The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 22, No. 1


25 cents January 1, 1992

[Front page:

Don't fall for Japan Bashing--The profit system is the enemy;

New Year's Editorial--Old social systems pollute a changing world;

The USSR collapses--Free market also a disaster]


Trade war with Japan: Lies and reality........................... 2
On Oliver Stone's film: Who killed JFK?...................... 3

Down with racism!

Racist cross burnings in Iowa......................................... 4
Protests mount against David Duke............................... 4
Democrats sell out Civil Rights Bill............................... 4
Bush uses new law against minority hiring.................... 4
1492: Colonialist holocaust in the Americas.................. 5

The fight against cutbacks

California vs. immigrants and the poor.......................... 6
You're not unemployed, just 'dependent'...................... 6
Squeezing the poor from coast to coast.......................... 6

The struggle of the homeless

1,500 rally in Detroit...................................................... 7
Tent city in Michigan capital.......................................... 7
Capitalist system behind crisis....................................... 7
The rich lash out at the homeless................................... 7

Crisis at GM................................................................... 8
Bosses say these jobs are gone for good........................ 8
Pro-choice movement keeps up heat on OR................... 9
No to the corporate rape of James Bay........................... 10
U.S. of Europe: Making a new superpower.................... 11

The world in struggle

South Africa; Bangladesh; India; Greece; Spain; Britain; Chile; Bolivia.................................................................. 12

Don't fall for Japan Bashing

New Year's Editorial

Old social systems pollute a changing world

The USSR collapses

Free market also a disaster

Trade with Japan: Lies and reality

On Oliver Stone's film

Who killed JFK?


California governor echoes David Duke--A campaign against immigrants and the poor

Blaming the victim

You're not unemployed, just 'dependent'

Squeezing the poor from coast to coast

The struggle of the homeless

Defend women's rights!

Anti-gay bigotry denounced

No to the corporate rape of James Bay

Support the anti-war GIs, condemn the imperialist army!

Europe agrees to currency and political union

A new superpower in the making

Cruelty against the third world

The other face of European imperialism

The world in struggle


Don't fall for Japan Bashing

The profit system is the enemy

The U.S. remains gripped by a severe recession. What is more, the economic troubles that the country faces are not just that of a typical business downturn; this recession is bringing to the surface deep structural problems that have accumulated over many years. More and more job cuts are in store in the coming years, and the experts say that the people may as well forget about job security and improved incomes over the coming years.

So how are our corporate and political leaders responding to this huge crisis? More and more they are rallying around a common theme: bash Japan for the ills of the U.S. economy.

This month, George Bush is on a trip to the Pacific, including Japan. This trip was originally designed as a tour to shore up U.S. imperialism's alliances in the Pacific. In the face of worsening economic news, the trip has been repackaged as a "trade mission." Why, Bush is taking with him to Japan the bosses of the Big Three auto corporations, as well as a number of other corporate executives.

This "trade mission" was cooked up to make Bush appear active in dealing with economic problems. The underlying idea: blame the recession on Japan and turn the eyes of workers here away from the economic ills of capitalism and the failures of U.S. corporations. And he also wants to bludgeon the Japanese to give new economic concessions to U.S. capitalists.

This mission was conceived this way in the backdrop of the December 750th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Last month, the news media, politicians, and corporate bosses went on a frenzy of Japan-bashing, comparing the Japanese attack in 1941 with the "economic invasion" of 1991.

The truth is, the economic ills of America are the result of the profit system. The current recession is an overproduction crisis; the capitalists cut back on production because the hard-pressed workers are in no position to afford goods. As for the overall structural problems in the economy, they are the product of many factors. For one thing, the capitalists have squeezed huge profits out of concessions and takebacks over the last decade, but much of these profits are put into financial robbery and speculation while the productive base, infrastructure, etc. deteriorate. For another, competition has intensified among the capitalists, both in the U.S. and with other capitalists abroad. Under the system of dog-eat-dog competition, more and more enterprises are faced with pressure to restructure or collapse. This competitive drive always leads to business cycles -- including recessions and crises. Were the capitalists to invest more in retooling and infrastructure, the resulting growth would eventually lead to overcapacity and another slowdown.

The capitalists want the workers to bear the burdens of the economic crisis, whether it is the recession or the restructuring of the economy. But there is no reason the workers have to accept this logic. The workers have to bring their own demands, priorities, and interests into the center of national discussion on the economy. This means nothing other than struggle against the corporate exploiters, struggle against the profit system itself.

To divert the workers away from that conclusion, the politicians and media want us to focus on a "foreign enemy." This is an age old trick: it is designed to have the workers unite with our exploiters, instead of realizing who our real enemy is.

[Photo: Workers and poor people rallied in Lansing, Michigan on Dec. 5 to protest budget cuts.]

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New Year's Editorial

Old social systems pollute a changing world

1991 was a year of remarkable changes. The old realities are disappearing before our eyes.

The USSR, the revisionist superpower which used to pretend to be communist, has dissolved.

Western Europe seeks to form a United States of Europe to engage in trade wars with other industrialized nations, while old nationalist rivalries, long forgotten, are flaring up in Eastern Europe.

In the U.S., large corporations are swallowed by others, banks fail, and nothing is secure any more. If you have a health plan or pensions, the insurance company behind it may fail. If you have a job today, it may be gone tomorrow.

But some things remain

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Exploitation, imperialism, and racism still haunt the world.

While technology and productive capacities soar, unemployment stalks the U.S. and much of the world. The productivity of a worker today is higher than a decade ago, and sky high compared to what it was after World War II. Yet the harder we work, the higher the unemployment. Work more, work harder, work twice as long, and get back half as much for your family.

The cold war may be over, but militarism and hot war are flourishing. 1991 saw U.S. imperialism seek to prop itself up the old way -- by slaughtering the people of Iraq and imposing a hunger blockade that still continues today.

The old-time racism and chauvinism is back with a vengeance. David Duke almost became governor of Louisiana, while a wave of nationalist and anti-immigrant parties picked up votes in Western Europe. The year ended in this country with a massive bout of Japan-bashing around Pearl Harbor day.

Why can't the world be rid of the old?

It is a changing world, but an old system. All its old ills, from unemployment to militarism and racism, remain. Why?

Because it is still a social system where the rich and privileged exist by impoverishing the poor. Where the number of millionaires grows in proportion to the number of homeless sleeping under bridges or over heat vents.

Because it is still a social system where the only ideas that inspire action are war and greed and racism.

Because it is still a system in which every change is done on the back of the working class.

The rich get richer, and the poor get sermons.

The future of communism

So the more the world changes, the more the Marxist analysis of the inner contradiction of capitalism stands out. The fall of the hammer and sickle from over the Kremlin may yet prove to be the revival of the hammer and sickle in the hearts and minds of activist workers around the world. Communism will be emancipated from the false, revisionist advertising sign of the bureaucratic tyranny, and stand as the truth about today's world and how to change it.

And if 1991 showed anything, it showed that social systems can grow ripe for change, and get blown away in a torrent. Realities that seemed built on stone vanish in the morning sunlight. This cannot but suggest: Why should we continue to have to suffer under such an old system of dog-eat-dog profit-making while the world changes daily? Is it not time for the working class to bring something new into the world? Is it not time to change the system of ownership whose influence lies behind the new world realities? Shouldn't the working people as a whole own the means of production, and run them on the basis of the highest achievements of modern technique?

Isn't this the only way to break out of the old recurring patterns of imperialism, racism, and crisis?

Changed people for changed times

But to bring in a new system, the mass struggles are going to have to change as rapidly as the world has. The events of the past years have not only blown away social systems, but old theories and answers. A crisis of orientation afflicts the mass struggles of the workers and oppressed people. It is time for the working class to stand up in its own right. It is time to cast aside the pro-capitalist labor bureaucrats who have paralyzed the strikes and organizing drives for years on end, and let the percentage of unionized workers in private industry fall to the lowest level in decades. It is time to cast aside the Democratic Party politicians who have hitched the people behind the chariot of faith in imperialism and in profit-making. It is a time to cast aside the old revisionist theories that have passed for communism.

And most of all, it is time for the working class to cast aside the non-political role that has been imposed on it, and stand up to build a new political movement in this country. Let there be a new perspective -- that of building a new social system! Let the most active working class militants unite into their own party! A party of revolutionary struggle and socialism. This is the Marxist-Leninist Party which we have been building. The party which has stood with the masses through the long years of Reaganism, and now stands with them in the struggle against imperialism, racism, and the deepening economic crisis.

Behind the facade

But wait! Organize for the birth of a new society? At a time when capitalism never seemed stronger? When it is celebrating its victory over the Soviet Union?

But the Soviet Union seemed a solid world superpower only a few years ago. And then it fell with a speed and finality that nothing could stop.

Today the United States still stands as the supreme world military power, unchallenged in murder and mayhem. But the inner corruption of American capitalism taints one sphere after another. Homelessness and misery is spreading. Economic rivalries between the great capitalist powers of the world are leading to a multi-polar world, with trade war and foreigner-bashing.

Politics follows economics. A time of political crisis and change will be coming upon us. Let us ensure that the politics of capitalist greed is met with an alternative! Let the promises of the establishment or the ranting of fascist demagogues like David Duke be opposed by a revolutionary movement of the working class! Today there is an old system in a changing world. Shouldn't there also be a changed working class movement, ready to step by step bring millions upon millions of new people into the fight for a socialist system of prosperity and culture for all?

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The USSR collapses

Free market also a disaster

1991 closed with the Soviet Union coming to an end, replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States. The red flag with the hammer and the sickle went down, replaced by the old national flag of Russia and the other republics.

What does this change of flags, names and symbols mean? Does it mean that socialism there has finally been replaced by capitalism? No, the symbols and names had become hollow -- empty and cruel lies -- many decades ago. The Soviet Union, which was created by a profound workers' revolution in 1917, had long ceased to be a worker-run society. It had become a state-capitalist system, where privileged bureaucrats exploited the workers, while keeping up the old symbols of working class power and communism.

Today's transition marks the final collapse of that state-capitalism in the Soviet Union. That system, where the state ran the whole economy but along capitalist lines, fell into deep crisis in the 1970's. Gorbachev was appointed by the Soviet ruling class to salvage their creaky system with a dose of Western-style capitalist reforms. But the system provedbeyond salvage.

The forces which Gorbachev unleashed managed to eat up the state-capitalist order itself. He desperately tried to maintain this or that vestige of the old regime, but in the end he failed. Under the pressure of world imperialism, pushed by the growing power of private capitalist forces within the Soviet Union itself, helped along by the corruption and total bankruptcy of the state-capitalist bureaucracy, the old system collapsed. In the end Gorbachev had to go as well.

Today Yeltsin and the other leaders swear by the free market and private capitalism. But this is no alternative to the crisis caused by the fiasco ofstate-capitalism. Witness the shock therapy now underway in Russia. Hyperinflation is the rage, with workers' incomes and savings being destroyed in an instant. To the masses, hope today amounts to the idea of being able to survive this harsh winter.

Yeltsin, the U.S. and European bankers and experts, have held out the promise that the free market will mean a jump for Russians to Western European standards of living. The same promises were made to East Europe. The reality is that most of East Europe and the former Soviet Union are dropping towards Latin American standards.

Last month, a United Nations report pointed out that East Europe and the Soviet Union are in the midst of a depression like the 1930's. True, the faults of the old state-capitalist system are partly responsible for this sad state of affairs. But it is equally true that the free market transition has hastened this situation, and shows no quick way out of it either.

The times cry out for a workers' alternative to both these rotten systems. Neither the state-capitalist stagnation and tyranny nor the free market poverty and social disintegration offer hope for the working people who create all wealth in society. The working people need workers' socialism. A new communist society run by the working class, not by bureaucrats ruling in their name. A society where the workers' initiative, creativity, and organized potential is unleashed to reconstruct society for the needs of all.

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Trade with Japan: Lies and reality

Bashing Japan is based on a series of lies and half truths. Let us put a few to rest.

Recession "made in Japan"?


It has almost become gospel truth among some Democratic politicians to say that the U.S. recession is "made in Japan." Bush's outgoing Commerce Secretary Mosbacher also remarked that Japan was "partly" responsible for the current downturn.

But wait a minute. The U.S. trade deficit with Japan' is now about $41 billion. The overall size of the U.S. economy is $5.5 trillion, some 134 times larger. Moreover, the trade deficit has been on a decline since 1987. How on earth can it be said that this recession is caused by Japan?

Moreover, the current recession is expanding worldwide. Canada, Britain, and several European countries are also gripped by it. And economic growth has slowed down in Japan too. This goes to show that the recession is a problem of the world capitalist economy, rather than any one country being responsible for it.

Is it only Japan that practices "unfair trade"?


Another big lie is that the U.S. practices fair and free trade while the Japanese practice unfair trade. The truth is, despite the rhetoric of free trade, all the capitalist powers engage in unfair trade practices.

It was notable that when Bush visited Australia recently, it was Australian farmers who came out on the streets to protest unfair trade by the U.S. They pointed out that U.S. subsidies to its grain producers provide them with an advantage over Australian wheat producers, responsible for ruining many of them.

Indeed, the U.S. is one of the most protectionist countries. Reagan used to talk loud about free trade, but under his administration, the U.S. initiated or increased protection against such items as steel, autos, sugar, semiconductors, lumber and machine tools.

And what about Japan? There is no qualitative difference. Japan too talks about itself as a free trade paradise, but they also use various kinds of restrictive practices.

However, sections of the U.S. corporations and media engage in the most outrageous lies. In order to paint a picture that Japan is some kind of world gangster, they just make up fairy tales. One of the biggest whoppers is that Japan does not allow auto imports from the U.S. What is the the truth? U.S. auto monopolies have refused to build cars with right-hand drive, which is the system in Japan. Instead of making cars that could sell in Japan the U.S. auto monopolies have found the lie a convenient screen behind which to hide. The fact is, they do not think they can seriously compete in Japan.

Are the Japanese "buying up America"?


To make Japan into a monster, another lie is told: the Japanese are buying up America. At bottom, this brings out the racist nature of the anti-Japanese crusade.

The fact is modern capitalism is a global enterprise, and the big corporations buy, acquire, merge and invest everywhere they can make profits. U.S. corporations have long dominated the list of multinational corporations operating abroad.

The Japanese capitalists are latecomers on this front. True, in recent years they have increased their investments in the U.S. But the media have told such lies that most Americans think that it is Japanese companies which have bought up more property in the U.S. than anyone else. The truth is, European companies are still the biggest investors in the U.S.

There was a big hysteria when Sony bought CBS Records. But how many people know that Philips of Holland owns Polygram Records, that Bertelsmann of Germany owns RCA Records, or that Thorn EMI of Britain owns Capital Records?

It is amazing hypocrisy that the U.S. auto companies complain about Japanese imports. It also happens to be the case that GM owns 42% of Isuzu Motors, and half of Korea's Daewoo Motors. Meanwhile Chrysler, the biggest shouter against Japan, produces cars jointly with Mitsubishi, and it uses a huge percentage of non-American parts in its cars.

What conclusions should workers draw from these facts?


Japan is but one capitalist power among many. Its practices are not substantially different than the U.S. or Europeans. The truth is, the workers' enemy is not Japan or any other competitor from abroad. The workers' enemy is the capitalist class, and it doesn't matter what their nationality is.

Moreover, the reality of the present- day world is the increased globalization of capitalism. The Japanese corporations may have become somewhat more efficient today than their U.S. competitors. But yesterday it was U.S. corporations in that position, and the Europeans may well have a stronger position tomorrow.

If the workers allow themselves to join the frenzy of bashing foreigners, they will only weaken their struggle. They will have been diverted away from focusing on their real enemy. The workers of America cannot get involved in competition against workers in foreign lands. Instead we need to unite with them, across national borders, in order to fight the exploiters. The only way to stand up against the international power of capital is by building the international unity of the workers.

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On Oliver Stone's film

Who killed JFK?

To thunderous disapproval from most of the press, Oliver Stone's new movie JFK opened across the country. The columnists' rushed to defend the official story about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President from 1961 to his assassination, in Dallas, on November 22, 1963. They wanted to lay down the "politically correct" line for the establishment: JFK had been killed by a lone, crazed gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had no political motives, but was nevertheless some sort of weirdo leftist. Most of the establishment, liberal or conservative, rushed to proclaim its faith in the Warren Commission, a group of high officials which backed this official story. Anyone who denied the Warren Commission was a "conspiracy theorist," who probably looked for Martians under every bed, proclaimed the respectable columnists and cartoonists one after another.

But no one who has looked into things seriously believes the Warren Commission. One investigator after another has shown that JFK was assassinated by several gunmen, in a right-wing conspiracy. The Warren Commission itself could not advocate its views without altering crucial evidence.

And the majority of the American people did not accept the Warren Commission. Under the pressure of this overwhelming mass skepticism, Congress itself had to reopen the investigation years later. And in December 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations had to grudgingly admit that Kennedy was probably killed in a conspiracy.

What's at stake?


So why this rush to hitch onto the discredited Warren Commission?

Because if Oswald wasn't the lone assassin, the Warren Commission was not only wrong, but it lied, covered up evidence, and concealed the truth. It turns out that the assassination, and the subsequent framing of Oswald as the lone assassin, required the cooperation of important elements in the FBI, Secret Service, and other high agencies. And this cover-up involved the big names of capitalist society, from CIA spooks like Allen Dulles to leading liberals like then-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren.

As Time puts it, approvingly quoting liberal columnist Tom Wicker, the exposure of the Warren Commission would "if widely accepted, contemptuous of...the very constitutional government" ruling in our country. (Time, Dec. 23, p. 67) It would expose the police and court institutions of our society as political creatures of the ruling class. When the stakes are high enough, they will even cover up the assassination of their own leader and president.

Was JFK a hero?


The film JFK does a good job of documenting a number of absurdities from the Warren Commission. It presents a good deal of evidence which had been uncovered and discussed in a number of books by careful investigators. The problem with the Warren Commission isn't the minor flaws and inconsistencies which any large-scale investigation will have. The problem is the ridiculous assertions, lies and cover-ups in the most basic and essential parts of the official story.

But Oliver Stone goes further. He asserts that JFK was going to pull out of the Vietnam war, that he would make peace with Cuba, that he was a friend of of the black people's movement, that he was the friend of the people. The assassination of JFK was a government coup that corrupted America.

This view by Stone is a fantasy. The weakest parts of his film, where he engages in idle speculation, are where he puts this forward.

JFK, a liberal imperialist


In fact, JFK was responsible for stepping up U.S. aggression In Vietnam for each year of his presidency. Oh yes, he didn't just believe in ordinary military means. He pioneered various methods of what is now called "low-intensity warfare." For example, in the name of winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people, there was the Staley Plan of 1961, better known as the building of "strategic hamlets." This meant herding the Vietnamese into fortified villages, or glorified concentration camps, so they could be prevented from giving support to the popular liberation forces.

Of course, Kennedy may well have believed that U.S. forces could be withdrawn in a few years. But then, Kennedy still had hopes of crushing the Vietnamese liberation struggle so that U.S. troops would become unnecessary.

JFK did refuse to give additional air support to the CIA-organized Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961, when it flopped badly. But Kennedy had authorized this U.S.-sponsored operation, and support for it through both regular U.S. armed forces as well as the CIA. He also unleashed the CIA to plot the assassination of Castro. And in 1962, he created the Cuban missile crisis, blockaded Cuba, and brought the world to the edge of global nuclear war.

JFK differed from some other establishment strategists in that he saw the need to develop a more flexible approach for stopping insurgencies and popular movements against pro-U.S. tyrannies. He supplemented the crude militarist methods of conservative imperialism with more subtle methods. And he put forward this subtle imperialism as love of humanity and peace. But he never departed from U.S. imperialist aims, and he actually renovated and reinforced the most brutal means of terror against insurgent peoples.

And the black movement


With respect to the black people's movement, a massive explosion against racism and exploitation was developing in those years, and JFK sought ways to keep it in check. He followed the policy of supporting reformism against the militants. When Stone's JFK shows a brief shot of Malcolm X, it presumably implies that JFK had something to do with him. Actually, it was Malcolm X who delivered the bitter verdict on JFK's murder that "the chickens had come home to roost." And indeed, so it was. JFK, the, man who could order assassinations of foreign leaders, ended up killed by some of the ruthless, cold-blooded assassins fostered by his own policy of imperialist murder.

So there wasn't a right-wing plot?


A number of establishment magazines say that, if JFK wasn't really going to get out of Vietnam, then there couldn't have been any reason for him to be assassinated by the right-wing. So, they say, since Stone is wrong about JFK's views on Vietnam, Stone is wrong about everything, and the Warren Commission is right after all.

But this doesn't follow at all. All it shows is that JFK wasn't assassinated in a fight between good and evil, but in a fight between different factions of imperialists.

Powerful sections of the American ruling class are so conservative that they view such liberals as JFK as almost communist revolutionaries. For such conservatives, racism must be preserved, and even JFK's support of black reformism appeared as horrible treachery. For the conservatives, anything but atom bombs on Vietnam appeared as the Pentagon fighting with one hand tied behind its back. And for counterrevolutionary Cubans and CIA puppets, their failure during the Bay of Pigs invasion was due solely to being stabbed in the back by Kennedy.

The JFK assassination shows that the ruling class in this country is so corrupt and cynical and ruthless, that it is willing to murder one of its own establishment figures over relatively minor differences. The right-wing is so influential in the secret police and military agencies, that they could organize the assassination. And the ruling class was determined to protect this right-wing, and also the whole secret police and government-backed terrorist apparatus, from the wrath of an angered public. So the establishment, liberal and conservative alike, covered up the assassination. Even liberal hero Chief Justice Earl Warren.

So what will it take to bring real change?


This tells us a lot about what radical change will take in this country. If even a loyal establishment imperialist like JFK is assassinated, what will the ruling class do if it feels threatened by a really radical movement?

The ruling class talks a good deal about democracy. But in the 60's, how many political figures ended up dead and assassinated? And how many governments were overthrown by the CIA?

This is why it will take a revolution to establish socialism. The ruling class will not give up its profits without a struggle. If it would kill one of its own, like JFK, it will not hesitate to stamp out its class enemies with the utmost ferocity. Against this, the working class needs, not a counter-conspiracy, but solid organization, mass struggle, and the spread of communist ideas.

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Racist cross burnings in Iowa and David Duke

David Duke claims he has given up his KKK sheet and turned away from racism. But then what about the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP) which keeps its office in Duke's Louisiana headquarters and which Duke still heads?

Oh, that's not against black people, Duke claims. Its just for helping white people advance. Yeah, right. Over the backs of black people.

Just look at Dubuque, Iowa. The NAAWP, together with the KKK, are carrying out a racist crusade there to bar black people from this white enclave of a city. At least 10 cross burnings and a number of other racist assaults have been reported since May. There are only 331 blacks in the town of 57,546 people. Outrage against an earlier cross burning forced city leaders to promise to integrate the town. But the NAAWP and the KKK have vowed to stand in the way.

But they are not going unopposed. On November 23, nearly 200 people demonstrated against the cross burnings. And on November 31, about 300 people came out to confront KKK Grand Wizard Thomas Robb. Meanwhile, about 500 anti-racists protested cross-burnings in Waterloo, Iowa.

Protest builds against David Duke

"Nazi! You're a goddamned Nazi!" shouted protesters as David Duke attempted to announce his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in Washington, D.C. on December 4.

Three weeks later, Duke was interrupted by angry protesters as he tried to kick off his bid for the White House in Florida. He was pushed to the ground as fist fights broke out with his security guards.

And earlier, on November 14, around 300 students marched and held an anti-Duke rally on his home turf in Louisiana. Students from the University of Southwestern Louisiana denounced Duke's racism and his ties to the White Citizen's Council and American Nazi Party.

Duke claims he has given up racism. But who can believe him? At the press conference in Washington he denounced the black immigrants from Haiti and declared, "The time has come in America to limit and stop the illegal immigration into our society... This country is overwhelmingly of European descent. It's overwhelmingly Christian. And if we lose its underpinning, I think we're going to lose the foundations of America." Oh he's not racist. Oh no, he's just against anyone not of "European descent." Can you believe it?

Duke's blatant racist ravings have been an embarrassment for the Republicans. But just so no one would misunderstand Bush's complaints against the bigot, Vice-President Quayle spoke up recently to clarify the matter. The problem with Duke, Quayle declared, is "the messenger, not the message."

Oh yes, the Republicans agree with Duke's ravings against immigrants, and foreigners, and welfare mothers, and "quotas." They are enthusiastic to stir up a racist crusade to split up the workers' movement and make minorities the target for even harsher exploitation. They know there is nothing better for enriching the capitalists and keeping them in the driver's seat. But they don't trust Duke himself and want to keep the racist dog on a leash. So while Bush decries the "messenger," Quayle applauds the racist message.

Meanwhile, the Democrats face their own embarrassment at the hands of Duke. In announcing his run for the presidential nomination, Duke adopted the liberal Democrats' slogan of "fair trade, not free trade." And he explained this trade war hysteria against Japanese workers in the crudest racist terms. "We must go to the Japanese" he declared, "and say: 'You no buy our rice, we no buy your cars.'" The Democrats like to posture that "fair trade" is just a call to protect jobs in the U.S. But Duke has let the cat out of the bag that this is nothing but a racist crusade against foreign workers.

Democrats sell out on Civil Rights Bill

Bush denies protection to many

Just prior to the vote on the 1991 Civil Rights Bill, one last dirty deal was struck between the Republicans and Democrats. An amendment was passed specifically excluding 2,000 Alaskan salmon cannery workers from the right to sue for discrimination under the new law.

The seasonal workers, mostly Native Alaskans and Filipino immigrants, have faced extreme discrimination by the Wards Cove Packing Co. In many cases they have been forced into segregated jobs, segregated sleeping quarters and segregated eating areas. In 1974 the Native Alaskan and Filipino workers sued the Seattle-based company for discrimination. Nine years later, the U.S. Court of Appeals held that the company was in violation of the Civil Rights Act for "pervasive" patterns of institutional discrimination.

But in 1989 the Supreme Court reversed the ruling. It held that the workers could not just show a statistical pattern of discrimination, but had to prove intentional discrimination. This was one of the key cases the conservative Supreme Court used to make it more difficult for minorities to sue for discrimination.

The outcry over the unjustness of the ruling was one of the main reasons for writing a new civil rights law. Yet now that the law has been passed, the long- suffering Wards Cove workers have been excluded from any benefits of the new law. The amendment to exclude these workers makes a mockery of the law itself.

But this swipe at Wards Cove workers is just the tip of the iceberg. As it turns out, the Democrats left it up to Bush to decide whether any past discrimination would be covered by the new law. And, as anyone would have guessed, he banned all past cases from coverage.

On December 30, the Civil Rights Commission -- composed of Reagan and Bush appointees --ordered that all cases which were filed before November 21, and all future cases that are based on discrimination before the new law took effect, are to be tried under the old Supreme Court rulings. This makes it much harder to prove discrimination, means less compensation if the case is won, and basically lets a whole slew of racist bosses off the hook.

With the Democrats handing Bush new ways to curtail rights, and with the Supreme Court stacked against the working masses, the working masses can only rely on themselves to fight discrimination. We must build up the revolutionary organization of the working class in order to fight the outrageous racial and sexual discrimination.

Bush uses new Civil Rights law against minority hiring

Just days after the Civil Rights Act was signed, the Bush Administration began using the new law to deepen discrimination against minorities in hiring.

On December 13, Bush's Labor Department ordered state employment agencies to stop the practice of "race norming" the scores of minorities on the General Aptitude Battery Test. The result is that the test, which has been shown to be racially biased, can now be used by states and private industries to exclude many black people and other minorities from jobs.

"Race norming" -- the practice of giving minorities additional points on their scores on tests shown to be biased -- has long come under attack as "reverse discrimination." Bowing to the racist howls, the Democrats agreed to include a ban on it in the Civil Rights Bill. Of course "race norming" is hardly the best measure to prevent discrimination. But if you want to oppose racism, how can you ban "race norming" and not also ban the racist test itself? But that's what the Civil Rights Bill does. And once again the Democrats have handed Bush a weapon to step up discrimination against blacks and other minorities.

The racist General Aptitude Battery Test was first put into use by the Reagan administration. It was claimed to be an objective assessment of how well one would perform on a job. And it was widely taken up by state employment agencies and private industries.

But studies -- such as that done by the National Research Council of the Academy of Science -- concluded that the test was racially biased. At most, it merely rated one's skill at taking a standardized test -- which students from predominantly white schools were better trained for than their black and Latino peers from the deteriorating ghetto schools. Even knowing little gimmicks such as marking answers for every question, rather than leaving blanks, made for better grades on the test. When the time given to take the test was lengthened (which tends to cut down the importance of lucky guesses and may be measuring knowledge somewhat more accurately), the gap in the test scores closed, and it was considered somewhat fairer. The study concluded that not only was the test racially biased, but that it did not test actual knowledge or measure potential job performance.

The test should have simply been thrown out and more equitable means found for hiring. But instead, "race norming" was begun. This saved the test and avoided lawsuits. At the same time, it made it appear that opposing discrimination meant arbitrarily giving minorities higher scores than whites and unfairly giving them job preferences over whites.

The Reaganites and other racists leaped on this practice as another example of supposed "reverse discrimination." And the liberal Democrats, the supposed champions of the oppressed minorities and downtrodden, caved in to the racist crusade. The Civil Rights Bill was supposed to remedy various racist practices. But with all of its bans on "race norming" and "quotas" and what not, it is being used as a weapon to step up discrimination.

Demonstrations against racist cops in Alameda

Since the beginning of November a number of demonstrations have taken place in Alameda, California against the racist police. The demonstrations began when police computer communications containing racist jokes about the KKK and the murder of black people were made public. The police chief, who himself is notorious for discrimination against women and minorities, attempted to deny the racist nature of the jokes and protect the cops involved. The city council and mayor wailed and moaned that there was really nothing they could do.

In the meantime people have been stepping forward, telling stories that show that these racist acts by the Alameda cops are but the tip of a segregationist drive in Alameda. Workers have come forward to denounce more racist attacks by the police.

Now, two nightclub owners, whose clubs and music have attracted a black audience, have told of harassment by the police and city government aimed at driving away black people. As well, a white real estate agent, who was brutally beaten by the Alameda police, has revealed that any real estate agency that hires black agents or shows houses or apartments to blacks is harassed.

These reports show that the police, the city government and the real estate and other monied interests in Alameda are fighting to maintain segregation against blacks in this community on the border of Oakland. The anti-racist demonstrations and the denunciations of the police and city government by Alameda residents of all nationalities have been a welcome slap against these forces.

1492-1992: The 500th anniversary of the colonial holocaust in the Americas


This year marks,, the 500th anniversary of Columbus's voyage to the Americas. This trip marked the beginning of regular contact between Europe and the "new world." It had dramatically accelerated world development. It increased knowledge, introduced plants and animals from one continent to another, and otherwise increased the real wealth of humankind. But even more so, it accelerated social development, and capitalism bloomed in Europe.

But capitalism is a society based on the exploitation of person by person. In class society, every step forward is also a step backward. This great impetus to world development was at the same time one of the worst holocausts the world has ever seen. The peoples of the Americas were pillaged and killed and enslaved, their societies were destroyed, their numbers were decimated, and they were either marginalized or converted to mere human mortar and brick for European colonialism. This oppression, begun back then, continues to this day.

Karl Marx, discussing the origin of capitalism, wrote with passion and biting irony that: "The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation." (Capital, chapter titled "Genesis of the industrial capitalist")

The imperialism of today celebrates the colonial atrocities of yesterday


Why would any sane person celebrate this mass devastation of the peoples of the Americas?

Money has its own logic. And imperialism today looks back with pride and arrogance on the crimes of the colonialism of yesterday. Establishment papers made haste to justify and glorify Columbus. At last they could express some of their real views about plunder, whereas they often have to feign disapproval of the imperialist massacres of the day.

Some estimated that a horrifying 90% of the local population was killed, but shrugged it off as mainly the work of epidemics unwittingly brought to the Americas by the Europeans. Even at that, would these kind gentlemen also celebrate the anniversary of the Black Plague that killed one-third of Europe? And why forget the smallpox-infected blankets which were deliberately given to Indians to spread epidemics?

Others said that really the colonialists were kind-hearted people, and the Spanish crown even passed some laws against abuse of the Indians. As if the whole system of mercantile plunder wasn't based on working the Indians to death in mines, enslaving them on plantations, and decimating those who resisted.

But the English journal the Economist takes first prize with its justification that the Spanish colonialists "sincerely believed they were freeing their victims from a demonic heritage and replacing it with a divinely approved order." In other words, long live the Inquisition in Spain and the witch-hunters in Salem.

What happened to European laborers


The rape of the Americas brought gold and silver to the colonialists, and it allowed them to establish themselves as wealthy, feudal lords in large parts of the Americas. But the acceleration of capitalism was not only bought on the backs of the original peoples of the Americas, but of European labor as well.


Why, indeed, was gold and silver of value to the European capitalists? It was because they could turn it into a tighter domination of the laborers who could be gotten to toil in their factories and workshops. Marx gives the example of what happened to the laborers of Holland: "The treasures captured outside Europe by undisguised looting, enslavement, and murder, floated back to the mother-country and were there turned into capital. Holland, which first fully developed the colonial system, in 1648 stood already in the acme of its commercial greatness. '...The total capital of the Republic was probably more important than that of all the rest of Europe put together.' Gulich forgets to add that by 1648, the people of Holland were more overworked, poorer and more brutally oppressed than those of all the rest of Europe put together."

Holland's main areas of colonial plunder were outside the Americas. But in Spain and Portugal too, colonial plunder went not to society as a whole, but to the interests of the ruling class.

An alternative?


The people of the Americas, prior to the arrival of Columbus, had societies with their own culture and knowledge. To this day, the study of these old societies is of great interest to the study of the development of humankind.

But were these societies the alternative to the vicious exploiting systems brought over from Europe?

The Indian societies in the Americas varied tremendously. There were small tribes and there were developed empires. There were societies that were basically classless, and there were societies mired in the exploitation of person by person. Class society and exploitation were not just a European virus brought over to the Americas by cold-hearted "ice people," but had also begun to evolve in the Americas. Had Columbus never arrived, the Americas would have continued evolving through class society. However, without Columbus, the Indians societies would have evolved through their own class structures, and not been devastated and replaced as a whole by a transplanted European class society.


Why become a class society?


The example of various tribes in the Americas does show the dignity of people when they can't even conceive of starving while society as a whole has sufficient stocks of food. And Europe too had had classless societies at one time. So why had class society evolved?

The primitive classless societies had a low level of technique and knowledge. The individual wasn't isolated, but hardships and catastrophes might hit the whole society, or it might have an unfortunate collision with another tribe. The philosophy -- or knowledge and stories and myths -- of these tribes might display a close study of nature and a natural creativeness, but they also showed a limited knowledge of the world and restricted room for individual development.

These societies could not stand the development of agricultural and economic technique. The increase in productive ability shattered these societies as surely as water, freezing in the cracks, can shatter the toughest rocks. It forced these societies onto the path of class development.

And in so doing, it ushered in the period in which every advance in knowledge and human abilities is also a setback, in which every increase in wealth for one brings slavery to another, in which the greater the advance, the greater is the tragedy which accompanies it.


Not forever


But class society will not remain for ever. Just as the development of knowledge and productive capabilities shattered the primitive classless societies, so the further development of knowledge and productive capabilities will provide the economic basis for shattering class society. The insane contradictions of capitalist life; the increases in production leading to unemployment and hunger; the increase in wealth leading to greater insecurity for all; the increase in science leading to increased poisoning of the land and air and water, are tearing capitalist society apart. Only a classless society, with production controlled by all for their own benefit, can overcome these contradictions. Only a classless society can introduce full and effective planning, planning that doesn't bog down in bureaucracy but that ensures faster progress.

These classless societies will resemble the primitive societies in the return of the dignity of people free from the worry of economic ruin. But they will be based on the highest acquisition of science and industry, and on a profound development of the individual.

And such societies will not celebrate the murder and enslavement of the peoples of two continents. Instead they will breathe a sigh of relief that the hellish period of class society is over and done with. And they will shake their heads with astonishment that such evil could really have been done by human beings, who supposedly have a brain and natural feelings, against their fellow inhabitants of this world.


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California governor echoes David Duke--A campaign against immigrants and the poor


California's economy has plunged deeper into recession, and the state budget deficit continues to grow. In response, Republican Governor Pete Wilson is calling for huge cuts in education, health care, and other social services. His main target is the Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the main welfare program for the poor and unemployed. Wilson is going all out on this one, trying to whip up a movement to victimize the poor. He is launching a campaign to put a 25% slash of AFDC benefits on the statewide ballot for November 1992. His "Taxpayers Protection Act" would slash AFDC payments 10% immediately and 15% in another six months.

The bill also contains other measures to make life miserable for the poor.

* It would deny benefits for children whom women had while already on AFDC.

* Teenage mothers would be denied all AFDC payments unless they moved in with their parents or guardians, in which case they still wouldn't receive benefits as the AFDC payments would go to their parents or guardians.

* Families moving to California will have their benefits frozen for one year at what they were getting in their home state, provided of course that it was less than what California pays.

* It would provide for further and deeper cuts by tying payment levels to the state budget crisis.

Fanning the flames of prejudice


Wilson is blaming welfare mothers and immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere for the crisis. He is pushing the big lie that they are bankrupting the state by draining funds for education, welfare and health care services.

Wilson calls victimizing the poverty- stricken and the immigrants liberating the "taxpayers" from the burden of "tax receivers." This is a lie. Wilson is up to the same tricks as his Republikkklan brother, the former KKK leader and Nazi David Duke. Duke ran for the governor of Louisiana in the name of the "taxpayer" against foreigners and against welfare. This is the trick of racist scapegoating and victimizing the most defenseless people, the poverty-stricken. It is the politics of trampling on those already at the bottom. It means attacking the poor for having children, and the African- Americans, Mexicans and others for being the "wrong" color.

If Wilson is successful in California, his campaign is expected to be a model for racism and welfare-cutting across the country.

Relief for the poor and unemployed!


Meanwhile, what are the millions of unemployed people in California supposed to do? More layoffs are announced every day. Yet fewer and fewer are eligible for unemployment insurance. Welfare, with all the degrading red tape and hassle that comes with it, has become the jobless insurance of last resort.

But living on AFDC is no fat city. Last spring, benefits were slashed 4%, to $663 a month for a family of three. Wilson's "Taxpayer Protection Act" would cut that to $597, and after six months to $507 a month. People are already making the tough choice between paying the rent or feeding their children. Wilson would leave them with no choice -- too little for either rent or food.

The crisis in California demands more funds for AFDC, extended unemployment benefits, job training, education, and child care, not less. The alternative is more hungry people in the streets.

Full rights for the immigrant workers!


Echoing David Duke, Wilson is pushing the stereotype of the immigrants as freeloading "tax receivers" living a life of ease at the expense of others he calls the "taxpayers." This is a racist lie.

The labor of Mexican and other immigrant workers is a source of fantastic wealth. They harvest the crops, build the construction projects, do the dirty work in the hotels and restaurants -- creating billions in profits for agribusiness, contractors, and hotel owners.

They pay sales, income and social security taxes just as other workers do. But immigrants are often denied (or fear making use of) social services, such as welfare, food stamps, and health care. After the big freeze in the citrus crop last winter, tens of thousands of jobless farm workers were left to go hungry because they were denied benefits under the immigrant amnesty law.

Wilson is scapegoating the immigrants, because his friends in big business want to squeeze even more out of them. With the whips of hunger and government persecution, big business hopes to pay even less while getting more crops harvested, more buildings put up, and more dishes washed.

Tax the corporations and the rich!


Like David Duke, Wilson is playing on the resentment of high taxes. But their game is to cover up for the actual freeloaders -- the millionaires and billionaires.

The working people have been hit by an avalanche of hikes in Social Security deductions, state and local sales taxes, and other taxes. Under Reagan and now Bush, the tax burden on the majority grows heavier and heavier. But for the better off, for the over $100,000-a-year crowd, there has been one tax cut after the next.

In California, there was the 1987 tax cut for the rich. Then last year there was the big sales tax hike, which hit the poorest the hardest. Over the last decade, taxes have been shifted from the corporations and the wealthy, onto the workers and the poor. Wilson talks about "taxpayers," but there are rich taxpayers and poor taxpayers. It is the working people and the poor who need relief from the wage cutting, tax and user fee gouging, and other burdens imposed on them by the rich.

It is time to make the rich pay. It is time to tax the corporations and the capitalists who landed us in this mess in the first place. It is time for them to pay for the education, health care, jobless pay, and other social services needed by the working people.

No more divide and rule!


The Democrats in Sacramento say they won't let the Republican Wilson get away with it. But check out their track record. Last spring, Willie Brown, Democratic Party leader in the state legislature, joined with Republican Governor Wilson in expanding the regressive sales tax and cutting AFDC. The Democrats may talk about their concern for the people. But when the talking is over, they end up meeting the Republicans halfway (or more!) in victimizing the poor, the immigrants, and all working people.

This is because both the Democratic and Republican bosses represent the same corporate elite. They are different factions of the same establishment. And this capitalist establishment profits from the divide and rule strategy of racism and scapegoating. It hopes to divide the working people against each other.

The last thing they want to see is a united struggle swelling up from below. But this is exactly what we should confront them with. The millions of workers and poor -- immigrants and native-born, employed and unemployed -- need to unite against the rich, the arrogant corporations, and the capitalist power-brokers.

Tax the rich, not the working people!

No more cutbacks! Relief for the jobless and poor!

Full rights for immigrant workers!



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Blaming the victim

You're not unemployed, just 'dependent'

The more suffering the capitalists inflict on the working class, the more they talk of the alleged immorality of the poor. They blame the poor and the powerless for all the social ills that the profit-mad capitalist system has caused. This justifies them in cutting back on social programs, and creating more poverty-stricken people to despise. And it is none other than a mainstream liberal, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, who is once again one of the champions of this crusade to bad-mouth the downtrodden.

Moynihan now feels the biggest problem in the country is "dependency." (New York Times, Dec. 8) He argues that: "Just as unemployment was the defining issue of industrialization, dependency is becoming the defining issue of post-industrial society." He has sponsored a bill requiring that there should be a yearly dependency report. He wants attention to be switched from unemployment figures to dependency statistics.

Moynihan doesn't seem to believe that "dependency" has anything to do with unemployment and low wages. No, according to Moynihan, "We have discovered a new social condition."

But call it unemployment or dependency, it amounts to the same thing. So why change the name? Because, if you call it unemployment, then it suggests that the economy is in trouble. But, Moynihan thinks, if you call it dependency, you suggest that it is a question of the defective moral character of the poor, of their "family disintegration" or their "failure in the schools and criminal behavior."

Bad-mouthing the victim


So Moynihan is up to his old trick of blaming economic problems on the moral character of the poor and the unemployed. He first became known for this over 20 years ago when he was a Labor Department aide. He issued a report which singled out the disintegration of the black family as the source of all social evil. You would think that the depressing conditions imposed on the black community by segregation, by low wages, and harsh conditions would explain the problems faced by the black family. But Moynihan turned things on their head and bad-mouthed the oppressed for the conditions imposed on them by the corporate ruling class.

More recently, Moynihan and Senator Bentsen, the recent candidate for vice president, co-authored the 1988 "Family Support Act." In the name of "breaking the cycle of dependency," Moynihan and Bentsen sought to impose harsh conditions on welfare recipients and replace "welfare by workfare." In return, it promised to help those on welfare get job training and child care, but it didn't provide nearly enough funds to make this promise a reality.

Moynihan disowns his offspring

In practice, this bill just encouraged the states to slash their welfare budgets. California, for example, is just now implementing the "Family Support Act." Aides to Governor Wilson have taken up the bill's rhetoric and talk of making "new tools to achieve self-sufficiency." They use it to justify Wilson's proposal to slash AFDC benefits by 25%. (See the article on Governor Wilson's campaign against the poor.)

Moynihan, who apparently didn't read his own bill very closely, professes to be shocked. He has disowned the results of his own bill, and promised to call together welfare officials from the whole country and ask them for an explanation. (New York Times, Dec. 18) According to Moynihan, "there was very much a consensus [to pretend that workfare would be accompanied by programs to help the poor]. That's why I'm going to hold hearings and say, 'Why did you change your minds?' " But the only explanation they would have to give Moynihan is that they are simply taking his view of "dependency" to its logical conclusion.

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Squeezing the poor from coast to coast

Across the country the poor are under siege. As the budget crisis deepens in state after state, the politicians are hacking away at the already meager social benefits. The bigger the budget deficits, the more money they give to the corporations, and the more food and clothing and shelter they take from the poor.

And this is at a time when unemployment and homelessness are swelling the ranks of the needy. The U.S. Conference of Mayors in mid-December reported that, in a survey of 28 cities, the number of people seeking emergency food last year was up 26%, and for emergency shelter there was a 13% increase. They estimated that 68% more requests for food aid were not being met. Mind you, the mayors themselves are involved in cutting back on social programs, but they complain about the need in order to take the pressure off themselves and put it on the state and federal governments.

The cuts extend across the country. A report released December 18 by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities claimed that the states cut benefits more in 1991 than any other single year in the last decade, and predicted deeper cuts for 1992. Nine states plus the District of Colombia reduced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) grants, and another 30 states froze them, for a total of 40 that cut AFDC when expressed in real dollars. Nine states cut programs to aid the homeless, while 11 states cut emergency payments to help people keep their homes. Fourteen states either eliminated or cut General Assistance, affecting almost halt a million people, one out of every three that had been on GA. Government officials like to run their mouth about how their cutbacks only affect the able-bodied, as if they could have no legitimate reason to get assistance. But four states are cutting, and 20 more freezing, aid to those that they admit are elderly, blind or disabled.

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The struggle of the homeless

1500 rally in Detroit against homelessness


More than 1,500 people came out December 27 to protest homelessness in Detroit. The demonstrators included homeless people, a section of auto workers, other workers from different industries and people mobilized by the churches and Jesse Jackson. They rallied at Kennedy Square and then marched to state offices to denounce the administration of Governor Engler. The governor's scrapping of General Assistance has left some 90,000 people without benefits and intensified the homeless crisis.

For the last two months, homeless people have organized building occupations, confronted police over protest tents, and launched other mass protests. These actions forced the housing crisis into the front-page news and won the homeless support from workers throughout the city.

They have also created a sharp conflict with both the Republican Governor Engler and the Democratic Mayor Coleman Young. While the governor is slashing state social benefits, the mayor has left nearly half of the city's public housing unoccupied, allowed it to deteriorate, and razed many buildings to clear the way for gentrification with higher-priced apartments. He has also sent his police to arrest activists occupying abandoned houses and public apartments, bulldozed homeless shacks, and torn down protest tents.

But Jesse Jackson, who called the protest, tried to paper over the dispute with Mayor Young. He consulted Young about holding the march and had the mayor's spokesman address the crowd. And while Jackson decried the cuts of Engler and the federal housing authority, he called on the marchers to support their local mayors. Forgetting about Young's crimes against the homeless, he actually claimed that mayors are always in favor of the people in their city.

His partisan sympathy for Young was part of a general appeal to support the Democrats. He emphasized that the movement should organize a drive to register 100,000 new voters aimed at replacing Engler in the next elections.

But the homeless and other workers were not so quick to forget Young's contempt for the impoverished masses or the state Democrats' assistance to Engler's budget slashing. During the march, they eagerly joined with the contingent of the Marxist-Leninist Party (MLP) in shouting: "Engler and Coleman, both the same! They attack the homeless, it's a shame!" A number of homeless people grabbed the bullhorn to hurl their own invectives against the mayor.

A few Jackson supporters tried to oppose the slogans and told activists to stop their criticisms of Young. But this only enraged the activists who declared they would not be silenced. As the debate over which path for the movement spread through the crowd, homeless people kept up chants against Engler and Young, and they joined MLP activists to shout, "Make the rich pay!"

Another rally was held at the end of the march, after Jackson returned from a chat with Engler's aides in the state offices. When he shouted "Homes for the homeless" and other chants, Jackson expected demonstrators to respond with "Keep hope alive!" But, instead, a whole section of the protest took up the cry "Make the rich pay!"

Battle over homeless tents moves to Michigan capitol

250 activists marched on the Michigan capitol in Lansing December 5 in support of the homeless. Braving blowing snow and sub-freezing temperatures, they denounced Governor Engler's cutbacks of social programs and demanded relief for those he has driven into homelessness. Activists of the Marxist-Leninist Party carried a popular banner depicting "Engler Scissorhands" and discussed the work to build support for the homeless among workers in the factories, hospitals and postal facilities.

At the end of the march, the activists erected a protest tent on the capitol lawn and at least a dozen vowed to stay until Engler met their demands. After seeing how Mayor Coleman Young was embarrassed by his police attacks on the homeless tent, Governor Engler hesitated to attack the protesters and granted them a temporary permit.

But even after the permit expired, the protesters held their ground. After nine days, Engler lost patience and sent in the police to tear down the tent. The next day protesters returned and set up another "Englerville" tent city. And again the police attacked. When the issue reached the courts, the activists pointed out that Engler allowed a Christmas nativity scene to stand, but not a tent symbolizing the suffering of the homeless in Michigan. The judge has granted them temporary permission to erect protest tents and the protest has continued.

Capitalist system is behind the homeless crisis

What's behind the growing problem of homelessness? A new study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the Low Income Housing Information Service gives some indication.

Released the second week of December, the study shows that, on the one hand, poverty is growing and increasing the number of low-income renters. From 1970 to 1989 the number of low-income renters -- those making less than $10,000 a year after adjustments for inflation -- grew some 41% to 9.6 million people. The survey counts only those who are actually renting and not homeless people, who may make up three to six million people according to homeless advocates.

On the other hand, the survey shows that low-income housing has decreased. The number of apartments costing $250 a month or less fell about 14% from 1970 to 1989, from 6.8 million down to only 5.5 million.

Why the decline? It is a straightforward matter of capitalist profit grabbing.

The report mentions that housing costs have gone through the ceiling with the conversion of rental units into condominiums and the destruction of older housing (both privately owned and public) for the gentrification of different neighborhoods.

We could also add that the enormous real estate speculation of the 1980's by the capitalists have also driven up housing costs. When the speculative bubble burst, large numbers of buildings were left empty. Some analysts estimate that there are as many as 11 million units of luxury housing empty right now in the country. The capitalists would rather leave them vacant than rent them cheaply to the poor for fear that would bring a general tumbling of prices and cut the profits they make off the housing they do sell and rent.

At the same time -- while subsidizing the capitalists' sale of houses with tax credits and giving corporations and rich people enormous tax cuts -- the federal government has sharply cut back housing assistance to the poor. The report points out that had the federal government kept up the old pace of aid there would be an additional 2.3 million families getting assistance. Of course, even this would only make a dent in the problem.

Meanwhile, the states have also been slashing housing aid. A separate study, released December 12 by the CBPP and the Center for the Study of the States, shows that in the last year eleven states have cut emergency assistance, such as paying back rent and utility bills, designed to prevent ADC recipients from becoming homeless. And state funds for emergency housing aid for the homeless have declined by $41 million in the last year.

Obviously the homeless crisis is not a matter of some lazy people who don't want to work. It is a product of the capitalist profit drive -- a drive that has created enormous unemployment and impoverishment, on the one hand, and driven up the cost of housing to new highs on the other. To fight homelessness, we must target the capitalist system.

The rich lash out at the homeless

As the recession deepens, more and more people are being driven into the streets homeless. And increasingly, workers are asking what they can do to help them. But the rich have no such sympathies. They complain they are sick and tired of doling out a few pennies of charity. They grumble they are fed up with the eyesore. They demand the homeless be removed from the streets.

In December, the Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan declared that the nation must be protected from panhandling homeless people. Campaigning in Concord, New Hampshire, he railed, "I think we all have obligations to charity to help folks who can't help themselves. At the same time, we've got an obligation to keep our streets and our cities safe...I think they [the homeless] shouldn't be wandering the streets frightening women and people." He suggested forcibly removing homeless people from public places and jailing them if necessary. (New YorkTimes, Dec. 25) Of course Buchanan is a raving racist and reactionary. But here he is voicing a growing attitude among wide sections of the well-off. From New York to Atlanta, big cities across the country are conducting campaigns to forcibly remove homeless people from parks, subways, and other public areas.

Even as the winter cold grew worse, on December 1 police in New York began a new sweep to drive homeless people out of the large Manhattan bus terminal. Social service organizations estimate that there are at least 70,000 homeless people in the city. Yet the government provides shelter for only about 23,000. And the rest are not even to be allowed a warm place to rest as the police enforce rules against sleeping on floors, begging, blocking stairs, and so forth.

And the same is true in city after city. Indeed, more and more of the homeless are being turned away even from the dehumanizing public shelters. A survey of 28 cities by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reports that on average they are turning away 15% of the people seeking shelter and 17% of those applying for food.

Obviously, homeless people cannot look for help from the politicians who are in the hip pockets of the rich. They have to take matters into their own hands with building occupations, protest marches and other mass actions to make the rich pay for decent housing for all. And workers who are not homeless should also join up with the movement and unite all the oppressed for a class-wide battle against the filthy rich exploiters.

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Defend women's rights!

Pro-choice movement keeps up the heat on Operation Rescue

[Photo: Pro-choice picket in Oakland, California, Dec. 7.]

Last summer, the anti-abortion forces were all puffed up over their blockades of clinics in Wichita, Kansas. But since then, the wind has been taken out of the sails of clinic blockaders such as Operation Rescue (OR). Pro-choice activists have mobilized with renewed vigor and militancy, and the clinic blockaders even abandoned actions in a number of areas. In Boston, for example, they abandoned a planned action in November and fled to Providence, Rhode Island, where they met stiff opposition. Below we report on pro-choice actions in December as well as actions in late November that didn't make it into our last issue.

Los Angeles

On December 7, about 50 OR zealots were met by 100-200 defenders of women's rights, first at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Van Nuys, and then at Her Medical Clinic in Pacoima. The clinic defenders locked arms, chanted, and shouted slogans. At the Van Nuys clinic, the mounted cops sought to intimidate the clinic defenders. But finally, as the clinic defenders began to denounce the cops as well as the OR bigots, they reluctantly turned their attention to OR and made a few arrests. Several clinic defenders also used the occasion to condemn the anti-gay bigotry and brutality of the police.

Berkeley/Sacramento, California


Pro-choice demonstrators had been picketing a phony clinic in Berkeley,California. These fake clinics are set up by the anti-abortion forces to lure unsuspecting pregnant women in and then bombard them with lies and sermons against abortion. On December 7, the protests bore fruit -- the fake clinic didn't open in the face of the protest. The pro-choice demonstrators then left to attend a clinic defense in Sacramento.

Birmingham, Alabama


About 75 pro-choice activists in Birmingham, Alabama countered some 200 "pro-life" fanatics at two clinics, one block apart, on November 23. The antiabortionists did not try to blockade the clinics as in previous years but set up pickets. The bulk of activists were first at the Summit clinic, where they kept the doors open and helped escort patients in. Later they shifted over to the Birmingham Women's Health Clinic, where they set up a spirited picket line across the street.



On December 21 only a handful of anti-abortion crusaders showed up at a clinic. Then on December 28 they were able to get 40 people out. At the end, even some of their leaders like Joseph Scheidler showed up. They were religious fanatics who talked about their opponents being "influenced by Satan." Women's lives are only an abstraction to them, while angels and devils populate their thoughts.

15 pro-choice activists countered them, shouting slogans, and arguing vigorously with the anti's.

The police were hostile to the pro- choice forces. They wouldn't let people hold up the popular "honk for choice" signs, even though a court had thrown out earlier arrests of people with these signs. They wouldn't let the pro-choice forces stand before the clinic with signs, but forced them to keep moving. As a result, the pro-choice and anti-abortion forces ended up mixed together in a picket on the sidewalk in front of the clinic.



On November 23rd, 125 anti-abortion bullies from several states gathered inside a clinic building in Charlotte, North Carolina, and several stayed outside and tried to keep patients away. Police dragged their feet in defending the clinic, so that the anti-abortion zealots kept up a presence for five hours. But 25 pro- choice activists ensured that the clinic stayed open and that no one was turned away. Meanwhile, local NOW officials had told concerned people calling about clinic defense that their presence was not needed because the police would handle everything.

In Cincinnati, Ohiothere were four straight days of clinic defense beginning on November 20. And people rallied in Honolulu, Hawaiiat the state capitol building, 500 on November 3, and 300 the next day. They were protesting the 1990 law which virtually ended legal abortion in Guam, a Pacific island which is a U.S. territory.

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Anti-gay bigotry denounced

[Photo: Protesters from Chicago area denounce anti-gay bigotry of Cracker Barrel restaurant in Merrilville, Indiana on Dec. 8. Cracker Barrel adopted an open policy of denying employment to gay workers. It is also a racist outfit.]

Support the Native People's struggle!

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No to the corporate rape of James Bay

At James Bay, an inlet to Hudson's Bay in the Canadian province of Quebec, a confrontation is brewing between the Native peoples who live there and Hydro-Quebec (HQ), the Quebec government-owned power company.

HQ's James Bay Project, a mega-project of dams and dikes, has already flooded thousands of square miles of land. The scheme is destroying the 5,000- year-old homelands of the Cree and Inuit native peoples. It is also a major environmental disaster. And it is being built by placing a heavy tax burden on the working people of Quebec.

So why is it being built? Because it will provide handsome profits to HQ, construction firms, investors and bankers, and corporate electricity purchasers. Hydro-Quebec's project has giant corporate backers in both Canada and the U.S. It is a flagship project of the Quebec capitalist class, which seeks to fatten its fortunes at the expense of the Native peoples, the Quebec workers, and the environment.

Resistance builds to James Bay


The Cree and Inuit have opposed HQ's plans for years, as have environmental activists. Canadian and U.S., Native and non-Native, opponents of James Bay have joined forces in a movement. Last October protest rallies were held in New York City and Ithaca, New York.

The Native people oppose further intrusions by HQ on their land. They are working with other activists to publicize the issue and mobilize support. The Cree are also considering occupying the site of the planned James Bay II access road into the Native community of Great Whale. The Cree are building up solidarity among the many other Native tribes who have had enough of uranium mining, clear-cutting (leveling of forests), damming, and toxic waste dumps taking over their land.

A bit of breathing space


In Canada, the movement has demanded a full and independent environmental impact statement on the project, which HQ is desperately trying to avoid. On September 12, a Canadian federal court ordered a complete federal review of the project for one year before James Bay II can begin.

New York state is another arena in the fight against the James Bay project, since the New York Power Authority has signed big contracts for electricity with HQ. Activists in New York have been demanding that Governor Cuomo cancel the deal with HQ. The loss of the NY contract would be a severe blow to HQ. Cuomo has been dragging his feet in response to the movement's demands, but in August he put off finalizing the contract for one year, pending more studies.

Though it is clearly absurd to undertake this project without impact studies, it is unlikely that they alone will stop the disaster.

For one thing, who will sponsor the studies, and from what point of view? Any study accepted as "official" by the capitalist authorities cannot be expected to tread too heavily on HQ's toes. Moreover, the environmental impact is not a complete mystery. This is not the first large hydroelectric project in history. Some of the major changes that will occur upstream and downstream are already known from past experience. For example the 1950's Aswan dam project on Egypt's Nile river had problems with sedimentation restricting water flow, and also preventing nutrients from reaching the previously fertile lands downriver.

For now, the impact review has delayed HQ's plans. But it is up to the movement to build up a serious mass struggle. This is the only force that can make the authorities back off.

An insane plan to destroy James Bay


The James Bay project consists of three phases. James Bay I (1973-present) spent S23 billion to dam the La Grande River complex, flooding 15,000 square kilometers James Bay II (now scheduled to begin September 1992) would spend $62 billion to dam the Great Whale River area and the Nottaway-Broadback-Rupert (NBR) river basins, flooding another 5,000 sq. kms. James Bay III, the Grand Canal or Great Recycling and Northern Development (GRAND) project, would build a 100-mile dike across the entire mouth of James Bay, pump out the saltwater and create a reservoir of freshwater for export to the U.S. Southwest via pipeline.

By 2010 the James Bay project would dam 20 rivers for hydroelectric power from a watershed as big as New England. By 2020 it would alter an area the size of France and take 20% of the freshwater flow that now goes into the Arctic and divert it into the Gulf of Mexico. James Bay III, in particular, is so catastrophic that it borders on science fiction.

Assault on the Native people


James Bay, the rivers feeding it, the tidal flats, and the virgin forests surrounding it form a vast, diverse ecosystem. This has been the home of the Cree and Inuit Native people since before the days of the Roman Empire. Their economy and society are based on hunting, fishing, whaling and trapping.

HQ launched its project in 1970, without even informing these peoples. In the 70's they were forced to sign an agreement on the project, supposedly giving them a say in any future development and the right to use the undeveloped land. Even this was violated when their trapping areas were clear-cut. The Inuit and Cree stand to lose everything from HQ. James Bay I has already wreaked havoc on their communities near the La Grande River complex, mainly by flooding their hunting, fishing and living grounds, but also by poisoning the water.

As their economy and society are broken up, many Native people have been forced off their land and into the cities where they face difficult conditions of discrimination, unemployment and low wages.

HQ has tried to buy out the tribes with promises of cash. But the tribes view their traditional economy as providing a stable livelihood, while they see no security in the mainstream Canadian economy. Of course, life is impelling the Native peoples anyway into integration with the larger capitalist economy. That is unavoidable, but it is quite another matter to force these peoples out of their traditional economy by smashing up their society. If Canada were a socialist society, it would be a different picture. Under a workers' government, the integration with the mainstream economy would be a voluntary matter, and there would be a serious effort against the destructive consequences that Native people face when they integrate into the larger society.

Environmental calamities


The James Bay project is a gigantic crime against the environment. Take a look at some examples:

* Bacteria released from decaying vegetation drowned by James Bay I have broken down the mercury in the rocks to form water-soluble methyl mercury. This has entered the food chain, making the local fish inedible. Native communities near the La Grande complex have absorbed unhealthy amounts of mercury and some have been forced to relocate.

* Aluminum companies are locating in the area to get cheap power. They are contaminating nearby communities with fluoride emissions.

* Non-renewable logging along access roads has already taken 600 sq. kms. Much more is due to be cut for export.

* The plant and animal life of the region is of course getting drastically disrupted. Nutrients normally flowing into the estuary will sink at the reservoirs, leaving the estuary biologically dead.

These issues are probably only the tip of the iceberg. HQ's trashing of a large and ecologically important area for profit has rightly evoked opposition from people concerned about the environment.

Is this the only way to create power and jobs?


Despite HQ's propaganda, James Bay is not the only way to meet power or employment needs. Environmental activists have pointed out some important things about the James Bay project.

It is premised not upon actual power needs, but on creating new demand for power. HQ is actively seeking markets for the power it plans to produce, from U.S. utilities and Canadian industries.

Many studies have pointed out that New York state, a major customer, could reduce its power needs through energy conservation, while spending less than it would spend on HQ power. As well, it could develop a combination of clean alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and natural gas. Presumably, these methods could cut energy needs and costs in Canada, too.

As for the argument that James Bay will provide jobs, it is hardly the only possible source of jobs.

It is standard for corporations and governments to try to justify even their most destructive projects as "providing jobs." The U.S. military-industrial complex is notorious for promoting the production of genocidal weapons to keep the host states' economies running. But, just because it requires labor to produce the MX missile, doesn't make it the way forward for U.S. society. The funds and labor could just as well be used for something to benefit the masses of people. This goes for James Bay too. It is socially and environmentally a very poor way to produce energy and provide jobs.

It can be seen that James Bay really has nothing to do with answering energy needs, solving unemployment, or producing "clean" energy. The only thing it has to do with is making profits, at a high human and environmental cost.

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Support the anti-war GIs, condemn the imperialist army!

"I have no regrets about what I did." This was the response of former Marine reservist Erik Larsen as he was sentenced by a military court to six months in prison. His real "crime": opposition to the Gulf war.

Originally Larsen was charged with "desertion in time of war," which carries a possible death sentence. These charges were outlandish since Larsen had simply refused to report to training in Arizona, and his unit was never sent to the Gulf. He had requested conscientious objector (CO) status well before the training mission. But, following their general policy toward CO requests during the war crisis, the Marines purposely delayed a ruling. Thus Larsen was forced to either go AWOL or go along with the war.

But why the extreme charges? The Marines came down hard in order to stamp out GI resistance. What really ticked them off was that Larsen condemned the U.S. aggression at anti-war rallies.

In the end, Larsen wound up pleading guilty to lesser charges which carried a maximum sentence of two years. The wide support for this GI war resister had a lot to do with forcing the military brass to back down.

But any punishment of Larsen and the other GI opponents of the war is unjust. It is the anti-war GIs who deserve the support of working people, while it is the militarists who deserve punishment. It is the general staff who carried out this imperialist war, and the Washington politicians who authorized it, who are the real criminals, war criminals. And their crimes multiply, as they continue starving the entire country of Iraq well after the war has ended, and as they set up bases and military agreements throughout the Gulf.

[Photo: Erik Larsen throws his dog tags at the White House a year ago.]

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Europe agrees to currency and political union

A new superpower in the making

As 1991 drew to a close, the 12-nation European Community (EC) agreed to major new steps in economic and political integration. In Maastricht, Holland, an EC summit approved a plan to create a single currency by 1999 and also to strengthen the Community as a political union.

These decisions follow plans to create a single market by the end of this year. Together they make up a landmark step towards the formation of a European imperialist superpower. Although many hurdles remain before a United States of Europe is born, the mainstream of Europe's capitalist establishment has shown its eagerness to march in that direction.

If they are successful, and they overcome problems such as a major depression which would test their unity, by early next century the European bourgeoisie would like to see a European Union becoming the world's biggest economic power. How should U.S. workers deal with this eventuality? By then, our billionaires here will have added European-bashing to their current frenzies against Japan. They will ask workers to sacrifice still more and unite with them to better compete against the Europeans. We should no more fall for that talk tomorrow than join in their Japan-bashing today. The interests of the American workers do not lie with "our own" exploiters. We must unite and build links with the workers in Europe and elsewhere -- to better organize a common fight against all exploitation and all the moneybags, no matter what flag they fly.

In this article, we look at what the creation of a European superpower amounts to, what it is being driven by, and how it will affect the relationship between capital and labor. There are many other issues raised by European union, such as what it will mean for the world balance of powers, for the Third World, for immigrant workers, and for the world's environment, but those topics are left aside for now.

The Maastricht agreements


The most important decision at the EC summit was that in favor of a single European currency. To be controlled by a European central bank, the new currency will be phased in from 1996 on. If a majority of EC members can meet tough financial standards -- on inflation, currency stability, and deficit spending -- they will then go ahead and launch the common currency. Others would join in as they qualify.

The European states also agreed to greater political and military cohesion. This includes: a common EC citizenship; expanded powers for the European Parliament; strengthened provisions for a common foreign policy; a greater role for the EC to set Europe-wide labor laws and social policy; and a a European police apparatus. The EC summit also agreed to bolster the Western European Union (WEU), the nine-nation military organization which overlaps with the EC, as the main arm of a common European Community defense policy. The WEU will continue to operate in conformity with NATO, but powers like France and Germany see it as the core of a plan to eventually set up an EC military.

Everything was not smooth sailing at Maastricht. Britain tried to scuttle currency union, complained about "federalism," and opposed the social charter which would limit working hours for all workers and grant certain employment rights for part-time workers. The EC struck a compromise which will allow Britain to opt out of the single currency and the social charter.

The rest of the picture


The latest agreements build on a series of steps taken over the last dozen years.

In 1985, plans were set to transform the EC into a single market in goods, services and labor by 1992. When this is complete, the EC will be the world's largest developed capitalist market, of 340 million people. It will be the world's largest trader; the EC will account for 20% of the world's exports, against 15% for the U.S., and 9% for Japan.

Meanwhile, the single currency plan builds on decisions taken in 1979. The European Currency Unit (Ecu) was established then, as a weighted basket of the EC currencies. Though not legal tender, it has already been playing a growing role in international finance. The Ecu has become the world's third-biggest reserve currency for central banks, behind the dollar and the German mark. Once the full-fledged European currency is born, it will become a formidable competitor to the dollar. Not only will it be the currency of the world's largest trader, but it will also be at the center of the European government-bond market, which is due to become the world's biggest financial market.

Moreover, the EC is also reaching closer arrangements with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising seven more West European countries. Together they will form the European Economic Area in 1993, forming a market of 380 million. This will end up accounting for a whopping 40% of world trade. Several of these countries are also preparing to join the EC itself.

There are still obstacles to overcome. Major issues for a single market are yet unsettled, for example, differences in value-added taxes among the EC members. And there are contradictory trends as well. Though there has been a certain integration among European corporations, powerful national interests still remain which give rise to conflicts and rivalries among the EC members. Moreover, the single currency plan will require most countries to cut inflation and government spending. That is hard under normal times, and in the face of the current economic recession, it may prove much harder than anticipated.

But so far the EC has successfully managed its internal divisions. The path has been cleared for the EC to form a giant economic power. And economic power inevitably reflects itself politically. The EC remains in a political and military alliance with the U.S. superpower. But it is also yearning to develop its own specific political and military role separate from the U.S. In the post-Cold war world, where there is no longer a common superpower rival as the former Soviet Union, it is expected that economic competition with the U.S., Japan and other countries, will lead to more pronounced political differences in the coming decades. The old alliances that marked the Cold War era are slowly dying; what will replace them globally is yet to be determined.

What's driving this?


After recovering from World War II, Western Europe enjoyed a capitalist boom until the early 1970's. Then it fell into stagnation. There are many reasons for this, a major one being increased worldwide competition -- from the U.S., Japan, and, more recently, east Asia. Many of Europe's traditional industries declined. It fell behind in electronics, computers, aircraft, etc. A slowdown took place in investment and productivity. On the surface Europe has appeared to prosper, but it has been wracked by persistently high unemployment rates.

The main driving force behind the EC's plan for closer union is competition with its world rivals. The European capitalist monopolies hope to strengthen themselves to compete against the U.S. and Japan -- both inside the EC as well as worldwide. The concentration of capital that a single market brings is one part of this plan. Another is to use their unity to push for bigger trade concessions abroad. And finally, there are also plans to put more money into research and development in various industries. Some like France would directly like to build up new business ventures to create super competitors, like the European consortium of Airbus which was launched to challenge the 90% domination of the airline market by U.S. giants.


While all the capitalist powers of Europe are eager for closer union -- despite certain misgivings as in Britain -- German capitalism is at the center of the drive. Germany wants to exercise its strength over the whole European sphere. Meanwhile, the rest of the EC feels it needs the strength of the German economy, the strongest in Europe, if they are to successfully compete against the U.S. and Japanese giants. As well, the unification of Germany impelled other countries to want to lock in Germany within a European federal setup so that it could not act unilaterally. And finally, the weaker European capitalists of Spain, Ireland, Greece and Portugal, want more investment located in their territories.

Boom for who?


The leaders of the European Community are promising the working people of Europe a new era of prosperity through economic and political union. That would be true if it was the working class of Europe which was in power. Then the creation of a single economy through the combination of the productive potential of these highly-developed European economies could be used to meet the needs of all.

But it is the capitalist class of Europe which is in power, and the working class movement is not yet organized for a socialist revolution. Under these conditions, European union will only strengthen the economic and social trends which are already in operation:

The power of capital will become more and more concentrated, in a smaller number of gigantic monopolies. Mergers and acquisitions went up from under 50 in 1984 to over 400 in 1988. Many weaker companies will go under.

Clearly there will be some boost to economic growth as a result of breaking down border controls, standardization, economies of scale, etc. On what scale, however, is yet unknown. But capitalist growth will take place according to capitalism's laws. It will reflect the dualism or unevenness which marks capitalist restructuring. Such dualism shows up as prosperity and growth in some sectors, devastation of others. It shows up in a smaller number of "new" jobs replacing many more "old" jobs. Look at the dying north of England or the mining areas of Belgium and Spain. There are few predictions that mass unemployment will be tamed. And still more industries are to be subject to rationalization.

Much of the march of new investment will remain towards the lower wage areas of the EC, like Spain and Portugal. As well, with the collapse of East European and Soviet state-capitalism, those countries have appeared as another place which the EC monopolies are hungrily looking at as low-wage areas.

Overall, it is inevitable that the growth of the concentrated power of capital will show up in a more united and stronger drive against the rights of the workers. Over the last decade, assaults have increased against labor and social legislation. The monetary discipline of the proposed single currency will be used to further squeeze social benefits -- especially since it will place major economic power out of the hands of national governments over to a super European bank.

Today, the EC may talk sweet about a social charter and the rights of the workers -- in order to win the workers' acquiescence to European unity -- but tomorrow they can be expected to ask for more takebacks. That is, unless the working class of Europe is able to build its Europe-wide unity as well and mount a strengthened fightback across the continent.

A challenge to the workers


And that is the challenge before the workers of Europe. The trend towards greater economic and political union is a reality being forged by powerful economic forces. The workers must turn this challenge into an opportunity. As the capitalists merge across borders so too must the the workers build their unity across borders. New bonds of solidarity and organization need to be forged across Europe. Workers' struggles in one corner of Europe need the active solidarity of workers in others. In general, the workers face the task of building a continent-wide movement for the interests of the workers, as opposed to the wealthy exploiters. This unity has to be part of the international unity of the working class which is more necessary than ever to meet the offensives of global capitalism against the workers of the world.

The workers' movement also needs a perspective about what type of society it is aiming for. The defense of gains won earlier and opposition to the cutbacks are necessary steps in the class struggle, but that is not an adequate perspective for the working class which is the producer of all wealth in society. Neither can this perspective stand up to the ferocious assault being made about the "free market" as the only possible organization of human society. The workers' movement must organize around an alternative vision of society, a society run by the workers for the workers. The working class needs to rebuild its confidence in its ability to run the-world by building a truly workers' socialist, and eventually, a fully classless, society.

[Photo: Immigrant workers led an anti-racist protest in Belgium, Dec. 7. They condemned the Viaams Blok, an anti-immigrant party. Across Europe, racist parties are trying to split the working class by attacking foreigners.]

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Cruelty against the third world

The other face of European imperialism

What will the creation of a European superpower mean for the Third World? Don't expect a new day in favor of progress and justice. Instead, the world can count on the continuation of existing trends of exploitation.

The European establishment cultivates an image that it is a friend of the poor lands of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This is a myth. Like the imperialism of the United States and Japan, European capitalism only see the Third World as a means to grab profits. And the birthplace of colonialism has not abandoned methods as filthy and foul as in centuries past.

Look at a couple of recent examples.

The nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union contaminated millions of tons of foodstuff in Europe. What did the European Community do? It destroyed some of it, it allowed consumption of some more within Europe itself, and it also proceeded to dump huge amounts on the Third World. A lot of this took the form of "food aid" to countries with shortages. By 1989, the European Community had become so notorious for its exports of contaminated food that port authorities in West Africa had, one after the other, forbidden the import of European Community meat.

Another scandal has been described as "toxic imperialism." This is the practice of dumping toxic wastes onto the poor countries. Over the last decade, more and more cases have come to light about European corporations sending their highly poisonous wastes to be put into landfills in Africa. Europe is competing with U.S. imperialism over who will dump the most poisonous materials into the most countries.

In both cases, the European capitalists use the desperate economic situation of many poor countries to their advantage.

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The world in struggle


South Africa

Who will decide on the new constitution?

The first round of constitutional talks in South Africa took place in December. Most of the country's political forces, minus the racist ultra-right and some anti-apartheid militants, met to begin working out a new constitution for the country.

After the mass explosion of the mid-1980's, the De Klerk regime agreed to these talks with the anti-apartheid movement because it could no longer rule in the old ways of apartheid and terror. The government holds out the promise of granting political rights to the disenfranchised black majority. But it is striking that the white racist regime refuses to allow a simple transition to black majority rule.

In fact, De Klerk wants to use the negotiations in order to establish a constitutional accord that will preserve the most privileges for the white minority. This is why the most significant statement he made during the December talks was to affirm that constitutional change must be ratified by the white minority. He said that the whites who elected him must approve any new constitution.

How this will be done isn't spelled out yet -- either through the current white parliament, or through a referendum where only white votes will count. Either way, it gives the white minority a veto over any plan to take power away from them and turn it over to the black majority. This means that instead of a democratic system with one person, one vote, South Africa will guarantee a privileged position for the white minority.

As De Klerk stalls, ultra-racists terrorize

Much of De Klerk's "negotiating posture" so far has been a matter of stalling. It is nearly two years now since the promise of talks was made, but De Klerk is just now beginning constitutional talks. He plans to spend another year, at least, finishing the talks, and then years implementing the new constitutional provisions. It will be 1994 at least before blacks get to vote in national elections!

Meanwhile, the racist establishment wants to make sure that any candidates elected by the black majority will be constitutionally prevented from carrying out sweeping economic reforms that could benefit the masses. In other words, within a few years some black leaders may be given high positions in government, but the black masses will continue to languish under harsh exploitation and discrimination in jobs, housing, education, etc.

And this is the best scenario that De Klerk has in mind; and Mandela has agreed to settle for that. Meanwhile, the white ultra-racists have another scenario in mind -- to whip up racist outrage against any agreement with black leaders and to block any movement toward majority rule. In late December the ultra-racists launched a series of terrorist raids designed to intimidate the De Klerk government. This included the bombing of schools, post offices and other government installations. Especially targeted were schools which planned to integrate black and white students.

For full liberation!

Mandela and other reformist leaders are trying to keep a rein on the black masses while they work out a deal with De Klerk. But the masses need much more than this limited perspective. The black workers showed once again, in the general strike of November 4-5, that they are fed up with bearing the burden of exploitation in South Africa. The black majority cannot put their hopes in Mandela and De Klerk cooking up a deal acceptable to the white minority. They need full democracy and economic liberation.

[Photo: Dec. 10 protest in Johannesburg demands freedom for political prisoners.]

A year after Ershad fell

Unrest in Bangladesh

A year ago, nearly everyone in Bangladesh celebrated the fall of General Ershad, except for the few super-rich flunkies of the dictator who had ruled the country since 1982. Ershad fell in the face of a people's upsurge which mobilized a broad section of urban society -- from students and workers, to the middle class and professionals, and the bourgeois opposition parties.

But such unity could not last after the tyranny collapsed: different classes were bound to come into conflict.

In March, the government passed into the hands of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the conservative wing of the former opposition. Prime Minister Mrs. Khaleda Zia is running a right-wing capitalist government, defending the interests of the exploiters against the workers and peasants, and also protecting their narrow party interests against the rest of the former opposition. These policies, with a major economic recessionin the background, have set the stage for renewed social conflict.

Workers on the march


The country was shut down for 48 hours November 25-26 by a general strike called by jute and textile mill workers. They were protesting the government's privatization program and demanded job security and an increase in pay. The strike, which sought to shut down roads and rail transport, was successful. Buses and trains didn't run for two days. Near Tongi outside Dhaka, angry workers threw nearly 150 feet of railway line into an adjoining canal. In various places, workers clashed with police.

This was the second action called by mill workers. On October 28, they had carried out a 12-hour transport stoppage. After the November action, the mill workers announced plans for a 72-hour stoppage to begin on December 22. The Workers and Employees Unity Council; which unites most of the country's trade unions and workers organizations, endorsed this call and demanded implementation of its five-point charter of demands that it had been fighting for under the Ershad regime. Workers' localities have been the scene of many meetings and marches in preparation for the late December action.

Meanwhile, garment workers in Bangladesh have also stepped up their campaign. They called for a complete strike in the garment industry, in part to protest the lockout at Comtrade Apparels, owned by the Beximco conglomerate. Comtrade produces clothing for the U.S., Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and India. It has been the focus of garment workers organizing for several years. Its owners locked out the workers to crush their struggle.

Other stirrings

Not just the workers, but other sections of society are also in ferment.

Policemen are used as tools of the exploiters to crush the workers and poor people. But they are poorly paid and they have not remained unaffected by the sight of other people's struggles. November saw a policemen's movement for various demands including pay equity with soldiers. It grew into a mutiny on December 3, when rebellious police in Dhaka and Chittagong left their compounds and took to the streets, destroying cars, walls, and cutting electricity lines.

The mutiny quickly subsided, and the government, which is usually so hesitant in meting workers' demands, agreed to raise the policemen's pay. But after this agreement was reached, government workers, who were fired back to work in the summer without winning their demands for increased pay, began to discuss resuming their campaign.

Factional warfare


Meanwhile, the rivalry between the ruling BNP and the opposition Awami League has also heated up. The AL never reconciled itself to its defeat in the national elections and is upset that the BNP won't give them a share of government power. The two parties' student wings have turned many college campuses into an arena of violent factional warfare. Dhaka University and many other schools have been shut down in the face of continuous acts of terror. A tragic result of this campaign has been to smash the student movement which played a powerful role in the upsurge against General Ershad.

[Photo: Workers block the road near Dhaka during general strike, Nov. 25.]

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General strike in India

On November 30, a countrywide strike brought work to a halt in many public sector industries across India. It also affected airlines, railways and banking. The strike was called to protest antilabor government policies and austerity measures under the dictate of the International Monetary Fund. India recently received a $5 billion loan from the IMF after agreeing to harsh economic measures.

Workers mark Bhopal anniversary

On December 3, workers in the city of Bhopal, India, staged a general strike to mark the 7th anniversary of the industrial disaster at the Union Carbide plant which killed more than 3,000 people and injured another 200,000. Workers marched through the city and burned effigies of former Union Carbide boss Warren Anderson. They demanded the speeding up of compensation to the victims of the disaster. Legal wrangles have held up anything beyond token compensation.

Greek workers protest job cuts

Electricity and telecommunication workers began a 48-hour strike on December 4 to protest the government's privatization plans. They were followed by airline, bank, and industrial workers. About 10,000 workers have lost jobs due to cuts and shutdowns under the privatization plan. Another 15,000 face layoffs in the coming months.

Coal miners strike in Spain

More than 20,000 coal miners in northern Spain launched a strike in mid-December demanding new jobs to replace the ones that are being phased out by the government's restructuring of the coal industry. Barricades went up across several roads, and workers clashed with police who came out to attack them. Meanwhile, 36 union leaders occupied the Hunosa mine in the town of Mieres.

Students occupy campuses in Britain

A wave of protest by college students hit Britain during the last two months. Seven campuses saw building occupations beginning in November. More were expected to follow. The students are protesting cuts in student aid and other cutbacks.

Steel workers in Chile strike for 39 days

About 3,400 workers at Huachipato, Chile's only iron and steel mill, ended a 39-day strike on December 9. They were fighting for an across-the-board pay increase. They went back with a two-year agreement which will raise wages by 4.1%. However, militants protested that this was far short of the workers' demands.

Bolivian miners launch new struggle

In opposition to a new bill by the Bolivian parliament to privatize the country's mines, miners have launched a new campaign of struggle. Some 100 began a hunger strike, and others began a march from the mining areas to La Paz, the capital. The Interior Ministry declared the march illegal and was preparing to block the workers from entering the city.

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