Letters, Vol 9, No 3

Students Discuss Parkland Shooting … and Capitalism

Our high school class did a unit on the Douglas High School tragedy in Parkland, Florida. We read the song “Shine,” written by Douglas HS drama students and a poem that had been written by student Alex Schachter a few months before he was killed. Then we read student Sam Zief’s testimony to Donald Trump: “How did we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?”

The teacher asked the class to illustrate and explain a solution. Many drew things like roses, guns crossed out, or different people holding hands surrounding the planet.

Then we read the Red Flag article. The students were convinced of the inherent violent nature of capitalism. However, they were not convinced of the possibility or the necessity of destroying it with a violent revolution.

Changing the context changes the nature of a thing. Communism will represent a different context for human beings. Therefore, our very nature will change. We will no longer be selfish, individualistic or violent to each other in any form.

“What is wage slavery?” asked a student.

Wage slavery is what the capitalist system imposes on the working class. Anybody that works and gets paid is a wage slave. Even though some receive a higher pay, they are still wage slaves.

Another student added, “What I understand is that when a person has certain needs and has to work for someone superior to him or her to be able to pay and receive those needs, that’s wage slavery.”

“When it ends,” said another, “we will live with more equality and more organization.”

The wage system is the underlying basis for all sorts of violence that we see today. We have to eliminate it by mobilizing the masses for communism. This is the message that we have to bring to the March 24 “March for Our Lives” actions that students are planning to demand gun control.

“But you’re not gonna knock us down, we’ll get back up again,” goes the Douglas drama students’ song “Shine.” “You may have hurt us but I promise we are stronger and we’re not gonna let you win, we’re putting up a fight, you may have brought the dark but together we will shine a light.”

—Los Angeles (USA) comrade

Street Vendors, Los Angeles (USA)

March of Street Vendors

On this past March 3rd, street vendors had a demonstration against the corrupt capitalist system that does not let them sell their food in the streets. There were about 200 to 250 demonstrators. 98% were women. The march took place in downtown Los Angeles. I was there distributing Red Flag.

I had the opportunity to talk with one of the organizers. She commented that for years they have been struggling to get the permit to sell food in the street. She denounced the way the corrupt system has granted certain permits to other street vendors who are friends or relatives of the councilman from the second district.

I told her that there would be no need for so many problems in a communist world. That they should join ICWP to mobilize the masses for a communist revolution—the only solution to eliminate the system of corruption, impunity, and repression that is this capitalist system.

—East LA (USA) comrade

Learning How to Organize Communist Struggle

After AJ Weber was shot and killed by the Los Angeles Sheriffs we, a student ICWP collective of six, tried to organize a protest-march to the Sheriff’s Station which is about five blocks from our school.

We met regularly and discussed in the collective how to go about it and how we can put forward the idea that this murder would have never happened if we had a communist world.

We decided to produce a big banner that read “We Want a Different World” and down the center “Justice for AJ”. We also decided to have pictures of A.J. with his daughter, chant sheets, and signs that would read “Students United” and “We Need Communism Now”. Everything was to be in English and Spanish. We also made a half page announcement and shared it on social media.

On the morning of the event we had everything ready in the trunk of a car. Two of us were the first ones to get to the designated area (at one of the corners of our school) where we would start the march-protest. Soon small groups of 3 to 7 showed up. They hung around for a few minutes, did not see more people congregating and then decided to leave.

We were unsuccessful in making this protest-march happen. Some football players showed up but were threatened to be kicked off the team by security school guards.

Some of us feel that it was too early in the morning and people were not willing to get up. Others think that it was a combination of things like fear and the feeling that students believe that no matter what they do they won’t be heard. Others might be so used to cops killing innocent people.

We are learning that what happens externally is not what determines the outcomes of things but rather what happens internally.

For example, we could have gotten there a little bit earlier, all at the same time. Also, we should have taken everything out of the car and as soon as people started getting there start distributing all the materials; banner, signs, chants sheets, etc. This did not happen. It’s a question of taking leadership.

Next time we should meet up off campus at a different meeting point, take all of these lessons into account and actually make it happen.

The group continues to meet and read and discuss Red Flag. We pass it out to our friends and family. We are currently making plans to invite as many as we can to come to our May Day dinner as well as the May Day march. All looks promising.

As we are learning in practice how to mobilize the masses for communism in the face of racist police killings and other things we are getting a better understanding of what is required.

We and the youth around the world will rise to the occasion, we will take over the leadership and built a police-, money-, racism-, sexism- and class-free communist world based on the collective spirit of all, where we all will look after each other and take care of each other.

—Los Angeles (USA) high school student comrades

Driving a Bus is Dangerous to Your Health

“I’m really going to miss M,” a bus operator said of a co-worker who recently died. “He always had a smile for you. He spoke to everyone. Really, he was a good person.   There aren’t many like him.”

Another bus operator commented, “It seems like every couple of weeks they post the picture of another person who died. I wonder what it is. Maybe the exhaust we breathe all the time?”

Actually, stress is a bigger threat to drivers than the exhaust.

A study of San Francisco MUNI drivers published in 2000 concluded that “professional drivers are second to none as an occupational group at risk for hypertension and ischemic heart disease and that these diseases occur at a relatively young age… It is unusual for a mass transit operator to retire at term in any city.” City bus drivers in the Netherlands, for example, retire on average at the age of 48, usually due to disability.

(See https://unhealthywork.org/la-bus-driver-study/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-bus-driver/)

Studies of bus drivers in Great Britain have linked their shorter life expectancy to being sedentary: sitting for 8 hours or more a day, with few breaks and little exercise. A Chicago research team compared drivers to other sedentary workers (like lawyers and executives) with longer life expectancy. They concluded that the low pay and lack of respect contributed to earlier deaths.

Driving a bus doesn’t have to be like this!   We’re sure that bus operators who read Red Flag have plenty of ideas about how to make the work less stressful. In communist society they’ll have the power to put these ideas into practice. And nobody will have to drive a bus all day, every day. We’ll all do many different kinds of work.

Not enough of us are like M, but his example shows the potential in all of us. We can’t help being influenced by capitalism’s dog-eat-dog individualism, and the wage system that is its material basis. But we can and should all struggle against it. Mobilizing for communism helps us to do that. Communist society’s material basis will be “from each according to ability/commitment, to each according to need.” That will bring out the best in all of us: our collectivity and our love for the international working class.

—LA comrade

India: Comrade Sends Support

I am sending you 5000 rupees ($65). We always associate with Red Flag. Whether it is economic cooperation or any kind of cooperation, we are together. We are in a financial difficulty now, otherwise, I would send 10 thousand rupees. Please let me know how to send you the money.

—A comrade

Lenin and Communism Forever

Hundreds of millions of people in India were shown BJP and their fascist goons toppling a statue of Lenin in the Eastern state of Tripura. In a recently held Tripura state elections BJP defeated the revisionist, fake communist government ruled by CPM for the past 25 years.

Many of our supporters and friends were disheartened and felt angry. However, it is not a surprise to us. The once-mighty Communist Party of India, just like the old international communist movement, abandoned the path of communist revolution. This fatal mistake turned the old communist parties into political parties that serve capitalism.

However, no force on the earth can stop the titanic battle that is raging between capitalists and the international working class. Our class enemy knows that communism will end their system of profit and wage slavery. They will do everything in their power to spread anti-communism.

Lenin’s statue was toppled but they cannot topple or bury the ideas of communism. It is our duty, the duty of our party, to continue the march that started with Lenin and millions of others. It is their struggle, their determination and their advances in our understanding of science of revolution makes our path clear. Our party has resolved not to make the mistake of fighting for socialism but to create communist society.

Every day in India we witness small and big demonstrations of workers fed up with wage slavery. They are crying for communism. It is our urgent task to reach out to them. We are at the threshold of history where profound changes are about to happen that will topple capitalism with communist revolution. We will not rest until the last vestiges of capitalism are smashed forever. Our class will rise from every corner of the earth, undeterred by defeats, only to regroup and vanquish capitalism.

—Comrades in India

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