The Spark

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

Issue no. 1201 — May 6 - 20, 2024

Students Can Protest Murderous Wars—The Working Class Can End Them

May 6, 2024

Tens of thousands of students at dozens of universities and colleges across the country have been protesting the barbaric slaughter of 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli military. And despite the big crackdown at several universities, these protests have been spreading.

From the very beginning of these protests, U.S. officials and many in the news media have belittled and put down the student protesters.

The students have been called privileged, because most of the protests started at elite private and state universities. But all that means is that these students have some time to pay attention to what is going on and try to oppose it.

The news media tries to make it seem like these are just young people acting out, being irresponsible. Yeah, they’re young. But that just means that they have not yet been conditioned to accept the most naked, inhuman barbarism as an inevitable part of life.

Of course, some of the student demands are foolish. One of their central demands is “divestment.” That means they want their university to stop doing business with companies that have a connection to the Israeli war against the Palestinians.

And the students often ignore the role played by Hamas. Hamas, which oppresses the Palestinian people, carried out the mass murder of Israelis on October 7, thus provoking the war. By putting all the blame for the war on Israel, the students weaken their position, as well.

But this just shows that the students have some illusions about who is really behind these terrible massacres.

In fact, the main responsibility for this war lies not in Israel, but right here in the United States. It is the U.S. superpower that dominates the Middle East, a region rich in oil and centrally located, straddling three continents.

The only reason the U.S. government gives tiny Israel more military aid than any other country is because Israel is a reliable cop in the region. Israel is a U.S. tool. It does the U.S.’s dirty work. The U.S. superpower depends upon Israel to defend U.S. corporate investments and trade.

Sometimes Israeli leaders defy Biden and the U.S., as when Netanyahu openly calls for ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the West Bank. He openly threatens a wider regional war that the U.S. doesn’t want. But U.S. officials may scold Netanyahu, while continuing to send billions more in military aid.

Last week, President Joe Biden denounced the student protests for sometimes being supposedly “violent” because they might have taken over a building on campus in a few instances.

Violence? Are they kidding? It is the U.S. superpower that has flooded the entire Middle East with weapons of mass destruction. It has turned people against each other, fomented wars. The U.S. has invaded, waged war. The U.S. military has killed millions of people—and starved millions more through trade embargoes, that is, economic war.

Every opinion poll shows that a majority of people in this country are also horrified by the massacres in Gaza by the Israeli Army. These protests could find a bigger echo not just among other students, but among other parts of the population. After all, workers are the ones who are paying for these wars with our tax dollars. And workers know that if the war spreads, the U.S. could send troops, and it will be young workers who do the fighting and the dying.

That’s why many universities have cracked down hard on protesters, arresting over 2,000 so far, breaking up encampments, letting extreme right wing Israeli nationalists attack protesters and crack heads, expelling some students, and threatening to expel many more. The university administrations, not to speak of the entire U.S. ruling class, don’t want more protests, especially since the U.S. is also fomenting the war in Ukraine, and is making all kinds of threats of war against China. All that shows is that there are more and bigger wars in our future, wars where U.S. troops will be sent to fight and die.

Certainly, it is not the students who have the power to stop these wars. But the working class does. For it is the working class that is at the center of the economy, producing everything, making society run. It is the working class that produces the profits, the very lifeblood of the ruling class. And it is the working class that makes up the bulk of the military. That gives the working class a huge amount of power, when workers organize in their own interests.

The working class may not be able to stop the wars that have already started. But workers can surely end them, by ending the cause of those wars, by turning on our real enemy: the big capitalists right here, the same capitalists who are robbing us right here every single day.

Pages 2-3

Right to Abortion on Ballot in More States

May 6, 2024

A Catholic nun was interviewed on National Public Radio as she worked to collect signatures on a ballot proposal to end the ban on abortion in Missouri. She did not give her full name to avoid issues with the church hierarchy, but she summed up her views in this way: “I want to put a sticker on the car that says, ‘Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one!”

Organizers in Missouri just turned in twice the number of signatures needed on May 3. It looks like the Right to Abortion will be on the ballot in Missouri—a “red” state whose voters typically back Republicans. Similarly, on May 2, an abortion-rights initiative turned in more than enough signatures in South Dakota to try for November ballot status in another “red” state.

In Florida, a six-week abortion ban went into effect on May 1st. More than a million signatures have been collected by thousands of volunteers in Florida to put an abortion rights measure on the ballot this November. Florida will be a real test because this undemocratic state requires a ballot measure to achieve 60% voter support to pass.

In Maryland and New York, proposals on abortion rights have already secured a spot on the ballot in November.

Signatures for ballot initiatives on abortion rights are also being collected in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, and Nevada.

In Iowa, Maine, and Pennsylvania, measures that started in the state legislature to protect abortion rights aim to be on the November ballot.

It is clear that the majority of the population is in favor of women’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. In 2022, there were seven states where women’s right to choose was on the ballot. In all seven states—Michigan, Ohio, Vermont, California, Kentucky, Kansas, and Montana. In all seven states—“red” states and “blue“ states—people voted in favor of abortion rights.

In this so-called democracy, the U.S. Supreme Court took away what the population wanted by right by overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022. It is ridiculous that since the fall of Roe, so many signatures and votes have had to take place for women to try and hold on to the gains won by the fights of the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. But it is also impressive that so many women and their supporters are ready to fight for women’s reproductive rights!

Closing Another Hospital in Rural Michigan

May 6, 2024

Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital, the only hospital in one of Michigan’s largest counties, closed on April 19th.

Ontonagon is on the western edge of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The next nearest hospitals are 47 miles and 62 miles away from Ontonagon. And what might be a 45-minute drive to the closest of these hospitals, Baraga County Memorial, will be much longer in a U.P. winter storm. And so, it’s understandable that in response to this closure, some residents are calling it a “life or death situation.”

Michigan now has a dozen rural counties with no acute care hospital. But what is happening in Michigan is part of the pattern of rural hospitals being closed and health care systems being dismantled in rural areas throughout the United States. Since 2005, nearly 200 rural hospitals have closed.

So, it should come as no surprise that this lack of health care for 15% of the U.S. population who live in rural parts of the country has resulted in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicating that “Rural Americans [are] More Likely to Die Early from Preventable Causes.” After all, if you have to drive two or three hours to the nearest center for specialty care, people go without preventive services. And rural areas have lower screening rates and less treatment access, period!

Aspirus, a so-called nonprofit chain of 19 hospitals based in Wisconsin, gave the community two months’ notice despite earlier promises it would build a new 15.8 million dollar facility with inpatient beds and an E.R. department. And while their officials said that the hospital closure in Ontonagon was “not about money,” it was.

Rural hospitals typically serve smaller populations with a higher proportion of uninsured and underinsured patients. And there’s no money in that for big hospital groups in a country where health care is a for-profit system. And they follow the money.

Wall Street Thinks a Slowdown Is a Good Thing!

May 6, 2024

Ordinary workers might be excused for thinking that a slowdown in the economy would be a bad thing. After all, it means that jobs are harder to find, especially at wages that can support us and our families.

But the news that only 175,000 jobs were added in April was greeted by the Wall Street Journal with cheers.

The employment report also said that only 5,000 jobs were added in the leisure and hospitality sector, down from 53,000 in March. In addition, stores like Starbucks and McDonald’s have reported slowing sales.

The fast-food industry and government reports are finally recognizing what working people have known for a long time: prices are too high, and workers cannot afford to take their kids to McDonald’s.

But this is welcome news for the Wall Street Journal! They figure that this means that the Federal Reserve will start lowering its interest rates, and businesses can get back to borrowing free money again. They’re also happy that wage growth has continued to slow. That’s also more money in corporations’ pockets.

Bad news for workers is good news for businesses. That’s the capitalist system in a nutshell.

Trump’s Trial Shows How the Wealthy Buy Their Way Out

May 6, 2024

In his current hush money trial, Donald Trump is charged with falsifying campaign financing records over the payment of 130,000 dollars to buy silence from porn star Stormy Daniels about a sexual tryst between them that she threatened to make public just before the 2016 election.

In the trial, the owner of the tabloid newspaper The National Enquirer, David Pecker, testified he met with Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen and planned to “catch and kill” stories that might damage Trump’s campaign chances. He also says he was paid 150,000 dollars just two months before the election to bury the story of Trump’s affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal, which went on for months while he was married. Prosecutors played a recording Michael Cohen made on his phone when he talked with Trump about setting up a shell company for the transfer of money to Pecker’s company, which in turn paid McDougal to catch and kill the story of the affair. Trump was heard confirming it would cost “one-fifty” and suggesting to Cohen that the payment be made in cash.

Whether the prosecution is able to prove its case that Trump violated campaign financing laws in reimbursing Cohen for payments that eventually went to Stormy Daniels remains to be seen. But what’s been laid out already makes it clear that Trump is a guy who knows how to and is able to pay lawyers and publications hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect his image in front of voters to enhance his chances of winning an election by hiding the truth.

And this is the kind of guy workers should believe will be looking out for them if they give him their vote? That’s a stretch!

Pages 4-5

L.A. Transit Operators Stage a Sick Out

May 6, 2024

On May 2, about 360 Los Angeles Metro bus and train operators staged a sick-out, leading to delays and cancellations on 40 bus routes. This protest was in response to the violent attacks workers have been exposed to in recent months.

Mass transit operators risk their lives day in and day out. Last year, Metro logged 168 assaults on transit operators, including being spat on and stabbed. That violence has escalated in recent months. In February, Metro logged 12 attacks, nearly one every other day. In March, a passenger hijacked a bus with a BB gun and crashed it into the front of a hotel. In April, a passenger repeatedly punched and stabbed an operator in front of 50 passengers. A few days later, a 65-year-old female worker returning home from her late-night shift was stabbed to death while she was getting out of a train.

After the latest murder, the transit agency held an emergency session, promising bigger protective barriers around the drivers and more cops: that is, more of the same and highly inadequate. Even in the best of times, the police don’t appear to care.

Metro employees will need to fight to impose their own solutions. That means reducing sources of stress for both passengers and drivers, like allowing free fares and much better transit service. There need to be more employees on the buses and trains to help defuse tensions before they rise.

In fact, the increase in violence is the product of the worsening crisis of homelessness and misery that is hitting more people in the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the population. The housing situation is so bad in Los Angeles that 40% of all renters fear falling into homelessness, according to a recent study by UCLA. And food prices have gone up so high the same 40% fear that they cannot afford to feed their families.

These are problems transit drivers can’t solve. But they can be part of a larger fight that needs to be made by the working class to force the capitalists back up and off of impoverishing workers and the population.

U.S. Military Hospital in Germany

May 6, 2024

The U.S. military is spending over 1.2 billion dollars to build a vast military hospital in Germany near the massive Ramstein U.S. air base in Kaiserslautern. It will replace the nearby Landstuhl U.S. military hospital, which was already big. The new medical center will have 4,860 rooms and employ up to 2,500 people. It will serve around 240,000 U.S. troops, U.S. military families, and U.S. civilians working on the base and throughout Europe. Will German citizens be able to go there for health care? No! But the U.S. has made Germany spend around 300 million dollars for infrastructure work to support the new hospital. Meanwhile, civilian hospitals are closing at record rates in both the U.S. and Germany.

The question is, why is the U.S. military building such a massive hospital for troops in Europe? Are they preparing for war?

No “Reproductive Freedom” in California

May 6, 2024

The City of Beverly Hills, run by Democrats, conclusively blocked a proposed abortion clinic by DuPont Clinic that would have performed late-term abortions. City politicians used all kinds of political trickery and colluded with the building owner where the clinic was being set up, which led to the building owner canceling DuPont’s lease. Simply put, the City of Beverly Hills went along with the reactionary anti-abortion protesters to protect their positions. Two other California cities, Visalia and Fontana, also recently blocked abortion providers.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal protection of abortion rights in 2022, Democratic Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, and other Democratic party bigwigs vowed to turn California into a “haven” for abortion rights. To this end, they enacted a law seemingly protecting unrestricted abortion rights. But this law provides reproductive freedoms only on paper.

Recently, Democrat Newsom is again in the ads, this time touting his plans for a new California law to allow abortion providers from other states, like Arizona, to serve in California and to provide pregnant women from these states financial aid to travel to and have an abortion in California. But these are, again, just political talk and maneuvering.

California has 165 abortion facilities, most of which are in big cities. And more than half of the California clinics provide only the abortion pill and don’t conduct procedures beyond 10 weeks of pregnancy. So, close to 80% of Californians have no nearby abortion clinic, a particular problem for working-class women who can less well afford to travel or pay rent in California’s big cities. That is, California puts geographical barriers against working-class women.

Reproductive freedom in California exists mostly on paper and in politicians’ loudmouths.

Foxtrot Grocery Store Workers Blindsided

May 6, 2024

On April 23, without prior notification, 33 Foxtrot and Dom’s Market stores in Chicago, Austin, Dallas, and the Washington, D.C. area suddenly closed their doors and terminated over 1000 workers on the spot.

There was no forewarning of any kind—no individual management discussions, not even an email notification. Around noon that day, the store’s computer system suddenly went dark. Workers and customers were instructed to leave the stores immediately. Workers were shocked and outraged. The capitalist owners left them high and dry, cheating them out of paychecks and benefits they were owed. One Foxtrot café worker had just been hired, and April 23rd was his first day. He had worked less than four hours when co-workers informed him they had all been terminated. Workers were given no time to prepare and look for new employment, no time to adjust family plans and no time to figure out how to pay rent, food, and all their other bills.

It was all part of a well-orchestrated plan of Outfit Hospitality, the parent company of the stores, which had applied for Chapter 7 bankruptcy just four days earlier. The shutdown was designed to steal earned wages and cheat workers out of severance pay, health care, and other benefits, all to help finance a corporate reorganization designed to boost profits.

Some federal and state laws are supposed to limit corporate actions like this. Most require companies to provide 60-day notice with severance pay for mass layoffs or firings. But loopholes allow “creative” and “nimble” capitalists to bypass such obstacles.

But the workers have begun to fight back to get what’s theirs. They gathered in a rally outside company offices to demand back what had been stolen from them. Further organizing together is necessary to continue the fight.

SpaceX Uses Military Base for Private Profit

May 6, 2024

SpaceX rocket company, owned by Elon Musk, is relying more and more on using Vandenberg Space Force Base, a federal property north of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, California, to launch its rockets. A California state agency agreed to allow SpaceX to launch six rockets a year from the base over the California coastline, mostly with private commercial payloads, meaning not military satellites. Now, Musk is demanding permission to launch 36 rockets each year and has boasted of plans to launch 50 or even 100 rockets yearly. All with massive help from the U.S. facilities and personnel stationed on the base. It’s a huge subsidy from taxpayers to one billionaire.

Musk might claim he is a visionary “disruptor” who “thinks big” and “gets things done.” But in fact, he relies on the traditional roles of government and business in the capitalist system: the government, and especially the military, exists to help fat cats like him get richer.

Chicago Park District:
Not Enough Summer Camp Spots

May 6, 2024

Electronic sign-up for Chicago Park District summer camp programs was at 9:00 a.m. on an April morning. By 9:02 a.m., parents were already getting waitlisted—they said it was like trying to get tickets to Beyoncé or Taylor Swift. There was an in-person sign-up a week later, which saw parents camped out in the cold hours before park offices opened, trying to snag a spot for their children.

Chicago Park District’s Summer Camp spots are affordable—five-week day camps run $160, but there are clearly not enough spots. The Park District chalks this up to the usual “labor shortage”—just another way of saying that the pay for Park District workers is too low. Clearly, working families want opportunities for their children—Chicago has beautiful parks that could provide them. Parents should not have to go through the Hunger Games just to put their kids in summer camp—but the ruling class has other plans for the city’s money.

Maryland Eastern Shore:
Pharmaceutical Lab Closing

May 6, 2024

The Jubilant Cadista Pharmaceuticals factory lab in Salisbury, Maryland, will close in mid-June and lay off its 221 workers, the company announced. The plant makes generic drugs, but prices have been falling for a few years—unlike the price of everything else! The company says it can make a higher profit by making the drugs cheaper elsewhere.

It’s a heavy blow for people in a small city in a mostly rural area to lose so many jobs in this economy. And it makes no sense to close a lab capable of producing 1.5 billion doses a year. This country is experiencing record shortages of far more than 200 medical drugs. This means people who need them can’t get them. But Jubilant is closing this lab.

In the capitalist system, pharmaceutical labs aren’t run to make people healthy. No, they are run to make capitalists richer.

Pages 6-7

Andrea Kirby:
The Economic Impact on Workers

May 6, 2024

The following article is excerpted from a speech given at Spark’s public meeting by a former candidate of the Working Class Party, Andrea Kirby, in Detroit on April 14, 2024.

Grocery prices are high; they have risen 25 percent in four years. Gas prices are high, slowly creeping up every week. Energy prices are high, and companies are asking to increase rates yet again. Drinking water in this country is often unsafe, and in other parts of the world, it is downright poisonous. Medical and pharmacy costs are high and out of reach for so many working-class people. A study by Kaiser Health News and National Public Radio (NPR) found that 41 percent of adults, roughly 100 million people, are suffering under the weight of medical debt. And about 66 million people are holding off on medical care.

We are told to “go out and get a job and support yourself,” but that has turned into “go out and get a few jobs to barely support yourself.” Asking for a job with decent pay and a healthy, safe work environment is not an outrageous expectation, but that is not what we have. We have a broken-down system where the wages of the working class continue to go down, and the rich get richer. A system where ‘we the people’ suffer the after-effects of the decisions made by only a few. A system that pushes for constant speedup, pushing to get more and more from each of us while laying off workers. A system that continues to allow for the exploitation of child labor. And a system that continues to look at women as inferior, unable to make decisions regarding their own bodies. A system where the working class does all the labor and generates all the wealth but has no control over it. A system that does not fit the needs of the working class.

Lawmakers want us to think that things aren’t that bad. They tell us prices are stable or down. They tell us that workers’ wages are going up. I don’t know who they are talking to or what new formula they created to support their lies, but we all know that is not the reality. The reality is that when we go to the grocery store, we get sticker shock and come out with fewer items. The reality is that our money is not going as far as it did years ago. The reality is that they are persecuting California fast food workers for securing a $20 per hour minimum wage. Restaurant owners are threatening hundreds of layoffs: they are planning to move to more kiosk-type set-ups, and, of course, they are raising prices.

Money Flows for War

This is one of the richest countries in the world, and money is always being diverted from social programs. But it flows freely when it comes to the advancement of war. War in Ukraine, war in Gaza, and war in other undisclosed locations in the world. A war that is funded by our taxpayer dollars. Money that is contributing to volatile situations all over the world, where other working class people are dying.

The 2023 U.S. military budget broke records at a whopping 858 billion dollars. That is, 80 billion more than in 2022 and 118 billion more than in 2021.

The 2023 military budget was 300 billion dollars more than the combined budgets for the ten largest cabinet agencies—including departments such as Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and State Transportation. These budgets directly affect everything from schools to health care to housing and roads.

This 858-billion-dollar budget doesn’t even include all the spending justified in the name of “national security,” including the U.S. nuclear arsenal and Homeland Security.

For many Americans, the war in Ukraine and the genocide in Gaza are a distant image, one they can’t be touched by. Yet another lie they want us to believe. With so much money invested in continuing these wars, how long will it be before they begin to openly send U.S. troops into a possible World War III situation?

Workers Have Collective Power

So, how do we change things? How does the working class get the things needed, like having a job with decent pay in a healthy, safe environment? How does the working class use the wealth it creates to serve the needs of the working class? We know that we can’t do it individually. Individually, we don’t have any power. We have to be organized together.

The only organizations we have today that bring workers together are the unions. And unions are not enough. First of all, they are not at every workplace. Most workers are not in a union. Even if there is a union, the union leaders today carry out a very limited fight or even hold back a fight, like they did in the auto and Blue Cross strikes. But even if the unions today were run by different leaders, unions still have their limits. They are intertwined in a bureaucratic system of contracts that allow fights at only one workplace, one company, or one group of workers at a time instead of using the collective power of the working class. This way of fighting allows the bosses to drive down wages. The autoworkers used to be among the highest-paid industrial workers. But even autoworkers’ wages were held down because so many other workers had lower wages. The bosses always use divisions to keep wages low.

Democrats and Republicans both state they have the answer. Each election cycle, both parties make promises that they know they can’t keep or won’t keep. They will blame each other for every issue they are not able to advance. At the same time, they use up the American people’s lives to advance their own agendas. Both parties get donations from some of the world’s wealthiest people to ensure that things continue to fall in their favor. The working class is once again forced into choosing from two evils, having no confidence in either.

Gary Walkowicz:
The Working Class Needs Its Own Party

May 6, 2024

The following article is excerpted from a speech given at Spark’s public meeting by a former candidate of the Working Class Party, Andrea Kirby and Gary Walkowicz, in Detroit on April 14, 2024.

The working class does not need these capitalist parties. No, the working class needs its own party.

What would a working-class party do? It would speak to the whole working class and bring together workers from all walks of life. It would address the problems facing workers and show that there are answers to those problems.

A Sliding Scale of Wages to Keep Up with Inflation

We know that workers are falling behind because of inflation. Corporations raise prices to increase their profits and make their Wall Street owners rich. That’s why we have inflation. What is the working class’ answer to inflation? It’s very simple. When prices go up, our wages should go up—immediately, every week, if need be. The same should be true for pensions, social security, and money that workers need for retirement. Working people have the right to be paid enough to live decently.

Jobs for All Who Can Work

If workers were running things, we would make sure that everyone who wanted a job would have a job. Keeping some workers unemployed benefits the capitalists. But there is a way to make sure there are jobs for everyone. First, we divide the work up among everyone who wants to work. Divide up the hours. Divide up the work by having everyone with full-time jobs working fewer hours. Do that, and there would be many more jobs, and everyone could work less than 40 hours a week. Maybe only 20 hours a week.

Secondly, a working-class party would say, “slow down the pace of work!” The capitalists are always speeding up workers, making the jobs harder and making people work faster. Then, they lay off the rest of the workers. That’s how jobs are taken away. That’s why there aren’t enough jobs. I worked in a Ford assembly plant for over 40 years, and I saw the company eliminate jobs every single year through speed-up. Reverse that! Bring back all the workers who are laid off, slow down the lines, and make the pace of work reasonable for everyone.

Decent Pay for All

And, at the same time, everyone could and should be paid more than we are today, paid enough to have a decent standard of living.

The money is there to do it. Just look at the enormous profits of the corporations. Just look at all the money wasted in the hands of Wall Street speculators. Look at how much wealth is in the hands of a few families. 756 families with a combined wealth of over 4.5 trillion dollars. It’s more money than the GDP, the Gross Domestic Product, of the entire country of Germany, more than the GDP of Japan, more than France, more than Italy. 4.5 trillion dollars is more than the GDP of every country in the world other than 2—the U.S. and China. 4.5 trillion dollars just sitting in the hands of a few people.

Why shouldn’t workers have the right to this money? The wealthy few didn’t work for this money. They had other people work for it. Millions of workers here and around the world did all the labor to produce those 4.5 trillion dollars. The few wealthy people just sat back and collected the profits.

Open Up the Money Books

Of course, we know that the wealthy and capitalist bosses are going to cry that they don’t have the money for the jobs and income we need. A working-class party would say—OK, open up the books and let the workers see for ourselves how much money there is. Look at their books and we would see that the corporate bosses and Wall Street and the wealthy have enough money so that everyone could have a job and decent income. More, we would see all the tax breaks, subsidies, and corporate welfare the bosses are getting. The politicians take our tax money and give it to the rich. They take money that could and should be used for our children’s schools, hospitals, and health care. Money that could be used to fix the roads and bridges and sewer systems and infrastructure. A working-class party would say there is more than enough money for all that, plus good jobs and decent wages for us. The working class just has to take the money back and use it for what we need.

And we will have to take it because the bosses and the wealthy are never going to come up off that money voluntarily. No Democratic or Republican politician is going to make them do it. It is going to take a fight by the working class. But the working class has the power to make a fight like that. And that’s what a working-class party would say. It would tell workers the truth about money and how fighting is necessary to get what we need. A working-class party would organize that fight and pull workers together to use the full power of the whole working class. Workers have the power to get what we need and even to change the whole system and run it ourselves.

An Answer to War

What would a working-class party that represented all workers say today about the wars exploding all over the world and moving toward an even bigger war, moving toward a world war that would bring the war to this country? A working-class party would say that we should be linking up with the working people in other countries and that workers have nothing against each other, no reason to go to war against each other. Workers would find ways to live together and work together instead of letting governments send us to war to fight and kill each other. That’s what a working-class party would say.

Workers Need Their Own Party

We need a working-class party. That party does not exist today. It needs to be built—and workers can build it.

In 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022, we ran election campaigns. Working Class Party (WCP) is not the mass party that we need across the country. But it is a step toward building that party. WCP is going to run candidates again in 2024.

We know that elections don’t change things. But elections can give workers the chance to say how they feel. It can be a step toward building the mass working-class party we need. And the more candidates we have this year, the more workers we can reach.

Pages 8-9

The U.S. Sends More Weapons to Ukraine to Keep the War Going

May 6, 2024

The latest shipment of U.S. weapons has been arriving in Ukraine. These rockets, missiles, and artillery shells are part of the 61 billion dollars in military aid recently passed by Congress and signed by Biden. More weapons will follow in the coming months.

The toll of death and destruction continues to increase. It is estimated that over a half million Ukrainian and Russian soldiers have been killed, maimed, and wounded in the war. Thousands of civilians in Ukraine and Russia have been killed. Much of the infrastructure in Ukraine has been damaged or destroyed. The war has been a human catastrophe for the peoples of both countries.

This war serves the interests of the U.S. ruling class and government. The U.S. is fighting a war against Russia, using Ukrainian lives as pawns. The U.S. blames the war on Putin. But the U.S.’s hands are not clean.

When Putin invaded Ukraine in 2022, he was reacting to threats from the U.S. and NATO, who had been putting more and more weapons and troops on Russia’s border. Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. had been ramping up for a war by supplying and training Ukrainian troops. The U.S. has had a hostile policy toward Russia for over 100 years. The war is being used to weaken Russia, militarily and economically.

The war in Ukraine is part of a bigger network of wars being fomented around the world by U.S. imperialism, like the murderous wars in the Middle East region.

This is the future that the U.S. government is preparing for us. They are continually increasing their military budget for a reason. The U.S. government today is preparing for more wars, bigger wars that the U.S. would be directly engaged in to expand its economic domination into other regions. Wars in which the working people here would be the pawns and the victims, paying not just with our tax money but with our lives.

Presidential Council or Guy Philippe:
Choosing Between the Plague and Cholera!

May 6, 2024

This article is translated from issue #314 of Voix des Travailleurs (Workers Voice), the newspaper of the Organization des Travailleurs Revolutionaires (Organization of Revolutionary Workers), a Trotskyist group active in Haiti.

The removal of Prime Minister Ariel Henry by the United States with the assistance of the coalition of gangs “Viv Ansanm” has led to a power vacuum for about six weeks. International diplomacy officially supports the formation of a transitional Presidential Council with representatives from the main political parties. However, some sectors associated with Jovenel Moïse, on the one hand, and unofficially the coalition of gangs, on the other hand, are backing a Presidential Council with Guy Philippe as president. In reality, regardless of the composition of the next government, the working classes have nothing good to expect from it and must continue to rely on themselves.

While under the ferocious dictatorship of gangs, the country sinks deeper and deeper into barbarism and chaos. The possessing classes and their political lackeys engage in a pitched battle to control power and access the trough, too small for the numerous aspirants. After about six weeks of negotiations, a dozen political parties or groupings, among the most prominent, have finally concocted a formula under the auspices of Caricom to form a Presidential Council whose mission is to appoint a Prime Minister for the formation of a new government to replace Ariel Henry’s.

But these political formations, doormats of major Western embassies and the rich classes in Haiti, have all been in power before, either as president of the country, in the government, or in parliament. Through the embezzlement of public funds and the financing of armed bands, they bear their share of responsibility for the country’s catastrophic situation. This Presidential Council is like a famous restaurant, criticized by the public, that changes its name but continues to serve the same reheated and indigestible dishes.

These politicians’ ambition is to drain what remains of the public treasury and place their clientele and relatives in public administration, diplomacy abroad, etc.

Like hungry dogs around a bone, businessmen, politicians, and thugs struggle to find a compromise in their family feud.

Furthermore, a former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Pamela White, rumored to have close relations with Martelly’s PHTK, has stated that the solution to the country’s problems lies in negotiations with Guy Philippe and Jimmy Cherizier, known as Barbecue. Barbecue, the spokesperson of the coalition of gangs, was a former police officer. Will international diplomacy, particularly the White House, eventually satisfy the gangs’ desires or find a modus operandi with them to facilitate the functioning of the said Council? It is within the realm of possibility because, in reality, Western embassies, Americans at the forefront, the rich classes in Haiti, politicians, gangs, etc., are somehow part of the same family that vehemently opposes the interests of the working classes.

That is why the latter cannot expect anything from the next government, regardless of its composition. To get out of this quagmire, the poor classes can only rely on their strength and mobilization.

A “Progressive” Government ... Progresses toward War

May 6, 2024

This article is translated from the April 19, 2024 issue #2907 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the Trotskyist group of that name active in France.

In March, NATO began using Spain’s Mahón/Maó naval base on Menorca in the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. The station is now NATO’s third military base in Spain, after those in Rota on the Atlantic coast and Cartagena on the Mediterranean.

Pedro Sanchez, the Socialist Party president of Spain, has tried to present a somewhat different attitude from other Western leaders. At the last European summit, he asked his allies to tone down their hawkish talk. In November, he was among the first politicians to criticize Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He even talks about recognizing a Palestinian state later this summer.

With these declarations, Sanchez is trying not to cut himself off from left-wing Spaniards. Anti-war and anti-NATO traditions date back to the 1980s. The Socialist Party first refused entry into NATO and then campaigned for entry a few years later. In 2003, protests against the Iraq War gathered millions of people. This gave new life to the United Left electoral coalition linked to the Spanish Communist Party—several of whose members are in office today, such as the Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz. So Sanchez is passing the buck and the role of warmonger to fellow Socialist and Defense Minister Margarita Robles. In March, she declared that “the threat of war in Europe is real, but society “is not aware of it.”

In fact, the Spanish government stands solidly on imperialist ground. In addition to the new island base—which American destroyers will use for operations in the Mediterranean—2,400 Spanish soldiers are occupying Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Spanish warships accompanied the American aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean last October. And last year, the government passed a military budget of 27 billion dollars, Spain’s largest in recent history. Spain is the 15th biggest economy in the world but the 7th biggest arms exporter. Israel ranks among its clients.

In the 1950s, the United States affiliated fascist dictator Francisco Franco’s Spain with NATO. Ever since then, successive Spanish governments have toed the line. This is more than ever the case today with the Socialist Party and its allies in the so-called radical left.

One Year of War

May 6, 2024

This article is translated from the May 5, 2024, issue # 2909 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the Trotskyist group of that name active in France.

On April 15 in Paris, an international conference focused on the fate of Sudan, torn apart over the past year by brutal rivalry between warlords.

In April 2023, the two main forces of repression allied against the Sudanese population went to war. The Sudanese Armed Forces, under the command of General al-Bourhane and the Rapid Support Forces of General Daglo, known as Hemetti, suppressed the popular mobilization that ousted dictator al-Bashir in 2019. After firing on demonstrators occupying the center of the capital, Khartoum, the two generals jointly overthrew the civilian government in 2021.

The muted rivalry between al-Bourhane and Hemetti then turned into a direct confrontation for power. The al-Bourhane forces are supported by Egypt, Iran, Qatar, Turkey, and Eritrea. Hemetti, for his part, has the support of the United Arab Emirates and buys arms that transit through the areas of Africa where the Russian ex-Wagner militia is based.

The war that is tearing Sudan apart goes beyond the borders of this country of nearly 45 million inhabitants. It has already claimed almost 50,000 lives. Fleeing the fighting, aerial bombardments, rape, and famine, 8 million people have been displaced, including 1.6 million across the border, surviving in camps where they lack everything.

At the invitation of French Foreign Minister Séjourné, the Paris Conference pledged two billion euros to “meet the most urgent needs,” according to Macron. An international response that NGOs consider shameful in light of the needs.

The conference was an opportunity for the major imperialist powers, who sell arms and finance wars all over the world, to show commiseration for the victims and call for negotiations and ceasefires. The arsonists advise on how to extinguish the flames and ask the tigers they have fed to turn into lambs.

Pages 10-11

University Protests Shine Light on Gaza

May 6, 2024

What follows is the editorial that appeared on the front of all SPARK’s workplace newsletters during the week of April 28, 2024.

About a thousand people have been arrested since April 18 on university campuses. Their “crime"? They were protesting Israel’s slaughter of the population of Gaza.

Of course, college administrators and politicians pretend otherwise. They say that protests interfere with university life. In fact, where classes were preemptively canceled or dorms closed, university administrators did it—not students.

Cops pretend that protesters “disturb the peace” or “interfere with arrests"—those catchall charges cops use AFTER they stop someone.

But by all accounts, from legal observers, there was no “disturbance”—until the cops moved in, “interfering” with the demonstrations.

Parts of the media and many politicians pretend that the demonstrators were crying anti-Semitic slogans, calling for “death to the Jews!”

Obviously, any time people mass together, you can find someone who says something. But that doesn’t mean the people who organized protests were calling to eliminate the Jewish people.

At some schools, demonstrators did denounce Zionism—and this denunciation often came from organizations of Jewish students.

Why? Because Zionism worked to establish a Jewish state in what had been occupied by Palestinian people—a religious state in which rights henceforth were reserved only to Jewish people. Such a requirement could only mean violence for all the people in the region. And that is exactly what was produced in the area that was turned into Israel.

The demonstrations opposed the murderous policies of the Israeli government in Gaza. That does not mean the protest was anti-Semitic.

Some of the demonstrators ignored Hamas’s policies, and that is stupid. Because Hamas attacks civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian.

But if there is anything “criminal” in these protests on college campuses, it is the timidity of the demands they set forth.

They call for divestiture. That is, they want their own university to cancel all investments in companies that invest in Israel. Some call for their universities to stop investing university funds in the companies that produce armaments and weapons.

Some even call for the U.S. to stop support for Israel. And it’s true—if the U.S. were to stop all shipments of arms, money, and intelligence aid, Israel’s war on Gaza would rapidly collapse.

But what’s behind U.S. support? Israel has acted like a “cop” for U.S. imperialism, helping it to maintain control over the oil-rich Middle East.

But, of course, the politicians and weapons companies, as well as university administrators, don’t fault the students because they don’t see this part of reality. The students are attacked because they shine a light on what is happening in Gaza. Almost 35,000 people have been killed, mostly women and children; 77,000 people have been wounded; hospitals have been torn down; water and sewer systems have been cut off; and two-thirds of Palestinians have turned into refugees in their own country.

The media finally pushed the idea that these universities are the “elite” universities. It’s the last piece of propaganda aimed at setting working people against this movement of the students.

Yes, these are elite universities—the ones that cost impossible amounts of money, the ones reserved, with a few exceptions, for the children of the wealthy classes. Many of the students protesting are the ones being prepared to run this society tomorrow. Their protest, in fact, looks to the powers that be like a “betrayal.”

Working people should be pleased that some students use their position to point out the evils of this society instead of resting on their privileges.

No, students don’t have the power to change society. But the working class does. Its position, producing the goods and services needed, allows it to interfere not only with university life but with the very running of the economy. In so doing, the working class will find a way to get rid of capitalism and, along with it, the ills that capitalism causes, including its wars.

Culture Corner:
Labor’s Turning Point & Strike

May 6, 2024

Film: Labor’s Turning Point, a documentary on

This May 16th is the 90th anniversary of one of the landmark strikes in U.S. history—the 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike. To win this series of three strikes, the workers had to battle the boss-led Citizens Alliance, the police, the top union bureaucrats, as well as their double-talking governor. This film shows archival footage of the “flying squadron” pickets, some battles, interviews with some participants, and a retelling of the events. The documentary, with its incredible film footage of the events, shows how the strike spread to the entire city and drew the eyes of the world. The book Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs is also excellent.

Book: Strike, by Jeremy Brecher, 1972

This book tells the history we did not learn in school, from 1877 to modern times. It tells of the tremendous battles where workers fought and died to win decent working conditions and pay, to have a say, and to control their own unions. They fought against child labor and for the 8-hour day. They fought hired goons, company spies, politicians, union bureaucrats, and even the military. Huge sections of workers identified as socialists or anarchists understood that the attacks of the rich against the poor could only be pushed back by workers’ efforts and solidarity. This book provides lessons workers can draw upon to avoid past mistakes and carry fights as far as they can go.

Page 12

Attack on UCLA Protestors

May 6, 2024

On May 2nd, around 2 a.m., the UCLA encampment protesting the war in Gaza was shut down by the police.

For a week, starting from April 25th, this camp served as a gathering place for many students to protest, discuss, and share ideas. A group of students established the camp with two clear demands: “divest” and “provide full transparency” regarding UCLA’s investments. These demands were directed at the university itself because some of UCLA’s funds are invested in companies like ExxonMobil (which supplies fuel to Israel for fighter jets) and Lockheed Martin (which directly provides weapons to Israel, such as missiles for helicopters). The primary strategy was a logic of boycott.

Several hundred people attended the camp daily, mostly UCLA students but also students from other colleges.

For many student protesters, regardless of their specific political ideologies, condemning this war was the least they could do.

Various individuals actively contributed to maintaining the camp, providing medical supplies, food, and efforts to keep the area clean and safe.

The camp’s policy was to remain peaceful in the face of any provocations. However, there were many. Shortly after the camp began, some counter-protesters arrived with Israeli flags, shouting and justifying the war against Palestinians by referring to Hamas’ actions in early October. On Sunday, April 28th, around a thousand counter-protesters gathered to oppose the camp and justify the war. Despite provocations and insults from some Zionists, the camp remained calm. Nevertheless, at night, some attempted to provoke students by staying in front of the camp and prevent them from sleeping.

On Tuesday night (April 30th), violence erupted again from some counter-protesters, most of them apparently extreme right-wing Zionist militants. They wore white masks to intimidate the camp, using pepper spray, anti-bear spray, and even fireworks to attack. Several students were injured.

According to a UCLA spokesman, the university security watched but did not intervene because of the spokesman’s concerns over a repeat of January 6th, 2021, when far-right militants took weapons from security forces to attack the capitol. According to the same UCLA spokesman, the police were called at the beginning but only intervened after the violence had been ongoing for three hours.

That was the opportunity for the university leadership, the day after on May 1st, to declare that the campus was no longer safe and order the police to shut down the camp. Approximately 200 people were arrested, almost all among the people who had joined the camp to oppose the massacre in Gaza.

What’s next?

This experience can be very instructive if students take the opportunity to reflect on what it tells us about society today: the role of the police, the false neutrality of the university, and the fact that freedom of speech will be illusory as long as the country is under the control of capitalists.

May Day:
A Workers' International Holiday

May 6, 2024

May 1st, or May Day, is an international holiday commemorating the historic struggles and achievements made by workers all around the world. It started in the United States in 1889. That year, socialist groups and labor unions voted to designate May 1st as a day to commemorate the Haymarket Riot that took place in Chicago in 1886.

On May 4, 1886, hundreds of Knights of Labor members, socialists, anarchists, and union members gathered in Haymarket Square to protest police brutality the day before against workers who were trying to stop strikebreakers from entering the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company where workers—many of whom were German immigrants—were on strike. One of the main demands of the strikers was for an 8-hour workday.

The protest rally was a success, and most of the workers had left. But then a contingent of police arrived and demanded that the remaining workers disperse immediately.

At that point, a bomb was thrown at the police, who opened fire at everyone around them. The explosion and the police bullets killed seven cops and between four and eight workers. Sixty cops and 30 to 40 workers were injured. The bomb-thrower was never identified.

The incident was used by the cops, the bosses, and government officials to whip up fear against immigrants and labor leaders. Eight anarchists were soon tried and convicted of murder on the grounds that they had conspired with or aided the unknown bomb thrower. The entire trial was a set-up. Some of those convicted were not even present at the event; their alleged involvement was never proven.

Nevertheless, four of those charged and convicted were hanged on November 11, 1887. Another defendant committed suicide.

Two years later, labor organizations all over the world decided to make May 1st a holiday to honor workers struggles and achievements. Yet three years after this, U.S. President Grover Cleveland and Congress, who were uneasy about the socialist origins of what was called May Day, signed into law a bill making the first Monday in September Labor Day—something already observed in some states. The Canadian government soon followed suit.

So today, U.S. and Canadian workers observe Labor Day in September even though May Day started here in the U.S.

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