This is an archive of the former website of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, which was run by the now defunct Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika. The MIM now consists of many independent cells, many of which have their own indendendent organs both online and off. MIM(Prisons) serves these documents as a service to and reference for the anti-imperialist movement worldwide.
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THE MAOIST INTERNATIONALIST MOVEMENT
MIM Notes 58 NOVEMBER, 1991
MIM Notes speaks to and from the viewpoint of the
world's oppressed majority, and against the
imperialist-patriarchy. Pick it up and wield it in
the service of the people. support it, struggle
with it and write for it.
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. TV CIRCUS ASSAULTS BLACKS & WOMEN
2. AMERIKA SEEKS PUPPET IN HAITI
3. THE HOUSING TIME BOMB
4. REVOLUTIONARY HISTORY: TROTSKY BOOTED OUT OF PARTY
5. COLONIZING ZAIRE, AGAIN
6. FIRE AT IMPERIAL(IST) FOODS
7. BARBIE'S DAD DIES
8. DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ?
9. FBI SLANDERS REVOLUTIONARY
10. PEOPLE'S WAR IN MEXICO
11. BURNED ALIVE
12. CABLE TV'S NEW HUNTS
13. PERUVIAN BANKS BOMBED
14. VICTORIES BETRAYED
15. ANGELA DAVIS HERDS SHEEP
16. IRAQ SUFFERS IN THE AFTERMATH
17. UNDER LOCK & KEY: NEWS FROM PRISONS AND PRISONERS
18. BANKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!
19. MIM'S HEAVY METAL HANGUP
20. REVIEW: BLACK VOICE
POPULAR PAPER OF THE BLACK UNITY & FREEDOM PARTY (BUFP)
21. REVIEW: METALLICA
22. REVIEW: THE COMMITMENTS; THE FISHER KING; DEAD AGAIN
23. SOVIET BREAKUP LEAVES SECTS DROOLING
The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) is a
revolutionary communist party that upholds
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, comprising the collection
of existing or emerging Maoist internationalist
parties in the English-speaking imperialist
countries and their English-speaking internal
semi-colonies, as well as the existing or emerging
Spanish-speaking Maoist internationalist parties
of Aztlan, Puerto Rico and other territories of
the U.S. Empire. MIM Notes is the newspaper of
MIM. Notas Rojas is the newspaper of the Spanish-
speaking parties or emerging parties of MIM.
MIM is an internationalist organization that works
from the vantage point of the Third World
proletariat; thus, its members are not Amerikans,
but world citizens.
MIM struggles to end the oppression of all groups
over other groups: classes, genders, nations. MIM
knows this is only possible by building public
opinion to seize power through armed struggle.
Revolution is a reality for North America as the
military becomes over-extended in the government's
attempts to maintain world hegemony.
MIM differs from other communist parties on three
main questions: (1) MIM holds that after the
proletariat seizes power in socialist revolution,
the potential exists for capitalist restoration
under the leadership of a new bourgeoisie within
the communist party itself. In the case of the
USSR, the bourgeoisie seized power after the death
of Stalin in 1953; in China, it was after Mao's
death and the overthrow of the "Gang of Four" in
1976. (2) MIM upholds the Chinese Cultural
Revolution as the farthest advance of communism in
human history. (3) MIM believes the North American
white-working-class is primarily a non-
revolutionary worker-elite at this time; thus, it
is not the principal vehicle to advance Maoism in
MIM accepts people as members who agree on these
basic principles and accept democratic centralism,
the system of majority rule, on other questions of
"The theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin is
universally applicable. We should regard it not as
dogma, but as a guide to action. Studying it is
not merely a matter of learning terms and phrases,
but of learning Marxism-Leninism as the science of
-- Mao Zedong, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 208
* * *
TV CIRCUS ASSAULTS BLACKS & WOMEN
After all the hoopla, the U.S. Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas to
serve on the Supreme Court anyway. Only three senators changed
their votes as a result of a week of dragging the Black nation
through the mud on national television.
Professor Anita Hill's account of Thomas's harassment rings true
to MIM; we are not surprised. But her approach-before and during
the recent scandal-have only brought harm to Black people. The
bourgeois three-ring circus diverted the masses from the real
issues of structural male domination, and reinforced white male-
The debate was worth its weight in gold to the ruling classes. In
the end, the imperialist Senate and Bush got double their money:
an Uncle Tom judge to sell out Black people for the rest of his
life on the Court, and a great chance to discredit Black women in
general, and women who confront their harassers.
It's all in a day's work for the Senate and the president, who
inflict more damage on the Black nation and all women every day
than Clarence Thomas could do in a lifetime of intimidating Anita
Hill at work.
The Euro-Amerikan courts and Senate of the imperialist patriarchy
have no legitimate cause to judge the disputes among the Black
nation. The crimes of Clarence Thomas are debts owed not to the
legal system, but to the people he sold out and left behind.
'...A HIGH-TECH LYNCHING' BUT WHO GOT HUNG?
After a week of attacking and dividing the Black nation on
national TV-under the guise of confronting sexual harassment-the
U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Uncle Clarence Thomas to be the new
Supreme Court justice, in a roll-call vote on Oct. 15. Only a few
senators changed their votes after all the posturing.(4)
Professor Anita Hill's accusations against bootlicking comprador
Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas ring true to MIM.
But supposing Hill's accusations to be true, MIM still finds her
approach to result in greater national oppression of Blacks and
women. Hill and long-time white lackey Thomas have degraded the
Black nation in front of a white-controlled Senate and national
television- which the Senate was all-too-willing to accommodate.
The graphic discussions of barbaric pornography played over and
over again in the press reinforce the image that Blacks have
animal sexualities. This image has justified white rapes of Black
women and lynchings of Black men since slavery. Of course, once
Hill got the ball rolling, the supporters of Thomas have also
contributed to this by portraying Hill on television as a
grasping, illusion-chasing romantic careerist willing to fuck her
way to the top.
Thomas's charge of high-tech lynching raises interesting
historical questions. Lynching was used as collective intimidation
to oppress the Black nation, and this image now serves as a
metaphor for the collective discrediting and slandering of Black
people that just took place on national television for white
Whatever truth there is to either side will not matter in the end.
The system won't be changed; white male chauvinist attitudes will
be reinforced and the masses will be diverted from the real issues
by a bourgeois three-ring circus, worth its weight in gold to the
ruling class in pitting Blacks against Blacks and individual men
against individual women. Whether Thomas was confirmed or not, the
real losers from this misconceived battle would have been women
The focus on prosecuting individual men backfires. It puts women
on the side of the law, and it always results in the prosecution
of Black men. White men are relatively free to rape their wives,
to rape their prostitutes and their children. But when it comes to
Black men, the legal system is much less understanding. The same
system that will fry a Black man for rape gives a white
pornographer who rapes millions of women for millions of dollars
in profits a plaque in celebration of the First Amendment.
Numerous pseudo-feminists have risen up to say what Hill did was
courageous. MIM does not think so. In her life so far, Hill bought
into the system, both as an integrationist and liberal feminist,
accepted the rules of the career game and then launched an attack
on one individual for something inherent to capitalism-an attack
only made possible and taken advantage of by the imperialist
The oppression inflicted by the white male Congress and Supreme
Court on Blacks and women every day are much worse than anything
Hill is talking about, but Hill succeeds with imperialist help in
focussing everyone in the mass media for days on one person's
character. Surprise, surprise, this individualist yuppie approach
ended up supporting white supremacy and sexism.
The only people who really combat sexual harassment are
communists, because they are the only people who work for the
abolition of power of people over people. In day-to-day life
before the imperialist patriarchy is abolished, communists must
make compromises, because our ideals can only be lived out under
communism. Communists want the best deals they can find on
everything from printing propaganda to food and employment. They
only accept those deals as part of being able to fight the system
of oppression most effectively.
A communist in Hill's position would have either forthrightly
organized and criticized Thomas at the time of the harassment or
accepted that the interaction with Thomas was as good or better
than other deals possible under the current patriarchy, and hence
should be kept or re-negotiated. A communist is concerned about
what is concretely gained or lost for the struggle in general and
the individuals involved.
A courageous person dedicates a life to struggle, not just a few
days to glorious struggle in front of the cameras. And if Hill or
Thomas had dedicated their lives to struggling through the issues
of gender and national oppression, MIM does not think any of this
would have happened. Neither person is a model for the fight
Ultimately, the imperialist patriarchy itself took charge of
reinterpreting the past of Hill and Thomas and used that to focus
on one case of sexual harassment instead of the systems of gender
and national oppression. While the oppressed are thinking on an
individual level, the oppressor works on the group level and wins:
"And Mr. Kennedy [Democratic Senator from Massachusetts] also
denounced a charge Mr. Thomas made yesterday, that he was the
victim of racism. The senator said, 'the fact is that these points
of sexual harassment are made by an Afro-American against an Afro-
American. The issue isn't discrimination and racism; it's about
In contrast, a Black man in the street knew what was going on, but
could no longer do anything about it because the issue had been
seized by the imperialist patriarchy. "'It really doesn't matter
whether Judge Thomas is guilty or innocent. It doesn't matter
whether Ms. Hill has credibility or not. What the image is
throughout the country, throughout the world, is that we are not
credible, trustworthy people, but vulgar, shiftless ... I could go
on,'" he said.(3)
Kennedy might be right that it isn't an issue of racial
discrimination, but it's definitely a question of national
oppression taking the form of racism. When Buthelezi's Inkatha
members make misguided attacks on other Blacks in South Africa, it
is definitely in support of the white minority regime. That was
finally proven when the apartheid regime admitted in 1991 that it
had paid Buthelezi's people for their operations.
It is still possible, paid or not, for Blacks to work in the
service of the white imperialist nation.
MIM does not support putting Blacks on trial in front of white
courts, or in hearings of the white Senate. Similarly, MIM does
not support letting issues of racial discrimination, national
oppression and sexual harassment be settled by the imperialist
patriarchy. Doing so can only reinforce oppression administered by
these institutions. Herein lies MIM's differences with the pseudo-
feminists on the one hand and integrationists on the other. Maybe
what happened in this spectacle will cause some people in both
camps to realize the truth.
MC12 and MC44 contributed to this report.
1. New York Times, 10/10/91, p. 10.
2. NYT 10/14/91, p. 10.
3. NYT 10/14/91, p. 1.
4. NYT 10/16/91, p. 1.
* * *
AMERIKA SEEKS PUPPET IN HAITI
Before he was violently deposed at the end of September, the
president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was slowly giving in
to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, slowly
giving in to imperialist pressures. As president of a poor Third
World nation struggling for "democratic capitalism," Aristide
never had any real power.
But Aristide was and is popular with the Haitian people-among the
most exploited in the world. That made him a threat to the United
States and its imperialist corporate tentacles. Whether or not the
U.S. government was directly involved in the coup, it has clearly
served U.S. interests.
Although Aristide was not attempting to lead a fundamentally
revolutionary movement, his populism and anti-capitalist speeches
threatened to arouse a dangerous movement.
After he was removed, Aristide's detractors started spreading
stories about acts of violence he supported, trying to portray the
coup as a popular movement. But whatever Aristide's position-the
real conflict in Haiti is not an internal one.
Haiti was the first colony in the West to go down to a slave
rebellion. It has suffered at the hands of imperialism ever since.
The latest pitfall in the Haitian people's struggle for liberation
shows the strength and ruthlessness of U.S. imperialism. But it
also reveals a deep-rooted U.S. defensiveness and vulnerability.
HAITIAN COUP BUILDS YANKEE DOMINANCE
The recent military coup in Haiti allowed for substantial, overt
U.S. involvement and control. In capital city Port-au-Prince,
soldiers opened fire early on Sept. 30, taking President Jean-
Bertrand Aristide prisoner-killing dozens and injuring hundreds of
Aristide supporters who tried to resist the coup. The resultant
three-man military junta led by General Raoul Cedras allowed
Aristide to leave the country on Oct. 1.(1) Supreme Court Justice
Joseph Nerette was sworn in as provisional president on Oct. 8 by
the Haitian National Assembly.(2)
Ousted President Aristide-who had only been in office eight
months-was "saved" by U.S., French and Venezuelan efforts and
spent the week after the coup trying to rally support for himself
in the United States. Although Bush's support and interest for
Haiti has since wavered, Aristide still has the backing of the
United States-controlled Organization of American States (OAS).
Within a few days of the coup, the OAS initiated tactics to
isolate Haiti, the poorest country in this hemisphere. President
Bush first cut off $84 million in economic aid and $1.5 million in
military aid for this year, along with food assistance, and then
froze Haitian government assets.(3)
The OAS, a regional U.S.-influenced group to "protect democracy"
in the Western Hemisphere, then passed a resolution on Oct. 2
calling on its 34 member nations not to recognize the military
junta and to suspend all military and economic relations with
Haiti. The resolution also insists that the Haitian military allow
the return of Aristide.(4) The OAS refuses to recognize the
appointment of Justice Nerette.(2)
The OAS attempt to negotiate Aristide's return with General Cedras
on Oct. 2 yielded no results. Nerette plans to name Jean-Jacques
Honorat, a former official for the repressive Duvalier regime, as
his Prime Minister. The provisional president also promises new
elections within 90 days.(2)
Leaders of eight Haitian political parties who have accused
Aristide of constitutional irresponsibility and using implicit
threats of mob violence, met the OAS on Oct. 5, reluctant to have
Aristide return. But the OAS has repeatedly hinted at the
possibility of a multilateral force to put Aristide back in power
if the Haitian military refuses to cooperate.(5)
By Oct. 2, a contingent of 300 to 400 marines were dispatched to
the Guant‡namo Bay Naval Station in Cuba, approximately 100 miles
from Haiti. This action was justified by the possible need to
evacuate some 8,000 Amerikans living in Haiti, if their "security"
General Cedras claims that the military uprising began among the
rank and file who thought Aristide was abusing his power.(6) But
foot soldiers have nothing to gain from this coup. The more likely
candidates are the middle-level military officers backed with
Haitian business and U.S. imperialist money and control.
Capitalist interests have something to gain from a subdued Haiti
with a weak puppet president-either a "reformed" Aristide or a
more traditional U.S. supporter.
U.S. fear of mass appeal
Why did Aristide's popular support threaten Amerikan imperialists?
Third World proletarians tend to support revolutionary forces-and
Aristide has been the best thing going in Haiti for a long time.
It is likely that with his level of popular support he could have
mobilized the masses to rebel against imperialist domination. The
United States government has a proud history of deposing
charismatic Third World leaders before they manage, through
national liberation, to de-link their countries from the world
Business, legislative and military sectors in Haiti claimed that
Aristide threatened them with mob violence, and that he supported
the people's trials and burning tire executions of suspected
enemies.(3) Haitian soldiers also accused Aristide of training a
300-man private presidential militia.(4) This may have been true,
because without some kind of military backing Aristide didn't have
a chance against the imperialists and their lackeys.
Disarming the president
Through agreements with the World Bank and the IMF, Aristide was
slowly giving in to imperialist pressures. As president of a poor
Third World nation struggling for "democratic capitalism,"
Aristide never had any real power.
Although he might have controlled the national bourgeoisie, he
could never challenge U.S. imperialism within the rules of
capitalism. Cash crops like coffee do not feed people, so Haiti
must choose either dependent foreign aid, starvation, or
revolution. U.S. control-effective in the past-is only more
powerful and visible now.
The important thing now is not whether the United States was
directly responsible for the recent coup, but to realize instead
that this coup benefits U.S. imperialism and exposes the fragility
of independent "democracy." The losers in this conflict and
similar ones in other U.S. controlled neo-colonies are the people
who must endure worse repression and poverty.
Aristide cannot win
Aristide had popular support but little else. And the power of the
Haitian people cannot be effective without a people's army and a
vanguard communist party following Maoist principles. Supporting
an elected official will never make real gains for the people,
because an imperialist-dominated world will keep "leaders" of neo-
colonial countries like Haiti essentially powerless.
As MIM Notes goes to press, it is unclear exactly how the United
States will resolve this situation. But there is no doubt that
U.S. control has been firmly reestablished and in the absence of a
socialist revolution or a national liberation struggle, Aristide
or whoever "democratically" leads Haiti next will serve the U.S.
imperialists and depend on the U.S. military for ultimate power.
1. Christian Science Monitor 10/2/91, p. 3.
2. NYT 10/9/91, p. 9.
3. NYT 10/5/91, p. 4.
4. NYT 10/4/91, p. 6.
5. NYT 10/6/91, p. 7.
6. NYT 10/3/91, p. 6.
Also see MIM Notes 57
* * *
THE HOUSING TIME BOMB
President Bush has heralded the Homeownership and Opportunity For
People Everywhere (HOPE) program as a key feature of the program
known as "resident management."
The act is a charade designed to give big profits to banks and
private-sector developers, even as low-income housing is
systematically demolished or converted into expensive
condominiums. "Non-profit" corporations are being funded to "help"
public housing tenants "manage" their projects. In the process,
they are being handed valuable real estate for almost nothing.
Corporate Amerika has discovered that production is cheaper
overseas. Decent jobs are drying up for many project residents,
and minimum wage work and welfare are for them the main source of
income. The effort to turn cities into centers of administration
instead of production means the people have to go.
The ruling classes don't want the traditional-and dangerous-low-
wage ghetto labor in their new international scheme. They prefer
to decentralize the armies of the unemployed. The new program is
part of the plan to make that transfer profitable.
PUBLIC HOUSING, PRIVATE PROFITS
in January 1991, while Amerikan warplanes bombed Iraq back into
the pre-industrial age, President Bush's State of the Union speech
was televised to Amerika. As part of the "New World Order," he
praised new government legislation called "Homeownership and
Opportunity For People Everywhere (HOPE)." Bush encouraged public
housing tenants to support the development of a key feature of the
program known as "resident management."
During the last year, Jack Kemp, Secretary of the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has been touring Amerikan
cities, touting resident management as "a far-reaching agenda to
dramatically broaden home-ownership and upward mobility
opportunities for low-income people."(1)
In the newest version of Amerika's bogus "War On Poverty," public
housing residents are being given the "opportunity" to self-manage
the hellish complexes in which three million mostly Black and
Latino people live. Although the government's own propaganda
admits, in its small print, that resident management will only be
available for 10% of the residents,(2) we are expected to believe
that George Bush and Jack Kemp have the interests of the people at
Nothing could be further from the truth.
HOPE, which has already been cut back, promised $2.8 billion, over
the course of two years, to "reform" the system of federally
subsidized housing.(1) Overall, HUD's appropriation for subsidized
housing has just drastically fallen from $32.2 billion in l978.(3)
The ratio of spending for defense and low-income housing in 1980
was five-to-one; in l990, it was 20-to-one.(4) The new progam is
the government's thin cover for its retreat from subsidizing
housing for poor people.
The Cranston-Gonzalez Affordable Housing Act of November l990,
which funds resident management, is a complex financial charade
designed to distribute tremendous profits to banks and private
sector developers, even as low-income housing is systematically
demolished or converted into "fair-market rate" (expensive)
condominiums. A slew of "non-profit" corporations are being funded
to "help" public housing tenants "manage" their projects.
The non-profits are actually being handed valuable real estate for
almost nothing. Tenants are expected to fall for this scam. Those
who do-will wake up when their mattresses are thrown onto
sidewalks by sheriffs waving eviction papers.
How it all began
Congress began public housing in l937 for young, upwardly-mobile
settler families. Over the years, cinder-block military housing
was converted into projects and huge fire-trap, inner-city high-
rises were constructed out of sub-standard materials on lots rife
with toxic wastes. As the white settlers moved "up the ladder" and
into the suburbs, the projects became home to millions of Blacks
and immigrants laboring in Amerika's war industries. The
buildings, paid for many times over by rents based on a percentage
of tenant income, were allowed to deteriorate beyond repair.
The Economy of the Ghetto
As corporate Amerika discovered that production was cheaper
overseas, decent jobs dried up and minimum wage work and welfare
became the main source of income for many project residents.
Remaining industries moved to the suburbs while the cities became
centers of administration, rather than production.(5)
"Outward flows of income, capital, and human resources to the rest
of the economy serve to keep the ghetto in a permanently under-
developed state and feed the economic interests outside the
ghetto. Labor is the ghetto's chief export."(6)
The massive amounts of money spent on "public assistance" has the
effect of pumping up the Amerikan economy as these checks are
cashed and spent.(7) And now, with the extermination of Black
people on the government's agenda, the rulers no longer need to
maintain traditional low-wage ghetto labor. They prefer to
decentralize the armies of the unemployed. Their problem is how to
profitably get rid of the projects-and the residents.
After the urban rebellions of the l960s, HUD and the Department of
Defense implemented a plan called "spatial deconcentration."(8)
Through "urban renewal," also known as "Negro removal," poor
people were forced out of the downtowns so neighborhoods could be
gentrified and made safe for commuting white collar workers, who
prefer to live closer to their antiseptic skyscrapers and the
monuments of High Kulture.
Lack of jobs and high rents tend to drive the proletariat away
from the vital city centers-where they could more easily
communicate and organize as a political force.
The projects have been sitting on real-estate which has vastly
increased in value since World War II. With urban land at a
premium, the capitalists are eager to get their hands on Housing
Authority property. Until recently, only the outdated l937 laws
stood in their way. But as of November l990, land speculators can
seize ownership of this previously land-banked property by posing
as friends of the people.
HOPE is the cover for completing the process of de-Africanizing
the cities. HOPE greases the way for developers to obtain
guaranteed government loans and to dispossess a large portion of
the 13.7% of the Amerikan population (at least) currently living
below the official poverty line: $12,700 for a family of four.(9)
HOPE is trying to throw entire populations-who have nothing to
lose-into the racist suburban areas. In shopping-mall Amerika,
urban refugees are forced to live in mini-ghettos, and to labor
(if work can be found at all) in extremely low-paying service
Smoldering in the cities
Plans to geographically disperse the revolutionary class may work
for a time to throw water on the powderkeg. But this is a country
where 60% of the jobs created since l979 pay less than $7,000 a
year(10); the actual production of commodity value has moved into
the oppressed nations abroad and partially remains in the
oppressed nations at home; imperialism rots the spirit of those
who live off the labor of others-in such a country revolution is
bound to eventually triumph. Why? Capitalism does not work!
People who live in housing projects should set their sights much
higher than the glitter of the HOPE drug that George Bush is
trying to shove down our collective throats. Project residents
should aim for real self-management: the dictatorship of the
l. Homeownership and Affordable Housing, HUD, 1/91, p. ii.
2. Speech by HUD Assistant Secretary Caprera, March, l99l.
3. Homelessness and Affordable Housing, United Church Board for
Homeless Ministries, New York, J. McDaniel, ed., l989, p. 2.
4. Beyond Shelter, SFDPH, San Francisco, l989, table 2, p. 13.
5. The Political Economy of the Urban Ghetto, Fusfeld & Bates,
Southern Illinois University Press, l984, p. 87.
6. Ibid, p. 145-146.
7. Ibid, table p. 146.
8. Spatial Deconcentration, documents collected from HUD by the
late Ms. Yolanda Ward (assassinated); published in World War Three
9. NYT 9/27/91.
10. Beyond Shelter, p. 5.
* * *
TROTSKY BOOTED OUT OF PARTY
On November 15, 1926, Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Bolshevik
Party of the Soviet Union. The Party realized that Trotsky's
ideological basis, elaborately cloaked in ahistorical revisions of
Leninism, hinged upon industrial proletarian chauvinism-discarding
alliances between the proletariat and the peasantry that were
essential to successful establishment of socialism.
Trotskyism and Leninism
Denial of distinctions between Leninism and Trotskyism is both the
most absurd and the most universal tenet of Trotskyist ideology.
In On Trotskyism, Kostas Mavrakis systematically destroys the
illegitimate ideological association of Trotsky and Lenin.
Trotskyists believe that the peasantry can only be rallied to
support the revolution after the proletariat already controls the
state, and that socialism can only exist on a world-wide
scale-that individual nations are incapable of establishing
socialism one at a time. Not only have both assumptions been
historically disproven by events both before and after Trotsky's
time, but Lenin's writings must be significantly distorted to
develop support for such theories.
Trotsky and the peasantry
According to Lenin, success for the proletariat is possible "only
if the peasant masses join its revolutionary struggle." Whereas
Trotsky said that the peasantry "will be drawn into the revolution
and become politically organized only after the advance-guard of
the revolution, the urban proletariat, stands at the helm of the
Trotsky's disrespect for the peasantry's ability to be educated
and aroused is evident: once the proletariat controls the state,
he wrote, "nothing remains for the peasantry to do but to rally to
the regime of the workers' democracy. It will not matter much even
if the peasantry does this with a degree of consciousness no
larger than that with which it usually rallies to the bourgeois
regime."(1) The fallacy of this position is best proven by the
Chinese Communist Party's alliance with the peasantry, which
allowed it to successfully organize in the countryside to defeat
the foreign imperialists and reactionary Chinese state.
Socialism in one country
Despite his stated agreement with Lenin on the law of uneven
development (which states that revolutions will occur in
underdeveloped countries where imperialism is weakest), Trotsky
never fully accepted the theory.
Mavrakis summarizes Trotsky's error: "This revolution is not
necessarily the immediate prelude to world revolution, but the
latter will continue ... for a long historical period. The uneven
ripening of the conditions for a revolutionary explosion excludes
its simultaneous occurrence in every country."(2)
Given that the Soviet revolution was not subsequently followed by
similar European revolutions (as he had predicted that it would),
Trotsky immediately began predicting the demise of the Soviet
Union. Trotsky argued that stability for the Soviet Union "rests
solely on the victory of the proletariat in the advanced
countries." Josef Stalin countered that according to Trotsky, the
Soviet Union should "vegetate in its own contradictions and rot
away while waiting for the world revolution."(3) Instead, the
Party ejected Trotsky and pursued self-reliance while aiding
revolutions in the Third World.
It is fitting that modern Trotskyism has found its home among
First-World sects allied with white labor. Trotsky's arguments
lend support to groups that see the First World as the beginning-
place of, and the key to, world socialist revolution.
Revolutionary parties of the Third World-where all the battles
against imperialism have been won-find little room for the
dogmatic outlook of Trotskyism that encourages them to await the
coming of the revolution in First World oppressor nations.
The revolutions of China, Vietnam, Peru and others have occurred
one at a time. Success has hinged upon national self-reliance and
strong alliances between workers and peasants.
1. Kostas Mavrakis, On Trotskyism, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976,
2. Mavrakis, p. 25.
3. Mavrakis, p. 27.
* * *
COLONIZING ZAIRE, AGAIN
Three thousand Zairian paratroopers who had not been paid in
months rebelled at N'Djili on the outskirts of Kinshasa, the
capital of Zaire, on Sept. 23, 1991.(1) Five hundred elite Belgian
troops and 450 French paratroopers were sent to Zaire on the next
day, Sept. 24, to protect Europeans. The intervention was approved
by General Mobutu Sese Seko, president of Zaire.(1)
The rebellion brought economic life to a standstill in Kinshasa,
leaving 30 people confirmed dead, before spreading to Kizzengoni,
Lumumbash and Kilomeni, which are south of the capital. The only
international airport, in the capital, was also seized and air
traffic was disrupted. (2, 7) President Mobutu called for a
curfew, but soldiers responsible for enforcing it participated in
Mobutu was vacationing in his country home outside the capital
when the rebellion started. Although he blamed insubordinate
officers who wanted wage increases, he also saw the rebellion as
an attack by opposition political parties-which were made legal
only in the past year.(7)
Afer five days of "rioting" Mobutu agreed to share power with
members of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP).
Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of UDSP, was offered a position as
prime minister in July, but refused because the position had no
real power. He said that he would accept such a position now.(5)
Zaire was a Belgian colony known as the Congo from its conquest in
1907 to 1960, when the Zairian masses overthrew their colonial
oppressors. Mobutu seized power in a military coup in 1965,
cancelling all elections and banning all opposition parties. He
sought to nationalize the copper and cobalt mines, but under
pressure from Belgium he instead created a state-owned mining
company called Gecamines. Other industrial sources were similarly
transformed, at the expense of the underdeveloped nation.(8)
"Nationalization" of industry in Zaire did not represent the end
of exploitation, nor the beginning of production for need rather
than profit. Instead it represented a consolidation of industrial
capital and a restriction of free-market capitalism to benefit
Belgian imperialism and its comprador class, led by Mobutu.
Belgian, French and Moroccan troops- as well as American
supplies-were sent to Zaire in 1978, when the Katangan people
attacked the mining center of Kolwezi.(1,8) This seriously
threatened the economic stability of Zaire, as well as the
imperialist interests of Belgium and the International Monetary
Fund (IMF). This imperialist invasion, which killed thousands of
Zairian people, effectively solidified the power of the comprador
Mobutu has been a useful ally to Western imperialists in the
region. Just north of Angola, Mobutu helped the United States
smuggle arms to Jonas Savimbi and UNITA (National Union for the
Total Independence of Angola) forces there. He has also maintained
economic ties with South Africa and Israel, despite the
Organization for African Unity boycott of the regions.(8)
Mobutu's power may indeed be seriously threatened, and will
certainly be reduced if the current plan to share power with the
UDSP actually materializes. Western imperialists, apparently
tiring of Mobutu, are unwilling to pay heavily to keep him in
power. France and Belgium did not send in many troops, and France
refused to send economic aid unless Mobutu agreed to a new
Imperialism & dependence
There is clearly reason to rebel in Zaire. In 1983, for example,
Zaire paid $2 billion for its external debt. This represented 50%
of its Gross National Product.(8) The IMF and the World Bank have
been sucking the country dry since it was decolonized in 1960,
forcing the country to devalue its currency.(8)
Zaire's main export is copper. Produced by Gecamines, copper makes
up 45% of the country's foreign exchange earnings. On May 2, 1991,
the company suspended 45% of its copper deliveries, after strikes
in the mines and in Zaire's national railway. A cave-in at one
mine also contributed to the decreased production capacity. This
has been a dramatic blow to the economy.(6)
A slump in world copper prices, as well as suspension of credits
by the IMF, has further hurt the economy. Inflation rates are at
least 1,000%.(1) Food shortages and dramatically devalued currency
make it hard for the masses to survive. But Mobutu, bought off by
imperialists including Amerika, France and Belgium, has an
estimated personal wealth of about $5-6 billion dollars.(3)
A revolutionary opportunity
Zaire's economic stability is precarious, and its usefulness as an
imperialist ally is not as strong as it once was. The human rights
abuses in that country do not make good press for supporters like
Amerika. Imperialists are trying to hold up this bankrupt
government with as little energy as possible, which provides a
revolutionary opportunity for the people.
In 1960, the masses were able to seize power from the Belgian
imperialists, only to have a military coup which resulted in the
repressive Mobutu regime. Revolutionary movements must have
political education. Evicting the colonialists from our land is
not enough-we must seize power from the comprador class and the
The masses of Zaire are in a position to seize power from Mobutu,
and they need the lessons of their past and Maoist theory to
overcome the corrupt seizure of power by the national bourgeoisie.
1. NYT 9/25/91
2. NYT 9/26/91
3. NYT 9/27/91
4. NYT 9/28/91
5. NYT 9/29/91
6. African Business 6/91 No. 154.
7. Newswatch: Nigeria's Weekly Newsmagazine 9/7/91.
8. Voices of Zaire: Rhetoric of Reality, by J.M. Elliot and M.M.
Dymally 1990. (The Washington Institute for Values in Public
* * *
FIRE AT IMPERIAL(IST) FOODS
It wasn't just due to a lack of inspectors. It wasn't just due to
a non-functioning fire extinguishing system. And it wasn't just
because many of the doors were blocked that 25 poultry workers
were killed and 49 injured in September's tragic fire at Imperial
Foods' chicken processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina. Sexism,
national oppression and the exploitation of workers in the poultry
industry in the Black Belt South were the true causes of the fire
and ensuing deaths and injuries.
As low-wage labor, work in the poultry industry is part of
"women's work" in capitalist society. The hiring is based on
gender, and the plants choose their locations based on the
availability of cheap labor. Imperial Foods opened in the early
1980s, initially employing more than 250 people, making it
Hamlet's second largest employer. Hamlet is a town of 6,900 in
south-central North Carolina.(2) The capitalist owners of Imperial
Foods had a captive workforce which is one of the reasons that the
plant was never inspected. To the neglect of workers, local
officials most likely looked the other way to benefit the owners.
Many of the workers at Imperial Foods and many of the victims of
the fire were Black. The fire caused what was probably one of the
largest losses of Black life in an industrial setting in recent
Amerikan memory. Chicken plant work is also a form of "nigger
work" in the industrialized Black Belt. Working conditions in the
plant were hazardous and oppressive.
No ethnic or national breakdown of the victims has been released
by the bourgeois media, to MIM's knowledge. But news reports
confirm our suspicions. "Most of the 90 workers caught in the fire
were Black, said friends, relatives and onlookers."(2) A relative
and friend of many of the fire's victims, Doris Fairley, "said
she's convinced that because so many plant workers were Black,
improper safety procedures were tolerated."(3) One of Fairley's
relatives, Peggy Anderson, who died in the blaze, "stopped by
every day after work ... and talked about how the bosses yelled at
her and kept up pressure to produce."(3)
The average hourly wage at the plant was $5. "Working conditions
are unsanitary, pay is poor and complaints about malfunctioning
equipment are sometimes ignored."(2) "The people here care more
about the chickens than they do about people," said one Hamlet
Many of the exit doors at the plant were either locked or blocked.
One door marked "Fire Exit" was actually a broom closet.(4)
Trapped workers, firefighters and passersby had to kick open one
door, cut a lock off another, and remove a trash bin and a tractor
trailer which were blocking other escape paths. Twenty-two workers
died inside the plant, and three others died after escaping the
toxic fumes of the fire-engulfed structure.(3)
Many well-intentioned reforms are now being demanded in and
outside of North Carolina, including an increase in the number of
safety inspectors employed by the state government, and a
revamping of the North Carolina occupational safety and health
Since the Hamlet fire, rallies have been organized in Raleigh,
N.C., the state capital, and in Hamlet itself, calling for the
hiring of additional safety inspectors and for union organizing of
the Imperial Foods workers. Grass roots sentiment exists for
criminal prosecution of the Imperial Foods officials.
These legitimate protests and demands should be generally
supported. But much more has to be done. The disaster arose out of
the exploitation of Blacks and women by the capitalist system.
Ultimately, we need a communist movement, which must unite all
oppressed nationalities and exploited workers. The goal of this
movement is smashing the capitalist state and developing a
people's socialist and then communist society, which is the only
In the wake of the Hamlet fire, it is the responsibility of
vanguard elements to spread this message far and wide, and to work
to make it a reality.
1. National Public Radio 9/6/91.
2. Winston-Salem Journal 9/4/91, p. 4.
3. Greensboro News and Record 9/5/91, p. 8.
4. NBC News affiliate 9/4/91.
* * *
* * *
BARBIE'S DAD DIES
On Aug. 19, 1991, Jack Ryan, creator of the Barbie doll, died. For
30 years the Barbie doll has helped the patriarchy maintain a
destructive archetype of women. The Barbie doll is a powerful
reflection of the many messages that tell women they must be skin
and bones-and white-in order to be beautiful. Mr. Athas, vice
president of the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and
Associated Disorders, says that girls in Amerika start dieting as
young as 8 or 9 years old,(1) prime Barbie age.
Marketing what girls all over Amerika are socialized to imagine as
the perfect woman was not enough for this man's life-work. In
addition to being a patriarch and creating the quintessential
woman = object toy, Ryan appears to have been a fascist too. Not
only is Barbie an icon of white supremacy, but when Ryan was not
working for Mattel Inc., he was employed by the Raytheon Co in Los
Angeles where he designed the Hawk and Sparrow missiles (2). He
will not be missed. How many more to go?
1. NYT 8/15/91.
2. NYT 8/20/91.
* * *
DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ?
The National Assembly passed a law July 5, 1991, that allowed
opposition parties to operate in Iraq. This law is intended to
eventually lead to national presidential elections.
A far cry from free democracy in this country ruled by the
dictator Saddam Hussein, the law dictates that new parties must
"appreciate the achievements" of Iraq's 1968 revolution that
brought the ruling Ba'ath Party to power. The law also forbids
members of any party but the Ba'ath from joining the military and
the security police.
The law also gives Saddam's cabinet the right to dissolve any
party that "undermines the security of the state ... and national
unity"-a clear reference to the Kurds.
Notes: AP 7/5/91
* * *
MIM reprints the following two paper tigers from La Patria es Una.
FBI SLANDERS REVOLUTIONARY
In March 1973, in defending Luis Jr. Martinez, himself and
others from a joint attack by the FBI/Secret Service and Denver
Police, companero Mario Vasquez shot several Denver Police. Since
that time, companero Mario has lived in clandestinity, continuing
with our struggle for self-determination.
Recently, unprincipled and unfounded rumors (reminiscent of
COINTELPRO) have begun to circulate that companero Mario is/was a
police agent. As an organization, we believe that agents must be
exposed, however, we stand 100% behind companero Mario and his
actions. We publicly categorically deny these accusations. We
question the motivation and timing of these accusations. Should
these false accusations lead to his capture, as an organization we
will be there in his defense.
If captured, the ChicanoMexicano movement for national self-
determination must close ranks and defend companero Mario, who
acted in defense of the movement and has continued to promote our
right to self-determination.
* * *
PEOPLE'S WAR IN MEXICO
During the month of August, the PROCUP-PDLP (Partido
Revolucionario Obrero Clandestino Union del Pueblo- Partido de los
Pobres), exploded bombs at several banks, including a branch of
Citibank, and other representation of U.S. imperialism and the
dependent Mexican bourgeoisie.
This limited military campaign was to demand the presentation of
companero Jose de Jesus Hernandez Alcala, a leader of the
PROCUP-PDLP, who was being tortured and hidden from public view (a
last step before "disappearance"). Companero Hernandez had been
recently captured and his whereabouts were unknown.
The PROCUP-PDLP has advanced the strategy of prolonged people's
war in Mexico for the last 26 years. A year ago, four other
members of the PROCUP-PDLP: Blanca Lirio Muro Gamboa, Ana Maria
Vera Smith, Felipe E. Canseco Ruiz and David Cabanas
Barrientos-brother of Comandante Lucio Cabanas, were captured in
As a result of this limited military campaign, companero Hernandez
was presented and is now in Reclusorio Preventivo Norte in Mexico
Haitians protest at U.N.
Haitians protested the recent coup in major U.S. cities as well as
in Port-au-Prince. Haitians in New York number 300,000 and large
communities also reside in Miami and Boston. In early October,
Aristide supporters took to the streets in New York City, New
Jersey and Miami to protest the military coup which forced their
"Haitian Martin Luther King Jr." into exile.
Approximately 1,200 Haitians demonstrated outside the United
Nations to protest the coup and the U.N.'s lack of responsiveness
to it. Members of New York's Haitian community looked to local
sources of information such as Le Soleil restaurant in Manhattan
and Radio Tropical, a 24-hour Haitian radio station.
In some demonstrations in Miami, the authorities apparently
decided that the protesters became "violent," and the cops
arrested 75 people and dropped tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Notes: NYT 10/2/91, p. 6.
* * *
The execution was scheduled for 7 p.m., then 10 p.m., then
midnight. Just after two in the morning he was strapped into the
chair, only to be led away again three minutes later. Then, just
before 3 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25, he was strapped in again.
Electrodes were mounted on his shaved head, and a final prayer was
read. Finally, when all was ready, word came down that the Supreme
Court of the United States couldn't care less about Warren
McCleskey. It took nine minutes until they were sure he was
dead-until his flesh was seared and his eyes popped out. They just
burned Warren McCleskey alive.
Before he was killed, McCleskey said, "I pray that one day this
country, supposedly a civilized society, will abolish barbaric
acts such as the death penalty."
McCleskey was convicted of killing a police officer during the
attempted robbery of a furniture store in 1978. There was no
evidence presented that he was guilty of murder.
The prosecution's case rested on the testimony of two men; one,
another man in the robbery, and the other-the witness who finally
convinced the jury-was a police informant.
Maybe McCleskey did kill the officer, although he maintained his
innocence. The point is no one cared if he did or not. A white
police officer was killed, and a Black man had to pay. McCleskey's
appeal made it to the Supreme Court twice. The first time, the
Court dismissed as irrelevant statistics showing that people
convicted of killing white people were much more likely to be put
to death than those convicted of killing Blacks. The second
appeal, in which the defense pointed out that the jurors were
never told the witness was an informant, was inadmissible because
McCleskey's lawyers didn't include it in their first appeal. (They
were busy prying the information loose through the Freedom of
Information Act.) But the Court made it clear it would not be
bothered with the facts-just the technicalities.
The United States, which incarcerates a greater percentage of its
population than any other country in the world, has struck again.
Lynchings used to be held in public, as were the official
executions of the state. People used to picnic at the public
hangings of the poor. The distasteful nature of execution only
emerged when the conflicts in society which produced executions
became extreme enough to warrant more extreme measures. Executions
were moved behind closed doors. The chair and the gas chamber
replaced the noose.
The state gave us 13 years to save Warren McCleskey, and we
failed. The death of Warren McCleskey-like the deaths of a hundred
thousand people in Iraq-caught us unprepared, but they were
committed in our name. They burned Warren McCleskey alive. How
much more will we permit?
Notes: New York Times 9/26/91, p. A10.
* * *
CABLE TV'S NEW HUNTS
After the success of the TV show "America's most wanted," the TV-
lynch-mob program industry has been booming. Shows have started,
or will soon, in Jersey City; Philadelphia; Springfield, Mo.;
Jamestown, N.Y. and Shreveport, La.
"Everyone wants to capture a most-wanted suspect," said Jersey
City Deputy Police Chief John McAuley.(1)
The programs, whose success coincides with the new-mostly
fictional-real-life-style cop shows, are nothing but trouble in
today's Amerika. Now everyone can be in on the hunt, and TV can
show all the same stereotyped images under the guise of reality.
Minor questions on guilt or innocence, causes and effects of
crime, are no longer necessary, because they re-enact the crime
for you right there in grainy black-and-white.
Meanwhile, 943 Black people are waiting to die on death row (40%
of the total number-the U.S. population is supposedly 12.1%
Amerikan society is careening out of control toward fascism, and
the corporate-mass culture is on the front lines of the change.
The sequel programs-not yet out-could feature "up-close" footage
of real-life vigilante groups finding and killing oppressed-nation
1. New York Times 10/2/91, p. B1.
2. NYT 9/30/91, p. 9.
* * *
PERUVIAN BANKS BOMBED
"Maoist guerrillas bombed 40 banks on Thursday night after
blacking out electrical power in Lima and most of Peru's southern
coast region, wounding three people in the attacks, the police
That's hitting them where it hurts!
Notes: NYT 9/28/91 p. 3.
* * *
"The best insurance against another hard-line Marxist regime in
Ethiopia appears to be the presence in Ethiopia immediately after
the EPRDF's victory, of an Amerikan, Paul B. Henze.
"Henze, the station chief of the Central Intelligence Agency at
the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa from 1969 to 1972, was
invited to the capital as a personal guest of President Meles. He
spent five weeks in Ethiopia advising Meles and was upbeat when he
left. 'Meles is pragmatic,' Henze says. 'He and his colleagues are
not bothering with ideological matters. Ethiopia has a good chance
of becoming a productive country.'"(1)
Notes: The New York Times Magazine 9/22/91, p. 57.
* * *
ANGELA DAVIS HERDS SHEEP
As the Communist Party, USA becomes more obsolete, Party bigwig
Angela Davis is changing the subject.
In a speech on Oct. 17 at the University of Michigan, Davis
lectured on Columbus Day, Clarence Thomas and South Africa, which
she just visited on a two-week revolutionary tour. She never
mentioned the Soviet Union, and there was no question-and-answer
Besides reminding students that "Apartheid is not dead," Davis
concentrated on the complicity of the South African armed forces
and the Inkatha Freedom Party in the violence which has killed
thousands and displaced many more in the last few years. As the
government makes the motions of "concessions" with one hand, with
the other it is waging an all-out war on the African National
Congress and other Azanian (Black South African) political groups.
Confronted with brutal poverty and violence, Davis said she had to
remind herself to, "stop feeling sorry-that is not the emotion
that is required of me."
And yet, her empty political message amounts to no more than
feeling sorry for Azanians.
While she declared that, "the people of South Africa are going to
usher us into a new era of history," the work of the of the
reformist ANC and South African Communist Party (SACP-CPUSA's
partner in grime) is slowing progress and disarming the people.
Word that Inkatha and the government work together is not news,
though it is worth repeating. But the ANC and the SACP continue
erect a public facade of shock and outrage.
In a meeting with ANC head Nelson Mandela, Davis said, Mandela
told her the ANC often knows about Inkatha attacks in advance-and
calls the police for help! She quoted Mandela as telling President
de Klerk in one case: "We informed you before about the attack ... I
would have expected that you would have called for the arrest of
the people responsible for the attack."
This is the worst opportunist sham and justification for the ANC's
and the SACP's approach, which is to pursue useless negotiations
and end armed struggle while the government and its Inkatha
lackeys make open war on the people.
In one women's hostel, Davis said, the conditions were "not fit
for animals." But she quickly retracted that phrase as ill-chosen,
because she is "in solidarity with" the animal rights movement.
But that is a telling remark, because Davis' political strategy is
itself more suited to animals-especially sheep-than to the people
she is attempting to serve.
-by a comrade
* * *
* * *
IRAQ SUFFERS IN THE AFTERMATH
lthough the war between the imperialists and Iraq technically
ended in February after a gruesome 100 hour ground war, in which
the imperialists utterly destroyed the Iraqi forces; the real war
began when the Iraqi people were forced to endure an anarchic
civil war, tremendous infrastructural damage and famine.
We must not forget the premeditated genocide-the ongoing embargo
initiated in August 1990 by the United States and coordinated by
the United Nations. This tally of imperialist adventurism
demonstrates the ugly consequences of a regional power like Iraq
vainly attempting to join the ranks of the imperialists.
Deaths by imperialism
Starting in August, 1990, the imperialists unleashed the worst
destruction upon the Middle East since World War I, when the
Ottoman Empire crumbled and was carved up by European colonial
powers. As many as 200,000 Iraqi civilians and soldiers were
killed in the war and in the subsequent civil war.(1)
The air raid campaign dropped more than two million tons of bombs
on Iraq and Kuwait. According to the Iraqi government, about 7,000
Iraqi civilians were killed by the air raids alone, mostly in
Baghdad, Basra, Falluja and Nasiriyya.(2) Amerika crudely
calculated the civilian deaths as "collateral damage."
While Operation Desert Storm tore into the Iraqi people, the civil
war which followed was the worst part of this living hell. Had the
U.S.-led imperialist coalition not wanted total anarchy in Iraq,
they would have rather easily deposed Saddam Hussein in the
At least two thousand people were killed in the Kurdish uprisings
in northern Iraq, and the casualty figures begin at 6,000 for the
Shi'a uprising in southern Iraq.(1) In the long run, the civil war
did much more damage than the ground war. "During March and April,
as many as 2.5 million Iraqis-14 percent of the population-became
refugees, fleeing from the soldiers of the Baghdad regime."(3)
And then there's the embargo. On Aug. 15, 1991, the U.N. Security
Council passed Resolution 706, allowing Iraq to export $1.6
billion worth of oil in exchange for supplies and war reparations.
Under U.N. supervision, 70% would have gone to humanitarian
supplies, while 30% would have gone to Kuwait for war reparations.
But the Iraqi leadership rejected the resolution, contending that
it would destroy their national sovereignty.(4)
Under the guise of attacking military targets, the U.S.-led aerial
bombings destroyed vast amounts of Iraq's infrastructure. The
destruction of bridges, roads, rail lines, port facilities, homes,
shops, hospitals, factories, oil installations and communication
centers amounted to $170 billion in damages, compared to $60
billion of damage in Kuwait.(5) The Iraqi figure may not include
the tremendous damage in northern and southern Iraq during the
Meanwhile, imperialist nations are flocking like hungry fiends to
their imperialist lackey, Kuwait, in order to invest in the
reconstruction of what the imperialists recently destroyed.
Capitalists understand that war is profit.
A 10-member Harvard University medical team visited Iraq in late
May and reported that 18 out of 20 of Iraq's generating plants
were either incapacitated or destroyed.(5) Besides the electric
generating plants, the destruction of health-related systems such
as water purification plants and sewerage lines were extensive.(5)
The medical team also pointed out a connection between the vast
destruction of Iraq's infrastructure and the resulting
deterioration of public health. The team predicted that in the
next year a minimum of 170,000 children under the age of five will
die from infectious diseases.(5) As of the end of May, 50,000
Iraqi children have already died as a result of the war's
aftermath, according to the Harvard team.(7)
Before the embargo, 70% of Iraq's grains were imported. For more
than a year since the embargo began in August 1990, the Iraqi
people have survived with their own agricultural production. But
in addition to the bombing and civil war, the 600 oil wells
burning in Kuwait have caused severe acid rain and drastically
reduced domestic crops. The soot and gases from the oil fires mix
with atmospheric moisture to form acid rain. As a result, the
harvest shortfall may be 3 million tons of grain.(8)
The minimal food ration in Iraq is 850 calories per day,
approximately half the amount of what a child under five requires,
and a third of the required caloric intake for pregnant women.
This food ration is comparable to what a dog or cat typically
receives in Amerika. An Amerikan scientist bluntly stated:
"Compare the food ration for [Iraqi] children to the ration of a
dog or cat in America ... Maybe this will make them [the Amerikan
Because there are little goods available, prices have skyrocketed.
The minimum spending to get an adequate diet for an urban family
is 600 dinars a month, whereas the current average wages for a
laborer is 60 dinars a month and approximately 250 dinars for a
government official. Most families have only one wage-earner.(8)
On Aug. 14, comrade Lieve Dehaes of the Worker's Party of Belgium
traveled to Iraq with the "Medicine for the People" delegation to
observe the aftermath first-hand. While she witnessed the
suffering of the Iraqi people at the hands of the imperialists,
she also saw the people reconstructing their country with courage
The production of drinkable water has been raised to 1.5 million
cubic meters, moving closer every day to pre-war production of 7
million cubic meters. In the province of Meisan, furthermore, 80%
of pre-war capacity has been restored by the people.(6)
Workers have rebuilt the important Rachid bridge in Baghdad, even
with the scarcity of necessary materials. They have also
reconstructed 30 primary and secondary schools in Baghdad; there
were 58 damaged schools in the capital city. Most of the country's
electrical capacity has been restored as of August.(6)
MIM commends the courage and strength of the Iraqi people to
rebuild from the ashes of the imperialist blitzkrieg. With an
unconditional lifting of the embargo, the people will soon restore
their country back to pre-war levels. But that is not enough. Only
revolution will truly vindicate the Iraqi people, who have been
oppressed by imperialists and their own government.
1. Middle East Report July/August 1991, p.5.
2. MER July/August 1991, p.4.
3. MER July/August 1991, p.8.
4. Economist 8/17/91, pp. 36-37.
5. MER July/August 1991, p.10.
6. Solidaire 9/18/91, p.16. A publication of the Worker's Party of
Belgium. Under their charter, the Party understands the importance
of the Third World proletariat. They write extensively on the
Peruvian and Filipino Revolutions and have first-hand accounts of
the war against Iraq and its aftermath.
7. Solidaire 8/7/91, p.10.
8. Economist 7/20/91, pp.42-43.
* * *
* * *
UNDER LOCK & KEY: NEWS FROM PRISONS AND PRISONERS
REFORM OR REVOLUTION? FOR THE OPPRESSED, THERE IS NO QUESTION
This is a response to an article published on the 20th anniversary
of the Attica prison uprising, in the August 1991 issue of MIM
Notes, which argued that reform has proven itself a failure in the
effort to create a fair or humane criminal justice system under
capitalism. MIM asserted that socialist revolution is the only way
to fix Amerika's skewed definition of crime and repressive
treatment of "criminals." Back issues of MIM Notes are available
for $1, or free to prisoners.
About "History condemns prison reform":
Well, OK, anybody with a grain of sense knows that the repressive
apparatuses of the state are an essential part of class rule, and
that no reform that does not overthrow the ruling class will
change the essential nature of these institutions.
So does that mean that we tell Mumia Abu-Jamal that we would be
reformist pigs if we worked to save his life? Does that mean that
we let Ahmad Abdur-Rahman and Geronimo Pratt rot away and die in
obscurity in order to avoid tainting ourselves with reform? Does
that mean that we let New York kill Bashir Hameed and North
Carolina kill Eddie Hatcher by medical neglect because decent
medical care is a "bleeding heart" demand? Does that mean that
political prisoners and politicized social prisoners should study
Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, but ignore their living
conditions so as to not be liberals?
If you answer "yes" to these questions, you are dogmatists who are
out of touch with the human aspects of oppressed people, who will
never win much of a following. If your answer is "no," then get
off this pompous kick and join the struggle.
-For prison reform
A MIM ally in prison responds: Struggle takes place at many levels
and on different fronts. As long as you recognize that struggle
against censorship, or for better conditions, isn't an end in
itself, a lot can be done, such as politicizing and involving non-
political people. And it helps show the dead-end that reform is
when people see that reform changes little.
Twenty years after Attica it's the same story of crowding, racism,
brutality. Of course we struggle against the murder of Mumia
Jamal, medical neglect, etc. It's just that we realize saving
Jamal's life changes nothing in the racist capitalist system of
In the 1950s and 60s prisoners, women, etc. "won" all kinds of
victories in court. Now the Rhenquist court is steadily rolling
them back, exposing reformism as a hollow promise.
MC11 adds: MIM agrees with our ally's response. We have stated
several times- most recently on the prison news page of the
October 1991 MIM Notes-that some reforms are worth fighting for as
part of a revolutionary strategy. Working for reforms as ends in
themselves, however- which is what the author of the above letter
effectively advocates-simply does not compare to the revolutionary
work which could be done instead.
But the author's position cannot be dismissed so quickly. It is a
problem that has confronted and continues to confront thousands of
people who genuinely want to participate in ending oppression in
the world. It is one many MIM cadres grappled with before joining
Some critics reject revolutionary work because their class
interest makes them want to maintain the capitalist system,
regardless of the social inequalities and oppression it inevitably
creates. This group is content with working on feel-good reforms
that allow them to retain their class privileges. Others are
genuinely deluded into thinking-as the ruling class would like
them to think-that reform really makes a difference.
Starting with the assumption that, as the author acknowledges,
repression is essential to class rule and cannot be eliminated
through reform, the logical course of action would be to start
organizing to overthrow the ruling class.
Countering this logic is the immediate pain and suffering
capitalism creates, and the desire to do something which will
achieve quick, visible results. Whether it's homelessness,
battered women, or the unjust imprisonment of thousands by the
Amerikan state, the temptation is to engage in actions which will
measurably help a few oppressed individuals in the short-term,
rather than work to build a revolution that would end oppression
for all-but which might take decades to succeed.
Of course MIM agrees that the lives of the prisoners the author
mentions are worth fighting for. But not at the expense of the
lives of the rest of the million-plus prisoners locked up by the
Amerikan state, and not at the expense of the freedom of the
billions of Third World people who suffer every day from the
violence of capitalism and U.S. imperialism.
Reformist "victories" are typically concessions on the part of the
ruling class. Providing small victories for reformist political
work also helps the ruling class maintain the pretense of justice.
Reformists like the author get strung along for years with the
little tidbits thrown to them by the ruling class, only to see
their decades of work reversed in the sweep of a president's order
or a multinational corporation's whim.
MIM argues with some feminists along the same lines. Many women in
the United States work with rape prevention centers or shelters
for battered women in the belief that they are helping to fight
the patriarchy and better the conditions of women. Others fight
legal battles in an effort to make the bourgeois law more
favorable to women. Yet each year, more women are battered, and
more women are sexually assaulted.(1)
The author tells MIM to "join the struggle," if the party agrees
with his/her assertion that fighting reformist battles is the only
way to gain a following and be in touch with the human aspects of
To this MIM responds: what struggle? The author's prescription for
reformist action without a revolutionary party to guide it is a
dead end. It would be irresponsible of MIM to advocate that people
waste their time with reformist work that even the author admits
will never change the essential oppressive nature of capitalist
institutions-not when they could be working with MIM to end
1. This space is too short to go into depth on this subject. MIM
distributes a 10-page theoretical paper, entitled "Revolution and
Violence Against Women," available for $1.
2. MIM has discussed the issue of reform work in many different
contexts. For more literature on this subject, write to the
address on p.2.
PRISONER LIKES ATTICA ISSUE, WANTS MIM NOTES
Dear MIM Notes:
As you are no doubt aware MIM Notes are sometimes being
confiscated from prisoners here at New Jersey's State Prison in
Trenton. However, some prisoners are still receiving them because
some of us have seen and read the September 1991 No. 56 and are
appreciative of the spread given to Attica. The Management Control
Units here at Trenton, which consists of 72 prisoners, will give
commemorative recognition to the Attica massacre of September 13,
1971 by fasting, and not participating in any MCU prison mess
movement that day.
We concur with much of what was written regarding the Attica
massacre in your No. 56, and we are living examples that the
struggling of Attica's history remains alive today, and with
consistent struggle we will progress.
In spite of the attack made against MIM Notes by prison
authorities here, there is litigation taking place to make MIM
Notes acceptable to any prisoner so wishing a subscription, as
opposed to the few that are slipping through. In light of that, I
would like to receive a subscription of MIM Notes myself, and I
will definitely be on the struggling end of those litigating to
defend the right of MIM Notes to be allowed within this prison.
Looking forward to your response. I remain ...
Keepin' struggle alive!
AIDS IN PRISON: A NEW FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
Prisoners have an AIDS infection rate of 5.8%, the highest of any
group tested in a recent Centers for Disease Control study,
including people at public universities (0.8%), at clinics for
sexually transmitted diseases (2.9%) and at drug-treatment centers
AIDS is currently the leading cause of death in New York State
prisons, and the New Jersey Department of Corrections estimated
that 30-50% of its inmates are HIV-infected.(2)
The National Institute of Justice reports a 606% increase in
confirmed AIDS cases in U.S. prisons and a sample of large jails
from 1985 to 1989. And prisoners with AIDS die at twice the rate
of non-prisoners with AIDS.(2)
Such statistics are not surprising, given the facts about who goes
to prison in capitalist countries. The AIDS infection rate for
intravenous (IV) drug users is increasing rapidly. IV-drug use has
a high correlation with poverty, as does going to prison. In 1979,
40% of state prisoners had pre-arrest incomes of under $3,000,
while almost 25% had no pre-arrest income. In 1981, the average
pre-arrest income for those in jail was $3,714.(3) It follows
then-and the connection is not lost on the capitalists who enforce
the twisted logic-that prisoners have a high AIDS infection rate.
A cure for the disease is nowhere in sight, as research money for
an AIDS cure takes a back burner to the tens of billions of
dollars the Amerikan state spends fighting the "drug war"-aimed
exclusively at poor communities and oppressed nationalities-and
locking up its victims. Unfortunately this is not a case of
misplaced priorities that can be straightened out by writing your
congressional representative. It's just the capitalist way.
1. AP in Detroit Free Press, 10/7/91.
2. The Progressive, September 1991, cited in Prisoners' Legal
News, Vol. 2, No.10.
3. The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, by Jeffrey Reiman,
Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1984.
AN AMERIKKKAN BASTILLE
The pigs at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana,
are testing out new ways to repress the prisoners in Camp J, the
infamous section of the prison where KKK guards have inflicted
every form of abuse in the book against the prisoners, including
According to Campaign of Exposure (COE), a prisoner organization
fighting this repression, there is a "Behavior Modification
Program" currently in effect at Camp J. The cellblock has long
been under an extended lockdown, where prisoners are confined to
their cells 23 hours per day. Recently the administration has been
under pressure to either justify the lockdown or change it. The
new plans sound suspiciously like a fledgling control unit.
Control units, which are spreading quickly through the Amerikan
prison system, seek to break prisoners through tortures such as
withholding food, light, media and human contact. When a prisoner
enters this kind of program, the state takes these things away.
Prisoners only get them back when the arbitrary and cruel whims of
the police are satisfied.
COE reports that the program is petty and retaliatory, coercing
prisoners to work for rewards-including food and books. There are
three "security levels," that a prisoner must work through to be
reclassified from Camp J. The levels correspond to the amount of
access prisoners are granted to the basic necessities of human
The program can "deprive the subject of the right to purchase
postage stamps from the prison canteen, limit the number of law
books that an individual can possess at any one time, deprive the
subject of the right to maintain a typewriter in his personal
possession and limit the number of indigent letters that one can
mail per week," writes COE.
"Its purpose is simply to turn back the hands of time to subject
us to the exact same criminal, inhumane and repressive conditions
that we waged a protracted and bloody battle to help do away
with," the Campaign adds.
One prisoner who has been working with COE writes that the pigs
transferred him to another cellblock just before the program went
into effect, in an effort to prevent him from documenting and
publicizing the new repression.
"After five long years of confinement here at Camp J, Extended
Lockdown, these pigs have transferred me to another area of this
prison. I strongly suspect that the pigs used this transfer to
keep me from monitoring the [Behavior Modification] program. I
also think the pigs transferred me because they could not justify
me being confined to Camp J for five years," the prisoner writes.
COE has written numerous other articles for MIM Notes exposing the
inhuman policies of Angola. This is the sort of vehicle that MIM
Notes should be for prisoners. Keep up the good work.
-MC¯ & MC11
Notes: MIM Notes 43 & 53.
FIVE DIE AT MONTANA STATE PRISON
Prison officials report that prisoners in one unit at Montana
State Prison seized control of both their cell block and five
guards. Warden Jack McCormick said the prisoners killed five
prisoners and injured four others, all of whom were being held in
protective custody because "they had informed on, or had been
threatened by inmates." The siege ended when prison commandos
stormed the facility four hours later.
MIM doesn't know much about this and would like others to send
news of what really happened. We do know there are prisoner
informants who work for the pigs; prisoners sometimes turn on one
another; other times the pigs use divide and conquer tactics. And
usually what the warden says is a lie.
Notes: Associated Press, 9/23/91.
'CORRECTIONS' IS A DISEASED SCIENCE
The investigation into the recent uprising at Southport
Correctional Facility-New York's "super secure" prison that is on
lockdown 23 hours per day-has largely exonerated the institution
and its designer, Commissioner of Correctional Service Thomas
Coughlin 3rd. The report, although not yet finalized due to
squabbling between its authors, concludes that such a prison is a
"justifiable penal experiment."(1)
And this is a great place to be a guinea pig. As we have reported
in past issues, the brothers in Southport get two cups of water a
day and one meal. They are chained everywhere they go, and beaten
by guards.(2) The only exercise they get is in small cages. It is
a sick science that tries to justify this as an experiment. To
counter the bourgeoisie's science of repression, the masses must
learn the science of revolution.
1. New York Times, 10/6/91, p. 20.
2. MIM Notes 54 & 55.
FOLSOM ADMINISTRATION CRACKS DOWN
Protesting proposed rule changes that would reduce visiting hours,
slash their 21-cents-per-hour pay by 5% and raise canteen prices,
3,400 prisoners at Folsom prison in California boycotted dinner on
Sept. 7. The warden's reprisals against this act of resistance are
continuing in late October as MIM Notes goes to press.
The prison was locked down for 18 days following the incident,
supposedly because there were fires and floods. However, a member
of the California Visitors Cooperative (CVC), a group that informs
prison visitors of their rights, said in an interview that the
prisoners have said there were no such disturbances.
"It scared the administration because all the races joined
together on this," the CVC spokesperson said.
Ten of the prisoners have been transferred to Pelican Bay and
Corcoran prisons, which will make it nearly impossible for some of
their families-living in Folsom-to visit. Pelican Bay is currently
under a state investigation for inhumane conditions.
Members of CVC who staged a rally outside the prison in
conjunction with the prisoners' meal boycott have also been
harassed and denied information by the prison authorities.
"It's a way of trying to break the group down because we're seen
as a threat to them," the CVC spokesperson said.
It is unclear whether the prison administration intends to go
through with the proposed changes.
* * *
BANKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!
by MC86, MC45 & MC18
Amerikan finance capitalists created massive bank-mergers this
summer, attempting to cut losses and strengthen their command of
international wealth. Amerikan Transnational Corporations (TNCs)
are preparing to fight rival imperialists-led by Japan and the
European Community-for the privilege of further exploiting the
By August, 60 Amerikan banks had failed in 1991.(1) Four hundred
are expected to die in 1992. Seventy-five banks with assets of
over $1 billion reported net losses for 1990. Chase Manhattan,
Bank of Boston and three others, worth up to $50 billion each, are
limping.(2) At least 1,500 more are on death-row.(3)
Citicorp was recently declared "insolvent" by "top-banking
regulator" Rep. John Dingell in a statement little noticed in
Amerika,(4) but of such note in Hong Kong that a panic-run on
Citibank there nearly shut it down.(5)
"McKinney & Co., a consulting firm, estimate[d] that by the mid-
1990s [Amerika's] 125 largest bank-holding companies, which hold
two-thirds of the industry's $3.2 trillion in assets, will be
winnowed down to just 10 to 15 ..."(6)
On July 16, Manufacturers Hanover and Chemical Bank, themselves
products of mergers, merged. On July 23, recent mergers NCNB and
C&S/Sovran merged. August 13, Bank Of America and Security Pacific
combined. Wells Fargo and First Interstate head a long line
waiting in the wings.
Banks and the Third World
TNCs brutally exploit Third World workers. In Peru, workers create
five times the value of their wages.(7) Corporations go outside
the First World to find cheap, non-unionized labor. In countries
with underdeveloped domestic economies, capitalists can pay
workers less than they need to feed themselves and their families.
These families try to survive by farming or sending children to
work in urban areas. The process is called super-exploitation.
In Amerika, capitalists sell the products of Third World labor
cheaply to buy the allegiance of Euro-Amerikan workers. Portions
of the profits are used as capital for investment, which create
illusory profits in the credit system.
Giant private banks offer tremendous loans to the Third World to
"aid development." Loans to Third World nations foster economic
dependence, which means the recipients are forced to provide cheap
raw materials and labor for export products for the First World.
The quick cash fixes-from loans and industry-are used to import
basic necessities, which the national economies cannot provide.
Now nations must comply with International Monetary Fund/World
Bank policies for short-term cash loans just to pay the interest
on the loans. National bourgeoisies-local ruling classes of the
oppressed nations-are restricting development of domestic markets,
looking for foreign investments. Individual foreign companies buy
out state-owned industries, which increases national economic
dependency on imperialist dollars.
Paper tigers, paper profits
"All nations with a capitalist mode of production are seized
periodically by a feverish attempt to make money without the
intervention of the process of production."(8)
Paper profits are made by a process called leveraging: making
something out of nothing. Capitalism calculates the power of
investments by matching them to the profit they could have made if
they had been used as capital to create profit.
The initial investment is considered, on paper, to "own" the
profit. The hypothetical profit is "fictitious capital"-invented
by guessing the outcome of an investment-and its paths are
difficult to track. It contributes to clogging the system.
Looking to restore the tiny bit of real money on which they built
mountains of fictitious garbage, banks have rediscovered small
depositors.(9,10) Bankers and brokers hold a portion of the
investment capital, using it to create domestic financial markets
to attract the savings of the working classes. The bankers pay
depositors approximately 5% interest for use of their money. They
charge up to 20% interest on personal loans.(11)
Corporations receive loans at 8.5% interest, while bankers and
brokers loan each other money at 5.5%. Wheeling and dealing in
paper money, banks deal in deposits and loans while unable to
produce cash to depositor or borrower.
Amerika needs big banks to compete in international finance.
Citicorp, the largest U.S. bank, is not even in the top 20
worldwide.(4) As the mergers race to the top, 500,000 bank
clerical workers-mostly women and members of oppressed
nationalities-will lose their jobs.(2)
The bourgeoisie is tightening belts domestically by concentrating
capital, liquidating unprofitable debt structures, re-transforming
fictitious capital into productive capital and subordinating the
banks to the TNCs. A powerful imperialist unity is preparing to
move on newly developed productive forces-against the Third World
proletariat. Mao warned: "If the U.S. Monopoly groups persist in
their policies of aggression and war, the day is bound to come
when the people of the world will hang them by the neck."(12)
1. Economist 8/10/91, p. 68.
2. Financial World 8/20/91, p. 28.
3. Naylor, Hot Money And The Politics Of Debt, Unwin, 1987, p.
4. NYT 8/14/91, p. C1.
5. Far Eastern Economic Review 8/22/91, p. 32.
6. NYT 7/17/91, p. C6.
7. Pastor & Dymski, "Debt Crisis and Class Conflict in Latin
America (table 7)," Review of Radical Political Economy, Spring
1990, p. 167.
8. Marx, Capital, Vol.2, International Publishers, 1967, p. 58.
9. NYT 8/13/91 p. C1.
10. Investors Daily 8/29/91, p. 30.
11. New York Times 8/23/91, p. C1.
12. NYT 7/29/91, p. C1.
13. Renmin Ribao (Mao Zedong) 9/9/58.
* * *
MIM'S HEAVY METAL HANGUP
Heavy metal has developed through the 1980s, with artists
encompassing a wide variety of social and political views. As
producers and recording labels began to realize the market value
of this subspecies of rock, hundreds of "genetically engineered"
bands flooded the market. Marketability rules over image, sound
and lyrics. So-called "glamour" metal arrived, epitomizing the
manufacturing process for the music product. Elaborate and
expensive stage shows and layers of make-up thinly cover
reactionary ruling-class ideology on sex and money. Still, some
aspects of heavy metal are not without integrity, and it is
possible to find pieces of accurate analysis among a variety of
Both the hard rock legacy of the 1960s and 1970s-including Led
Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath and many
others-and the later anarchist hard-core "punk" movement of the
1970s and 1980s have contributed to the definition of modern heavy
metal. While metal has developed several distinctive images, the
basis for the sound was set down much earlier.
Any semblance of progressive politics-typically anarchist
critiques of militarism and authority-can usually be traced back
to hardcore origins-Sex Pistols, the Clash, Dead Kennedys and
dozens of others. The artists most influenced by this tradition
are typically those with the highest degree of political
integrity, and the least "manufactured" product. Dave Mustaine of
Megadeth, a fast metal group with a history of more political
lyrics, reflects on the typical decadent lifestyle: "That's
megalomania to me ... I want to stay at the street-level, because
then I don't have any pretentious values in life, and I don't
start writing music just for the dollar sign."(1)
Examples of relatively politically advanced metal bands are not
hard to identify, but the analysis is usually superficial.
Metallica's anti-militarism of "Disposable Heroes"(2) and "For
Whom the Bell Tolls"(3) focuses on the uselessness of war deaths,
especially for soldiers, but there is no analysis of imperialism.
By far the most advanced analysis of settler imperialism came from
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden in 1982, in "Run to the Hills," which
discusses the Euro-Amerikan invasion of North America and genocide
of the Cree nation: "Murder for freedom, the stab in the back."(4)
Ultimately, heavy metal does not provide revolutionary
inspiration. It despairs of the lack of control white youth have
over their lives, and descends to nihilist anti-authority
positions. Lemmy of Motorhead explains the attraction: "It's fast
and it's aggressive and it's rebellious and their parents hate it.
That's always been the mark of good rock and roll-if your parents
hate it, it's good."(1) Metallica's "Escape" is an excellent
tribute to this sentiment: "Feed my brain with your so called
standards / Who says that I ain't right / ... Life is for my own to
live my own way."(3) The socially escapist position of many of the
groups does nothing to help this problem, a trait clearly
displayed even by the more politically-oriented bands.
1. "Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years,"
RCA/Columbia Pictures, 1988.
2. Metallica, "Master of Puppets," Elektra Records, 1986.
3. Metallica, "Ride the Lightning," Elektra Records, 1984.
4. Iron Maiden, "The Number of the Beast," EMI Records, 1982.
* * *
Popular Paper of the Black Unity & Freedom Party (BUFP)
Vol. 22:1 1991
Box 1, 122 Vassall Rd. London SW9 6JB BRITAIN
£10 for 12 issues overseas
This paper is right on. MIM cannot tell what its differences with
the BUFP are for sure, but the paper does not name itself Maoist.
The paper correctly stands against both the U.S. imperialists in
the war in Iraq and the repressive bourgeois regime in Iraq for
oppressing the people.
Rather than kiss up to Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell,
the BUFP calls him a "Black face for imperialism."(p. 2)
The one difference that MIM can point to is that apparently the
BUFP does not believe in a vanguard party. But what that means is
not clear because the BUFP advocates principled unity and the
formation of a party to build independent power for socialism.
MIM agrees with BUFP's assessment of Trotskyism. They explain that
Trotsky "produced little on the nature of Black struggle."(p.5)
The end of the article could have come right out of MIM Notes,
which is very significant because none of the three Maoist groups
in England have a line like MIM's on the labor aristocracy: "The
slogan 'Black and white unite and fight,' so favoured by the SWP
[might as well be the Socialist Workers Party, USA -MC5], might be
a nice ideal-but in the real world we have to develop our own
effective strategies and tactics, and identify how class interacts
"No Trotskyist group has tried to do this. They either subordinate
the Black struggle to class, or use the fight against racism only
as part of a struggle to protect 'democratic rights' as a whole ...
This is the petit-bourgeois politics of opportunism and will take
on a hysterical edge as crisis-ridden capitalism erodes the
privileges of a corrupt labour movement..."(p. 5)
BUFP also correctly labels racism a product of imperialism. While
the issues are a little murky based on this one issue, one thing
is clear: at least one party in England holds a line on the labour
aristocracy and Black nationalism similar to MIM's.
* * *
Metallica, a heavy metal band which has received much critical
acclaim, demonstrates an important phenomenon in American culture.
With virtually no air play, the band's latest album started out at
number one on the Billboard charts.
Like much metal, Metallica's tone is very angry, and very anti-
authority, without much materialist analysis. In fact, most of
Metallica's music ends up as political nihilism-the philosophy
that says political structures are corrupt and should be
This disc points to the degeneracy of the Amerikan war mentality
and the Church, but it provides no options, instead focusing on
the continuous oppression of people by some unnamed socializing
The heavy metal phenomenon serves the interest of the Amerikan
superstructure. It fosters the notion that free speech is free to
flourish, because "anti-government" heavy metal acts are allowed
to become millionaires. It allows a great number of people to be
critical of politicians and capitalists without being analytical,
or without taking steps to eradicate this degenerate capitalist
Almost everybody in this country knows that "the rich" have all
the power, just as everyone can say all politicians are corrupt.
What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. Most Amerikans, including
the labor aristocracy, benefit from maintaining an exploitative
system, and therefore in a global context they are "rich" too.
Music like Metallica's allows people to be critical, yet never
look for solutions. Would-be revolutionaries are told, through
this music, not to do anything. It is easier to give up than to
fight for justice. It is easier to be critical of a system than to
propose an alternative, and make that a reality.
MIM realizes that it is necessary to criticize the current power
structure, and expose it for the bloody regime that it is. We also
realize that fundamental change will only come through revolution,
guided by Maoist thought. Music is frequently a tool that is used
to oppress and fool the masses. Revolutionary music does not come
from the bourgeoisie, but from the oppressed masses. We must look
to the music of the oppressed masses throughout the world, and
create our own revolutionary music. -MC59
* * *
The main premise in this movie is spelled out by one Irish working
class musician: "The Irish are the Blacks of Europe. Dubliners are
the Blacks of Ireland ... Say it once; say it loud: I'm Black and
And so he launches a new band, dedicated to playing Black soul
music a la James Brown, etc. The band takes off, instantly
striking a powerful chord in proletarian Dubliner culture.
Eventually, the Commitments come apart at the seams, split along
ego lines as their popularity climbs.
The movie features a bunch of unheard-of new actors and musicians.
Along with the on-location filming, the cast gives the movie a
being-there feeling which is surprisingly convincing.
As far as it goes, the main thrust is good: oppressed people make
The culture of oppressed peoples is both an expression of
oppression and a struggle against it. Both of these elements come
out in the movie, though there is way too much emphasis on the
first. In other words, we get a sense of the crush of urban Irish
proletarian life: its brutal grind (gut fish all day, jam all
night) and its bleak outlook, countered only by the occasional
romance or flitting feeling of community. But there is no sense of
the struggle these conditions produce. The movie avoids "politics"
beyond the smallest hints, and therefore leaves the cultural
expression empty and one-sided.
For as crucial a role as cultural expressions play in the
development of class struggle, in the long run they are only as
powerful as the political struggles they support and represent.
The Commitments gives a small taste of that powerful brew, but in
the end leaves the revolutionary mouth very dry.
*THE FISHER KING*
What starts as a stark portrayal of the "underside" of New York
City life-homelessness and poverty framed against a sickly
backdrop of inhuman wealth-turns into a fluffy dream-piece with
nowhere to go and no way to get there.
Jeff Bridges is a radio talk show host whose cynicism inspires a
caller to take a shotgun to a crowded yuppie bar. Bridges' radio
career is ruined. One of the people killed is the wife of a now-
homeless man (Robin Williams) who ends up saving Bridges' life,
It's the kind of plot whose main overall point seems to be that
life is pre-determined by fate. This may be the movie's biggest
drawback, since the fate approach to life is in the end completely
individualist and self-absorbed. Everyone has got their own little
destiny to fulfill.
Except for some insight into the alienation of big city life (for
white people), as well as a reminder that misery rules beneath the
surface and "insanity" is the product of material conditions,
there is very little here to go on. To hell with mysticism and
fate-we've got a long way to go before we've even got reality
Chalk up another one to fate.
This time it's about past lives, an endless treadmill of a supreme
In a past life two people were married. The husband was
electrocuted for the murder of the wife, though he didn't do
it-the son of the maid did it. Now it's the next time around. The
husband has come back as a woman, the wife has come back as a man.
The son of the maid is still alive, as is his mother-for a while.
Everyone has to first figure out who was who in the last life,
then decide who they need to take revenge on, and then they're
There really isn't much to recommend this movie. Fate is a
reactionary concept which ultimately says everything is infinitely
repeated so there is no such thing as progress, and that people
have no effect on the course of history. With regard to romance,
which is almost always portrayed in bourgeois culture as a matter
of fate, it is especially bad, because its bottom line is
submission to pre-ordained gender relations.
Don't believe it. Prove them wrong: get with the program to change
the world and overturn the mythology of fate.
* * *
SOVIET BREAKUP LEAVES SECTS DROOLING
MIM Notes did an exhausting read of 20 leftist newspapers to find
out what the Amerikan left believes about the August coup in the
newly re-named Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics.
The Soviet Union continues to be a dividing line question among
revolutionaries; MIM's analysis of the Soviet economy and the
historical moment that capitalism was restored is crucial to the
way we view prospects for revolution today. It shapes our
understanding of what it takes to make a revolution, and to resist
counterrevolution and revision.
So while anti-sectarian, coalition-seeking "progressives" bemoan
the divisions among the left as inconsequential, MIM believes that
the masses are capable of making the important distinctions
between Maoist Internationalists and, for example, the Communist
Party, USA which was on record after the coup with the following
reactionary and contradictory messages: "I'm not for any kind of
condemnation of the coup," and "Mikhail Gorbachev deserves the
The choice is yours.
TROTSKYISM & THE USSR
Trotskyists have long held that the USSR is not capitalist. By
their reasoning, the USSR and its client states in Eastern Europe
are still under a dictatorship of the proletariat, but it has
become distorted. This is the "deformed workers' state" theory.
Under the rule of "deformed" workers, they argue, the development
of socialism is hung up. This theory rests on a formalistic
approach to social relations, which basically believes that state
ownership equals public ownership. The more dogmatic strains of
Trotskyism have argued that a return to capitalism was simply
MIM sees this theory as not materialist because it reflects no
class analysis. Which class rules? Who controls the means of
production, and who allocates society's surplus? For materialists,
"workers" who control the means of production, hire and fire at
will, pass wealth on to their children, and cut the majority of
people out of the political system are not "deformed"-they are
capitalists. This helps explain, which the Trots never can, why
the USSR experienced unemployment and recessions-characteristic
features of capitalism.
The Trotskyist view also maintains that Soviet expansionism
represents "deformed" internationalism, which means imperialist
actions such as the invasion of Afghanistan and the USSR's neo-
colonial relations with Cuba and other Third World countries
represented the spread of socialism, but it was deformed
socialism. MIM rejects this as an apology for imperialism and
opposes all such expansionism. (See "Revolutionary History," p. 3)
So rather than seeing the Soviet coup as an expression of class
struggle between capitalist elements, none of whom represent the
Soviet masses, Trots have implicitly supported the "deformed
workers"-those usually called "hard-liners"-over those now in
power, represented by Boris Yeltsin. On the positive side, recent
events may make some Trotskyists realize that capitalist
restoration is indeed possible after socialist revolution has
To those who belatedly come to realize what Maoists understood in
the 1950s, MIM says, "better late than never," and urges them to
come over to the side of the international proletariat before it's
SOCIALIST WORKER, SEPTEMBER 1991
International Socialist Organization
The Socialist Worker, publication of the International Socialist
Organization (ISO), claims that the coup was a "blow to orthodox
Trotskyism." Orthodox Trotskyism labels the USSR a "deformed
worker's state," as opposed to the ISO's characterization of the
USSR as "state capitalist for more than 40 years." ISO follows
this correct analysis of the social relations prevailing in the
USSR with an incorrect statement typical of "settler-radicalism,"
a trend holding that the Amerikan white working class is
revolutionary. ISO writes:
"Stalinism, in its Maoist guise, won the allegiance of a
generation of revolutionaries in the 1960s. But these politics led
the generation of 1968 to focus on Third World liberation
movements rather than addressing issues important to the U.S.
Maoists are, above all, internationalists. We don't address the
interests of U.S. white workers because the large U.S. labor
aristocracy is currently allied with Amerikan imperialism, and
therefore its interests contradict those of the international
According to Socialist Worker, small groups of Greens, anarchists,
and "socialists" mingled amongst the Moscovites surrounding
Yeltsin's appropriately-named "White House." The common complaint
was, "We can't give out a leaflet critical of Yeltsin when all
these people support him."(1)
WORKER'S VANGUARD, AUGUST 30, 1991
P.O. Box 1377 G.P.O.
New York, NY 10116
The Trotskyist Workers Vanguard, published by the Spartacist
League, holds that the main enemy of the "degenerate Stalinist
socialist workers' state" is Boris Yeltsin, Bush's weasel inside
the USSR. While MIM also recognizes Yeltsin as an enemy of the
people, MIM understands that the real coup happened in the USSR in
1954, when a new bourgeoisie seized state power and imposed
capitalism on the socialist production relations built by the
masses under the revolutionary leadership of Lenin, Stalin, and
the Communist Party. (See MIM's literature list for more
The Sparts go on to urge the Soviet working class to mobilize
their soviets (councils) against the bureaucracy-as if the
dictatorship of the proletariat still existed in the USSR!
Following this non-materialist exhortation, they boast of having
supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
THE MILITANT, SEPTEMBER 27, 1991
Socialist Worker's Party
410 West Street
New York, NY 10014
The Militant, publication of the Socialist Worker's Party, claims
that the USSR remains socialist because "nationalized property
relations remain in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe." MIM
understands that any state can nationalize the ownership of the
means of production (things), but "property relations" are social
relations and can no more be "nationalized" than ideas can change
"owners." (See The Fundamentals of Political Economy. Available
from MIM for $15.)
All revisionists-no matter how much they may dislike each
other-are linked by a common "theory of the productive forces,"
which crows that it is possible to achieve communism by profitably
investing in state-owned machinery.
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, revolutionary Maoists
fought this theory tooth and nail by raising the slogan: "Promote
production, grasp revolution!" For Maoists, the class struggle is
key during the stages of transitions from capitalism to socialism
to communism. People who emphasize forms of production over
revolutionary ideological content set the scene for capitalist
WORKERS WORLD, SEPTEMBER 19, 1991
Workers World Party
46 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10010
Kissing cousin to the Trotskyists is Sam Marcy's Workers World
Party, publisher of the Workers World newspaper. Like the name of
the party, Workers World contains no possessive punctuation mark
after "workers." Marcy hailed the reactionary coup as an "attempt
to restore the socialist structure of the USSR."
Down with Sam.
SOCIAL DEMOCRATS & OTHERS
Newspapers like The Guardian and The Nation are not sectarian, but
many single-issue group activists and progressives look toward
them on issues such as the Soviet Union. That is why MIM includes
them in this review.
THE PEOPLE, SEPTEMBER 7, 1991
Socialist Labor Party
914 Industrial Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94303
The People, organ of the Socialist Labor Party (SLP), minces no
words. The heck with the coup. It headlines, "The Bolshevik
Revolution Wasn't a Socialist Revolution." SLP will concede,
however, that the Revolution was "progressive."
THE GUARDIAN, SEPTEMBER 11, 1991
24 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10010
The Guardian features an array of comments by acceptable leftists
(MIM not included) and exposes its own line in commenting that,
"Yeltsin behaved sensibly, honorably and with great personal
courage throughout the crisis."
So did Julius Caesar.
Ever the fence-straddlers, these folks claim that Gorbachev's
restructuring "had a distinctly socialist content," and that
perestroika failed because "the workers did not march in to claim
what was rightfully theirs." How convenient. When "neo-Marxist"
theory fails, blame the masses.
But The Guardian does bring us up to date on the European left.
The Italian Communist Party welcomes the "dissolution of the
Soviet party," calling it a "tragedy of Leninism." Presumably
they, like their counterparts in Spain, fail to recognize that
when you throw out the bathwater (Lenin), you toss out the baby
Italy's Rifonazione Comunista, on the other hand, attacked the
post-coup decision to dissolve the Soviet Communist party as
"disgraceful, an indecorous surrender by Gorbachev, which opens
the path towards crude, primitive capitalism."
THE NATION, SEPTEMBER 23, 1991
72 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
The Nation gives its space to Boris Kagarlitsky, billed as "a
leader of the socialist reform movement in the USSR." With the
Soviet ruling class's formal adoption of naked capitalism and
abandonment of revisionism, space has been made for a new,
subservient Soviet "left."
Kagarlitsky's contribution: "The events of recent months have
demonstrated not only how little prepared Russia is for democracy
but also how little we deserve it." MIM hopes that any underground
Maoists alive in the Soviet territories soon begin to learn the
art of war by making war.
PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE, SEPTEMBER 23, 1991
Communist Labor Party
P.O. Box 3524
Chicago, IL 60654
The Communist Labor Party's People's Tribune is the willfully
ignorant National Enquirer of the Marx-less world. Its version of
the "theory of the productive forces" runs:
"The basis for a communist society is electronics and robotics,
which can create enough goods to end poverty ... Now that
electronics is here ... the (Soviet) workers have to get rid of ...
managers belonging to the age of industrial socialism. These
people deliberately held back the development of electronics ... The
new worldwide communist movement is led by workers ... fighting for
their practical needs because that is what the change to
electronics calls for."
1. The Guardian 9/11/91, p. 11.
MC44 & MC12 contributed to this report.