Ye olde Specter is still haunting the Scrooge crew, even intriumph

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Thu Dec 23 08:33:24 MST 1999

December 21, 1999

Red baiting: Old divide and rule game

By John Bachtell <jbachtell at>, Chair, NY State Communist Party

It seems Mayor Giuliani is blaming Marxism for every protest breaking out
these days. In dredging up anti-communism Giuliani would like to undercut
growing opposition to his policies. This should sound alarm bells for all
democratic minded people.

Anti-communism has historically been used by the corporations and ultra
right to divide people and divert attention from the real issues. It's
older than Marxism itself.  As Communists, we can speak about this with
some authority.

To Mayor Giuliani, wherever people fight injustice, there lies a Marxist
conspiracy. This is regurgitated McCarthyism, repudiated by the American
people 40 years ago. Then Cold War anti-communism was used to create mass
hysteria to slander Communists as foreign agents, spies and outside
agitators. Communists were criminalized, denied rights, and declared
illegal. Communist leaders went to jail, and thousands lost their jobs and
where blacklisted.

While the hysteria's first target were the Communists, it was aimed at all
progressive minded people and movements. It profoundly impacted all aspect
of society. It had a chilling impact on democracy, politics and culture.

We have paid for it dearly, including trillions of dollars wasted on
useless armaments, and millions dead in Vietnam and other wars.

Cold war anti-communism was used by the corporations to destroy the left
progressive trade union leadership at home and terrorize the socialist and
newly independent countries abroad to clear the way for U.S. corporate

Mayor Giuliani is reviving anti-communism at a time when our resurgent
labor movement is on a collision course with corporate America. While the
"crazies" got most of the attention in Seattle, it was actually a new
historic broad coalition led by labor that forced the WTO to leave without
an agreement.

The damage to society, says the Mayor, comes from "the whole notion of
class warfare, which really comes out of the teachings of Karl Marx,
trying to divide people into different classes."

And further, "Marxism unfortunately is still alive in parts of New York
City even in the later part of this century, even though it's been
disgraced all over the world."

First, Marxism is a scientific outlook, a guide to understanding the world
we live in and acting to change it. Like any science it is constantly
being developed by ever changing reality.

Marxism didn't invent "class warfare," the struggle between corporate
owners and working people. That existed long before Marxism. Marx showed
that capitalism is a system based on the corporate drive for maximum
profits and the source of those profits is the exploitation of labor by
capitalists. This is the source of the struggle between classes.

Marx understood that society develops through a law governed process, that
there is a progressive direction to history, from lower to higher stages
and that capitalism will eventually be replaced by socialism.

The class struggle has intensified because the drive for profits and
exploitation has intensified. Merger mania is producing a few global
mega-corporations that dominate each industry worldwide.

Immense amounts of wealth have been concentrated in ever fewer hands while
impoverishing tens of millions. The assets of the 200 richest people are
more than the combined income of 41% of the world's people. The richest 1%
of Americans will have as many after-tax dollars to spend as the bottom
100 million. The gap between the richest 20% and the poorest 20% is wider
in New York than any other state.

Second, Marxists and Communists exist, like we all do (including our
Mayor), within the framework of the class struggle. It is impossible to
remain neutral or straddle the fence.

While the Mayor takes the side of the global corporations, banks and real
estate interests, the Communist Party takes the side of the working class.

We are not outside agitators or foreign agents. Our Party was born in the
struggles of the working class. It was the CPUSA and other left forces
that pioneered the unionization of the basic mass production industries in
the 1930s.

Incidentally it was Communists who led the organization of the Transport
Workers Union, under the leadership of Mike Quill and other public sector
and health care unions. The CPUSA was a leader in the fight for
unemployment compensation and social security, and in the fight against
lynch terror, racism and fascism.

Perhaps the Mayor is unaware of the broad decline in anti-communism taking
place among people. This is one reason the AFL-CIO adopted a new policy of
inclusivity and dropped the anti-communism clauses in its constitution.

Far from being an invention of Marxists, the class struggle rages in New
York. While Wall Street wallows in record profits, workers are
increasingly hurting and growing insecure about the future. And becoming
radicalized as a result.

We didn't invent the New York City unemployment rate which is double the
national average. Communists are not to blame for the over 3 million New
Yorkers without health insurance and didn't create the 52% of New York
City children growing up in poverty, or the crisis overcrowding in our
deteriorating schools.

We didn't conjure up the 74,000 people turned away from emergency food
pantries in January, 60% of them children. Requests for emergency food
grew by 36% from January 1998 to January 1999, more than twice the
national average.

It wasn't our agitation that killed the striking Domino sugar worker, who
committed suicide out of despair over being downsized.

Why is there a severe shortage of affordable housing in the city? Because
it's not as profitable to build as luxury housing. Or that tobacco
companies and gun manufacturers can literally get away with murder for the
sake of profit.

No, these crises were created by corporate greed.

"Taking away profits, means taking away jobs from people. It means seeing
unemployment go up. It means really hurting people who need the most help.
And it's a true misunderstanding of what America is all about."

In other words the Mayor is saying Marxism is "un-American." Yet in the
same breath his administration has been hauled into court 22 times for
violation of First Amendment rights. In fact his attack on Bill of Rights
freedoms is "un-American."

But this serves to underscore the danger to democracy posed by the Mayor's
anti-communist hysteria. It becomes a justification for denial of basic
rights - the right to strike and even speak about a strike. The
injunctions effect every worker and themselves reflect the new level of
the class struggle.

How long will it be before the Mayor demands that all Marxist teachers and
professors be ousted from city schools and campuses? Before people are
jailed for advocating socialism? Then we have a witch hunt all over again
and anyone who speaks out against Giuliani's policies will suddenly be

It's not so far fetched. But we are confident that New Yorkers won't let
Mayor Giuliani start a new McCarthyism.


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