the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Oct 17, 2016
Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul and television celebrity is doubling down on his despicable appeal.
When Trump was confronted with evidence that he had not paid federal or state income taxes for decades, he bragged that made him “smart.” When Trump was exposed for boasting about using his celebrity status and power to sexually assault women, he denigrated and insulted women – even more. When he said that the Central Park Five in New York were guilty, Trump showed how ready he is to provoke racist violence. The courts had exonerated those five men in 2004, despite the fact that Trump had tried to whip up lynch mob hysteria to get them executed by the state or murdered by vigilantes.
Trump is a vicious enemy of all working people. He seeks to widen the divisions inside the working class. He encourages racist and sexist violence, and attacks on immigrants.
But Trump has been able to maintain a base of support – especially among millions of white workers and poor people, not to speak of some black and immigrant workers. They have been driven into his arms by the long history of betrayals by other politicians, Republican and Democrat, both. They may not all go for Trump’s racism, xenophobia and misogyny, but they are being marked by it.
The fact that this electoral base exists and is widespread is the mark of how dangerous the political situation has become. That danger will not go away after the election.
Repulsed by a Trump and everything he represents, many working people will decide to vote for Hillary Clinton. But Clinton is no protection for working people.
Certainly, Clinton is not a disgusting human being like Trump. In fact, she is a very competent and efficient defender of the interests of the capitalist class, at the expense of the entire working class. And you don’t need tens of thousands of hacked private e-mails recently published by WikiLeaks to see this clearly.
As a U.S. Senator, Clinton voted for the taxpayer-funded bailouts of the banks and other big corporations during the 2007-2008 financial crash and deep recession. That is, Clinton voted for workers to pay to rescue companies and banks from the very collapse that they themselves caused. So, while millions of workers lost their jobs, homes, income, as well as vital social services and support, the capitalist class emerged with higher profits and more wealth than ever.
As a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, Clinton also supported the disastrous and bloody U.S. wars, invasions and bombings of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Clinton, like other U.S. officials, claimed these wars were to stop terrorism. But, in reality, they have been used to impose the domination of U.S. imperialism. U.S. military terror against ordinary people has only accelerated the terrible spiral of ever more terrorism and violence.
In other words, the very capitalist policies that Clinton supports worsen the conditions of the working class. It is these worsening conditions that Trump and his ilk exploit and play on to gain support.
Ultimately, Clinton and Trump are not so different. They are two sides of the same capitalist coin. Workers have every interest to turn thumbs down on both Trump and Clinton.
But how to do it in a country dominated by only two big parties? In fact, there are candidates who make clear their allegiance to the working class. In seven states, Alyson Kennedy and Osborne Hart of the Socialist Workers Party are on the ballot for president and vice president (Utah, Louisiana, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Washington and New Jersey). And in three states, Monica Moorehead and Lamont Lilly of Workers World are on the ballot running for president and vice president (New Jersey, Utah and Wisconsin). In other states, like Michigan, Moorehead and Lilly have gained enough signatures to be write-in candidates.
These candidates will not win. But a vote for them can send a message to other workers that they are not alone, that there are plenty of others who feel the same way they do, that they understand that to protect their interests, workers have to get together to fight for policies that serve the working population.
There are also candidates in local elections that openly declare they want to see a working class party. For more information about them see pages 4-5.
Oct 17, 2016
Donald Trump may avoid paying taxes, but his tax dodging is small potatoes compared to the big companies. Just one accounting trick, hiding their profits in overseas subsidiaries, let the 500 biggest companies in the country avoid 718 billion dollars in taxes on money they’ve accumulated over the years! To put this in perspective, the U. S. budget deficit for 2016 was 544 billion dollars. And this is just one of the hundreds of accounting tricks these companies use.
Apple alone would owe 65.4 billion dollars in taxes if it brought its money back to this country from the “tax havens” where it stashes its profits.
These tax dodges are no secret. A non-profit organization, Citizens for Tax Justice, carried out the study that produced these numbers. But of course the federal government, including both Democrats and Republicans, already knew all the tricks the corporations carry out to avoid taxes. They wrote the tax laws that these companies – and billionaires like Trump – take advantage of!
Oct 17, 2016
Republican officials flooded out of the Trump campaign last week, after the famous tape appeared. Bragging about sexually forcing himself on women, he exposed himself for what he is. A monster.
And the Republicans didn’t know?
Of course, they knew – and not just because he leered at women on his “reality show,” The Apprentice.
He bragged about his “conquest” of various women in his book. He bragged in radio interviews.
Anyone with an eye in his head, watching The Apprentice, could have seen Trump for what he is. He denigrated people for brief moments of weakness, of humanity. He lured people onto his show, in order just to yell, “You’re fired.” With great gusto. And, of course, he denigrated women.
But, then, the Republicans and the capitalist class they serve didn’t need to watch Trump to know that. They created this monster. NBC gave him 13 years on a national television show, time to build his brand. NBC, which for most of that time was owned by General Electric, one of the biggest companies in the world.
He was presented as a model, a brilliant businessman – this man who knew only how to skip out on the bill.
When Trump began his campaign, every media outlet gave him free time – worth 2.5 billion dollars – to vent anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, racist and misogynist ravings.
The worse his statement, the more the media – and not just NBC – rushed to pick it up, repeat it, then repeat it again.
The banks issued him enormous loans, even though he had a habit of declaring bankruptcy, stiffing them for the loan – and by the way claiming the loss as his own on his tax filings. Stockholders were drawn in by the aura created around him – only to lose the money they put in.
Trump may be a megalomaniac, but he didn’t create himself. The responsibility for this monster lies firmly in the backyard of the Republicans and of the capitalist class they serve. Too bad their party doesn’t implode along with him.
Oct 17, 2016
The federal government stopped funding the Head Start program in Prince George’s County, Maryland, next to D.C. The county, which is now responsible for Head Start, is re-naming it “Early Start.”
They claim there will be no cuts in services. But now Prince George’s County must pay for this program out of its school budget. Something will be cut – Head Start or other school programs.
The federal government cited “misconduct” as a pretext to cut its funding. There may have been “misconduct” at the local level, but the real “misconduct” is on the part of public officials who are destroying the public schools under one pretext or another. And destruction of public schools means the destruction of children.
Oct 17, 2016
In a recent statement to CNN regarding the Central Park Five in New York City, Donald Trump exclaimed, “They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that the case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.”
What was “outrageous” was that the actual serial rapist continued his murdering and raping spree while these five teenagers, innocent of any crime, were rotting in jail. The rapist confessed and his DNA matched that of the sole attacker of the jogger in Central Park. The “Central Park Five” were finely exonerated in 2002 – after losing more than a decade of their lives in the depraved conditions of American prisons.
On April 19, 1989, a white woman was brutally raped and beaten in Central Park while jogging. The police arrested five young teenagers, all between 14 and 15 years old. The police held five young men, cut off from family, cut off from lawyers, until they browbeat each of them to blame the others. They coerced false confessions from the young men – the only “evidence” they had.
That did not stop Trump from taking out full page ads in every daily newspaper in New York City saying: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” The ad went on to say “Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers.” He took these ads out on May 1st of 1989. Before the trial. It was a call for a lynching. The jury delivered a guilty verdict for five innocent young men.
The Central Park Five were likened to a “wolf pack” by the mayor and The New York Times. Even though there was only one attacker’s DNA found and it did NOT match any of the teens, it didn’t stop the police from using this as a pretext to round up young men.
In 1989 Trump took out ads calling for the lynching of the Central Park Five. Twenty-seven years later, still claiming they are guilty, he is calling for more lynchings.
Donald Trump needs to be defanged just like the Ku Klux Klan before him was: by an outraged black population not willing to be one of his victims.
Oct 17, 2016
Working people do not have a party that speaks for us. The main choice workers have been offered in elections is no choice at all. The Republicans speak openly for the big banks and big industrialists, while the Democrats, who get some of their money from the unions, act for the big banks and the big industrialists.
This is nothing but a choice between an open enemy and a false friend – both of them defenders of the capitalist system, both of them enforcers of exploitation.
The working class needs its own party – a party based on the conviction that “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common,” in the words of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
This is not a new problem. The working class has been without its own party for nearly a century.
But something is new: the effort to put a working class party on the ballot in Michigan.
In fact, already in 2014 a slate of five candidates was on the ballot in Michigan, running together under the slogans: “For a working class fight, for a working class policy.”
Restrictive election laws forced them to run individually as “non-party” candidates, and the big media ignored them. But running as a working class slate, they got a hearing in the working class.
Based on the results in 2014, the five candidates, working with others, set up an organizing committee to put a working class party on the ballot this year. Dozens of people went through parts of the state seeking signatures on petitions.
Fifty thousand people signed their petitions, attesting to the fact that in the working class there are people who agree: the working class needs its own party.
Certainly, an election has never changed the situation for working people. It’s the struggles that working people have made that tipped the scales, every time.
And a party cannot be built just because some words are on the ballot. But the fact that Working Class Party got on the ballot is a kind of victory. A small one, yes, but nonetheless, a victory.
Now, the problem for working people is to use that ballot status to say what we want.
A vote for the Working Class Party can show that there are thousands of people who say they are fed up with Democrats and Republicans; thousands who say they are convinced the working class needs to speak for itself.
And these thousands of people can begin to change the situation.
The Working Class Party needs your help and your vote. Vote and get people around you to vote for at least one of its candidates. Get in touch to help the campaign.
The new party is focusing its efforts on running three candidates. All three are known in the areas where they are running, and all three ran last time. Gary Walkowicz is running in the 12th Congressional district, which includes parts of Wayne County and Washtenaw County. Sam Johnson is in the 13th district, which includes parts of Detroit and the rest of Wayne County. Mary Anne Hering, who is running for the State Board of Education, can be voted on by anyone in the whole state of Michigan.
Gary Walkowicz has worked for four decades at Ford, elected by his fellow workers to various union positions in his unit at the Dearborn Truck plant. He is known as someone who always stood up against auto company demands to push workers backwards, and he helped organize opposition to contracts demanding concessions from the workers, including the one in 2009 that was voted down.
He was nominated for president of the UAW International at the 2010 and 2014 UAW Conventions, running against the top officials who had pushed concessions on auto workers.
Gary explained his goal: “I didn’t have any illusions I would win at the Convention, but running was a way to give a voice to the UAW membership, to the thousands of workers who do not agree to go on paying the cost for the bosses’ crisis.”
It’s exactly the same situation in the U.S. elections, where normally the working class has no voice.
Sam Johnson was a Chrysler worker, known widely in the plants as someone who stood up against the company, not only for himself, but for other workers. He was active at Dodge Main, Lynch Road, retiring from McGraw Glass in 2000. During more than 30 years, he represented a working class policy in the plants, sometimes as an elected representative, always as a worker who joined with other workers to face the attacks from the auto companies.
Sam began his life in Alabama, under Jim Crow. He learned from his family not to accept the racism of the Klan and the cops, who were often the same.
His mother sent him to L.A. when he was 20, hoping to keep her son alive. Sam was a witness to the black rebellion in Watts, 1965, and then, after he came to Detroit, to the 1967 rebellion here.
Whether in the plants or in the community, Sam has always been a fighter, a man who sees the big picture and speaks out for his class.
Sam Johnson’s book, giving an account of his life, a militant life, was published in 2014. It’s called: A Fighter All My Life.
Mary Anne (Mardi) Hering has been a community college teacher for many years in the Detroit Metropolitan area, primarily at Henry Ford (Community) College.
Several generations of people throughout the Detroit metropolitan area have come through her classroom. She has been a long time advocate for students and their families, the custodians and secretaries and other support staff of the college, as well as part-time teachers, who make up the backbone of the teaching staff of all colleges.
A socialist militant, she has been involved in working class struggles. Known by many workers and their families, especially at Ford Rouge, she hears how the attacks on public education affect their children. She is angered knowing that this society has more than enough money to provide an adequate education to every child. As a teacher, she is outraged that many students will work hard to get an education only to discover there are no good-paying jobs available.
Mary Anne’s candidacy can give voice to workers who see their children deprived of a decent education because the state cuts money from public education. She can speak for teachers and other employees of the school systems, who are deprived of the means they need to educate children, and whose wages and benefits are reduced because of those cuts.
The information for this article came from the website: www.workingclassfight.com/party, where you can find more information about each of the candidates and about the Working Class Party.
Oct 17, 2016
Working class people in Baltimore face a crisis, created by what the banks, big corporations, fancy developers and slick “entrepreneurs” have done. But the crisis is made worse by policies of the Baltimore City Council.
Schools for most children in the city are a disaster, without enough teachers and support personnel. They lack supplies, equipment, books, up-to-date computers, air conditioning – and even basic maintenance and cleaning.
The water and sewer system was a great step forward when it was built more than a hundred years ago, but today, sewage backs up, water pipes burst, roads are washed out, neighborhoods have sinkholes, and children’s health is put at risk – all because the system has not been maintained.
Bridges are crumbling, and roads are filled with potholes and bumpy patches – making driving to work slow and often dangerous. Public transit is inadequate, without enough light rail, and a slow and unreliable bus system.
Decent, affordable housing disappeared as the city closed down public housing and stopped making repairs on housing that remained open – even while the bank-caused mortgage crisis drove people out of their homes. Average rent jumped up 40% in the last 15 years, and workers’ neighborhoods deteriorated as more people lost their housing.
Clearly, the city is not being run to meet the basic needs of ordinary people.
It’s not for lack of money. Baltimore has wealth. But that wealth is not used to pay for schools, water and sewage, housing, roads and transit – services that should be fully provided in a modern country.
Baltimore is the largest center of business and commerce in the state. But city government has exempted much of downtown Baltimore’s business and real estate from all or most property taxes through special deals – TIFs, PILOTs and other subsidies. So property taxes – which are used to pay for schools – are starved for money. And taxes, fees and other charges collected to pay for roads or the water system are diverted to cover the cost of subsidies.
This is not normal, not natural. It’s the result of choices made by Baltimore’s political leaders over the years.
The solutions to our problems are not complicated – they simply require that public money be used for public purposes.
Tens of thousands of people are unemployed in Baltimore. Many more than that are needed to put this city in livable shape for the whole population. Hire the unemployed for decent wages, start work on the services people need – and begin to chip away at the poverty that pervades the city.
These are not the solutions favored by Democrats and Republicans. Both parties work to enrich the developers through subsidies and tax breaks.
Some city council members may vote against those subsidies and tax breaks. But one or two individual council members cannot change the basic direction of this society.
That will require a fight. To force the bosses to pay for the crisis they created, to take public money and use it for public purposes, to take their stolen wealth away from them – that will require a struggle by working people, a determined, massive fight.
The elections won’t bring about that fight. But we can use the elections to say we are fed up, to say we want to see that fight happen.
I am running in order to give others, who think like this, a way to register their agreement, a way to say they are fed up, a way to say they understand the working class must fight for what it needs.
Oct 17, 2016
During the mid-1960s, the sugar industry paid three Harvard University scientists to search for ways to minimize the appearance of health problems caused by sugar and to emphasize the health problems caused by saturated fat. Researchers working for the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) recently discovered documents concerning this work in the Harvard Medical Library storage.
Starting in 1957, British physiologists realized that not only fat, but also high consumption of sugar was an important dietary cause of coronary heart disease. Later research confirmed the results of the British physiologists. By the mid-1960s, newspapers started to write about the harmful health effects of sugar.
Alarmed by this specter, the sugar industry initiated a project to downplay these risks. Three scientists at Harvard University’s School of Public Health were engaged by the sugar industry to refute the research that linked sugar with heart diseases.
They cherry-picked the data, rejecting the link between the sugar and heart diseases pointing the finger at fat as the sole nutrient responsible for heart disease. They did not mention in their published research that they were paid by the sugar industry.
Of course, the sugar industry is not the only food industry that funds supposed “scientific research” aimed at misleading the public. Health studies have repeatedly linked heavy meat consumption with higher rates of heart disease, premature death and cancer. But, recent dietary guidelines issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture do not explicitly recommend eating less meat.
The business’ manipulation of science-based recommendations for our health goes well beyond food. “Industry-sponsored nutrition research, like that of research sponsored by the tobacco, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries, almost invariably produces results that confirm the benefits or lack of harm of the sponsor’s products, even when independently sponsored research comes to opposite conclusions,” as explained by Marion Nestle, an expert on nutrition and food at New York University.
Like the saying goes: whoever pays the piper calls the tune.
Simply, as these recent findings show again, the companies’ only aim is to increase their profits, even though this aim hugely harms our health, shortening life expectancy. Their profit aim is outright murderous.
Oct 17, 2016
A power outage in the South Bay area near Los Angeles left more than 100,000 people without power in the morning hours of October 11, just when many people were getting up and preparing to go to work or school.
The outage also caused a large refinery, which supplies about 20 per cent of the gasoline used in California, to lose power completely for 20 minutes – enough to force the refinery to do a flare-off (that is, burn large amounts of natural gas and oil derivatives quickly to stabilize its systems), and shut down.
Did the flare-off pose the risk of a big disaster – such as a large fire in a heavily populated area? Did it cause dangerous levels of air pollution?
Company and public officials say it did not, but their actions suggest otherwise. The city of Torrance announced a “shelter in place” – that is, it ordered people to stay home, shut doors and windows and turn off air conditioners for their safety – and Torrance schools cancelled all classes for the day.
The Coalition for Clean Air reported that fine-particle pollution levels increased significantly, and the regional air quality agency had received 15 complaints by mid-morning. Morning rush-hour traffic got congested even more than it normally does; and wholesale gas prices went up, threatening a price increase at the pump in coming days.
All this could have been avoided if the electric company in the area, SoCal Edison, had met some very basic safety standards. The flare-off, for example, could have been prevented if Edison had provided the refinery with backup power generation.
Officials of the company that operates the refinery, PBF Energy, blame Edison. But refinery officials are not free of blame either. This refinery, which was operated until last summer by Exxon Mobil, one of the biggest companies in the world with 22 billion dollars profit in 2015 alone, has a long record of accidents, explosions and safety violations. Like other oil companies, Exxon did not upgrade this aging facility for decades in the name of “cutting costs” for more profit.
Electricity and oil – two vital resources that we all depend on for our daily lives, are in the hands of private companies, whose sole motivation is profit. It’s how the capitalist system works – and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Oct 17, 2016
In August, two very different events took place at opposite ends of the North American continent.
To the north, the cruise ship Crystal Serenity was the first large passenger ship to sail through the Northwest Passage, from Alaska to New York. It carried 1070 passengers, who paid for the privilege of being first: $32,000 for basic rooms or up to $120,000 for a “penthouse with veranda.”
To the south, a near-hurricane storm dumped 7.3 trillion gallons of water on southern Louisiana, around Baton Rouge. Floods caused 8.7 billion dollars damage with 130,000 homes badly damaged or destroyed.
The Northwest Passage, near Canada’s Arctic Circle, has been sought as a trade route for centuries. But hundreds of miles of solid ice blocked the way until warming temperatures began to open the route. By 1906, a small ship in a rare warm year could get through. By 1980, ships with up to 200 people on board could make scientific studies. This year, the Crystal Cruise line sent the Serenity through.
But the cruise line took no chances with its wealthy cargo. They had an icebreaker escort the whole way, courtesy of the British government. Canadian and U.S. Coast Guards did early planning of rescue simulations. Helicopters stood by for the entire 32-day voyage. The ship relied on special ice-sensing satellites and ice-detecting radars, with all its other modern gadgets.
In Louisiana, residents had little warning about the floods that would bear down on them. Local forecasters simply warned of “heavy rain.”
Yes, heavy. One town received 31.39 inches of rain over three days. The area received 24 inches of rain in 48 hours. Ten rivers flooded. 130,000 homes were badly damaged.
The rich folks’ cruise ship was guarded through every wave and ripple by the combined forces of three governments. But the flood victims were working-class. FEMA sent 130 trailers, and ordered 250 more, to serve those 130,000 flooded-out families.
It took Congress six weeks to authorize 500 million dollars for relief – to cover 17 times that amount of damage! And the maximum FEMA grant for a destroyed home is $33,000 – only enough to build the required flood-resistant foundation. Tens of thousands of families will have to start over from nothing.
For the wealthy class, weather extremes aren’t much more than an unusual tourist attraction. For the working class, however, it’s seeing the work of a lifetime gone in one stroke.
Oct 17, 2016
This is the headline in the Creole language spoken in the French Caribbean islands and of the editorial of the paper Combat Ouvrier Workers Fight (International Communist Union), published by comrades in the Caribbean after the murderous passage of Hurricane Matthew which hit the southern departments of Haiti. It means, “It’s not a curse! It’s exploitation!”
According to the official account, there were hundreds of deaths, perhaps a thousand, and hundreds of thousands homeless, starving, with cholera threatening. The poor people of this country of 10 million have just suffered a new catastrophe. Of course, it was a fact of nature, but the effects are multiplied tenfold by the negligence of a selfish and greedy bourgeoisie.
Five and a half years after the January 2010 earthquake, the poor population had barely recovered from a catastrophe in which it lost everything. Now in October, a hurricane of class 4 on a scale of 5 swept the southern part of the country. While the situation of the poor population continued to worsen, now it has to the pay for the consequences of the passage of Matthew. Nevertheless, alerts had been given several days before in the area where the hurricane was going to strike. In Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti and Florida, the authorities passed on alerts and organized the protection of the inhabitants ... but not everywhere.
In Haiti, the civil defense pointed out places of temporary shelter in the greater south able to receive tens of thousands of people. Now, not only were more than two million people living in the four afflicted departments, but this announcement was a deception. The disaster victims owed their survival to solidarity among the residents. A woman whose hut collapsed went forward blindly in the storm until she was grabbed by residents who were protected in a concrete house.
The material damage is enormous. Obviously, the hardest hit were the people living in villages of huts built on the edge of the sea. The villages and houses were flooded, the roofs torn off, the houses and gardens destroyed, the livestock swept away.
After the collapse of bridges and roads, the region was literally cut from the world for several days, without drinkable water, food or possible communication. The State was also missing, and it failed to provide these services. While the disaster victims are in desperate condition, aid arrives slowly, when it arrives at all. The waiting lines push forward when a truck of supplies from a non-profit organization is announced. Cholera, which was still not wiped out before the hurricane, again threatens to rage following the floods and polluted water.
The elections which were supposed to take place on October 9th have been put off with no new date set.
In their editorial of October 8th, the comrades of Combat Ouvrier write; “In the population we often hear in Guadeloupe, Martinique and Haiti it being said that it’s the “curse” which struck Haiti. It isn’t true. It’s extreme poverty which makes the population of this country vulnerable to natural catastrophes. It isn’t fate.
The majority of the population lives in temporary housing, set in areas at risk for floods and mud flows. 78% of the population lives below the poverty level and 56% in extreme poverty. The unemployment rate is more than 60%. The few workers who have the possibility of selling their labor power do so at a low price. The workers of the industrial zone of Port-au-Prince are laid off by the thousands every day, under the pretext that there is no work. Now, for the workers still on the job, work hours are lengthened, production quotas are pushed to an unobtainable level even for the most hardened workers. There is misery even for those who work. No, the catastrophe which once again has struck our brother Haitians isn’t “the curse.” It’s the result of the bloody and multi-year exploitation of the Haitian people by the imperialist powers of France and the U.S. It’s the consequence of a society where a handful of rich people concentrate in their hands 63% of the national wealth. They don’t suffer the “curse” of Matthew.”
620 miles from there, in Florida, even if Matthew still represented a certain danger with winds of 110 miles per hour, three million people were evacuated and there were very few victims. Cuba was hit by the same intensity as Matthew. 1.5 million people were evacuated before the hurricane hit. The city of Baracoa, with 82,000 people, was almost totally destroyed, but they didn’t mourn any deaths. In Guantanamo, it was the same. The U.S. authorities evacuated the camp personnel and those locked up were assigned to solid buildings.
The “curse” is capitalism, which voluntarily maintains 10 million Haitians in misery, at a time when no weather forecaster knows where and when catastrophe is going to happen.