid on a second-class basis. Even their minimal demands -- for their own separate delegation, for representation by the PLO, and for a freeze of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza -- were denied. This second-class status ensures, however, that no justice for the Palestinians can come from the Madrid peace process.

Bantustan solution in the offing


The only, just solution to the Palestinian problem was raised in the slogan advanced in the late 1960's by the PLO for the overthrow of Israel as an exclusive state for Jews and its replacement by a democratic and secular Palestine -- a state in which both Jews and Arabs would live with equal rights. This still remains key to a serious, democratic solution, but there are few forces fighting with such a perspective any more. The mainstream of the Palestinian national movement has opted instead for a two-state solution based on Israel withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza and erecting a Palestinian state there. Unfortunately, this would really be a South Africa stylebantustan("black homeland"), where Palestinian independence would be a fiction. It would have chopped up pieces of land and political and military restrictions placed on them. And it would be heavily economically dependent on Israel.

But Israel is adamant about not even conceding to this type of solution. Nor is the U.S. government willing. All that the U.S. and Israel are talking about is a very limited "self-rule" -- where Palestinians get to run their garbage collection and so forth, while Israel retains its overall political and military control.


Israel's intransigence is seen in its settlement policy. Over the two decades of occupation, Israel, has been setting up hundreds of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. This is not some temporary housing; we are talking about apartment complexes and whole communities. The land on which they sit, and that which has been expropriated for infrastructure, total nearly 70% of the entire West Bank and 50% of Gaza. Every day, more settlements go up. In effect, Israel is dead set on taking over most of the territories.

This is the real reason why there is no prospect for justice in the Middle East emerging from Madrid.

In the final analysis, this scenario can only be changed on the basis of the struggle of the oppressed people: the Palestinian freedom struggle uniting with progressive Jews representing the interests of Jewish working people, exploited by the Israeli ruling bourgeoisie. And struggle by the masses in the U.S. and Europe forcing a change in U.S. and other Western support for Israeli occupation.

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Anti-racists confront Nazi attacks on immigrants in Germany

A wave of ugly, racist attacks against foreign workers has been sweeping through Germany. They peaked the last weekend of September, leading up to the chauvinist celebration of the first anniversary of "united Germany" on October 3. At least one foreigner was killed and several injured.

These attacks are organized by extreme right-wingers, who openly flaunt Nazi symbols. But they are given aid and support by others in the population who've embraced anti-immigrant bigotry. They occur at a time when the political parties of the German establishment are competing over who has the best policy to clamp down on immigrants. All of the parliamentary parties are promoting anti-foreigner hysteria, even while their "respectable" leaders condemn the attacks.

It is up to progressive German workers to take up the defense of the immigrants. Anti-racists in Germany have been organizing to confront the Nazi gangs, and in some cases they have scared off fascist thugs. They also face the problem of confronting the police, who in some cases openly side with the Nazis.

On October 3, "unification day," tens of thousands of progressive people demonstrated in Berlin and Hamburg against the wave of fascist attacks. That weekend anti-fascist demonstrators clashed with neo-Nazis in the eastern city of Gottbus, near Hoyerswerda. By standing up to the Nazis they prevented another atrocity against immigrant hostels. In Hoyerswerda itself, leftist demonstrators faced up to police water cannon to stand guard around the immigrant hostels. The leftists found support for their stand among local miners, who worked with the immigrants. And in Wenden, near Cologne, hundreds of progressive people set up a protective guard around a hostel to protect it from right-wing thugs.

Violent attacks and Nazi demonstrations


The attacks on immigrants have taken place all over Germany, both east and west. In the eastern city of Neubrandenburg, Nazi skinheads marched through town with a swastika banner, shouting racist slogans, and beat up two Vietnamese workers. In the western town of Burgwedel, a dormitory for recent immigrants was set on fire. In Hunxe, near Holland, a hostel for immigrants was burned down, with two children critically burned. Also in the west, in Recklinghausen, neo-Nazis stoned a building housing gypsies. And in the town of Saarlouis, one man from Ghana was burned to death, and a number of others severely injured, by a firebomb attack.

In an atrocity lasting nearly a week, Nazi skinheads in Hoyerswerda attacked a hostel for immigrants. The skinheads first attacked at night, throwing stones and bottles, then escalating to tear gas and gunfire. The inhabitants, who included refugees from Yugoslavia, Angola and Rumania, fought off the attacks with sticks and iron bars. But then the fascists came out in broad daylight, marching against the hostel with a force of hundreds. Local police did nothing to protect the immigrants until anti-racist demonstrators began organizing self-defense teams around the hostel.

Finally, the premier of the state of Saxony ordered the immigrants evacuated from Hoyerswerda. This pleased the Nazis no end, who bragged that their town is now "foreigner-free."

Parliamentary parties compete for anti-immigrant honors


Both the ruling Christian Democratic Party and the opposition Social Democratic Party are seeking legislation to limit immigration to Germany. Both of them support anti-immigrant hysteria by falsely blaming immigrant workers for the rising unemployment in Germany.

As well, the Christian Democrats want to completely eliminate the right of political asylum, which is in the German constitution. The Social Democrats want to formally retain it, but wipe out its meaningful application with all kinds of restrictive regulations.

Meanwhile the petty-bourgeois Green Party's parliamentary representatives have caved in to the hysteria and are calling for quotas on refugees. And the Party of Democratic Socialism, successor to East Germany's former ruling party, calls for reliance on "more police" to solve the problem of racist attacks, at the same time calling for "discussions" with the Nazis.

The anti-immigrant policies reflect a general turn to the right among the bourgeois parties, at a time of increasing economic crisis. At the same time, they are a continuation of the anti-immigrant policies that have been dominant in Germany for decades. For many years "guest workers" were brought in to West Germany from countries like Turkey and Yugoslavia. But these immigrants were put into the hardest manual-labor type jobs. The authorities tried to keep them isolated from the German population. And they and their descendants, even those born in Germany, were not allowed to become citizens. Meanwhile, gypsies were forced into camps.

In East Germany, too, under the former, false socialist regime, foreign workers were isolated from the local population. With the collapse of the old system there, and in the midst of mass unemployment, neo-Nazis began to organize widely among disaffected youth, scapegoating immigrants for the problems facing the people.

In the recent election in the state of Bremen, the bourgeois parties competed to see who could call the loudest for deportation of immigrants. In the election returns a straight-up Nazi group got 6.1% of the vote and won six legislative seats, while a "moderate" fascist group got 1.5%. And the newly elected Social Democratic head of the state government is already refusing to accept refugee applications from Rumania and Poland.

On October 10, the bourgeois parties came to an agreement to establish internment camps for new arrivals seeking asylum. Ninety camps, each holding 500, will be set up. Those rejected will be deported.

The last week of October, Germany's foreign minister hosted a conference of European nations to warn them that Germany is clamping down on immigration. Mass protests in Germany demanded that the government instead clamp down on Nazis, but the government refuses to listen, hell-bent on using immigrants as a scapegoat.

Smash the Nazi gangsters!


The rise of neo-Nazi racist attacks bring back bitter memories of the Germany of the 1930's. A Hitler-style mass fascist movement backed by major sections of big business is not yet on the scene. But progressive German workers and activists are right to take seriously the task of organizing militantly in defense of the immigrants. Chauvinist, anti-foreigner hysteria is one of the most dangerous weapons of the bourgeoisie to split the working class and to maintain their power. Defending minority workers is essential for workers to build their class unity and to prepare for the day when workers of all nationalities live together peacefully in a society free of exploitation of person by person.

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