Jan-Feb 2009 Number 52
Publication of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA

The Inauguration of a new President –
The Continuation of U.S. Imperialist Rule

“This is our moment … to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one.”
        Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech, November 4, 2008

On January 20, 2009, in front of the largest inaugural crowd in U.S. history, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the USA under the U.S. Constitution. As many as three million people are expected to make the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. A large number of them, especially among the Afro-American people, are motivated by many of the same religious feelings that possess millions of other distressed and oppressed human beings who travel to Rome or Mecca or Jerusalem or the holy sites of India or elsewhere around the world in the expectation that their lives will be enriched, their distress will be relieved, their oppression will be lifted.

The millions who travel to Washington, D.C. will be clinging to their “faith” in “the Obama dream” in the face of a mountain of facts, a mountain which grows larger every day. We hope this Newsletter is a source of cold bracing water – not serving as a “wet blanket” spoiling a big celebration. Rather, we hope it serves as an aid to wake up those millions in the USA and billions worldwide who have been taking a nap, induced by the soothing lullaby of the two years-long epic flim-flam of the U.S. presidential campaign and its ultimate product, “the Obama dream.” We all need to deal seriously and effectively with U.S. imperialism, and international capital, especially in the world capitalist economic crisis that has now erupted.

In the period since his election, Barack Obama has rapidly assembled his leadership team. Especially in the most crucial departments of the U.S. imperialist state apparatus, Obama  has not only elevated the Democratic Party hack “usual suspects” but has even retained a number of key Bush Regime war criminals for his own inner circle. This is certainly true of his National Security team, tasked with defending the U.S. Empire at home and abroad, and his Economy Team tasked with providing a turnaround for the collapsing U.S. and world capitalist economy and providing relief to the rapidly increasing millions of dispossessed in the USA itself.

Military Facts and Prospects For Peace:

One of the earliest and most important forces behind the Obama candidacy were those pacifists and anti-war activists who opposed the Bush Regime’s war policies to one degree or another. Obama’s opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq while he was still in the Illinois Senate was much of the basis for the Obama campaign’s ability to surpass Hillary Clinton and make him the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. This anti-war credential remained a key ingredient in his successful run for the Presidency against Republican John McCain, who was saddled (thanks to the Iraqi and Afghan people’s resistance movements) with the Bush Regime’s criminal and failed war policies.

As soon as he became President-elect, however, Obama praised Senator McCain, a classic war criminal in the Vietnam War.* Obama said of his Republican “rival,” “He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.” (Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech, 11-4-08)
*As a privileged fighter pilot, this son and grandson of four-star admirals had enthusiastically bombed the Vietnamese people until he was shot down, captured and made a prisoner of war by the heroic Vietnamese national liberation fighters.
Since then, Obama has selected a National Security Team of war mongers, connected to the military-industrial and finance capitalist complex. All have already proven themselves in the service of arch war criminal George W. Bush!

First of all, Obama has chosen to retain Bush’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, to lead the entire U.S. military apparatus! And Gates has already begun to implement Obama’s plans to expand the U.S. war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama has selected Clinton, with her track record of six years on the Senate Armed Services Committee and strong support for Bush’s so-called war on terror, to be his Secretary of State.

Finally, he has selected Marine four-star General James Jones to be his National Security Adviser. At the beginning of 2003 George W. Bush had made General Jones the head of the U.S. European Central Command and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in which capacity he served until the end of 2006. In 2007, Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a fellow board member of Chevron Corporation, appointed then retired General Jones as Special Envoy for Middle East Security where he represented the Bush Regime and U.S. imperialism in building the security infrastructure of both the Israeli settler state and the imperialist puppet Palestinian Authority and conducted U.S. security negotiations with them. General Jones concurrently served as the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Institute for 21st Century Energy” and today remains a member of the board of directors of the Boeing Company as well as Chevron. As he deals with the Middle East and other national security matters, General Jones will not forget where his bread is buttered.

In addition, Obama’s very first appointee, Rahm Emanuel, his Chief of Staff, is a dual citizen (U.S. and Israel) who is a combat veteran of the Israeli military as well as a former Wall Street investment banker and insider at Freddie Mac. And one of Obama’s earliest acts, as President-Elect, was to intercede with the Senate Democratic leadership to allow the “Independent Democrat,” Joseph Lieberman, a key link between the Israeli settler state and the U.S. imperialist state, to retain his Chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in spite of his unqualified support for Obama’s Republican rival, McCain, for the Presidency!

Obama’s national security team has been praised by John McCain, and his key Senate allies, Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) and, of course, Joseph Lieberman (Independent Democrat-Connecticut) as well as by George W. Bush’s former political director and chief strategist, Karl Rove. Rove observed that Obama’s national security team “represents, to a substantial degree, continuity.”

Rather than peace becoming a reachable goal in Afghanistan and Iraq on the eve of the Obama inauguration, the settler state of Israel, the most reliable ally of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East, has launched a massive air war and ground invasion on the Palestinian people of the Gaza strip. This Israeli military assault has the full backing of the disgraced Bush Regime and, more importantly, the clear backing of the incoming Obama administration. This latter point helps explain why virtually no government in the world has raised its voice in defense of the Hamas-led Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip nor condemned the role of U.S. imperialism in this brutal war crime.*
*An indication of the significance of Obama’s support for the Israeli aggression in Gaza is that, in the truthful words of anti-war heroine Cindy Sheehan, “‘the anti-Republican war’ movement will stand down, as evidenced at the recent United For Peace and Justice gathering where it was decided to do a mass protest highlighting the ‘economic crisis’ in NYC instead of an anti-war protest on the 6th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.” Evidently, the argument that prevailed at this anti-war (but definitely not anti-imperialist) group’s convention was to give Obama a “honeymoon” opportunity to end the war on his own rather than demanding that the new administration carry out the anti-war agenda they supposedly elected him to carry out.
From the standpoint of the international working class and the oppressed peoples, the incoming Obama Regime, somehow freed of all the Bush baggage, represents a new counter offensive in defense of the U.S. Empire and a temporary strengthening of U.S. imperialism.

Economic Facts:

Alexander Cockburn astutely observed, with regard to the election of Barack Obama on November 4th, 2008, “Never was there a luckier candidate in the timing of economic collapse, the ultimate October surprise …” (The Nation, 11-24-08)

From the moment the crisis arose just a month or so before the end of the two years-long 2008 Presidential campaign, Obama as well as his Republican “rival,” John McCain, fully supported the public bailout of the private Wall Street banks, insurance companies and other financial corporations, by the Bush White House and Democratic-controlled Congress, with no Congressional or public strings attached! That is, Obama as well as McCain was quite willing to burden “the public,” us (and our children and grandchildren), with the private debt incurred by the rich rulers of this country who put us in this situation to begin with!

During the very month of Obama’s election victory, more than 500,000 people lost their jobs in the USA. By October over $2 trillion dollars in pension savings had been lost and millions of senior citizens who were planning to retire will remain in or now return to the work force. Combined with the massive job loss, the extension of seniors’ work lives will mean less job opportunities for our youth. And, while “the American Dream” has always centered on home ownership, despite the Democratic-Republican gift of the initial Bush bailout of the Wall Street bankers and financiers to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars thus far, the epidemic of home mortgage foreclosures (and the eviction of renters) has continued with no end in sight.

In this setting, President-elect Obama’s economic “brain trust,” including his Secretary of the Treasury designate, Timothy Geithner, are all Wall Street financiers, multi-millionaires and includes multi-billionaire Warren Buffett – the very people most responsible for the economic crisis. Working in close cooperation with Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson of Goldman-Sachs, Geithner was described by The Washington Post as “a primary architect of the Bush Administration’s response to the financial crisis.” (Our emphasis, ROL)

As we have pointed out elsewhere, the Wall Street fat cats should not be bailed out; instead they should be jailed with no bail! The deepening economic crisis has no end in sight; and Obama’s prescription for getting out of this crisis involves increasing the wealth of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, making his loudly trumpeted “dream” of “unity of all the people of the USA, rich and poor, etc.” an ever more elusive and illusive one. “Out of many, we are one” is a cruel joke, being played on us!

The Obama-Biden Administration is inheriting the deepest economic crisis in the USA since the Great Depression of seventy-five years ago, and its fundamental cause is the same as the earlier one, capitalist overproduction. That is, we the working people are unable to buy back the product of our labor because the capitalists have reaped such profits from the exploitation of our labor that there is now a drastic chasm between what the haves have and what we, the have-nots, have not. There can be no unity of the people of the USA with our Wall Street rulers. Even capitalist economists have recently begun to speculate that the tremendous disparity between the rich and the rest of us in the USA may lead to civil war.

The prospect of such a development is, no doubt, fueling the drive begun under George W. Bush (which was previously illegal under the Posse Comitatus law) to introduce U.S. combat troops into the streets of the USA itself! This is giving the “war abroad and the war at home” a deeper meaning than heretofore.

There are several interdependent questions that will largely determine how this war between the rich and the rest of us plays out:  How long a honeymoon period will the workers and oppressed nationalities within the U.S. multinational state, especially the Afro-American people,  give the Obama-Biden Administration? How much fighting capacity do the oppressed and exploited of this U.S. imperialist society have today after fifty years of U.S. hegemony in the world capitalist  camp, fifty years of being part of the chief oppressor nation in the world? How much relief and how many concessions can the exploited and oppressed of this society wrest from the new administration? How serious, militant and principled are the scientific socialists and other revolutionaries in the USA and internationally in their willingness to deal with the main enemy of humanity, imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism?

Recent Attacks on U.S. Working People and Some Successful Fightback

The Obama-Biden Administration is clearly an integral part of the Republican-Democratic political duopoly controlling the state apparatus as faithful representatives of U.S. monopoly capitalism and imperialism as indicated above. Nevertheless, the Obama and Democratic Party election victories involved the mobilization of much of organized labor as well as the Afro-American and Latino communities and other sectors of workers and oppressed within the U.S. multinational state. This mobilization has increased our political strength, at least in the short run.

Obama and the Afro-American People

Nevertheless, in this historical moment, when the USA is about to inaugurate the first Black American President of the USA, it is the Afro-American people who are in the most vulnerable position. After all, the Afro-American people faced a dilemma in the campaign to elect Obama as the first Black President. As we pointed out last year, “seizing this opportunity involves accepting Obama’s political assessment … according to this logic, Afro-American people should not struggle and strive for Afro-American unity, for to do so is to practice the politics of ‘divisiveness!’” (The Obama and McKinney Campaigns for President – Which Path toward Afro-American Freedom? Ray O. Light Newsletter #48, May-June 2008)

Since the Obama election victory, there has been a sharp increase in hate crimes targeting Afro-American and Latino people as well as targeting Obama himself. While the U.S. ruling class is using Obama’s elevation to the Presidency as a weapon to disintegrate and destroy Afro-American unity and organization, white supremacist organizations are growing rapidly on the same basis, an especially dangerous combination!
Furthermore, Black politicians have come under renewed attack, such as in the targeting of progressive Boston city Councilman Chuck Turner and the besmirching of the reputation of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Congressman Jackson seems to have been effectively blocked from becoming the new junior Senator from Illinois by the Blagojevich scandal. With the departure of Obama from the Senate, the upper chamber is once again a lily-white club. We have witnessed the stunning and nasty spectacle of Blagojevich’s nominee, former Illinois Attorney General Ronald Burris, an Afro-American man, being blocked, at least initially, from taking his seat in the U.S. Senate, even though he has been accused of no wrongdoing and Governor Blagojevich is still legally authorized to make the Senate appointment!

The very first activity in the inauguration itself will be the invocation scheduled to be given by Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. By the time of the 2008 election, the only mass base of support still remaining for George W. Bush and transferable to Senator John McCain was the white evangelical Christian right. By selecting Pastor Warren to give the invocation, Obama is keeping the faith with McCain and George W. Bush!*
*In this connection, it is worth noting that Warren’s selection also represents a slight to Obama’s gay-lesbian community base.
Obama’s choice of Warren for the invocation is a repudiation of the Afro-American church and its historical role, including its invaluable role in the struggle for Afro-American liberation that made Obama’s election possible. Just as Obama’s former minister and mentor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, has observed, the attack on him (Wright) during the election campaign was, in reality, an attack on the Black Church, historically the most important self-defense institution in Afro-American society. Thus, Obama’s repudiation of Reverend Wright led inexorably to the selection of Pastor Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration.

The marvelous anti-war leader, Cindy Sheehan, has shared the fact that people involved in counter-recruitment work have reported to her that military “recruiters are targeting young people of color even more intensely now telling them that they will be ‘Fighting for Obama’…” (Cindy Sheehan blog, 12-21-08) Between this propaganda effort and the current economic crisis, no wonder the Army, Navy and Air Force have all met their recruitment quotas for the first time in a few years.

Last month we posed the question: “how big a price will the Afro-American people be willing to pay to prop up the Obama Presidency?” For the sake of the international working class and the oppressed peoples, and especially for the Afro-American people’s own sake, we hope that the “honeymoon” period is brief. For the Afro-American people as well as the rest of the working people of the USA and the world should not surrender our initiatives, our priorities, our own agendas for justice, freedom and peace.

Attack on the Auto Workers and Prospects for the Employee Free Choice Act

Now, in order to attempt to keep U.S. working people politically tied to the capitalist system, especially when unemployment and hard times are rampant and the system is collapsing, Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress have to appear to attempt to provide, and to some extent, as working people intensify our struggle, may actually provide, some support for the hard-pressed labor movement and relief for the working class.

Thus, in sharp contrast to Bush’s Secretary of Labor, the openly anti-labor Elaine Chao, President-elect Obama has selected as his Secretary of Labor, California Congresswoman Hilda Solis, a Latina with pro-union working class roots. Congresswoman Solis has been a co-sponsor of Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) legislation and openly talks about strengthening our unions. At the press conference announcing his choice, both Obama and Ms. Solis spoke about working people and unions in an extremely respectful way, unheard of from such high government officials in decades. Such positive gestures by Obama, Solis and others can be a source of encouragement and confidence for the oppressed and exploited to demand our rights and a decent standard of living, and wage the class struggle against U.S. and international capital, if today’s communists and other anti-imperialists handle the contradictions properly.*
*Such was the case, for example, in the Depression years of the 1930’s, when the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) and the dedicated union organizers in the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) effectively used the respectful way that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and his legislative agenda dealt with the labor movement and the working class to promote the idea that “FDR wants you to join the union.” This tactical approach helped them to organize millions of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers into the CIO and led others into the more conservative American Federation of Labor (AFL) at the time.
Obama’s key campaign promise to the labor bureaucrats was that he would support and sign EFCA legislation, providing “card check” for union recognition and stiffer penalties against companies that violate labor law. This would help “level the playing field” with capital after decades of decline for U.S. organized labor. In this setting, Corporate America, through the Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business organizations, has launched multi-million dollar campaigns against the EFCA, with the incoming Obama administration already backpedaling on this key promise to organized labor.*
*Alexander Cockburn remarked with regard to the fact that the Democrats have fallen one vote short of a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate: “I’m sure that many in the Democratic high command will heave deep sighs of relief at still having Republican obstructionism to blame when labor’s objectives, such as the Employee Free Choice Act, get put on the back burner.” (The Nation, 11-24-08)
Furthermore, through the Congressional negotiations with the “Big Three” U.S. automakers (G.M., Ford and Chrysler) regarding potential bailout loans to these economically distressed companies totaling as much as $34 billion dollars, the U.S. ruling class attempted to force the United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership to agree to the decimation of generations of hard fought gains of the auto workers. Counting on its role as corporate lackey for the Big Three, the reactionary ruling class forces believed, that, in its haste to help its Big Three “masters” survive, the UAW leadership could be brought to its knees, so as to push organized labor back at this critical moment. For, an intimidated and defensive labor movement would not be in a position to take advantage of the window of opportunity to organize the millions of unorganized workers in the USA today that an EFCA would provide.*
*It is worth noting the double standard: Congress wrote a blank check for the criminals and parasites of Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion with no strings attached and no accountability. Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, who comes directly from Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, refused to tell Congress where all the money has gone and Congress accepted this!  Yet when it came to a “bridge loan” to sustain the “Big Three” with their hundreds of thousands of unionized workers and two million additional jobs connected to their auto production, Congress refused to loan them a dime without major concessions from the auto workers union! This exposes the fact that the crushing of the UAW and the U.S. labor movement was their aim. Furthermore, when the Bush Administration ultimately provided the bridge loan, without additional Congressional action, out of the already existing Wall Street bailout money, it came with serious strings attached – auto workers’ wages and benefits had to be lowered to that of their non union counterparts!

Fortunately, not all workers and oppressed nationality forces in the USA are waiting for the Obama-Biden Administration to come to their aid.

Victories of Smithfield Workers and Republic Windows Workers

In a very significant development, no doubt partly fueled by the Obama election victory as well as an increasingly angry mood of the working class in response to the economic crisis and the bailouts for the Wall Street rich, five thousand meatpackers at the massive Smithfield Foods plant in Tarheel, North Carolina (N.C.) won their union election, in a close vote, and affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). This victory culminated a sixteen year struggle against one of the most intense anti-union company offensives in recent U.S. history — including firings and physical assaults on union activists, use of local police agencies and immigration raids aimed at intimidating and splitting the workforce, and anti-trust law-suits against the union.  The unity of the Afro-American and Latino workers in winning small concessions on the basis of militant work floor actions over a long period was key to the accomplishment of what has been an all too rare victory of this magnitude for U.S. organized labor in many years. The fact that the factory is located in the “Black Belt South,” in the old slave plantation region, in one of the least unionized states (3% of the workers in N.C. are unionized) adds to the significance of what is arguably the most important union organizing victory in the U.S. in recent years.

Provided there is militant and visionary leadership, this victory has the potential to be a springboard that can lead to the unionization of the intensely exploited and oppressed poultry and meat packing workers throughout N.C. and the South and help provide some necessary organized “fightback” in these new depression conditions.

Another indication that the mood of U.S. workers, especially immigrant national minority and Afro-American workers, is changing rapidly and dramatically for the better was revealed by the successful factory occupation by 240 Republic Windows unionized employees in Chicago after they received three days notice of lay-off in violation of the law that required a 60 day notice of plant closing. With their Union, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), the now small remnant of one of the largest and most successful CIO unions born in the 1930’s, solidly behind them, the workers occupied the factory for six days demanding their earned severance pay, continuation of health benefits and pay for accrued vacation.

Workers were especially angered by the fact that Bank of America, a recipient of $34 billion as part of the massive Wall Street bail-out, withheld credit from the company in part causing the plant shutdown. The bank also allegedly advised Republic Windows to refuse to pay the workers their earned benefits. Workers rightfully raised the slogan: “They got bailed out, we got sold out.” With justified anger over the Wall Street bail-out (so much, in fact, that it was voted down the first time by the U.S. House of Representatives, even with Bush and Pelosi, McCain and Obama, all supporting it!) and the devastating impact of the economic meltdown, the demands and actions of the Republic Window workers received the sympathy and captured the imagination of working people all over the country. Organized by “Jobs With Justice,” demonstrations against Bank of America took place in many cities around the United States. Recognizing the people’s anger, President-elect Obama said that the workers were right and the company should pay them what the law provided.

After a six day occupation of the factory the workers won all their demands, including a severance package worth $1.75 million, though they and the UE did not carry on the fight against Bank of America to try to keep the plant open.

The past few decades have witnessed the almost total disappearance of the strike weapon from the arsenal of U.S. organized labor. In this setting, the Republic Windows workers and the UE’s adoption of the far more advanced tactic of factory occupation in defense of their rights and standard of living and the widespread sympathetic response they received, are very good signs.*
*Such actions, though on a much more massive scale, took more than five years of Depression and active class struggle to emerge in the 1930’s with the Rubber Workers Sit-Down strike in Akron, Ohio, followed by the even more massive Auto Workers Sit-Down in Flint, Michigan a few years later.
The fact that 80% of these workers were Latinos, many of whom had been participants in the mass struggles in defense of immigrant rights on May Day 2006 and other occasions over the past few years and the fact that the workers had already been told that they were losing their jobs, rendering that threat unavailable to the company, also  help explain why these workers took such a militant action, a sharp and needed departure from the passive responses of so many workers and unions in the face of decades of corporate assaults on their rights, standard of living and working conditions.

The Struggle for Militant and Democratic Unionism in the SEIU

Currently, the largest union in the USA is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) led by its autocratic President Andy Stern. Stern is also, for all intents and purposes, the leader of the Change to Win Coalition, representing several other large U.S. unions, including the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Laborers’ International Union, making up approximately forty percent of all of organized labor in the USA today.*
*John Sweeney, the President of the AFL-CIO, which contains almost all the remaining 60% of U.S. organized labor, was a previous president of the SEIU, as well, indicating some of the importance of this particular union in the U.S. economy dominated by the service industry.
Over the past several years, Stern and the SEIU have gained a global labor influence. For example, in China, the government has brought Stern in to try to help develop unions (similar to many SEIU locals) that will function as loyal detachments of both the companies for which their members work and the government as well. Such unions will help the rulers at the company and country level to keep control over the working class.

Likewise, in Puerto Rico, the colonial government has brought Stern and his SEIU gang of international “scabs” into the labor movement there in an attempt to replace the militant and patriotic Puerto Rican teachers union. This has sparked a popular resistance on the part of Puerto Rican teachers and their many allies.

Finally, within the USA itself, Stern has overseen the rapid growth of SEIU, in marked contrast with most U.S. (shrinking) unions. But he has accomplished this on the unprincipled, anti-union basis of “sweetheart agreements” with hospital and health care and nursing home corporations over the heads of and at the expense of the members he is signing up. Stern’s corrupt methods have rubbed off on many of his key lieutenants who have recently been indicted on various corruption charges. Even blatantly corrupt Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, in one of his scenarios for selling Obama’s vacated Senate seat, was allegedly seeking a top Change to Win Coalition-SEIU job for himself from Stern!  

Stern is currently in the process of trying to crush a democratically run, San Francisco-based 150,000 member United Health Care local of SEIU led by its progressive President, Sal Roselli. But the membership and leadership of SEIU local #250 has mobilized and is defending its rank and file-led union and its decent contracts. When Stern recently forced a phony vote between two alternatives for local mergers, either of which would have severely weakened SEIU #250, a total of only 25,000 voted for both alternatives out of over 300,000 eligible members; even more impressive were the 40,000 membership postcards to Stern and 80,000 signatures on petitions protesting Stern’s draconian tactics.

The protracted and mass struggle for union democracy being carried out by SEIU local #250, occurring in this period of economic crisis and nascent working class ferment, holds significance far beyond local #250 and California and the SEIU. It has the potential for helping to pave the way for class struggle-oriented, democratically-run, rank and file-led unions, capable of leading a crusade of working class organization and struggle against capital such as were born and thrived in the last Great Depression with the rise of the CIO.*
*And this movement against the Stern-SEIU Gang and opportunist treachery in the labor and working class movement also has the potential of reaching across the borders of the USA to Puerto Rico and even to China!

Finally, a few thoughts:

1. Had the world communist movement been armed with a proletarian internationalist world outlook over the past two years, “the Obama phenomenon,” providing a new and exciting façade for bourgeois democratic illusions about the U.S. imperialist state, and thus representing a new U.S. imperialist ideological and political counter-offensive, would have been thoroughly exposed. With a clear internationalist view that the liberation movements of the Afghani and Iraqi peoples are on the frontlines of our struggle, President-elect Obama’s decision to retain George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, would have been the “last straw” rather than the first hint about Obama’s key role in defense of the U.S. Empire.

2. Those proletarian revolutionaries, Marxist-Leninists, scientific socialists, who understand clearly that Obama has become the leader of the U.S. imperialist state, the chief bulwark of world capitalism, have a responsibility to help unite those working people who have illusions about Obama with those who do not, in practical activities – tactically projecting petition campaigns, marches, strikes and solidarity strikes, sit-ins and sit-downs – making demands on Obama, channeling the mass mobilization into a fight for our own working class and mass interests in opposition to the interests of U.S. imperialism.

3. The working class and oppressed masses of the USA cannot afford to watch and wait in the face of the deepening economic crisis, wars at home and abroad and the continuation of U.S. imperialist rule, now coming under the baton of the new Obama administration. The encouraging examples of struggle of the Smithfield, Republic Windows and SEIU 250 workers help chart the path for militant “Fight Back” actions against the Wall Street rich and their obscene trillion dollar government bail-outs as well as the oil wars in defense of U.S. Empire in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Struggles for more union jobs and decent wages and a massive public works program, to keep homeowners and renters in their homes, to win guaranteed pensions, to fight for health care for all (the new coalition “Labor for Health Care” is a positive example), to gain “the right of return” for the Afro-American masses and other displaced people to and the reconstruction of the Katrina-devastated Gulf Coast and for nationalizing the banks and placing them in the service of the people are all on the order of the day!

Let us heed the words of Georgi Dimitroff, the outstanding leader of the Communist International and hero of the fight against Hitler and world fascism leading up to and during World War II: “… in history great revolutions have grown out of small movements for the defense of the elementary rights of the working class.”

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