Internationalist No. 27 (May-June 2008)  
No. 27,
May-June 2008

Table of Contents
Selected articles linked

Click on image to left for pdf version of complete issue.


Historic ILWU Dock Workers’ Action Points the Way
May Day Strike Against the War Shuts Down All U.S. West Coast Ports

On May 1, every port on the West Coast of the United States was shut down to demand an end to the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The historic May Day walkout by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is the first time ever that an American union has struck against a U.S. war. The union ranks defied the rulings of an arbitrator, who twice ordered them to go to work. They overcame the capitulations of the ILWU leadership, which didn’t want the work stoppage in the first place, tried to water it down  and cowered before the threats of legal action while waving the flag. The employers’ Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) declared the May 1 port shutdown an “illegal strike.” But after all the huffing and puffing from the bosses’ mouthpieces, the dock workers pointed the way to defeating the imperialist war by mobilizing working-class power. In the end, it was more than a work stoppage. The dock workers’ May Day strike against the war was a first step, a show of what it will take to bring down the warmongers in Washington. Their “symbolic” action was felt all the way to Iraq, where dock workers in two ports stopped work in solidarity with the ILWU. But it was only a beginning. What is needed is not only industrial action but a political offensive against the Democrats and Republicans, the partner parties of American imperialism, to build a class-struggle workers party.  May Day Strike Against the War Shuts Down All U.S. West Coast Ports  (3 May 2008)

“Workers Vanguard” Brings Up the Rear
The Opportunist Left and the Port Strike Against the War: The Sound of One Hand Clapping

On May Day, ports up and down the Pacific Coast were shut down by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to demand an end to “this bloody war and occupation for imperial domination.” It is the first time ever that an American union has taken industrial action against a U.S. war. News of the ILWU’s strike against the war has reverberated among labor militants internationally. While the maritime employers threatened legal action and trade papers denounce reds under the beds, most of the left was notably silent. The reason: they are part and parcel of the popular-front antiwar movement,  whose purpose is to pressure the Democrats, and militant labor action gets in the way. The Spartacist League for many years called for workers strikes against the war, as well as
“hot-cargoing” war materiel. However, as part of its turn from revolutionary Trotskyism to centrist opportunism, the SL abandoned these key programmatic positions, along with its prior calls to defeat U.S. imperialism. Meanwhile, it smears the Internationalist Group for upholding the Trotskyist program of workers action against imperialist war.  The Opportunist Left and the Port Strike Against the War: The Sound of One Hand Clapping  (15 May 2008)

For Workers Strikes Against the War!
Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!

All Out on May Day!
On May 1, all 29 ports on the U.S. West Coast are to be shut down by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in protest against the U.S. war on Afghanistan and Iraq. This is a historic event of international significance: labor action against imperialist war by a major American union. The strategically placed port workers in the ILWU can bring commerce with Asia to a grinding halt, and they’re about to demonstrate it. The maritime employers are already screaming, and you can bet it’s got the attention of the warmongers in Washington. All labor should take up the challenge this poses: For workers strikes against the war! Meanwhile, immigrants’ rights groups are once again mobilizing on May Day. And on April 30 and May 1, the independent truckers who move cargo to and from the docks may play an important role in a shutdown. The imperialist war on Afghanistan and Iraq is also a war on immigrants, minorities, working people and democratic rights “at home.” We need to defeat this attack here and abroad, in opposition to both the capitalist war parties. The “antiwar movement,” whose aim has always been to pressure the Democrats, is at a dead end. What’s needed is working-class action independent of the bosses. What that takes is a fundamental break from the Democratic Party and the pro-capitalist politics that infuse the labor bureaucracy.  All Out on May Day!  (19 April 2008) 
For Workers Strikes Against the War!
ILWU to Shut Down West Coast Ports May 1 to Protest War
In a major step for the U.S. labor movement, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced that it will shut down West Coast ports on May 1, to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East. This is the first time in decades that an American union has decided to undertake industrial action against a U.S. war. The action announced by the powerful West Coast dock workers union, to stop work to stop the war, should be taken up by unions and labor organizations throughout the United States and internationally. And the purpose of such actions should be not to beg the bourgeois politicians whose hands are covered with blood, having voted for every war budget for six and a half years, but a show of strength of the working people who make this country run, and who can shut it down! ILWU to Shut Down West Coast Ports May 1 to Protest War  (1 March 2008) 
Why We Fight for Workers Strikes Against the War
(and the Opportunists Don't)

Break with the Democrats – For a Class-Struggle Workers Party!
The U.S.’ colonial occupation of, Iraq and Afghanistan is at a dead end. Despite the vaunted “surge” of U.S. forces in Iraq last spring, attacks by insurgents have not diminished one bit, while the number of Iraqi civilian casualties has sharply increased. In the mid-term U.S. elections last November, the Democrats won control of both houses of Congress mainly due to the perception that they would “do something” to end the war.  Yet the war goes on, with their support. The entire activity of the antiwar movement has consisted precisely of seeking to pressure the Democratic Party into opposing the war on Iraq. Forget it. This is a bi-partisan imperialist war. The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International call not just for U.S. withdrawal, which would merely lead to the next war as it has repeatedly over the last century, but to drive the imperialist occupiers out of Iraq and Afghanistan and to defeat U.S. imperialism’s wars through international socialist revolution. We seek to mobilize the power of the workers movement in sharp class struggle, including workers strikes against the war and “hot cargoing” war material. Why We Fight for Workers Strikes Against the War  (18 October 2007)
For Revolutionary Defense of Cuba!
Free the Cuban Five!

On June 5, a federal appeals court  upheld the convictions of the “Cuban Five”: René González,  Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labaniño,  Fernando González  and Antonio Guerrero. 
The Five heroically risked their lives to defend the Cuban Revolution against terror attacks launched from the U.S.  Prosecutors presented evidence that the five had infiltrated counterrevolutionary terror groups in Miami. The government outrageously charged the defendants with “conspiracy” to commit espionage and murder, since there is not a shred of evidence that they commited any crime whatsoever. Several thousand Cubans have been killed in nearly five decades of invasions, bombings and assassinations by the U.S. and its gusano mercenaries. The authors of the notorious 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airlines passenger plane that killed all 73 aboard, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, walk around Miami freely while the Cuban Five have been locked up for nearly a decade. We demand the Cuban Five be freed now, and return the U.S. naval base and torture center at Guantánamo to Cuba! Free the Cuban Five!  (14 June 2008) 
For an Arab-Hebrew Workers State in a Socialist Federation of the Near East!
Defend Gaza! Defeat U.S./Israel War on the Palestinian People!

Last week, Israeli authorities ordered a halt to all imports into the Gaza Strip. The world’s largest concentration camp was sealed off from the outside world. The Israeli action was a heinous war crime akin to the Nazis’ confining of Polish Jews to the Warsaw Ghetto. But the Zionist war criminals are not acting on their own. The lockdown is part of a U.S.-Israeli plan to punish the Gaza population for electing the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement as their government. Since Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, Israeli Zionists and U.S. imperialists have been directly arming, training and commanding key Fatah forces to wage a war on Hamas. The Internationalist Group calls to mobilize to defeat the joint U.S./Israeli war on the Palestinian people. While politically opposing Islamic fundamentalism, as well as the Christian fundamentalism fueling the U.S.’ imperialist crusade in the Near East, and theocratic states like the Jewish state of Israel, we call for an Arab-Hebrew workers republic as part of a socialist federation of the Near East. Defend Gaza! Defeat U.S./Israel War on the Palestinian People!  (26 January 2008)
Defend the Puerto Rican Teachers Federation!
A Case of Labor Colonialism: AFL-CIO and Change to Win vs. the FMPR

As the Puerto Rican Teachers Federation prepares to strike against a virulently anti-labor governor, braving draconian no-strike legislation, unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the Change to Win (CTW) federation are outrageously lining up with the bosses. This will come as no surprise to those who know something of the sordid history of the American labor bureaucracy in the U.S.’ Caribbean island colony, and as accomplices of imperialist machinations throughout Latin America (and the rest of the world). But what the labor fakers are preparing is a major betrayal of Puerto Rican workers. The SEIU/CTW is backing a teachers association that includes management, and which is preparing to scab on the strike. In 2005 the AFT/AFL-CIO went to the colonial courts to try to take over the FMPR. A crucial test is shaping up in which it is urgent to defend the Puerto Rican teachers union. The issue is posed: which side are you on? A Case of Labor Colonialism: AFL-CIO & CTW vs. the FMPR  (7 February 2008) 

Brazilian Teachers Strike Again
for Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal

For a second time, the teachers union of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, SEPE-RJ, set an important example in calling a strike this past May 7 in defense of public education and demanding freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. The SEPE has fought for Mumia’s freedom since 1999, when at the initiative of the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil (LQB) and its affiliated Class Struggle Committee (CLC) the teachers union called the first-ever labor action for Mumia. During a two-hour work stoppage, events were held at schools around the state to publicize Mumia’s case and denounce the racist death penalty. The next day, dock workers in the United States shut down all West Coast ports for ten hours demanding freedom for Jamal. In the face of the worsening legal situation for Jamal, whose appeal for a new trial was rejected by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the SEPE voted to again stop work, calling on other unions to join it in demanding freedom for Jamal. A special issue of the union newspaper on Mumia was put out for the strike recounting the facts of his case and the SEPE’s 1999 work stoppage for his freedom. Brazilian Teachers Strike Again for Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal  (May 2008) 
Federal Court Reaffirms Frame-Up Conviction, Orders Life Behind Bars or Racist Legal Lynching
Ruling Against Mumia Shows:
No Justice in the Capitalist Courts
Mobilize the Working Class to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!

On March 27, the U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia reaffirmed the frame-up conviction of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther Party spokesman and world-renowned radical journalist who has been locked up on Pennsylvania’s death row for more than a quarter century. After previously rejecting Mumia’s request to present evidence of his innocence, as well as a host of issues showing that he was railroaded by a racist court, the Court turned down Mumia’s request for a new trial. It upheld the 2001 ruling by a federal district judge that ordered a new hearing on the sentence, but limited the “choice” to the living hell of life imprisonment without parole ... or execution. Mumia is innocent. He was declared guilty and sentenced to die because of his revolutionary politics and because for years he had been a thorn in the side of the racist rulers of the misnamed “city of brotherly love.” Around the world, millions have come out in defense of Jamal. This latest ruling, like all those that preceded it, shows that the exploited and oppressed must have no faith in the racist injustice system. We call on the workers movement to mobilize its power to free Mumia now! Mobilize the Working Class to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!  (28 March 2008) 
90 Years of the October Revolution The Russian October Revolution of 1917 was the seminal event of the 20th century. The workers’ conquest of power led by the Bolshevik Party of V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky put an end to World War I and shook the old order from the imperial centers of Europe to the farthest reaches of their colonial “possessions.” The revolution continued to be key to world events for the next three-quarters of a century, long after Stalin and his bureaucratic henchmen had seized power and betrayed the internationalist program of Red October. The counterrevolution that destroyed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics along with the Soviet-bloc bureaucratically deformed workers states during the period 1989-92 represented a world-historic defeat for the proletariat of the entire planet. Yet contrary to the imperialist ideologues, communism is not dead, we have not entered a “new world order” of peace and prosperity, and we have not reached the “end of history” – far from it. Nor, as a host of self-proclaimed socialists declare, have we been thrown back to the period before October. On the contrary, basing ourselves on the program and analyses of Lenin and Trotsky, in order to lead the revolution to victory, this time on world scale, a central task facing revolutionaries today is to draw the lessons both of the victory of 1917 and of the defeat that opened the post-Soviet period.  90 Years of the October Revolution  (November 2007)
Fight for Power to Workers and Peasants Councils!
Trotskyism vs. “Constituent Assembly” Mania

Over the last several years, calls for the establishment of a constituent assembly have been heard in various countries of Latin America. Around the mass strike and quasi-uprising in Oaxaca, Mexico during May-November 2006, demands were raised by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) and a host of left groups for a constituent assembly, a “revolutionary constituent assembly,” etc. Currently,
“center-left” bourgeois populist regimes led by Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador have sought to strengthen themselves against right-wing reaction by calling constituent assemblies. This bourgeois-democratic demand has been put forward by revolutionary communists in fighting against a variety of pre-capitalist, colonial or bonapartist regimes. It was one of the key planks of V.I. Lenin’s Bolsheviks against the tsarist autocracy in Russia, until it was superseded as the central demand by “all power to the soviets” in the course of 1917. Trotsky raised the call for a national assembly in China under the warlords, while emphasizing that it would only be part of a program for the taking of power by workers and peasants councils. But the current deluge of calls for a constituent assembly in ostensibly bourgeois-democratic regimes is counterposed to Bolshevism. It replaces the program of proletarian revolution with that of (capitalist) “democracy,” a hallmark of reformist social democrats.  Trotskyism vs. “Constituent Assembly” Mania  (October 2007)

To contact the League for the Fourth International or its sections, send an e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com