The Workers' Advocate

Vol. 16, No. 10


25ยข October 1, 1986

[Front page:

To hell with the Republicans and Democrats Build the working class alternative!;

Demonstrate October 25th against the Reaganite offensive!;

The 'war on drugs': A quick fix for the politicians, police measures against the working people;

Revolution and Civil War in Spain--See back page]


Black Republicanism and Rainbow Coalition.............. 2
Viet Nam vets protest war in Cent. America................ 3
1,500 rally to defend the undocumented...................... 3
'Rehnquist, we will not accept fascism!'...................... 3
To fight nuclear weapons, fight imperialism................ 3
Protest Reagan's drug testing of federal workers......... 5

Down with Racism!

Court frees racist murderer of Vincent Chin................ 4
Racist execution protested in New Jersey.................... 4
Police brutality in Pittsburgh opposed.......................... 4
March against racist graffiti in Chicago....................... 4

Strikes and Workplace News:

Boeing; NY bus depot; Boston City Hospital; McLouth steel; Detroit coke; Guardian Glass.............. 6
Birmingham steel; ARMCO steel; Watsonville cannery; California wineries; Casino workers; Northwest shipyards..................................................... 7

Apartheid No! Revolution Yes!

More clashes in Soweto; Student revolt; Kinross mining disaster; Coretta Scott King seeks common ground with Botha........................................................ 8
U.C. divestment; Will California divest?..................... 9
Defend the Berkeley shantytown activists................... 9
What the administration calls a fair hearing................. 14
Secret pact vs. sanctions: U.S., U.K., W. Ger............... 14
Reagan vetoes sanctions............................................... 14
Penn. State and Harvard protests.................................. 15

MLP,USA tour of Nicaragua: MLPN and unions......... 10
MLPN delegates in National Assembly........................ 11

The World in Struggle:

Ecuador general strike; No to NATO in Holland; Bangladesh strikes; S. Korea student protest; Strikes in Brazil, Bolivia and Uruguay......................................... 12
Mexican homeless protest; Aquino in the U.S.; State of siege in Chile............................................................ 13

Spanish Civil War and problems in the present-day movement in Spain....................................................... 19
Who should decide the burning issues in the world Marxist-Leninist movement?....................................... 19
Revolution and civil war in Spain, what lessons for today?........................................................................... 20

To hell with the Republicans and Democrats - Build the working class alternative!

Demonstrate October 25th against the Reaganite offensive!

The 'war on drugs':

A quick fix for the politicians, police measures against the working people

Black Republicanism and the Rainbow Coalition

Lessons written in blood

Boston: Viet Nam veterans protest war in Central America

1,500 people rally in defense of the undocumented in L.A.

The more the superpowers talk, the more they arm

To fight nuclear weapons, fight imperialism

'Rehnquist, we will not accept fascism!'


Protest Reagan's order for drug testing government workers!

Strikes and workplace news


Marxist-Leninist trade union work in Nicaragua

Workers' Front and the committees of struggle

At the Nicaraguan National Assembly

The Marxist-Leninist delegates are political activists, not talk-shop parliamentarians

The World in Struggle

Why the refugees flee:

Down with the persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka!

On the burning questions in the world Marxist-Leninist movement

Silent stagnation or rank-and-file discussion

What are its lessons for today?

Revolution and Civil War in Spain

The Spanish Civil War and problems in the present day movement in Spain

To hell with the Republicans and Democrats - Build the working class alternative!

The midterm elections are coming. The season for big promises and empty showmanship is here again, as the Republican and Democratic politicians take to the field.

There are many burning issues agitating the working people. And they want real answers.

But the capitalist parties offer no solutions.

What's more, this year the Republicans and Democrats are even finding it hard to look different than one another. And why not? What are they going to argue over? After all, the last few months in Congress have seen a veritable orgy of "bipartisanship."

They just joined hands to pass a "tax reform" that slashes the tax rates for the rich and the corporations. They worked hand-in-hand to send $100 million in aid for Reagan's terrorist war against Nicaragua, while already having cleared the way earlier for the CIA to send several hundred million more. And they also worked together to pass some playacting sanctions against South Africa.

No wonder then that they can't find issues to quarrel over. So they've settled on something easier -- to try to outdo each other over who can provide the quickest fix for the drug problem. But there's not much they disagree with over this either. Both parties refuse to address any real issues, and instead merely seek more harassment of the workers, more police and jails, and more military adventures abroad.

In the absence of any issues to argue over, the basic theme being promoted is to settle who will control the Senate.

The Republicans demand that they be given a continuing mandate, so that Reagan can complete his crusade. Meanwhile the Democrats are making promises that great things will happen with a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

And even more than the Democratic politicians themselves, the AFL-CIO bosses, the black bourgeois politicians, and other reformist forces are promising the sun, moon and the stars if only we get a Democratic-controlled Senate.

Down with the Republicans!

The Republicans are the unabashed party of big business.

Recently the Washington Post reported that while the corporations fund both parties, the corporate executives themselves have a special fondness for the Republicans. And they are showering the Republican party with money. For instance, during 1983-84 alone, Republican committees got $42.3 million in amounts of $500 or more from the rich. At just one event, a Republican dinner dance this year, at least 492 moguls gave a minimum of $10,000 each.

And why shouldn't the fat-cats shower Reagan's party with gold? Look at what he's done for them. He's slashed the tax rates at the top. He's gutted the heart out of social programs. He's thrown aside environmental and safety regulations. And he's shown the way to smash strikes and impose concessions on the workers.

In the meantime, the conditions of the workers and poor have only gotten worse, notwithstanding the lies otherwise. Eight million remain "officially" unemployed, not to speak of millions more uncounted by the government statistics. Millions more only get part- time work. And more workers have fallen under the poverty line.

Two simple indices dramatize Reagan's America: On one hand, the stock market index has climbed to a record high, revealing the glee among the wealthy. On the other hand, there are more homeless people on the streets today than have been seen for decades.

The Democrats Only Offer Warmed-Over Reaganism

But the Democrats are no better.

They tell us now that if they control the Senate, then Reagan will be blocked and we will see a new day. Fat chance. The House has been controlled by the Democrats all through the Reagan years. And what's been the result? The embarrassing truth is that Reagan has had his way because of Democratic support.

In fact, the Democrats have taken up each and every one of the Reagan's themes. And with each year of the Reagan presidency, they have only concluded that they have to get even closer to his views.

Just last week, the Democratic Party came out with a new policy statement. It's almost as if they had Reagan draft it for them.

Does it give any assurances that they will fight for improvements in the livelihood of the workers and poor, that they will reverse the Reagan cutbacks? Not on your life. Instead they sing the glories of private enterprise and "entrepreneurship." In other words, all they offer is a rehash of the infamous "trickle-down" ideas of Reaganomics.

Meanwhile on military and foreign policy, the Democrats echo Reagan's war hysteria down the line.

Do they oppose the Viet Nam-like war in the making in Central America? No way. Instead they justify the Pentagon's military buildup, among other things, by speaking of the danger of the "unrest in Central America." And to help increase U.S. imperialism's war making abilities, they call for still greater expansion of conventional forces. Of course, they fully stand by the nuclear buildup. They even repeat Reagan's "evil empire" rhetoric against Washington's imperialist rivals in Moscow.

When all is said and done, the Democrats are merely another face of Reaganism. That's because the Democrats are also a party of big business. After all, Reaganism isn't just the fancy of a B-grade actor who stumbled into the White House. Rather, it's the program of the Wall Street billionaires themselves.

Build the Independent Movement of the Working Class!

No matter who wins in November, the working people lose. The Reaganite offensive is the class war of the rich against the workers and poor. However the workers should not despair. There is an alternative for the workers, but it's not in these elections.

Instead of pinning great hopes on the inches of difference between this or that capitalist politician, the working class must prepare its own reply against the capitalist class offensive. The working class must build up its own force against the rich. It must build up its own movement, with its own agenda.

A working class party may or may not run candidates in the capitalist elections; this depends on the circumstances. But contrary to what the capitalists say, politics does not begin and end with elections. Working class politics -- the politics of the emancipation of the working class -- is the politics of class struggle, organization, and revolutionary consciousness.

* Class struggle against the Reaganite offensive! This means a fight on every front of the capitalist offensive.

Today there are signs of a revival of the workers' strike movement. This must be built up further, strengthened and expanded. As well, we must organize actions against racism, against the war on Nicaragua, in solidarity with the black people of South Africa, and on other questions.

* Organize the workers and oppressed! Instead of looking to the capitalist parties or their flunkeys, the working people must build up independent organization.

We must build up a wide array of organizations for struggle -- in the workplaces, schools and communities. And in the thick of the fight on every front, the revolutionary workers and activists should build up a center for the struggle in the Marxist-Leninist Party.

* Build the workers' press. Challenge the vast network that the capitalists have to spread their lies.

From leaflets to newspapers, work to build up and distribute the workers' press. Expose the capitalist lies. Thwart the attempts by the capitalists to undermine the mass struggles. Spread the news of the struggles of the working people. Develop the revolutionary consciousness among the masses.

Every step that we make to push forward struggle, organization and consciousness, every step that really stirs a section of the masses to conscious political activity, is a vital step forward. It offers resistance to the capitalist attacks. It helps to develop confidence and strength among the workers. And in the course of struggle, it helps to prepare the revolutionary force that can overthrow capitalist rule altogether.

The class struggle is not an endless tug-of-war between the rich and the poor. Instead it must be guided towards the socialist revolution and the rule of the working class itself.

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Demonstrate October 25th against the Reaganite offensive!


October 25th demonstrations against the Reaganite offensive have been called in cities across the country. The Reagan government has become notorious for its war drive in Central America, its support for the racist South African regime, its stepped up nuclear arms race, and its reactionary offensive at home of takebacks, unemployment, and racism. These protest actions afford an opportunity to step up organizing the just contempt of the working masses for Reagan into a fighting movement.

October 25th demonstrations have been organized for Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Austin, Texas. Mass actions are also being held November 1 in Boston, Seattle, and Los Angeles. The Marxist-Leninist Party calls on the masses of workers, youth, blacks, Mexicans, and other oppressed nationalities to join these marches and work to make them hard-hitting actions not only against the Reaganite Republicans, but also against the Democrats who are but Reaganites in disguise.

This is an election year, and unfortunately the official leaders of these demonstrations are trying to tailor them to the electoral ambitions of the Democrats -- the very party which specializes in telling the masses to give up demonstrations, to give up struggle and to rely on deals with the Reaganites.

This leadership is composed of a coalition of liberal politicians, big shot reformists and pacifists, and union bureaucrats. They are trying to keep the slogans acceptable to the smooth talking Democratic Party politicians. They are spreading illusions that a Democratic Party-controlled Senate will bring a change, when for years the Democratic Party-controlled House has passed virtually every reactionary measure that Reagan's asked for. They are trying to replace real struggle with the idea of convincing Congress and the Reagan administration to be nice.

But the masses who come out to these actions want to fight Reagan. Their fighting sentiment can and will be unleashed by serious work. The Marxist-Leninist Party is calling on all class conscious workers and anti-imperialist activists to unite into militant contingents that can help organize the masses; contingents to raise fighting slogans; contingents to orient the actions in an anti-imperialist direction; contingents to use the demonstrations to build up the stand against the two big imperialist parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, who together head up the war drive and reactionary offensive at home and abroad.

No to the Reaganite Offensive! U.S. Imperialism, Get Out of Central America! Down with Reagan's Dirty War on Nicaragua! Apartheid No, Revolution Yes, Support the Heroic Black People of South Africa! To Fight Nuclear Weapons, Fight Imperialism! No to takebacks! Active resistance to racist terror and discrimination! Jobs or Livelihood for the Unemployed! Down with the Republicans and Democrats, Twin Parties of the Capitalist Offensive!

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The 'war on drugs':

A quick fix for the politicians, police measures against the working people

As we go to press Congress is scurrying to pass new repressive legislation in the name of waging a "war on drugs." Led by the Democrats, the House passed an anti-drug bill in September that earmarks over $2 billion to be spent in 1987. Meanwhile, the Republicans in the Senate have offered up their own $1.4 billion bill.

What stands out in these measures is not the differences -- which are largely a matter of how much money to pour into increasing the amount of police, prisons, border patrols and U.S. military intervention into Latin America -- but the fact that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will confront the chronic social diseases that give rise to the blight of drug abuse.

A Deaf Ear to the Plight of the Masses

For years, the Democrats and Republicans alike have been slashing the social programs that provide at least some minimal benefits to the masses. Now only 28% of the 8 million workers who are "officially" unemployed receive unemployment benefits. And there is no aid for the 1.2 million jobless who are said to have quit looking for work or for the 5.6 million workers who have been forced out of regular work into part-time jobs. Meanwhile in the shops, speedup, job combinations, and overwork have become epidemic while the average gross weekly earnings of the employed have plummeted by 10% since 1978. Blacks, Mexicans, and other oppressed nationalities are being socked with especially harsh abuse. And the youth -- who face the bleak prospects of unemployment, or minimum wage slavery, or becoming grunts for the overbloated U.S. military machine -- have seen their schools deteriorate at a rapid rate.

Do the Democrats or the Republicans address these and the other abuses of grinding capitalist exploitation from which drug abuse springs? Not even a word. Indeed, their war on drugs will intensify the oppression.

The "War on Drugs" Will Increase The Slashing of Social Benefit Programs

Just ask yourself, where are they to get the billions of dollars to buy more police and jails? Well, by cutting more from the social programs of the masses of course.

Take the schools for example. The Democrats call for $350 million (and the Republicans demand $100 million) to be poured into tightening police security in the schools in 1987. This is euphemistically called a "drug education" program because part of the money is to be used for propaganda to convince kids to snitch on their peers. Secretary of Education, William J. Bennett, has admitted that the funds for the "Drug-Free School Act" will come from cutting other portions of the Department of Education's budget. In other words, education programs and teachers' conditions will be further eroded on the altar of increased police repression against the students.

A War on the Masses in the Guise of Fighting Drugs

Such is the hypocritical heart of the anti-drug programs of both the Democrats and the Republicans. They will not relieve the social conditions that breed drug and alcohol abuse. They will not even provide enough clinics for those who are voluntarily seeking help (the more generous Democratic plan at most recoups the cuts that have hit drug abuse treatment programs in the last number of years). Instead, they will step up the repression against the masses.

The biggest part of both bills is for increasing police enforcement and prisons. The Democrats would pay over $1.3 billion in 1987 for police and jails, and no dollar figure has been given for their plan to deploy the U.S. military on the Gulf Coast and the Mexican border. Reagan, meanwhile, has called for another $500 million to be poured into the border police (up from the $226 million that was just added in August).

Past experience has shown that increased police enforcement does not lead to breaking up the big-time, wealthy drug rings. Instead, it is the ordinary masses in the cities and the immigrants on the border who are hit.

This fact is further shown by a glance at how the bills strengthen the laws against drugs. A great sensation has been made about the plans to use the death penalty against members of drug rings who commit murder, and there is no doubt that the Reaganites think that the death penalty is the solution to every problem. At the same time, almost no one points out that the bills would demand a mandatory life sentence for a college senior caught with drugs on campus a second time. What is more, the bills would allow illegally obtained evidence to be used in such prosecutions.

These laws are not really aimed at the kingpins of drug crime, but at ordinary people.

No to the Phoney "War on Drugs!"

Repression against the masses is not the solution to drug abuse. And even the useful treatment of drug and alcohol abusers is but a band-aid over the gaping wound. As long as the conditions that give rise to drug abuse exist, there will be victims.

What is needed is the organization and struggle of the working masses against unemployment and overwork, against racism and discrimination, against the oppression of youth and women, against the all around grinding exploitation by the capitalists. The development of this struggle -- and the organization of the working masses in the course of it -- will dampen the harmful illusions about seeking relief through drug usage and inspire the working masses and youth with new, revolutionary ideals. By overthrowing the capitalists and building socialism with their own hands, the working masses will create a new society where drug abuse disappears as all are employed in useful work that goes to their own benefit -- and not for the sake of the filthy rich.

The anti-drug programs of the Democrats and Republicans do not lead to a drug-free society but to a society without freedom. Say no to the phoney "war on drugs!" Get organized for the class struggle against the capitalists and their Democratic and Republican Parties!

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Black Republicanism and the Rainbow Coalition

The candidacy of William Lucas as the Republican nominee for governor of Michigan has thrown black bourgeois politics in Detroit into a tizzy.

Who is Lucas? He is a politician from the upper crust in the black community. Unlike many other black politicians, he does not have a background in the civil rights movement. Rather, during the movement, Lucas was an agent for Hoover's FBI.

In the 1970's he got elected as Sheriff of Wayne County, which Detroit is a part of. Later he won election as the Democratic candidate for County Executive. In this position, Lucas made himself notorious for a Reaganite stand. He viciously attacked the county employees and presided over sharp cutbacks.

All this Lucas did as a Democrat. That's no surprise, since other Democratic bigshots, like Mayor Coleman Young of Detroit, stood for the same type of policies.

But then the Republicans started to woo him as a potential candidate for Governor. Not one to miss an opportunity, Lucas switched to the Republican party. The Republicans saw this as a big gain in their effort to clean their racist image and seek votes among the black people. And Lucas endeared himself to the Reaganites.

After his victory in the Republican primary for governor, the black bourgeois establishment in Detroit went into crisis.

A number of Democratic Party stalwarts are opposing Lucas. Some of them, especially Congressman John Conyers, sharply denounces Lucas as an Uncle Tom and sellout. Much of what they say about Lucas is right. But what motivates them is not a principled attitude against what Lucas stands for, but simply a narrow squabble over which capitalist party Lucas has tied himself to.

But what is amazing is that a section of the black bourgeois establishment is actively backing the avowedly Reaganite Lucas.

Most prominent among them is the Reverend Jim Holley, one of Detroit's main black preachers. Holley not only denounces the Conyers' crowd but he even went so far as to go hobnob with Reagan when the president visited Detroit on September 25 for a rally to support Lucas. Holley thanked the chief racist supporting Lucas and also asked his help to "fight drugs." How low can you go?

But what is even more interesting is who Reverend Holley is. Holley postures quite often as a "militant" and he was Michigan campaign chairman for Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign in 1984. He is still Jackson's main man in Detroit.

Jesse Jackson Praises Lucas

And Jesse himself was not too far behind. While he refused to endorse Lucas, he still found praise for him. In a revealing statement, Jackson pointed out that Lucas' candidacy "is having a significant social impact. It has the Democrats scrambling for blacks in ways they've not had to do historically. It has high Republicans reassessing the value of relating to blacks."

Jesse Jackson can see no further than what deals the black upper crust can make with the capitalist parties. He doesn't care what politics they stand for. In fact, Jackson has a number of times hinted in his squabbles within the Democratic Party that if he doesn't get the best deal there, he is ready to cut a deal with the Republicans.

The Lucas candidacy demonstrates a basic feature of black bourgeois politics. None of the politicians, whether they are Democrat or Republican, care one bit about the struggle against racism or improving the conditions of the black masses. Rather they are ready to sell out to the highest bidder among the big capitalist masters. All in exchange for a few more token positions for themselves.

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Lessons written in blood

Boston: Viet Nam veterans protest war in Central America

(The following article is taken from the September 21 issue of Boston Worker, paper of the Boston Branch of the MLP, USA.)

Over 100 Viet Nam veterans are participating in shifts in an encampment on the Boston Common to protest against Reagan's dirty wars against the peoples of El Salvador and Nicaragua. This protest was sparked by the action of a Viet Nam veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Charles Liteky, who has thrown back his medals and begun a hunger strike on the steps of the capitol to protest Reagan's war in Central America. In the words of Liteky: "The question is no longer, 'Will Central America become another Viet Nam?,' Central America is another Viet Nam and the time to demonstrate against it is now.''

The veterans tell people that they will never forget what they learned in Viet Nam, and that they will not stand idly by while Reagan prepares to send another generation off to kill and die putting down revolutions in Central America. The veterans are holding a regional rally against Reagan's Central America war on Sunday, September 28. The veterans' actions should be supported by all class conscious workers and militant youth. The veterans express the sentiments of millions of people and these sentiments should be used to build a militant anti-imperialist movement to combat Reagan's plans to drown the struggles of the Central American working people in blood.

Viet Nam veterans saw with their own eyes the imperialist nature of the Viet Nam war. They saw that the war was not one to defend freedom but to impose the will of the Pentagon generals, the Wall Street financiers and their junior partners in Saigon on the Vietnamese people. From what they experienced in Viet Nam, hundreds of thousands of veterans learned to distrust and hate the U.S. government and its dirty wars for the rich.

During Viet Nam, American soldiers and veterans joined the anti-war movement that rocked the country in record numbers. Not only did veterans and GI's join anti-war demonstrations on the streets in this country but to their credit thousands of soldiers organized militant protests and mutinies on bases in the U.S. and Europe and even in Viet Nam. Many veterans took a firm stand on the side of the Vietnamese people and against the U.S. government. To this day many Viet Nam veterans continue to be a force in the American working class promoting hatred of militarism and distrust of the government's war propaganda. To their credit these Viet Nam veterans are a ghost of wars past that haunts the imperialists with every step they take toward war.

After years of attacking the Viet Nam veterans as lunatics and denying them benefits the capitalists and politicians have recently taken up the tactic of playing up to the veterans. They have built memorials and organized patriotic parades. But the imperialists have never admitted that they forced the veterans to fight in an unjust war. And they continue to deny them benefits for their war injuries such as Agent Orange diseases. While the veterans continue to suffer a private hell of guilt about the atrocities they witnessed or were forced to participate in, the imperialist generals and politicians have shown not one sign of remorse for the crimes they ordered against the Vietnamese people. Instead they continue to maintain the war was a noble cause and that their only mistake was not to drop more bombs and kill more people Rambo-style so that they could win. The much belated concern of the rich about the Viet Nam veterans has been nothing but a hypocritical ploy to silence the veterans' opposition to new imperialist wars. But the veterans aren't buying it. Lessons written in blood are not so easily forgotten.

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1,500 people rally in defense of the undocumented in L.A.

In Los Angeles, California on August 30, over 1,500 people marched and rallied to defend the rights of undocumented immigrant workers and condemn the Reagan administration's persecution of these immigrants. The rally denounced the Simpson-Rodino anti-immigrant legislation pending in Congress and condemned the Immigration and Naturalization Service's violent and abusive treatment of undocumented immigrants. As well the protestors opposed U.S. imperialist intervention in Central America. Supporters of the MLP,USA participated militantly in the march and rally and distributed over 1,500 pieces of literature, including The Workers' Advocate, El Eslandarte Obrero, and leaflets on immigration.

For six years Congress has been debating so-called immigration reform legislation but has never passed any of it because of squabbling over how to best persecute and oppress the immigrants, while at the same time maintaining a pool of super-cheap labor for the capitalists. The most recent version of such legislation, the Simpson-Rodino bill, has been passed by the Senate but has not yet come to the floor of the House of Representatives. It is currently under consideration by the House Rules Committee.


However, the lack of a comprehensive law spelling out how the undocumented workers will be persecuted and super-exploited has not stayed the hand of the Reaganites. They have greatly increased the militarization of the U.S. southern border and produced one program after another to deprive immigrants of any social welfare benefits. They have carried out massive propaganda campaigns to scapegoat undocumented workers for all the evils of capitalist society -- from unemployment to drug abuse -- in an effort to pit native-born workers against the foreign-born.

Most recently, as part of Reagan's "war against drugs,'' the administration has thrown $400 million into stepping up repression at the Mexican border. It has added hundreds of federal officers, new airplanes, radar balloons, firearms and other equipment to attack toilers attempting to cross into the U.S.

All this adds urgency to building the struggle in defense of the immigrant workers.

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The more the superpowers talk, the more they arm

To fight nuclear weapons, fight imperialism

Amidst the wrangling over spies, disarmament negotiations between the two superpowers continue to drag along. Indeed, for three decades we have seen such talks. Sometimes agreements have been made like Salt I and Salt II. At times the agreements have broken down. But through it all, at every step, the stockpiles of nuclear weapons have continued to mushroom.

Today the Reaganites are stepping up the nuclear arms race in the hopes that pushing the Russian imperialists to increase their armaments will throw them into economic turmoil. The Russian government, for its part, has not hesitated to continue to arm to the teeth. But Reagan isn't worried that his plan is failing. After all, the bottom line of his strategy is "winnable nuclear war.''

So what about the disarmament talks? It appears that the only thing the imperialists are trying to "disarm'' with these negotiations is the anti-war movement. The talk of "peace'' is aimed at convincing the masses to fold their arms and wait for the chief warmongers to talk their swords into plowshares. A long wait can be anticipated.

Of course, it's the Democrats who are the paragons of such "peace" talk. Today some are promising a conditional one-year ban on most nuclear warhead testing. For tomorrow, they promise a "freeze" on nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, they are voting again to increase the military budget (less than Reagan's wish list, but a record war budget nonetheless). Why do the Democrats talk of banning tests and freezing nuclear arms production while actually increasing the war budget? Because they are politicians of imperialism, just like Reagan, and they must dance to the tune that the imperialist ruling class plays.

The system of imperialism is like a monstrous octopus with tentacles gripping at spheres of influence all over the world while, at the same time, squeezing the life out of the working masses at home. The aggression in Central America, the support for the South African racists, and the bombing raids on Libya are not separate, mistaken acts by otherwise goodhearted politicians. They are all part of a single drive to put down the revolutionary struggles of the toiling masses while contending with the Soviet social-imperialists and other imperialist powers for which will control the biggest share of the world's markets and resources. This drive is fundamental to the existence of imperialism and [war] cannot be ended without the revolutionary overthrow of the imperialist system.

That is why we say the talk of "testing bans" and "arms freezes and reductions" by the imperialist politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, is so much empty twaddle. A real fight against nuclear weapons requires organizing that section of the population which has no interest in preserving the imperialist system, the working people. By mobilizing the working people into mass actions directed squarely at imperialism a powerful movement can be built to resist each new step towards war and to prepare for revolutionary mass struggle to bring down the imperialists once and for all.

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'Rehnquist, we will not accept fascism!'

In mid-September, protesters at Indiana University in Bloomington militantly denounced William Rehnquist, who has recently been sworn in as Reagan's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Rehnquist had been invited to the university for a ceremony to launch a $12.5 million renovation of the law school library.

As Rehnquist was addressing the dedication ceremony a group of about 30 protesters chanted, jeered, sang, and unfurled a banner that read, "Rehnquist, we will not accept fascism." University President John Ryan scolded the demonstrators and told them to leave. Instead they stood and turned their backs on Rehnquist as he addressed the ceremony pf about 3,000 people.

Rehnquist has made a name for himself as a big racist and segregationist, an opponent of democratic rights for the black and other minority people. During the Nixon years he was a hatchet man against the mass movements, eagerly defending Nixon's unauthorized wiretaps, surveillance, and gathering of files on progressive activists.

He is also dead-set against democratic rights for women. Most recently, a memo he wrote in 1970 has come to light. In it he railed against the Equal Rights Amendment because it would allegedly do away with a man's authority to make family decisions! A wife would no longer have a legal obligation to accompany her husband if he decided to move from one city to another, he complained.

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Court frees racist murderer of Vincent Chin

On September 11, a federal appeals court threw out the civil rights conviction of a racist auto foreman. The foreman murdered Vincent Chin in 1982 because he thought Chin looked Japanese. Ronald Ebens and his nephew, Michael Nitz, who admitted to murdering Vincent with a baseball bat, are now off scot-free without ever spending a day in jail. Meanwhile the auto capitalists and United Auto Workers (UAW) bureaucrats, who incited this brutal crime, continue to churn out chauvinist anti-import hysteria against foreigners.

Anti-Import Crusade Incites Racist Murder

In the last decade the auto industry has been in the midst of a modernization program to maximize profits. Old factories have been shut down, one after another, and robots and other labor- saving machinery have been introduced to increase productivity. Hundreds of thousands of auto workers have been thrown into the streets while those still working have had concessions shoved down their throats.

To head off rebellion, the auto capitalists have orchestrated a racist, chauvinist campaign blaming Japanese and other foreign competitors for the assault on the U.S. workers. The UAW bureaucrats, too spineless to organize a fight against the auto companies, have become the spokesmen for the chauvinist campaign against the Japanese.

Ronald Ebens, a racist white foreman in an auto plant near Detroit, took up the chauvinist campaign with a vengeance. In a bar near Detroit, in the summer of '82, he hurled racist remarks and innuendos about the auto plant layoffs at Vincent Chin. Vincent, a Chinese-American engineering student, denounced the racist remarks and a fight broke out. Ebens and Nitz pursued Vincent down the street and bludgeoned him to death with a baseball bat.

American Justice Lets the Racists Go Free

In March 1983, a court put Ebens and Nitz on probation and fined them $3,700 each, despite their admission of guilt in the murder.

Protests against this blatantly racist decision broke out across the country and internationally. Pressure from the protests resulted in a grand jury investigation. Ebens was eventually convicted, in June 1984, of violating the civil rights of Vincent Chin. In September 1984, Ebens was sentenced to 25 years in jail for the civil rights violation but was allowed to go free pending appeal. In another travesty of justice, Nitz was acquitted of the civil rights charges.

Then last month, a federal appeals court overturned the civil rights conviction. The pretext for throwing out the charges was "irregularities in the trial proceedings.'' Among the "irregularities'' cited was the fact that a black man, who had been the victim of racial insults by Ebens in a previous incident, had been allowed to testify. Apparently, the appeals court would prefer the cover up of Ebens' racist history.

Racist Murderers Must Pay

This racist court ruling has once again provoked outrage. To cool things down the Justice Department quickly announced that it may retry Ebens for violating Chin's civil rights.

The murderers of Vincent Chin must pay for their crime. And the anti-import campaign which incited this murder must be exposed for what it is -- a filthy, chauvinist campaign to put the finger on foreign workers for the crimes of the auto capitalists. Workers must have no part of it. Japanese workers are being pressed to the wall by their "own'' capitalists just as American workers are squeezed by our "own'' moneybags. In the fight against layoffs and concessions, we must target our "own'' capitalists and unite with the Japanese workers in our common battle to put an end to exploitation once and for all.

Racist execution protested in New Jersey

Black people in Freehold, New Jersey are protesting a racist execution by a local police officer.

In July, the elderly step-mother of the former police chief was robbed and beaten. Hysterical for revenge, the police seized on a mere hunch to blame James Irby Jr. for the crime. They then spread word that they were out to get him. They systematically stalked him through the community. And then they murdered him, execution-style, with two bullets in his back.

Of course the police tried to justify the execution by claiming that Irby had "brandished a knife.'' But no such weapon was ever found. This was a coldblooded racist murder, pure and simple.

Grand Jury Whitewashes Police

The black masses became outraged at this racist execution. To head off protests, a grand jury investigation was called. Time was wasted for months, and the masses were held in check, while the "investigation'' continued. Finally on September 12, the grand jury gave its ruling. Patrolman Michael Whaley, who carried out the murder, was not charged because the Supreme Court says such executions are legal.

The ruling only added to the anger in the community. A rally was called for September 14 to protest against letting the racist murderer go scot-free.

Pittsburgh police dress up racist brutality as a fight against drugs

Pittsburgh was the scene of yet another brutal beating of a black man. This time the police justified their racist actions by claiming the man had two pills in his hand. This is just what Reagan's "war on drugs'' is all about. The police have been given another excuse for brutality against the masses.

The Police Gloat It's "Just Like the Good Old Days"

On August 26, at 5:45 p.m., policeman John "Alley Rat" McAdoo jumped from his patrol car, grabbed 41-year-old Larry Green, and handcuffed him. But wanting to see some blood, McAdoo then flipped Larry Green off his feet and dragged him over the cement.

Of course this sort of racist activity is common practice for police. But this time they made the mistake of doing it in front of the president of the Pittsburgh School Board, Jake Milliones, and Judge Walter Little. Milliones reported that he saw Officer McAdoo drag Larry 25-30 feet through the street "like you would pull a wagon. The man's head was bouncing off the sidewalk. And when he was taken up from off the street he was bleeding profusely." Milliones also mentioned that another policeman came up and joked with McAdoo that "this is just like the good old days." (Pittsburgh Courier, September 13, 1986)

100 People Rally to Stop the Attack

Angered at the police brutality, a crowd gathered and demanded that the police stop. The police report, according to the Pittsburgh Courier, states: "(Green) continued to yell and shout and caused a crowd of approximately one hundred hostile people to gather around the police officers. These people were yelling and swearing at respective officers and closing in around officers...McAdoo called for assistance and wagon 250 and two sergeants arrived at scene and helped disperse this very disorderly hostile crowd. Many people in this crowd were intoxicated." A woman watching the scene from her porch denounced the police slanders against the fighting crowd. She reported: "The people were mad, they were mad. Regardless of what the man was, if he was a junkie or wino, he had no business being treated like that. I don't care what the police report says. And the crowd was hostile, but they weren't hostile because they were drunk; they were hostile because a police officer was beating a man up."

Concern for the problem of drugs is very real. But so is the opposition to physical abuse and degradation by police. Working people will not allow drugs or any other pretext to justify such police repression.

March against racist graffiti in Chicago

More than 250 people marched through the streets of the Uptown section of Chicago in protest against the racist graffiti and racist gangs that have been plaguing the area. The demonstration, on September 20, took a militant stand against the 50 scum from the KKK, nazi groups, and racist punk gangs who shadowed the anti-racist march.

As the march began, a bunch of policemen put up a line to protect the racists. They harassed the anti-racist marchers and arrested one who had armed himself with a lead pipe for self-defense. Again the police department has shown it stands squarely behind the racist gangs.

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Protest Reagan's order for drug testing government workers!

In September Reagan ordered the mandatory testing of some 1.1 million federal employees for drugs. Although couched in what is supposed to be Humanitarian concern over the problems of drug abuse, its bottom line is the arbitrary firing of workers who show positive a second time on what are well known to be extremely inaccurate drug tests. Reagan's order is, in fact, a giant step-up of harassment and intimidation of government workers aimed at forcing speedup and worsening other job conditions. This is not only an attack on the government workers but is a model to unleash mandatory drug testing in the work places throughout the country. All workers should protest against this new outrage by the Reagan government.

Firings, Not Treatment, Are What Drug Testing Is About

Reagan has repeatedly struck a pose that he is oh so concerned about the workers trapped in drug abuse, and that what he really wants for them is counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation. But the hypocrisy of Reagan's concern is exposed when you realize that he has not even included a drug treatment program for federal employees in his anti-drug legislation. And this is on top of the fact that for five years he's been slashing the funds for drug rehabilitation clinics.

On the other hand, Reagan has ordered the firing of any worker who tests "positive" (whether or not he has actually been using drugs, see about the inaccuracy of the tests below) who does not find a drug rehabilitation program for himself. And even if a worker goes into a drug treatment plan he will be fired if he tests "positive" a second time. Firings and the threat of firings are what this program is really about.

The Goal of Drug Testing Is Law-And-Order Harassment to Intensify Work

The aim of threatening firings, and indeed of making over a million workers feel guilty by forcing them to take the drug tests, is to harass federal employees into intensifying their work.

Reagan made this aim clear in his executive order itself. "Federal employees who use illegal drugs, on or off duty," declares the executive order, "tend to be less productive, less reliable and prone to greater absenteeism than their fellow employees...." (New York Times, September 16, 1986) In other words it is not drug abuse per se, but productivity and absenteeism that Reagan's concerned about. Everyone knows that Reagan has been cutting back the work force and speeding up the work of those still employed. Mandatory drug testing is just another means to this end.

Under Reagan's order, drug testing will also be used to try to put the blame on the workers for accidents which result from the deteriorating safety conditions and the more intensive work. As is well known, the workers are almost always blamed for accidents. Now, drug testing will be mandatory "in an investigation of an accident or suspected unsafe practices by a federal worker..." (ibid.) Further, this measure tends to squelch workers' protests against unsafe conditions. After all, the second someone protests they will be the one dragged out to be tested for drugs.

The Inaccuracy of Drug Tests Shows That Repression Against the Workers Is the Aim

Drug testing is notoriously inaccurate. People who have never taken illegal drugs can test "positive" if they've eaten poppy seeds, drunk tonic water, taken prescription medicine, and so on and so forth. Indeed, urinalysis has a race bias, showing a false "positive" of marijuana usage for many people because of their dark skin. (These tests have a tendency to detect body substances which are related to melanin, the pigment for dark skin coloring.)

Even what most experts consider to be the best testing techniques, which cost $100 or more dollars for each test, are not conclusive. But Reagan is not planning to use the best tests. Instead, according to White House spokesmen, the government will use urinalysis tests that cost only $3 to $24 apiece. These are the most notorious for inaccuracy.

The gross errors of these tests are well known to Reagan. Indeed, the Federal Center for Disease Control in Atlanta released a report last year that found a "crisis in drug testing." The nine-year year study of 13 laboratories considered an 80% accuracy to be acceptable (that is, the firing of 20% of the workers for false "positives" would be acceptable). Even at this rate, the study found that only 1 of 11 labs met the standard for barbiturates, 0 of 12 for amphetamines, 1 of 11 for cocaine, 2 of 13 for codeine, and 1 of 13 for morphine.

But the fact that many workers will be wrongly accused of drug abuse does not bother Reagan in the least. His concern is not for the masses of workers. Rather, he is out to increase the "efficiency" of the government bureaucracy on the backs of the workers and to help out the productivity drives of the capitalist bosses all across the country.

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Strikes and workplace news

Fight to scrap Boeing's two-tier wage system!

(The following article is taken from a leaflet issued by the Seattle Branch of the MLP, USA, September 1986.)

While the Boeing corporation has been living the good life of increasing orders and soaring profits, the aerospace workers have been suffering under the concessions contract of 1983. For the first time in nearly four decades the overall average wage at Boeing has dropped.

This is the result of the elaborate two-tier wage system, which hits hardest against the workers in the lower four labor grades (nearly half of the 27,000 aerospace production workers at Boeing). Thousands of new hires in these grades are working for wages $2-4/hour below the pre-1983 rates. The rest of the workers in these grades, who were hired before 1983, have had their wages frozen for three years. This two- tier wage ripoff is the clearest example of how Boeing's megaprofits are being racked up at the workers' expense. But it's not the only example.

Boeing has sought to meet schedules for increased commercial aircraft orders and military contracts with a minimum of hiring. While conditions vary in different areas, this has meant a slave-driving pace and mandatory 60-80 hour work weeks for workers in certain production lines and shops. As well, many of the machine operators are feeling the effects of Boeing's ongoing automation. These workers are being forced to speed up to keep pace with the new machines. This increased productivity is preparing for the long-term elimination of thousands of jobs.

Besides the loot squeezed out of their own employees, the Boeing capitalists are also enjoying the benefits which go to those who provide the weapons for Reagan's military buildup. Since 1980 the company has steadily increased its military portion up to a current level of 40% of all work. The cynical business of supplying the most "efficient" means of mass slaughter (MX, Cruise missiles, Star Wars, etc.) pays very well indeed. Not only has this allowed Boeing the infamous profiteering on military contracts, but the government is also pouring in other subsidies, including three years in a row of federal tax REFUNDS amounting to $100 million.

Thus, no one should be surprised that Boeing made $566 million net profit in 1985 and midway through '86 has already added another $317 million. What may surprise some, however, is that according to the Boeing moneybags, this is not enough. The 1986 1AM (International Association of Machinists) Negotiating Committee has reported that in the current contract negotiations Boeing is demanding new wage and benefit concessions on top of those taken in 1983. This is outrageous!

Enough is enough. With the approach of the October 1 contract expiration, it is time to take a stand against Boeing's insatiable concessions drive. This stand begins with the fight to abolish the two-tier wage system.

New York bus depot workers strike against bad conditions

Workers at the Kingsbridge bus depot face miserable conditions. These include improper venting of exhaust fumes and exposure to toxic chemicals. When 100 workers were transferred to Kingsbridge from the 132nd Street bus barn (which was closed for being "inefficient") the overcrowding became so great that many workers had no locker room facilities and were forced to change in the middle of the garage floor.

To expose the horrendous conditions, the workers invited a local politician to tour the shop. But he was stopped at the door by the management. This did not stop the workers, however. They took matters into their own hands and staged a two and a half day work stop at Kingsbridge and at two other depots. The Transit Authority caved in and agreed to improve the depot facilities. (Based on an August 28 leaflet of the New York Metro Branch of the MLP, USA.)

Boston City Hospital nurses fight low pay and short staffing

(The following article is taken from the September 2, 1986 issue of Boston Worker, organ of the Boston Branch of the MLP, USA.)

On August 29 and 30, nurses at Boston City Hospital (BCH) carried out their second short strike in two weeks. They are pressing their demands for wages equal to nurses at other hospitals in Boston and for proper staffing of the city hospitals.

In the face of these first signs of struggle among city workers, Mayor Ray Flynn has dropped his pretensions of being a "friend of labor." In the style of Ronald Reagan, the Flynn administration condemned the strike and went to court to get injunctions and impose heavy fines of the nurses' union. But the nurses have refused to be intimidated. Nurses have declared that they don't care if the city throws them in jail, they will continue their struggle until they win.

Flynn and the administrators hypocritically accuse the nurses of holding the patients hostage. But in fact it is the government itself which has been attacking the patients and patient care at the city hospitals for years.

City Hospital was established to provide minimal care for the poor so that the private hospitals wouldn't have to take care of them. And since the rich who run this country never really care about the poor, the city hospitals have always been understaffed and in poor condition. But conditions have gotten dramatically worse since the cutbacks dictated by Reagan's federal budget and by Proposition 2 1/2.

Hundreds of housekeeping, medical assistant, ward clerk, dietary and laundry jobs have been eliminated by layoffs and by attrition. To make up the difference the hospital administrators have hounded the workers who remain to do the work of two and three people. But there is only so much a human being can do. In addition, by paying its nurses 20% less than other hospitals, BCH has insured that it will always have a shortage of nurses, regardless of the other terrible conditions. The conditions at the city hospitals are so bad that any visitor will immediately notice the problems of short staffing, supply shortages and run-down conditions.

These conditions at the hospital are not the result of anything done by the nurses or other workers at the hospital. They are the result of the Reaganite policy of the rich of cutbacks on anything that benefits the working people. Health care for the poor at City Hospital and around the country is being devastated so that the rich can increase their profits and pay for their war preparations. And Ray Flynn, despite his populist rhetoric, is fronting for the rich in their war on the poor. But the nurses, by standing up for their rights, are throwing stumbling blocks in the path of budget cutters of the rich. They should be supported.

Wildcat at McLouth Steel

(The following article is taken from the September 26 issue of Detroit Workers' Voice, paper of the Detroit Branch of the MLP,USA.)

On the morning of September 18, the McLouth steelworkers threw up militant pickets at the gates of the Trenton and Gibraltar, Michigan plants in a wildcat strike. This strike was the latest round of the McLouth workers' fight against concessions and the productivity drive of the McLouth millionaires.

Over the last few months the workers have been carrying out slowdowns and other job actions to protest the latest concessions contract that was forced on them in May. They are fighting the stepped-up productivity drive and job combinations which the company is imposing as a result of that contract.

In response the company has been on a campaign of harassment and firings against the workers. Following a series of firings of workers the company fired a grievance man who had been in an altercation provoked by a supervisor. It was this incident that prompted the workers to walk out declaring, "Enough is Enough!"

The McLouth workers took a bold step in relying on their own efforts and waging the wildcat. They have proven it is possible to fight the concessions and job combinations, even after a concessions contract has been forced on them.

USWA Hack Joins Company to Get a Court Injunction Against the Wildcat

The workers have been up against both the company and the sold-out union bureaucrats led by USWA District 29 Director Harry Lester. Lester has worked hand in hand with the capitalists to shove the concessions, productivity drive and job combinations down the McLouth workers' throats. He would not even defend the union's grievance man after he was fired.

During the strike Lester issued a letter to the workers ordering them back to work and he even went on the radio to denounce the workers. When these tactics didn't succeed in forcing the workers back to work, Lester and the McLouth capitalists together got a court injunction ordering the strikers back on September 19.

The McLouth workers are learning from their own bitter experience of the need to smash through the stranglehold of the sold-out union bosses like Harry Lester.

Steel workers strike at Detroit Coke

Steel workers at Detroit Coke in southwest Detroit walked out on strike September 16. The company's last offer for the one year contract was a wage freeze.

The owner, J.D. Crane, is trying to break the strike by running the coke battery with supervisors from Detroit Coke and from other batteries he owns. He has also hired additional security guards who, along with five cars of local police officers, have harassed the picketers.

The strikers have appealed to the truck drivers to not haul coke across the picket line. They have made this appeal stronger by shooting out one truck's radiator and by throwing bricks through the windows of two other trucks.

In 1980, when Crane bought the company, he forced big wage and benefit cuts on the workers. There were 400 workers then. He has since eliminated every possible job. The 85 remaining workers do the work of two and three people. Wages are still low.

By overworking and underpaying the workers Mr. Crane is growing fat. He recently bought himself a fourth coke battery in Tennessee. And he made the workers there take over a dollar an hour cut in pay.

Union bosses join strikebreaking at Guardian Glass

The 350 workers at the Guardian Industries glass plant in Carlton, Michigan have been waging a courageous and stubborn strike since May 15. This is a struggle to achieve their first contract since they succeeded in organizing a union last year.

The multimillionaire owner of Guardian, Bill Davidson (who also owns the Detroit Pistons), is out to break the union. He brought in the infamous Nuckols Security goon-squad to suppress the strike and staffed the plant with 400 scabs. Scabs have been incited to ambush the strikers. As well, the police have been employed to attack the strikers' picket lines on several occasions. On August 7, four hundred strikers and their supporters fought a three-hour battle with the police and scabs despite the 150 rounds of tear gas shot at the picket line.

Recently, Davidson has gotten additional help from the Reagan government. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) called for another vote on union rights at Guardian. But more, the NLRB ruled that the 400 scabs would be allowed to take part in the vote on whether the union organized by the 350 striking workers would be decertified! This is the kind of unbridled union busting that the Reagan government has become notorious for.

UAW Hacks Agree to the Scabs Voting

Unfortunately the leadership of United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents the Guardian strikers, is playing a dirty role. All along they have striven to keep the strikers in check. By repeatedly blocking the mass actions the UAW hacks have allowed the situation to deteriorate to the point where 400 scabs cross the picket lines daily.

Now the UAW bureaucrats have even come to an agreement with the NLRB to let the scabs vote in the election! This means that the strikers have little chance of winning the vote. But, should the UAW somehow win the elections, the union would then represent both the strikers and the scabs who are breaking the strike. This would also be dangerous for the strikers. The UAW hacks have put the striking workers in a bad situation.

USWA Hacks Jump in to Split the Vote

But if this outrage were not bad enough, the NLRB has announced that a second union will also be contending in the vote! This will tend to split up the pro-union workers and make it that much harder to organize a strong, unified struggle against the union-busting of the company. This kind of "raiding" behind the backs of the strikers is the lowest kind of treachery.

And where would the capitalists find such low-life snakes to carry out such activity? In none other than the leadership of the United Steelworkers union (USWA) and its District 29 director Harry Lester! Harry does not have one ounce of concern for the striking workers. His only concern is to grab more union dues. He would rather see the Guardian strikers be without a union, and even lose their strike, than skip the chance he might be able to snatch up additional dues (and from the voting scabs no less). When asked about the possibility that having two unions on the ballot (along with a no-union ticket) could split the workers' vote and allow Guardian to win the election, Lester responded, "It's a chance we'll have to take." (Detroit News, September 11, 1986)

This is the type of scab company- unionism Harry Lester is famous for. He has helped to ram concessions down the throats of the Great Lakes Steel workers twice. He has joined with the McLouth Steel management to get a court injunction forcing the striking McLouth workers back to work. And now he's trying to help break the strike at Guardian.

Obviously, the workers can't win their struggles with such traitors at their head. We workers in all branches of industry must band together in strong class solidarity and build up our own organizations of struggle against the capitalists. We must build organizations independent of traitors such as Lester and the other fakers in the labor bureaucracy.

(Taken from the September 26 issue of Detroit Workers' Voice, paper of the Detroit Branch of the MLP.)

Birmingham steel workers strike

At the end of August, 350 steel fabricating workers walked out against the Chicago Bridge and Iron plant in Birmingham, Alabama. They are fighting against the company's demands for a wage and pension freeze. Another 4,500 steel workers are on strike in Birmingham against Hayes International and against USX.

Winery strike spreads in California

The strike against California wineries, which began when 600 workers walked out of four wineries in mid- August, has now spread to 12 wineries and involves over 2,200 workers.

The $153 million per year California wine industry has been seriously affected. The largest winery, Gallo, produces 25% of all the table wine made in the U.S.

This harvest-time strike started as a selective strike. But since the wineries have chosen not to negotiate, workers at all of the wineries are now on strike. The winery workers have come to realize that a united strike shows greater strength than any selective strike could muster.

[Photo: Winery workers in Modesto, California picket Gallo's main plant.]

Watsonville cannery strikers win recertification vote

Last month 1,100 strikers from the Watsonville Canning and Frozen Foods plant rallied to beat back an attempt to decertify their union.

The workers have waged a determined strike for over a year. In that time, the plant owner, Mort Console has attempted every type of strikebreaking -- from running scabs across the picket lines to calling out the police to arrest strikers and suppress their mass picketing. But the strikers have stood firm and fought back with militant mass actions.

The latest attempt at strikebreaking was employed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In typical Reaganite style the NLRB called for a vote on whether or not to decertify Teamster Local 912, which represents the strikers. What is more, the NLRB ruled that scabs would be allowed to vote in the election. Mort Console quickly tried to hire a bunch of scabs on a part-time and temporary basis in the hopes of increasing his vote totals.

The strikers went all out to rally their forces for the vote. Members who had gone looking for work in other cities in the Southwest and in Mexico were called back to Watsonville. A rally of 500 strikers was held three days before the vote. And on election day 1,000 strikers turned out to vote in support of keeping the union certified. Because of this 90% turn out of the strikers, they won the vote (against 700 scab votes).

This victory has forced Mort Console to reopen contract negotiations with the strikers. But the struggle is far from over. The strikers are not only fighting against the concessions which initially provoked the strike, but they are also demanding full amnesty for all strikers and that they all return to work together. Despite the year long struggle, the strikers say they will stay out till they win their demands.

Ohio Armco walkout First in 85 years

[Photo: Steelworkers in Middletown, Ohio, respond with raised fists to horn honking supporters.]

On September 3, over 3,000 workers from Armco, Inc. held a spirited march and rally in Middletown, Ohio. Placards read, "We can't give any more" and " We are united--no pay cuts. Vote no."

Two days later, all 4,300 workers at Armco's Ohio plant walked off their jobs.

Armco is the fifth largest steelmaker in the U.S. It has three plants: Ashland, Kentucky; Butler, Pennsylvania; and Middletown, Ohio. The workers in Kentucky and Pennsylvania are represented by the USWA. They are currently working under a 90-day extension of the old contract which expired on August 7.

The workers in Ohio are represented by the Armco Employees Independent Federation (AEIF). The Middletown plant is the most modern Armco facility, produces two-thirds of the company's production and is very profitable. Last year, Armco made a $130 million profit at the Middletown plant alone.

The Armco capitalists decided to set a wage-cutting precedent at Middletown. Unlike at its other plants, Armco refused to extend the old contract at Middletown even though the AEIF hacks agreed to another three-year wage and COLA freeze. The bloodthirsty capitalists wanted an additional wage cut of $1.30 per hour. The workers said no.

On September 1, Armco unilaterally imposed a concessions contract on the workers including a 50 cent per hour wage cut and reduction in hospital coverage.

The workers responded with the first walkout in the 86-year history of the company. They spread picketing to Armco warehouses in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. And they also picketed the company headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey.

After a week, the union hacks called the workers back to the job and saddled them with the wage freeze originally proposed.

This is these workers' first taste of struggle. Although they got stuck with a rotten contract, they did manage to beat back the company's attempt at a major wage cut and learned important lessons for continuing their struggle in the future.

Northwest shipyard workers need to organize a united strike

(The following article is taken from a leaflet issued by the Seattle Branch of the MLP,USA, September23, 1986.)

Ballots are being mailed to the shipyard workers at Todd Seattle. They are voting on a contract proposal that contains a two-tier system cutting wages from $1.50 to $4.00 per hour..This is an outrage and must be rejected. To hell with the profits of the Todd billionaires!

All of the West Coast shipyard companies have been pursuing a strategy of divide and conquer. Prior to opening contract negotiations they disbanded or pulled out of their employer groups such as the Pacific Coast Shipbuilders Association, Washington Boatbuilders, etc. Now the unions are negotiating with 52 different shipyards separately. The shipyard capitalists obviously hoped that they could gobble up the workers one yard at a time and never have to face a united strike up and down the coast or even in one local area.

A rejection vote at Todd would be a setback for the companies' divisive strategy. It comes less than two weeks before the October 1 contract expiration at Lockheed. The 250 workers at six Seattle area boatyards continue to work under concessions contracts that were imposed on them in August. The contract at Tacoma Boat remains unsettled, too. Thus, when the proposal at Todd is rejected, the workers at most Puget Sound shipyards will be without contracts. Given the massive layoffs throughout the shipyards, the pulling together of all these workers into a common front against the companies is essential. Spreading a strike through all of these yards would pit over 2,500 strikers against the companies. (Around 1,800 are still working and many hundreds more are on seniority layoff.) This is the way to defeat the concessions.

Concessions Won't Save Jobs

More than 7,000 workers have been thrown out of the private shipyards on Puget Sound since 1983. Thousands more have been laid off from the Bremerton naval yard. These workers and their families are facing the untold suffering of unemployment. The "lucky" ones have found their way to non-union sweatshops or are facing the concessions drive in other industries such as aerospace.

But the capitalists see dollar signs in these big layoffs. "Now we can rob them blind" they think. A new flurry of company propaganda sheets and feature stories in the bourgeois media are pumping out the old theme: The "high wages" have frozen out the West Coast shipyards from new contracts. Give concessions, or it's curtains. The bourgeoisie can hardly hide its gloating over the prospect of converting workers' difficulties into concessions cash.

"High" wages have nothing whatsoever to do with the current slump in the shipbuilding industry. This has been caused by several factors, the main ones being 1) the collapse of commercial shipbuilding and repair markets worldwide, 2) the drive to modernize the production techniques of U.S. shipyards (which has reduced the need for workers), and 3) the decision of the Pentagon to save money on the naval buildup by concentrating virtually all new construction in only five shipyards. This overall situation is "freezing out" many yards on all coasts, with both "high" and low wages. The closure last January of the huge, modernized General Dynamics yard in Quincy, Massachusetts is just one example. Was Quincy's average wage of $11.00 per hour so high that the yard couldn't compete? No, concessions are not going to change the factors causing the slump in shipbuilding. The real issue is who will be made to suffer in this situation -- the workers or the capitalists?

The bottom line is that concessions raise profits. The capitalists are faced with a generally shrunken workload and demands from the Reaganites and Congress to cut costs on naval work. So the companies are seeking to maintain their bloated profits at the expense of the workers' livelihood. (And they are backed up 100% in this by Reagan and the Pentagon militarists.)

The Union Bureaucrats' Policy of Surrender Is Inviting Disaster

At the outset of the West Coast contract negotiations the Seattle metal trades officials told the' workers at Todd that they were opposed both to concessions and to a strike. So far they have neither endorsed the concessions demands of the companies nor taken any action against them. With the approach of the October 1 contract expiration at Lockheed the union officials are preparing to pursue this same stand.

The Seattle Metal Trades Council (SMTC) has issued leaflets to the Lockheed workers containing a blistering condemnation of Lockheed's demands and threats. That's fine, and long overdue. But when it comes to the bureaucrats, where there is smoke, there isn't necessarily any fire. The SMTC leaflet from last week also stated that, "There are more weapons in our arsenal than a strike and we say again, 'We do not plan on striking.' " The situation in the boatyards today gives a good example of just what these other "weapons" are and where they lead to.

The boatyard capitalists imposed $4.00 per hour wage cuts and every other takeaway imaginable on August 18, even though the workers had rejected these cuts by a 95% vote. The bureaucrats did nothing. They didn't even hold a strike vote until two weeks later. After the boatyard workers voted 95% to strike, the Boilermakers Local boss Joe Pilato said, "Fine, we'll get back to you later and tell you if we are going to strike a yard." The rest of the SMTC took the same position. So far the workers have been slaving under these cuts for over a month. There hasn't been a peep out of the SMTC, let alone a strike call.

The union hacks claim that they have discovered some "new tactics" that are suited to the situation today when strikes supposedly don't work. Actually, these tactics have been around a long time. They are commonly called unconditional surrender. Such a policy also opens the door for even greater setbacks -- such as allowing the capitalists at this or that yard to bust the union completely.

The policy of the sold out union officials is inviting disaster. They don't give a damn about the rank-and-file workers. They are willing to give up everything and pray that the companies will be grateful enough to maintain the union shop so that the dues will continue to roll in. This shameless belly crawling is not justified by the difficult situation facing the workers -- it is adding to the difficulties. The truth is that the shipyard workers still have the strength to block concessions if they stand together. Rank and file:

Organize to vote down all concessions!

Organize for a united Puget Sound strike!

A spirited strike by Atlantic City casino workers

At midnight on September 15, over 13,000 workers struck at eight of the eleven casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Thirty-five hours later, a tentative agreement was reached. But in those 35 hours, the casino workers flexed their muscles.

The Atlantic City casino workers were angered over the fact that the casino capitalists demanded a two-year wage freeze. The workers denounced the proposal and vented their frustration in the streets. Strikers blocked traffic, disabled several vehicles and smashed windows in some of the casinos.

The following morning, a judge restricted the number of pickets to only three people at each casino entrance. He also limited rallies on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk to no more than four a day with a maximum of 50 people allowed to attend.

But this did not stop the strikers! They threw eggs at gamblers, blocked buses and implored guests to go to casinos which were not on strike. In all, 54 people were injured and seven people were indicted on charges of malicious damage, possession of weapons, and aggravated assault. Casino officials have also threatened to fire workers who were involved in the struggle.

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More clashes in Soweto

The black masses of Soweto are fighting on against the racist barbarians. Last month Soweto erupted in battle when the police opened fire on a rent strike protest. About 30 people were massacred by the Botha regime during the revolt. But the freedom-hungry people have not been deterred. The struggle has spilled over into September.

Commemorating the Martyrs by Continuing the Struggle

A big clash developed on September 4 when a mass funeral for the martyrs of the massacre was scheduled. To halt this mass protest, the government banned all large funeral gatherings. The township was sealed off and racist troops poured in. To hide their atrocities, the regime stiffened its harsh press restrictions, forbidding the press from entering the townships and all reporting on the activities of the police and army.

But the masses boldly defied this intimidation. About 5,000 people gathered for a funeral protest at a stadium. The police moved in and dispersed the crowd with tear gas. In response, pitched street battles broke out. Though unarmed, the masses fought courageously the whole day, erecting street barricades and hurling rocks at the troops. According to the bourgeois press in Johannesburg, eight blacks gave their lives in the struggle.

The protests of September 4 also included a one-day work stoppage involving over 70% of the work force in Soweto. And although the September 4 funeral was broken up, the next day smaller funeral services were held despite the ban.

Rent Strikes Spread

Moreover the government's attempts to kill the nationwide rent strike movement have failed miserably. Rent strikes have spread to over 50 townships. On September 15 in Sharpeville, for example, 800 people marched on government offices to protest the eviction of tenants. When the police tear gassed the demonstrators, the angry masses stoned the police patrols.

The rent strike movement is aimed not only against the rotten, overpriced housing. It also is aimed at undermining the pro-apartheid township governments which are financed by the rents. This movement is another current in the tidal wave building up against the apartheid system.

The student revolt will not be stopped!

The efforts of the Botha regime to put the clamps on the rebellious black students are failing. In July the authorities instituted arbitrary expulsion of students, set up an ID system to track militants, and occupied the schools with military forces. But their calculations were sadly mistaken. Instead of breaking the students' spirits, the repression has become yet another target of the student movement.

In September the movement against the repressive measures began to take its toll on the racists. Ever since the measures began, the students have fought back by boycotting classes, refusing to carry the ID cards and burning them, and other actions.

Soweto has been a center of the recent student protests. The boycott there has left the secondary schools virtually empty. In September, the student actions forced the government to withdraw the military from the Soweto schools. In a frenzy, the government then sought to intimidate the students by closing down 10 schools in Soweto in mid-September. In fact, across the country, some 33 schools with 25,000 students were shut down.

The students know that their participation in the struggle means risking even the little education available to them under apartheid. But they are receiving a far more important education. They are learning how to free themselves from the evil racist system.

The Kinross mining disaster-- apartheid murders 177 miners

On September 16, one hundred seventy-seven gold miners were killed in a disaster at the Kinross Mine, 60 miles east of Johannesburg. The blood of the miners, all but five of them black, drips from the hands of the South African capitalists, the architects of apartheid.

The miners died as a result of a fire which spread toxic fumes through a mine shaft. The fire began when an acetylene bottle caught fire during a welding operation.

Utter Disregard for Safety

However the mass slaughter of the miners was no mere accident. The fire could have been put out by a fire extinguisher. It is supposed to be standard practice to have fire extinguishers. But the mine owners of the General Mining Union had none in the area.

Deadly fumes also played a major role in the carnage. They came from a polyurethane sealant which lined the walls of the mine. This sealant is well-known for its toxicity. It is so deadly that the mining capitalists of Britain and the U.S., no sticklers for safety themselves, have banned its use for six years. Indeed the mine owners confessed that, with respect to welding and other areas, they had not even lived up to the minimal safety standards set by the racist government.

Clearly the mining capitalists created the conditions where the miners were bound to be slaughtered sooner or later. But this did not concern the bosses in the least since their only goal is profit-making.

A History of Slaughter

The mass murder of the Kinross miners is part of the endless crimes against the black miners. Since 1973 about 8,200 workers have died in the mines and over 230,000 have been injured. Moreover, under the racist law nearly all the miners must be migrant labor who must live apart from their families in company compounds; most of these workers are from the bantustans and neighboring countries. The Kinross disaster is but part of the systematic brutality against and exploitation of the miners under apartheid.

An Example of Reagan's Capitalism in Action

The Kinross disaster also further exposes U.S. imperialist chieftain Reagan. In Reagan's major speech of July 22 on South Africa he boasted of the allegedly wonderful life for the black workers in South Africa, a life that was available "only in South Africa'' and not elsewhere in Africa. He singled out the condition of the black miners for special mention. And he concluded that "capitalism is the natural enemy of such feudal institutions as apartheid,'' the force that was allegedly bringing progress and freedom to the black South Africans.

And lo and behold, the miners at Kinross have had a good taste of Reagan's capitalist progress. It is capitalism that has created their slave-like conditions and that lives off these conditions. And the truth once again exposes Reagan as a shameless front man for white racist rule and for the most bloody and barbaric exploitation.

Black Workers Denounce Facade of Mineowners' Concern

The crimes of the white rulers and their supporters will never be forgiven by the black and other oppressed people. Indeed, when the mineowners cynically organized a funeral service for those they murdered, hundreds of miners organized a militant protest which marched through the service and broke up the owners' charade. Four thousand angry miners staged their own rally a few days later. And more actions have been promised in response to the Kinross disaster. The black workers will have their revenge through stepping up the struggle against the racist ruling class.

[Photo: Several hundred South African miners disrupt the mine owners' sham memorial service. The workers then held their own service for the 177 miners killed in the mining disaster.]

Coretta Scott King seeks common ground with Botha

In early September, Coretta Scott King traveled to South Africa. Among other things, she held her much- heralded meeting with Winnie Mandela, a leader of the African National Congress. But just as King promotes reformism in the black people's movement in the U.S., so in South Africa she opposed revolution in favor of "nonviolence'' and pushed for a conciliationist stand to the racist regime.

King Promotes Groveling Before the Racists

As part of these efforts, King had planned to meet with the racist chieftain, President P.W. Botha. Following her trip, in her syndicated newspaper column, King defended her attempt to meet Botha "in the spirit of reconciliation." To prove the value of talks with Botha, King cited the example of the Indian reformist Gandhi who spent several years in South Africa as a young man. She praised Gandhi's meetings with the notorious racist, General Smuts, one of the main builders of the racist system who served as prime minister in the early 1920's and again during World War II. King quoted Gandhi's own words that due to his talks with Smuts, Smuts "started with being my bitterest enemy. Today he is my warmest friend." What servility to the racists!

King does not mention the obvious: despite Gandhi's belly-crawling, Smuts and his fellow white supremacists went right ahead in their enslavement of the blacks and other oppressed.

King Tours South Africa Like a Queen

In fact King's entire trip to South Africa was an insult to the oppressed. Although her planned chat with Botha was left for the future, she sent her aides to meet with the notorious enemy of the anti-apartheid struggle, bantustan leader chief Buthelezi.

While Botha was hanging three black militants, King was being escorted around by Botha's racist police whom she praised for their behavior toward her. (Incidentally, the police escort included a notorious infiltrator of the anti-apartheid movement and an officer credited with many arrests of activists.) While the racist regime evicted rent strikers in the black townships, King holed up in a luxurious $160 a day hotel suite. And as if to flaunt her disdain for the black toilers, King rode into the poverty-stricken black township of Soweto in a big Mercedes. As well she passed up a tour of Soweto to hobnob with the bigshots at a luncheon at the U.S. consulate.

Working With Racist Reagan

It should also be noted that King readily admitted that she was acting as an unofficial emissary for the Reagan administration. She consulted with administration officials before and during her trip and promised Reagan a full report on her tour. The cooperation of King, who preens herself as a leader of the black people, with apartheid-lover Reagan is shameful. But it is not surprising since they both share a friendly attitude toward Botha.

King Meets With Winnie Mandela

The only reason that King did not actually meet with Botha was that there were some objections raised by a- prominent ANC leader, Winnie Mandela, and by the liberal churchman, Reverend Boesak. They threatened to call off their meetings with King unless she gave up her plans to see Botha and Buthelezi. At the same time, Boesak explicitly supported Archbishop Tutu's frequent chats with racist Botha. The only reason Mandela and Boesak gave for opposing King's plan for similar chats was that they thought she might be discredited. As Boesak stated, "Black people really thought she was identifying with the other side.'' Of course, if the masses thought that, they would be right, as King has long identified with, associated with, hobnobbed with and collaborated with "the other side''. But neither Mandela nor Boesak opposed King's role as a Reagan emissary or her other links with "the other side".

Since there was no basic disagreements with King's rotten tour as a whole, things were soon patched up. All King had to agree to do was to give up her meeting with Botha on this trip. Then Mandela warmly welcomed King, hugging and kissing her for the TV cameras.

The Liberals Are No Friends of the Movement

These events are more proof that despite occasionally militant posturing, the American liberals and black bourgeois leaders remain opposed to the revolutionary struggle of the black masses. They remain committed to working with the system, whether in the U.S. or South Africa.

Mrs. King's trip contributed nothing to the struggle in South Africa. But it did succeed in demonstrating the need to combat the influence of the liberals in the anti-apartheid movement.

[Photo: Winnie Mandela embraces the liberal sellout Coretta Scott King.]

A secret pact against sanctions: Reagan, Thatcher and Kohl

These days the press is full of stories about sanctions against South Africa. We are told that the European capitalists are passing sanctions against South Africa, the Japanese capitalists are passing sanctions against South Africa, even Reagan has his own sanctions against South Africa.

But this is one case where there is much smoke, but no fire. The big capitalist countries don't have the slightest intention of helping the oppressed black masses in South Africa.

It was revealed in mid-September that the Reagan government and the British and West German governments had come to an informal agreement. They decided to coordinate their opposition to any real sanctions against South Africa. They don't want any sanctions that will have a serious effect on South Africa.

Thus West Germany used its position in the West European Common Market to veto the imposition of a ban on South African coal. Reagan has vetoed the weak sanctions passed by Congress. And the U.S. and Britain have agreed in advance to veto, at the current UN session, any resolution for mandatory sanctions against South Africa.

The Reagan government in the U.S., "Iron Lady" Thatcher's government in Britain, and Kohl's conservative government in Germany are so reactionary, so enthusiastic about racist rule in South Africa, that they are vetoing sanctions that themselves are only symbolic. For example, the sanctions passed by Congress in the U.S. were already designed to do no serious damage; their main author, Republican Senator Lugar, boasts of this. But the capitalist gentlemen and women are competing over who can do the least.

The capitalist governments are only making a show of sanctions. Without any sanctions at all, they are afraid that the black South Africans will rise against them. They hope to make a "symbolic" message to South Africa that the ruling racists should be more skillful in co-opting black sellouts to fight the revolution. And they are trying to prevent the further development of anti-apartheid protests in their own countries.

The solidarity movement against apartheid must expose the capitalist governments of the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan as diehard supporters of apartheid. The anti-apartheid movement must be linked up with the revolutionary struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

Reagan vetoes sanctions

On September 27, Reagan vetoed the token sanctions against South Africa passed by Congress (the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986). Once again he has proclaimed to the world his love for racism and slavery. It was not enough that he opposed the soft measures of Congress. "Massa" Reagan even called for more investment in South Africa.

Bolstering White Racism -- For the Benefit of Blacks!

Of course Reagan never admits to being a racist. Big deal. Neither do the racist South African rulers at this point. Reagan claims he really opposes sanctions because they may cause hardship for the black people in South Africa.

How misunderstood is Reagan! He is bolstering the white racist system -- so that the poor blacks do not suffer!

Congress Postures Against Reagan

Meanwhile the congressional figures are promising a fight to override the veto. But what is it that they are fighting for? The sanctions bill contains some measures that would cause some inconvenience for the racists. But it was designed to avoid any serious blows. As Republican Senator Lugar, the main author of the congressional sanctions bill, put it: "We are not seeking a scorched-earth policy" against the racists. Or as liberal Democrat Solarz put it: "I think that sanctions are designed not to bring the government of South Africa to its knees but to bring the government to its senses."

Is this so different from Reagan who opposes the congressional bill because he falsely considers it "economic warfare" against South Africa?

Lugar and Solarz differ from Reagan only in calculating how much must be done to give the U.S. government a good image. Lugar, the leader of the fight to override the veto in the Senate, explained his position by saying that "No matter how much the United States would protest, a vote to sustain the president's veto would be seen as support for the South African government's policies."

Neither Reagan nor Congress wants to hurt the slave masters. They only want to put on a good show. No wonder that they only fire blanks.

Reagan Offers a Deal

Congress passed the sanctions bill by overwhelming margins. But there is still a question over whether there will be the necessary two-thirds vote in the Senate to override Reagan's veto. The administration has been promising some empty gestures on South Africa to win over Senators who previously voted for the sanctions bill. These include appointing a black ambassador to South Africa (if Botha can have his Chief Buthelezi, why can't Reagan have his Edward Perkins?) and enacting a presidential order that would provide a couple of miniscule sanctions. This is Reagan's contribution to the game of empty showmanship.

For Action, Not Empty Gestures

Whether or not the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 bill passes, one thing is clear. Neither Reagan nor Congress are friends of the black and other oppressed people of South Africa. We must fight not for empty gestures, but to bring the white racists to their knees. We must fight not to preserve the image of the U.S. government, but to expose its ugly racist and aggressive features.

U.C. Divestment mass struggle forces a change of face

Last semester, the University of California at Berkeley campus was the scene of the most militant anti-apartheid actions to be found anywhere in the country. Students and activists fought pitched battles with the police and faced mass arrests when the administration moved to attack the shantytown protests in April. It was in the wake of these struggles that the UCB regents voted to divest UCB's massive holdings in companies doing business with South Africa. The divestment decision was a significant victory for the anti-apartheid movement. It also showed that through organizing militant mass actions and building a fighting mass movement, the students can win their demands.

The anti-apartheid posturing of the UC regents' divestment decision is similar to the pose struck by Congress over sanctions. These hypocrites are about as anti-apartheid as Botha himself. It is the pressure of the revolutionary struggle in South Africa as well as the broad sentiment and militant actions against apartheid in the U.S. that have caused the U.S. government and its counterparts to take up a policy of feigning opposition to apartheid. It is the desire of both the Democrats and Republicans, as well that of the pro-imperialist UC administration, to see an end, not to apartheid, but to the revolution in South Africa and to the solidarity movement in the U.S.

UC Divestment: An About-Face in the Face of Mass Struggle

Divestment has been a just demand of the movement in the U.S. and an act of international solidarity with the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. At the same time, it has never been the be-all and end-all of the anti-apartheid movement. Divestment alone could never bring down apartheid; only a revolution by the black workers and youth in South Africa can accomplish that. But the divestment demand has played a positive role in building up the solidarity movement. It has served as a focus for mobilizing the anti-apartheid sentiments of the students into actions, and it has helped expose the pro-imperialist nature of the administration.

The university officials fought tooth and nail for more than ten years to protect the "right" of U.S. corporations to plunder the South African people. They made the lying claim that divestment was either irrelevant or even harmful to the black workers in South Africa. They ordered their police to attack anti-apartheid actions, beating and arresting hundreds and hundreds of activists.

And now they have yielded, but only because the political price, escalated by the growing militancy in the movement, was too high to do otherwise. Even in this shift in position on divestment their continued support for apartheid comes through. For example, despite their supposed "impatience" with apartheid, not a penny of UC's billions will be divested for an entire year and then it will be another three years before the process is completed. Clearly the university's shift on divestment is done in such a way as to minimize the damage to apartheid while trying their best to undercut the movement.

The UC Administration: A Friend in Deed to the Needs of U.S. Imperialism

The UC administration has a particularly ugly history with regard to its support for the U.S. military apparatus. It has for years directed the entire nuclear weapons research and development programs of the government through its management of the Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos nuclear war labs. It has sponsored the hated ROTC program on campus whose only purpose is to produce higher ranking cannon fodder for the next war of aggression. Considering this commitment, it is not hard to understand why the UC administration comes down with such a vengeance against any motion that comes up to oppose imperialist interests, such as the shantytown protests or the anti-ROTC actions.

Take Up the Lessons of Last Spring

It was militant mass struggle that moved the situation forward last spring. For years reformists have insisted that the activists must stay within the bounds acceptable to the Democratic Party. Only the most polite and "reasonable" activity was approved of. Above all, the administration should be reasoned with and not fought. With this as a first line of defense, the administration had little to fear from the deepening anti-apartheid sentiments building up among the students.

But then, the militant activists around Campaign Against Apartheid (CAA) organized the shantytown actions and spearheaded a break with some aspects of the reformist stranglehold. Thousands of students supported the action and many took part in militant fighting with the police to defend it. It was this turn from reasoning with the administration to building the mass struggle against it that resulted in the divestment concession of the regents. They hoped divestment would undercut this "dangerous" trend.

Not Everyone Who Smiles Is a Friend

While there was an important step forward last spring it must not be forgotten that in the middle of the struggle, before it had reached its full force, the militant actions were called off. The activists around CAA who were pushing the fight forward faced a vicious attack not only by the administration and the police but also from the right wing of the anti-apartheid movement. Gus Newport (pretend socialist but real Democratic Party hack), mayor of Berkeley, denounced the shantytown protests and allowed his police to be used to crush the action. Pedro Noguera, then ASUC (student government) president and leader of UPC (United People of Color, a reformist organization), made it his special business to attack the activists and the action, doing everything in his power to try and stop a third shanty action from taking place. Other reformists joined in the crusade to bring the militancy to an end.

Why Were Many Caught by Surprise?

The activists who wanted to fight apartheid and the university's support for it were unprepared for the onslaught. The imperialist nature of the UC administration was not widely grasped, so its diehard and vicious support for apartheid was not expected. As well, many had illusions in the various reformist "leaders" of the anti-apartheid movement who promote politics friendly to the Democratic Party. So the attack caught many by surprise, convincing some that they were doing something wrong, and paralyzing the fight.

The struggles at UCB inspired students to actions against apartheid across the country and marked a significant advance in the student movement. However, had the activists been armed with anti-imperialist politics their fight could have withstood the onslaught of the reformists and the administration and developed to its full potential. The anti-apartheid movement built with firm anti-imperialist politics will be a strong weapon in the hands of the students and powerful support for the revolutionary struggle of the black masses in South Africa.

Build up a powerful fighting mass movement with militant mass actions and anti-imperialist politics!

(Based on a leaflet issued September 1 by the San Francisco Bay Area Branch of the MLP,USA.)

Will California divest?

The California state legislature has passed a divestment bill affecting state- held funds, including pension funds and those of the University of California (UC). This action followed closely upon the vote of the UC regents to divest. The state bill, similar to the regents' actions, specifies that approximately nothing will happen for one year: this is called giving firms a chance to cut ties with South Africa. Then over another three years, state funds are to be removed from firms doing business with South Africa.

These divestment actions are a major victory for the mass struggle. The bitter anti-apartheid struggles in California are undoubtedly one of the main reasons why the UC regents, who have fought divestment tooth and nail for years, and the Republican Governor Deukmejian, another opponent of divestment (and a member of the UC Board of Regents), have reversed themselves. (They have reversed themselves on divestment, but not on persecuting anti-apartheid activists: see the articles on the UC's disciplinary actions against the activists.) In particular, the last school year saw fierce fights on the Berkeley campus of the University of California, fights which were the highest point of the nationwide campus struggles on the issue of divestment.

Two More Elections Before Much Divestment

But the politicians are still no friend of the anti-apartheid struggle. All the news media are shouting about how California has divested. But this is like handing out the prize before the race has been run. As of yet, the California politicians have done nothing but make promises.

First of all, as we mentioned, this bill delays any divestment at all for a year. (It is supposed to specify, however, that no new investments can be made.) So for one year the politicians will tell the student movement and solidarity movement to give up demonstrations and militance; and meanwhile the state funds will remain tied up with firms doing business with South Africa.

And, among other things, this one-year period just happens to mean that nothing happens until well after the November elections. (No doubt Governor Deukmejian's change of heart has something to do with his reelection campaign against the black mayor of Los Angeles.) Hence a new legislature will have plenty of time to reconsider.

Further, this bill provides that only about one-third of divestment will be carried out before the 1988 general elections. Hence yet another session of the legislature will get to reconsider the matter.

The capitalist gentlemen certainly gave themselves enough time to reconsider. The politicians will undoubtedly use this to tell everyone to vote for them for the next four years. But supporting the capitalist political parties would be a great mistake. It is precisely when the politicians see that the working people hate their guts that they decide to give up some concessions.

Divestment Is But One Step

Furthermore, the capitalist politicians, even when voting for divestment, repeatedly announce that they are against the revolution in South Africa. Their hope is that divestment, which is only a mild step, will do more to convince the black people of South Africa that U.S. imperialism is their friend than it will hurt the South African racists.

But the anti-apartheid movement wants to see the overthrow of apartheid. Hence it must regard divestment simply as one step in the struggle. It must foil the plan of the capitalist parties by untiringly exposing U.S. imperialism's support for white racist rule. And it must take up conscious support of the revolution against white minority rule.

The capitalist politicians hope to paralyze the anti-apartheid struggle. But this needn't happen. By taking up anti-imperialist politics, and by increasingly going over to the standpoint of the class struggle, the anti-apartheid movement will continue to grow and deepen in the time ahead. It will be prepared in case the California legislature goes back on divestment, and meanwhile it will use this victory of the mass struggle to inspire new struggles in support of the fighting black masses of South Africa.

[Photo: Black workers at a tire factory in Benoni, South Africa wage a strike struggle for better pay.]

Defend the Berkeley shantytown activists!

(The following article is taken from a leaflet issued by the San Francisco Bay Area Branch of the MLP, USA, September 13, 1986.)

The University of California administration has been making big anti-apartheid pretenses, particularly since the regents' promise to divest. But their real stand in defense of apartheid can be seen in their continued attacks on the shantytown protesters.

On September 3, ten students were dragged before the university's kangaroo disciplinary board. Their "crime"? Militant participation in last spring's shantytown protests and working to build a fighting anti-apartheid movement on campus. These are "crimes" for which the administration has already had them attacked by police, jailed, hauled through the courts and now, through the wringer of the university's infamous disciplinary board.

This is part of the UC officials' dual tactic to bring an end to the campus anti-apartheid movement. On the one hand they try to cool out student opposition with promises of divestment, and on the other, they try to silence it through intimidation and harassment.

The Struggle Continues

The activists, however, have resolutely replied to these attacks by continuing to build militant mass actions. On the evening of September 3, hundreds rallied at Sproul Plaza to denounce the university for its persecutions and for its continued support for apartheid. From Sproul, the activists militantly marched on the hearing room shouting slogans such as "From Berkeley to Soweto, the People Fight Back!" "Drop the Charges Now!" and "Revolution Yes! Apartheid No! Death to Apartheid Blow by Blow! "

At the Disciplinary Hearing

Inside the hearing room the slogans continued to thunder out for a good ten minutes while the hearing officer desperately tried to regain control of the situation. He pathetically argued that the audience was preventing a fair hearing from taking place. This was met with laughter from the 250 activists packing the hall. They were well aware that only a firm stand would give the ten even a chance at a fair verdict.

Throughout this first session of the hearing, the activists rejected the role of being passive respectful spectators to the university's injustice and instead spoke up many times to expose what the administration and its hearing officer were up to. At one point the audience burst into cheers and then chanted "Drop the Charges Now!" when it was pointed out that the "impartial" hearing officer kept turning to the university's council for advice on how to proceed.

This militant stand on the part of the activists helped to expose the kangaroo nature of the disciplinary board. It revealed the board's real function -- to hide the hand of the administration in a cloak of an "impartial," "independent" body. Thus, while the board has students and faculty on it, it is the administration that not only appoints the board's chairman, but it also makes up the rules that the board follows (often as it goes along) and has heavy influence over most of its members. As well, if the board does not come down hard enough to please the administration, there is nothing binding about its decision and the administration can punish the activists as it pleases. This is impartial justice in the great traditions of U.S. imperialism.

Down With Legalese!

The administration still hopes to carry off an attack on the ten students while confining any fightback to an arena where it holds all the cards. It hopes that the issues can be covered over with a heavy coat of legalese, that the general student body can be kept ignorant through the pages of (the pro-administration) Daily Californian, and the activists can be railroaded.

But these hopes have been set back by the mass action of September 3. Already the university has had to beat a hasty retreat, postponing the hearings to come up with a new plan of attack.

The best defense for the students on trial is to continue on this path. Step up militant mass actions and utilize sharp political agitation aimed at exposing the machinations of the administration for what they really are -- part of its policy of diehard support for apartheid and everything else that serves U.S. imperialism. This course will, just as importantly, build up the militant anti-apartheid movement on campus.

What the administrators regard as fair hearings

(Below is a brief excerpt from the September 3 issue of "Between the Lines," newsletter of the Campaign Against Apartheid, a local organization of activists.)

Eleven Berkeley students who opposed official university policy have been indicted by the administration and now face possible punishment....

The Alameda County district attorney who zealously prosecuted previous anti-apartheid protestors with little success in court, deferred and eventually dropped his legal charges. Yet the university bureaucracy continues to challenge the eleven, demanding these arbitrary few to appear before the administration's Student Conduct Committee.

The Chancellor established the committee to advise appropriate punishment for misbehavior. He names the chair yet is not tied to the findings or recommendations of the committee. He retains veto power over unfavorable results and may arbitrarily punish students. Students have four seats on the committee.

...In their brief for the case, university prosecutors stated that the committee has no jurisdiction to decide First or Fifth Amendment matters, or selective prosecution. They declared the committee a fact-finding body within the framework of university regulations and that it must consider all university orders and actions valid [like "good Germans" -- WA], Therefore, they say it can only advise on possible sanctions against the students. They also say that the commission...exists only to discover the answers to six yes-or-no questions:

1)Was the student present?

2)Was the student asked to leave?

3)Did the student refuse to leave?

4)Was the student told the consequences of refusal?

5)Did the student leave only after being arrested?

6)Did the student go peacefully or resist?

Penn State students tell off Donald Regan

Hundreds of students at Penn State University in north central Pennsylvania militantly denounced Donald Regan, Reagan's White House chief of staff, in mid-September.

Regan had come to the university to address a black-tie dinner of 750 people launching the school's $200 million fund drive. Over 300 students marched to the dinner, condemning the Reaganites' support for the racist regime in South Africa. They denounced Regan for his arrogant remark in July that American women were not prepared to "give up all their jewelry'' if the U.S. imposed sanctions on South Africa, a leading exporter of diamonds and other gems. Several protesters carried banners reading "Justice Not Jewels'' and "Divestment Not Diamonds."

Students confront Shultz and apartheid at Harvard's 350th

On September 5, over 200 students, activists, workers and other progressive people demonstrated against Secretary of State George Shultz at Harvard University. Shultz had been invited by this most hallowed of bourgeois institutions to participate in the hoopla of its 350th anniversary celebrations. As Shultz was delivering a speech under tight security, the demonstrators militantly picketed and denounced the Reaganites' support for apartheid in South Africa.

The previous evening, September 4, some 65 anti-apartheid activists blocked a hall where a fancy dinner was to be held as part of the anniversary celebrations. When the bourgeois diners tried to push their way past the demonstrators, scuffles broke out, and university president Derek Bok was forced to cancel the affair.

The Boston Branch of the MLP vigorously worked to mobilize support for the 350th anniversary demonstrations and participated in the protests. MLP comrades and supporters distributed an issue of Boston Worker containing the following call to the workers and all progressive people to take part in the anti-apartheid actions:

Secretary of State George Shultz will address Harvard University's 350th anniversary on Friday, September 5. This is a slap in the face for all workers and progressive students. By inviting Shultz, Harvard is putting its seal of approval on the Reagan policies. Shultz is a diehard defender of apartheid in South Africa. With its policy of "constructive engagement,'' the U.S. has helped Botha gun down thousands of black workers and youth in South Africa who are rising up to get rid of the racist regime. Harvard is also following this racist policy. It has over $400 million invested in companies which operate in racist South Africa. By inviting Shultz, Harvard is spitting on the students who are demanding divestment and on all who support the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

By inviting Shultz, Harvard is endorsing the gunboat diplomacy of Reagan and U.S. imperialism. Shultz helped organize the invasions of Lebanon and Grenada, the bombing of Libya, and countless other acts of aggression and bullying. He is hellbent on restoring a Somoza-style dictatorship in Nicaragua. And just in case anyone missed Harvard's support for such aggression, secretary of war Weinberger and La Prensa editor Violetta Chamorro (the voice of the contras inside Nicaragua) are also honored guests at the anniversary. Also honored will be Tip O'Neill. Harvard supports all the imperialists, be they Republican or Democrat. With its anniversary celebrations, Harvard is saluting the U.S. imperialist empire and the empire is saluting Harvard.

Of course, Harvard likes to present itself as a center of knowledge, truth, science, and art. This is a pompous lie. In reality, Harvard is a "good old boys'' club for the rich, a training ground for the captains of industry and government, and a school that teaches the rich fancy words to cover up their selfish interests. This is what the fireworks, concerts, and sing-alongs are celebrating. Harvard's love affair with such empty-headed thugs as Reagan, Shultz, Weinberger and even Sylvester Stallone shows the bankruptcy of the capitalist ruling class.

But watch out, dear capitalists! You had better dance and sing while you can. Around the world, the workers, peasants and youth are getting fed up with you. Revolutionary struggles are breaking out, from San Salvador to Santiago, from Soweto to Manila. Here in the U.S., workers are launching strikes against concessions, and the fight against U.S. support for apartheid and the contras has started in many cities.

The fight against Reaganism is heating up. Militant mass struggle is the only way to answer the Reaganite offensive and warmongering of the rich. The Democrats from Tip O'Neill to Mel King [a local black liberal] are no opposition to Reagan. They are the liberal face of Reaganism. So while Shultz and O'Neill hob nob with their wealthy friends and patrons at Harvard's 350th, let us get organized for independent mass struggle.

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Marxist-Leninist trade union work in Nicaragua

Workers' Front and the committees of struggle

In July, the MLP,USA organized a delegation of workers and activists to travel to Nicaragua. This was a solidarity tour with the Nicaraguan working people in the face of the criminal U.S.-contra war. In previous issues, we have carried reports on the extensive political activities carried out jointly by our delegation and the comrades of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (formerly MAP-ML) among the workers, soldiers and peasants.

During our tour we had the opportunity to go to the factories and work places to see up close the work of the MLPN and its FO trade union center (Frente Obrero, or Workers Front). This independent organizing of the masses is a vital part of defending and carrying forward the gains of the Nicaraguan revolution.

Frente Obrero, a Revolutionary Trade Union Center

The FO trade union center was forged in the mid-70's under the guidance of the Marxist-Leninist workers of MAP-ML. During the epoch of the Somoza dictatorship, the FO played a militant role in organizing the workers against ruthless exploitation. It was in the forefront of major clashes of the construction workers and other sectors against the regime. The FO also took part in the building of the Popular Anti-Somoza Militias (MILPAS) which, after the Sandinista front (FSLN), made up the second army of the workers' and peasants' insurrection that smashed the U.S.-backed Somoza tyranny.

The 1979 revolution opened the floodgates of the class struggle. Workers took over the factories and the peasants seized land. The FO was in the midst of this struggle, and the FO comrades who went through those days can relate countless inspiring experiences from the workers' control movement and the tidal wave of working class initiative. The FO unions spread to many of the country's key work places.

Meanwhile, the FSLN feared that this workers' upsurge would upset the coalition which it had formed with the bourgeoisie (today's leaders of the contras and the internal counterrevolution). So it came down hard on the workers' movement, and especially on its staunchest representatives, MAP-ML and FO. In 1979 and 1980, over 100 FO leaders were thrown in jail, many for months. And through bureaucratic dictate, the mass firings of FO sympathizers, and sometimes through the dispatch of the army to take over the work place, the FO unions were dismantled and in the main the Sandinista CST unions replaced them.

But the FO was not about to be dislodged from its rightful place in the midst of the revolutionary workers' movement. Step by step the FO has been rebuilding its strength, rallying the workers in the struggle for their own interests and for the defense and development of the revolution.

The situation confronting the Nicaraguan working class is very difficult, and the independent revolutionary organization of the workers faces severe obstacles. During our tour we saw how the FO is trying to address the acute problems facing the workers and some of the means it is using to organize them.

The Committees of Struggle

The FO has had to adjust its methods of organizing to deal with the pressures of the exploiters and the FSLN bureaucracy. There is blacklisting and repression against the FO. And the FO unions have been arbitrarily pushed out or taken over. FO does not put much weight today on contesting the elections to the union leadership, but instead on building up their influence among the base of the workers through rank-and-file "committees of struggle'' with the line of defending the class interests of the workers within the revolution.

The committees of struggle are organizations of the rank-and-file workers in a particular work place who unite to fight for concrete demands. In the course of the day-to-day struggle, they are also used to train the workers in a proletarian stand on the burning political problems of the revolution.

In pushing forward the workers' demands, the committees come up against the capitalist exploiters themselves and against the bureaucratic administration of the enterprises, which frequently works closely with the CST union officialdom.

Committees of Struggle at the Rum Factory and Sugar Complex

The San Antonio sugar complex in Chinandega province provides an example of how the MLPN uses its committees of struggle. San Antonio is the largest sugar mill in Central America and is owned by the millionaire, Pellas, who lives in Miami. The management is appointed by the Sandinistas and the union is CST.

The MLPN has influence in both the sugar complex itself and in the nearby rum factory in the town of Chichigalpa. Recently, FO has been leading various struggles in the rum factory, in particular against low pay and against temporary work contracts.

Wages are a burning issue at the rum factory. The 3500 cordobas that the workers earn per week ($2.80) do not begin to cover their expenses. The typical workday at the factory is 12 hours because the workers cannot survive without the overtime. Through the struggle committee at the rum factory, FO led a successful fight for higher pay.

A particular demand of the struggle was for equal pay for equal work by women, who number 600 strong and are the majority of the work force. Until recently they were paid less than men for the same work. The workers demanded -- and won -- that the women's jobs be reclassified from wage scale two up to scale three.

Temporary work is also a sharp issue at the rum factory. Each worker is hired on an individual month-long contract. Even if he or she remains on the job for years, this contract must be renewed at the end of every month.

Temporary work is an attack on the organization of the workers. A worker showing any sign of militancy will not have his contract renewed. After the struggle over wages, for instance, the CST did not renew the contract of the FO comrade leading the committee and blacklisted him.

Over the last few years the rum factory workers have seen how the CST ignores their demands. As a result they have increasingly been turning to FO to get organized. The CST is very active in trying to stop this motion, threatening and slandering known FO supporters, and trying to buy off militants through bribery.

FO makes use of this situation to point out that it is the Sandinistas' petty-bourgeois stand and program which compels them to fire communists who fight for equal pay for women, while they carefully preserve the profits of the workers' enemy, Pellas.

FO Union Organizes the Workers at the Mauricio Duarte Pig Farm near Managua

While concentrating its work on building up the struggle committees inside the CST unions, the MLPN also strives for open and official leadership of the unions wherever this is possible and useful for organizing the workers. For example, FO won the right to represent the workers at the state-owned pig farm we visited on the outskirts of Managua. This farm is one of a set of five farms, employing 450 workers, which produces 40% of Nicaraguan pork.

Eleven months ago, the workers elected FO as their union. While the CST wanted nothing to do with satisfying their demands, the workers say, FO is organizing them to solve their problems. Under FO some demands have already been won concerning company-paid health care. They have also made contact with the workers at the other farms for the purpose of waging a common struggle. Now the workers are involved in a struggle for greater trade union rights. They are fighting for the union to have a say in disciplinary matters, production goals, and health and safety practices. (It should be noted that although the management of the pig farm does deal with FO as the union, the Ministry of Labor does not officially recognize the FO union.)

There are many such neglected and discontented workers and the MLPN works hard to organize them for the revolution.

A CST Union that Follows an Independent Line

A third example of FO's methods of organization at the work place is Metasa, the largest metallurgical fabricating plant in Nicaragua, located in Tipitapa, outside Managua. Metasa is state-owned and employs 700 workers.

At Metasa the FO' combines two methods of organization. It uses the committees of struggle. But at the same time it influences the CST union at the plant. The union here, including the elected leadership, follows an independent line of defending the workers' interests.

The Metasa workers recently put out their first union shop paper. The Boletin 'El Metalurgico' has been distributed to all the metalworking plants in the country, where it has been received with enthusiasm.

Dealing with the Question of Increasing Production

The first issue of the Boletin raises one of the vital questions of the Nicaraguan workers' movement, that of meeting the workers' needs so that they can increase production and defend the revolution.

The Sandinista government is waging a major campaign for increased production. The nightly news is filled with footage of workers exerting themselves to the maximum, working 12 hours for 8 hours pay. The day we visited Metasa, a CST official gave a speech imploring the workers to extend the working day to 9 1/2 hours with no extra pay, and to volunteer a Sunday of labor on August 23. This is necessary, he said, to offset the effects of the war and the trade embargo.

It is absolutely true that the war is hurting the economy and that production needs to be increased to defend the revolution. The issue is how this will be accomplished.

The workers have already made great sacrifices for this cause, but what are the exploiters doing? They are selling off industrial facilities, sabotaging production, extracting profits, and absorbing the country's resources in the form of tax breaks, profit guarantees and incentives. While the government calls on the workers to increase productivity, it gives incentives and rights to the exploiters, and negates the basic needs and demands of the workers. This has the effect of weakening the workers' enthusiasm for production, which has always been related to their initiative to impose workers' control over production.

The Boletin 'El Metalurgico' carries a petition from the Metasa workers to the Ministry of Labor describing the insufficient wages and malnutrition of the workers there. The workers also told us of the improper equipment and dangerous conditions which they face.

On the other hand, the petition points out, the managers and officials are paid very well and have no such problems. Seeing as it is the workers who must shoulder the tasks of both military defense and production, says the petition, the workers demand that their jobs be reclassified for higher pay in order that they may eat.

The Boletin also carries an appeal for solidarity with the workers at another factory, where a struggle is taking place for the expropriation of the owner and for workers' control of production.

This is an example of how the militant workers are demanding that the rich and not the workers should pay for the economic crisis and the economic burden of the U.S. aggression.

[Photo: FO also organizes among the peasants. Here, the American workers delegation shows its solidarity with armed field hands organized by FO. These peasants have formed a cooperative to seize the land from their landlord.]

[Photo: The Jinotega cooperativists tell the MLP,USA delegation about their struggle against the contras and the landlord, Nicolas Gonzales.]

[Photo: Over 1,000 workers demonstrate in Managua on June 12 in support of the Julio Martinez workers who are fighting for expropriation of the plant's owner and workers' control of production. The banner of the FO contingent at the head of the march reads: "The confiscation of Julio Martinez is a just demand of the workers!"]

[Photo: A steelworker from the MLP delegation gives a solidarity message from his co-workers in the U.S. to the Metasa metalworkers.]

[Photo: MLP,USA tour denounces U.S. imperialism at the gates of the U.S. embassy in Managua, July 31.]

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At the Nicaraguan National Assembly

The Marxist-Leninist delegates are political activists, not talk-shop parliamentarians

Most of our tour in Nicaragua was spent among the masses of people -- in the factories, fields and streets. One exception was the morning our Party's delegation was invited by the National Assembly to observe one of its sessions. The Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (MLPN) has two representatives, and we were able to see their parliamentary work. MLPN uses its position in the assembly to complement its main work, which is organizing the mass struggles of the workers and peasants.

The Sandinistas have patterned the Nicaraguan National Assembly after the usual bourgeois-style of parliamentary body. So, like such bodies around the world, it is not a real functioning body, but a talk shop. It is designed to show the world that parliamentary "political pluralism'' exists in Nicaragua. The real business of "pluralism,'' however, like the real business in the U.S., France, Britain and other parliamentary or congressional democracies, takes place outside parliament. Serious decisions of government are decided through the constant behind-the-scenes dealings between the FSLN and the capitalist opposition.

The National Assembly consists of the ruling Sandinista front, which holds the majority; the bourgeois right-wing opposition parties representing the landlords and capitalists (such as the Conservative Democratic Party, the Popular Social Christian Party, the Independent Liberals, etc.); the pro-Soviet revisionist parties (the Communist Party and the Socialist Party) which vacillate between support for the Sandinista program and criticism of it from the right and which usually vote in a bloc with the right-wing parties; and MLPN, representing the proletariat and poor peasantry.

Using Parliament as an Auxiliary to the Work of Organizing the Masses

MLPN does not work with the expectation of making "breakthroughs'' in parliament. Instead MLPN uses its seats (won in the 1984 elections), and the legal rights associated with these seats, to help in raising political issues before the masses, and in the organizing of popular campaigns of struggle around these issues. MLPN prepares a political position on every question facing the National Assembly.

While the Sandinista officials try to process matters in a routine way, with little or no political discussion, the MLPN raises the vital political and class questions behind every issue. MLPN brings a consistent proletarian voice to the National Assembly. This changes the character of the discussions. This often results in the class contradictions coming to the fore, out from behind the indecisive and confusing wrangling of the Sandinistas and the bourgeois parties.

The Debate on Telephone Bills

On the morning of our visit, the subject up for debate was phone bills. The right-wing Independent Liberals (PLI) made a motion that, since the government-run phone company is inefficient and behind on its billing, customers should not have to pay. A PLI delegate, representing the capitalists, who are the main telephone customers, pretended to argue from the point of view of an ordinary person defending himself against government inefficiency and bureaucracy.

In addition to trying to get his fellow bourgeois off the hook for their phone bills, the PLI delegate was also attempting to lay the basis for a case that telephone service should be returned to the hands of the private capitalists for profiteering. In fact, the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie would like this to happen to all industry and service.

For the PLI to argue in the name of the ordinary citizen beset with late phone bills is the height of hypocrisy. In the first place the masses of people in Nicaragua do not have phone service. Their employers, the big companies that support PLI, do not pay them enough to be able to afford it. Secondly, the Sandinista phone service would be more efficient and more widely available if the government had more revenue. There would be more revenue precisely if these rich Nicaraguans not only paid their phone bills, but also were made to bear the cost of the economic crisis through taxes, fines, etc.

MLPN's delegate, Carlos Cuadra, made maximum use of the seemingly routine issue of phone bills to carry out a political exposure of the right-wing parties. He denounced the PLI for trying to argue in the name of the masses and demanded that big business be held accountable for all of its phone expenses, no matter how far behind the billing. At the same time MLPN asserted that an ordinary individual could not be expected to pay for more than a year of late bills because the lump sum would be too high. This stand is consistent with MLPN's broad campaigns among the masses that the rich, and-not the working masses must bear the cost of the economic crisis.

MLPN's remarks brought an angry reaction from the bourgeois in the assembly who loudly complained that the communists are trying to put all the capitalists out of business.

MLPN Denounces the Blanket Amnesty

Later that afternoon, after our delegation had left, MLPN spoke out again to denounce a proposal for renewing amnesty to counterrevolutionaries. The Sandinista amnesty policy (in effect since the summer of 1985) allows traitors who have taken up arms against the revolution to return to the country in complete freedom. This is not just a question of smoothing the way for the return of ordinary people who had been misled by the contras and now want to come back. This is a blanket and unconditional amnesty for all contras, whether leaders, big criminals from the time of Somoza, or whatever. For example, President Ortega personally invited the contra military leader Eden Pastora, who is specially hated by the masses as a self-seeking and two-faced traitor, to return to Nicaragua without penalty as an "ordinary businessman.''

Not Just Speeches, But Mass Actions

MLPN's parliamentary work serves to supplement its principal work of organizing among the toilers, and it sometimes organizes mass actions of the workers on key issues being debated in the assembly. Thus, as Carlos Cuadra pointed out to us concerning MLPN's attitude to the assembly, the MLPN delegates are not parliamentarians, but political activists.

[Photo: The MAP-ML office in Chinandega.]

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The World in Struggle


General strike against austerity in Ecuador

The workers of Ecuador staged a nationwide general strike on September 17. For the last two years Ecuadoran workers have been suffering under the austerity program of President Febres Cordero, a conservative politician in the Reaganite mold.

Febres Cordero announced a new round of austerity measures the latter part of August. The major provision of this was making the Ecuadoran currency (sucre) float against the U.S. dollar, which meant an immediate 35% devaluation of the sucre and a corresponding price rise in consumer goods for the masses. And there were no accompanying measures of relief for the masses.

In protest a general strike was called for September 17 by the trade unions.

The government declared the strike illegal and called out the army, but workers went ahead with the strike. They shut down most factories in Ecuador and staged street demonstrations in many cities. In clashes with police, workers were wounded by gunfire in Quito, Esmeraldas, and Guayaquil. Cordero also arrested the leaders of the United Labor Front (FUT), the main trade union center.

The austerity drive and the fierce repression by Febres Cordero show the difficult situation faced by Ecuadoran workers. But the mass strike action points the way to further development of the workers' resistance to the capitalist offensive.

Anti-NATO protest in Holland

On September 21 one thousand demonstrators marched to the harbor in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to protest the presence of 22 NATO warships carrying out war maneuvers. The protesters painted slogans on cars and buildings as they marched, and two marchers were arrested for throwing paint at riot policemen. The demonstrators also protested the NATO armada by sailing into the harbor in small boats, where they confronted harbor police.

Strikes against military government in Bangladesh

The military government of General Ershad in Bangladesh is preparing for presidential elections next month, through which the general will be anointed as an elected and democratic leader.

In the meantime, it is reported that strikes have shut down newspapers, universities and hospitals in Bangladesh.

Five thousand journalists and print workers went out on strike September 21. They were demanding that the government allow the reopening of an English-language daily newspaper in the capital, Dhaka, which has been shut down by the military regime.

Two thousand, five hundred university teachers began a strike September 3 for higher pay. The teachers are also demanding autonomy for the six universities of Bangladesh, in an effort to reduce government violence against campus political activities.

Eight thousand doctors are also on a work stoppage demanding more job positions for new graduates of medical schools. The strike has stopped all medical services except emergencies.

Student protests in S. Korea

Students from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, showered police with rocks during a demonstration September 23. The students were protesting the use of the Asian Games to prettify the Chun Doo Hwan dictatorship in South Korea. Chun's government is spending billions of dollars on the Games in an attempt to gain international prestige. Meanwhile Seoul's university campuses have been rocked by militant protests, and Chun sent in the army to close down the campuses. As the picture indicates, however, this has not stopped the protests.

[Photo: Korean students confront police in militant protest against the Asian Games.]

Brazilian strike wave against Samey's austerity drive

A new strike wave, based largely among white-collar workers, is sweeping the major cities of Brazil. The workers are demanding wage increases to keep pace with Brazil's continuing inflation.

Bus drivers for the city of Sao Paulo went out on strike at the end of August demanding a 40% wage hike. No matter that the Brazilian constitution allows only the president to declare a state of emergency, Sao Paulo Mayor Janio Quadros went ahead and ordered a citywide state of emergency and forced the drivers back to work. They were eventually granted a 5.7% wage increase, a paltry sum considering the price hikes in Brazil.

Then on September 11, over 750,000 bank workers went on strike, shutting down the country's banks and stock exchanges. At the same time 230,000 government health workers walked out, shutting down hospitals. They were joined by some 300,000 teachers, doctors and government officials in Sao Paulo state. That even doctors and government officials are joining the strike wave against President Jose Sarney's austerity drive shows the severity of Samey's program.

Meanwhile Samey himself was in the United States for talks at the White House. Samey also traveled to New York for a meeting of the Pan-American Society, a club of bankers, corporate executives and diplomats. Samey delivered a speech calling for increased foreign investment in Brazil and pledging to make Brazil a "triumph of Western values." Afterward he was awarded the Society's Gold Medal by billionaire David Rockefeller.

This is the same Jose Samey whose administration is promoted as the democratic "New Republic" by revisionist and reformist forces in Brazil.

Bolivian miners denounce revisionist sellout

September saw new developments in the Bolivian tin miners' struggle against the Paz Estenssoro government's drive to shut down mines and lay off thousands of miners.

The miners had continued their nationwide strike even after Paz Estenssoro imposed a state of siege at the end of August. (See the September 1 issue of The Workers' Advocate.) The miners also took up the tactic of mass hunger strikes. By the second week of September, 2,000 miners in various towns were involved in hunger strikes.

But during the weekend of September 13-14, reformist leaders of the tin miners' union reached a sellout agreement under which strikes and protests would be called off but the government would still eliminate thousands of tin miners' jobs. Since then, there is word of rumblings of rebellion from the rank and file against the union leaders.

Despite the repression unleashed by the state of siege, the possibilities were not exhausted for the miners to continue their struggle. The Bolivian miners are a popular rallying center for the working class as a whole -- two nationwide general strikes were held in August in their support. Despite the fall in tin prices, the metal still remains a major source of foreign exchange for the country. And moreover, the conservative government of Paz Estenssoro has become increasingly isolated among the masses, with the collapse of the economy and his invitation to Reagan to send in U.S. troops to help in the "war on drugs."

But the Catholic Church stepped in to save Paz's bacon. They set up negotiations between the government and the miners' union leaders which resulted in the sellout agreement.

Paz Estenssoro has been threatening to dismantle the state-owned mining corporation COMIBOL, selling the more profitable mines to private investors and giving the unprofitable mines to miners' cooperatives to operate, if they wanted. In this direction the government has reduced the miners' workforce by almost one-third over the last year -- down from 27,000 to 19,000.

For their part the miners were demanding that the government maintain state ownership of all the mines and that it stop closing mines. To their shame the miners' union leaders agreed to a plan whereby the government will maintain COMIBOL but is given freedom to close mines and eliminate jobs.

The current union leaders are dominated by leaders of the pro-Soviet revisionist Communist Party. Simon Reyes, head of the union who conducted the negotiations, is also the leader of the CP. The revisionists were willing to defend state ownership but not to defend the miners from being squeezed by the capitalist government. This is not surprising considering that pro-Soviet revisionism glorifies state ownership even under capitalism as virtually a socialist institution.

But the revisionists are not finding it smooth sailing. There are reports that militant miners are denouncing the union chiefs as traitors. In one meeting attended by 1,000 miners, workers voted to demand the resignation of the entire leadership of the union. They also worked out plans to continue the struggle.

Liberal regime sends police against strikers in Uruguay

Uruguay, like Argentina and Brazil, has gone through a period of "democratization" during the last couple of years. Increasingly isolated by mass discontent, the military junta turned over power to a new civilian bourgeois government. The new liberal president, Julio Maria Sanguinetti, called for "national reconciliation" -- meaning in the first place no prosecution of military leaders for crimes they committed while in power, but also throwing in some social-democratic rhetoric about the "rights of labor."

Up until now Sanguinetti's government has relied on such rhetoric and on collaboration with the reformist trade union leaders to keep down the working class struggle. But this changed on September 3 when police entered a hospital to evict striking workers who were occupying the hospital.

The strike began August 11 and included all of the approximately 2,000 people employed at the hospital. The strike was strongest among the lower-paid workers, however. Some doctors and nurses continued working. To strengthen the strike the workers occupied the hospital, and this led to some sharp confrontations between supporters and opponents of the strike.

Spouting "democratic" rhetoric, President Sanguinetti said he would settle the issue with a "plebiscite" of the workers. So on September 1 the government sponsored a vote on whether to continue or end the strike. Two-thirds of the hospital employees boycotted the vote, but of the votes cast almost all were for ending the strike. So Sanguinetti declared that "democracy has spoken" and called for the strike to be ended.

The next day, the trade union representing the hospital employees held its own vote. In a mass meeting, with about 1,200 workers present, the union members voted to continue the strike.

Sanguinetti responded on September 3, by sending in the police and using force to evict the strikers.

The military regime is gone for now in Uruguay. But, in fact, in any rule by the capitalists -- even behind the smiles, rhetoric and slogans of democracy -- the police and army remain intact, ready to suppress the workers' struggles. As long as the regime defends capitalist exploitation, it must of necessity be a more or less barbaric dictatorship over the working class. The workers can only obtain extensive rights by overthrowing capitalist rule. "Democratization" in Uruguay, for all its halfhearted nature, has opened up a wider field for the political activity of the toilers. But they must have no illusions in the half-rights they have won; instead they must use these half-rights to carry their struggles forward and organize for the socialist revolution, in which the toiling majority will become the true rulers of Uruguay.

Homeless earthquake victims protest in Mexico

September 19 was the anniversary of the Mexico City earthquake, which killed as many as 20,000 and left 35,000 people -- especially poor and working class people -- homeless.

On this day, President Miguel de la Madrid held an official rally where he declared a day of national mourning. But the masses took a different attitude. An hour later, tens of thousands of people, organized by a coalition of the homeless, marched on the National Palace to protest the lack of decent housing for the victims of the earthquake. In reply to de la Madrid, they chanted, "Corrupt government, we are mourning for you."

One year after the earthquake there are still 30,000 people living in tents along Mexico City streets. Despite its pledges to rebuild, the government has constructed very few housing units, and many of those constructed are so shoddy that they already have deep cracks in the concrete block walls. Many of the homeless say they would prefer remaining in tents than moving into these death traps. It is widely held that the international relief aid that Mexico received after the quake has been mainly pocketed by the officials of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

But the housing scandal for the earthquake victims is just one of the problems facing the toilers of Mexico. Inflation rose 8% for the month of August alone, and may reach a record high this year. In the last four years the real purchasing power of the masses has plummeted sharply.

At the same time unemployment is growing by leaps and bounds as Mexico's economy continues its depression. Oil exports are down while the auto industry is stagnant.

The government is trying to cover up this situation with some creative new statistics. A worker seeking employment is now defined as "employed" if he a) worked for one hour during the previous week, or b) thinks he may get work sometime in the next month. With these criteria the government came up with the latest unemployment rate of 3.9%, a figure laughed at by all private economists.

There is deep discontent among the workers and peasants of Mexico with the PRI government. A right-wing capitalist party, the National Action Party (PAN), is actively seeking to ride this discontent into power. But PAN is no friend of the Mexican toilers; it is a party that advocates Reagan-like "free enterprise" policies.

What is amazing is that part of the reformist left in Mexico is allying with PAN against the PRI regime. This is apparently justified in the name of unity against PRI's corrupt electoral practices. But an alliance with PAN means helping it in swindling the masses. This is nothing but treachery.

The way to struggle against the PRI government is not through hitching the masses to the coattails of the disaffected, conservative bourgeoisie, but through building up the independent movement of the working class and toilers.

On her pilgrimage to the U.S.

Aquino pledges allegiance to U.S. imperialism

(In mid-September, Philippines President Corazon Aquino paid a visit to Washington and several other cities in the U.S. The article below is based on a leaflet issued by the San Francisco Bay Area Branch of the Marxist-Leninist Party on the occasion of her visit there.)

Since her arrival, Corazon Aquino has met with the top leaders of the U.S. government. She had meetings with Reagan, Secretary of State Shultz, and Defense Secretary Weinberger. Her entourage has also held consultations with leaders of corporations and banks, including the director and manager of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Praise for the U.S. War in Viet Nam

In her speeches, Aquino has lavished the U.S. government with praise, calling it the pillar of freedom and democracy. In her address to the joint session of the U.S. Congress she said, "You have spent many lives and much treasure to bring freedom to many lands that were reluctant to receive it.... "

Could she have been referring to the reluctant Vietnamese who fought for decades against U.S. "democracy?" Undoubtedly. And Cory would know this real well, since her husband Benigno worked with the CIA in Viet Nam in the late 1950's.

Maybe her reference also includes Nicaragua, where the U.S. is spending "much treasure" to fund the contras. Or perhaps she meant the Chilean people who have never realized that the CIA-directed coup was bringing them "freedom."

But wait a second! Marcos was never "reluctant" to receive U.S. "treasure." He openly supported and was supported by the U.S. Maybe Marcos was a freedom fighter after all! Tsk! Tsk! Cory, how did you ever get yourself into such a muddle? By your craven support for U.S. imperialism, that's how! How easily your thin populist cover slips off.

Pledge to Defend U.S. Imperialist Interests

In her meetings, Cory reiterated her pledge to protect the super-profits that flow from the $2.6 billion U.S. investments in the Philippines. She also promised full repayment of the $26 billion foreign debt that Marcos incurred during his rule, and she agreed to keep the U.S. military bases in the Philippines to help guard the U.S. sphere of influence in South and Southeast Asia.

Finally, she promised to make the Philippines "safe" for U.S. interests. She assured Reagan and Congress that her "peace talks" -- backed by her (and Marcos') army -- will once and for all crush the revolutionary guerrilla movement. To resounding applause from the ladies and gentlemen of Congress, she declared, "I will not stand by and allow an insurgent leadership to spurn our offer of peace and kill our young soldiers." And she added, "I understand that force may be necessary before mercy."

What Aquino Won in Return Won't Help the Toilers

With such stands, Aquino won the hearts and minds of Reagan and Congress. In return, her regime was promised a total of $310 million in economic and military aid, plus a new loan package from the World Bank. As well, the International Monetary Fund indicated its willingness to renegotiate the repayment of the foreign debt.

What will this U.S. "support and aid" mean to the Filipino people and the Philippines? Aquino says that it will "help the Filipinos." But the fact is that through its investments and loans the U.S. has kept the Philippines a poverty-stricken nation for almost a century. The U.S. has controlled and owned businesses and banks and even the natural resources in the Philippines. Every year, the U.S. takes millions in super-profits out of the country, causing economic and financial crisis which is in turn shouldered by the Filipino workers and peasants.

An Alliance of Exploiters

Now, why would a "nice lady" like Corazon Aquino, popularly portrayed as some kind of heroine, a progressive, nationalist, an anti-fascist, look to the U.S. for support?

Because Aquino and the new regime represent the basic interests of the Filipino capitalists and landlords. The new regime represents the class of rich Filipinos who in the last 85 years have built up their wealth with the help of U.S. loans and investments. They owe the survival of their class to U.S. imperialism. Aquino herself is a very wealthy woman and a daughter of one of the wealthiest families in the country, the Cojuangco family, with longstanding interests in banking and sugar. So are a number of her closest associates.

Clearly the interests of U.S. imperialism coincide with the interests of the class in power in the Philippines today. Both get fat off the toil of the Filipino workers and peasants. And both intend to continue doing so. Cory's pilgrimage to the U.S. was a trip to confirm and consolidate this unity and to prepare the forces against the revolutionary drive of the masses.

[Photo: Demonstrators protest at the gates of the presidential palace demanding an end to U.S. bases in the Philippines.]

Down with Pinochet's state of siege!

General Augusto Pinochet, the fascist dictator of Chile, imposed a state of siege in Chile on September 8.

This was the day after a daring commando raid nearly wiped him out. The attack took place as Pinochet was traveling in a convoy back to Santiago from his weekend retreat. As Pinochet's motorcade went over a bridge, it was attacked by a dozen men armed with machine guns and bazookas. The guerrillas blew up three cars, killing five of Pinochet's bodyguards. Pinochet himself was wounded slightly in the hand. The attackers apparently all escaped.

Pinochet Unleashes Death Squads

The next day Pinochet went on TV to announce a 90-day state of siege. Pinochet vowed to "wage war on Marxism" and said, "Now we will begin the war and all those who speak of human rights must be expelled from the country or put behind bars."

Pinochet's state of siege gives him full power to detain or exile anybody for any (or no) reason, and to suspend rights of press and assembly. On the very first day, troops and tanks surrounded working class neighborhoods of Santiago and began arresting dozens of leftists and community activists. Six publications and even the European bourgeois Reuters new service were suspended.

Meanwhile, Pinochet's death squads were also set into motion. Since 1981 right-wing death squads have killed 300 people. On September 8 alone, four people were taken from their homes and shot.

One of these was Jose Carrasco Tapai, an editor of the magazine Analisis.

This magazine merely expressed a moderate oppositional stand. This summer Analisis had published interviews with leaders of parties in the Civic Assembly, the liberal-reformist coalition that organized the successful July 2-3 general strike. But even this is not to be tolerated. Tapai was murdered and Analisis fell victim to the state of siege.

While prohibiting opposition rallies, Pinochet organized a rally in his support on September 11. This was on the anniversary of the 1973 coup that brought him to power. All government civil servants were ordered to dress up in workers' clothes and were bused into the main square of the capital, where they dutifully demonstrated before the watchful eyes of Pinochet's troops.

On September 11, in the teeth of Pinochet's state of siege and when he was trying to show off his "mass support," there were two demonstrations right inside Santiago against the regime. Pinochet's police thugs attacked both demonstrations, but they could not prevent them from occurring.

[Photo: Despite the state of siege in Chile thousands turned out for the funeral of Jose Carrasco, a journalist murdered by Pinochet's death squads. The funeral march turned into a militant protest against Pinochet's regime.]

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Why the refugees flee:

Down with the persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka!

In August, the plight of Tamil refugees from the South Asian country of Sri Lanka hit the headlines in North America, when more than 150 Tamils were discovered in small boats off the Newfoundland coast of Canada. But while the news media used the occasion for dirty anti-foreigner hysteria, they did not clarify anything about why tens of thousands of Tamils are going to desperate lengths to flee their country.

In Sri Lanka, a small island country just south of India, the majority of the people belong to the Sinhala nationality while the largest minority, some 17% of the population, are Tamils.

Actually, there are two distinct Tamil communities, the indigenous "Jaffna Tamils,and the "plantation Tamils," descended from plantation laborers brought over from India by the British from the 1830's on. The plantation Tamils are kept as a caste, still slaving away in the tea plantations; but it is the Jaffna Tamils who are bearing the brunt of a special war of national oppression by the ruling Sinhala bourgeoisie.

A Brutal War

For decades the Sinhala-dominated bourgeois government has systematically oppressed the Tamils. They have been denied their rights in language, religion, education, jobs, etc.

This oppression has worsened in recent years under the right-wing administration of J.R. Jayewardene. Jayewardene's regime launched murderous pogroms against the Tamils in 1983, forcing tens of thousands to flee the major cities. Then he began a war against the Tamils in their traditional homelands of the north and east.

For their part, the Tamils have long struggled for their national rights. This movement became particularly militant in the 1980's and armed Tamil youth have mounted stiff resistance to the government's military occupation of the Tamil homelands.

Today the government, while pretending an interest in "peace" talks, is continuing its war against the Tamils. Government forces carry out raids against Tamil villages from the land, sea and air, while government-organized death squads assassinate Tamil leaders in the towns.

Jayewardene has also supplemented his military effort with a system of legal repression that is used against all the Sri Lankan toilers. The government regards it as treason to express any sympathy for the Tamils' right to self- determination, and it backs this up with "anti-terrorist" laws that rival those of South Africa. Several thousand political activists are presently detained under these laws.

In his war, Jayewardene receives the support of the generals of Pakistan, the Israeli secret service, and U.S. imperialism. Earlier this summer, his Prime Minister paid a friendly visit to consult with the U.S. government.

Bourgeois Nationalism Weakens the Liberation Struggle

The Tamils have put up a determined resistance to Jayewardene's war, but their struggle is weakened by the bourgeois nationalist ideas that are seen among all the major Tamil political forces.

Among the Tamil groups there is an outright bourgeois liberal trend that previously was the parliamentary opposition in Sri Lanka. It does not stand for mass struggle. Instead it seeks a deal with the Sinhala bourgeoisie which would allow it various privileges.

Then there are militant groups that organize guerrilla struggle and demand independence for a Tamil state called Eelam. While they show more spirit in the struggle against national oppression, they too are influenced by bourgeois nationalism. And contrary to how they portray it, bourgeois nationalism, even of a militant variety, does not strengthen but it weakens the struggle.

For one thing, this leads to blurring the distinction between the Sinhala toilers and the Sinhala bourgeois establishment. This has led certain Tamil forces to carry out revenge acts against ordinary Sinhala civilians. But this only undermines the ability to gain support for the Tamils among the other Sri Lankan masses.

Even more disastrously, bourgeois nationalism mistakenly leads all the Tamil organizations to look for salvation through the capitalist government of neighboring India.

For any organizations that are not outright bourgeois but claim to be interested in the interests of the toilers, it is suicidal to look to the Indian ruling class for support. Considering that the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is the largest homeland of the Tamil people, where 50 million Tamils live, it is natural for the masses in India to sympathize with the struggle of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. But both the Indian Tamil bourgeoisie, which rules Tamil Nadu, and the Indian central government are only interested in expanding their influence and in shoring up the position of the Tamil bourgeoisie among the Tamils in Sri Lanka. They will actively help crush any current tending towards revolutionary stands.

After all, take a look at the plight of the toilers in Indian Tamil Nadu, to see how the bourgeoisie in India treats "its" masses. In fact, Indian Tamil Nadu, where the state government is run by the Tamil bourgeoisie, is notorious for some of the most brutal treatment of leftist political prisoners.

Support the Right of the Tamils for Self-Determination! For the Unity of the Toilers of Sri Lanka!

But despite the criticisms we have of the Tamil forces, we strongly hold that the Tamil people of Sri Lanka have a just struggle against national oppression, and they fully deserve the right of self-determination.

However, we do not believe that the demand for secession, for an independent Tamil state, is the best policy for the Tamil toilers. An independent Eelam would have great difficulty not falling under the hegemony of the Indian bourgeoisie. What's more, the Tamil toilers of Sri Lanka are intermingled with the toilers of other nationalities in Sri Lanka. These ties are beneficial for the possibilities of waging a united struggle against the Sri Lankan bourgeoisie.

We hold that the most effective struggle, even for the right to Tamil self-determination, is unity with the other toilers of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan bourgeoisie is a brutal oppressor of all the workers and peasants, and even in the course of its war against the Tamils, it has strengthened its hand against the other workers and the left generally. There are in fact favorable conditions for united struggle.

This requires that the Sinhala workers be organized to defend the right of the Tamil people for self-determination. This is a question of great importance. In fact, one of the reasons for the strength of nationalist influence among the Tamils is a historic failure of the Sinhala-based left to stand up against Sinhala chauvinism. In fact, the major reformist left parties long tailed after the bourgeois Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which is one of the most chauvinist anti-Tamil parties in the country.

Through building unity in revolutionary struggle, the working people of Sri Lanka must work for a new state which is based not on national inequality but upon the free and voluntary union of all the nationalities.

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On the burning questions in the world Marxist-Leninist movement

Silent stagnation or rank-and-file discussion

At the ninth international youth camp in Managua, a controversy broke out over our Party. (See the September 1, 1986 issue of The Workers Advocate.) Delegation leaders from certain countries wanted to expel our Party from the international movement for discussing, in our press, the errors of the Party of Labor of Albania and the problems and controversies in the current international Marxist-Leninist movement. Some of these leaders claimed to agree with our Party on various issues but condemned us for saying these things in public. Others disagreed with our stands. But in both cases they denounced our Party and put pressure on the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua for its vigorous fraternal relations with us.

This raises an important issue. How should differences be handled? Do the rank-and-file communists and revolutionary activists around the world have the right to take part in deciding the controversial issues? Or should everything be decided by a handful of leaders, after which the communists should be put under discipline to defend these decisions?

The Theory of the Silent Polemic

The leadership of the Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) is among those who have condemned our Party.

At one time, these comrades held that differences existed in the world movement, that they couldn't be shuffled aside, and that they were serious. They even talked about the need for the "Leninist tradition of polemic" to deal with these questions. But the polemic they called for was an "internal polemic," a secret polemic, a polemic that the rank and file never hears -- in fact, a polemic that no one has ever heard.

This idea was put forward by party leader Raul Marco and endorsed by the CPS(ML) leadership in an expanded Central Committee plenum in 1982. Comrade Marco's speech on this question at this meeting was published by the CPS(ML) as a pamphlet.

In this speech Comrade Marco first talked eloquently about the need for the discussion of errors and right opportunism:

"We see cases of clear deviation from principles, of clear positions of right opportunism and chauvinism that lead, if they are not rectified, to the swamp of revisionism. But what are we to do? Be silent because of the 'independence' of each party and leave it to continue the process of degeneration? No.... We say and we will say clearly what we think, without ridiculous fears about polemics making us fall silent. Because this polemic serves to clarify ideas and concepts, to correct errors if they aren't stubborn,... For this we cannot fall silent as this would be, besides cowardice, scorn for the peoples and the toilers of the countries in question and, as well, breaking with the Leninist tradition of polemicizing, of censuring and not giving quarter to those that -- consciously or unconsciously -- have deviated or distorted the laws and principles of Marxism." ("On Some Questions of the International Movement," speech at an expanded plenum of the Central Committee, October 3, 1982. Translation by The Workers' Advocate staff.)

What more need be said?

But Comrade Marco immediately goes on to say that the polemic should be silent. He states: "We are of the opinion, that while there exists a possibility to correct the mistaken ones, and for this it is necessary that they be honorable, the polemic should develop at the internal level and not publicly." (Ibid.)

A secret and silent polemic is a contradiction in terms.

In fact, since then, the CPS(ML) has not spoken openly about its views on the controversial questions in the world Marxist-Leninist movement. And it has not spoken either about elements it thinks are incorrigible or elements who could be corrected. It has maintained the silent polemic.

Leninism on the Need for Principled Discussion Before the Rank and File

Furthermore the theory of the "silent polemic" violates Leninism. Leninism does not stand for blind, bourgeois, mechanical discipline, but for conscious, communist discipline in building revolutionary organizations. Again and again Lenin dealt with the controversial questions of the communist movement in front of the rank-and-file communists. For example, when he denounced economism, he didn't keep this internal, but wrote his famous book What Is To Be Done?

Lenin, in 1906, in the midst of the struggle against the Menshevik rightists, wrote as follows:

"We have more than once enunciated our theoretical views on the importance of discipline and on how this concept is to be understood in the party of the working class. We defined it as: unity of action, freedom of discussion and criticism. Only such discipline is worthy of the democratic party of the advanced class.... Organization means unity of action, unity of practical operations. But every action is valuable, of course, only because and insofar as it serves to push things forward and not backward, insofar as it serves to unite the proletariat ideologically, to elevate, and not degrade, corrupt or weaken it. Organization hot based on principle is meaningless, and in practice converts the workers into a miserable appendage of the bourgeoisie in power." ("Party Discipline and the Fight Against the Pro-Cadet Social-Democrats," Collected Works, Vol. 11, pp. 320-1)

Lenin's words ring true today. He was by no means exaggerating when he pointed out that silence on the major issues facing the movement, that failure to mobilize the workers into deciding the major questions of the movement, leads to subservience to the bourgeoisie in power. Have we not seen that the rightist and liquidationist currents in the communist movement have led so far that, for example, the Communist Party of Brazil has ended up in support of the bourgeois government of Samey?

Stalin on Differences Within the Communist Movement

For years Stalin followed Lenin on these questions. He identified the lack of discussion of the burning issues as one of the reasons why revolutionary parties degenerate. For example, in December 1926 he gave a report to the Executive Committee of the Communist International in which he stated:

"How do the Social-Democratic parties of the West exist and develop nowadays? Have they inner-party contradictions, disagreements based on principle? Of course, they have. Do they disclose these contradictions and try to overcome them honestly and openly in sight of the mass of the party membership? No, of course not.... This is one of the reasons for the decline of West-European Social-Democracy, which was once revolutionary, and is now reformist." ("Once More on the Social-Democratic Deviation in Our Party," at the Seventh Enlarged Plenum of the ECCI, Works, Vol. 9, pp. 4-5)

Later Stalin changed his mind on this and other principles of Leninism, and he helped foster the backward turn in the line of the international communist movement of the mid-930's. At the same time, the discussion of controversial questions in the communist movement more and more died out.

What was the result? Such a change helped degenerate the communist movement, just as Stalin said it had done to the social-democratic movement. The damage done to the movement became obvious and open as Khrushchovite revisionism took over in the Soviet Union and in much of the world movement.

The Sad Results of Silence

What has been the result today of the method of silence, the method of forbidding the communists to discuss the vexed questions of the international movement, of the practice of slurring over principled controversies?

At the time when the struggle against the "three worlds" theory was at its height, many questions facing the world communist movement came out into the open. It was not the "internal polemic" against Chinese revisionism, but the public discussion of this issue before the entire world that aroused the enthusiasm of the Marxist-Leninist activists.

But by the 8th Congress of the PLA in 1981 a different situation existed. Among other things, it was apparent that the PLA was floundering with respect to the issues facing the world Marxist-Leninist movement. But no open discussion was held in the world movement of this or other problems. Certain party leaderships claimed they knew the problem with the PLA, but put heavy pressure on others not to deal with it. From then till now, these leaders have not only denied in public what they said in private, but they have exalted the PLA to the sky. They went against Lenin's teachings that "...the proletariat needs truth, and there is nothing more harmful to its cause than plausible, respectable, petty-bourgeois lies." ("The Tasks of the Third International/Ramsay MacDonald on the Third International," Collected Works, Vol. 29, p. 501)

This silence on burning issues has been the dominant practice among much of the world movement for too many years. And the result has been repeated fiasco. The rightist and liquidationist errors have been allowed to grow, unopposed, until they corrupted entire parties in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, etc. And, in essence, the same tactics that led these parties down the garden path are now being trumpeted as the acme of wisdom.

The CPS(ML) itself has been harmed by its silence on the burning issues. The CPS(ML) leadership has been taking up increasingly wrong tactical and strategic views, and it is reinforcing these ideas in the name of glorifying the Spanish Civil War tactics of the 1930's.

Return to the Path of Leninism!

But this is only one part of the present situation. There are also Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations that are fighting against the rightist and petty-bourgeois nationalist influences. By this fight, they not only strengthen themselves, but help strengthen the international Marxist-Leninist movement.

Marxist-Leninists! Class conscious workers! The future of the world Marxist-Leninist movement is in your hands! Make sure that your action is careful, well-considered and revolutionary! Revolutionary Leninism is on your side when you insist on intervening in the important controversies of the world movement, when you insist on deciding the issues of principle!

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What are its lessons for today?

Revolution and Civil War in Spain

[Photo: See back page]

More on the backward turn in the line of the international communist movement at the Seventh Congress of the CI in 1935

It began fifty years ago, on the eve of the Second World War. It was a momentous clash between the working masses and the fascist offensive of international capitalism. This was the Spanish Civil War, in which the proletariat and the other toilers inspired the whole world with their revolutionary heroism.

With this issue, The Workers' Advocate joins the debate that has broken out anew this anniversary year over the lessons to be drawn from the events in Spain. In particular, we will outline our assessments of the line pursued by the Communist Party of Spain, and what this showed about the change in the general line of the international communist movement from the time of the Seventh Congress of the Communist International in 1935.

Over the last three years our Party has been publishing its studies of the orientation of the Communist International on the problems of the united front. Our aim is to revive and defend Leninist united front tactics in the face of the rightist and liquidationist distortions of the revisionists and other pseudo-"Marxists."

Up to the mid-1930's, the CI fought for a revolutionary line. But at that time, formalized at the Seventh Congress of the CI, a "new tactical orientation" was adopted. It was advertised as a new and better line for facing up to the worldwide offensive of fascism. But in reality it was a negation of the Marxist-Leninist principles on which the CI had been built; a step backwards which weakened the struggle against fascism; a turn to the right which undermined the communist parties and opened the doors to the later complete betrayal by the modern revisionists.

The leadership of the CI made this turn under the cover of highfalutin demagogy and double-meaning phrases. That it why it is important to look at how this "new line" was translated into practice. We have pointed out how the turn in line adopted at the Seventh Congress of the CI backed up the policy of the American revisionist Earl Browder which placed the CPUSA at the tail of the Roosevelt administration's liberal-labor coalition. We also published a study of the policy of the French Communist Party, whose "Popular Front" tactics were heralded as a model of the CI's new line for the anti-fascist struggle. As it turned out, the French experience was an example of placing more weight in the hollow promises of a reformist parliamentary combination than in the mass anti-fascist struggle.

On the surface, the "new line" may appear to have been a greater success in Spain. After all, in Spain the workers and peasants rose up in arms against the fascist onslaught, striking hard blows against Franco's fascist plans as well as against the German nazis and Italian fascists who intervened on Franco's behalf. The heroic defense of Madrid and the other Spanish battlefields became symbols of anti-fascist resistance around the world.

The name of the Communist International was inseparable from this struggle. The CP of Spain itself played a critical role. Among the political forces in Spain, it was the party that best understood the burning necessity of the war against the fascists, and it had the greatest level of organization and discipline for carrying out this war. Moreover, the CI organized a powerful worldwide solidarity movement, including the legendary International Brigade volunteers who hurled themselves onto the anti-fascist barricades.

Nonetheless, despite all the heroism and sacrifice of the working masses and the communists, the orientation pursued by the CI and CP in the Spanish Civil War was fundamentally flawed. If one strips away the clouds of nostalgia surrounding the Spanish events, the only conclusion to be drawn is that, given the heroic and determined struggle of the communists and working masses, they could have accomplished much more if it weren't for the limits of this orientation. Just as in France, the U.S. and the other countries, in Spain also the "new line" of the Seventh Congress of the CI added up to a wrong and harmful policy.

Below we will outline some of the principal failings of the communists' orientation in Spain. But first let us look at the main forces involved in the conflict.

Revolution and Civil War

By the late 20's, the old monarchist Spain was crumbling. Alongside the semi-feudal estates and the vast holdings of the Catholic church, modern capitalism was rapidly gaining ground. Under the blows of the world economic crisis and the upsurge of the workers and peasants, the Primo de Rivera dictatorship was broken and King Alfonso soon fled, giving way to the Second Republic in April, 1931. A coalition of the social-democratic PSOE (Socialist Workers Party of Spain) and the left wing of the bourgeois republican parties formed the new government.

But the new Republic satisfied no one. The hopes of the workers and peasants that the new government would bring them a better life were soon dashed. And, on the other side, the hopes of the ruling classes that the change in government would stem the revolutionary tide also proved illusory; the big capitalists, landlords, generals, and priests cursed the Republic as it proved ineffective in putting down the growing upheaval among the toilers.

The government moved rightward, with the reformist coalition being replaced by a more right-wing republican coalition, and eventually the pro-fascist CEDA was brought aboard the cabinet. The regime resorted to massacres against the revolts of the workers and peasants. In October 1934, the Republic called in General Franco and his foreign legion to crush the heroic uprising of the Asturias miners. Meanwhile, the big capitalists, landlords, generals and priests plotted for the overthrow of the Republic in order to smash the revolution under a new dictatorship.

The left-wing coalition of the more radical bourgeois republicans and the PSOE was put back together again in 1936. The CP boasts that it was the one who baptized this renewed liberal/social-democratic bloc a "Peoples Front." In the February 1936 elections, promising to free workers who were imprisoned for their part in the Asturias revolt, the Peoples Front defeated the fascist National Front bloc of the Falangists, monarchists, military officers, and the Catholic right wing.

The workers and the peasants pressed ahead with strike waves and land seizures, demanding much more than the mild reforms offered by the new government. At the same time, the generals and the fascists openly prepared for a coup, with the liberal and reformist ministers of the Peoples Front refusing to lift a finger against the plotters.

The expected coup was launched in July by the fascist generals stationed in Spanish Morocco. The republican government was paralyzed: on the one side deserted by the great majority of the armed forces, police, and bureaucracy; and, on the other side, terrified by the working masses who were pouring into the streets, demanding arms to fight the fascists, and taking matters into their own hands. By November, Franco's forces had seized nearly half the territory of the country before the fascists were fought to a standstill on the outskirts of Madrid by the heroic working class militias. For two-and-a-half more years Spain was gripped by a bloody struggle between fascist reaction and the revolution of the working masses.

Subordinating the Revolution to the Bourgeois Republic

To defend the revolutionary movement the fascist coup had to be resisted at all costs. But by no means did this require straight-jacketing the revolution by restricting it to the framework of the bourgeois republic; or spreading illusions about republicanism; or falling silent about the need to go beyond the bourgeois republic to achieve the emancipation of the working masses and socialism. But that is just what the PCE did.

Defense of the bourgeois parliamentary republic was the north star of the communist policy. The CI and the PCE presented two interrelated 'arguments for this policy. First was the basic axiom of the Seventh Congress that in the face of the threat of fascism the only alternative for the proletariat was to embrace capitalist democracy. And closely connected to this -- reviving a classic dogma of social-democracy -- they theorized that the completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution in Spain was only possible with a protracted period of consolidation of bourgeois democratic rule.

From time to time the PCE leaders would use radical-sounding phrases to cover up its subservience to the bourgeois state by theorizing about creating a "new type of democratic parliamentary republic." But then definition of this "different republic" was no more nor less than the modern capitalist state as idealized and exalted in the fantasies of the petty bourgeois about "pure democracy." (See speech of General Secretary Jose Diaz to the March 5 enlarged plenum of the Central Committee in The Communist International, May 1937)

By the time it made its Peoples Front proposal in the winter of 1935-36, the PCE had dropped all its earlier agitation for a workers' and peasants' government or for the proletarian revolution and socialism. In fact, it violently denounced even the slightest hints of such agitation and demanded that the workers declare loyalty to the bourgeois Republic. After all, they argued, anything else may alarm the bourgeoisie. At the same time, the PCE became mired in petty-bourgeois democratic phrasemongering, painting up the parliamentary Republic in wonderful liberation colors as the only system that could bring the Spanish people real happiness and freedom.

This infatuation with bourgeois republicanism had a major bearing on how the anti-fascist war was to be conducted. In the wake of Franco's coup, the disintegration of the regime unleashed a torrent of mass energy. The armed workers replaced the police, judges, etc. In Barcelona and other key centers of the country the workers organizations became the real power, pushing aside the republican institutions. In this situation, the PCE jumped into the breach to rebuild the tattered republican structures for the bourgeoisie. It played a pivotal role in dismantling the workers' militias and the other forms of the revolutionary initiative of the masses. The PCE prided itself as the number one party of republican law and order.

The PCE's policy won the approval of the capitalist liberals and the right-wing PSOE ministers. But this was at the great cost of disorganizing the revolutionary impulse of the toilers.

Far from detracting from the anti-fascist struggle, upholding the perspective of carrying the revolution beyond the bourgeois Republic was essential for rallying the working class to the resistance. The workers were feeling their own power and clamoring for revolutionary change, while their distrust for the capitalist Republic ran deep. Instead of seizing on this positive revolutionary factor, the PCE devoted itself to corralling the workers to bring them back in line behind the bourgeoisie and the republican tricolor.

Harmonizing the Class Struggle in Favor of the Bourgeoisie

Even with the outbreak of Civil War the class struggle continued to forcefully exert itself within the republican zone. Given the war conditions, some of the forms and bounds of the class struggle may have had to be modified, but strengthening the spirit of the class struggle was essential for inspiring the masses to the anti-fascist resistance. The communists should have taken advantage of this revolutionary energy of the workers and poor peasants to organize them to advance their own class interests and to rally them for struggle against the fascist onslaught. But the PCE did just the opposite.

The PCE attempted to suspend the class struggle until after the victory over Franco and beyond, advocating a permanent alliance with the republican bourgeoisie. In practice this meant subordinating the revolutionary movement of the working class and poor peasants to this alliance with the capitalist liberals.

According to the PCE leadership, the key to victory over Franco was the elimination of all strife among the different classes and political parties of the Peoples Front. The logic of such an attempt at class harmony was that the workers and the poor were supposed to grin and bear it so as to not offend the sensitivities of the liberal capitalist gentlemen. This is how the PCE put the decrepit group of bourgeois republicans in the drivers' seat. Meanwhile the working class and peasantry, who were doing all the fighting and dying, were assigned to obediently carry the load of the antifascist war with the promise that the bourgeois republic would give them a better life en la manana.

The PCE worked day and night to repair the breeches in capitalist relations. Among other things, it put its forces at the disposal of the bourgeoisie for the suppression of the workers' control movement and the revolutionary upheaval gripping the impoverished farm laborers (braceros). While the communists worked hard to carry out the literacy campaigns and other popular reforms of the Peoples Front government, they drew a line at any reforms that were not acceptable to the bourgeois ministers.

The PCE argued that any other policy would push the republicans into the hands of the fascists. What they failed to take into account is that the fascist rebellion was aimed first and foremost at the suppression of the revolution of the workers and peasants, and the strength of this revolution was the only hope for defeating Franco.

True, on account of various historical, regional and other factors, a section of the bourgeois liberals ended up on the same side of the barricades as the workers. This is not to say that the bourgeois republicans were valiant anti-fascists, as the PCE tried so hard to portray them; from the first shot of the war to the last, these liberal capitalist politicians showed themselves as a disgracefully flabby bunch of cowards and defeatists. Nonetheless, this rupture within the ranks of the exploiting classes called for careful and flexible tactics to allow the working class to take advantage of the situation to strengthen its hand. This may have even required some type of alliance allowing the workers to "march separately but to strike jointly" with these republican bourgeois. But the PCE's tactics were simply tailist, opportunist tactics that strengthened the hand of the liberals at the cost of the demoralization of the workers.

Petty-Bourgeois Nationalism

The PCE spread a petty-bourgeois nationalist appeal to smooth over the class antagonisms within the Republic and to cement the alliance with the capitalist liberals.

The Spanish working people loathed German nazism and Italian fascism and wanted to live free and independent of these imperialist monsters. Agitation against the nazi-fascist intervention was an integral part of mobilizing the masses for the resistance.

However, the PCE's agitation against foreign fascism went to the point of glossing over that it was the Spanish exploiting classes who made up the internal basis of Franco's fascist counterrevolution. The fighting appeal of the communists was for "the unity of all Spaniards" for the national liberation war in defense of "Spanish national independence." The effect of such agitation was to slur over the class nature of the antifascist resistance, and to provide a further rationale for the policy of kow-towing to the liberal bourgeoisie.

In the last chapter of the war, the PCE leadership called for changing the Peoples Front into a "national united front." The content of this change was to welcome into the front those forces on the fascist side of the barricades who sought "Spanish independence" from the Germans and Italians. Among other things, this showed the lengths to which the PCE leadership was willing to go in slurring over the fact that the fascist onslaught, while having the backing of the foreign fascists, sprung from the soil of capitalist and landlord Spain.

(To take this proposed "national united front" at face value, even Franco himself could find a place for himself in it. After all, Franco's careful maneuvering between his Rome and Berlin sponsors, and between the fascist axis and the capitalist "democracies," was to gain neutrality for fascist Spain during the WWII and to avoid a foreign occupation.)

Betrayal of the Oppressed Moroccans

The PCE took pride in the Republic's civilized policy on the national problem because, unlike the fascists, it recognized autonomy and language rights of the Catalans and Basques, nationalities representing the two most modern and developed regions of Spain. Meanwhile, the PCE carried its petty-bourgeois nationalism to outright social-chauvinism in defending the colonial subjugation of the "uncivilized" Moors of Spanish Morocco.

In the 1920's, the bloody colonial war to subjugate the insurgent Moroccan tribesmen was more or less a Spanish Viet Nam. The Spanish ruling classes were determined to crush Morocco no matter the cost in lives and hardship, and no matter that Spain was shaken by the popular opposition to this war. Franco's role in the pacification of Morocco was what first endeared him to the ruling classes.

The governments of the Second Republic, including the Peoples Front, pursued the same colonialist policy as the monarchy, with the liberal and social-democratic politicians turning a deaf ear to the cries of the Moroccans for liberation. This played right into the hands of Franco and the right-wing officers who had succeeded in co-opting some of the Moroccan chiefs. The colonialist stand of the Peoples Front government pushed the Moroccans deeper into Franco's grip as Morocco became the springboard for the fascist coup. Particularly in the early part of the Civil War, some 135,000 Moroccan soldiers played a critical role in the success of the fascist offensives.

In the mid-1920's, when the PCE was still a small party, the communists reportedly were known and respected among the Moroccans because they had taken a militant stand in support of the Moroccan insurgency. However, by the time of the Peoples Front the PCE leadership had shamelessly abandoned this internationalist stand. There was a deafening silence about the Moroccan question. We have looked but have not even found a hint that the PCE made as much as a whisper of protest against the colonialist policy of the Peoples Front.

This was a question of internationalist principles. It was also an immediate and vital question for winning the war against fascism. If the communists had raised a powerful voice in support of Moroccan liberation, they were in a position to gain the attention of the Moroccans, undermining the stability of Franco's rear and possibly fomenting unrest among his most important divisions. But taking the side of the oppressed Moroccans would have offended the liberal and social-democratic ministers, something which the PCE was not about to do. This was a striking example of what it meant for the PCE to place the alliance with the republican bourgeoisie above all other considerations.

The failure to champion the liberation of the Moroccans was one of the greatest tragedies of the anti-fascist war.

From Militant Unity in Action to Liquidationist Merger With Social-Democracy

Events in Spain provided some of the most dramatic examples of militant unity in action between communist workers and workers under social-democratic influence, such as in the Asturias uprising of October 1934, as well as in the heroic defense of Madrid by the workers' militias. The revolutionary temper of the workers was running high and they were clamoring for united action against the exploiters and fascists.

This situation opened up wide prospects for the communists to apply united front tactics to organize united struggle and, in the process, win the workers away from the opportunist influence of the social-democrats. Besides the struggle against the right-wing PSOE chieftains, there was also the necessity of exposing the demagogic and vacillating nature of the left-phrasemongering wing of the PSOE led by the inveterate opportunist Largo Caballero, as this wing controlled the UGT trade union center and had considerable influence among the revolutionary-minded workers. Successful united front tactics could have gone a long way in organizing the working class for its own aims, mobilizing it as an independent force at the head of the anti-fascist resistance, and in undermining the strength of the social-democratic leaders who stood in the way of this line.

The problem was that by the time of the Peoples Front the PCE leadership also rejected this line. Their appeals to the social-democratic workers began and ended with the call to rally to the Republic. Having lost their class footing, the united front tactics of the PCE were reduced to cynical maneuvers and jockeying among the PSOE chieftains. (One day the PCE leaders would be praising the left-phrasemonger Caballero as the "Spanish Lenin." The next day they would be cursing Caballero and praising the "realism" of Prieto, Negrin or other right-wing PSOE ministers.) The only consistency in the PCE leadership's approach to the social-democrats was their unending search for the best ministerial combination for shoring up the alliance with the bourgeois liberals and stabilizing the Republic.

At the same time, the PCE pursued a line of liquidationist merger with the PSOE, slurring over all ideological and political distinctions between Marxism-Leninism and social-democracy.

Indeed, the PCE leaders brought this to the brink of the complete fusion of the two parties, as they campaigned hard and long for the creation of the "single party of the proletariat." The proposals for the united party kept up the obligatory phrases about the theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. This, however, was only window dressing to hide that these were straight up liquidationist proposals for the creation of a party stripped of Marxist-Leninist features and with a platform that didn't go beyond unity to defend the Republic and win the war.

Celebrated "successes" of these fusion attempts were the merger of the PSOE and PCE organizations in Catalonia into the United Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC) and the merger of the socialist and communist youth organizations. However, the negotiations for the complete fusion floundered. The obstacles to fusion included the sharp rift inside the PSOE itself, which persisted despite the PCE's wishful sermons about the need to do away with all "divergencies of opinions" in the workers' movement.

How Not to Fight Anarchism in the Working Class Movement

One of the most hotly debated problems of PCE's policy during the Civil War was its struggle against the anarchists. This was a complex and critical question of the success of the revolution given that anarchism in Spain was a truly mass phenomenon, gripping millions of workers and peasants.

In general, the workers affiliated to the anarcho-syndicalist unions of the CNT were revolutionary- minded, harboring bitter hatred for the bourgeoisie. Anarchism also influenced a large section of the braceros (farm laborers) and starving rural poor who were engaged in a profound, albeit very confused, agrarian revolt against the landlords, the church and all the wealthy classes in the countryside.

The Civil War threw the anarchist movement into a crisis. The anarchist center (FAI, Iberian Anarchist Federation) was paralyzed by its dogmas. They failed to fully understand the political significance of the antifascist resistance, and the anarchist hostility to firm organization proved disastrous in battle. Burdened by their "anti-state-ism," when the CNT/FAI became the virtual ruling power in Barcelona and elsewhere they had no idea what to do. In the main, the anarchist leaders ended up trailing in the wake of Caballero and the Republic, complaining and griping all the way but incapable of demonstrating an alternative.

This situation should have opened the door to the massive defection of the militant CNT workers to Marxism-Leninism. The previous experiences of the Communist International had demonstrated that the communists could win over the anarcho-syndicalist workers by appealing to their revolutionary instincts against the exploiters, while exposing the gulf between the radical phrases of anarchism and its petty-bourgeois and conservative essence.

But such a revolutionary appeal went against the grain of the PCE's whole policy. Instead they attacked the anarchists for their radical phrases, and charged them with disrespect for the Republic, for the liberal- reformist cabinet, for the laws and the police -- all of which were anathema to the anarcho-syndicalist workers. Not surprisingly, such political appeals to the CNT masses went over like a lead balloon. While the immense courage in battle of the disciplined communist fighters won prestige for communism among the anarchist rank and file, a revolutionary political approach would have allowed this influence to grow much further and stronger than it did.

Demanding discipline in the rear, the PCE's propaganda decried the anarchist "excesses" in the workers' control movement and the "extremism" of the poor peasants. However, if the communists were to bring discipline to these masses it could only be done by rallying them in revolutionary struggle for their own class interests. But the PCE's preoccupation with protecting the alliance with the bourgeoisie made this impossible. For instance, instead of entering the workers' control movement to purge it of petty-bourgeois projects and bring fighting discipline to the workers, the PCE sought to ban this movement, and it attempted to do so by government decree from above. Similarly with the upheaval among the rural laborers. Instead of linking up with their movement and using it to better reinforce the urban revolution and anti-fascist war, PCE cursed the movement for its "lawlessness" and violations of private property.

The PCE tried to entice the CNT leaders to commit themselves to the government; but when the CNT leaders resisted or when they failed to control the rank and file, the PCE leadership would cry out for the police suppression of the "anarchist provocateurs." The anarchists' preference for disorganization may very well have made them a special target of fascist infiltration. Nonetheless, the PCE's violent appeal against the "anarchist fifth column of fascism" -- as if the mass anarchist movement in Spain was just a tool of Franco's secret service -- was right-wing sectarianism at its worst. It was a grave blunder that showed just how not to win over the anarcho-syndicalist workers.

This attitude towards the anarchists is closely connected to the PCE's fight against the POUM (Workers Party of Marxist Unification). This was a small group in Barcelona whose leaders included a number of former trotskyists. It appears to have been a left-phrasemongering social-democratic phenomenon which pursued a tailist policy towards the CNT. Whatever the POUM may have represented, the main significance of its clumsy suppression by the PCE and the regime was that this step served a much larger repressive campaign against the anarcho-syndicalist and left social-democratic workers, as well as "uncontrollable" peasants, who resisted the attempts of the Republic to disarm them and to break up their committees.

Along with this the PCE leadership went on a propaganda rampage -- backed up with police measures -- against anything that smacked of the spirit of the class struggle and socialism or that criticized the Republic or the capitalist liberals. To give voice to such things was alleged to be proof of the counterrevolutionary acts of the "ultra-left," anarchist, and trotskyist agents of the fascist fifth column.

Illusions in the "Democratic" Imperialist Powers

The petty-bourgeois democratic orientation of the PCE also had its reflection in its stand towards international imperialism. The PCE leadership closed its eyes to the real policy followed by the so-called "democratic" imperialist powers.

All the big imperialist powers threw their weight against the toilers' revolution in Spain. Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy carried out a massive and direct intervention, providing Franco with funds, tanks, planes and artillery, nazi pilots and advisors, and tens of thousands of Italian fascist troops. Meanwhile, Britain, France, and the U.S. played the game of the "non-intervention" policy. In practice "non-intervention" meant an iron blockade against the republican forces, while quietly providing Franco support and winking at the German and Italian intervention. This pro-fascist policy was pursued equally by the British Conservatives, by the Roosevelt liberals, and by the Peoples Front government in France. (The French Peoples Front government, led by social-democratic premier Leon Blum, shamelessly took part in this blockade against the Spanish Peoples Front, a government led by their brother republicans and social- democrats.) Of the major countries, only the then-socialist Soviet Union came out openly on the side of the Spanish Republic and gave it support.

It was only natural that the republican forces would try to take the best advantage of any cracks among the imperialist powers to purchase arms and to weaken the imperialist blockade. But such maneuvers required the utmost vigilance. The working masses had to be conscious that the so-called "democratic" states were also imperialist powers who would never come to the support of the revolution of the Spanish proletariat and oppressed.

But from the beginning to the bitter end, the leadership of the PCE was mired in illusions about the so- called "democratic" imperialist powers. They considered these powers to be part of "international democracy," which sooner or later would see the folly of "non-intervention" and come to "offer deserved and categorical resistance to Germany and Italy, countries which are endangering the interests of France, Great Britain and all the democratic countries of the world." (Jose Diaz, The Communist International, May 1937)

In deliberating every major question of policy, the PCE leaders placed great weight on how it would sell in London or Paris. They were very concerned to convince the British, French and other capitalists that there were no revolutionary fires blazing under the Spanish Republic and that their economic and strategic interests in Spain were in good hands. This provided them with yet another argument for such Popular Front policies as propping up the bourgeois liberals and right social-democrats; protecting capitalist property and especially the capital of foreign firms; disarming the militias and reestablishing the republican structures; suppressing the "uncontrollables" and establishing "normalcy" in the rear. While all these policies had their own domestic basis, they were also seen as a means of gaining the "confidence" of the French, British and other imperialists.

The International Brigades also appear to have fallen victim to such "confidence" building. In the fall of 1938 the International Brigades were abruptly withdrawn from Spain, despite the significant role they continued to play at the front. Apparently this was agreed to by the PCE and the CI as a conciliatory gesture to the imperialist "democracies." These were the days of Munich, and in the Munich spirit Chamberlain had just reached a gentlemen's agreement with Mussolini over the division of Spain. Incredibly, the communists seemed to have concluded from this agreement that even more concessions had to be made to convince Lord Chamberlain to change his ways. As one CI leader wrote at the time: "Thus, developments in Spain depend upon the rapidity with which the British government is modify its pro-fascist foreign policy, and to join in combined international action to aid the Spanish Republic." (P. Weiden, "Three Years After the Seventh World Congress," The Communist International, August 1938) Indeed, it looks like the withdrawal of the International Brigades was part of a last ditch attempt to compel the "democratic" imperialists to "modify their pro-fascist policy."

The PCE's shameless betrayal of oppressed Morocco also had international ramifications. To take a stand for Moroccan independence would not only have meant going up against the Spanish bourgeoisie, it also would have meant a challenge to the French and British imperialists, who undoubtedly would not have welcomed a liberated Spanish Morocco kindling the liberation movement throughout North Africa.

The Collapse of the Revolution

In the last phases of the war the PCE leadership was boasting of the complete triumph of its policy. Under the "realistic" social-democrat Juan Negrin they had succeeded in "consolidating the machinery of state." The militias were disbanded and the regular army was "establishing itself on a firmer basis from day to day." And the Peoples Front was so solid and strong that it was "rapidly becoming an all national front...on which the strongest fascist beasts of prey will break their teeth." (See "Two and One-Half Years of War for the Independence of Spain," The Communist International, January 1939)

The PCE had won the battle for its policy, but the war was already lost. The revolutionary energy and initiative of the masses had been dissipated. Demoralization and fatalism began to grip the workers who had put up such a ferocious resistance to the fascists. Meanwhile, the government was honeycombed with capitulationist ministers and military officers plotting to stab the communists in the back to reach a deal with Franco. The rotten foundation on which the Peoples Front was built could no longer withstand the blows of the fascist military offensives. In the spring of 1939, the Republic disintegrated. Ministers began deserting their posts and on March 6 a group of republican officers launched a coup directed against the PCE. On March 27 Franco's forces occupied Madrid.

One cannot guarantee that defeat would have been averted with a better policy; the revolution in Spain faced powerful and savage enemies. But what can be said is that a better policy would have gone much further in building on and keeping alive the revolutionary impulse of the masses. A better policy would have backed up the anti-fascist war by building up the independence of the workers and poor peasants, rallying them for their own class interests, and inspiring them with the goal of socialism.

Such a policy would have provided the best hope of victory, and it would have dramatically changed the complexion of the resistance. Even if Franco still had come out on top, a revolutionary policy would have laid a much firmer groundwork for carrying on the resistance after the fascist conquest, avoiding the depths of disorganization and demoralization that gripped the masses.

A Legacy of the Wrong Orientations of the Seventh Congress of the CI

It must be stressed that the wrong policies pursued by the Spanish communists during the Civil War were not the isolated mistakes of a wayward party. From the outset, top leaders of the Communist International were intimately involved in the work of the PCE; and the Peoples Front policies of the PCE were endorsed by the guiding bodies of the CI as a "brilliant confirmation of the new line of the Seventh Congress." Moreover, this policy had the encouragement of the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as well as Soviet diplomacy which played an active role in Spain.

For the world's communists, including thousands of International Brigade volunteers who took a direct part, the Spanish Civil War was a dress rehearsal for the looming anti-fascist battles of the Second World War. Unfortunately, it did not only set an example of courage against fascism. It also trained the communists in a wrong orientation which compromised the gains of the triumph over fascism and undermined the international communist movement. (See "In Defense of Marxism- Leninism: On Problems in the Orientation of the International Communist Movement in the Period from the End of World War II to the Death of Stalin," The Workers' Advocate theoretical issue, May 1,1984)

The tactical model provided by the Spanish Civil War still has its impact to this day. The pro-Soviet revisionists along with other reformist and social-democratic forces continue to make Spain a basic reference point. Their views on the Nicaraguan revolution are but the latest example. According to these voices, the need for a "broad cross-class popular front founded on the basis of defending a bourgeois democratic republic" is one of the "timely lessons" for Nicaragua offered by the legacy of the Spanish war. (Frontline, July 21, 1986)

From this standpoint they applaud the Nicaraguan government's petty-bourgeois policy of compromise with the big exploiters, its bureaucratic suppression of the class struggle of the workers and peasants, and its repressive steps against the "ultra-left" revolutionary workers who adhere to the Marxist-Leninist Party of Nicaragua (MAP-ML).

Similar "lessons" are drawn for El Salvador, the Philippines, Chile, South Africa, and even the fight against the Reaganite offensive here in U.S. Wherever the masses are in struggle against reaction, the Spanish legacy is dredged up to justify bowing before the liberal capitalists in the name of "broad unity," while combating the "greatest danger" posed by the allegedly "ultra-left" ideas about the political independence of the working class, the class struggle, the proletarian revolution and socialism.

More in the form of nostalgic folklore than a scientific summation, the experience of the Spanish Civil War has been passed down as a tactical model. It is about time that the revolutionary Marxist-Leninists made a critical summation, liberating the movement once and for all from the influences of the wrong orientations of the Seventh Congress of the Communist International. Indeed, this is a burning task for rebuilding the international communist movement on a solid Marxist-Leninist line.

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The Spanish Civil War and problems in the present day movement in Spain

Elsewhere in this issue, Workers' Advocate begins a study of the Spanish Civil War.

This inquiry shows that the Spanish Civil War represented a huge revolutionary upheaval marked by great heroism and sacrifice by the communists and revolutionary toilers. Unfortunately, however, the orientation which guided the struggle -- the orientation pursued by the Communist Party of Spain -- was grievously wrong, and this weakened the overall struggle.

The wrong policies of the CP of Spain were not just some isolated, small errors but represented a turning away from Leninism. They were based on the rightist views of the Seventh Congress of the Communist International, and they serve as yet another example of the bankruptcy of the change in the CI's line that took place in the mid- 1930's.

The problems seen in the Spanish Civil War and the wrong line adopted by the Seventh Congress of the CI are not just issues for historical study. Rather, they call for a thorough discussion and repudiation since they continue to exercise a negative influence on the present-day revolutionary movements.

For one thing, these ideas are at the core of the line of the Soviet and other revisionist currents today. As well, the influence of these ideas has worked to hamstring the international struggle against modern revisionism during the last several decades. And today, among the forces which stood up against Soviet and Chinese revisionism, one finds parties taking disgraceful, right- opportunist positions, petitions which they often defend invoking the heritage of Dimitrov and the Seventh Congress of the CI.

Such is the case, for example, with the CP of Brazil, whose tailism towards the liberal bourgeoisie has led it to support the Samey government and even to enshrining loyalty to bourgeois democracy in its new party constitution.

One would think that in a country like Spain, where the forces who broke with revisionism have the firsthand opportunity to study the Spanish Civil War, they would seriously take up the task of overcoming the wrong legacies that harmed the courageous and costly struggle of the 1930's. After all, the revisionist and social-democratic forces in Spain ardently defend those legacies. But unfortunately in Spain we find the leadership of the anti-revisionist Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) attempting to duplicate those wrong policies in the present-day struggle.

In the upcoming Workers Advocate Supplement we will discuss the line of the CP of Spain (ML) in the spirit of internationalist concern for the struggle of the Spanish comrades.

This article will explore a number of basic deviations that we are concerned about in the strategy and tactics of the Spanish party. These include discussion of its orientation for a Republic; its line of "national independence'' for Spain and the advocacy of "neutrality'' in the anti-war struggle; and the wave of unity-mongering with the "left'' social- democrats and revisionists that has been the heart of the CPS(ML)'s tactics over the last couple of years. These problems show that instead of basing itself upon the class struggle and the socialist perspective, the CPS(ML) sidesteps social questions and is prey to the influences of petty-bourgeois nationalist and democratic illusions.

[Photo: Workers on the barricades of Barcelona, July 1936]

[Photo: Republican troops sent from Valencia to defend Madrid.]

[Photo: Launching the assault against the fascists at the Plaza de Zocodever-Toledo, southwest of Madrid.]

[Photo: Militia gunners near Guadalajara.]

[Photo: Worker militias on the streets of Madrid.]

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